NextGen Scotland co-chair, Precious Nwachukwu recently caught up with the DARE Awards Scotland winner Melissa Albarran of Represent Communications to ask her about winning the Rising Star Award.
Tell us a little about your journey to PR.
I studied English and Spanish at University, and when I left, I was offered a marketing position at a yoga company. In that role, I learned a lot more about PR and I started pitching press releases for that company. I became more involved in PR and decided to take a course with a London PR and developed my skills from there. It was not a planned experience, but I am very happy with the circumstances, and how I got into PR.
In the past five or six years, what will you say has been the high point of your career?
Receiving the Rising Star award was a big moment for me and that was definitely a high point in my career. So far, my career has been really positive, and I still get really excited when I achieve coverage in national newspapers and on TV. Also, joiningRepresenthas been incredible, it's a really great team and making that switch from in-house to agency has gone smoothly because of the team there. I owe a lot of my success to the team, so it's been a high point all around.
How did you feel when you discovered you were a nominee and how was it winning the Rising Star award?
I was very surprised; I couldn't really believe that I'd even been nominated and was very shocked to have won. I think the photos from the night showed how surprised I was! It was an incredible feeling to be recognised by the industry and PRCA. I am grateful for my managers who put me forward, and for believing in me. I think I was just overwhelmed with emotions.
What lesson (s) are you taking from that experience going forward?
The first is to have more faith in myself. I'm not naturally the most confident person, so winning the award really served as proof for me that I am capable and competent at my job. I think we all get a bit of imposter syndrome, so it was a good feeling to get that award. Also, the whole experience has taught me to reflect on the wins because as you know in agencies, it's very busy, you're always thinking about the next project or the next campaign and don't often get to look back and reflect on success. I'm learning that it is important to stop and reflect on your achievements.
If you could go back in time and say something to Melissa who had just gotten her first job in PR, what would you say to her?
I would just say, be more confident and have faith in yourself and don't be afraid to put forward your ideas - so enjoy yourself.
What would you like to see more of in the industry and what are your dreams for the PR industry especially here in Scotland?
For me, it is a bigger focus on supporting the workforce particularly when it comes to mental health, I know there's been research by PRCAto show that roughly a quarter of PR’s are taking time off due to stress. The PR industry is recognised as being one of the most stressful careers, so I hope that going forward leaders and the industry take that into account and really support their employees through well-being programmes. It's something that we did here at Represent, through an emotional intelligence programme that was science-based and fact-driven.It was valuable in helping the team grow both as individuals and professionals. It helped to boost confidence and office morale and subsequently, productivity. I think particularly, during very difficult times in the world as well, the industry really needs to take time to evaluate the well-being of staff.