Jackie McColl, recently appointed as an Associate Director at 3x1 Public Relations, talks about her career and how, at a tender age of 15, she used her initiative to 'make it happen'. Maintaining that 'can do' attitude throughout her career has enabled Jackie to provide a valuable insight into the changing face of PR agency life.
|Written by Jackie McColl
Russian women will be looking forward to receiving their traditional bunch of flowers from their loved-ones to mark International Women's Day on 8th March. That is a pleasant treat for them but this international celebration also provides a useful and significant opportunity for raising awareness about gender equality. It is a highly visible platform for celebrating women's achievements and, equally importantly, encouraging further successes.
Making it happen from an early age
The theme this year is 'Make It Happen', which is exactly what I did 25 years ago when, as a teenager, I found my dream job was blocked off to me because of a glaring example of gender inequality.
With the pressure to secure an interesting work placement whilst at school, I noticed a world-famous football club was advertising for placements for the boot-room:
“Boys only are allowed to apply”
This, I thought, was unfair so I constructed a letter outlining my case and sent it off to the Club's Chairman. The Chairman, a delightful gentleman, agreed with me – much to the horror of the boys in my class - and I then started my work experience with the football club, which led to me securing a much-envied part-time job with the club throughout my student days.
From an early age, I discovered that you need to be in charge of your career and, just as I did when I was 15, I am now determined to 'Make It Happen' with my new role at 3x1 Public Relations, one of Scotland's leading PR and public affairs agencies.
Enjoying PR Agency Life
It's great to be working in a vibrant and established public relations agency with a public affairs offering. I started my career more than 20 years ago with one of London's top international PR agencies and learned how PR works working on clients such as adidas, Walkers Crisps and First Choice Holidays. I believed that in order to 'Make it happen' for my career it would be beneficial to have exposure to all sorts of businesses, sectors and markets. I soaked it all up, whether it was a merger of a professional services company, promoting a public sector campaign or launching a new bag of crisps.
When I later moved to an in-house position with a large accountancy firm it was perceived to be not as exciting as consumer projects but, secretly, I loved the challenge, the focus of driving strategy and delivering it. One of the challenges in professional services is the battling the blandness of the material that must be communicated and make matters related to this dry and dusty firm much more palatable and digestible. It was not easy but I got the message across.
Benefits to clients
Having seen it from the client-side, I can provide real insight to what clients want, need and demand in this 24/7 world we live in.
Agency life has changed dramatically over the past 20 years. Our challenge goes much deeper than knowing a journalist or two. My 3x1 tool-kit has grown with the ability to offer clients a strategic PR and comms strategy, incorporating social media, videography, digital media and public affairs plus, at times, crisis management training.
So as Russian women look forward to happily acknowledging receipt of those flowers on International Women's Day, I too would like to say thanks to 'gender equality' as it helped me to secure my first job and I made it happen! And I am still secretly hopeful of a delivery of flowers.
A highly motivated communications director and strategist with 20 years of experience, Jackie’s career has focused on creating and implementing creative and complex communications strategies, for corporate and public sector clients. Jackie was formerly Communications & PR Director for RSM Tenon and has an in-depth understanding of the accountancy sector and the culture of professional service practices. Jackie is a member of the CIPR.
For more information on International Women's Day please click here.