UN International Day of Happiness: senior account executive Ellie Bilton shares her career story

20/03/2023 12:51:23

What is public relations (PR)?

PR or public relations is all about communication. It is about ‘story-telling’ and getting the right content to the right people. The objective of a PR professional is to communicate about a business, to a target audience, with the aim of increasing brand awareness, trust, and authority. This will then hopefully convert to sales and lucrative partnerships.

Career starting blocks

I had not given too much thought as to what I wanted as a career, when at age 16 I needed to start to consider my A Level options, that would potentially lead me onto a degree and then a ‘career path’. I had the dreams such as single-handedly saving the blue whale, living ‘off the land’ or being a rock star… fairly average.

I had an aptitude for creative writing, enjoyed writing poems and making my own comics (that centred around the classic 90’s smiley face…). However, I felt that being dyslexic provided a significant barrier to me pursuing anything writing-based at a higher academic level. Which in hindsight is daft, not only for it being untrue (thank you computers), but also that almost everything in the arts is writing-based, so I did it regardless…
I went to university and studied Theology and Philosophy, Having had no real idea what to do but knowing I found it interesting at least.  It was an unexpectedly diverse degree giving me a good base of transferable skills, such as research and argument construction and analysis. I also worked in retail to supplement my living and newly developed Primark addiction (Hi, 2006).  

I was not, to the surprise of precisely no one, going to take the cloth on completion of my degree and thus was still left with a gaping void where a career path should have been. That coupled with the recession, meant I panicked and jumped into a law conversion course before then jumping again after being offered a role in Harrods, selling luggage. No way I was going to be the person who turned down a job in Harrods.

Finding my feet in marketing

I felt the pressure to get out of retail, to increase my earning potential and career development. I put my legal knowledge to small use by becoming a residential conveyancer. This was a steep learning curve in managing a case load, all with their own problems and personalities.
Here was me thinking, right, I am going to be a conveyancer! However, the creativity came calling, and a job in marketing and business development within the law firm I was at had my name on it.  

In this role, I got experience with reporting sales and marketing figures (I could see the trends and conversions that helped towards retained and new business), was responsible for uploading content to the website, and started to get into social media as it was becoming more of a business tool (yes, I am that old). I organised and ran events and trained staff on marketing and social media.

I was realising that a career in marketing pulled on my experience from my degree, of sales/retail, and the things I enjoy such as out-of-the-box thinking (some might say kookie?) and helping people.


The sweet spot – PR and content marketing

There’s nothing like a pandemic to make you evaluate your life, am I right?

After a few years of working in marketing roles, both in professional services and in retail, I was realising that I was more at home with the creative tasks. I had really enjoyed blog writing, social media, and storytelling to customers, so that they could be as excited about a product/service as I was. I also became a parent, and had new flexibility needs regarding work.

That’s when, in something I can only describe as MAGIC, I heard from Partners!

My role at Partners is senior account executive. This means I work with account managers and company directors to provide PR and marketing communications services to a portfolio of clients (learning to manage those caseloads as a conveyancer has been helpful!).

My job involves researching clients, their products or services and their customers (which, for someone who is a self-professed nerd, is perfect!), writing blogs and articles, writing press releases, composing social media posts, website maintenance, thinking outside the box… 

It is amazingly diverse, with lots of opportunities to use creativity and the transferable skills from my life journey so far, while contributing to a great team and some lovely businesses. I am also able to work in a flexible way, from home or in the office, which is great when your child likes to collect as many germs as possible.

Moving forward in PR & marketing

In terms of my career in PR, I hope to one day be able to become an account manager and move on up. I have learned so much already, with the fantastic support of my colleagues, who are regularly mined for expertise, and I’m excited for the learning that is yet to come.