Name: Emma Heley
Degree: Journalism and Print Media at the University of East London
Job: Celebrity Publicist at PHA Media
What do you actually do?
I work in the celebrity department of a public relations firm in Soho managing press and publicity for our celebrity clients. We specialise in raising and maintaining the
profiles of our clients across newspapers, magazines, television, radio and new media. We also specialise in managing reputations. A number of high-profile individuals will approach us if they are experiencing negative publicity and
we turn it into positive publicity.
Why did you decide to go into this sector?
For as long as I can remember, I wanted to be a journalist. After I graduated my life course changed and I became involved in promotions, my interest in PR snowballed.
How did you find out about your particular course?
I never intended to go into PR, people don’t realise how intrinsically linked PR is to
journalism so in a way, I am using my journalistic skills every day. Publicists are now helping to set the news agenda with the help of press releases and giving stories about their clients to the media.
Would you undertake further training to further your career?
Most definitely! I am currently studying shorthand to make my day to day life in PR a little easier. Interviewing people over the phone and transcribing conversations quickly is important.
What do you like most about what you do and are there any downsides?
I’m sure a lot of people say this but I really do love every aspect of my job. I love building special relationships with my clients and getting them high levels of exposure. The only downside is that you’re never really off duty. We have to be contactable at evening and weekends.
What do you think are the most important skills/strengths you need to make a success of what you do?
To be a good celebrity publicist you need to understand the media and have a real passion for it. In addition, you need to have an interest in celebrities and excellent communication skills.
What advice would you give graduates wishing to come into this sector?
Read the papers, gain suitable work experience, work hard and think laterally. Competition is tough so you will need to shine.