Monica Poncelas heads up the PR team at Chapter Communications (previously Something Blue PR), a leading specialist wedding, parties, hospitality and lifestyle PR, branding and design agency in the UK
Representing some of the most pioneering brands, Chapter’s client portfolio includes the likes of Romona Keveza, Motee Maids, Party Guru Johnny Roxburgh, Rosalind Miller Cakes, floral engineers Blooming Haus, wedding gift list company Prezola, venues Millbridge Court, Alrewas Hayes, The Tythe Barn and many more
6.20am The alarm goes off and I have a peaceful hour to myself to get ready for the day ahead. I love my husband and children dearly, but this one hour is my only me time so I definitely don’t want to be disturbed!
As someone who works with people and clients based across different countries and time zones, it is important for me to check any emails that may have come in overnight so I can plan what the immediate priorities are for when I reach my desk.
As I’m having breakfast, I’ll look at BBC News online to keep abreast of everything on the news agenda and to see if there are any big or interesting stories that any of our clients can respond to or tie in with. The wedding industry has definitely picked up interest from the national press in the past two or three years and it’s enabling us to place some really great stories across both the news, fashion and lifestyle pages on a regular basis.
The cost of weddings is still a hot topic but bridal fashion, trends, insights and new products that respond to shifts in consumer behaviours, are becoming more and more interesting to the papers and we work hard to come up with engaging news and stories to pitch to the right journalist.
7.30am Time to wake up the children! I have an 11-year-old son and six-year- old daughter and we have just under an hour to get ready and out the door for the walk to school. It’s a bit of a military operation and we finally have it down to a tee! I’m described by colleagues, family and friends as ridiculously organised so I’d only be letting myself down if I hadn’t cracked the school morning routine yet.
8.20am – 9am Carlito is dropped off first and then Lucia and I wander down to her infant school. A quick chat with a mummy friend or two, then it’s home and in the car to head to the office.
9.30am I’ve been up three hours and finally I am sitting at my desk! I’ve seen the news, but when I get in, I have a quick scan of papers as well as magazines that cover bridal regularly and of course the bridal trade press for industry news.
I’ll get a quick update from the team on anything across social that I should be aware of – particularly on the client side – and if there are no fires to fight there or on email, I start to work my way through my to-do list. We have just been appointed to represent two new wedding venues as well as a pop-up restaurant in Chelsea, London, so there’s a mixture of strategy and campaign planning, media and influencer events as well as the day-to-day running of all client campaigns to keep us busy.
It’s such a cliché but there really isn’t a typical day in the life of a PR and that’s what’s kept me so passionate about the profession since I fell into it nearly 20 years ago.
So many of my friends think that the life of a PR is so glamorous – lunches and dinners with journalists, launch parties, lovely trips, but that is just a small piece of the pie. Much of the work of a public relations firm occurs behind the scenes and often, securing a fabulous story in an absolutely target title or pulling together an A-list of media guests for a client event, takes some hard graft.
11am If I’m at my desk, then obviously it’s time for elevenses. With my team, we’ll go through day-to-day client activity, prioritising, or re-prioritising as necessary. Occasionally, we’ll need to re-strategise on something completely and then get the ball rolling. If I’m meeting with the MD or Creative Director, discussion will revolve around agency wide topics – not just budgets, staff and clients, but we’ll often put a few ideas on the table about how we can work smarter, do something better or differently to keep us at the top of our game.
Today, I’ve come back to my desk to find an email from a contact on one of the national newspapers looking for some commentary on a royal event that took place the day before. We are so lucky to have such a great mix of clients – from fashion to flowers, food to styling and more – that we can quickly and easily get back to journalists with strong, interesting commentary and insights from those truly in the know. The piece goes live late afternoon and it’s a great hit.
If I’ve got journalist meetings scheduled, then now’s about the time I head into London – we’re based just outside of the capital in Surrey and I’m in central London in no time. I’ll try and tie up with as many people as I can, be they journalists or clients.
Mid-day onwards I often catch up with my journalist network as well as constantly looking at who the agency should be establishing relationships with. Today’s journalists are so time poor and inundated with PR pitches, so it’s absolutely critical to get your story right.
Doing your due diligence on their subject areas, style of copy and what they have covered recently, is so important and can make or break any relationship. Having quality face time with key media is a vital part of securing top-quality media coverage and meetings are usually, really effective and successful with at least a handful of stories placed every time.
Similarly, if I’m catching up with clients, although we speak over the phone or by emails almost daily, we’ll discuss business over the previous few weeks, any shifts they are seeing in enquiries, news angles, competitors and more. It’s such a valuable time and often shapes any tweaks to our campaign – and something that a client has said might just make a story for one particular journalist.
If I’m in London, then I’ll be going from one meeting to the next but if I’m at my desk, I’ll be ploughing through as much as I can – strategy documents, coming up with new ideas for clients, new business, writing news releases or copy or looking through written materials my team has put together.
Not only does this serve to ensure the story and contact is on brand and that all the information is there, but it’s a learning process for the younger members of our team. As an agency, we are really dedicated to educating, training, nurturing and developing our staff to be the best they can be and whilst we never want them to leave, if they do, we want to feel proud of the part we’ve played in getting them to the place they’ve reached.
5.30pm If I’ve been in the office all day, or in town, then I also usually head off at this time to get home for 6pm,unless of course, there’s a work event on.
Just last week, our new pop-up restaurant client launched and as well as driving as much targeted coverage as possible in the lead up, we also put together an exclusive media and influencer event.
Press packs, goody bags, attendee list and re-confirmation of attendance, all at our fingertips, we were ready for an informal, informative evening and we could not have asked for better. A great turn out, some fantastic post-event coverage the next day and story opportunities pipelined for the coming weeks – that’s exactly what we had hoped for and we’re all delighted with the result!
6pm As soon as I walk through the door, the children greet me and start rattling off stories about their days. I do my best to take it all in whilst also trying to chat to my mum (my only source of childcare and without whom I’d be totally lost!) about her day before she heads off for some peace and quiet whilst I start getting dinner organised.
Whilst I’m in the kitchen, Lucia might read to me for a few minutes or I’ll scribble down ten sums that she’ll happily whizz through, and I’ll check Carlito’s homework. The children will still be chattering when my husband comes home and we usually sit down together for dinner around 7pm.
8.30pm Lucia goes up to bed followed shortly by Carlito at 9pm who reads for a bit before I go up at 9.30pm to put lights out. I’ll try and squeeze in a quick Davina exercise routine in between but I have to admit, I’m not that disciplined on the fitness front so it’s definitely not a strict part of my daily routine!
9.30pm I’ll re-visit my emails and respond to anything that is straightforward. My brain is usually frazzled by this time so anything external that requires too much thought gets marked as unread for the morning! I might then watch a bit of TV with my husband or talk about our respective days, read a magazine that’s just landed or a newspaper supplement I had only skimmed in the office, or do a bit of online window shopping!
10.30/11pm Lights out and some sleep before it starts all over again with a totally different work day ahead to look forward to!