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Roberta Fuke, Managing Director, Speed Coimmunications

Today, being a PR professional is….
Exciting – the world of communication is changing and it has never been a better time to embrace the power of PR. Whether B2B or B2C, the expectation that business will engage in open dialogue, behave ethically and responsibly and be accountable for all actions at all times, as well as enabling audiences to ‘get closer’ to brands and businesses gives PR an important seat at the board room table. Conversation creation and stimulation, audience inspiration and motivation, engagement and support – all rely on PR to make a difference. And what a difference we can make.

If you hadn’t started a career as PR professional, what would be your favoured choice in 2012? Why?
I think we throw too much away. I love a good auction or searching through a messy salvage yard to find uncared for/unloved ‘hidden treasure’ and then lovingly bringing it back to life.  So I’d make it a business – open a shop on ebay, establish some niche areas to make my site famous and turn a profit. It would be a great combination of personal passion and sales/PR skill to make sure that I capture the attention of my audience all while harnessing a very real desire to turn one man’s junk into another man’s treasure. Sounds like fun!

Tell us the special moments, highlights, milestones of your professional life
Every year brings highlights and after 28 years in the business there are many. Becoming md for the first time at the age of 30 was hugely exciting. Then taking up the challenge of launching my own business - being brave enough to take on the competition, establish a viable business, attract and retain great staff and clients all from a standing start is the thing that I’m perhaps most proud of. Winning our first PR week award for best consumer campaign was a huge thrill as was winning the international work for the west indies rum and spirits producers against major international competition. And yet everyday I have special moments – the first national newspaper coverage delivered by a junior account exec and watching their excitement still gives me a buzz. It’s a great business to be part of and for me everyday remains special.

What about the toughest challenges
PR brings many challenges – from the daily round of securing coverage to the less frequent demands of crisis management.  Maintaining team morale when the going gets tough and supporting clients, maintaining calm and giving clear perspective in a crisis can be tough but hugely rewarding. But that’s what you’d expect. Looking back over my career the greatest challenges are business-growth related – recruiting the right people, ‘pushing’ and inspiring others to be the best they can be, constantly reviewing and reflecting so that we improve and grow – all while ensuring that we meet and exceed client expectations. PR’s certainly not for people who want a quiet life, but then that’s definitely not me! 

What keeps you awake at night?
Ambition – and the questions that go with it. What should we do differently? What’s the next ‘big thing’ that we need to be aware of? How can we improve our client offer? Which of the many ideas I have for the business should we implement and when? Which will make the greatest difference to us and our clients? I remain ambitious for our business and for our clients and always want to be moving forward. The challenge is of course implementing developments that make a positive difference to our clients and to our own business.

What motivates and inspires you?
People with passion. Those who believe there is a better way and are willing to give it a go. Working with people who are passionate, who want to make a difference is exciting – and I’m lucky enough to be surrounded by this in the form of both clients and team members.

Why are you a Member of 27&More?
Practically – because I want to offer clients access to trusted advisors and quality support across the globe. Emotionally – because I love the passion of the 27&More members – each has huge experience, a driving passion for success and I trust them totally.

Three thrings you always take when you travel …
Handcream – I hate dry hands and travelling – especially by air – dries up my skin My glasses – I’d quite literally be lost without them A camera – I love reflecting back on places I’ve visited.

Which famous person would need or benefit from a good / better PR consultant? Why?
Politics aside, the leader of the green party in the UK – Caroline Lucas – is a great speaker and hugely engaging and yet she gets limited airtime and, quite obviously, this tends to focus on environmental issues. If the green party is to be taken seriously as a contender then it needs to get its voice heard around other areas of the economy.  

PR is all about relations. What is the most interesting number on your mobile phone?
PR is also about managing confidentiality and ensuring trust. Sorry, I can’t tell you.

Give us a short outlook: What do you think is THE driving topic for PR in the next two years?
Social communication is crucial. Whether you’re a digital native or a digital immigrant, PR needs to take control of the social space when it comes to content, engagement and conversation management. Reputations can be built and destroyed more quickly than ever before. Our place is to ensure that reputations are enhanced - so ensuring that PR moves in all the right social circles is key.

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