Welcome to my blog series "10 Questions With". It consists of weekly interviews with practitioners from the PR, Marketing and Advertising industry. My goal is to talk to experts, who have interesting opinions and can give valuable advice to young people, who are pursuing careers in those sectors.
This week's interview is with Jason MacKenzie, Former President and current Vice President of CIPR.
Q1: What was your first ever job?
My first jobs were bartender and waiter. I’d like to say I learnt the value of great customer service through them, and that’s partly true - but the real lessons were about hard work and the value of money. My first full time job was as an accounts clerk in the Specsavers head office in my home island of Guernsey. They say you ‘should have gone to…’ - and I did.
Q2: Why did you get into PR?
I fell into PR after working in marketing management and as an account director in an advertising agency. The guy who was leading the PR team was leaving, and the boss said to me “do you want to take over that team, in addition to your current duties?” At the time, I cared more about the length of the title on my business card than the amount of money I was getting paid, so I said “sure, why not?”
Q3: Highlight of your career so far?
The highlight of my career has been serving the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) in various roles for the past decade. It’s unpaid work (do you see a theme developing?) but hugely rewarding. During my year as President, we increased our turnover, reduced our costs, delivered a profit, boosted our reserves, added 1,800 new members, and increased membership retention to record levels. It was a team effort, and very satisfying.
Q4: What piece of technology can you not live without and why?
I’m writing this on holiday on my MacBook Pro. But, if push came to shove, it’d be my iPhone. I’ve been trying to digitally-detox, and I’m failing. Badly.
Q5: What have you learned from any mistakes you’ve made in your career?
Mistakes? I think most mistakes I’ve made have sprung from poor judgement, linked to character flaws. Stay humble, shun arrogance, keep learning. That’s my advice.
Q6: What advice would you give to someone who wants to start a career in the PR industry?
Be hungry. Be passionate. Be driven. Really want it. Network, and don’t be afraid to ask people for help.
Q7: If you were a student right now and need to write a dissertation, what topic would you choose?
I would write about behavioural insights and behavioural economics. ‘Nudge’ is a bit part of the future of the so-called promotional industries.
Q8: iPhone or Android?
Q9: What’s the most surprising thing you have learned about the PR industry since working within it?
How much everything is changing, always. Change, as they say, is here to stay. Without a commitment to lifelong learning, the PR professional of today will become the dinosaur of tomorrow.
Q10: And finally, what advice would you give to your 18-year-old self?
Read more, network more, be kind. Help others. Work on your character. Being a generous, decent person builds a good foundation.
Fantastic answers from Jason.
You can connect with him @jasonmackenzie
Hi there! Welcome to my blog about PR and things that I find fascinating.