A Day in the Life of an Executive Account Director
18th February 2011
Ann Bissell is executive account director at Midas Public Relations. She works primarily for Mills and Boon, but other clients include Audible.co.uk, the Romantic Novelists' Association and English Heritage. Here she describes a recent day in the build up to Valentine's when she was particularly busy on the Mills and Boon account.
6.50am: Wake up to sound of my boyfriend whistling in the shower. Switch on the Today Programme and doze to the soothing tones of James Naughtie and John Humphreys while absorbing the morning's news. Breakfast is tea and porridge in front of BBC Breakfast, followed by a shower.
8.00am: Leave the flat and walk to the tube. I love walking through Shoreditch in the morning. It's such a place of contrast, from crumbling old buildings to shiny new towers, city boys to creative types.
8.40am: Spend a confused five minutes at Edgware Road scampering to and fro over the bridge between platforms before taking a gamble on one of the trains and then watching the other leave first. Boris, you have much to answer for.
9.00am: Arrive at Midas House. At this point I would usually check in with colleagues, peruse some of the nationals online, and make a quick list of priorities for the day, but today I need to get out a news release before morning conference on the latest collaboration for Mills and Boon - a book in conjunction with Selfridges. The team have been busy selling in stories about Mills and Boon's pop-up shop in Selfridges which has been open since January, and we've had some great pieces in the Daily Telegraph and Evening Standard, along with a host of glossy magazines online, but we've been saving the book story for one final push. I send the release to books, consumer and arts correspondents. Previous collaborations for Mills and Boon include partnerships with the National Trust and the RFU, and I know that the books pages are going to love this one.
9.30am: Release out, I concentrate my thoughts on Valentine's Day, a key PR opportunity for Mills and Boon. I take calls from various regional radio stations requesting interviews with their local authors. Regional press is really important to Mills and Boon. We have 200 authors in the UK and one of our key targets is to build author profiles from a grass roots level. Regional radio stations love having a local author in for a chat, and this morning I confirm interviews on BBC Radio Solent and BBC Radio Manchester, and chase a lead with Newstalk in Ireland for our Irish author.
11.00am: Time to catch up with the team. Team Romance have been working together growing the Mills and Boon account for two years, and one of our favourite pastimes is coming up with new ways to showcase a much-loved brand. Naturally, thoughts turn to the Royal Wedding and we brainstorm a few stunts and collaborations. Over the last year, we have been working with yum chaa, an independent teashop. Owner Trinh is a huge fan of Mills and Boon and always open to ideas - from a Mills and Boon bookgroup in her Soho shop to a love-letter stunt in her Camden branch, where we spent a day in August encouraging passers-by to get in touch with their romantic side and leave a love note on the window. A royal tea might be just the thing ...
12 noon: Take a call from Cactus TV which is interested in filming an item for the TV Book Club in the Mills and Boon pop-up shop at Selfridges. Explain the concept of the shop and talk through options including a one-on-one workshop with author-in-residence Heidi Rice. I generally follow up calls with a quick email to give pictures and a biography of the author. While I'm thinking about TV, I give Real Life Media a call. This production company creates content for The One Show, and last week I took author India Grey down to Bristol to film a piece on the trial of Lady Chatterley's Lover. Good news - the interview is being broadcast next week. I send a note to the client, and before I know it, it's time for ...
1.00pm: Lunch! Nip over the road to Wholefoods with a colleague for a jacket potato. Sometimes we treat ourselves and eat in, but today it's back to our desks. While eating, take a quick flick through the women's glossies. It may only be February but I need to move quickly to get Mills and Boon on radar for summer features.
2.00pm: Speak to a few of the features editors about Mills and Boon's new range of contemporary women's fiction - RIVA. I love this new range - the covers are vibrant and the editorial is great. In PR it helps so much when you believe in the brand you're promoting, as genuine enthusiasm is definitely contagious. I put together parcels of books and get them over to the magazines. Time also to read and send a few emails, look through Mills and Boon's marketing update to check all our messaging, and confirm any upcoming meetings.
3.30pm: Catch up with the brand manager at Mills and Boon. We talk daily, going through current press activity and forward planning. We go through feedback from this morning's news release, and this afternoon's calls with the women's monthlies. And she has some good news - the promotion we've been working on with The Sun has finally been signed off and is going into this Friday's (18 February) paper. It's a "free book for every reader" in conjunction with WHSmith and has taken months of wrangling. All the team's work has paid off and this fantastic sampling opportunity is in the bag at last.
4.00pm: Check through any forward feature requests that have come through on Gorkana. Mills and Boon is a retainer client so we try to add value wherever we can. I'm always looking for extra opportunities for the authors, to supplement the agreed PR campaigns.
4.30pm: Log in to Facebook to see what Mills and Boon's social media community - Romance HQ - has been up to today. It is running a competition inspired by Natalie Portman's Lolita clutch bag, to fashion a bag from a Mills and Boon book. The entries so far are fab, and just the thing for top romantic fiction blog Smart Bitches, so I ask one of the team to ping off an email and within minutes, it has tweeted with a link.
5.00pm: Time to log the day's activity in our weekly report document. With Mills and Boon, we run several campaigns at once, alongside reacting to relevant stories in the news and requests from the media. With so much going on it's important to keep a running list and working schedule for all author interviews, and this also informs our day-to-day work in the press office.
5.30pm: It's been a busy day. My hours are varied and at times I'm in the office until 7pm, but today has seen lots of campaigns come together, so I'm happy to head home. I work on my BlackBerry on the tube, answering any final emails. If I'm not meeting friends, I pick up provisions from the local store and start on dinner, before the boyfriend returns - not quite a Mills and Boon hero, but hey, a girl can dream ...
This article originally appeared in PRmoment.com, where you can read more stories from the 'day in the life' series.