Name: Ashley Letts
Job title: Senior Account Manager
Company you work for: Yulu Public Relations
What got you interested in this career path?: A penchant for writing and a lengthy stint in the service industry, where I discovered a knack for reading people and gaining their trust. I considered journalism but I love being able to be an evangelist of sorts for causes I believe in – without the requisite objectivity. I did things a little out of order, earning a PR diploma first and then a BA in Professional Communication, but I knew I’d pursue PR. Since landing my first internship, I’ve been fortunate enough to have a steep career trajectory.
Career aspirations: Eventually I’d like to be a partner at a disruptive, forward-thinking agency. The nature of public relations is changing and I want to be someone who not only embraces that change but also helps to shape it. Somewhere along the way I hope to write a novel. I’d also love to write speeches for politicians – I got to work on a political story recently and it was exhilarating.
Greatest career challenge: Finding someone to give me my first shot. It can be tough out there for a newly minted PR grad – there are plenty of PR programs in Vancouver and a lot of those students were just as hungry as I was. It can be tough to differentiate yourself as a PR star before someone really gives you a chance to flourish.
Greatest career success: It seems everyone tells you to make like a duck for the first part of your PR career – paddling frantically below the water’s surface but floating calm as can be above. My greatest career success was the day I realized I didn’t have to make like a duck anymore because my opinions and experience carried immense value. Also, the feeling of jubilation from landing a great piece of coverage for a client never gets old.
Favourite PR/communications campaign: I like campaigns that show a little chutzpah, like the one around Science World’s “Science of Sexuality” – though everyone’s going crazy for the West Jet “Christmas Miracle” right now and I think that was beautifully executed. I’ve been a part of some really fun ones – like making it snow on Granville Street in October last year to introduce Okanagan Spring Winter Ale.
PR role model: I’ve been lucky enough to learn from two very talented PR pros at the helm of my current agency – Melissa Orozco gave me my first shot in the business and mentored me when I was just starting out, for that I’ll always be grateful. I also have tremendous appreciation for people who take the time to mentor students. I was part of the CPRS Mentorship Program in its inaugural year (thanks, Simon!).
Best career advice: Be authentic. Absorb as much knowledge as you can for as long as you can, but trust your instincts. There isn’t a single right way to do PR. This business is all about relationships and people appreciate a little personality. My agency-specific advice: become adept at business development. It sets you apart.
Best place to ‘do coffee’ in Vancouver: Milano in Gastown.
Favourite journalist/blogger in the city: Can I be diplomatic and say all of them? I love Mike Usinger’s hilarious music reviews in the Straight, though I don’t get to pitch him often. They might be the only reviews funnier than the ones my brother wrote when he was reviewing shows.
Favourite website: Humans of New York
Favourite social media site: Instagram
Fun fact about you: I do the PR for brunch.
You can follow Ashley on twitter @ashletts.