In our first ‘Five Minutes With’ of 2022 we get to know a little more about one of our Senior Account Managers, Danielle Zhu. Dani’s a [literal] jetsetter, a fountain of wisdom and insight, and a mother to two destructive pet rabbits.
Dani, can you tell us how you got into PR?
I studied Business at university and majored in accounting and marketing. While many of my friends went on to work in the Big Four accounting firms, I just knew it wasn’t for me. I was much more interested in marketing disciplines such as product strategies and consumer behaviour, so in my final year, I sought out an internship at a boutique integrated marketing and communications company in Sydney. The unpaid role soon turned into a junior entry-level position, and before you know it, I was even travelling to China on a business trip with my boss to attend a convention for businesses selling print cartridges. It might not sound riveting, but at the time, I was amazed at the scale of the industry and thoroughly enjoyed the experience as a bright-eyed young graduate. This was the beginning of my agency life and since then I’ve worked with blue chip tech companies as well as budding entrepreneurs.
In a previous career you were cruising at 40,000 feet, anything you’ve taken from that experience to your PR career?
Working as a cabin crew is not always as cushy and glamourous as one might imagine. In fact, it often requires you to operate on very little sleep while having to maintain professionalism when faced with 500 passengers with various demands on a 15-hour long haul flight, and believe me, things can be unpredictable when’re you flying 40,000 feet above the ground. It forces you to be resilient, patient, and quick-witted in order to respond to emergencies with limited resources or to deal with stressed passengers who have been couped up in a confined space for long period of times. I’ve found this experience to be extremely valuable in my job, particularly in helping me juggle different task in a timely manner, calmly tackle challenging situations and in quickly building rapport with the people I come across as a PR account manager.
What brought you to THPR?
When I first landed in London, I found a job at a boutique luxury travel company which I thought made a fantastic use of the combination of my client management skills along with my extensive travel experiences. I had an amazing time getting to know UK’s luxury travel industry and was privy to some of the world’s best experiences and accommodations. However, the pandemic came along and of course, the travel industry suffered a huge blow and my job was unfortunately one of the casualties.
As I was job searching, someone reached out and shared a job opportunity with THPR. The agency’s name sounded really familiar, turns out, a close friend had used THPR’s services for his start-up and so I was interested in pursuing the conversation further. I felt really good vibes from the MDs from the very start and also appreciated them taking a chance with someone who is starting fresh in a new media landscape.
What sets THPR apart from other places you’ve worked?
Having now worked here now for over 6 months, I can say that THPR easily has one of the best company cultures I’ve come across. The sense of camaraderie is strong across all teams and there is zero blame culture. Everyone’s opinions are respected, heard and considered so you feel that you are given a stage to shine no matter what level of experience – not always the case in agency life. It also helps that everyone genuinely enjoy each other’s company and we genuinely do live the ‘work hard and play harder’ ethos.
Any advice for anyone just starting out, or looking to make a big career change?
I think having a positive mindset is extremely important whether you’re a graduate looking for a foot in the door, or if you are thinking of entering a new industry – understand that the process can take time so don’t be discouraged if things are not happening as quick as you might expect. I would advise people to approach all opportunities with an open mind and have as many conversations with people in the industries you’re interested in as possible.
Have you got a favourite piece of coverage, or PR moment?
I really enjoy working with the small business owners through our work with Amazon. It’s incredibly inspiring to hear about where they’ve come from and how they got into business. Being able to help tell their story through media and celebrate their successes have been an extremely rewarding part of my job so far.
What’s your fav way to switch off after a long week/any hobbies & interests?
Being Aussie, I love a well-made flat white coffee and need that daily dose of caffeine to function. I love discovering new cafes in London and on my travels and fully embrace that I might be a bit of a coffee snob.
At home, I have two lionhead bunnies that are as adorable as they are destructive. My favourite kind of night after a day’s work is to snuggle with them on the couch with a glass of wine and a good show on Netflix. If you’re curious, you can find their Instagram here.
What are your hopes/predictions for 2022?
It’s been a rollercoaster over the past two years living through the pandemic. I’ve felt really fortunate to have found the THPR family and gotten into my stride with the UK media landscape. I’m looking forward to Covid becoming less of a threat this year (or at least we are able to live with it moving forward) and being able to travel more freely – especially as I haven’t been back home to Sydney for over 3 years!
I think there are lots of opportunities that lie with the recovery of the travel industry, I wish everyone all the best and hope to have the opportunity to work with the wonderful people in travel again through the scope of THPR in the near future!
Find out more about our team, and spend Five Minutes With one of our Managing Directors, Nic Forster.