The first ‘Five Minutes With’ of 2021 is a real treat, today we get to know a little more about one of our directors, Nic Forster! Not only is Nic doling out wisdom, he’s also got some Quarantini bar skills…
Nic, how did you first get into PR?
I kind of always wanted to get into PR – I loved writing and communication and had considered journalism for a time but eventually I decided I wanted to be more involved in business and PR seemed like a good option.
I remember going along to my career advisor in sixth form and explaining that I wanted to study PR at Leeds Beckett University, much to her horror! She said I was crazy to do a vocational degree with my predicted grades but I was resolute and applied anyway. I spent four years there, including a sandwich year working at the regional office of a national PR firm which definitely helped me gain a foothold on the ladder.
And what brought you to Thinking Hat?
Emma, David & I met many (too many!) years ago when we were working at a Top 10 agency in Soho and eventually, we all went off to do different things. I went to be Head of global PR at notonthhighstreet.com, and then on to be Head of Communications at a Tech VC fund in the city, both of which were hugely exciting and challenging roles.
Emma, Brooky & I stayed in touch and I was so impressed with what they were building at Thinking Hat and the vision of creating an agency catering for the true game-changers out there. Eventually, in early 2018 we started discussing joining forces and the potential of me coming on board as a co-founder at Thinking Hat, later that year I signed up! The rest is history…
What an exciting career journey! What sets Thinking Hat apart from the other places you’ve worked?
For me, it would have to be Thinking Hat’s family feel. PR can be a challenging industry and is stressful at times, but we really are a very close team and we have each other’s back which is very important. It allows us to work more effectively, without the usual politics & BS that you might expect!
What do you love most about your job?
I love the fact that I work with such a varied portfolio of clients and that we really get to roll our sleeves up and get to grip with their very different business objectives.
Ultimately, I got into PR as I enjoy meeting different people and my role here allows me to do that in spades. Our clients are truly inspiring, from global corporate leaders to the founders of innovative startups & scale ups; we are incredibly fortunate to get to work alongside them.
What’s your best advice for getting started in PR?
I would say get as much work experience as you can from as early as you can. This really sets junior candidates apart at interview stage and it shows a level of commitment to the industry and your ambitions. My stints in agencies throughout the first three years of my degree and my sandwich year were fundamental in getting me my first job post-graduation!
Also once through the door, be prepared to think on your feet, ask questions and say yes to as much as you can…
Leading during a crisis is hard – any tips for getting through it and motivating a team during tough times?
Crises are incredibly challenging times for any business, whether it be a business specific crisis or something which effects everyone, like we’ve seen this year (…I won’t mention the C word!) I think the best thing in any crisis is to have a plan in place where you can over communicate and be as transparent as possible to your team and key stakeholders from the get go (without causing unnecessary stress).
This year has been incredibly tough on everyone but as a team I think we’ve managed to ride the wave because we have communicated a lot both as teams and individually! When working remotely this is even more important, it’s so easy for people to feel isolated or to begin working in silos.
This year we have become beholden to the wonder of Zoom and although we have gotten weary of being on camera at times, it has also really enabled us to keep that all important interaction going.
It has been a tough year! How do you switch off and unwind?
I love spending time with friends and family to unwind, which again has been hard of late. However, I spent lockdown 1.0 at my family home in Harrogate, North Yorkshire and unwound considerably by making weekly Quarantinis for everyone… my cocktail skills have definitely progressed thanks to Covid-19!
I am trying to get back into running and cooking more. Although the lines have blurred this year, it also feels good to have the flexibility to incorporate more of these hobbies into daily life.
Looking back to the good old days, what’s your career highlight to date?
That would be persuading Victoria Beckham to wear a “Too Posh to Wash” personalised notonthehighstreet.com pinny in British Vogue. It doesn’t get any better than that 😉
Thinking Hat does a lot of CSR related work, what causes do you work on at Thinking Hat that are close to your heart?
I love the diversity work we undertake for Amazon – it’s so important to champion different voices and perspectives, particularly in the world we live in right now.
In 2019 we launched Amazon’s first ever LGBTQ+ Reading Roadshow with Will Young, for kids in secondary schools across the UK. It was really powerful to speak to so many children who were struggling with both sexuality and gender identity issues, and see them to get the chance to talk to Will and senior members of Amazon’s LGBTQ+ affinity group and get that insight and reassurance.
Our last question to get some great PR insights from you! Any industry trend predictions for 2021?
I think purchasing experiences and travel time with friends and family will dominate over the next few years. Our new mindset following the pandemic will take consumers away from spending hard earned cash on the tech & luxury “stuff” we’ve coveted in the past.
I know I for one will be booking a different type of trip abroad – trips that not only allow me to visit places but really experience them and their culture with my family and close friends.
If you want to talk to Nic about tech, e-commerce or startup/entrepreneur PR you can connect with him on LinkedIn or email firstname.lastname@example.org.