HAZEL SCOTT – 25 YEARS IN THE PR BUSINESS
Interview by Fiona Holmes-Mitra
Hazel Scott has been making a splash, or perhaps more accurately large waves, in the PR field for 25 years in London, Sydney and now Oxford. Now celebrating 25 years in the business and 10 years as Director of her own PR and strategic marketing company, Kai Communications, we are marking these milestones by getting her to reveal what makes her tick and to share a few of her own PR stories…
- How are you going to celebrate 25 years of being awesome at PR? Champagne? Cocktails? Foot massage? (Congratulations btw!)
What an excellent idea, especially the foot massage! But actually, I suppose I just celebrate by acknowledging that I am exactly where I want to be in business. I work with clients I love to work with and with associates whom I love to brainstorm and produce the best client campaigns with. I’m really lucky because I am in a position to be choosy about which clients I work with and we bizarrely sometimes even have a waiting list. I am a lucky lady, and long may it continue. We are also celebrating with a new look logo and website! Do you think maybe you should give me a celebratory foot massage while we talk?
- Hmm maybe later, so walk me through the step-by-step process that you went through to get to where you are today.
I’m very ambitious. When I first started in PR, I set myself the goal of being an account director in five years. I did it in three. I moved to Australia and got a taste for working for myself and then returned back to the UK and went on to set up and drive Kai Communications forwards. Here we are ten years later, and work is just as I want it to be. I have a disabled son and I long ago gave up the idea that I could run a big company at the same time as give him the care that he needs. We all have to make choices and I am completely happy with the one I had to make.
- What got you to where you are today?
Being ambitious, being true to myself and knowing where my talents lie and don’t lie (such as accounting). I have been described as being like a rottweiler to get press coverage for my clients, and yes possibly that might be true. A very friendly rottweiler mind!
- Could you tell me about the three areas Kai Communications specialise in?
First and foremost we are PR specialists; we are both proactive and reactive, and renowned for creating memorable PR campaigns, giving journalists exactly what they need and for telling it how it is. Secondly, we love to write. We write great content for every type of bespoke communications collateral you can imagine, newsletters, brochures, web content, you name it, we write it. Finally, we are strategic and get to the heart of our clients’ core messages, values, goals and objectives and put together creative, strategic campaigns accordingly. We used to offer a few other services, but this is what we love to do, so now we offer what we excel at and enjoy.
- What was the most challenging part of transitioning from being employed to being THE BOSS?
Doing my own accounting! Aside from that, I don’t find it challenging having my own company because I am diligent and can just get on with the job. I enjoy working by myself and with others in our studio and I get to do both. Moving to and working in Australia was very challenging because they have less press and operate in an entirely different way. It was a steep learning curve, but it was been very useful to have experience working across two different continents. My biggest challenge was coming up with the company name. All of my ideas had been taken!! I wanted to use the word ‘communications’ so I persevered with that, and in the end I chose ‘Kai’ because it means purity so ‘pure communications’. Kai is also connected to both my sons’ names.
- If a young person asked for your advice what would your top tips be?
Get as much experience as you can because a degree is not enough to get into the industry. Then work hard, soak it all up, be a ‘can do’ person, prove yourself over and over. Also be positive and have good energy. You spend a lot of time with work colleagues, so you need to get along with people. Everyone loves a ‘can do’, happy soul.
- Rumour has it, you are really organised. Do you have a top tip for the disorganised, who want to become more organised?
1 - Lists
2 - Lists
3 - And more lists!
- What changes do you forecast coming up in PR?
The world is constantly changing, and it’s hard to know what is going to happen next with Brexit and social media. It can be challenging to stay on top of change. It’s important to go back to basics and to ensure your clients are being authentically themselves. We look at current events and add to the message by making our clients spokespeople for the industry. We are also passionate about promoting positive and genuine issues, such as health and protecting the environment. I expect to see a lot more of this going forwards.
- Do you have a career highlight or favourite story to tell at a party?
“That was definitely when I looked after Samuel L Jackson at the Brit Awards. He asked me to keep him away from the reporters when we walked down the red carpet, basically to put myself between him and the cameras. So, I set myself up to do just that but he hilariously went straight up to the first camera on the red carpet; so he had tricked me! I tried to find out what ‘L’ stands for, but sadly he wouldn’t tell me. At the end of the night, he asked if I wanted a photo of us together. I tried to play it cool and said “oh that’s very kind but thanks I am fine” but he read straight through my attempt at being cool and said “You do want to don’t you?” and I ended up jumping at the opportunity obviously and practically jumping into his lap! Smooth Hazel, smooth.”
- I imagine running your own successful company comes with pressures. How do you manage stress and decompress?
“This is a work in progress for me and something I am prioritising. I got breast cancer two years and had to re-learn to prioritise myself and my health. When I am on holiday, I really am on holiday and I don’t work. At the end of a hard day I have a glass of wine or long bath, or both. I’m really into sport at the moment, doing everything from squash to pilates to aqua-zumba. I really enjoy spending time with my family as well as travelling because these are what fills my heart”.