Erin McKee

Special Adviser (Strategic Projects and Government Policy) and Deputy Chief of Staff - University of Glasgow

What is your proudest professional achievement?

I have a few professional achievements I am most proud of: - Juggling two jobs (including in the Scottish Parliament) throughout my degree and securing a traineeship aged 20 in Brussels at the European Parliament. This exposed me to a variety of fantastic experiences, and led me to successfully apply for a scholarship to the College of Europe in Bruges. - Becoming a member of the Board of Directors for Glasgow North West Citizens Advice (an invaluable charity supporting people Glasgow). - Building the reputation, profile and political identity of the amazing work at the University of Glasgow. One of the best parts of my job is supporting colleagues to engage and tell the world about their world-changing work: from cutting-edge cancer research to the role of the University in building equitable partnerships with the city of Glasgow and beyond. We now average around one political visit per week and I've worked to secure some impactful projects and led engagement with key figures (including First Ministers, the Director General of the WHO, Royal Delegations, UK Government Ministers and the White House's former top medical adviser, Dr Anthony Fauci).

In your view, how can PR employers better retain talent?

To better retain talent, employers need to create a culture where people can learn from mistakes and failures. Public affairs relies on our ability to pivot to various audiences and to test new strategies, so we should nurture creativity and celebrate good ideas. I'm also a big advocate for widening access to careers in PR- there's immensely talented young people from currently underrepresented backgrounds.

Which social media platform do you use more than others, and why?

Recently I've been using LinkedIn more than other social media platforms as it allows me to connect and learn from colleagues across the sector.

What's the secret to good client/agency relationships?

I think the secret to building good client relationships rests on three key principles: 1. Honesty and integrity- it's imperative we provide advice which is honest and sticks to the core ethics and values of an organisation or brand. 2. Delivering on commitments- reputation is built on not only 'talking the talk', but actually delivering on tangible outcomes. Again, that's why honesty matters- as PR professionals we must be ambitious and willing to go the extra mile, but also realistic about what can be delivered in given timescales. 3. Authenticity- people will remember you and value your contributions if you're genuine and true to your own individual self.

If you could change any one thing about the comms industry, what would it be?

If I could change one thing about the industry, then it would be to encourage people to disagree respectfully. Political rhetoric today can be off-putting so as PR professionals it's important for us to take a step back, be willing to engage across the political spectrum and encourage healthy and respectful debate.

What is the motto you live by?

I don't have a motto as such, but I do believe to an extent in "what's for you won't go by you" (if it's meant to happen then it will happen). However, I also come from a family of hard-workers, particularly the women, so I believe most opportunities only arise through working hard, working smart, advocating for yourself and persevering. I also believe people value reliability and consistency- it's important people know they can depend on you and, in turn, they're more likely to send opportunities your way.