Freddie Da Costa

Senior Account Manager - Woodrow

What is your proudest professional achievement? 

When I think about this, I always go back to Covid. I'd only just joined Woodrow, and we were suddenly supporting organisations through one of the most difficult periods in living memory. At times it was manic, but I was also involved in some incredibly rewarding work. The highlights had a strong human element running through them. For example, managing a complex, culturally sensitive internal comms campaign to encourage uptake of the Covid vaccine across a major UK company. Or raising international awareness about the plight of the global seafaring workforce who found themselves stranded at sea, away from their families for months, as nations locked down their borders. I'll also always remember our work to safely repatriate hundreds of seafarers under siege in Ukrainian ports when the war with Russia began, which included securing a written endorsement from the UN Secretary General. 

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

Doing meaningful work is important. If you get the opportunity to do some, you're more likely to stay where you are. I feel lucky to have this in abundance at Woodrow. But, for me, the key to keeping your team is culture: ensuring each individual feels valued, safe, and has a sense of purpose. Having fun with your team and making some memories along the way shouldn't be overlooked either! 

How are you using‚ AI in your role at present? 

We're (mindfully) using AI tools to open up more time to strategise, support clients, and create more opportunities for our own team. I think it's clear that AI is going to become a daily tool in the industry for certain types of low intensity, highly repeatable work. But it can only take us so far. In my area at least, I only see demand for skilled people growing. Emotion is at the core of any crisis or issue. It can change opinions, behaviours, and outcomes. So successful communication at any critical moment should be human led. This is where we're so much better than AI. 

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

The industry still has a perception problem. We need to do more to educate clients, stakeholders and others about the scope of what we can do and, crucially, the impact it can have. Comms as a discipline is so much more than one arm like crisis work or media relations. Today, most challenges that people and businesses face include an element of comms, from employee engagement to leadership coaching, digital and design work to sustainability strategies. Comms is central to so much, and we all have a responsibility to raise awareness of this. 

What is the motto you live by? 

A classic that's particularly pertinent in the world of crisis comms. 'Fail to prepare, and you prepare to fail.'