Hannah George

Principal Advisor Executive Communications - Rio Tinto

What is your proudest professional achievement?

I have many professional highlights from my time as a journalist, when I covered major news events including the Covid-19 pandemic, the war in Ukraine and consecutive UK prime ministers. I am glad I have been able to use that experience and journalistic approach to help tell our company's story in new ways and enhance its reputation. When I joined Rio Tinto, I was effectively given a blank slate to shape our CEO's communications. I am proudest of the way I jumped into the deep end and defined the role for myself. I worked quickly to create a distinctive and consistent executive voice, which has come through in speeches, a reimagined employee newsletter and on social media. It has been amazing to hear positive feedback from stakeholders who have noticed a clear change.

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

Employers should embrace their employee's individual talents and interests and help create opportunities for them to utilise those skills. I am fortunate to have leaders who understand what is unique about each person and encourage us to run with our ideas. By giving me the scope to carve my own role, I have room for creativity and can take ownership of my development.

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

Personally, as the oldest person on this list, I am possibly the only one who watches TikTok videos exclusively on Instagram. Professionally, LinkedIn forms a core part of my role in executive communications as it is a powerful tool for cultivating a leader's persona and for engaging with external stakeholders. Right now, society expects CEOs to be empathetic and relatable, more human. LinkedIn helps achieve the right balance between professionalism and personality. 

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

Get rid of the jargon and corporate speak. One of the things I learned from working in radio is the value of using simple language to get a message across. It can be easy to slip into internal jargon when everyone around you is using it, it's contagious! But consider how it would sound to an outsider. The test I like to use is: how would I explain this to a friend over a drink in the pub?

What is the motto you live by?

"Kill your darlings." I am sometimes guilty of overwriting, so I say this to myself frequently. When I am working on a big piece of work like a speech, I might become too attached a clever turn of phrase that adds little substance. But writing almost always benefits from being cut down, even the good stuff. Another cliché that comes to mind is, "if I had more time, I would have written a shorter letter."