Claire Foster – PR Manager Direct Line Group
I have been a member of Women in PR now for two years and during that time, I have been to a number of talks, networking drinks and won a place on the #PRWeekMentoring scheme.
When I first met with my mentor, Gay Collins, Founding Partner at Montfort Communications, one of the suggestions she made to push me out of my comfort zone was to work in New York. Whilst I’m not quite ready to make the leap from London to the Big Apple, when an email arrived in my inbox about the Women in PR New York trip back in July, I thought it was fate.
At a recent Women in PR event at News UK, I met our sponsor, Kim Deonanan, Regional VP, Northern & Central Europe, from Business Wire who said she was also going – at least there would be another friendly face for the trip. When I arrived at Heathrow, I emailed the group to see if anyone was through security and wanted to meet. Asa Baaw from 72Point replied and we instantly hit it off – luckily I soon found out that we were going to be roommates for the next four days! I bumped into Kim on the flight and met the rest of the group at JFK.
Susan Hardwick from Global Women in PR who organised the trip, arranged a fantastic surprise when we arrived. As we would have had to get several taxis to accommodate us all with our luggage, for the same price we arrived in style by limo at the Morgan Hotel. To get into New York time, we went straight out for dinner in Grand Central Station.
On the Friday morning, we went for a brisk but sunny walk along the Highline. We were so lucky with the weather all weekend. The walk led us to the Whitney Museum of American Art. After a wonderful, fun lunch at The Standard, we had a private tour of NBC, the oldest major broadcast network in the United States. We saw several studios and production, all with incredible broadcast heritage. After the tour, it was a quick change before we headed to the first ever Global Women in PR networking drinks with senior women from the New York PR industry. I met with Kim’s counterparts at Business Wire and many other women with backgrounds similar to mine in personal finance PR. One of the women had set up Hotwire in New York. Recently I was a speaker at a PR Moment Hotwire UK event and we found we share some of the same contacts – a small world! Tiffany Guarnaccia, founder of Communications Week and CEO of Kite Hill Public Relations was keen for us to replicate the success of Communications Week in London. Something I would like to get involved in.
The next morning, we were out of the hotel at 7:45am for a trip to Liberty Island. For those of you who haven’t been to the museum, the Americans paid for the plinth that the Statue of Liberty stands on by Joseph Pulitzer by offering to put people’s names in ‘The World’ newspaper in exchange for a donation. Most of the donations were one dollar or less as the less well-off wanted their five minutes of fame. Yet when the statue opened, only the rich and the men, were invited to the launch party.
On Saturday night, after walking about 17,000 steps up the statue and around Times Square, we all went for dinner at Spice Market in the Meatpacking District. Asa and I were asked by a gentleman in the bar how long we had known each other. He didn’t believe us when we said two days. In fact, the whole group got on extremely well. It was so interesting to hear about the different sectors from marine to fragrance, drinks to finance, and how the industry has evolved in the past two decades.
On the Sunday, we went to the Roxy in Tribeca for a jazz brunch – a must for anyone visiting the city. That evening, we went to the very Christmassy Tavern on the Green in Central Park. An incredible last supper to end an incredible experience.
The women I met on this trip will be a great support network for me as I continue to develop in my career. We have already been in touch to arrange a January reunion. Susan has also made Asa and I ‘honorary’ members of Global Women in PR for attending the first ever transatlantic network event. A fantastic experience and a massive thanks has to go to Susan for organising it all.