Amanda is the PR and Communications Director at VetPartners and a graduate of the CIPR Professional PR Diploma (L7) a master level qualification. This corporate veterinary group owns some of the most respected and trusted veterinary practices and businesses across the UK, Italy, France, Switzerland, Germany and Spain, with more than 7,000 employees. Founded by vets, Amanda was the first non-clinical employee.
Why did you choose this qualification?
I love learning and developing my professional skills and knowledge. I spent 26 years as a newspaper journalist before moving into PR seven years ago, and I wanted to validate my skills and experience with a formal qualification and gain a deeper understanding of PR.
What did you discover about yourself in the process?
I discovered I’m much more resilient than I thought. It’s so long since I’ve done any formal studying, and I found it very demanding at times. This course is designed to stretch you and really make you think. There were occasions when I had to dig deep to find that extra motivation, especially with a busy role. Still, the satisfaction of achieving my Diploma was indescribable and made everything worthwhile.
Has studying with nesma helped you in your career?
My CMO remarked how much my confidence has grown since completing the L7 Diploma, and I feel I am more comfortable in my key advisory role to our senior management team. Although I’ve always been the PR lead, I was made PR & Communications Director midway through my Diploma. The great thing about VetPartners is that we are expanding across Europe, and there is a strong desire to develop people and support their career goals. There is scope to continue growing within the organisation, and my next aim is to complete the CIPR Specialist Diploma – Crisis Communications (L7) with nesma. These are exciting times for us all at VetPartners.
What did you enjoy most about studying?
You don’t know what you don’t know, so some aspects of the course were really eye-opening and made me think about things differently. I enjoyed setting aside time to learn and study. Doing a Diploma is all about investing in your own career development and your future, which felt very satisfying. I also enjoyed meeting others on the course, discussing ideas and hearing about their experiences. I’ve become a member of CIPR, and I now have a network of PR professionals with a wealth of knowledge, which is a huge support to me.
What type of things do you do differently now?
I am now more confident in planning and executing multi-channel PR campaigns, making the most of interesting content and measuring PR in a more meaningful and effective way. Understanding the theory has helped me put processes in place to improve what we do, such as our crisis communications management plan and more thorough planning and measuring of campaigns.
What words of advice would you give anyone considering a career in PR/Comms?
Choose a company with a great culture that lives and breathes its values. You’ll be representing that company, and you can’t promote something if you don’t fully believe in it, and I think that’s why I have a passion for my job. There are many different areas of expertise within PR, so figure out what you’re good at, for example, crisis communications, internal communications or media relations, and find a role that requires your skills. If you enjoy a rich and varied role like me, there are opportunities to work across several key areas that demand a broad skill set.
What are the significant changes within your industry at present?
There are huge recruitment and retention challenges across the veterinary sector as many vets are leaving the profession for various reasons, including long hours, high levels of stress from working in a fast-paced environment, high expectations from clients, and a desire for a better work-life balance. During the pandemic, a boom in pet ownership resulted in more people working from home, seeing an excellent opportunity to get a kitten or puppy. Fewer vets and more pets mean practices are struggling under the demand for services because there aren’t enough vets to fill their rotas. We have been running a PR campaign across the whole PESO framework to boost recruitment and encourage more vets to return to the profession, working in collaboration with our HR, recruitment, and operations teams.
What do you enjoy most when you aren’t doing the day job?
I love horses and have owned Barty for 20 years. He’s nearly 25 but is still going strong and loves hacking around the country lanes. I enjoy a gentle jog (or fast walk!) to try to keep fit, and I practice yoga, which is great for your body and mind. I also enjoy finding lovely places to eat and sampling the wine list. I’ve just completed a makeover, inside and out, of a house I bought midway through my Diploma – I don’t do things by halves!
The CIPR Professional PR Diploma will give you the advanced knowledge you need to design effective PR strategies and enable you to operate as a more strategic and confident communicator.