Portland Profile: Anya O’Shea

Portland Profile: Anya O’Shea

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received in your career so far?

Be confident in what you can offer. There’s often a debate in the PR world about whether you should be able to do a bit of everything or focus on becoming a specialist. I think the answer is somewhere in the middle. The best communicators focus on the audience they’re trying to speak to, and know about a variety of channels they can use to get that message to them. That said, identifying a few areas where you build up more of a depth of knowledge and experience really helps you carve out your niche. Every couple of years I’ve looked to challenge myself with a new skill or perspective – it keeps me learning and makes the job even more interesting.

What is your favourite part about your role?

At Portland it’s the people. They are smart, brilliant and determined – it’s motivating and inspiring in equal measure. I’m sure that’s often the answer to this question! Working in agency is really team-based and we put a huge focus on collaboration at Portland. That really suits me as I love to bounce ideas around.

What has been your favourite experience at Portland so far?

After nearly eight years here it’s very hard to choose…so I’ll pick two. You get a lot of cool behind-the-scenes moments with your clients – going up an air traffic control tower was one of my personal highlights. Secondly, I was lucky enough to be invited to undertake part-time studies alongside consulting over the past two years, which has led to me becoming a chartered manager and gaining a business management MSc. They’re qualifications I’m super proud of and am so grateful to Portland for their support. 

What advice would you give your 20-year-old self-starting out in comms, or to someone entering this field of work?

Read everything you can! From the papers in the morning, following your clients’ social media and volunteering to proof your colleagues’ work. And then read books, magazines and blogs that appeal to your own interests too. When you think of those creative people who always have an idea in a brainstorm, I bet you’ll find they’re among the best read-up. Plus there’s nothing better to help your writing continually improve too.  

What do you do to switch off from work?

Now we’ve been working in a genuinely hybrid environment for a couple of years, I do think having some ‘routines’ that signal the end of the working day are important. I love to cook or read a novel, but sometimes the only thing that’ll do it is a full-on spin class with the lights down low and music at full volume! That said, you’ll probably find it’s when you’re relaxing that the perfect wording for that tagline finally pops into your head – and that’s ok too!

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