Victoria Biggs, Managing Director, Consumer Practice Group - MSL London.
Victoria has advised and worked with a wide range of brands in multiple sectors and markets on their PR campaign strategy, platform development, planning and implementation. At MSL London, her clients include Procter & Gamble, for whom she is the EMEA account director, working with brands such as Oral-B, Always, Vicks and Herbal Essences, and Nestle Cereals.
Previously, she spent three years at eBay as UK Communications Director where she led PR teams for eBay, PayPal and Gumtree. During her time at eBay, the brand’s UK media profile and the business grew exponentially.
Her PR agency experience also includes two years as Director at Burson-Marsteller and seven years at Freud Communications where her brand clients ranged from Unilever brands (Lynx, Surf, Persil, Marmite), Kimberly-Clark (Kotex), Pizza Hut, KFC, Planet Hollywood and Jack Daniel’s to BT, Argos and AOL.
Who was your best ever hire and why?
During my career, I’ve been lucky enough to make some great hires – from the corporate PR manager I hired at eBay who is now running consumer PR for one of the big banks, through to an account executive who is now responsible for PR at one of the well known fashion houses.
In the past year at MSL, we hired a fantastic Digital Associate Director. She is an expert in her field and makes sure that she stays abreast of all the social media and digital trends and that these inform the platforms, concepts and content she presents to our clients.
And she is not afraid to take risks creatively, coming up with big ideas that are different and really stand out.
What most impresses you in an interview?
A positive energy - it’s vital if you are going to get on with someone. And having a curiosity – about people, trends, brands, communications and the industry.
For senior hires having a vision is critical - both for the company that you are coming to work for and for you and where you personally want to be. I like to know how people are going to contribute to the growth of the company. For more junior hires, it’s all about having a passion for the job.
Finally, a knowledge of the digital landscape and social media is fundamental. Experience and ability in this area is key right now.
What would be your one hot tip to someone coming to be interviewed by you?
Come in with a passion and have an opinion. Our job as consultants is to have an opinion. If you can’t show passion to me how are you going to show it to a client?
How do you and your company attract and retain top talent?
Communication across the agency is key. We have monthly staff meetings and quarterly ‘all hands’ meetings where we keep people abreast of company developments, showcase and recognize great work and introduce newcomers.
We invest heavily in training, both internal and external, and implement salary incentive schemes for senior level staff.
We have a social committee ‘Happy Days’ run by junior staff members who organize all social events such as Summer and Christmas parties. They run weekly staff drinks on a Friday night and spontaneous social events such as during Olympics and Wimbledon. They nominate ‘Big Ups’ for anyone that needs to be recognized for good work. All these things are key to keeping staff motivated, particularly the junior ones.
Recruiters - Trusted partners or necessary evil?
Trusted partners - we meet and present regularly to our top recruiters to keep them up to date on our clients, our leaders, our culture and our business performance. This is crucial if they are going to be selling our agency to future employees.
Victoria was talking to Annabelle King.