New C8 starter Aga shares her journey in PR so far…
As long as I can remember I always wanted to work in the PR industry. I was inspired by my mother who, while I was still at school, ran her own event management agency. I loved the fast-paced environment, meeting new people and celebrities, and liaising with stakeholders.
I had my first taste of professional life in a PR agency at university where I worked within the technology and education sector. I found meeting new people, working with different clients and the B2B industry in general, fascinating. Reluctantly, I had to leave and focus on finishing my degree. Fast forward a couple of months, I graduated with my master’s degree in PR and joined the communications team at Surrey Police. I worked on various effective media campaigns which focused on Modern Slavery and Rural Crime within the local community.
The objective of the modern slavery campaign was to raise awareness of the signs of modern slavery within the Surrey community. It’s a high priority for every police force to reduce this crime and ensure offenders are prosecuted.
According to the UK Government around 10,000 people in the UK are in modern slavery. However, modern slavery experts believe there are over 100,000 people who suffer in silence. These operational campaigns take place every three months in the UK and each time they cover different types of exploitation: labour, sexual, child, human trafficking, forced marriage.
In February 2020, I worked on the operational activities which focused on the clandestine entry phase of human trafficking. It was an intense week of action involving multiple agencies including Surrey and Sussex Police, DVLA, NCA, HMRCA, Hertfordshire Police, Kent Police, Essex Police. Dog units and drones were also involved. Frontline officers ran proactive activities at Cobham services speaking to the public and making them aware of the signs of modern slavery. On the day we stopped lorries and targeted those vehicles which were flagged as having outstanding immigration fines.
I arranged for the media to join us on the day, to raise the profile of issues in Surrey. We had local (Surrey Live) and national media (The Guardian) participate to get a flavour of policing. I arranged for the Surrey Police Operation Lead, the Force Tactical Lead on Modern Slavery and the Victim Navigator to give interviews to the press. The whole campaign required maintaining strong relationships with stakeholders internally and externally. It involved a lot of planning, organisation, and media training for spokespeople.
Another campaign I worked on covered sexual exploitation. A Crime Reporter from national publication, iNews, came to Surrey and took part in the execution of a planned warrant. It was a complex, international investigation that has been going on for a couple of years. We had reports from the public of unusual activity at a provided address and were prepared to find victims or offenders. After the raid, the journalist had a briefing with the Detective who led the investigation. My campaign was a success and we secured exclusive media coverage in iPaper online and print. It really highlighted the importance of building relationships with journalists. An additional follow-up story was published after the investigation finished and the “recruitment ring’’ of offenders was arrested.
I was immensely proud to instigate and be part of these campaigns and it inspired my PR career. Having joined C8 earlier in the year, now I am putting the media relations skills I learned in this high pressure role to good use, across a range of cybersecurity and disruptive tech topics which I find equally interesting.