Are you a foodie and also a passionate communicator? Would a job in marketing and PR for restaurants sound like it has your name written all over it? Did you answer yes? Well we spoke to the lady in charge of brand, communications, marketing, PR, social media and digital at Pho, Libby Andrews.
Name: Libby Andrews
Job title: Head of Marketing
What does your job role entail?
My job role can be broken in to three sections: PR (generating buzz, media relations, restaurant openings), marketing (sales, social media and customer engagement) and business development. I run the social media accounts and brand communications for all 14 of our restaurants (soon to be 15, we open in Manchester this summer).
Describe your working day or week?
A typical workweek for me is pretty varied. My job is definitely not 9 to 5, Monday to Friday and unless I’m sleeping, I’m on social media. I have a desk in our head office, which I’m at either a few hours a day or a couple of days a week – that’s my planning and strategizing time. But usually I can be found in one of our restaurants, either in the kitchen taking photos and videos or at a table eating (and taking more photos) with a journalist or a blogger to use on one of our social media channels. Giving our customers an in-depth look into the business is really important. Each week I usually have two to three evening events to attend like restaurant openings, networking dinners or cocktail meetings (the best kind). Staying in touch with those in the hospitality industry – one that has quickly become a rock star scene in London – keeps me on my toes, constantly learning and thinking about how to be innovative at Pho.
What key skills do you need to do your job?
Enthusiasm and passion. When it’s your role to promote a brand, a dish, a person or a place, if you’re not really into it, people will sense that. I also work with lots of different personalities every day, from chefs to front of house staff, to journalists and customers, so people skills are really important. It’s quite a balancing act to get everyone the information they need and to keep them happy. Communication skills are also vital – the owner of Pho, Stephen Wall, would say I’m ‘gobby’ or a ‘loud mouth.’ We joke about it, but to do my job, you can’t be the shy one in the corner.
What made you decide to go for this job role?
Having always worked in food PR agencies, moving “client side” or in-house at Pho was a bit of a risky choice, albeit the right one. I’ve known the owners of the company for years and they still run the business day-to-day, and because Pho was previously a client of mine I knew the brand inside and out. It was a mix of my love and knowledge for the people and the company that sealed the deal. It was also the right timing, as the opportunity presented itself after about six years of international agency experience.
Best part of your job?
The people (350 of us at Pho!), the flexible hours, getting to ‘play’ on social media all day long and of course, the food.
Worst part of your job?
Receiving negative tweets from customers late at night, or when I’m out with friends, because those are the ones you have to deal with and respond to right away. Plus they’re a major buzz kill.
Most memorable moment at work?
Going to Vietnam with the owners of Pho. We spent a week in Hanoi, the birthplace of pho (the dish) just eating, drinking, experiencing, and for me, seeing first hand the inspiration behind the company I work for was a really valuable, life-changing experience.
If I’m choosing a course to study, what type of course suits this job best?
I studied PR at university but would never be able to do this job well if I didn’t also have a passion for food, years of experience working in restaurants and if I didn’t take up social media as a hobby all those years ago. My point is, it’s not really down to a specific course, but doing and studying the things you love, so that when you’re looking at your skill set, you’re more likely to go after jobs that will be fun and satisfying.
Does work experience really help you to get the dream job?
It certainly did for me. With a bit of luck and the right relationships, I was given a six-week summer internship in a boutique PR agency in Shoreditch when I was 21. After the six weeks were up I went back to America to finish my last year at uni. When it was time to look for a job I rang up my old boss and she happened offer me a junior role. But nothing is that easy – when I arrived off the boat from America, on my first day of work she took me to lunch, looked me right in the eyes and said “I hired you because I like you, but I don’t really have an open position for you. So if you don’t carry your weight, I’ll get rid of you.”
I was extremely fortunate to have the opportunity to work for a buzzing agency in London, but I worked my bum off to earn a full-time job there, and I think it’s important for graduates and young people to understand that a foot in the door is only half the battle.
Give us a tip on how to steal your job.
Work hard, show enthusiasm and impress those around you, then maybe one day, when I’ve moved up the ranks, I’ll GIVE you my job!