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Image / Editorial

The woman who launched Westlife: A day in the life of a PR professional


by Grace McGettigan
24th Sep 2018
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Kathryn Mason has over 29 years’ experience in the PR industry. She has worked with Universal Music Ireland, is an active member of the Public Relations Institute of Ireland, and founded her own agency Masonry PR. While she’s best-known for launching Westlife and working with Simon Cowell, Kathryn has a lifetime’s worth of PR experience under her belt.

Related: Marissa Carter on what it takes to launch a successful business 

On 26th September, she will take part in a Media Masterclass at the Westbury Hotel (tickets available here). She will share her expert tips to help you develop and expand your PR skills. Kathryn will also talk about how to achieve optimal coverage for your brand in these increasingly competitive times. The masterclass includes canapés and champagne on arrival, as well as the opportunity to network with like-minded guests before we begin our in-depth, comprehensive chat.

But first, she sat down to share what it’s like to be a PR professional in Ireland (admitting she fell into this career by accident).

Kathryn MasonPhoto via Kathryn Mason on Twitter

“I was never meant to work in PR,” Kathryn begins. “When I finished my diploma in business management (specialising in the music industry), I was determined I wanted to be in A&R (artists and repertoire). This is scouting for new music talent and then working with them; think Simon Cowell.

“After a stint working for a UK record company, I moved back to Ireland and started an admin job at one of the Irish offices. Within two years, I was the PR woman; purely by default and necessity in the office. But getting our songs on the radio, interviews in the press and seeing an artist on The Late Late Show – well that was the fuel for me.”

A (somewhat) typical morning

“Every day is different,” Kathryn tells us. “No two days will ever be the same, but that’s why I still love it. Everything is changing at such a rate you have to keep an eye on everything; assessing what’s going to be the most important thing for each client.

Related: The impact of your office space on productivity 

“The nearest I get to a normal day is starting out checking emails. Google alerts are your best friend, for checking a client’s online coverage and if anything has landed. We used to have to clip from the newspapers daily (and we still do on some projects), but most appear online now.

“I love tech, but nothing beats pen and paper…”

“Radio is one of my loves,” Kathryn adds, “but on my commute, I mix it with my other love: podcasts! Image’s Smart Casual is my new subscribe, but I also love listening to work ones; such as JSB Talks Digital and The Janet Murray Show. For anyone looking for communications inspiration, take a listen to Clear+Vivid with the dulcet tones of actor Alan Alda. You won’t regret this subscribe.”

At the office

“Once in the office, myself and my colleague Alexa plan what needs to be achieved that day for clients. I love tech, but nothing beats pen and paper (my current favourite is Michael Hyatt’s Full Focus Planner and a Pilot Frixion pen). I’m very old school. I love to talk and speak with media; if I get them on the phone or for a coffee, the things that happen. Don’t get me wrong – I usually pitch by email, but sometimes the coldness of email misses the story,” Kathryn explains.

blankPhoto via Michael Hyatt’s Full Focus Planner

“I am a stereotypical PR and I love coffee. I drink lots every day, but I do mix regular and decaf. Our MASONRY office is in the city centre, so popping to meet people for one is really easy. I’ve had to learn to fill a day with meetings rather than ad-hoc. I was losing too much time in the day. Think about putting meetings in batches; it’s much smarter.

“I always like to support my friends in the industry. I know how tough it can be, so having their backs is important.”

“In the afternoons, I like to put a Spotify focus playlist on and get into some deep work; such as writing, researching or planning. Client reporting takes much more time than clients realise, so we work on a system of ‘end-of-day’ emails in our office. It’s really handy for me to know what Alexa and our intern are up to, and vice versa. It also makes a client report easy at the end of each week; to pull into bullet points (I do think quality over quantity, mind).

Signing off

“To close the office day,” Kathryn says, “it’s back to my Full Focus Planner to check everything is crossed off. If not, then it goes into the next day. I’m very guilty of working at night on proposals or ideas. There are lots of events at night, so usually, there is something I’ll be heading to. Unlike when I first started, I don’t always go to everything. PR people, contrary to popular opinion, do speak to one another and often get invited to each other’s events. I always like to support my friends in the industry. I know how tough it can be, so having their backs is important.

“Evenings at home; well it’s Instagram time. I’m obsessed with images. While I tried Snapchat, Instagram is my firm favourite. I love how it tells a story, and hey, that’s what PR is all about.” Then, right before bed, Kathryn takes to her books. “I am not a big reader, but in an effort to reduce screen time I am back to paper – and I love it.”


Kathryn Mason will join Marissa Carter (founder of Cocoa Brown and Carter Beauty Cosmetics) and Gerardine Lally (founder of Lally & Associates) for a media masterclass on Wednesday, 26th September at 6 pm. 

Reserve your tickets today. 

Photo: Pexels.com

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