Luke Walpole joined PLMR in July 2020 and has gone on to be an essential part of our award-winning Education Practice. He recently completed the PLMR LEAD Training programme, a carefully curated series of lectures specifically designed to enable experienced PLMR colleagues to develop the leadership and consultancy skills needed to move into our senior management team. We sat down with him to find out more about the LEAD programme and how it has helped him excel.
Can you tell us a little bit about the PLMR LEAD programme and your experience of the sessions?
The LEAD programme comprises of a series of talks and workshops, delivered by both internal PLMR colleagues and external experts. The topics covered are designed to focus on some of the core tenets of working in an agency, from an in-depth understanding of the media through to the inner workings of government, and how to better understand your leadership style. These talks have proved both useful in my day-to-day role, and more generally as a means of continually rethinking the most effective way to achieve positive outcomes for clients.
Which of the training modules did you find the most interesting and why?
The talk from Caroline Wheeler – then Deputy Political Editor for The Sunday Times – was hugely interesting. As well as providing a series of useful, tangible tips for pitching and engaging with the media, she openly and clearly discussed the co-dependency between media and politics. As a result, it made many of us re-assess the challenges, and of course opportunities, which come from trying to influence both sides of this relationship.
How has the PLMR LEAD programme benefitted you and, in turn, helped you better support your clients and colleagues?
Alongside the practical pieces of advice given by those with experience both inside and outside of working in an agency, Simon Haslam’s leadership training was really thought-provoking. Simon brought different leadership theories to life in an accessible way, and really underlined the need to tweak and tailor your communication style depending on the recipient. This, alongside the practical tips given in the other talks, has helped hugely with account management, and more generally with creating a positive working culture internally.
What piece of advice would you give to a new colleague joining PLMR?
Firstly, really try to absorb the experience and insights of those you are working with. Everyone on your team will have different strengths, and it’s worth investing time to work out how best to learn from these. Secondly, don’t get lulled into treating every client the same way. While there are definitely core principles which underpin effective PR and Public Affairs support, each client is different, and should be approached with fresh eyes.