Name: Chris Henry
Role: Managing director, 818 (entertainment publicity agency)
Tertiary education: Diploma of Broadcasting from the New Zealand Broadcasting School
How long have you been in your role?
I started 818 in December of 2014.
Why did you choose a career in publicity?
I used to work in radio promotions and after some time overseas, I came back to New Zealand and came across a job as a publicity assistant at Shortland Street. When I applied, I didn’t really know what a publicist did and sort of went in blind to the interview, but the more I found out about the role, the more I realised it was a great match for my natural skill set. I got the job and soon realised I absolutely loved it. It’s a brilliant job to do if you love to be busy, solve a few problems and create some incredible relationships with people from all different walks of life.
What does a normal week look like for you?
We start our week with a big team meeting to run through the press that has come out over the weekend and then we look ahead at what is happening with our projects in the week ahead and chat through any challenges or ideas on coverage we can secure. The rest of the week is filled with meetings with media to talk story ideas, working with talent on photo shoots and taking them to interviews, organising, setting up and running red carpets for events, as well as reporting and general office stuff!
What is the most rewarding thing about your job?
The access we get to the inner workings of some of New Zealand’s most exciting entertainment projects. We really get to know some incredible talent and see some awesome projects come to life, and that is pretty special. Knowing you have done your bit to get someone’s hard work out to an audience is a pretty awesome feeling.
What is the most challenging thing about your job?
In our business there are a lot of moving parts and that can be a challenge. You need to make sure you are always on your game and ready to act when an opportunity comes, or fix an issue as it arises, and do this always with a big smile on your face.
What is your career highlight to date?
I would have to say it’s working with some pretty incredible high-profile talent. In the last year and a bit we have worked with Taika Waititi, Julian Dennison, Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon, Bethenny Frankel, Madeleine Sami and Jackie Van Beek, and now Daniel Radcliffe and Samara Weaving [who are currently in New Zealand filming Guns Akimbo]. It’s incredible to be able to not only meet these people but actually form a trusting relationship with them to execute some incredible coverage for our projects.
I would also say my other highlight would be building an incredible team. I am lucky enough to have two awesome team members in Kate and Orietta, who back the business 100 per cent and have allowed us to keep growing and taking on these incredible projects.
What advice would you give those considering a career in publicity?
My biggest advice would be to step out of your media consumption zone. Often people who come into PR are caught by the lack of education in what is on offer in the media landscape. Make sure you are watching the TV news and The Project, read the weekend newspapers and buy the odd magazine so you can see what they are into. Knowing the media we pitch to is very important.
What is your personal mission statement or a motto that you live by in your career?
Good things happen to good people. Always remember to be good as it will take you far.
What skills do you think are valuable in your industry?
Empathy, good manners, the ability to multitask and a sunny disposition!
What is a common misconception about the industry?
Definitely that it is a big party all the time. We get to go to a lot of great stuff, but you are always on the clock and it’s important to understand that. It’s a privilege to do the stuff we do and you have to treat it with respect!