How long have you worked at Blackstock and how different is it from the PR agency you were at previously?

I’ve worked at Blackstock Consulting for three years and what first attracted me to the company was the potential for career development, with a flat structure ensuring that, no matter what your position or background is, you’ll have the opportunity to be involved in all kinds of workstreams – whether it be pitching for new business, engaging with government or having a central role in drafting research reports that have tangible effects on policy. PR companies tend to be very hierarchical in their approach. Blackstock is anything but.

What are the three biggest things you’ve learned in the role?

  • The value of PR goes beyond securing top-tier coverage. Instead, it’s about providing your clients with a service that helps join up the dots between different areas of policy and economic thought.
  • No idea is too big or too bold. And failure is OK – it’s how you learn.
  • One of the most important parts of my job as a communications professional is translating often complex policy, such as building regulations, into an easy-to-understand narrative that sets out why it matters and where our clients can have a voice of authority.

How committed to well-being is the company and how have Blackstock’s commitments to staff wellbeing benefited you?

Staff wellbeing is of paramount importance to Blackstock and the firm has been fantastic at helping people on a personal level with generous financial support and time off where needed. As an employee, we have unlimited access to mindfulness workshops and team leaders have remained both approachable and understanding during my tenure. We offer standard things like free gym membership fees, a cycle to work scheme and private healthcare but have also funded home exercise equipment and plants for homeworking, in addition to extensive staff events and group classes to bring everyone together.

What have been some of the social highlights?

As a Blackstock employee, I am plugged into a huge network of sector professionals across investment, development, architecture and proptech. This means that we’re able to take our clients, business development targets and journalists to a mix of industry events and socials – whether they be awards ceremonies, jazz shows, music gigs at London’s leading venues (such as the Royal Albert Hall) and a range of high-end restaurants.

All team members have an almost family-like bond, with most of us regularly socialising out of work hours, including the weekends. The firm’s DNA is built on the network of its founder and we are all encouraged and supported to build our own networks, with a significant amount of freedom and trust that’s totally unlike a traditional PR firm.

How does the company give back?

Blackstock’s services go beyond our client base, with our leadership team involved in not-for-profit, community-based work. One such example is Urban Land Institute’s UrbanPlan charity mentorship programme which aims to have a transformative impact on the career development of young people in real estate. We provide probono support for architecture charity Article 25 and for the Royal Contemporary Arts Society. Blackstock is always a regular sponsor of Norwood’s YN Property Awards and this charity is something we donate considerable sums to each year.

Blackstock has structured training programmes for every role and position, both in terms of sector and on various sorts of disciplines and skills. We industry chiefs and leaders come it to give training sessions at least once every two months – covering a range of topics from development finance to navigating the planning system – while weekly sessions are given by the senior leadership team.

What flexibility have you enjoyed in the role?

My role has been flexible from the start, with the option of working from home coming as standard. The leadership team also give you weekly time allocations for things such as working out.

What do you think makes Blackstock different from other firms?

Mainly the exposure you get to the wider built environment. The leadership team has an extensive contact book, all of which they’re happy to introduce you to.

What’s been the most rewarding story you’ve worked on?

Three months into my tenure I was tasked with launching and PR-ing a report that brought together a think tank of the UK’s biggest investors and developers to propose sixteen policy recommendations that would overhaul development in the Oxford-Cambridge Arc. The workstream gave me huge exposure to not only the property sector, but also government, with the team and I invited into the housing ministry to discuss our report. The big difference with any other firm is that the report was written by us – so rather than just promoting a client’s work, it was our work, wrapping in our clients, that I was able to lead.

The team and I have also been instrumental in raising the profile of modern methods of construction (MMC) – where homes are manufactured along production lines in factories – to join up the dots between energy, housing and employment policy.

How does Blackstock support junior staff?

With a clear training programme and weekly meetings with industry pioneers and journalists. Juniors benefit from a broad range of agency exposure from day one, as well as exposure to industry events and training sessions.

How is the company looking to create a positive impact around the climate crisis?

The transition to net-zero is threaded throughout all our workstreams. We work closely with clients to develop ESG strategies and identify opportunities that the transition to net-zero provides. At the end of 2021, we hired a Head of ESG to take a lead in this space and it’s a real point of difference in the market to be able to be able to advise on both the substance and the communications.