Camilla Swain, PR Manager, Girlguiding was nominated for the Suzy Spirit Inspiration award by members of her team, Charlotte Kelloway and Laura Payne.
Despite the fact that Camilla has only been with the organisation for less than a year, she’s completely changed the way the team work and think about things, as Charlotte says; ” she does everything with energy, creativity and encourages us to think outside the box.”
The winner of the Suzy Spirit Inspiration award will be announced on March 17.
Suzy chose PR because first and foremost, she loved seeing the positive in people. As a cynical journalist and a liver of this world, I know that’s not an easy task.
It wasn’t when I first knew Suzy, it wasn’t when we were married, and it isn’t now. But Suzy saw the positive in everybody. She was willing to give them a chance – from her colleagues to her clients to the companies she worked for. She wasn’t a fool – she could quite easily see through if someone was lying, but she was always willing to give people a chance. That’s something in this world people don’t often do.
In terms of work, she certainly was the ‘rising star’, but Suzy believed in other people. And because she believed in people, she believed in those around them. She loved working with her team at LEWIS and seeing the best in her colleagues, and they loved her back. I think that’s how you get ahead in PR and get ahead in life – you really believe in your clients, your journalists, and your team. Suzy also loved her clients, and they loved her. She wasn’t a cynical person. Nor was she fake, either.
She got her belief in people from the church and her strong Christian faith. There is no other way of putting it. She was the daughter of a vicar and from an early age she had a relationship with God. From that, she learned to believe in people. Suzy was always the person who could deal with the ‘difficult people’ in life – even me!
I often think that that is a key ingredient to our winners so far – the belief in people. Suzy would have loved these awards because they are all about people believing in other people and being recognised for it, and I think it’s fantastic we’ve had so many nominations.
The people who were moved to nominate believed in those people enough to put them up for an award. We’ve seen awards from small agencies, big agencies, mega-agencies…and you know what? It’s been absolutely incredible. Every person who has nominated should also be recognised.
For me personally, this award is about belief almost above anything else. In people. In God. In loving others. And the Suzy Spirit Awards reflect as much about her as anything else I’ve seen in the four-or-so years that she’s been gone.
Please take this opportunity to nominate someone who moves you, the closing date is Friday 23rd December – so good luck.
Henry Playfoot, the winner of the 2016 Suzy Spirit Award joins the panel of judges in their quest to find two exceptional PR and comms professionals for 2017.
We met him to discuss all the things he’s been up to since he won, and to find out what he’s looking for in this year’s candidates.
We’re thrilled that you’ll be on the judging panel, what are you particularly looking forward to?
It’s a privilege to hear stories about people who make a difference in the lives of those around them, and seeing the respect and affection that people have for their nominees is very uplifting.
How did you feel when you found out you had been nominated?
A sense of disbelief, followed by embarrassment which gave way to feeling ever so slightly pleased with myself. That last feeling disappeared when I told my family and friends about the nomination and they said things like ‘Really? It’s definitely you, not some other bald guy called Henry?”.
What have you been up to since you won the Suzy Spirit Award last year?
As well as working on some great accounts, the biggest thing I’ve worked on was Claremont’s Purpose in Practice report, a serious piece of work looking at the risk of ‘purpose wash’ in the purpose-driven business world.
What made you choose a career in comms?
I’m not sure I did choose a career in comms – but once it chose me it felt like a good fit…
Who has been the biggest inspiration in your career?
Jo Yarwood, my first boss who ran what was then the Health Education Authority’s national immunisation campaign. She taught me that you can’t go far wrong if you put the thinking and time in, and don’t take yourself too seriously.
Is there a quality you can spot in people just starting out their career that gives you an inkling that they’re going to be special?
It’s probably a willingness to go above and beyond what is asked of them – even with really simple tasks. And the people who are good to be around. They may not end up running the company, but they always do well.
What is the most important quality for a nominee to have?
Tough question. For me it’s probably kindness or compassion because these qualities lead to the actions that the Suzy Spirit Award recognises and embodies.
What’s the proudest moment of your career so far?
I like winning pitches where you’re the underdog. I feel very proud on those days.
During the nomination process you were praised for your ability to make everyone feel welcome and at ease, but how else have you been described by your colleagues at work?
I honestly don’t know. It probably varies. I try to be calm and open minded, and I do try to make people laugh. It’s important to see the humour, especially when the pressure is on.
Ben Caspersz, who nominated you, described you as “the man who lights up our lives”, do you care to comment on this wonderful accolade?
I can guarantee you that no one else will ever say that, or anything similar, ever again – I’m a 20 watt bulb.
Where can we take you for dinner, what’s your favourite restaurant ever?
It changes, but Jin Kichi in Hampstead is hard to beat. The food’s exquisite and the atmosphere is really special. I like great food in informal settings.
And what’s next for you?
I’ve reconfigured my professional life, and am now working part time for Claremont on strategic communication briefs and thought leadership work directly with clients, but I’m also helping people with pitch development through my consultancy agency Pitch Doctor. I’ve also been asked to join Carol Cone’s US-based Purpose Collaborative as senior counsel, so that might get interesting…
Finally, our favourite five very-important questions… Twitter or Instagram? Twitter Chocolate or crisps? Chocolate Corrie or Eastenders? Neither Beach or pool? Beach Still or sparkling? Sparkling
This year, there are two categories for the award, so if you know someone extraordinary please nominate them today.
We talked to Chloe about what she’s been up to since we met her last year (a lot!) and what’s next.
What do you think is the most important quality for a nominee for the Suzy Spirit Award?
Supporting others. It doesn’t matter what stage of your career you’re at, you’re always in a position to help support and encourage those around you.
How did you feel when you found out you had been nominated?
Honoured. This award is so personal and there’s nothing else quite like it in the industry.
What have you been up to this year, and is there something you’ve done that you’re particularly proud of?
It’s been a busy year – I’ve been promoted to junior account manager at Cream, named in PR Week’s 30 under 30 group for 2016, and been shortlisted for Outstanding Young Communicator at the Yorkshire & Lincolnshire CIPR PRide awards.
What’s next for you?
Settle into my new role and continue to climb the career ladder!
What made you choose PR?
I usually joke that PR found me – I started out as a business admin apprentice but soon found I had a natural love for storytelling, so here I am three years later!
What advice would you give to young people who want to work in PR?
Surround yourself with people who inspire you. The people you work with shape the type of professional you become, and having people to look up to, and learn from is key to becoming a PR pro!
What’s the most memorable moment in your career to date?
Cream was commissioned to provide independent PR and media support for Professor Alexis Jay OBE, author of an Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Exploitation in Rotherham 1997 – 2013.
What do you think you’ll be doing in five years?
Still doing what I’m doing – but bigger and better! Hopefully I’ll have a promotion or two under my belt. I’m only 20 so there’s plenty of opportunities out there.
If we asked your team to describe you in five words, what would they be?
Hard working, focused, intuitive, passionate and fun!
And we’d like to buy you a drink, what do you fancy?
Espresso martini please!
And finally, our favourite five all-important questions… Twitter or Instagram? Twitter Chocolate or crisps? Chocolate Corrie or Eastenders? Eastenders Beach or pool? Beach Still or sparkling? Still
Henry Playfoot, Strategy Director at Claremont Comms was honoured for the inspiration and determinism he ignites in his colleagues, his self-effacing demeanour and his ability to light up a room.
He said: “The award is important because it recognises our qualities as people, and that really matters in the workplace.”
The judging panel consists of Sally O’ Neill from LEWIS, John Carter, Suzy’s father, Jeremy Thompson, MD of Cision EMEA, Stephen Waddington, Director at Ketchum Europe and Alex Ferguson, Suzy’s husband.
John praised Playfoot for his humbleness and said of the winner;” [he said] I’m not an inspirational person, but his colleagues clearly thought he was, and this is part of the criteria for the award – helping and mentoring people without expecting anything in return.”
Former winners were Nicola Green, Director of communications and reputation at O2 and Rosie Warin, CEO of Global Tolerance.
Henry Playfoot, Strategy Director at Claremont was named winner of the 2016 Suzy Spirit Award at the ceremony held at Telefonica’s HQ in London.
The previous year’s winner Nicola Green, Director of Communications and Reputation at O2 paid tribute to the nominees by urging them, in the words of Adele’s tour confetti to remember that ‘everyone loves the things that you do’.
After a record number of nominations, and an inspiring shortlist of five, the judges declared Playfoot the third winner as his self-effacing and unassuming character hugely impressed them.
His nominator, Ben Caspersz said “Behaviour that is impressive to others, Henry sees as normal. He does what he does without calculation of what he’ll get back.”
When asked what inspires Henry in life he said “Other acts of kindness from others in my life has massively impacted me.”
Playfoot started his career in multi-platform campaigns for the Department of Health and the BBC, before he co-founded his own digital comms firm in 2000. He joined Claremont in 2014 as strategy director.
The other four finalists shortlisted for the 2016 Suzy Ferguson Spirit Award 2016 were Chloe Couchman, Head of PR at Merlin Entertainments (formerly PR director at Carlson Wagonlit Travel when nominated); Anita Glover, Head of Corporate Comms at MHS Homes Limited; Chloe Staniforth, Account Executive at Cream Consultancy; and Louise Thompson, Marketing and PR Manager for Dalton Park retail outlet.
Jeremy Thompson, EMEA MD at Cision (owner of Gorkana) said: “The winner of the Suzy Spirit Award is intended to recognise an individual of exceptional character, integrity and determination, in memory of Suzy Ferguson, who inspired so many at LEWIS and the broader PR industry.
This year’s winner is no different – he has inspired those around him and has done so with genuine humility. Henry is a worthy winner and epitomises that spirit which we look for.”
Gorkana is proud to sponsor and promote the award, all proceeds of which go to Bowel Cancer UK to promote awareness of the disease through improved research.