Job Title
Public Relations ManagerName: Debbie SuttonCompany: Northern Foods

Professional Qualification(s):
10 GCSEs 3 A Levels BA (Hons) Media Studies with French, 2:1 NVQ Level 4 in Newspaper Journalism Writing NVQ Vocational Assessor Award Teeline shorthand 100 words per minute

Degree studied at…
University of East Anglia.Brief job description.
Responsible for managing the PR department and the PR budget and for managing internal and external communications. Internal communications involves writing and editing the corporate newspaper – Northern News; producing an electronic newsletter for managers; co-ordinating the production of, and editing, the Quarterly Management Review, and assisting in the redevelopment and routine management of the intranet site. External communications includes assisting in the production of the annual review and annual report; organising the AGM; co-ordinating and issuing press releases and handling all media enquiries and monitoring and enforcing Northern’s corporate identity across the group.My career so far…
I joined the Hull Daily Mail newspaper as a reporter in 1997 after graduating from university. I stayed with the newspaper for four years, progressing from a junior reporter to the senior education reporter.

In 2001, I joined the Hull and East Riding Health Action Zone as Project Support Manager, where I had responsibility for public relations and communications.

A year later, in 2002, I joined Northern Foods as Public Relations Manager.

What does your job involve in a typical day?
Given the nature of the role I never have a typical day.
I would start the day by responding to any post or emails; this could vary from requests from charities for donations or prospective letters from agencies trying to promote their business.

Given the variety of the role, it is necessary to prioritise your workload in favour of the job with the greatest urgency. This could mean liasing with our operating companies for an article for the internal newspaper or electronic newsletter, which would then require writing and editing; or it could mean taking a media enquiry and making sure a statement is prepared or a suitable spokesperson is identified, or it could equally mean co-ordinating a communications message for the whole group.

Communications underpin everything we do in Northern Foods; therefore the Public Relations department is always on hand to advise anyone across the group on a communications issue. As a result Public Relations is quite a high profile department to work in and we get involved in many different projects and activities – We never know what each day will bring.

What do you like most about your job?
The variety of the role and the opportunity to turn your hand to many different activities. I really enjoy the opportunity to communicate with many different people and I have an excellent team to work with.

What skills are required in your job?
Excellent communication skills both verbal and written, and the ability to understand the importance of communications in everything we do.
The ability to prioritise your workload and juggle several jobs at once.
The ability to work well in a team and to think creatively.

How many people work for you?
I manage a team of three.

What is your advice to people looking for a career in the food and grocery industry?
The roles on offer in the food and grocery industry are wide and varied and my advice would be that there are many different paths which can lead to a position within this sector.

I did not train in a food-related discipline, however this has not restricted my progression. It is an interesting sector to work in; there is always a lot going on, which presents constant challenges.