Interview: Sophie Bradley

Getting past the agents of celebrities is a big challenge says the PR manager for the overseas development agency Cafod

Sophie Bradley
Sophie Bradley

- How did you move from music industry promotions to charities?

It's not as big a move as it might sound - you have to tailor what you say to the right people. I also took my experience of working with celebrities.

- What skills are needed for the celebrity coordination aspects of your work?

You need to be able to work across the organisation to find where celebrities will fit best. It is important to get your head around the issues so that you can suggest the right personality and, in turn, explain the aims of the campaign to them.

- What are the challenges of the role?

Managing internal expectations is a challenge: everyone wants Stephen Fry and Joanna Lumley. Thankfully, I have little experience of prima donnas. The main challenge is getting through the 'gatekeepers' who work for them. I need to demonstrate to agents the opportunities we offer the celebrity and that we can be trusted with the celebrity's brand.

- How do you select celebrities to work with?

It is most important that they care about the cause and are passionate about the issues. Cafod has core high-profile supporters, such as the TV chef Delia Smith, The X Factor presenter Dermot O'Leary and the actor David Harewood, with whom I've built direct relationships. I keep them posted on our activities and they ask to be involved in specific projects.

- What charity PR work has impressed you recently?

The Time to Change campaign by the mental health charities Rethink Mental Illness and Mind is fantastic. It uses high-profile authentic voices and combines them with editorial and marketing to challenge stereotypes and get people talking. The Adopt a Word campaign by the children's communication charity I Can is a good example of integrating fundraising and profile-raising. Charging £15 to adopt a word is a novel approach and, again, it uses celebrities well.

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