My Big Break: Shaun Bell, account manager, Stripe Communications

SHAUN BELL was, earlier this month, named ‘Outstanding Young Communicator’ at the CIPR Scotland PRide Awards 2014 – as noted, here, on account manager at Edinburgh-based Stripe Communications, he was praised by the judges for being “a breath of fresh air” and for demonstrating strong campaign results and a real passion for his clients.

His clients include the Scottish Government, Young Scot, The Soldiers’ Charity and John Lewis.

When did working in the media become an ambition?

To be honest, I can’t remember a time I wasn’t pitching a story. Once, when I was at school, my teacher asked me to contact the local paper to write an article about our class project, to fill and donate Christmas food hampers for the elderly in my town.

I went one better. I contacted BBC Scotland and asked them to let me “tell the world we need to help older people at Christmas”.

A little confused and a little bemused, the producer invited my mum and I to go into the studio to tell them more about the project. That afternoon, I was on BBC Radio Scotland urging listeners across the country to help my little school.

By Christmas, we’d donated more food hampers than ever before – people had sent in donations from right across Scotland. It was my first taste of media relations.

What was your first ‘media job’?

My first ‘proper’ PR job was as a communications assistant in the Edinburgh Festive Fringe media office, while I was at university. It was an explosion of colourful photocalls, huge personalities and endless days of little or no sleep.

By the end of the summer I’d set up PR stories with journalists around the world and gained an understanding of the media’s role in shaping consumer awareness and sentiment.

A two-star review could kill an artist’s career, but a great publicist could make it.

I’d learned the golden rule: there’s no room for mediocrity in this industry.

Describe briefly how your career has unfolded between your first media job and where you are now.

I went back to the Fringe media office the following year and in the winter worked for the press office of the Traverse Theatre, Scotland’s new writing theatre. It was brilliant fun and an enlightening experience. It gave me the skills, knowledge and confidence to apply for agency graduate schemes after university.

Since I graduated from Queen Margaret University, I’ve worked for Stripe Communications in its Edinburgh office.

I was first taken on through the Stars & Stripes graduate recruitment programme – an amazing training and personal development initiative.

Over the last few years I’ve worked with incredible clients on campaigns which I genuinely believe have helped people in our country. It’s a chance to improve lives; whether it’s campaigning to tackle hate crime, or helping to raise money for veteran soldiers’ rehabilitation treatments. It’s what gets me out of bed in the morning.

Any particular big breaks along the way?
This month I was incredibly proud to be awarded ‘Outstanding Young
Communicator’ at the CIPR Scotland PRide Awards. It was a huge privilege.Who would you like to thank more than most?

I’ve worked with so many wonderful, talented people in this industry but I’d have to say Juliet Simpson, my managing director at Stripe Communications.

From my first interview, she’s been an inspiration and a first-class mentor. She encourages everyone at Stripe to be the best that they can be. To meet and exceed expectations in every circumstance.
What do you know now that you wish you’d known when you started?
Understanding how people tick is your biggest asset in this industry. To deliver big impact campaigns, it’s vital to nurture the best team, form the closest media relationships and really work to understand your clients’ reputations in the wider world.To make a real impact, you need to channel your own creativity, knowledge and passion into every campaign. People start to listen when they see how much you care.