Welcome to the Telum Spotlight, a quick insight into some of the interesting people in the PR and Communications space, as well as freelancers and those launching their own boutique agencies. Today we shine the Spotlight on Amber Daines in Sydney. Amber brings over two decades of experience to her newly rebranded agency, Bespoke Co.
By way of introduction:
I was originally a print journo, and spent time as an on-air TV reporter. At 22, I won a Walkley Award for Excellence in Group Newspaper Journalism during the Asian financial crisis of the late 1990s (yes, aeons ago).
Today, I collaborate with clients such as Westpac, Finity, Sephora and the ADA NSW, and have a new online course ‘Idea to Podcast in 4 Weeks’, following on from my weekly show ‘The Politics of Everything’, which has enjoyed over 3.5 million downloads since 2017.
After 15 years in business, in January 2023 I rebranded my media training and PR agency as Bespoke Co. A core pillar of the revamped agency is working with a range of ESG-commit brands and leaders on areas such as climate change risk and innovative ways of communicating their ‘green credentials’ with stakeholders.
I am also heading towards my PhD in Sustainability and Business Management.
Working in a local newsagency on weekends when I was at high school. Even then I loved being around print newspapers and the rows of glossy magazines.
My first post-uni job was a cadet at what was then Fairfax newspapers (Sydney Morning Herald and the Australian Financial Review). I was the only female cadet on the business round! Crazy.
One thing you would change about the communications industry:
Transparency. A lot of clients come to us after having had a disappointing experience with another agency, often a larger one or someone has misled them on the reality of what PR and strategic communications can do for their brand. Honesty and vulnerability to say up front (before you sign them up) “we don’t know the exact way to get more eyeballs on your product, but we will find out how” or “your angle isn’t likely to be a mainstream TV story” will help PR professionals overall. We all want success, but in the long term, honesty and integrity work wonders for keeping agency reputations intact.
Most admired person in comms:
I’ve had some of the most talented journalists and editors mentor me over my early years in the media game. When I was working at Fairfax, Sean Aylmer was a great early business reporter mentor. I always knew he’d remain down to earth and accessible, even as a much more experienced journalist, with his combination of great newsroom knowledge and kudos.
Most admired journalist:
Jana Wendt was my first journalist idol in the 1980s. Her role in covering war zone stories and the disasters of the time can’t be underestimated. Gender was still very much a factor in how you were positioned at a major news network (having young women working in war zones was very unusual) and she just got on with it. Jana was a brilliant on-air interviewer, but also had a graciousness to know that being the unspoken rockstar reporter on 60 Minutes was never about her - no ego!
Advice to anyone starting out in comms:
Be willing to fail at a new skill before you succeed. Learn something new, good or bad, from everyone you meet in the business, and never expect a promotion just because of the time you have been in a role. Just be the best you can be.
Essential daily reading:
There is probably something else way cooler, but I always scan ABC News Daily after my morning exercise stint. Also, I tend to jump over to the BBC and New York Times for more global news.
There are always a few options depending on the mood. I have read F Scott Fitzgerald’s ‘The Great Gatsby’ at least 10 times since I was a teen. More recently, I loved 'The Ninth Life of a Diamond Miner, A Memoir' by Grace Tame.
I was a full Rocky fighting movie series fan in my childhood, and the underdog story definitely shaped many people of my generation. My late dad and I always saw them at the movies together, so it always feels nostalgic for me to see these again.
I have travelled a lot and been able to work and live for years overseas - Hong Kong, Paris and London - as a journalist and dotcom editor (very 2001!). I dream of a return to France and its regions soon, and I dream of a first-time trip to somewhere new like Sardinia.
Clickbait fact about you:
At 23, I went on a work junket to Mustique, a private island in the Caribbean to hang out with Sir Richard Branson, Bryan Adams and Tommy Hilfiger (and he gave me a branded beach towel).
“Listen more than you speak.”