A PR degree from Bournemouth University helped Abi Lepp fulfil a long held ambition to work in the entertainment industry. As an Account Manager with London-based creative agency Feref, Abi has worked on the PR launches for major blockbusters including Ocean’s 8, Widows, Smallfoot and most recently X-Men: Dark Phoenix. Her role includes developing and distributing digital assets for social media and working with key influencers to attract interest in the latest releases.
It’s an industry she first experienced during her university placement year with Disney. Abi said: “I knew that I wanted to work in the entertainment industry from an early age. I would watch television shows such as Graham Norton and Jonathan Ross and wonder what went on behind the scenes to secure the big-name stars. When it came to choosing a university course, I decided to go down the PR route and chose Bournemouth University because of its reputation in this area. I really enjoyed my time at BU and my placement in the publicity team at Disney Studios gave me a real flavour of what it would be like to pursue this sort of career. During the year I had the opportunity to work on campaigns for film releases including Iron Man 3 and Maleficent, which was a dream come true for me.”
With around 2,000 applicants vying for just 11 places on the Disney internship, the placement didn’t come easily. Abi recalls a lengthy selection process involving application forms, phone interviews, presentations and an assessment day. She said: “It was tough but I was determined to secure a place and made sure I did my homework. Fortunately, it all paid off.”
After finishing university, Abi joined a boutique PR agency where she worked on arthouse documentaries and BAFTA campaigns. While there she met a contact who would go on to become her boss at creative agency, Zero Degrees West. This gave her experience of working across the broader disciplines of digital, design and AV before making the move into account management at Feref. While the PR industry is changing all the time, Abi still draws on the skills and knowledge she developed at BU. She said: “My course introduced me to so many different elements, including how social and digital media could be used alongside more traditional forms of PR. Most people think that PR involves calling journalists and arranging interviews. That still goes on, but today it has to be integrated with all the channels that connect brands with their audiences.”
When asked for her advice to others looking to enter such a competitive industry, Abi says: “Follow your dream. Identify what you are passionate about and go for it. I get such a buzz from my work, particularly building engagement with fans and creating that excitement and anticipation around a new film release. It is competitive but that’s where your knowledge and passion can help you to stand out. I would also say that if you’ve worked hard to build contacts and gain experience during your degree, don’t waste it by heading off travelling for two years and then try to come back and secure your first role. You want to maximise the relationships you’ve made and stay relevant.”