Working As Head of Communications For Condé Nast Through A Global Pandemic

"I think trust is the hardest over zoom, so much of my job is built on relationships and its been over a year since I've seen anyone."

Kirsty Turbott interviews Emily Hallie

Over the last few weeks I have been taking part in a short course at Condé Nast college, where I have had the pleasure of hearing from so many amazing guest speakers and leading industry experts. A few weeks ago, one of the lectures was by Emily Hallie, the communications director at Condé Nast. I was immediately inspired by the enthusiastic and passionate way she spoke about her job and I was fascinated by what she had to say about the busy and constantly evolving world of PR. Emily’s role is very varied, and in her own words, her job is managing “the external relationship with the media and Condé Nast titles in the UK.” She is responsible for brands such as Vogue, Vanity Fair and GQ and how they are perceived by the media and the press. In her lecture for the college, she explained that no two days in PR are ever the same, and that a large part of the role is also crisis management and how you, as the brand, respond to that. You have to be alert and ready to act quickly but efficiently. 

I have always been drawn to the seemingly glamorous world of Condé Nast, and since working on The Notable I have gained a lot of insight in how to communicate as a brand and how to get a message across, so it was therefore an incredible experience to be able to hear from Emily and then to ask her my questions as well.

Did you always want to work in PR, and if not what was your dream job as a child?

I wanted to be a journalist as far back as I can remember but then I went to New York City and met some fabulous publicists and never looked back.

As the communications director, you are responsible for many different jobs all at once, how do you successfully manage to look after all of Conde Nast’s titles simultaneously?

A lot of coffee! And multitasking.  My team is brilliant and so are the teams I work with.  We work long hours but we have immense respect for each other.   

Due to the ongoing pandemic, how much has your job changed and what have been some of the challenges of managing so many different teams remotely? 

Everything is over zoom, crisis’s move faster, and no events! It’s hyper active without ever leaving the house. I think trust is the hardest over zoom, so much of my job is built on relationships and its been over a year since I’ve seen anyone.

Obviously the media doesn’t stick to a 9-5 work schedule, so how do you personally find time to unwind and have some time to rest and relax? Do you set quite clear boundaries to allow yourself to have a good work/life balance and has the pandemic made this even more challenging?

No, but it’s a priority of mine in 2021 to focus on the balance. The pandemic has made it crystal clear I need some hobbies!

As the person in charge of PR and the person who is essentially in control of the brand’s image and reputation, have you found that in recent years your job has had to change and adapt because of social media? We have access to information pretty much immediately so how does that affect your job?

Of course, crisis management is now at sonic speed. It never used to be that way, you’d go through the mornings papers and get around to reacting if at all.

What has been your proudest achievement and career highlight so far, and what does having a ‘successful’ career mean to you? 

My career highlight was going to Ghana with Edward Enninful on the royal tour. It was magical. Success to me is looking forward to going to work everyday. I have that and am immensely grateful.

Working for Conde Nast, you must get to meet amazing people and we are obviously all familiar with some of the incredible women who have worked, or still work for the company, i.e Anna Wintour and Tina Brown, the former editor of Vanity Fair, but who would you say is your biggest inspiration and who are the women who inspire you? 

My colleagues are brilliant, I am in constant awe of them – Edward Enninful, Dylan Jones, Richard Dennen, Greg Williams, Rupert Thomas, Hatta Byng, Melinda Stevens, Deborah Joseph! brilliant brilliant brilliant editors. There are too many women to name who inspire me but I would say Vanessa Kingori is like the best person for advice. She is so spot on.

Lastly, as we are a blog that is primarily focused on inspiring the next generation, for any potential communication directors reading this, or anyone hoping to enter the world of PR and fashion, what advice would you give and what are the skills and attributes needed to work in the industry? 

I would say a spirit of fun, a big curiosity for information and ideas, and a tireless work ethic. Those attributes have carried me a long way! Also, don’t ever forget where you are from or who helped you along the way- It’s very important.

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