Georgie, thanks for agreeing to feature in our newsletter. You are Head of UK PR & Communications of Campari Group for those who don't know you. Can you explain what your job entails?
I’ve got two main focuses – corporate reputation and brand strategy.
When it comes to managing our corporate reputation here in the UK, it’s all about helping the wider world get to know Campari Group – our parent brand – through events, media relations, content, and relationship-building. My day-to-day particularly focuses on reaching the likes of drinks writers at national titles like the FT, drinks and lifestyle influencers, as well as the Italian and Caribbean business communities based in this market. Then of course, collaborating with our Commercial Team on engaging communications for our wonderful customers too.
I also get to work with our distinctive and unique portfolio of premium drinks brands, ensuring we are delivering cutting-edge, creative work when it comes to PR and Communications working closely with the Marketing team, bringing to life brand strategy that will cut through all the clutter out there.
Can you tell us a bit about your background, when you joined the industry, and why?
I spent 10+ years in creative communication agencies, leading relationships for global brands spanning multiple sectors – from technology to food and drink.
One of the most exciting and rewarding clients I was lucky enough to work with was AB InBev, which gave me a taste for the world of drinks and hospitality. After more than a decade living the agency life, I was definitely starting to think about my next move – and if that could be something in-house…
I didn’t have much time to consider this though, as from there I was headhunted for my current role at Campari Group UK – and I haven’t looked back since!
What do public relations mean to you?
I think there’s a common misconception that public relations (or PR) is fluff, the softer side of marketing shall we say. No doubt Ab Fab had something to do with that stereotype!
However, it couldn’t be farther from the truth in today’s world. PR is arguably the most powerful media channel you can use to reach a target audience. In Nielsen’s 2021 Trust in Advertising study, word-of-mouth was the most trusted channel for consumers – and 88% of global respondents trusted recommendations from people they know more than any other channel. This could be an influencer they follow, a journalist’s column they regularly read, or indeed friends and family.
This is because the beauty of earned editorial is authenticity. In a world where people are increasingly cynical, and fake news, misinformation campaigns and native advertising are rife, consumers increasingly question the validity of content ‘pushed out’ or paid for by an organisation. An effective PR strategy can deliver more meaningful messages via mediums that an audience trusts, whether that be a journalist, TV show, blog, or close friend; it’s the driver of word-of-mouth marketing and is more critical than ever before to build true long-term advocacy for brands.
What is the most exciting part of your current role? And the most challenging?
Undoubtedly, the most exciting part of my role is working with such distinctive, unique brands – which have such powerful stories to tell. It’s rare to get an opportunity to work with a portfolio like ours. Whether that’s our Italian Icons such as Aperol and CAMPARI, through to our incredible Jamaican rums, Wray & Nephew and Appleton Estate – it really does mean no day is the same and the work is always interesting.
For me, what’s always the biggest challenge is ensuring we are being brave and bold enough in our communications. Wallpaper just won’t cut it anymore, and neither will self-serving PR stunts. Meaningfulness, purpose, and creative bravery are paramount and that’s what I always try and push myself and the team on – no matter how big or small the project.
In October, The Drinks Trust presented the industry Develop, its new educational programme (soon to be launched to beneficiaries) and Campari Group decided very generously to become the official Spirits Sponsor of the programme. Can you tell us more about the decision to sponsor Develop?
It is so important to us at Campari Group UK to play a role in the development of our drinks and hospitality industry, and that’s what informed our decision to be a founding partner for the landmark Develop scheme with our friends at The Drinks Trust. Now more than ever our peers and colleagues need action to help provide a long-term solution to those facing hardship, and we’re really proud to be playing a part in that with the launch of Develop and all it has to offer.
What do you think Develop can give to the industry?
We hope the Develop programme – and our contribution to this – will not only benefit the industry as a whole, but in particular operator businesses who continue to struggle with staffing and skills shortages. This is a rare opportunity for someone looking for a helping hand into a fantastic industry like hospitality – with 750 spots up for grabs, we really encourage anyone looking for an exciting new career to explore Develop and see where it could take you.
What would you tell someone who is considering entering the hospitality industry but is reluctant due to the misconceptions that could be linked to the sector?
Our industry’s been through a tough time, there’s no doubt about it. However, with restrictions now eased for the long-term, there are early signs of recovery and more and more people returning to bars, restaurants, and hotels.
Despite recent challenges, I’d want to reassure anyone considering a career in hospitality that it is not only an extremely fun place to work, but one where there’s so much passion and energy for what people do. Whether you work in marketing, bartending, sales or customer service – people are proud to be a part of this world and what they do in it. There are so many different roles on offer, which play into so many different skill sets – it’s definitely one to take a closer look at if you’re interested in a dynamic, fast-paced work environment where no day is the same.
More personal questions: favourite drink?
It has to be a Negroni, and only with CAMPARI of course. I’m also very partial to an Appleton Estate Mai Tai, or a classic Daiquiri.
We are so lucky to have so many of the World’s Best Bars right on our doorstep here in the UK, especially in London – so it’s hard to pick a favourite…
I always find myself back at Oriole and there until closing! Some other of my top haunts include Opium in Soho (I’m a dim sum fanatic), Trailer Happiness in Notting Hill, and the Punch Room at the London Edition.
Georgie Bentinck is Head of UK PR & Communications of Campari Group. To find out more about Campari Group, please visit: www.camparigroup.com/en