MD Communications Partner name checked in The Lawyer

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We’re delighted that Katherine Howbrook, Partner at MD Communications, has been name checked in an interview with Miranda Ward, Director of Communications at Paul Hastings, in The Lawyer’s award-winning monthly newsletter.

Miranda describes Katherine as providing her with pearls of wisdom and said she “gave me a huge amount of autonomy from day one” as well as developing “my confidence as an adviser from an early point in my career”.

Read the full interview below.

Meet the PR

Name: Miranda Ward

Firm: Paul Hastings

Role: Director of Communications

Size of team: Seven globally

Are you hiring? Not right now but maybe later in the year

What gives you the biggest buzz in your job?

When there is tangible evidence of the value comms provides to the business, for example, when client work is won as a direct result of press coverage, when advice you’ve given achieves your internal stakeholders’ desired objectives, or when you’ve persuaded a journalist to keep certain things out of a story.

Tell us a lesson you learned early in your career that still sticks with you today.

You can’t be a good comms person by just saying yes the whole time. I learned this from my first ever PR boss, Katherine Howbrook at PwC, who was a complete realist. She encouraged me to challenge stakeholders who wanted to put out press releases that weren’t newsworthy, and developed my confidence as an adviser from an early point in my career.

What’s been your most difficult day or moment as a PR (that you’re able to talk about)?

I’ve definitely worked on my share of tricky issues and critical situations, but I think the most significant was at the start of the Russia/Ukraine war. I was leading the global comms response for Freshfields and there were points where the team was handling around 100 media enquiries a week, there were round the clock calls with management, and leadership decisions around clients and staff were being made at speed. It was an unprecedented situation and we were all navigating it in real-time. Issuing a statement saying we were closing our Moscow office was a particularly difficult moment, as I knew colleagues there would be impacted.

Tell us ONE person you no longer work with who you miss, and why.

You can’t make me stick to one! If you’ll give me three, it would be Sarah Downey from my team at Freshfields, who I miss for her insatiable grit and energy; Angela Warburton, for our long chats chewing the fat about corporate and social issues; and finally Katherine (mentioned above), who took a chance on me at PwC and gave me my first in-house comms role after years working as a tax consultant. She gave me a huge amount of autonomy from day one, while providing me with pearls of wisdom such as the lesson outlined above!

Where do you think the legal sector still needs to improve in terms of comms, marketing and BD?

I think the sector has come on miles, both in terms of how firms market themselves externally, and the value leadership places on building a good brand. There is still a lot that could be improved though. I think firms, and particularly their leadership teams, could look to the Big 4 and expand their roles as thought leaders in wider business issues, rather than strictly legal matters.

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