There aren’t many departments in a company as dynamic as Communications. No day is the same and its range of responsibilities makes it a really interesting and challenging world to be a part of! Catch up with David Page, Monarch’s group head of communications, who will give you a glimpse of what his role is really like…
Hi David! Tell me a little bit about you.
I’m a Londoner – actually quite a rare breed. I used to think I was really adventurous and would live all over the world, but I’ve actually only moved about three miles from where I was born. I studied Geography at university: it gives you a good, all round knowledge of people and places.
If your friends described you in three words, they would say…
Organised, friendly, quite funny (sorry, that’s four words).
When did your passion for communications start?
It did out of necessity in my final year at university – I needed to find a job. I somehow knew that PR/advertising would be my thing as I like writing, influencing and being at the heart of a business. PR seemed to capture all of that. I joined a PR company called Biss Lancaster a month after leaving university, working on two amazing clients: Haagen-Dazs ice cream and Royal Caribbean Cruise Line. It set the tone for a love of travel and food-related communications, which has lasted with me throughout my career.
Why did you choose to work in PR?
Because it offered the most opportunity to write and influence. PR/Communications should be at the heart of any organisation, it involves external audiences and internal ones and goes through multiple channels – journalists, opinion formers, consumers and employees.
What made you want to work for Monarch?
I’ve always loved airlines and holidays. My dad was in the travel business so it’s in my bones. There are relatively few airline groups in the UK and Monarch is the oldest, has a great reputation – and was looking for a new head of communications!
How long have you been working for Monarch?
Nearly a year now. I started in April 2016.
What does your day-to-day job consist of?
Running the in-house communications team and our external agencies. We never quite know what enquiry will come in from the media – so we always have to be on our toes. We plan proactive campaigns focusing on new routes, building our brand awareness and supporting our corporate reputation. We brief journalists, write statements, generate coverage in the media. Internally, we run the MPeople intranet and Internal Communications and coordinate Monarch Foundation activity. And overall try to ensure that all parts of the business know what the other parts are doing – and why.
What are some of the challenges of the job?
Media is a 24 hour business now, so you never quite know what is going to come in. It might be a great opportunity; or it might be something serious.
Internally, a big challenge is working out the best ways to reach the whole company. When so many of Monarch’s employees don’t work in an office, with a computer screen readily available, many traditional ways of communicating are limited.
What gives you the most satisfaction in the job?
PR is a very public side of the business. The statements that we write, the conversations we have, the interviews we arrange are all seen by our customers, stakeholders and employees. It’s a great feeling when a story lands really well – like our move to 0% credit card fees: when we’re seen as leading the way in the industry.
It’s a bit of an old cliché but I really enjoy talking and engaging with people, so I’ve enjoyed getting out and about within the company – finding out who does what and how we can promote and enhance what they do internally and externally.
And I’ve been lucky enough to sit in the cockpit during a flight to Gibraltar – looking out of the front of an aircraft was a dream come true!
What keeps you motivated to enjoy your job?
Lots of things. Getting coverage in the media (positive, hopefully!) about Monarch and its achievements. Seeing the impact the Monarch Foundation makes. Running a small but happy team. Getting staff discounted flights!
What are some of your proudest achievements?
At Monarch, being with CEO Andrew Swaffield when he addressed the ABTA Convention in October 2016, announcing that our licence had been renewed and we’d had the largest investment in our history. It was a day spent making sure he spoke with everyone he needed to: journalists at the event, journalists back in the UK, ABTA members at the Convention. It was literally a non-stop day, but very rewarding.
In my previous job I escorted David Beckham up the BAFTA red carpet as he did his media interviews. That made me smile inside (although I had to look very serious on camera!)
Any advice for those thinking or pursuing a career similar to yours?
Get experience – understand what some of the highs and lows are. You’ve got to love writing, be very adaptable to change and able to think quickly on your feet.
Thank you for your time David! Finally…on Monarch’s scheduled network, which is your favourite destination and why?
Rome. I’m a city boy at heart and Rome has it all. Amazing history, culture, beauty, food, day life and nightlife. I’ve been a few times and will happily go a few more.