Interviews / PR & Communications

Balancing the Grind with Edelle Gettings, PR & Communications Manager at Wunderman Thompson

Edelle Gettings is the PR & Communications Manager at Wunderman Thompson, where she leads external and internal communications across the Sydney, Melbourne and Perth offices.

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1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?

I started in the industry as a Brand Manager, working primarily in content marketing where I launched a youth publication called The Cut.

My first role in the advertising industry was as The Works’ PR and New Business co-ordinator. It wasn’t the role I thought I would take up; I had every intention of heading to Awards School to become a copywriter, but the ability to write and see the agency grow at a business level made me love it.  

Now I lead the communications effort for creative consultancy Wunderman Thompson across their three offices in Australia. I’m grateful for where I have ended up, there is always something happening at WT, people pushing beyond the norms and making effective and creatively brilliant work. 

2) What does a day in the life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?

Every day is different. It’s why I try to stick to a weekly outlook, rather than a daily routine. 

But usually by 7:30 am, I’m out of bed and walking to get my coffee. I am not one to be up at 6 am, coffee in hand and a workout already complete – it’s unrealistic for me as someone who needs nine hours of sleep to function like a normal person.

Once I’m back at my apartment, I’ll quickly scan my emails for anything urgent. 

Being in PR means you can easily fall into a rabbit hole of content – it can get overwhelming the amount of news out there. For me, it’s important that I only use the first half of my mornings reading.

I catch up on the local and global industry publications, as well as Australian business news. Then a quick scan of more in-depth publications like Harvard Business Review, Mckinsey, plus Wunderman Thompson research globally.  

From here, every day can be different. Whether it’s wider-business meetings, writing press releases for new campaigns, proofreading in-depth thought pieces, creating content for our social channels or helping craft case studies for new business.

With everyone WFH nationally, there has been a shift in priorities from external communications to employee communications, as well as helping manage virtual events for our employees and clients. 

By the time 5 pm rolls around, I’m catching up on emails and whatever news that day brought. I’m signed off by 6 pm, I head to yoga and use my nights to relax (making sure I watch some trashy TV).

 3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine? 

I’ve always been lucky enough to find myself at agencies that have always placed value on flexible working.

Before COVID-19 hit, I was working from home 1 to 2 day a fortnight at Wunderman Thompson. It was my time to concentrate on writing, where I could sit uninterrupted in deep work. 

Now on week 21 of WFH full-time, the benefits are going beyond a few extra hours to sit and write. It’s given me the ability to make my work times work for me.

That extra hour of sleep in the morning, starting work earlier so I can head to an afternoon yoga session, or simply having the time for a home-cooked meal (there has been much less uber eats racked up on my bank statements!)

4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?

It constantly changes for me. Work-life balance is not a consistent routine of 5 am wake ups and no late nights. I don’t think it’s realistic to believe it can be that way.

Some days I have the energy and inspiration to work late, and some days I take it slow. To me, it’s a day-to-day mindset, not a long-term goal. It’s learning the value of saying no, adapting your routine to your energy levels and making sure you are not all consumed in just one aspect of your life.

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5) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life? 

I’m no longer constantly on-the-go. That’s the silver lining to this pandemic, it has forced us to slow the hell down, and my priorities have shifted from nights-out to nights-in. 

Yoga for me has been an on-and-off routine for the last five years. This year it has become part of my daily routine. For me, it’s like a physical ‘sign-off work switch’ – something I need when my home is now my office.

I also stopped the need to mimic routines that don’t work for me. No more 6 am wake ups and rushing to the gym. I enjoy my sleep-ins, my morning walks and eating my breakfast in peace. There is nothing wrong in slowing things down and doing it your way.

6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?

WorkLife podcast with Adam Grant, an organisational psychologist and a great podcast for those who want a better work-life.

How I Work podcast with Inventium CEO Amantha Imber, an organisational psychologist who talks to the tricks and tactics of the world’s most productive people. 

HBR IdeaCast, a great weekly podcast from leading business thinkers from around the world. 

The Little Book of Lykke by Meik Wiking, a recent read and book that is more of a journey around the world to reveal the secrets of the world’s happiest people. It’s a wholesome read. 

I’m a big advocate for reading fiction, whatever the genre be. Not only is it an escape from the realities of a busy world, but you will find yourself thinking beyond-the-usual and exercising your creative thinking. 

7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?

The ABC News chatbot. It’s a godsend for me as it sends all the important news updates in the morning, as well as any breaking news through the day. It’s bitesize content that keeps me updated but doesn’t send me into a rabbit hole of content. 

Trello. I am a very visual organiser, so Trello is the only program that works for me to keep on top of my editorial and content calendars. I know the usual would be an excel spreadsheet but looking at cells-on-cells-on-cells only equals up to a lot of unneeded stress. 

My calendar. It’s not much of a new product or gadget, but a lot of people underestimate the power of a good colour-coordinated calendar.

For me, every Sunday I go through my to-do list, as well as clean out my inbox, and block out all my work in my calendar. Time blocking allows me to have a view on what my week looks like, primarily because my role can become easily reactive.

It gives me a bird’s eye view of my priorities and allows me to set realistic deadlines for when work comes my way.

8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?   

After reading The Little Book of Lykke, I would love to know more about Meik Wiking’s work-life balance. What better way to learn how to balance life than from a world-leading researcher of happiness!

9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?

A lot of voices out in the business world say Millennials and Gen Z are lazy. I would like more people to question this. Are we lazy, or are we smart enough to push back when we need to?

We are the first generation to be constantly connected to work through our phones – late-night emails and calls are normal for us. But we are also the first generation to stand up for a better work-life balance, push for flexible working, work for companies who value culture and outputs rather than time spent, and say no so we can find our own work-life balance. 

To me, we’re not lazy, we’re smart. We know burnout over a project, one that might not mean anything in a year, isn’t sustainable long-term. 

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About Author

Hey there! I'm Hao, the Editor-in-Chief at Balance the Grind. We’re on a mission to showcase healthy work-life balance through interesting stories from people all over the world, in different careers and lifestyles.