Interviews / PR & Communications

Balancing the Grind with Kate Parker, Co-Founder & Director at Atlas Public Relations

Kate Parker is the co-founder & director of Atlas Public Relations, a boutique travel & lifestyle PR agency she founded with Alexandra Cuthbert.

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

I began my career in PR back in 2012 with an internship at Melbourne-based lifestyle PR Agency, Tink PR during my final year of completing a Bachelor of Communications. From here I was offered a full-time junior role and by the time I left after four years, I was managing the agency while my boss was on maternity leave.

My former boss, Julia Tink, was very invested in fostering upcoming talent, and we were a tiny but mighty team. She saw every junior’s success as her own success, and this is something I carry with me in my own approach to work. I have a big focus on mentoring and supporting those early on in their career, because it was so valuable for me.

I always loved the agency-side of PR at Tink and it was actually where I met Alexandra, my now business partner. We worked together on some incredible clients including Lexus Australia’s Design Pavilion at the Melbourne Cup Carnival, Seeing Eye Dogs Australia, safe steps Family Violence Response Centre and Vision Australia’s annual Carols by Candlelight. 

After this I moved in-house to the tourism sector, working for Intrepid Group, the world’s largest adventure tour company with a sustainable focus, which was an unbelievable role. I was PR Manager for Australia and NZ for almost four years, during which I travelled to South Africa, Borneo, Thailand, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, London and led Global Press trips in Kenya and Egypt.

In early 2020, I transferred to Intrepid’s Toronto office, working as PR Manager for North America and in a short time, worked with the likes of Forbes and Fast Company. In March 2020, I was unfortunately made redundant due to COVID-19 and returned home to Australia literally overnight.  

In the back of my mind, I always knew I wanted to return to agency-side, so when Alex brought up starting our own agency, we decided to go for it. It was very natural and felt right – Alex and I work well together, have 20 years’ experience in PR collectively and wanted more autonomy over our work.

We launched Atlas PR in October 2020, and I’m so pleased to say that we currently have three clients on the books and are growing quickly. 

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

As a new business, it’s such a cliché, but no two days are ever the same.

I live at the seaside and usually get up at around 7am so I can go for a swim before work. It’s getting a little chilly in Victoria, so I now wear a wetsuit and am committed to this ritual! There is really no better way to start the day.

After this, I grab a coffee, go home, respond to emails, then jump on a call with Alex and debrief about what’s happening in the business for the day, then we divide and conquer our work.

This can be anything from client Zoom meetings, pitching to media, going to lunch with journalists, working on client proposals, accounting, social media – all of it!

Alex is based in Hobart and I recently spent a week with her there, working on media strategies, client pitches and creative brainstorming, but also having fun and making time to visit MONA, take road trips into the Huon Valley and explore Tasmanian vineyards.  

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

Our entire business was born during COVID – flexibility and remote working are integral to Atlas PR. Our goal is to have an office as we love working in the same room but will maintain our flexible approach to work for a balanced lifestyle.     

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

Work-life balance is integral to the way I want to live my life moving forward and is a non-negotiable. There have been moments in my career where I just didn’t prioritise myself and was in a state of constant stress, I have no interest in returning to that. 

This has been a big learning – setting boundaries and not taking on the stress of others.

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

Like many of us, the last 12 months have presented enormous changes and periods of growth both personally and professionally.

From here, I moved to the coast, started swimming regularly, walking daily, and paused long enough and had the breathing room to reassess and figure out what I wanted from my career and what I wanted my life to look like.

The conversation with Alex about launching Atlas PR was very easy and our careers complement each other so well, so we thought it was time we made the leap.

I have reset my entire routine. My former job was by no means ordinary and allowed for some unreal travel experiences, however it still had the typical office experience, too many face-to-face meetings, internal conversations and not enough time focused on outputs.

Atlas PR is a business born during the pandemic and operates at a very 2021 level. Alex and I have a lot of communication throughout the day, working various hours around other commitments, but know that we will always work at 110%.

In the future we will always operate with flexibility and fun in front of mind, but I think having an office is important for workplace culture. This is really important to me and my vision is to build something sustainable for our employees, where they can enjoy coming to work, feel supported, progress in their own careers, and produce impressive results for our clients.

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

Newsletters I read daily are Women’s Agenda, Mumbrella, B&T, Travel Weekly and Karryon. 

For podcasts anything Brene Brown or Esther Perel. I have also just started listening to Renegades with Barack Obama and Bruce Springsteen.

Anything travel-related is always great and I have been loving revisiting Traveller’s Flight of Fancy Podcast. I love remembering that buzz of experiencing the unknown; drinking a vino in the South of France or hiking in a remote mountain range, just to remind me of that time in life, which is currently on pause.   

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

Does coffee count as a product? I’m not a morning person so an almond cappuccino first thing is an absolute essential for me. 

News apps like The Guardian, The New Yorker, ABC and The Age are integral to my day, plus Spotify – I constantly have music playing – from my lo-fi morning coffee playlist, soul music and 70s classics during the day, to jazz or Joni Mitchell to unwind at night. 

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

Anna Wintour or Kamala Harris. Both women are phenomenal, and I am intrigued to know about how they navigate and achieve a balanced life. 

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

If you have the ambition and skills, you shouldn’t need to sacrifice your wellbeing for the sake of a great career.

The grind and hustle can be addictive, relentless and exhausting – it is so important to set boundaries between your work and personal life, particularly as a PR. 

Work has been such a joyous part of my life- I’ve had great experiences, seen corners of the world I had only dreamed about, made some of my best friends, and grown exponentially as a PR and person. But none of these positives should come at the cost of your own wellbeing.

As conversations continue to change around mental health and wellbeing in the workplace, and employees continue to WFH, I hope a shift takes place, where balancing the grind shouldn’t be a constant struggle – it should be a given in workplaces!  

Balance is everything – if you aren’t feeling aligned and like you have a personal life, how can you possibly be at your best to produce your best work? 

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.