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News > Alumnae Interviews > Francesca Duke - Class of 2017

Francesca Duke - Class of 2017

An insight into the world of PR in the Arts Industry
Francesca at one of the Red Carpet events
Francesca at one of the Red Carpet events

It was wonderful to hear from one of our younger alumnae Francesca Duke, who left SWPS having taken ‘A’ levels in French, Latin and Drama and an AS in English Literature, plus an additional GCSE in Italian. Francesca told me that she loved all the school theatre productions and was in many including Oliver and Much Ado about Nothing.

With her love of languages Francesca gained a place at The Queen’s College, Oxford University to study French and Linguistics. The course was 3 years with a year abroad. Francesca gained a place through The British Council to teach English in the South of France from October 2019 at 2 schools, teaching ages 11-15 at one school and 16-20 at another school. Unfortunately, like many, her plans were squashed by covid in the March, and she had to come back to the UK, before returning to Oxford in October 2020 for her final year. Whilst studying at Oxford was stressful at times (particularly when applying for jobs and internships at the same time as undertaking finals!), Francesca loved the small teaching groups as it really enabled her tutors to get to know her strengths, weaknesses and interests.

Although Francesca knew she wanted to do something creative, she did not have much of an idea beyond that, and so throughout her final term at Uni and in the weeks after she finished, Francesca applied to a vast number of different jobs, internships and further study options. These ranged from a PA to a theatre director to a masters in Speech and Language Therapy – but with comparatively little experience of the world of work, she did not have much success.

However, she knew of a small theatre PR agency who, despite only forming in early 2021, had already represented many of her favourite shows. She emailed the founder a copy of her CV expressing her interest, and although they were not in a position to hire any full-time candidates, they offered her a part-time, remote internship. Francesca would definitely recommend reaching out to industry professionals like this when looking for a job, as even if they cannot help directly, they may be able to point you in the right direction, and it’s a great way to get your name out there.

This internship was a fantastic introduction to the industry. Clients such as Matilda the Musical and Witness for the Prosecution at London County Hall were just beginning to reopen after the pandemic, and the agency was small enough that Francesca could be very involved in all the PR for the re-opening celebrations. From sending out press invitations, to shadowing her colleagues on the big night looking after VIP guests and helping arrange official photography, this experience taught her a huge amount about the world of PR and events.

After her internship Francesca applied for more long-term Marketing and PR jobs in the Arts Industry, and was offered the job at WDW Entertainment – an independent communications agency working exclusively in Arts and Entertainment based in Oxford Circus.

Here, Francesca was initially put on the awards campaigns for the agency’s documentary clients (Netflix and National Geographic), aiming to spread the word about the clients’ films among both the press and the professionals who vote in the BAFTAs and Oscars, and thus boost their chances of winning an award. Francesca was involved in inviting the voters to special screenings of the films, and would note down their responses afterwards in order to give the client an idea of how their film was being received.

Now that the awards season has come to a close, Francesca is working on some new entertainment campaigns, with her main project currently being Danny Boyle’s Pistol, which was aired on  Disney Plus on 31st May. This new six-episode limited series is about a rock and roll revolution, the Sex Pistols being the centre of this. Francesca helped to schedule press interviews and organise the global premiere on the 23rd May for cast, crew and press.

Francesca said that she loves her job as it is so varied, and she is loving working in the Arts Industry, something she has always had a passion for. We wish Francesca every success with her future career path and look forward to hearing what she has achieved over the next few years.

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