Meg Harris is the founder and director of MHPR, a public relations and events consultancy based in Sydney that works with ethical and sustainable brands.
1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?
I started my PR career in London ten years ago, working agency side on some of the biggest consumer brands in the world, including Diageo, Kettle, Spotify, Johnson & Johnson, Nivea, Amazon UK and Boots.
Two years later I moved to Sydney and worked my way up to Account Director at a boutique agency that specialised in beauty, fashion and lifestyle where I led the PR for brands like Olay, Covergirl, Wella and SKII. There were lots of photoshoots, glamorous events, fashion weeks and even an overseas trip to shoot a TVC with a celebrity ambassador.
In 2016/17 I completed a yoga teacher training and started juggling teaching with my agency role. When it all became too much I decided to go freelance so I could have the flexibility to do both without burning myself out. For a few months I freelanced part time on some really exciting and fun and taught up to 15 yoga classes a week.
In 2018 I launched MHPR. Over the years I had become more and more aware of the impact of fast fashion, plastic and animal testing, and promoting brands that didn’t align with my values didn’t sit well with me, so the decision to work exclusively with brands that that are ethical and sustainable was a natural one.
2) What does a day in the life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?
Balancing a multiple clients and motherhood means no two days are ever the same. The start of the day is always with my 15 month old twins, Bodhi and Willow.
They attend daycare two days per week and the other three weekdays we have a nanny come to the house to care for them in the morning while I work. On daycare days I drop them off then come straight home to get stuck into my work.
These are my most productive days and I am head down getting as much ticked off my list as I can. I think it’s important for productivity to take a lunch break away from your desk and so I always do a 20 minute meditation. On the days they’re not at daycare I spend the afternoon with the kids, usually going for a walk to the park or shops.
Life with twin toddlers is pretty hectic so my husband Beau and I have alternate evenings “off” to fit in some exercise while the other takes care of them. On these nights I’ll either do a workout in our home gym or my yoga practice.
Dinner is always as a family around the table, then it’s the bath and bed routine for the twins. Beau and I watch some Netflix together or if work is busy I jump back on my laptop. I always read a book before bed to unwind and help me drop off to sleep.
3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?
One of the many reasons I started MHPR was to be able to work within my own parameters. I have an office set up in our home which is great because there’s no time wasted on commuting.
As my business is completely virtual I can work from anywhere, so I often work from a café down at Maroubra or Coogee beach. I love that being my own boss means I can sneak in a lunchtime swim or yoga class, and I’ve answered plenty of emails poolside on holidays!
4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?
Since having kids work-life balance is even more challenging yet more important than ever. The first year of the twins’ lives my husband and I were so sleep deprived and exhausted, with the kids and our work taking up everything we had, self-care was the last thing on our minds.
We sat down and worked out a weekly routine that ensures we both get some guilt-free time to ourselves for exercise, a massage or just to sit in a café with a book. It has been a game changer.
5) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?
I had the twins 15 months ago so for the past 12 months life has revolved around them and been a constant evolution of routines as they and their needs change.
My meditation practice has always been a constant but exercise and my yoga practice fell by the wayside for a while. I have recently been making an effort to find time and energy for both exercise and yoga as I feel so much better physically and mentally when I move my body.
6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?
I just finished reading Where The Crawdads Sing and couldn’t put it down. Big Little Lies and anything else by Liane Moriarty is a favourite. A Little Life was one of those life changing books that really affected me.
I listen to podcasts in the morning while I’m getting myself and the twins ready and also in the car while driving. Some favourites are Shameless, Wardrobe Crisis with Clare Press, Ethical Fashion Podcast, You Beauty, That Beauty Podcast, StartUp Creative, Lady Brains and Mindbody Green.
I subscribe to a ridiculous amount of newsletters to keep up to date with the industry and monitor client mentions in the media.
7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?
It’s a cliche but I can’t live without my iPhone. I am often working on the go, sending emails, writing documents, checking things off my to-do list, making calls and attending Zoom meetings and everything is digital so it’s in one place.
I love apps that can sync between my MacBook and iPhone. The Google suite of products has made remote working across multiple devices and the sharing of documents and assets so much more efficient.
I’m also a very organised person who loves a good list or ten, and Evernote is my go-to. Again, being able to sync list updates between my laptop and the iPhone app makes things much more efficient – no more trying to find where I wrote something down.
I use Apphi for scheduling social media content a week or so at once. And of course Instagram and Facebook for sharing both business and personal content and engaging with media/influencer contacts and friends. I also use Insight Timer daily for meditation.
8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?
9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?
I think it’s incredibly important to create boundaries between work and life and make time for self care. Especially in the current climate since working from home is the new norm for many, and technology makes it difficult to ever be fully “off”, the lines between work and personal life are blurred more than ever.
This culture of always needing to be hustling is burning us out. Hustle, yes, but prioritise switching off as well. Self care means different things to different people but it’s so important to take care of our mental, physical and emotional health.
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