Vogue Education Presents Emily Austen

Emily Austen at Vogue Education Presents, London

Vogue Education Presents was delighted to welcome Emily Austen, Founder and CEO of award-winning PR Agency EMERGE, to talk about her inspiring journey from law to PR, and share valuable career advice. 

About Emily Austen

Emily founded EMERGE, aged 22, after graduating with a Criminology & Criminal Law degree.  After interning and launching a brand whilst at Manchester University, she realised law was not for her but she had valuable transferable skills she could use, like storytelling, so she decided to found a PR agency.

EMERGE agency works with leading global brands like Huel, Spanx, Abercrombie & Fitch and Missoma. Over her career, Emily has been involved in PR and communications to raise over £500 million for start-ups in the wellness, fitness, tech, and feminine care sectors.

Emily dispelled the myth that PR is like ‘Absolutely Fabulous’ and that her teams work hard to create effective campaigns.  At the most fundamental level, PR means getting “eyeballs on the products” and consumers are likely to trust a more authentic human connection rather than an ad campaign.

Emily Austen speaking with a student at Vogue Education Presents in London

Succeeding in PR

As a young entrepreneur, she felt she had the confidence of youth, and still loves that every day is so different.  She could be on a shoot talking to clients in the morning and brainstorming with her team to create ideas for a campaign later in the day.  According to Emily, the key qualities you need to succeed in PR are tenacity, a high EQ, curiosity, and confidence.  

She has spent a lot of her career supporting and empowering women and is Strategic PR Advisor to UN Women UK.  She has led challenging campaigns around domestic violence, gender equality, and a campaign for safe spaces for women.

Emily launched Flex, a pay-as-you-go PR proposition for brands who can’t afford agency retainer fees, having seen the devastating effects of Covid-19 on small businesses.

Emily has recently published a book, ‘Smarter – 10 lessons for a more productive and less-stressed life’ by reframing the idea that working until 10pm every night equals success, and explains that those who work smarter will achieve more long-term success. 


Key Takeaways from Emily’s talk

  • Work Smarter
  • Have healthy boundaries
  • Consumers connect with authenticity so you must gain their trust
  • Try to work more collaboratively
  • Get a broad work experience to understand where you want to work

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Images by Annelee Kiliddjian, MA Creative Direction for Fashion for Fashion Media student