Interview with Chloe Nelkin

Chloé Nelkin Consulting is a PR and marketing company specialising in the arts. I caught up with Director Chloé Nelkin to discuss CNC’s tenth anniversary, the current lockdown, and how the CNC team are helping their clients through this difficult time. 

How did CNC first come about?
Our first project was doing the PR for the amazing Rob Ryan at an exhibition of his papercuts in Mayfair. This was thanks to working with the wonderful gallery TAG Fine Arts who I met during my time studying art history at The Courtauld. TAG were involved in the East Wing Collection which I was managing and it was through this that I had started to teach myself PR. I had always had a huge passion for the arts and PR brought together all my skills and my true love for communicating with other people about culture. The Courtauld taught me the importance of meticulous writing, rigorous research and having confidence in your own work – all hugely transferable skills for my job today.

Congratulations on your tenth anniversary! How did that feel?
Thank you so much – it was a really special moment and one that I felt it was important to mark. I can’t believe quite how much has changed in the last few weeks but I loved bringing together so many of our clients and journalist friends to meet and celebrate. I’m very proud to have built CNC from scratch and to have been on such a journey over the last ten years so it meant a lot to be able to reflect and look back at our successes and how the company has gone from strength to strength.

I’m honoured that we work with highly prestigious art fairs and heritage organisations, London’s must-see cultural attractions, large-scale arts festivals, theatre from West End shows to small-scale pieces staged by new writers at the start of their careers, and the Edinburgh Fringe.

What do you enjoy most about your job?
I love how madly different each day can be – there really is never a dull moment. I think it’s probably the variety that the whole CNC team love the most. It can range from climbing to the top of a steep hill in Edinburgh to stage a circus photocall and trying not to slip in the mud, scouting locations for sculpture across London, meeting with journalists and clients (in more normal times), attending first nights or exhibition openings, managing all the national press when the prime minister uses one of our landmark venues to make a speech, going on a CNC day out involving a treasure hunt across London, or just having tea in the office with the team and catching up on some emails.

How are the CNC team coping with the current lockdown?
CNC are always bubbly and positive and it’s this attitude that will carry everyone through this difficult time. We’re chatting regularly and everyone is going out on regular walks and taking part in online theatre quizzes, Zoom exercise classes and some have even attempted at-home haircuts!

What advice do you have for arts companies during this uncertain time?
You are not alone! The arts community are so supportive and they have really come together in fantastic and enterprising ways. Even if you don’t feel able, or strong enough, to join in with what’s going on through digital channels, try to be a part of the conversation – in however small a way. Think about what assets you have that you can share and find ways to excite people about your project. Also use this as a time for development, challenge yourself and interrogate your own work asking yourself if there’s anything you could do differently. Most of us are stuck at home so use this time to brainstorm with your colleagues and ask for peoples’ opinions – especially people who may not normally have time on their hands but are probably happy to chat at the moment and lend a fresh perspective.

How have you been supporting your clients during the lockdown?
I’m staying in touch with all our clients on a regular basis and letting them know that we’re here to help. A number of them are putting out incredible digital work, such as HighTide and #OperaHarmony, some are in the planning stages having had shows and exhibitions close early, or not even open at all. We’re helping some clients brainstorm and plan for the future, chatting about what’s possible in the digital sphere or just joining people on the phone to have a good old moan as sometimes that’s what you need to do. We’re really just reminding everyone that we’re here as a support and keeping positive that this has got to end at some point.

What can the public do to help?
The public can be ready and raring to go as soon as the doors re-open. I know that everyone is going to be excited to visit arts venues again. So many companies are streaming work, offering online workshops or Q&As or even creating new work online so make sure to keep an eye out for what your favourite company is up to. You could even send them a message on social media just to say that you think they’re great and bring some joy to their day in these difficult times.

On the financial side, many theatres, including those we work with, are asking the public to consider donating the cost of their tickets rather than having a full refund. Of course, not everyone is able to do this but for those who can even the smallest contribution can offer major help.

What’s been your proudest achievement?
My proudest achievement is looking at where the company is today. Our clients return time and time again, many of them are close friends, and the whole CNC team truly love what we do. There couldn’t be a better feeling than that. Having started alone at the kitchen table, I now have an amazing team and we’re usually based in the heart of Bloomsbury. A lot has changed in the last ten years, a hell of a lot has changed in the last two months, but I see these changes as a challenge and we strive to meet them head on. We’re now a fully integrated company, offering marketing as well as PR services, and we’re constantly changing to meet the needs of our clients. Nothing stays static in this world for very long and CNC is ready for that.

Photo credit: Sam Lan 

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