I was recently interviewed by Natalie Trice at The Real PR Professionals all about a day in my life as a PR. We talked all about the issue of presentism in the PR industry, why 9-5 has to change and how flexibility is a crucial for everyone, not just working parents. Here’s a snapshot of some of the bits she asked me, for more read the whole interview here.
I would love to know more about your career path and where you are today?
I have previously worked both in-house at HSBC and agency side, at various different agencies. I had thought about starting my own business for years, but never quite had the courage to go it alone or felt like I was ready. I guess I have always grown up knowing I wanted to be my own boss. I come from entrepreneurial parents who always ran their own business, so in many ways it felt like I was meant to do this. When I was a child, I spent many a dinner time listening to my mum and dad talk about company financials, sales, staffing and so forth. From then on it was always something I aspired to do.
In terms of where I am today with Tribe PR, well I’m over a year and half in now and I am loving every minute of it, even running a business during a pandemic!
It may help if I explain the rationale around Tribe PR. I believe that increasingly these days the gap between B2B and B2C communications is narrowing. This means that instead of focusing on one discipline or the other, we need to help clients reach a far more essential audience; that of people. And people don’t just buy brands, they join them to be part of their tribe. This means that good brand communication is about engaging directly with people, understanding what makes them tick, responding to their needs and turning them into fans. These people then become brand advocates and tell the brand’s story for them. Tribe PR is therefore all about helping purpose led brands start movements, create brand advocates in their customers and tell meaningful stories.
How did you deal with the pandemic when it came not only to work, but also self care and dealing with the unknown.
I have to admit I have been lucky that the business has continued to be busy and profitable throughout the pandemic. I think this is predominantly as a result of the types of clients I work with (mainly purpose led brands), the fact that I am flexible enough to pivot in my approach to what I do for them and also the strong relationships I have with my clients.
Flexibility during this time has been key. I have taken on quite a bit of project work over the last few months, all with minimal notice periods (my decision not theirs). This has suited me as I feel reassured that neither party is tied into a long contract should anyone get ill. Having a child too certainly changes your perspective during these times. I am regularly reminded how precious family time is and want to make sure that the two can run simultaneously without one negatively impacting the other.
How do you take time out to look after yourself and what do you consider to be the non-negotiables?
I love any kind of fitness and tend to work out daily. This is my time away from the business and helps focus my mind when I do get back to the PC. I also have an amazing client who is an online PT and she has been delivering workouts to women all over the UK during lockdown. Working out (virtually) with her from my home has been my saviour. Since Covid-19 I just have no interest in attending a gym so Anna Cousins, and her online workouts have been the perfect solution to keep me active and healthy.
What’s non-negotiable? Well, I always switch off when I do supper, bath time, milk and stories with Amelia (my little girl) in the evenings. I’ve always seen this as sacred family time and if that means someone gets an email response later on then so be it. Honesty is key here. I always explain to my clients that if I send emails after hours or on a weekend, I don’t expect them to reply and that on account of having a little one and running my own business I tend to work some unusual hours. They all seem fine with this. For me it’s about getting the work done, not when you do it.
What words of wisdom would you offer others working in the PR and media world when it comes to knowing your self worth?
For business owners, freelancers and PR entrepreneurs I would advise them that, even when setting up, they should avoid working for free. I think it’s important to value your services properly, and as such, I have always avoided contra-deals and reducing my costs to try and get my foot in the door. Start as you mean to go on, value what you do highly and people will take you more seriously.
How do you think the industry will change as a result of COVID-19, or do you think we will go back to how we worked before?
As I mentioned previously, I truly hope that the PR world doesn’t go back to the way it was before. I hope that as a result of Covid-19, agencies of all sizes, will allow their employees more flexibility (whether they are working parents or not), that the issue of presenteeism disappears and we all start to realise that all that matters is actually getting the work done well. You don’t need to be chained to a desk to do this.