What made you want to go into PR?
I fell into PR by accident. I studied Fashion and Textiles to MA level and then started doing PR in-house through an internship with a brand where I focused on product placement in online and print magazines.
Being in such a small team I was able to see first-hand the results that press coverage had on sales and website traffic – I loved making a difference in a small business. At the end of the internship I asked the brand to pay me to do their PR one day a week – they were our first client and are still with us today.
Why did you decide to launch your own agency at such a young age?
I was freelancing for a few brands and I kept hearing the same three problems:
- I don’t know what a PR agency does
- PR is so expensive
- I’ve had a bad experience with PR
Brands were frustrated with PR agencies because they didn’t understand the process and were often paying for services that weren’t right for their business. I realised that the industry needed an agency that was transparent with pricing and process.
I already had a few clients on my books that were gaining great coverage at a fraction of the cost because I didn’t have the expensive showroom or press days. I decided to start an agency with almost no overheads and that’s reflected in the price of our monthly retainers. We specialise in product placement, influencer placement and social media. I put all of our costs online… I remember people telling me I was crazy.
In 2017 I launched PR Dispatch, which allows brands to DIY their PR for £39 per month. We provide subscribers with advice, support and contacts which has enabled them to get coverage in the Evening Standard, Observer and Metro. Again people said I was crazy and that I would put LFA out of business, but both businesses are still going strong (thankfully!).
What’s the biggest challenge you faced in launching your own company?
Changing people’s perception of PR has been pretty difficult. We’ve made the industry less secretive by talking to brands about how PR works and why their investment is important but it has been hard work, especially if they’ve had a bad experience in the past.
We’re good at what we do, we get great results for our clients and we are transparent from the start – trying to get that across to other people can be challenging.
Thank you – I think there are two different things here. One is exposure and one is success. I wouldn’t say I am successful, far from it.
I’m still unsure how you measure success as there’s always the next goal to hit. I think a lot of it is down to having a strong support network and enjoying what you do. The exposure that I’ve been lucky enough to have is down to a great team, clever timing and a good business model.
Men are often seen as the more entrepreneurial, risk-taking members of society. Why do you think this is and do you think this is changing?
I think that women are looked at through a much harsher lens – we don’t get the same opportunity to make mistakes and learn from them.
So maybe it’s that men are seen as more risk-taking because they have more chance to do so without consequence. I do think this is changing, but we still have a way to go.
Do you have any experiences of where being a woman aged under 30 has either helped or hindered you?
I recently turned 30 and I couldn’t wait – mainly so people would take me a little more seriously. In my twenties I founded two PR businesses, both of which produced amazing results for our clients and were profitable year-on-year, but I always felt I had to justify them due to my age.
Industry professionals that had been in the game for years would comment on how young I was and on my experience (or lack thereof). They were mostly kind but I sometimes did feel there was underlying doubt. On the flip side I think lots of clients joined us because they liked our fresh approach to PR.
Finally, what does the future hold for the Lifestyle & Fashion Agency and PR Dispatch?
At LFA we’ve recently opened up our books to lifestyle and homeware brands. We had been working with brands in these markets for years but made it official in January 2018. We’ve already had some great new brands join us and we’re looking to expand the team later this year. I want to ensure we keep getting the same message across… Our PR is transparent, effective and doesn’t cost the earth.
In terms of PR Dispatch our subscribers are growing daily. We are helping small businesses get their products noticed. We’re improving the portal every day and it’s great knowing that our subscribers are really seeing the difference when they get their own coverage.