In Company Bug’s very first business case study, we talk to Ella Gascoigne, founder of Startup PR, who describes what inspired her to start her own business, the lessons she’s learnt along the way, why PR isn’t just for larger firms, and how social media has changed the way firms market themselves.
What made you want to start up your own business rather than work for someone else?
I had always liked the idea of working for myself and of running a company that could provide no fluff PR that I wanted to offer. I was made redundant 5 years ago and it gave me the opportunity to have a go – I had nothing to lose so decided to set up Startup PR and do things differently – and better.
I had a lot of experience of working with both start-ups (launching business awards) and also with ‘expert’ authors and I loved working in these spaces, so I was always clear about who my market would be.
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learnt from running your own business?
I have no doubt that the most important thing in my line of business is to be honest and true to what you do – and make sure you do it really well. The rest will look after itself.
I think that it is only when you are genuinely passionate about a client and what they do that you will excel at what you do and get them the return on investment that they deserve.
I regularly turn down work (probably more than 70% of those I speak to) – it is important to me that I am 100% behind a client to get them the very best results. I find that people appreciate the honesty.
Should more startups invest in PR from the start, and do some perceive PR to be a ‘luxury’ for larger firms?
Absolutely – I think many companies do think that PR is a luxury. I have seen it written on many start-up advice sites and quoted by well-known entrepreneurs that you shouldn’t take on a PR agency with less that 10k budget. I would say that you have been talking to the wrong PR agency!
How has social media change the way PR companies operate?
It is brilliant – it gives you a whole new platform to amplify your PR reach. At Startup PR Ltd we offer social media management as an additional package – we profile a lot of experts in the media as well as launching new businesses. If something is written about them online it is so important to then send this out via your social media channels to boost the reach and to engaging with your followers – potential customers and journalists are all on twitter!
Hint: if you don’t already do so, check out #JournoAlerts as journalists looking for case studies will use this.
If you were only allowed to provide a new business with one single piece of PR advice, what would it be?
If you use a PR agency, don’t just think of it as an outsourced service and leave it to run itself – you need to fuel the PR fire. We like to work with clients as one of their team – the clients who send me information, talk through ideas and are open to respond to the ever changing news and angles of the media, definitely get the best out of PR.
What would you do differently if you could start your business all over again?
I would network more and I would ask for more help. I figured a lot of things out myself and although that was a learning curve which taught me a lot, growth could have been faster if I had spoken to talented people who had experience of growing businesses.
For example, one of my clients now is entrepreneur Lara Morgan (founder of Pacific Direct and Company Shortcuts) and I have learnt so much from her – she is always happy to offer advice and support. Also, in a few months Startup PR Ltd is taking on a new team headed up by a very talented marketer – Matt Davidson. We will be launching additional services such as video, blogging, email-marketing, design and social media support.
PR is most powerful when incorporated into other marketing and we will be able to offer the full package. If I could go back I would launch that from the start!
You can find out more about Ella and her business at Startup PR.