This week on my Parents in Business series I’m delighted to feature Ruth who created her very own PR company; Ruth Wilson PR after having her second child.
I loved reading Ruth’s interview especially how she made the move from large PR agencies to working for herself. This is something that I can relate to as I know just how difficult it is to find a balance with that and family commitments. Ruth has had many successes and her top tips she shares with us are invaluable to that. So please all read on and feel inspired by Ruth’s story.
Tell me a little bit about you, your background, and your business?
I’m a self-employed PR consultant based in Altrincham, just outside Manchester. I set up on my own eight years ago, after working for some large agencies in Newcastle, London and Manchester. I now work from a little office at home, which is very different to the large, noisy agency life of old! But it really works for me as I have control and I can fit the work around my family and vice versa.
My clients are a complete mix, having worked with brands as varied as Warner Bros., Sanyo, Colgate Palmolive, Kronenbourg and Everton FC, I didn’t want to go down the specialist route – so it’s a real mix. I work with schools, bedding brands, craft products, management consultants, startups, an interiors retailer and even an insurance company. Some are local, others national. The aim is to help them manage their reputations, get them good media coverage and help drive awareness and, ultimately, sales
What were your motivations for setting up your business?
I’d been working for PR agencies for over 16 years and felt like I’d learnt a lot from each one as they were all very different. The more senior you get in an agency, the less time you spend doing the actual PR work – it’s all management updates and board meetings (or at least that was my experience). I missed working with the media and the buzz of generating a good article or piece of coverage for my clients and kept taking new business calls from really interesting people with great stories to tell, who would never be able to afford the minimum monthly fee lots of larger agencies need. I was also pregnant with my second child and when an old client got in touch on LinkedIn saying they were looking for PR support, it was the push I needed.
How do you balance the business around your family and childcare?
It is a constant juggle! The children are now nearly 10 and 8 and it’s getting easier as they are getting older. I’m lucky as their school is nearby, so I can do the school run and still have a good working day. I do a lot of evening work and weekend work is very common – but then it usually is in PR. It took a couple of years to get used to working more flexible hours, but now it’s second nature and I can’t imagine sitting in a rush hour commute twice a day. It means you never switch off entirely – my laptop comes with me on holiday and my clients know I am always on hand, but then I can also take any afternoon off I want. It’s a balance.
Since setting up your business what has been your biggest success to date?
I got a great article for a retail client in Forbes Magazine. And my oldest client is still with me, which I think is testament to the work I do and the relationship we have. I really enjoyed launching Silentnight’s Safe Nights nursery range a couple of years ago, the parenting media is LOVELY – and Silentnight’s Anti Snore pillow got a great independent review which generated so much coverage across the national press earlier this year, it sold out across the UK. That was good fun! But I think the success is just keeping it going and maintaining a brand I am proud of. Every now and then I get the ‘fear’, but I have great contacts and have built up a strong portfolio of work to show potential new clients, so the work is constant. Most importantly, I still enjoy it.
What’s your top tip for anyone who is thinking about setting up their own business?
Be aware there will be times that you doubt yourself and it’s completely normal – so it’s it’s good to surround yourself with mentors, other people in the same industry and supportive family and friends. Get a good accountant: they will save you untold time and stress! Have a plan each day and week so that you can keep motivated and if you are going to work from home, create a ‘commute’ to change your headspace from ‘home’ to ‘work’ mode – even if it’s just a 10-minute walk. Most of all, make the most of it. You’re your own boss, so have fun! Work hard but make it the way YOU want it to be.
Thank you so much Ruth for being part of my series, it has been an absolute pleasure to feature you on my blog and I hope that others find your story just as inspiring as I do.
If you like what you’re reading and would love to be part of my Parents in Business series just drop me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Or have a nose at some of the other businesses I have featured in the series: Honest Mum, Parent Cloud and Emma Hammond