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Taking the plunge

November 26, 2014

I was skimming Twitter earlier and spotted a piece on Gorkana piece from Rich Leigh from 10 Yetis. I’ve met him a few times back in the day when I was at news PR specialists 72Point. I always thought Rich was a good bloke and the 10 Yetis team are a great bunch, they land decent coverage and share the same West Country heritage as me. Rich has just taken the plunge and set up his own agency:

http://www.gorkana.com/news/consumer/people-news/rich-leigh-launches-agency/

The piece resonated because I’ve just flown my very sheltered and cosy 72Point nest, one I’d been feathering carefully for 12 years, to set up my own mass media consultancy GingerComms with my lovely (ginger) husband James, a former Sunday Mirror and Sunday People Editor.

It took me a long time to make the decision that we should do this together, mainly because my old team are brilliant and my bosses are like family. I was happy with my career but I had climbed to the top of the tree. For the last few years, if I’m honest, I had felt unchallenged. I couldn’t shake the feeling that I wanted to create something that was mine, something I could put my own stamp on.

There were plenty of obstacles to face. I felt a sense of disloyalty to the team I was leaving behind. I also felt apprehensive about making a change, doing something new without the backing of a multi-million turnover machine behind me. I worried about what would happen if it didn’t work and we didn’t win any clients.

Deep down I was confident that wouldn’t be the case. With a collective 20 years’ experience in national newspapers and PR, we are the perfect hybrid of journalism and PR – we get brands and we can get coverage – it’s a no brainer! But you still have doubts.

Then when you’ve done it, made the decision and your website is up and your office set up – you have to make calls!

There are always brands who need decent coverage, but you need to turn leads into actual business.

We had to re-establish old contacts, hit the phones for the first time in years, arrange meetings without the help of a dedicated sales team.

In short, we have had to start from scratch, after both being at the top of our trees, we now have an exciting new challenge to conquer.

One month in and I can honestly say I haven’t worked so hard in years. Thankfully we are bringing in some fabulous new clients and reconnecting with people we’d lost touch with along the way.

Since launching we’ve been inundated with congratulatory calls and emails from people in the industry and kind words from fellow PR agency bosses who remember what it was like to take the plunge themselves.

What also strikes me is how tight the PR community is in the UK – so many brilliant agencies and in-house press offices. Because of the transient nature of PR, people move from agency to agency and from agency to in-house and back again, you realise how many contacts you have built over the years in so many places.

There is a real sense of community, underpinned by platforms like Twitter and Linkedin where PRs chat and swap coverage, blog posts and PR related articles.

So if you think you have the right tools, decent connections and the drive and desire to make it work on your own, my advice would be to feel the fear and do it anyway.

A good friend said to me a week before I handed in my notice, “Only dead fish swim with the current”. And who wants to be a dead fish?

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