Ahead of our next IMAGE Young Businesswomen’s Forum on Wednesday, March 15 at The Westbury Hotel, we sat down for five minutes with panellist Amy Buckeridge, managing director of The Publicity Loft.
What do you think is the Publicity Loft signature?
I think a big part of how we do business is our ability to make all our clients feel like they are the only client regardless of their budget, we are generous with our time. We are lucky that we get to choose the brands that we work with and the clients we take on board. It’s our personalised service and attention to detail that I like to think we deliver really well. In terms of a signature style, I think we are known for our smaller, more intimate events. I’m not a huge believer in massive launches with 100’s of people, I think people take a lot more away from a lunch or dinner where there’s not more than 10-12 people in attendance so everyone gets time, attention and leaves with a good feeling of why they were there and a closer affinity for a brand or product.
What excites you in business?
To this day, I still get excited every single time I see the column inches for clients. It never grows old! So many clients have end goals or want their profile out there, whether it’s for customers, end users, potential customers or investors, but I still get a huge kick out of it when I see a feature in print, or their product placed where I know it is going to have a positive impact on their business. That’s a pretty special thing to be able to say after more than 15 years in the business.
How much of your time is spent managing the business versus working as a PR?
In general, most of my time is spent on the PR side of the business. I tend to lead the strategies so I’m involved in the planning of every campaign we work on, identifying what a brand or product needs, the creative ideas, the direction to be taken and profiles, and then I have a super team who execute much of this. I tend to be more actively involved in pitches, new business initiatives and getting new clients up and off the ground – my energy and knowledge is very front loaded when we bring new clients on board until they are up and running and secure in the direction they are going and the results they are getting.
In terms of managing the business, I definitely go through phases as to how consuming this tends to be – at the end of the day I’m a PR and I love PR – I don’t any great love for the accounts side of the business but it is, of course, a necessary evil, and as such I surround myself with people that are very good at what they do, so I can focus on what I’m good at. We are a small team and I’ve been very lucky with the people I have chosen to join me, the girls are a close-knit team, extremely capable, hard-working and all bring different strengths and skills to the table.
What has been the biggest lesson you have learnt so far in business?
The biggest lesson to date has been to get a good bookkeeper and treat your accountant and solicitor like gold! In my earlier year’s, I was naively consumed by ‘doing the job’ – my job being PR and not taking on board how much was involved in running the business, the financials and the fact that you are ultimately responsible for everything from making sure invoicing happens on time, money is collected on time, bills are paid, vat is filed. As far as I was concerned I worked in PR, in my earlier years, I didn’t think about the fact I was actually the business and totally ran blind in my early years that I was ‘doing PR’; that was a massive learning curve.
What campaign or launch (to date!) have you been most proud of, and why?
I’ve been very lucky over the years, we’ve worked with great brands, been involved in very successful launches from high profile fashion stores to international beauty brands breaking the Irish market for the first time, hotels and restaurants to concerts and festivals. However, there is no competition when it comes to a singular initiative that we have been involved in for nearly 10 years now, the Naughton Foundation Scholarship Awards. This is one of those projects that every time I leave the event, I feel honoured and extremely privileged to be a part of something very special. We started working with the foundation on their first awards scheme in 2008 when leaving cert students from 3 counties had the opportunity to apply for a scholarship in the fields of science, maths, technology and engineering, this is the first year that all 26 counties were eligible to enter, so it has slowly expanded with more counties added very year. For us, it’s a campaign that takes place over a very specific period of time and each year the coverage achieved the length and breadth of the country is outstanding.
Maternity leave as a business owner – discuss!
If you are self-employed, many will resonate with me saying ‘what is that?’. You don’t get to take maternity leave in the traditional sense full stop! With each pregnancy, I tried to adapt a new plan of action and they didn’t all go to plan.
When I had my first child, I had no idea how it was going to go, how I would feel, what my capabilities would be to manage a new family set up and a business at the same time plus commute. In my situation, I took someone on to ‘replace’ me for 3 months when I had my first baby, unfortunately, that didn’t work out so it pulled me straight back into the thick of things with a screaming baby and night feeds. My second was more planned and smoother but again I didn’t actually take any real time. When I had my third baby, I knew this would be my last and I was determined to take some sort of leave. I took eight weeks and I felt so lucky to have that time. The only reason I was able to do that was that my team gave me the time and support to allow me that privilege and when you are self-employed, it is fair to use the word privilege because it’s not automatic. When I say took 8 weeks off, though, that still means being in touch with my team, getting weekend updates so that I could have all my thoughts and feedback in place for them by Monday morning. We had an understanding about the projects or things that would come up, that they knew I would want to know about or be a part of, and equally, I had to learn to trust the decisions made in my absence.
You rely heavily on the people around you to get you through the first few months, and then when you come out of the wilderness you then become more self-sufficient in having solutions for the issues that crop up, whether that be childcare or things that arise in the business. However, it is so important to be entirely present when you are with baby, as every moment is important and precious and it passes so quickly.
What hobbies and passions do you have outside of work?
My work life is so busy, I have to say my spare time is hugely consumed by 3 gorgeous but absolutely wild little boys – the eldest is 8 and youngest only 1 so it’s a busy household and just the stage we are at in our lives at the moment. Weekends are about family and friends, but date night with my husband is the highlight, any excuse to hang out and catch up, minus small people swinging out us is always a great way to spend an evening. I love to travel and our attitude since having the kids has been to pack them up and bring them with us, we’ve just changed how we do it and our planning is meticulous to travel easily with them.
Hear Amy and fellow panellists Nicki Hoyne and Ruth Hetherington talk about their businesses and how they started up at our IMAGE Young Businesswomen’s Forum next week.
WHEN Wednesday, March 15
Drinks and canapés from 6pm
WHERE The Westbury Hotel, Dublin 2