Louise is the founder of Energy PR, a leading communications agency. She set up the agency in 1995 and since then it has gone on to handle PR for organisations as wide ranging as New York Toy Fair, 20th Century Fox, Gigaclear and Stagecoach plus hundreds of exciting, ambitious smaller businesses.
Can you tell us a little about your background and the company?
After university I worked in marketing for a big company for three years before moving to a top 5 PR agency to specialise in PR. Having been there for just over a year I thought ‘I can run one of these!’ So I set up my first agency when I was 26. I had absolutely no idea what on earth I was doing, but that’s the confidence of youth for you! I learned fast and to be honest it thrived. But I had a business partner and among all the good stuff, one of the things I learned was that for me, a partnership doesn’t work. We wanted different things, had different work styles, values and expectations from life. So I grew and sold my share of the business so I could create something 100% mine – Energy PR.
How did the idea come to you for the company?
My experience of my first agency really helped cement my vision for Energy. I recognised there was a real gap in the market for a really creative PR agency that has passion, focuses on what a business is actually trying to achieve and actually helps it gets there. I wanted to create an agency that any exciting challenger brand would want to have fighting its corner.
How did you achieve awareness?
To spread the word about Energy I networked like mad, I spoke at events, did my own PR of course, and did a huge amount of wider marketing. All of this a prioritised from day 1 – and I devoted a fifth of my time to it – which was a huge time investment.
How have you been able to gain funding and grow?
I’ve been in the lucky position where I’ve not needed to raise funds.
What are the key successes?
The first staff hire was exciting. We’ve won awards which are always great milestones. Winning clients such as the BBC and St Paul’s Cathedral were other great moments. But to be honest, the big successes have been our clients’ successes. It sounds cheesy but working with a client for say 10 years, helping them every step of the way, being there during good times and bad, as they build and then sell their business – as they’d dreamed – nothing beats successes like these!
What were/are the challenges and how have you overcome these?
The major challenge was balancing work and family life. It’s definitely something I got better at with time and practice. I overcame this mainly by becoming really good at delegating and being really strict about family time.
I never took work home and still guard my down time. I have never socialised with my staff – I’m sure they don’t want to see me out of work. I also didn’t talk about work at home – I didn’t want it bleeding into my private life.
What are your plans now/for the future?
My aim is to grow the business, extend its digital PR division and double the agency size over the next 3-5 years. All perfectly do-able. Then we’ll see.
What would you like to share with others to encourage them to start their own entrepreneurship journey?
Simple. Go for it.
Can you share your top tips for entrepreneurial success?
- Learn the ropes working for someone else – that way you’ll avoid expensive mistakes, made on your dime!
- I’d say a lot of my success has been down to having a ‘can do’ attitude, a positive outlook (I’m definitely a glass half full person). So be positive.
- Learn how to deal with worry. For instance, with any problem, know what the worst case scenario is, and how you’ll deal with that. Once you’ve done that stop worrying about the worry! It’s a waste of energy.
- Don’t waste time doing things which others could do better than you – such as accounts/bookkeeping. Buy good advice and support.
- Keep investing in yourself/your knowledge never stop learning.
- Hire great people…don’t be afraid to hire people smarter than you.
- Know your numbers.
Who are the 5 people who inspire you the most and why?
- The Queen – for moving with the times but always knowing and sticking to her brand, and always utterly committed
- David Bowie – for his creativity, vision, reinvention and innovation
- Rosalind Franklin – utterly brilliant in a man’s world
- Jane Austen – early feminist and absolute genius
- Elizabeth Williamson (my mother) – always open to new people, new ideas; always positive and therefore never old, even when in her 80s
What are your favourite inspirational /motivational quotes?
The only one I think which matters is: “Do your best and leave the rest”
For me it works on two levels – it means do your best and leave your competitors behind. But it also means that in tough times don’t beat yourself up. If you’ve done your absolute best, that’s enough.
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