Alex Silver is the founder of boutique beauty PR agency, Alex Silver PR. She has been working in public relations for 25 years and helped brands including Beauty Blender, Caudalie, KISS Nails & Lashes and Fake Bake make their mark. Alex is renowned for high-profile campaigns, charity events, red-carpet parties and is Dame Joan Collins’ UK Publicist. We were delighted to catch up with her recently to learn about her fascinating entrepreneurship journey.
Can you tell us a little about your background and the company?
Alex Silver PR is a boutique beauty, celebrity and digital PR agency that help make brands stand out from the crowd. From press parties to gifting initiatives, influencer endorsement, creative communications, celebrity affiliations we help launch beauty and aesthetic brands as well as driving sales and growing brand awareness.
Our campaigns get brands in front of millions of consumers every month by delivering double page spreads, glossy front covers in top publications such as VOGUE, Daily Mail and Glamour Magazine. It’s our job to make sure the country knows about the latest beauty brand, products and treatments on the scene.
In the past 25 years, I’ve launched so many fantastic beauty companies including Beauty Blender, Caudalie, KISS Nails & Lashes and Fake Bake and have been a part of their journey to make them the iconic brands they are today.
How did the idea come to you for the company?
I pretty much stumbled into PR! I was enjoying a successful career as a nurse and working my way up to become a Junior Sister in the casualty ward when I began assisting with some medical PR projects.
I loved the positive impact and difference my work was making and knew very quickly that I wanted to continue this and decided to pursue a career in PR. I decided to go it alone which was a brave decision to make at the start of my career and set up Alex Silver PR from my kitchen table. I haven’t looked back since!
How did you achieve awareness?
During the first months of launching Alex Silver PR, I networked my socks off! It was so important to build a name for myself and showcase my skills and passion for turning small brands into global household names. Name an industry event I was there, I made sure to follow up with every conversation I had, so my name wasn’t forgotten. I was working long hours, but the results began to show quickly.
I also launched my own magazine about the agency which would share the latest campaigns and successes I was working on. This was a great way to share what was going on, especially in a world without social media! I would then send to prospective clients and my wish list of future clients to show them why they should work with me and the results I could generate for them.
How have you been able to gain funding and grow?
Over the years I’ve never taken any funding, I’ve always saved my own money and invested in the business. As I was ‘doing it on my own’ it drove me to make the business a success. I won fantastic new brand accounts such as Caudalie and the business began to grow organically, and my team grew in sync.
I decided to buy an office in Notting Hill and had a talented team of 35 individuals. We were super busy working on different campaigns and I was flying all over the world organising press parties in some of the most beautiful locations from LA and New York to Dubai. It was amazing to see how my little business had grown in such a short time and to see the results we were achieving but felt Alex Silver PR had lost the boutique touch, which so many of our clients loved us for.
Slowly I began to scale back the business and we moved to our beautiful office space in London’s Piccadilly, complete with our very own pamper room! We set up spray tan booths, blowdry bars, manicure benches and facial machines to host a monthly party for celebrity friends and journalists. This was a strategic business move on my part and I was happier with the direction of the business.
What are the key successes?
I’ve been so lucky in my career of 25 years to experience so many different successes, from helping grow businesses such as Leighton Denny. I started working with Leighton at the very start of his career and took him from truck driver to celebrity manicurist and even went with him to collect his MBE at Buckingham Palace!
Every single brand I’ve worked with has had a different goal to achieve, from launching in retailers to celebrity endorsement, no campaign has ever been the same. When I start working with a new brand it’s important for me to understand their end goals and what they want to achieve. That way I can ensure that everything we do is to help them reach this goal.
Personally, I’m very proud to have so many young women start their career at Alex Silver PR and watch them go on to achieve so much in their professional careers. When I started in PR, I didn’t have a mentor, so like to think I hold this position in my team’s mind.
An amazing moment for me was when we worked with PupAid to change the law. We arranged for celebrities and their dogs to march to parliament to put an end to puppy farming. The march was covered on all national news channels that evening and made all the newspaper headlines. We sparked huge conversations and made many people aware of the horrific abuse innocent dogs were subjected to. The government took note and listened to the outrage and changed the law.
What were/are the challenges and how have you overcome these?
You don’t survive a quarter of a century in business without facing many challenges. I believe this helps shape you into being an effective leader, innovator, and entrepreneur. I’ve built a successful business by delivering disruptive PR campaigns, but of course, sometimes things don’t go to plan, and you don’t win every account pitched for. No matter the outcome of a campaign, I always make sure to take time and reflect on the activity so we can learn from our work and continue to grow.
It is important to embrace change and stay open-minded to be able to work around the problem when it presents itself. Just look what the past two years of the pandemic have shown us, there’s always something new around the corner. In my business we’ve had to make changes to survive, and I’ve made changes that I would have never considered before.
What are your plans now/for the future?
Trying to find a venue for our 25th anniversary party! It’s Alex Silver PR’s very own silver jubilee so we need something special. We’ve previously treated beauty editors to manicure 100ft in the air, flown to vineyards in Bordeaux, shut down Madame Tussauds for an exclusive celeb part and organised an intimate performance with Pixie Lott, so I want something that will top all of that!
There’s still so much I’d love to achieve and have been busy prepping my ideas to hit the ground running in 2022.
What would you like to share with others to encourage them to start their own entrepreneurship journey?
Being a business leader, I recommend keeping a close eye on all areas of the business. This will also inspire your team and show them how passionate you are about the business. I’ve always worked closely with my whole team, and it’s created a great atmosphere and work ethic amongst us as we all know the role our work plays in achieving our goals.
Can you share you top 5-10 tips for entrepreneurial success?
Trust your gut. It takes time to trust your instinct, but I’ve found if you stay true to yourself you can’t go wrong!
Create a strategy. In PR it is essential to have a campaign strategy that addresses the business’ KPIs, if you haven’t got a plan there is often a lack of direction. This helps align all activities and help you achieve your goals.
Take time to network. I wouldn’t be where I am now if I hadn’t made the contacts I did in my first years of business, some I still work with to this day!
Keep up to date with industry trends. Subscribe to key trade and consumer publications in your industry and keep abreast of changes in laws, legislations and technologies that can impact the way you work.
Never stop learning. We’re always growing and learning and owning a business is testament to this. Sign up for a free webinar to learn from your peers, invest in courses to learn different skills, you never know when you might need to call on these skills. I enjoy listening to business podcasts from entrepreneurs in different industries as a way to inspire myself and learn from others.
Look after yourself. Your business can’t grow if you burn yourself out! I like to run around Primrose Hill with my puppy Bella and catch up with a friend. Find what works for you and make sure to block out that time for your yourself.
Who are the 5 people who inspire you the most?
Dame Joan Collins. She is an amazing friend, her energy and vest for life is so inspiring and her charity work is so admirable. https://www.instagram.com/joancollinsdbe/
Sara Blakely, the CEO of Spanx. To celebrate the company’s new investment, she gifted surprised every employee with two first-class plane tickets and $10,000. I thought this was a great example of how you can share successes with your team. https://www.instagram.com/sarablakely/
Michelle Obama. I love how Michelle encourages people to use their voice for change from campaigning for education for girls, equal rights, living healthy and helping families in poverty there’s so much to be learnt from Michelle. https://www.instagram.com/michelleobama/
Charlotte Tilbury. Without a doubt she built one of the most successful beauty brands but has some impressive charity work for Women for Women International with regular support. https://www.instagram.com/ctilburymakeup/
Rihanna. She’s changed the beauty industry for all the right reasons by launching Fenty Beauty, a beauty brand for all. https://www.instagram.com/badgalriri/
What are your favourite inspirational /motivational quotes?
“I never dreamed about success. I worked for it.” Estée Lauder. I believe if you want something go get it and I love the attitude of this quote.
What are your social handles and website links so our readers can connect with you?