Continuing our Start Your Own series, we interviewed Suzie Bartle, founder and publicist at Well Spirited to find out what it takes to start your on PR agency.
Suffering from Crohn’s disease in her 20s, Suzie found her diagnosis led her down an unexpected path to found her business…
Tell us a bit about Well Spirited PR – what is a PR agency and what makes you stand out?
Good question! So PR stands for Public Relations. A PR agency is company that focuses purely on helping businesses with their public persona and how they communicate with their public. What that predominantly means is – how a business looks in the press or media.
Now, as the news world has drastically changed over the years this can go beyond what you read in newspapers, watch on TV or listen to on the radio. I mean, your social media profiles are a form of PR as is your fashion choices. However, you’d go to a stylist or social media agency for specific help with those. PR agencies specialise mostly in connecting businesses with the media, curating their messaging and coordinating various activities related to that.
What makes us stand out is the fact that we don’t do things like most PR agencies and we represent a very niche type of business.
So, for example – we are not precious about sharing our trade secrets because we are genuinely passionate about helping businesses of all sizes find a way into the media.
We also only work with ethical, sustainable and conscious businesses in a really holistic way. So, as a trained coach I offer visibility coaching to clients when they need it and i’ll often coach clients through some upper limiting blocks when needed too. The whole Well Spirited PR team are also vegan with a personal interest in our clients.
What inspired you to start Spirited PR?
What inspired me to start Well Spirited PR was the fact that I suffered really bad health in my 20s due to my Crohn’s Disease diagnosis. This sent me on an interesting path of discovering a whole world of alternative lifestyle choices which I realised wasn’t being represented in the press.
Then as I was in the depths of completing my Health Coach training with the IIN I was attending various events and talks in London, only to realise there was this whole world of potential change-makers not being represented in the press.
I was freelancing at the time in big PR agencies in London on campaigns that not only didn’t set my world on fire but working in a way that didn’t feel suited to this niche industry.
So after feeling like there was enough incredible health coaches in the world and getting various requests to help people with their PR – I felt this real pull to represent this industry in the media. In January of 2016 a Hay House Author friend of mine lovingly gave me Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic book to read, only to realise this was an idea I MUST explore. And, as they say – the rest is history!
What skills have helped you grow your business?
The major skill I would say that’s helped me grow my business is my natural ability to connect with the right people at the right time. I dare say I am blessed with natural networking skills which has lent itself to my PR career. I would also say my ability to adapt easily and my stubborness has meant I have kept going even when the tough has got going. And most importantly – it’s helped me get incredible coverage in places like BBC Breakfast, The Financial Times, Vogue and more for clients that would not have normally had such opportunities.
I had already worked in PR and Marketing for over 10 years on major household brand campaigns from Dove Real Beauty through to the 2012 British Airway’s ‘Don’t Fly’ campaign so I pretty adept on how a large-scale campaign works which I have been able to transfer over to my smaller clients since starting WSPR.
I also do have a degree in Public Relations which has helped me with additional knowledge on how to really go for it on all scale of PR campaigns whilst really understanding how the media works and what needs to happen to make a businesses PR really powerful!
Writing is also really key in PR because it’s ultimate how we communicate with the press with anything from features through to email pitches to press releases.
Despite failing my GCSE English twice – I managed to hone in my writing skills early on in my career through various on-the-job training meaning it’s become one of my core skills for the job.
How have bloggers / online influencers helped you grow your brand?
Bloggers and online influencers have been a huge part of me growing my brand. The first part has been via networking. So it’s been by making connections with influencers and bloggers that I was able to not only close the gap with clients and bloggers.
I’ve also worked with influencers as clients which has naturally helped me grow my brand from a point of influence. Plus, my relationships with various influencers and bloggers has helped me network easier in the industry.
What advice would you give to someone who is thinking about starting to starting their own business?
Just do it…as Nike would say. Don’t give yourself time to think it through too much. Just take the next step to make it happen, then the next and then the next. No text book or amount of planning is going to make it happen easier or faster for you.
There is literally no other way to start a business, in my experience, other than just learning on the go. You refine and perfect things over time. But you don’t know what you don’t know until you do it.
I’d also recommend two books: Mel Robbins ‘5 Second Rule’ and Elizabeth Gilbert’s ‘Big Magic’. It’s virtually impossible not to take action after reading both those books. They’ll burn any procrastination in a heartbeat! This is speaking from a well-seasoned procrastinator.
What’s the most challenging thing about setting up your own business?
I would say it’s that most people start a business to do something they love, not to actually run a business. Running a business is a whole new set of challenges and skill sets. And when you’re the boss it’s all on you.
When you’re in a 9-5 job you can share the responsibility and switch off once you’ve left the office. But when it’s your business and something you’re super passionate about it can be hard to get the balance. So managing your energy and self-care is probably the most challenging part.
What’s the one thing you wish you’d known before you started?
You know, that’s a really tough one to answer because if I knew all the challenges that were ahead I’d have never done it. And therefore I’m glad I didn’t because starting Well Spirited PR is my proudest achievement to date!