The Secret Dreamworld of a PR

This week a really interesting press release dropped into my inbox (I know, someone other than Fashion & Beauty Bloggers gets press releases, who knew!)

The news was about a local PR figurehead, Darlene McCormick, who has branched out into the superfood market to launch the UK & Ireland’s first plant protein brand ‘THAT PROTEIN.’

Darlene McCormick, former PR MD, launches That Protein

I was immediately intrigued (and not just because I’ve turned 30 and am suddenly very aware of my diet and lifestyle choices!) Here was one of Ireland’s well-known PR practitioners and former MD of Life Communications, who is also a qualified nutritionist, branching out in a whole new direction. This story came at just the right time for me as I start a fortnight’s leave from my PR “day job.” Instead of heading to a beach, or the pub, I plan to spend all 18 days writing. The truth is friends, I harbour a secret dream to be a novelist and I’m finally going to tick it off the bucket list!

It got me thinking though, do we all have secret ambitions in this industry? So many of us are creative by nature. I know plenty of PR folks with hobbies and sidelines, from cake-making to Pilates. And entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well among our kin, given the sheer volume of us that eventually go it alone setting up agencies and consultancies. I asked Darlene for her advice, and she kindly sent some of the good stuff my way, so I’ll share it with you all:

How could our PR experience help us in new ventures? How did it help you?

“Having run a PR firm I have had experience of running a business and all that entails and so these skills are transferable. Also my PR specialism was consumer PR and building brands and that is now the focus at that protein only this time it is a brand I own a part of. In terms of encouraging other PR people to branch out and become entrepreneurs I think that more and more people are doing exactly that. I have mentored and trained quite a number of PR people and some went on to have their own PR firms and others stayed in employment and so perhaps having seen what’s involved, it helped them decide where their skill set lay.
What if your dream doesn’t lie in PR?
As for doing what I have done and ‘leaving PR’ to be part of a team setting up a Health Food business  - I am sure that the PR professional in me will inform the direction of the new company as I believe that communicating why your product is good and engaging people with the new brand is fundamental to the success of the company.
If your next branch extends in a whole new direction, should you be brave enough to take it?
Should you start your own business? I’d say think carefully and fully consider your personal circumstances. Enthusiasm is great and having the next big idea fantastic but realise that it takes time for a new business to be successful and if you are giving up a salary make sure you factor in the financial considerations - e.g. can you get a mortgage if you need one without three years’ accounts, do you have the right support at home and in the business and so on. On the one hand it can be great to “jump” and see where it takes you but on the other taking time out of an established career to set up a business is not without risk and the question is -  if the worst comes to the worst what will happen to you? If you are happy with the answer to that, then you have your answer! To me being a success in business means committing to it “for better or worse”… it can be fun, yes, but more than that if you get it right and achieve what you set out to do, the achievement will embolden you to go on to even greater things, and that’s exploration and adventure at its best and that’s what makes life exciting!”
I love this advice; I love to be around people who are creative and passionate, because I leave their company buzzing to do things. But I’m also not inherently a risk-taker. I like security, plans and lists, so it takes encouragement for me to try something new. Thankfully writing isn’t a huge leap away from what I already do. As part of an in-house team, we divide the work up based on our skill sets and interests. So my boss knows that nothing makes my day like being asked to research a new leaflet, propose some newspaper feature ideas or knock out some press releases. Writing also won’t risk my income because I can do it at home, in my spare time. The reason I know it’s something that I should do is that I never stopped thinking about it. The only thing I’ve loved more fanatically in my life than reading, is writing. Not for the fame (improbable) or the money (negligible) of possibly getting it published, but for the sheer joy of actually living in my imagination and putting my story down on paper, even if it lies forever beneath my bed!
I’ll keep you all posted on how I get on (12,000 words down, only about 80,000 to go!) and I wish Darlene well on her new venture - which sounds great, by the way, especially if you’re interested in superfoods - they’ve got recipes and everything! So check it out here for more info. And not forgetting, a shout out to Anna Morris (@AnnaPRStar) who is truly a PR star for sending an appropriate press release to the most suitable of bloggers at exactly the right time!
I may have to give her a cameo in my book….

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