Making the switch

Claire and Marc at the door of Chit Chat PR
Me and Marc at our new branded office

IT’S funny as I never went looking for work in the world of public relations, it just kind of happened.

And I certainly never expected to be launching my own PR firm but here we are – almost five months later.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m delighted to be one of the co-founders of Chit Chat PR. However, moving into this new role was a double whammy for me.

Firstly I never thought I would want to be in public relations at all and secondly I never thought of myself as being a businesswoman – I am not sure that I do yet – even now when I hand out a business card, or have to do something official for the business I have a wry smile at the thought of me running a business.

My background is journalism – specialising in local print. I spent over a decade working at one local newspaper, dealing with several PR people on a daily basis. I remember numerous times uttering: “I could never work in PR,” or, “I never want to be a media relations manager.” In fact, I was as strong as to say: “I will NEVER work in PR.” It was just never on my radar.

Switching ‘sides’

Yet here I am on the ‘dark side’ as many journalists refer to PR work.

When I was a hack I was always about finding the story and getting it out there. I was never a digger, I worked hard to cultivate good contacts who would dish the dirt, but I still held a naïve opinion that most of the PR folk I was in touch with had something to hide. I never wanted to be the one hiding, I was always the seeker.

Now a number of years on, my naïve opinion about what being in PR means has been somewhat changed and now at the start of something big and exciting, I realise being a PR consultant is more than about hiding the truth – much more.

So how did I end up here?

As I said, I was a journalist – it’s all I ever wanted to be since I was 14 years old.

From trainee to editor’s seat

I did work experience at my local paper, I went on to do a degree in journalism and then got my first job working for a local newspaper. I loved every minute of it. I moved up the ranks from trainee to chief reporter and also deputised for the editor when he was off.

It was rubbish money, but I loved the rush of getting a story, or trying to get people onside to be pictured and quoted and believe it or not there is something very exhilarating about working to a tight deadline. I loved and still do love the excitement of getting a front page exclusive.

But how did I get from the newsdesk to running my own business? Like many women, it was a decision based on family – I was working 9-5 Monday to Friday with two wee boys who I missed like crazy. There was no flexibility and I would have to battle to get a day off to make a school play or sports day. Leaving journalism behind for me was hard – it was my first true love, but it was not as hard as having to tell my sons that I wouldn’t make this event or that. Eventually something had to give, and my need to be a mum won.

However, whilst I am a good mum, I am not a yummy mummy who bakes, looks pristine all the time and has the patience of the saint. What makes me a good mum is having something that keeps my brain ticking over and gives me some satisfaction – which what brought me into PR.

Leap of faith

I freelanced for a while and eventually picked up a reasonably big client of my own – this was the drive and confidence I needed to make the leap from freelance to PR business owner.

I contacted Marc a former colleague of mine who has his own web marketing firm who I had done some freelance work for and together we set up Chit Chat PR.

It was scary for me, but I can safely say that all these months on, it was the best decision I have made and I won’t look back.

And the best thing about it – I’m not on the dark side at all. All these things that drove me in my journalism all exist in my PR work, it’s just now I am driven by the client.

The rush now is getting somebody through your door, who has a story to tell but isn’t quite sure how to get it out there. I love the look on people’s faces when I can easily tell them that yes, I can fulfil their needs and make sure they get the coverage they desire. I still get the buzz from chatting with people, I still get the fix of writing the story and we still get that high feeling when I can tell my client that we have succeeded in getting their story out there.