Interview with Rose Davies-Smith, founder of PR Dispatch
Read our interview with Rosie Davies-Smith, the founder of UK’s first affordable PR platform, PR Dispatch, which is dedicated to supporting independent brands do their own PR.
PR Dispatch was launched in 2017 and gives product-based businesses the tools, templates, guidance and contacts needed to DIY their own PR from just £53 per month. Rosie’s aim was to make PR accessible and affordable to thousands of independent UK brands.
Why was it important for you to start your own business?
I was very young when my dad started his business. I grew up watching him grow it from just him and my mum in our home office, to multiple warehouses and big teams. It wasn’t the size of the business that I was drawn to but the fact that he had created something out of nothing.
Whenever I was asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, I responded with “I want to run my own business”. I found school challenging and too structured. I am dyslexic so I just got by in many of the subjects.
After finishing a textile degree at university, I knew I wanted to start a business. I tried my hand at a few fashion businesses that never took off including an accessories brand that made heritage goods, and a womenswear brand that flattered women’s natural body shape using print design.
I fell in to PR after an internship with an independent brand, Lowie, in 2011. I was given the task of pitching their products to the press. I convinced Lowie to pay me one day a week and began securing coverage for their products. Two years later, I founded LFA and PR Dispatch was born in 2017. Now almost 11 years later, we are teaching over 300 small businesses how to do their own PR.
What personality traits do you think are needed to become an entrepreneur?
Self belief above everything else. You need to believe in yourself to be able to get up and launch a product or service. Other traits include being a good listener especially to your team and customers (they really do know best), understanding and caring about the people you work with. You also need to have grit to be able to work through your problems and look at your failures as learning.
What is PR Dispatch’s USP? Who is its target audience?
Our target audience is any small product-based business in the UK that wants to learn the ropes of PR. Our USP is that we are the UK’s first affordable PR platform and we operate a ‘do- it-yourself’ model.
This means that we equip these businesses with the tools, templates, guidance and contacts needed to DIY their own PR at a nominal fee. It makes these entrepreneurs self reliant and leaves with them skills that they can use for the rest of their lives rather than having to depend on an external agency all the time.
What has been the toughest challenge you faced in your entrepreneurial journey so far?
There have been a few. Over the past year, I realised that not everyone does business with as much integrity as us or many of the people we have worked with.
Recently, we’ve had our model copied detail for detail by another business who previously expressed an interest to become our member. Separately, we’ve been dragged through an unwarranted lawsuit for the past 18 months.
I find it mentally exhausting when tasks, that add no value, take me away from driving the business forward. All this combined with pandemic related stresses and taking care of two young babies sometimes gets challenging.
What is the biggest criticism you have received as a businesswoman?
The worst criticisms are usually from friends or family. I know they are trying to be supportive but sometimes it doesn’t come across as that. It’s a lot less now but in the early days people thought I was mad and would say things like ‘are you sure this is what you want to do?’
One of the first questions I getwhen someone finds out that I run a business is “Oh so how many people do you employ?” This really annoys me because why base the ‘success’ of a business on the number of staff you have? Should it not be based on your profits?
I’m much happier running a micro lifestyle subscription-based business that has steady income, with a small team that I love working with, versus running a multi-million pound company that is making a loss.
I would love to change the misconception that the size of a business is the only way to measure its success.
What scares you the most about running a business?
Honestly, nothing. If everything failed tomorrow I’d just start again. But if I really have to pick one thing, I would say that the thought of our clients having a negative experience with us does scare me.We pride ourselves on offering a great platform and service.
What is the one thing about running a business that you don’t particularly enjoy?
Accounts and admin and who enjoys that? But I’ve managed to delegate most of this to our amazing VA and highly recommend. As a business owner your time should be spent on tasks that grow the business so delegate what you can when you can.
How would you describe your management style?
I think as the owner of a start-up, it can be very hard to not micro manage, especially when you can see a problem that you know how to fix. However, stepping asideand letting your team solve the issue is crucial for everyone’s growth.
We work in a very relaxed environment – work from home when you want, flexible hours and half day on Fridays. As a team we all get on really well. I spend a good deal of time on feeding back to the team and setting goals. We have brand development days (either in Devon where I live or London) twice a year to drive the business forward.
Setting goals, measuring success and improvingwhat needs to be improved are crucial for brand growth. And for all this we all need to be on the same page to make it work as a team.
How do you keep yourself abreast with what’s happening in your industry?
I spend a lot of time reading and listening to podcasts especially those by key influencers in our industry. I also follow all my industry peers on social media. The world is changing so quickly at the moment that a small business owner’s pain points evolve day to day and I find it easiest to keep up with this through social media.
I also attend conferences and workshops to learn to about new trends in the PR industry and network with people.
Lastly, what are your top three pieces of advice to someone wanting to start their own business?
Don’t be all things to all people, it’s a recipefor mediocrity. Secondly, be original – we’ve recently had our entire business model copied by another business. Sure, imitation is the best form of flattery but it just shows a lack of creativity and people don’t buy into it!
Lastly, success doesn’t come overnight but if you believe in yourself and your idea, put in the hard work and take failures on your chin, it will happen.
Find out more about PR Dispatch.