Woman in Progress: Rosie Davies-Smith, Founder of PR Dispatch
This week we are excited to feature the brilliant Rosie Davies-Smith as our Woman in Progress. She has some sage advice for the office and at home and has opened our eyes to the world of PR which, until this interview, has been a bit of a mystery to us. She’s actively growing her businesses whilst nurturing real life relationships with her staff and clients alike and has kindly taken time to answer our questions.
Woman in Progress and PR expert, Rosie Davies-Smith
I’m Rosie. I can’t make it through a day without an endless amount of tea and at least two cans of Diet Coke, I am obsessed with dogs and I am also the founder of two PR businesses.
In 2017, I founded PR Dispatch - the UK’s first and only PR membership platform dedicated to the success of product-based businesses. After realising that there are so many amazing product businesses out there that can’t justify the cost of a traditional PR agency I decided to launch PR Dispatch. I am also the founder and director of LFA, The Lifestyle and Fashion Agency so feed information and advice from the PR agency to our brands at PR Dispatch that need that little bit more support. Through PR Dispatch we give brands contacts, support, advice and workshops that give them the confidence and skills to do their own PR and get great results.
What’s the one thing you couldn’t live without?
My furry creatures! I have a dog named Milo and a cat called Bruce that bring me so much happiness. Milo comes into the office with me every day and makes the entire team happy with his on-demand cuddles.
What’s one thing that you would stop if you could?
Very timely, but Brexit. I love independent brands and small businesses and watching what Brexit is doing to their margins is a really painful process. Businesses are being forced to close left, right and centre. People are wary of spending their money at such an uncertain time and being this unstable, as a nation, is not good for any small business trying to grow and succeed.
What one piece of advice would you give yourself 5 years ago?
Don’t be afraid to grow this business. It might feel like a daunting prospect now but you will be able to manage a team, cash flow, HR, big office expenses on your own - all will be fine.
What one piece of advice would you give yourself 10 years ago?
To remember that you can overcome dyslexia and to not let it hold you back. Just because it prevents you from writing an email now, it will not stop you in the future. You will be sending out hundreds of emails a day, trust me.
What are you most proud of?
The incredible and thriving community we have created with our members at PR Dispatch. It's great seeing how the relationship between our members grows and develops over time; it starts with connecting at workshops or over in our Facebook community and eventually their friendships really blossom and they're helping out at each others pop-ups and supporting one another. They become real-life friends and not just business owners who happen to use the same PR technique.
They support each other and we, in turn, support them. I never imagined when I set it up that we would create such a great culture.
What’s the best lesson you’ve learned at work?
Be kind and compassionate. You have to care about your employees beyond the standard progress review. They are the people that are driving your businesses, that help to keep everything running, so you have to invest in them.
What’s the best lesson you’ve learned at home?
To stay grounded. I have a tendency to get very excited over things and my husband is the realist in our relationship and is good at bringing me back down to earth when I need a little perspective. At the end of the day this is a business, no matter how much I love it, and my dad always taught me that turnover is vanity, profit is sanity but cash will always be king.
Coffee or cocktails?
Cocktails. Always. The fruitier the better. Now if the question had been tea or cocktails, you might have had a very different answer.
Did you expect to be doing what you’re doing right now?
From a young age I always knew I wanted to run a business. I learnt from my parents that hard work, initiative and dedication would get me far. So the thought of growing a tiny idea into something profitable really excited me. Did I think I would be doing PR? Absolutely not! I didn’t even know what PR was when I was studying design at Uni.
How did you end up doing what you’re doing?
I fell into PR completely by accident! I was interning with an independent brand after completing a Fashion and Textile degree. They got me calling magazines and pitching products on the second day of my internship. A few weeks later and I started to see the results of the hard work I had put in and I was hooked. I had no idea that this is how magazines found the products that they featured. I persuaded the brand to pay me one day a week and they became my first client and are still an LFA client today.
Through LFA I was seeing so many small brands that had really amazing products but just didn’t have the budget needed to join an agency. So in 2017, I launched my second business, PR Dispatch, to give those smaller brands the chance to DIY their own PR with all of the contacts and know-how I have picked up along the way.
What top tip would you pass on to other women in progress reading this?
A quote that I tend to live by is "being all things to all people is a recipe for mediocrity” and it has served me well so far.
Are you done yet? What’s next?
Absolutely not. We are just getting started. We have 80 members all doing a great job managing their own PR and the message is spreading quickly. This year we’ll be doing more and more monthly workshops as well as more tailored events at the request of our members. We want to be nurturing our great community that we have already built and also be spreading the word to other small product-based businesses that you CAN do your own PR and, and with our help, you can do it really well.
I do what I do because I love it, so I doubt I’ll ever really be done. I want to always be pushing the companies forward and continue working with our amazing brands (those already with us and those yet to join) to get them the coverage they want and deserve.
If you’re keen to find out more about Rosie and her ventures and what they could do you for you or your business, do visit her sites and check out the Instagram pages for PR Dispatch and LFA and PR Dispatch here on Facebook too.
(Photo credits to Martha at PR Dispatch.)