a day in the life of Nicola de Burlet

Pass the paddling pool someone, it’s hot, hot , hot here in Devon today.

The office blinds are pulled, ice coffee is poured and my seat at the BBQ is booked for tonight.

This, given the British weather, isn’t a typical day for me, but as anyone who works in PR knows only too well, that doesn’t exist.

Today I am delighted to have Nicola de Burlet on the blog talking about her work.

I love her honest, down to earth approach and how she has navigated her business, The PR Studio, over the pandemic and what she’s hoping for in the future.

I’m a little envious of her experience of working with clients such as Chanel, Givenchy, Hermes, Cartier, but I also love that she keeps it real.

So, as I grab more ice for my water, over to Nicola……..

Tell me about you and your business/work.

I have been in the luxury beauty and fashion business for over 25 years… and in that time, I have been lucky enough to work with some of the most well known and prestigious luxury brands in the world, Chanel, Givenchy, Hermes, Cartier to name literally a handful. I left corporate life to set up my own agency 6 years ago and The PR Studio was born.  My colleague Sarah Duguid joined me before the pandemic and we are growing the business together, it’s an exciting time.   

What is your morning routine before you get to your desk?

Working from home has helped the morning routine! Before, it was always a mad scramble to get everyone out of the door but now, I try to do a Joe Wicks session or some yoga (with Adrienne!) before getting a coffee and hitting the office.

What’s the first thing you do when you get to your desk?

Big swig of coffee – probably call Sarah as we joke that we speak to each other more than our husbands! Scroll Instagram .. but being careful not to get too carried away as you can easily lose a morning doing that! Work out the priorities for the day.

Tongue in cheek question, what does a typical day look like for you?

It’s very different from corporate life!  When you work for yourself you are all things to all clients!  You have to do the post, the tea, the admin!  So no two days are the same, there will be a certain amount of admin, reviewing where we are on clients, actioning the key campaigns for clients, but also keeping an eye on the client pipeline, if the last 18 months have taught me anything, it’s that anything can happen so you need to make hay while the sun shines… when you work for yourself, you need to make sure that the work pipe is stocked, so thinking ahead is huge.  I need to get better organised on that, as it can be easy to get stuck in the moment servicing a client and not thinking ahead – and I mean, months ahead, not just days.  

How have you kept your business on track over the past year and dealt with the impact of COVID?

It’s been tough, but a great learning curve.  We are only two in the business, we don’t have office space, or employees, but nonetheless, Sarah had just joined the business and things were looking really bright, then COVID hit and we had a week of client calls asking to pause, stop, reduce fees, it was hard. We got no support from the government like many self-employed small companies. Lockdown 1 was bleak. By Lockdown 2, things were looking up, most clients were back and everyone had realised that certainly for many beauty brands, life online was working well and trade was brisk. Leonard Lauder coined it “the lipstick effect” when times are tough, women still want to treat themselves to the little things in life that make them feel good, they might not be able to afford that handbag or shoes, but they will buy a lip gloss, eye cream, fragrance .. as a boost and that is what we saw, by Lockdown 3 we were winning business and busier than ever. We have done launches on line, press meetings virtually and in terms of our industry it has translated well.   We have some amazing clients (Escentric Molecules, Phoenix Beauty, Elie Saab, Carine Roitfeld fragrances, BDK fragrances, Laboratorio Olfattivo fragrances, Rhug Wild Beauty, SKWAD, STOW London)

What do you see as the biggest challenges for PR at the moment?

Stand out. The industry is busier with new launches than I have ever seen in my life and journalists are inundated with emails. Getting brands to stand out is very tough. There are journalists I have known for years and don’t always get answers from them! Getting coverage is harder than ever and in terms of our business we are very careful about the brands we take on for exactly that reason. Also, the fact that offices have been empty – young PRs, like every industry, learn from the older, more established members of the team, it’s knowledge transfer and key skills like communication, teamwork and other interpersonal skills that are picked up in multigenerational offices.

What are the non-negotiables for you in your business?

Trust, integrity and respect

We know working in PR can be stressful, how do you look after yourself, as well as your clients?

We know it is, because we are in it!  Many others don’t and clients have unrealistic expectations of how much and how soon they will get results!  So managing expectations from the get go and being honest and transparent as to what can be achieved is key so everyone is on the same page.  We try and not take things personally when the coverage doesn’t happen for whatever reason, but it is hard but so often out of our control. We are here to put our clients best interests forward and get them the best results we can but I do find that I take it particularly hard when for whatever reason it didn’t happen!

What plans do you have for the rest of 2021?

We are hopefully going to take some time to recharge and relax away from work – it’s not easy when you run your own business to take those holidays !  We have some really exciting launches coming up that we cannot wait to get started on but we are waiting to see how things pan out Covid wise to see if we can start planning larger events.

What advice would you have for someone looking to start a PR career?

Don’t think it’s all glamour and champagne because it isn’t.  Also, keep your eyes and ears open at all times, it is never about you and always about the client. PR is a very specific discipline and you can learn an awful lot by just listening to what is going on around you. Reading a room, be it in real life or virtually, is a key skill in PR. Get as much experience as you can to find your lane and the area of PR that you enjoy.

What motto do you live and work by?

If it feels wrong, it probably is.

Thank you so much for this Nicola, and if you fancy being on the blog, get in touch and let’s chat! 

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