With the COVID chaos continuing to run riot and things changing faster than you can say ‘banana bread’, I’m loving talking to other PR people and seeing how they are dealing with all that’s coming their way.
This week I am featuring Sara Tye, and what a woman she is!
Sara is an award-winning entrepreneur, top 500 PR, coach, speaker, mother and 70.3 triathlete. She teaches business owners and entrepreneurs how to raise their profile through ‘Mastering Your Own PR’ and runs redheadPR. Always #aheadofthecurve
Sara has nearly 35 years of communications expertise, and was a finalist in the first Cosmopolitan Women of the Year Awards 1999. She played a key role in the implementation of BT’s environmental policy, and in the development and management of the philanthropic ‘Best Practice’ process at Yell.
Sara developed stakeholder relations in-house at Thames Water Utilities, headed up communications at Yellow Pages and spent three years managing the personal PR initiatives at home and abroad for The Body Shop and its eminent founder, the late Dame Anita Roddick.
I have a feeling you will love what she has to say, I know I did.
I would love to know more about your career path and where you are today?
I started at the bottom and worked my way up. My first job was sorting out a huge photo library for the media in two cabinets. No names on the slides. I had to label them all. I think it took about two years. No, that’s a joke – but it seemed that long! I eventually looked after stakeholder communications and local relations for planning applications, construction work and the improvement programmes across the Thames Valley Region for Thames Water Utilities. I had been to every borough in and outside London and along the Thames Valley by the time I was 22.
Then to The Body Shop where I worked for the late Dame Anita Roddick. That was my goal. I studied her at college when I took my Diploma in Strategic Management. That was it. I had to work for her. At 24 and I was working in Littlehampton the headquarters.
How did you deal with the pandemic when it came not only to work, but also self care and dealing with the unknown.
I pivoted immediately. This was not as bad as the shock in London of 2008. There was no control over that. We had no help. It was chaos. I knew exactly what to do this time. I started ‘Mastering Your Own PR’ a virtual training system and mentoring programme to teach business owners and entrepreneurs how to raise their profile while still running redheadPR and my property portfolio. It’s been a huge success as there are so many people that need to promote themselves online now and make a success out of their businesses.
If you have a team, how did you help them get to grips with the changes?
We have worked remotely for 6 years so no changes there. In fact, I help other companies and agencies become hyper-efficient and manage clients and staff remotely through coaching.
You must work within the realms of the effects on people’s lives too. You have to work around their issues that they are dealing with. Pregnancy, death, isolating etc. It’s the same as always but with different challenges this time.
How did your clients react?
Some clients went bankrupt, some are struggling, and some have thrived. It really depends where they are in their business cycle and what sector they are in. Also, how quickly they can pivot.
How are things looking on the work front now?
It’s really OK. You have to knuckle down, do more of some things, postpone others. It’s the usual project management act and prioritisation. We got through 2008. Nothing will ever be as bad as that. I hope. You have to work as a flexible team.
How do you take time out to look after yourself and what do you consider to be the non-negotiables?
I swim, run, cycle, open water swim, cold water swim, spend time with my daughters and partner. We have a family date night every month. I have a date day with Dave. I am on a keto lifestyle. Everything is negotiable with me apart from going to bed early! I am in bed by 10pm every day. Boring I know, but essential for everything to work.
Do you think people in the PR world are generally good at looking after themselves and how do you think we can be better?
In my experience, people in PR used to be dreadful at looking after themselves. We had rules. Finish work early. No late night in the office. Days off if people had worked hard. Reduction in networking and events. This has now been changed for us. So, individuals with guidance need to take responsibility for their own health at home as long as businesses don’t put too much stress and pressure on them remotely.
What words of wisdom would you offer others working in the PR and media world when it comes to knowing your self worth?
You ARE worth so much. You are all so clever at understanding other people’s businesses, strategic ways to cut through noise. New techniques. People forget that the Ex-Prime Minister, David Cameron was a PR. We are the backbone of a lot of businesses and their communications and the world is your oyster, especially now. Look at me and what I have done!
How do you think the industry will change as a result of COVID-19, or do you think we will go back to how we worked before?
Never – why should we. We are good at tech and great at virtual and remote. We are communicators. PRs need to relearn the media and its priorities. Learn new digital skills to keep #aheadofthecurve.
What’s your proudest career moment?
Meeting the Queen at an event my colleagues and I organised. The opening of the Thames Water Ring Main. I asked that the tunnelling machine be moved to the event location so she could see it and they did it! Or listening to the late Dame Anita Roddick speak to 1,000 young women in the Philippines. Starting redheadPR and then staring ‘Mastering Your Own PR’. Getting Belu Spring Water on the Front Page of the Independent. The whole front page. Working with Clarence House and with Prince William and Centrepoint. There are so many!
Telling my mother that I was starting redheadPR in the centre of London on Waterloo Bridge.
But seeing my first student from Mastering Your Own PR – get a piece in a global online magazine in the US.
If you didn’t work in PR, what would you do?
Nothing I would always work in PR – IAMPR
What would be your ideal day off?
Being by any sea in the world, on the beach and looking up at the sky!
What motto do you live by?
Relentless Attitude – that’s mine
Carpe diem – Seize the Day – that’s Latin
Late Dame Anita Roddick used to say ‘Think Big and Act Small’, good advice me thinks for RIGHT NOW.