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An Interview with Cleo Anderson – This Award-Winning PR Agency Founder Opens Up About Entrepreneurship and Wellbeing

Cleo Anderson is the CEO and Founder of The Anderson Media Group, an award-winning PR agency specialising in all things lifestyle. Cleo speaks to Thrive Global about running a successful PR business, life and wellbeing.

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You are seen as a leader within luxury and lifestyle PR, and was recognised as such most recently by Forbes. What drew you to opening a PR agency within the lifestyle field specifically?

Lifestyle is a really broad area, and I find it incredibly interesting – it never gets boring. Lifestyle by definition encompasses everything that makes life more enjoyable and in many cases easier, so the campaigns we work on are both diverse and enjoyable. Whether it’s working on a brand new hotel opening or organising an event for a skincare brand, my work demands creativity and no day is ever the same. It’s a field with a lot of scope.

What type of lifestyle brands are you currently working with?

Right now we have a wonderful array of brands and clients – everything from a boutique hotel housed in a lighthouse in Spain to an Eco hotel resort in Cambodia; we have some really beautiful hotel clients globally, mostly five star. We also have a couple of life coaches, a yoga retreat in Portugal and various brands within the health, beauty and fashion spaces. We’re about to start working with an amazing non-alcoholic drinks brand that’s really special. Each client is unique, which is something that we look for when talking to potential clients.

One of the keys to a successful PR campaign is deciding which aspects of the client to highlight to media. How do you decide what that is?

PR is all about accentuating the positive and looking for strong stories that may be tied to a client. Sometimes the stories are really obvious, which is the case with launching a non-alcoholic beverage at a time when alcohol consumption and alcoholism is at an all time high due to the pandemic. Sometimes the story is not so obvious and you have to take the time to develop it – but that’s the beauty of PR; if you have a creative mind, you can find a story in almost anything and that’s what the leading publicists are able to do.

The Anderson Media Group has won many prestigious awards and was ranked No. 1 PR Agency in London by 10BestPR. What is the secret to making a PR agency award-winning?

I believe it’s passion! We never start a campaign thinking that it will win awards, we simply look for great coverage in media that’s a fit for the client. We also love putting together beautiful events for launches or special occasions. The awards come afterwards, but usually the campaigns that win Gold awards in particular have garnered high end, high profile coverage and are special in some way as a product, be it a hotel or a beauty brand.

Due to having many hotel clients all around the world, you are forced to make business trips regularly. As a busy business owner, how do you manage your health and wellbeing?

My health and wellbeing is really important to me and I learned a long time ago that the mind governs everything. Your mind controls your thoughts, your body, your energy and what you attract. So I protect my mind first and foremost by trying to remain relaxed about most things; it’s rare that I get stressed or take things too seriously. I’m also a big believer in being good to yourself, and for me that means doing the things that I love often – that can mean anything from enjoying chocolate (which I love) without ever feeling guilty or watching my weight, to taking long walks, to acting on the things that feel right; if I’ve always wanted to see a particular place I will simply book it and go, if I fancy seeing a movie in the middle of the day and can fit it in, I will take a trip to the cinema and enjoy it – with snacks. I think that as human beings we are often living according to certain unspoken “rules” that we feel we must abide by in life, but I question all of them and do what’s right for me much of the time. I also ask myself how happy I am on a scale of one to ten almost daily, so I’m aware of what feels good and what doesn’t.

PR is a stressful business, how do you deal with problems and daily stress in terms of mental health?

With problems relating to business I would say that you have to be on the ball and ready to react quickly – an example might be seeing a client’s interview in print where there’s a factual error that you need to amend as quickly as possible before it’s published, or finding a solution to a hiccup at an event. I truly believe that in order to stay alert during the day, sleep is incredibly important; I know that Arianna Huffington is a great believer in this too. If I’m not out at an event or having a late dinner and drinks, then I’m in bed pretty early and need eight hours sleep – it keeps me alert during the day, I’m more relaxed, and I also happen to think that it keeps you looking and feeling young.

PR is a very sociable business and many would assume that you have to be an extrovert to do it. Is that true? How would you describe yourself?

I would actually describe myself as an introverted extrovert (or perhaps the other way around, I can never figure it out!). Clearly you have to be good with people, be great socially, and be able to interact with people from all walks of life, and I would describe that as being “on”. But honestly in my down time I really enjoy long walks by myself, I love being in nature, I like private, intimate, up close and personal dinners or drinks with those I love, and I can be a bit of a homebody. Through work I get to experience glitz and glamour, but during my time off I’m very private and can enjoy the simple pleasures of a nice glass of wine while cooking.

Sometimes brands think that it is impossible to secure good PR without a large budget. Is that true?

Not true. A good story and matching that story to the right editor or journalist is key, and businesses may be able to do that on their own or negotiate an affordable fee with a PR agency that has a good track record. Interestingly people also believe that PR cannot be guaranteed, and that’s mostly true, but for brands who are looking for a guaranteed return I would highly recommend taking part in one of the Hollywood gift bags – the swag bag gifted to the top 25 Oscar Nominees, for example, is a wonderful opportunity to be included in global high profile media coverage and is an instant way to gain recognition as a brand. We’re currently helping put together the goodie bag gifted to the Nominees for the Oscar’s 2021.

Any regrets?

I tend not to waste time on regret, but I was once personally invited to Prince’s legendary post Golden Globes party in LA and declined because I had already changed into my pyjamas and needed my sleep. Looking back on it, I should have gone to the party. True story.

You have already achieved so much – what are your plans for the future?

We will be opening a brand new flagship office in Los Angeles some time next year I believe, so I’m making plans for that and looking forward to spending a lot more time in California.

How can our readers contact you and follow on social media?

PR enquiries can be sent to [email protected], or follow along on Twitter and Instagram.

Finally, can you please share your motto and your favourite quote?

My motto would be: if you spot a window of opportunity, jump through it – don’t wait. My favourite quote is: “Thoughts become things, choose the good ones” by Mike Dooley.

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