Don’t keep it a secret. Your movement needs to start today, so let the world know your plans. Talk about what you are doing on social media, start to build a following as these people will cheer you on, and find an accountability buddy because you won’t want to let them down.
Natalie Trice is an author and PR Director based in the UK. From the CEOs of international TV channels and Finance Directors at IT companies, to entrepreneurs at the forefront of their industry and ambitious start-ups, Natalie has worked with them all, and many more. Today, as well as retained clients, Natalie mentors people around the world and gives them the PR skills and confidence to go out and talk to the press. With her ideas, contacts and cheerleading approach, her clients secure the column inches and airwaves that will help them to stand out from the crowd, and shine. On 29th November 2019 her second book, PR School: Your Time to Shine was launched, it went to number one on the Amazon hot new releases list a week before it came out and is now being read from everywhere from England, France, Dubai and beyond. Cast Life — A Parent’s Guide to DDH was Natalie’s first book and sits alongside her charity, DDH UK, which supports thousands of people around the world dealing with hip dysplasia, a condition one of her sons has been treated for over the past decade. When she isn’t working you can find Natalie on the beach in Devon with her husband and two sons as well as their dog and if she isn’t there, she’ll be drinking coffee somewhere and reading a magazine.
Thank you so much for joining us Natalie! Can you share the “backstory” about how you grew up?
I grew up in a small town just outside of London and was often found at the library with my nose in a book reading as much as I could. If not there, I’d be at home writing stories inspired by Enid Blyton and Roald Dahl, then slighter later on Judy Blume. At 18 I headed to Leeds to study History of Art, and once my degree was done, I went in search of Asian adventures and spent a year teaching English in Tokyo. From there I went back to the UK and forged a career in PR working with brands such as CNN, Cartoon Network and Discovery Channel — it was pretty amazing.
What was the moment or series of events that made you decide to bring your message to the greater world? Can you share a story about that?
In 2011 I reached a turning point in my life and closed the PR agency I had built up and loved.
After spending years working for major companies like Epson, CNN and the Discovery Channel, I set up Tally PR so I could be a working mum on my terms. The business was growing, I was working with bigger brands and considering taking on a junior team member, but I also had two little boys, Eddie and Lucas.
Lucas was diagnosed with developmental dysplasia of the hip (DDH) when he was three months old, and while this isn’t a life-threatening condition, it has certainly been life-changing for us. Overnight we went from soft play and baby massage, to hospital appointments, X-rays and operations.
My business needed me to be in London several times a week, but my son needed me to be at home with him while he was recovering from surgery. He was stuck in casts and pretty immobile, when he should have been running around with his older brother.
I thought I was superhuman and that I could do it all, but during a rare weekend away with my husband, I finally admitted that I was just one woman with too many plates to spin and something needed to give.
I made the heartbreakingly difficult choice to stop working for a while, close the business I had worked so hard to build, and give my family the time and support they needed.
I went back to the office the following Monday and spoke to my clients, who were amazingly supportive. Final reports were written, journalists and contacts were emailed, files were packed up, and while my out of office was switched on, my passion for PR didn’t ever turn off.
Without my business I felt as if my identity was slipping away from me. It soon became clear that while being a stay-at-home mum meant I could navigate the murky waters of DDH for Lucas, I missed my work and I simply wasn’t fulfilled by going to soft play sessions and hanging out in coffee shops. I needed something more, so I started a blog and that’s when I thought about writing a book. I did my research, took a course, sent out emails to publishers and secured a deal that led to me writing Cast Life.
Two days before Lucas had a major operation to break and realign his pelvis, I launched Cast Life and over 70 people came to the party. They did buy the book, we raised nearly £1,000 and I knew from the tears in their eyes that they felt my emotions as I told my brave son’s story.
What impact did you hope to make when you wrote this book?
At the start, I simply wanted to help other parents, but Cast Life has become so much more than that.
I am now part of the Advisory Board of the International Hip Dysplasia Institute in the United States, which is an honour and one that has helped position me as a parent expert in the field. I never thought I would attend steering groups at Great Ormond Street Hospital in London, be part of research-funding applications or take part in hip clinics at University Hospital Southampton, but I did.
DDH UK now has over 3000 members online, the trickle impact of that leads to many more thousands if you consider parents, siblings, grandparents, partners (many of our members who have hip issues are adults) as well as carers and health professionals.
I know that today we are there to help people who are going through a devastating gut-wrenching experience, one that I hate to say is still a part of our lives as my son is still under medical supervision and may well need more surgery.
What we have done is something I could never have dreamt of ten years ago when it felt as if life as we knew it was over.
Did the actual results align with your expectations? Can you explain?
It really has been phenomenal and with more people joining DDH UK, books still selling all over the world and constantly being asked to speak at events, offer feedback or give support, it is way beyond anything I could have ever imagined.
You have to find the silver linings in difficult situations, because otherwise the anger will eat you up, this is what I did, and the impact is still going a decade on.
Not only are so many people being helped, but my sons both know they are part of something amazing and sparked a movement for change.
What moment let you know that your book had started a movement? Please share a story.
As I said, Lucas had his pelvis broken when he was six and a half. We were in hospital in London for a week and one day, a doctor from Imperial College approached us on the ward, he wanted to say hello to Lucas but he also had a copy of my book and asked me to sign it!
That was incredible.
What kinds of things did you hear right away from readers? What are the most frequent things you hear from readers about your book now? Are they the same? Different?
These are just a few of the comments we get:
“Reading Cast Life really helped me when we started on this long hip journey. It gave me lots of information and practical ideas through the eyes of an experienced parent.”
“The DDH UK page helped me keep sane! It was so welcoming, I got my answers, my fears lessened, and I realised I wasn’t in this alone. It is such an amazing support and without this group I don’t know how I’d have made it through.”
“Cast Life and DDH UK made me realise that although I’m in Australia, I’m never alone in my daughter’s hip journey! The information was so useful, easy to read, and I read it in one sitting and use it to help other mums here in Australia. My copy is well loved.”
What is the most moving or fulfilling experience you’ve had as a result of writing this book? Can you share a story?
For me it is simple; we sharedour story and the results is proof of what happens when you take that brave step and embrace your vulnerability and find the positive when all avenues look dark.
I wanted other parents to know that they weren’t alone, that someone else ‘got it’. To do that, I had to let them know we were there to help them, and now, they do.
I think that Lucas and I standing on the stage of his school and being the theme of World Book Day was pretty awesome. His entire school walking a mile for healthy hips to raise money for DDH UK was pretty fantastic too as we reached a lot of people via media coverage and his friends now understand more about his journey.
Have you experienced anything negative? Do you feel there are drawbacks to writing a book that starts such colossal conversation and change?
As Taylor Swift says, the haters will hate, and they have.
I have had people ask me what I did to my son when he was in recovery and in plaster from nipple to toe.
I have had people tell me that I only set up the charity to sell my book.
There have been people getting nasty on social media and those who just walk away because they can’t deal with a normal other than theirs.
So, it goes on BUT, I know that what we have done has been out of good will and honesty and I will never stop trying to put this life challenging condition on the map.
Can you articulate why you think books in particular have the power to create movements, revolutions, and true change?
People like stories of triumph over adversity and we are working on this.
People like the truth and I admit in this book that DDH is rubbish.
People want to connect, and we help them to do that.
People want to see light at the end of the tunnel and to have hope.
Most of all, people want you, I think, to show your vulnerabilities as well as your strengths and to be real.
What is the one habit you believe contributed the most to you becoming a bestselling writer?
I refuse to quit!
We all have a book inside us, I knew I had more than one and so my second book, PR School: Your Time to Shine, is now out and shows others how to tell their story to shine.
You need to be determined and disciplined.
None of this comes easily, I bet even JK Rowling has writer’s block at times.
What you need to remember is that you can do it, and that giving up is not an option.
What challenge or failure did you learn the most from in your writing career? Can you share the lesson(s) that you learned?
Never give up.
After a couple of hurdles, I self-published PR School and I have never worked harder on anything, other than my economics A level at 18 that I also refused to fail at.
If you know that you have something that can help others, be that writing a book, training to be a nurse, volunteering at a hospice or demonstrating about climate change, you need to bring that dream to life.
I had my manuscript sitting in my inbox for months, and then a wise friend, Jessica Killingley, told me to get on with it and get it out there. I’m writing this, two days before launch day and the book has already pre-sold copies around the world, gone to number one on the Amazon hot new releases in the UK and one US reviewer has said:
PR School demystifies the elusive and daunting boogie man public relations can be, making it a must-read for anyone navigating the PR landscape. Trice’s transparency is refreshing and will surely set PR School apart from other how-to guides.
Don’t give up, you can do this.
Many aspiring authors would love to make an impact similar to what you have done. What are the 5 things writers needs to know if they want to spark a movement with a book? (please include a story or example for each)
Know your why?
From the start, know exactly why you are writing your book. Having this clear in your mind will help you keep focus when you are working through the night to meet a deadline, are on yet another edit, or you are completing the index — which always takes way longer than you would imagine.
What do you want to achieve?
If you want to make money, that’s a lot of books! So really think about what you want your book to do and what is the action you want people to take? Buy less clothes? Recycle more? Do better in job interviews? Learn to say no?
With Cast Life, I wanted to help those navigating the murky waters of hip dysplasia and I did that. In my second boo, PR School, it’s about giving people the confidence and tools to tell their stories to the media so they can grow.
Who are you writing for?
You don’t want to write a book for yourself, do you? Work out who you are writing for, what they are interested in, what type of language and format would work for them and as your write, keep them front of mind.
Don’t keep it a secret
Your movement needs to start today, so let the world know your plans. Talk about what you are doing on social media, start to build a following as these people will cheer you on, and find an accountability buddy because you won’t want to let them down.
Just get on and do it! Start today and you will be one step closer to being an author who is sparking a movement.
The world, of course, needs progress in many areas. What movement do you hope someone (or you!) starts next? Can you explain why that is so important?
I think that the world is currently in a strange place and we need a general movement to bring us peace and light!
As for me, I have a novel on my Mac that is calling my name, so maybe that’s my next movement once PR School has taught the world to shine.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
You can follow me on:
Instagram is @natalieprschool
More details about PR are at www.pr-school.co.uk and you can buy the book from Amazon and other major retailers.
Thank you so much for these insights. It was a true pleasure to do this with you.
Thank you for having me.