Build a tribe — It can be a lonely place if you let it. So, my advice is to surround yourself with people you trust and who are experts in their fields. Having a mentor or coach is so important regarding self-development, as PR’s spend more time providing a service to others and more often than not, don’t spend the time needed to develop themselves or their business.
As a part of my series about the things you need to know to excel in the modern PR industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Sarah Lloyd.
Sarah Lloyd, owner of IS.PR (IndigoSoulPR), is an intuitive public relations consultant dedicated to celebrating clients’ success, image, and reputation. With over 20 years of corporate and agency experience under her belt, she is both resourceful and adaptable, possessing a natural and intuitive ability to understand what clients are wanting from their PR, and what the press required.
She is also a Reiki master and angelic healer weaving her spiritual practices into her publicity work.
She works with an array of authors, entrepreneurs, and small businesses coaching and working on a 121 basis to help them build awareness of their brands and products.
Her book ‘Connecting the Dots’, published by The UnBound Press, talks about how we can be more conscious in our communications when sharing our stories and is available for purchase on Amazon.
You can also catch Sarah, at 9 am every Monday on Wellbeing Radio — where she hosts the Connecting the Dots show. A show that acknowledges that everything is connected. Exploring storytelling with soul, peppered with practical and magical insights into sharing your story, on your terms.
Thank you so much for your time! I know that you are a very busy person. Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
I have worked in Publicity for over 23 years, and I literally fell into it by accident. I originally trained as a secretary as I didn’t really know what else to do with myself!
I decided on a whim to leave my medical secretary job to try my luck at something else and ended up taking a temporary position at British Aerospace as a communications assistant. I found myself sending out 1000’s of invites to the annual airshow in that first week and I was hooked.
Communications and PR then involved photocopying 100’s of press releases and sending them out in the post, faxing newsrooms with exclusives and cutting out press cuttings in the daily newspaper, and sharing them with the Press Office and CEO. Press Officers would regularly have lunch with key national newspaper correspondents and the press office phone rang off the hook — it was busy and loud!
Things past PR colleagues have found hilarious, as many had never come across a fax machine or a glue stick, and of course speaking to people on the phone is a long-lost art!
As time went on, I learned my trade from the so many amazing and talented people I had the pleasure of working with. When I left the PR department at British Aerospace, I went to work for an international PR agency, who was run by a dynamic partnership. Gill Craig and Bill Nichols, who taught me how to pitch to the media, PR strategy, and the importance of having the right team around you.
I moved ‘in house’ after 8 years with the agency with a view to becoming an expert in my field. I then went to work my way up the ladder in two big tech corporations, before I left to set up IndigoSoulPR three years ago.
Finally, 3 years ago, I left the corporate world on a high, having won a PRCA award for best B2B campaign, and leading the charge on a PR campaign that saw coverage crossing over from Technology into Lifestyle press. I was hugely passionate about the campaign as it was a glimpse of what is happening right now, the technology was video conferencing and we were talking about the importance of having video technology to bridge countries and helping families live a more flexible life. We were a few years early, with our thoughts and predictions but it does make me realize we were onto something huge when you see the uptake of video conferencing solutions today.
It was when my two daughters came along, and when they reached a few years old, I realized my priorities were all wrong. That coupled with PND — it was like a hangover that wouldn’t shift. Luckily a new boss came in and reorganized the Communications department. I was given an option to stay in the company but in a position in marketing or take redundancy. I jumped at the chance to leave, and that’s when I set up my own PR company.
I loved the idea of being able to carve out with whom and what I wanted to work on, and on my terms. So now I help business owners and wish to help other PR’s see there is another way to do things.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began at your company?
There have been many — I have worked with a real-life Fairy for example, and that was a really magical experience where we manifested a goal to go on national TV and we managed it in 3 months. I even manifested a chance to see Russell Brand’s rehearsal for his show and get to meet him afterward.
One of the most interesting or synchronistic stories, was when I met my idol, Lynne Franks, and my reason for starting my career in PR.
I was working on the book launch of a new client, Katie Brockhurst, the author of Social Media for a New Age. We had met on social media through a mutual friend and she hired me to help her share her book with the world. It just so happened Katie had worked with Lynne Franks a few years before and had been invited to Katie’s book launch event — which I also attended. I chatted with Lynne, and then embarked on her SEED coaching programme, and now still drop in to see her in Wincanton at her SEED Hub.
Lynne is hugely supportive of any women stepping out and wishing to do business in a more intuitive way and it just felt amazing that I got the chance to work with her. She has even endorsed my book — Connecting the Dots and was there the day my book launched too.
I truly believe now I am working in a more intuitive and open way, more doors are opening and possibilities I could never have of dreamed of are presenting themselves to me. We just have to follow those signs.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
Not so much a funny story, but again linked to Lynne. I turned up at the first day of her SEED retreat, wearing a Choose Life t-shirt. I had no idea what to expect so wasn’t entirely sure what to wear. I decided to go for comfort over style and picked the t-shirt and threw on some colorful trousers.
I was completely unaware that she had played a key role in the original launch of the slogan back in the ’80s. And when she opened the session, she talked a little about her past successes, referring to The Choose Life slogan being one. I don’t think I could have got any redder!
It was a complete but happy accident, I felt like such a fangirl when she noticed, that said it was a great conversation and relationship starter so again it must have happened for a reason.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
I decided to give myself a few weeks off over the summer, to really spend some quality time with my kids. However, my passion project is to teach others how to do their own PR with my support, so I have created the Connecting the Dots membership group. Designed to be a supportive space, I take those who sign up through an Alchemy Session — which is a strategy with a sprinkling of magic and clarity session. Then members have access to media lists, pitch support and key journalists, and regular time with myself.
I am also supporting some wonderful clients with VIP services, to help boost their awareness in the media. I love working with clients who are making a difference in the world. Challenging the status quo, who I can also feel passionate about, and get behind fully.
One client, psychologist Rosie Peacock, is blazing trails having a positive mindset to succeed in life — she is also a big fan of plant medicine and micro-dosing in a controlled and legal way to help business owners open up to new levels of creativity and new ways of thinking. She is running the first of its kind, safe and Psychedelic Business Mastermind Retreat, supported by 4 trained therapists and integration coaches by in the Netherlands, April 2021.
Another one of my clients is my publisher — Nicola Humber, who I met at an event a few years back and paths crossed several times. The Unbound Press, her hybrid publishing house, published my book Connecting the Dots back in February. And now I get to help her, and her authors share their stories through the power of PR on their terms. What I love about the Unbound Press is books are written with heart and soul, and you are supported through the whole process, without being pigeonholed for a specific market. You really are allowed to be your true authentic self.
In addition to the membership and 121 services, I am also a radio presenter on Wellbeing Radio — which again was completely unexpected, but when I met the team at the Mindful Living Show (another client), they read my book and invited me to be a part of their family. So, Mondays at 9 am I talk about all things PR, and how the lessons can be applied throughout life.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?
I was lucky enough to be asked to present at the recent PRFEst, an event held for PRs at any stage of their career as a networking and learning opportunity, and this really made me think about this question then. I started my career in my 20’s and felt I had to be all things, to everyone, and I’d love to impart some of the jewels I picked up along the way.
1. Have clear Boundaries — for this is number one, in business and in life. Know your boundaries and stick to them. The only person who can manage your boundaries is you. If you want to stop working at 5.30 pm then stick to that. Don’t feel you have to respond to every email immediately. And know it is ok to say no — if the opportunity, client, the task doesn’t feel right in your gut, then you can absolutely say no. Doing everything does not guarantee you a badge or promotion opportunities, it just guarantees you poor mental health and burnout. Do what you are paid to do and do it well.
2. Work with clients who you believe in — when you are invested in a client whose message and mission you believe in; it becomes so much more powerful. When you don’t understand what it is you are ‘pitching’ or find it dull or boring, that will come across and it becomes hard to get ‘results’. Work out what you are passionate about and you can’t go wrong.
3. Ensure the client and you are a team — when you work with someone who is just hiring you to do the job but is detached from you, it makes things so much harder. Working as a collaboration, and equal is essential in PR. Anyone saying ‘Do my PR’ be wary of — they will have expectations you will never meet, and most likely don’t understand what it entails. A two-way relationship and consistent communication between you and the client are key.
4. Build a tribe — It can be a lonely place if you let it. So, my advice is to surround yourself with people you trust and who are experts in their fields. Having a mentor or coach is so important regarding self-development, as PR’s spend more time providing a service to others and more often than not, don’t spend the time needed to develop themselves or their business.
5. Balanced approach — The best piece of advice I was given was to work on the rule of 3–1/3 of your time is spent on your business/clients; 1/3 is spent on your family, and 1/3 should be spent on self-care, what makes you happy. Try to maintain a balance between all those things, I suffered in my corporate life, as work took up 2/3 of my life with my family taking the rest, leaving no room for me or my mental health, which suffered. Getting out in nature, taking a class, mixing up your day is all-important in this balanced approach. We often get caught in the idea that we aren’t being productive when we step away from the laptop — but it is quite the opposite.
You are known as a master networker. Can you share some tips on great networking?
In the past I used several glasses of wine to get me through many an evening and whilst I have no problem promoting other people, putting myself out there can still be a struggle. As a total introvert myself, here are some of the tips I have used to prepare myself for these situations, and hopefully will help make these situations easier for any business owner feeling the fear after being stuck behind a video screen for so long!
First, reconfirm any last-minute details and familiarize yourself with where you are going. Tube, driving routes, check the weather, it may sound OTT to you… for an introvert or sufferer of social anxiety, this minimizes any nerves on the day. The more sensitive you are, the you’ll understand that this is essential preparation.
When the big day arrives, wear something you feel good in, ensure you pack your business cards or something to leave with anyone interesting you may meet, and if you are more spiritually minded imagine a bubble of energy is surrounding you. That is your ‘dance space’ and will help to shield you from any negative energy which you can pick up on in social situations.
When you arrive, don’t stress about time: You’ll get there when you get there. Always have that at the back of your mind… it’s likely there is a reason that trains are slow, cows decided to cross the road you are driving on… it’s part of the bigger plan, so trust it.
Keep breathing: In these situations, we all too often hold our breath, so notice your breathing at all times, it’s the key to staying cool.
Make like an Air Steward(ess): Find the exits. Find the toilets (you often strike up conversations there) and then the catering… An old boss once told me — eat when you can, sit when you can and take a toilet break when you can. Best advice ever.
Just the ONE: The first tip if there is booze, DON’T head straight for the free bar — you may think the Dutch courage will boost you, but (and take it from one who knows) you may end up saying or doing something you may regret, a clear head really is best! If you must have a drink then limit it to one, some of us like to hold on to something so we keep our hands busy and for safety, so keep that drink in your hand for as long as possible.
Smile: and remember everyone is HUMAN — they do all the things you do… go to the toilet, have families, husbands, wives, kids — and you are not alone, some could be feeling just the same as you — so you can spark a conversation about anything — talking about your journeys, the venue you are standing in, the dress or shoes they are wearing or even the weather are all good, safe icebreakers.
Put your phone away and scan for your tribe: By this I mean look for someone who appears to vibe like you, or your friends, or ex-colleagues. If you have gone on your own look for others on their own or small groups. Cliquey groups, I personally tend to steer clear of. Equally, I would ask those going to networking events in groups to look out for the loners and try to include them too — it goes both ways. Also, put the phone away, be present in the room, it is all too easy to disappear into your phone and get caught up in work or distraction from the task at hand. Plus you might miss someone.
Hold space: By this I mean get THEM talking. Often people are just looking for someone to talk to, vent at, a new ear… be that person! You’ll be surprised how long you’ll be ‘talking’ to someone if you are doing the listening.
Find a common ground: Don’t just stop at the weather, find a common ground quickly. You generally can figure out if you are vibing with someone similar to you just by the way they physically respond. If they politely turn away, take that as your cue to move on to another person. If you hit gold, and your person sticks around don’t just stop there, make a comment about yourself ‘i.e. it’s nice for once to have a sitter’… this can then be a precursor to determining whether the person you are ‘sparking’ with has kids or watched the entire series of Breaking Bad/Vampire Diaries, etc on Netflix.
Be like a Queen: If you feel have exhausted your conversation, it doesn’t feel right, don’t keep trying…make like the Queen, smile, and move on. Remember those connections won’t ever pass you by. If you are struggling to find your tribe. Flit from person to person. Remember no one is judging you. And the more you work the room the more business cards you can hand out!
Finally, after the event, re-connect. Those connections you have made at that event aren’t worth the effort if you don’t reach out after the event in some way. It’s not enough to just press a business card in someone’s hand. Find them and connect with them on Instagram, Facebook, or LinkedIn — and begin to build a relationship. You never know, they may not need your services now, but in the future, who knows!
Lead generation is one of the most important aspects of any business. Can you share some of the strategies you use to generate good, qualified leads?
My best advice would be to create a framework to flow within for all external communications — social media, marketing, lead generation, and publicity. Use that as the basis of all communications so your message is consistent through all channels.
Pull out the top three themes you feel comfortable talking about and start to build a plan from there. Remember it’s ok to be fluid but having clarity around themes you are talking about each month really helps focus your lead generation activity.
If you are struggling with themes, take a moment to look at everything that is happening in your life.
Also look at all the content you have already created on social media channels, books, workshops, as a means of creating content to boost your awareness. Often, we start a lead generation funnel and freeze when it comes to creating content, thinking we should create new fresh content, when often the wisdom you are sharing is right in front of you — what you are doing every day.
Remember that not everyone knows what you know!
Secondly, ensure you have various levels of offering or ways of connecting with you, so people can engage with you whatever the price point. And always include a call to action — a way to reach you and find you.
If you are offering gold dust for free, it not only shows you know what you are talking about, but also that you have more to offer.
My example would be my radio show — listeners gain insight into how to use PR effectively for business, this is a great way to share my message without others paying a penny and it means I am on a mission. Then if they wish to access more information then they can purchase my book. Then we move to the next level of membership groups and 121 support.
My personal goal is to help as many business owners as possible to share their stories, on their terms, and to show to other PR’s we can limit our stress levels; so, it’s important for me to offer my guidance and wisdom on several levels.
Is there a particular book that you read, or podcast you listened to that really helped you in your career? Can you explain?
I read Light is the New Black by Rebecca Campbell and it made me sit up and pay attention to what was happening in my life. I was able to see that I was living a kind of half-life, and not paying attention to my personal needs as well as my career.
That led me to sit in a women’s retreat in Glastonbury with Rebecca where I was able to see my life objectively possibly for the first time. I’d kind of got caught on a hamster wheel seeing no way out, and this time out really helped me to get clarity on what I actually wanted.
It also made me see there was another way to work in publicity, but also change my life so I was actually part of it!
I disappeared into many self-help and books designed for entrepreneurs after I decided to make the leap, many offering amazing guidance and much-needed insight into changing my mindset.
Because of the role you play, you are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Personally, I would love to see more business owners being more conscious in their communications, and for mainstream media to change their fear agenda.
For many years, I worked for businesses who told half the truth, and it is something we are seeing a lot of in the mainstream media — where they prefer to lead with negative headlines over positive news.
The mainstream media, especially now around the pandemic, appears to only focus on a fear-based agenda with a view to driving people to feel inadequate about their lives. I really do have to question, why the mainstream media has not led the charge on how we can boost our immune systems to stand a chance at fighting viruses and poor health; instead of focusing on counting the death toll or showcasing the latest new face mask.
It feels like we are at last seeing the true colours of the mainstream press. Luckily there are many new media titles not following this agenda.
One way, I believe to combat this and to see this agenda change, is by providing media with the truth, and the media sharing positive uplifting stories, the world could be a much nicer place.
This was really meaningful! Thank you so much for your time.