Hi Nicky, please tell us about the creator behind Padua Communications.
I have over 20 years of agency experience in PR and content marketing communications. I set up Padua Communications in 2009 to offer PR, copywriting, marketing, branding, content and event management services for businesses who wanted to create a conversation with the media, existing customers and new target audiences. I have also worked for the BBC as a radio presenter and producer. I have written scripts and worked in video production and before that, I was a secondary school teacher. I am living my dream of working with my husband and sharing childcare of my little girl fitting it around running a successful business in Surrey and Hampshire. I also drink an enormous amount of tea!
You have created a very strong combination of PR, content and marketing. What was the inspiration behind it?
I wanted to set up an agency that would be able to offer clients real value for money, especially as we set up in the last recession. From my previous experience in agencies, I didn’t want to be pigeon-holed into one type of service. You can’t do PR without an understanding of marketing, and content for social and online needs to reflect those marketing and PR messages. I wanted to provide a service that saved clients time and money. Our content can be tailored for on or offline, and whenever we can, we write and place stories in publications that best suits a client’s target customer. That’s one of our USPs.
How did the business go from concept to launch?
Quickly! I started from home, used a variety of face to face and online marketing and PR methods and then built the business from there. We now have offices in Surrey and Hampshire. Most of our work comes from recommendations and this happened right from set up. Also, I think we came to the market just as people were looking for affordable help with their content and communications.
What was the response like from your target audience?
Welcomed. Quite often, our clients are going through a time of change, so being able to clearly explain things, understand their market quickly and then suggest affordable, creative ideas has always gone down well.
What is your favourite thing to do when you’re not running Padua Communications?
Spending time with my husband and little girl, playing and exploring the area where we live. We moved to the New Forest last year so we live in an amazingly beautiful place – with lots of tea shops!
How did you fund it all in the beginning?
I had some money set by that we used to set up but the business took off straightaway. Because we offer such a breadth of services, there’s not many things we can’t help with, so we were busy from month one. We now have a team of 15 so we can still offer that scope of support.
PR is always a sticking point for small business owners. What would be your number one tip for those wanting publicity, without putting themselves out there?
There are a lot of marketing activities that you can do but if you’ve never done any PR before, speak to a professional beforehand. Even a short conversation will make you think differently about your messaging and will give you tools that will work for the media. People think of PR as a blanket tool, whereas a consultant will think of what story will work best, what supporting material you will need and the lead time needed for each target media channel. You do need to put yourself out there but with some handholding, this isn’t as scary or expensive as you may think. And listen to the advice you are being given!
How do you measure success?
For us, success is customer feedback and retention rates. We are still working with our first retained client, who we began working with in 2010. We have also just filmed a corporate video where two clients have said, ‘Working with Padua Communications is professional and fun and like working with a member of the family.’ That’s lovely to hear as it resonates with our brand values.
What has been the most exciting and the most challenging experience so far?
Challenging would be a couple of clients who we have worked with over the years, who have had unrealistic expectations of what they would be able to achieve. I think most PR professionals would say that! Most exciting is more difficult as there have been so many things – living my dream, being asked to speak at a UKTI event in Brussels, learning about new tech, being an MD on maternity leave. The best thing is working with amazing people, both staff and clients.
What are your top tips for marketing online?
Think and plan before you do. Having an integrated and co-ordinated plan for online marketing is a lot easier than trying to do everything piecemeal. We plan our content at least 3 months in advance and then use this material as the content for blogs, media outreach, email marketing and newsletters. Even when things are crazy busy, because we did the work at the start and there are deadlines that must be kept, it is easier to manage and means that our online presence is always working for us.
How would you define being an entrepreneur?
Freedom to spend time with the people I love and work with the companies I like. As a woman and mother, being an entrepreneur has meant that I can have everything. It has meant some really hard work and some crazy juggling but to be able to spend my time in this way means the world to me.
What plans do you have for Padua Communications over the next 12 months?
We have a new website being built, some more content marketing material in the process and we’re working on some lovely campaigns for existing clients, as well as talking to some new prospects about some interesting projects. It’s going to be a busy and exciting year!