Self-Start Mums is a brand new series showcasing some fabulous mothers who have created their own self-employed business.
I’m so happy to share my interview with Alicia Hall, PR and social media guru and Co-Founder of Project PR & Media!
My Interview with Alicia Hall
1. Tell me about yourself?
I’m Alicia Hall, mother of two young boys (two and three years old) and Founder of Project PR & Media. I live in Melbourne with my husband (ten years this month!) our boys and our puppy Frankie.
2. Tell us about your self-employed business?
Project PR & Media is a PR and social media agency with a difference. Myself and my business partner (Lainie Coombes) started it almost six years ago because we saw a huge gap in the market for agencies who get amazing results but don’t charge the earth.
We also pride ourselves on the fact that we, as Directors, deal directly with the clients and a lot of the time spent creating reporting documents is exchanged for spending hours on actually executing our ideas. PR spin is replaced with strong news angles that get cut through and it works!
3. How did you transition to working for yourself?
My business partner and I were both working at another PR agency together at the time. We simply thought ‘We can do this better’. And out of that we got planning…it was a huge risk at the time as we both had mortgages with our partners but for me personally I always knew I could go back to reporting if it was a disaster.
We began by working at each other’s houses and held our ‘morning board meeting’ while we walked the neighbourhood each morning.
Within a year we had to find an office as meeting clients at coffee shops became a little exhausting (it was a good problem to have I guess!). But we still regularly look back on the time when our biggest problem was where to walk!
4. What was your previous career?
I was a TV Journalist at 7News.
5. Describe a typical day in your working life?
I’m up early, around 6am, and start the day with a cup of tea before my two boys wake up then it’s go go go! Breakfast, begging the boys to ‘get dressed’ and then bribing them into the car, daycare drop off before battling a bit of peak hour traffic to the office. Then it’s COFFEE and usually a morning meeting with my business partner to work out who is doing what. Then another meeting with the team, client meetings – we usually make these in the morning as it’s the most productive part of the day! Pitching to media from then on, LUNCH (coffee and lunch is VERY important!) more pitching and working with media to secure stories.
Next I swing by the supermarket for dinner, snacks and all the other supplies. I pick the boys up, get home, put some washing on, cook dinner (sometimes five times depending on how picky they are being), bath them and try to get them to bed before 8.30pm. Another cup of tea to end the day then I’m in bed, ready to do it all again!
6. How many hours do you work per week on your business?
I have found with my own business I’m always on! The media is ever consuming and that’s the business I’m in so breakfast TV, the radio in the car, the news at night as well as the hours in the office in the day, there are a lot! I would say it’s the same amount I did at the start however the busier we have become and the more we have grown, we simply have to work smarter. And harder.
On a Friday I work from home which can sometimes be tricky as I have the boys with me (I may or may not have taken important phone calls hiding inside my linen cupboard to avoid a call of “Mummmmmy!” down the phone line!). But I think these days people are pretty understanding of the work/life struggle and that it’s real!! It’s not the weirdest thing in the world to hear mine (or other peoples) children in the background at some stage.
7. Do you supplement your income in any other ways?
Not really, obviously my husband works too (he also has his own business) and we share costs.
8. How do you manage your family and working for yourself?
As I said, the struggle is real! These days we split the boys between day care/kinder and also a nanny. I’m from interstate so I have no family here which is the pits!
After I had my second son I had to go back to work when he was six months old because my business partner was having her first baby. My husband and I weighed up our options and it ended up being cheaper to get my mum to move here from Adelaide for a year and live with us and help with the boys. We paid her a wage because she had to leave her job in SA and she also got to bond with her grandchildren in their very early years! It worked a treat for us and I would recommend others try to be flexible and find an option that works – even if it means having your mum move in with you!!
I’m also a huge fan of having a very clean house and being a working mum it’s hard to keep it as clean as I would like so I highly recommend a cleaner! For my own sanity it’s the best feeling coming home knowing that’s one less job I have to do.
9. What challenges did you face in setting up your business?
There is a real perception that bigger agencies are the way to go as they have the experience and proven reputation; this was a bit of a struggle for us because that’s the reason why we set up our business – because we believe they are not! They are more expensive and they do come up with a lot of bells and whistles in proposals but they can’t deliver like we can. They often have very senior people presenting to the client then junior people managing the accounts. With us, what you see if what you get!
10. What’s the best thing about working for yourself?
Now that it’s been almost six years there is certainly a great amount of satisfaction in knowing we have built something amazing from the ground up and we are not just lucky! Also as a mum the flexibility is priceless.
11. What’s your best advice to another mum who is considering setting up her own business?
Do it! Believe in yourself and if you have the support from your partner, family and friends, you will succeed!
12. What’s next for you and your business?
My business partner is about to take leave to have her second child so it’s ‘head down, bum up’ for me! We are currently seeing good growth in the social media side of our business so that’s something we will continue to develop. There is lots of work to be done and clients to be had!
Connect with Alicia on LinkedIn here
Check out Project PR & Media in the Self-Start Mums Directory or search for other mums in business!
Are you a self-starter mum? Read more interviews with self-employed mums here.
To chat about taking part in this series and sharing your story, contact Mim here
I hope you enjoyed my interview with Alicia Hall, Co-Foundr of Project PR and Media.