Work Matters: Lucy Werner, The Wern (PR for small businesses)

“I’m having a tough time personally between both my parents being critically ill and a new baby who is going to be in and out of Great Ormond Street for the next few years. It’s tough to be the “Hype Person” all the time when some days life is really knocking me about,” says Lucy Werner, founder of PR, branding and design agency The Wern…

Lucy Werner, 36, lives in Homerton, east London. She is founder of The Wern, author, speaker and teacher on all things publicity for small businesses. 

How long have you been in your current line of work and what led you to it?
After working with Dominic Cools-Lartigue (of Street Feast fame), I realised that I love working directly with the infectious energy of entrepreneurs and set about creating an affordable PR consultancy for that audience.

I’m now in my fifth year and have expanded into branding and design. And most recently exploring more ways like a book, prompt cards and online courses to help small business owners build their brand

What were you doing previously?
For my sins, I’ve either worked in-house or for bigger PR agencies. No sexy back story, but a tale of hard graft cutting my teeth learning the skills and spotting the gaps in the market that I hope to serve.

Was there any training/studying involved for your current career?
Not academically, a lot of it is on the job experience BUT I do invest in my own personal training consistently and regularly attend workshops and events on PR, as well as wider business industry to keep myself fresh. I recommend Jolt, General Assembly and School of Life for practical and affordable learning.

Do you do it for the love of it, money or both?
Originally the love – in an agency you have to really work your way up and do the dogs body work for a long time before you make the big bucks.

Which career moment are you most proud of?
A tie between getting my book deal and winning FSB Micro Business award whilst pregnant with my second child and working part time looking after the first.

And your lowest point?
Making my team redundant after I returned from my first maternity leave.

What are your daily work challenges?
The juxtaposition of whilst professionally I’m living my best life, I’m having a tough time personally between both my parents being critically ill and a new baby who is unpredictably going to be in and out of Great Ormond Street for the next few years (at least). It’s tough to be the “Hype Person” all the time when some days life is really knocking me about.

How do you cope when things aren’t going as you’d like with work?
Take a break, ideally every three months for at least a week to recharge and during this period I switch off emails and social media. If I start craving nature, I know it’s time to have an immediate short detox from work.

Do you reward yourself after a work success – if so, how?
ALWAYS. I’m known for a celebratory desk disco every time I land a fab piece of coverage for clients. But for myself, I do try to mark occasions like a meal out or something for the home so when I look at it, it reminds me of how far I’ve come.

Would you be comfortable to tell us what you earn?
Currently I’m on maternity leave so SMP of £148.50 a week.

Are you happy with that amount?
As I run a limited company, I’m more focused on turnover goals for the business over the tax year rather than the day-to-day, otherwise I think I’d despair trying to pay my mortgage on that amount.

What’s the dream/aim/goal – career-wise?
For the business, to become a brand for brands – a one-stop shop for small business owners looking to build their own PR, design and branding. I also really enjoy advising entrepreneurs on their personal profiles, so I hope to grow that out more.

The pipe dream would be to go to the France every summer for the school holidays (my children are half French) and take a sabbatical from the business – keep it ticking over but not needing to be proactive.

Three people we should follow, in your industry?
For a small business building their brand I recommend:
For design: @hadrienchatelet
For startup business advice: @fleuremery
For all your stationary needs, you can create your own branded pencils and notebooks: @pencilmeinshop 

Anything you’d like to plug?
My first PR book “Hype Yourself: A no-nonsense DIY PR toolkit for small businesses” – available from Foyles, Waterstones, and Amazon available now for pre-order.
(Sidenote: despite the PR industry being 66% female there are currently NO female PR authors in the Amazon Top 10)

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Photo credit: Almass Badat

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