3. Other freelancers and business owners’ PR stories

Listen here (and have a lol at my mispronunciation of people’s names)

  • Headspace founder Andy Puddicombe is a former Buddhist monk. He dropped out of uni and travelled to Asia to learn the art of meditation. When he returned from his travels, he started leading meditation workshops. It was at one of these that he met his now business partner, Richard Pierson. Together, they saw that this could make a great app and set about designing it. The business is now worth around $250m but the PR story is Puddicombe’s journey from Buddhist monk to multimillionaire app founder: two utterly opposing lifestyles.
  • Charlie Rosier and Fabienne O’Neill started Cuckooz Nest – the first co-working space with adjoined creche in London. Charlie had a baby and wanted to continue working but couldn’t find a nanny who’d look after her baby at three months old. She wanted to keep her close, but have help, so came up with the idea of a communal working space with a creche attached, so that you can check in on your babe. These two have secured loads of press – 1. because they were the first to launch this model 2. The space looks good and they’ve got all the right shots 3. this is an issue lots of working parents face: needing somewhere outside of the home to work but not wanting to commit to regular childcare when their work is irregular.
  • Levi Roots, originally from Jamaica, went on Dragon’s Den to secure investment for his Reggae Reggae sauce. The Dragons loved his charisma – and sauce – and he persuaded Peter Jones and Richard Farleigh to invest £50,000. He’s since gone on to build a multi-million-dollar food empire. This is a true ‘rags to riches’ story. But his appearance on prime-time TV was his first PR story.
  • Anna Jones is a chef, Guardian columnist and the author of lots of very popular cookbooks. Anna’s story is that she worked under Jamie Oliver, learning the trade, and later started creating her own vegetarian recipes. At the time, vegetarianism wasn’t particularly cool or popular – according to Anna – so she was ahead of the curve. She got a publisher, and lots of people loved her recipes and how the food was styled. Being the first to do anything is always sure to get you good coverage. And having a strong visual identity helps too – as you can offer lovely shots alongside the interesting story.

When it comes to your story, it needs to be about you – not just your business. You need to draw people in and make them care, and then carefully slide in the mention of your work (with a link; always include a link). For instance, my pitch could have been this:

I run a website called The Early Hour and publish articles daily at 5am, for parents who are up early. There are interviews with parents you don’t usually hear from, and articles designed to make you laugh, or to teach you something new. I make money through sponsored content and brand collaborations.

But that would have been really boring. Why would anyone care about that? It’s more like an advert than a story. So when you’re writing yours, think beyond just the product or service you’re offering and about why you’re doing it and what makes you/your business special or stand out.

And allow your story to evolve over time. Now, mine includes running online courses with my husband. This came later, and it’s what I get more press for these days (as the ‘lost job when pregnant story’ is quite a few years old; and my focus is more over here, rather than on The Early Hour).