Fifteen years ago, Cian Mac Eochaidh and I took a huge risk, leaving the comfort of our secure jobs to launch Tribeca Public Relations (Tribeca). We had no clients, but we had big dreams.
We quickly found our feet and started pitching for and winning business on some exciting brands, including Virgin Money, Epson (which is still a client), and Mastercard, among others. Over the past 15 years, we’ve stuck to our founding principles and values, which has in turn seen us work with incredible team members on world-class brands, winning awards every year we’ve been in business.
In 2019 two of our highly respected and experienced senior team members, Nicola Tarr and Davina Malan, became shareholders and joined the company exco. Together, we’re responsible for Tribeca’s strategic leadership, including people and client management, and the agency’s overall growth and development strategy.
Today, we’re a well-established brand, widely known as the work-life balance agency. We’ve also always invested in and supported other entrepreneurs on their journeys, which is why we’re happy to share 15 pieces of wisdom from 15 years of building a successful public relations agency.
1. People #1
If you attract and retain the right people for your company, the business will come. Our commitment to a positive work environment makes work-life balance possible, and we offer better-than-required lifestyle benefits with our favourable policies, flexi-work hours, and generous annual leave. Happy teams make happy clients, which makes a happy business.
2. Hire the best…and then let go
If you’ve hired the best, believe in your judgment and their skills, and trust them to get on with the job at hand. Micromanaging will waste your time and stifle their skills and creativity – so rather provide the foundations of clear objectives and let your teams’ talents and skills lead the way to business success.
3. Relationships are everything
Whether it’s a team member, client, or supplier relationship, do everything possible to build and nurture relationships, every step of the way. Never burn any bridges because you never know which past client, employee, or supplier might recommend your services, or which former employee could be your client one day.
4. Be authentic
We’ve found that clients appreciate authenticity and honesty over anything else, and we’ve built relationships and held onto clients by admitting that we’re unsure of something – but then committing to finding a solution, and delivering strong results.
No matter your industry, entrepreneurship is a rollercoaster, and the only way to survive and thrive is to adapt and respond positively to every situation. This has never been truer than in 2020 when we successfully shifted our business from being 100% office-based to operating successfully and profitably by working remotely and using all the technology available to us.
6. Reply to every email and phone call
This links back to ‘relationships are everything’. We reply to every email and phone call, giving every person on the other end the same level of respect, whether they’re an intern looking for work, a potential supplier looking to work with us, or a CEO seeking a public relations partner.
7. Integrity is your north star
There simply is no other way to build and run your business than to do so with integrity. Walk your talk, every step of the way to build trust in your relationships with your own people, with your clients, and with your suppliers. Even if the truth is difficult, it must still be your guiding light and founding principle, no matter who you’re engaging with.
8. You absolutely can choose who to work with
From time to time we’ve been approached by potential clients whose values didn’t resonate with ours, and while we may have needed their business at the time, we chose not to work with them – and that’s alright. It meant that we were operating with integrity (see point 7), enabling us to take on new business that aligned with our values and principles when it came knocking at our door.
9. Keep learning
No matter how long you’ve been in any business, you’re always learning – and if you’re not, you’re either not paying attention or it’s time to find a new business! We learn from our people every day, just as we learn from our clients and our colleagues in the industry – and it’s this constant learning and adapting that keeps us alive and excited about what we do every day.
10. It’s okay to say ‘I don’t know’
Linked to the previous point – even though we’re experts in our field of public relations, it’s impossible for us (or anyone in PR) to know everything – and we’d rather operate in integrity and admit when we don’t know something. The corollary of that is that we’ll always work to find out, to learn, to grow, so that we can respond positively to the brief at hand, to get great results for our clients.
11. Multitasking is our middle name
We run ‘lean and mean’ (with no actual mean) at Tribeca, without support teams like receptionists and human resources departments. That means that we’ve all had to learn skills far outside the realm of actual public relations, making us multi-faceted individuals who are able to respond effectively to just about any curve ball thrown at us.
12. Rejection isn’t personal
There’s no denying that it’s heartbreaking not to win a pitch that you’ve poured your heart and soul into – but we’ve learned over the years that rejection in business isn’t personal, it’s just business. While we give our all to every pitch and presentation, there’s always a reason that we don’t win a new client or sign the hire we were chasing.
13. Take time to give credit and say ‘thank you’
Even though we work in teams, those teams are made up of individuals who each deserve credit for the excellent work that they produce, and the results that they achieve. Being recognised and affirmed by colleagues and leaders inspires people to do even greater things.
14. It pays to be kind
Now more than ever, just be kind. With kindness as your foundation, it is easy to put your people first, to build and nurture relationships, and to walk a gentle path through your business and professional lives that will win loyalty, trust, and prosperity.
15. Love what you do
It may be a cliché, but it’s true: if you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life. I wake up excited for the day ahead every morning because I really love what I do. Those who are passionate about what they do will shine through in the work they do for their clients. What does 2021 have in store for us – I’m very happy to admit I don’t know! If 2020 was anything to go by, Audrey Farrell’s quote sums it up perfectly: Learn from the past, live in the present, plan for the future!
For more visit: www.tribecapr.co.za