Rosie Davies Smith: Building the Future of PR

Rosie Davies Smith_Exeleon Magazine

Rosie Davies Smith is a pioneering leader in the PR landscape and the founder of PR Dispatch and LFA. With clarity in her vision, purpose, and intentions, she embraced several challenges and drove her team relentlessly, especially when COVID-19 ravaged her first venture, LFA.

She continued to persevere and worked on her then-side-hustle and now-business, PR Dispatch. PR Dispatch is the UK’s first affordable PR platform which supports product-based businesses to pitch to the press and build awareness through press coverage from £54/mo in just 90 minutes a week.

Rosie has also worked with some of the best product-based businesses in the UK including Estella Bartlett, Bedfolk and Beija London gaining them thousands of pieces of quality coverage.

In this Exclusive Interview, Rosie Davies talks with Exeleon Magazine about her journey as the founder of a leading PR platform.

What according to you makes one a pioneering leader? How do you integrate the same thought into your leadership?

When I think of a pioneering leader, the first person who always comes to mind is Sharmadean Reid. She is inspirational at running a business and I’ve watched her pivot and drive a team through the hardest times for the past decade. I’ve endeavored to do the same in my leadership, especially after losing 80% of LFA’s revenue overnight when COVID-19 hit. I founded my first business LFA in 2013 and PR Dispatch in 2017 as a side hustle. LFA was always the main business, a PR agency that fed information to PR Dispatch.

When Covid hit, I was determined to keep my team in jobs and jump at the opportunity. I pivoted the agency team on to PR Dispatch. As an affordable PR solution for small businesses, PR Dispatch had the opportunity to step out of the shadow of LFA and thrive. With a 3-week-old baby in a sling, I taught the LFA team the ins and outs of PR Dispatch via videos. While LFA closed in January 2021, PR Dispatch has continued to support hundreds of businesses and scaled significantly during a difficult time. I see PR Dispatch as the future of PR.

Talk to us about your growing up years. What is your earliest memory as a leader that you can remember?

From a young age I was always creating, marketing, and selling. My earliest memory as a leader that I can remember was my first business of making Girl Guide outfits for teddy bears at the age of 6.

From then on, I always wanted ownership over an area. That’s why after University I decided to do my own thing rather than go down the traditional employment route. Even when I was cleaning houses to make money alongside starting my own business, it was still an area that I owned and could make a difference in.

What sparked your interest and subsequently your foray into the PR and Marketing industry?

I moved to London in 2009 from the Northwest to study an MA in Textile design. I began an internship with independent brand Lowie, where I was hoping that I could learn the ins and outs of running a brand and then start my own.

On the second day, I was given the task of PR. I had no experience, but the director put a pile of magazines in front of me and asked if I could call and email each one and pitch their products. I was sold. A few weeks later, the brand started to receive coverage, and I convinced them to pay me freelance one day per week and they became my first client.

I fell into PR completely by accident, but I knew there was an opportunity to make PR more accessible and to get more small businesses in the press.

A few years on and I had enough clients to start an agency. Having no PR experience meant I had no experience of how an agency should be run so I did what felt right and brands liked our way of working. This included being the first agency in the UK to be completely transparent on pricing, expected results and offering a friendly honest service where we built long term partnerships with clients. I scaled the agency quickly to a six-figure-turnover and won a number of awards including Creative Industries GBEA 2016, PR week’s 30 under 30 and we were included in the start-ups 100 list 2017.

What led to the formation of PR Dispatch? What was the pain point that you wanted to address in the market?

All was great but while I was building LFA I was starting to get the problem-solving itch. I was coming across great brands via LFA that the press would love to feature who didn’t have the budget to spend thousands with an agency. I saw that there was a gap in the market for a service that supported small businesses and taught them how to do their own PR.

In 2017 I launched a separate limited company, PR Dispatch, the UK’s first affordable PR platform which supports product-based businesses to pitch to the press and build awareness through press coverage from £54/mo in just 90 mins a week. Our online PR learning & advice, step-by-step support by a team of PR experts, email pitch templates and regularly updated press databases mean you have access to everything you need to get your business noticed by the press.

As the Founder, what role do you play in the day-to-day proceedings of the company?

As a female-founder, wife and mother, my days are often taken up with more than running the business. My eldest, Sloane, is two, and my youngest, Isla, will be one at the end of March. My husband and I moved to Devon during the pandemic far away from all of our family and friends who would be the first point of call for support. We are lucky enough to be able to pay for nursery during the week and share the childcare between us so that we can both focus on our work.

Day-day however, my schedule is always flexible as the girls are often home from nursery leaving us both to multitask! And since the birth of my second child, I’ve been struggling with postpartum insomnia which has made working productively each day a lot harder.

During the pandemic, I realised how easy it was to run my business remotely. We still have our office in South London but the team and I all work remotely and flexibly. Working remotely allows me to remove the morning commute from my schedule and have flexible working hours around childcare. Day-day I join meetings with the team, work on managerial and accounting tasks, brainstorm future development plans for PR Dispatch and at the moment I’ve been busy creating a new website! I couldn’t do it all without my team, who I can always rely on to perform and do a fantastic job.

Running a small business while being a mother means no day is the same, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

What has the journey been like for Rosie Davies-Smith over the years? Looking back, what would you have done differently?

My journey in PR has been full of surprises, success and setbacks. Looking back, I would have reviewed our long mission, short team goals and customer profile & their pain points every 3 months. It would have ensured we were all focused on the same thing at the same time. It’s a non-urgent but really important business task and without it, you are never going to be as efficient in driving the business forwards.

What would be your advice for aspiring leaders and entrepreneurs in the PR industry?

My biggest piece of advice to aspiring leaders and entrepreneurs in the PR Industry is always: don’t be all things to all people. It is so important to niche yourself and become an expert in your field. You don’t want to make your offering too diverse as it dilutes your messaging and is confusing for the customer. You end up doing lots of things ‘okay’ when it is more important to do one thing really well. Don’t just say yes for a cheque and it’s good to say no to business opportunities that aren’t right.

Secondly, to invest in the right team. You have to hire the people with the right skills and experience. This involves monetary investing but also time and development courses for the team so that they are a part of the company culture. Years ago, I learnt that without the right company culture and team you will stunt your growth as you’ll spend more time correcting work and doing things yourself without scaling the company. It is important to make sure people are performing, developing and happy in their role.

Finally, what does the future look like for you and PR Dispatch?

I definitely see the future for PR Dispatch as a remote company. I believe this is the future of working and it works great for us as a business and team. I hope to reach many more small businesses and continue to improve our service to ensure we are giving our members everything they need to succeed in doing their own PR.

Contact Rosie Davies-Smith on LinkedIn.

Visit PR Dispatch Website.

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