I’m delighted to be back with another Behind The Biz interview. If you’re new around here, Behind The Biz is an interview series where I discover small and growing businesses, the people behind them and their business journey.
Today’s interview is with Kirstie, the co-founder of Sidekick PR.
Please tell us about your business.
Sidekick is a small PR agency based in Sheffield, South Yorkshire. We’re relatively new, having each worked for ourselves before joining forces under the Sidekick name in spring 2016. We work with a really diverse range of clients right across the UK and we have lots of fun doing it!
Where did the inspiration for Sidekick PR come from?
PR is all about building good relationships – be it with our clients or the media – and that was Sidekick’s inspiration really.
It’s all about getting to know the businesses we work with inside out, working alongside them as if we were a part of their team and making their ambitions ours, too.
How did you decide upon the name of your agency?
The name Sidekick came from the desire to create a PR agency that works closely with its clients and helps them to achieve their goals, whether it’s launching a new product or service, growing a specific customer base or positioning their company as a voice of expertise within their sector.
It’s also quite a fun name and one that very much reflects our attitudes as a team – we’re positive, hard-working and we’ve always got our clients’ back!
What did you do before starting Sidekick PR?
Prior to starting Sidekick I worked in other PR agencies in the Sheffield area. I studied journalism at the University of Sheffield and, before that, multimedia at the University College Isle of Man.
My choice to leave school at 16 and study multimedia at college rather take the traditional route of A-levels caused controversy amongst my teachers at the time, but the course taught me skills such as graphic design, video production and photography – all of which have served me very well in the last few years as the importance of digital content has soared.
Did you always plan to be self-employed?
Ultimately, yes, it was just a matter of building up enough experience in my industry and waiting for the right time to take the leap. Leaving a secure job and stepping out on my own is probably the scariest thing I’ve ever done and I won’t lie, it’s been an incredibly tough learning curve. However, surround yourself with positive people and positive things happen – that’s my motto!
What has been the biggest challenge in running your business so far?
Probably overcoming a lack of confidence in myself. In the early days when I was working from home with only the cat for company, it was hard to stay motivated. You have to tell yourself to persevere, to believe wholeheartedly that your efforts will pay off and that you have something worthy of people’s investment. It did and, although Sidekick is still a baby, we’ve built up a great client base now.
What has been the highlight of your business journey to date?
Tough question! The realisation that I can work from wherever I want is probably up there though. I am originally from the Isle of Man and so as my own boss I’m able to hop over the Irish Sea regularly with my laptop, to work from there and spend valuable time with friends and family who before, I simply couldn’t see as often.
The marketing landscape is constantly shifting, with new platforms, new media and opportunities popping up on a regular basis. How do you decide what to focus on?
As communicators, we have to keep up with the changes and understand how they affect our clients and their target audiences, however, we take a very pragmatic approach and emphasis quality over quantity in everything we do.
For example, what’s the point in having a Facebook page if the people you want to reach aren’t using it, or the discussions you want to be a part of aren’t taking place on that platform? Equally, when it comes to media coverage – the so-called bread and butter of the PR industry – what’s the point in getting an article in a newspaper that none of your target audience is reading?
We have clear strategies for our clients and ourselves, outlining exactly who they and we want to reach, and how and where those people are consuming their information.
By updating and reflecting on those plans, we can make informed decisions about which platforms, media outlets and opportunities we focus on, and which we choose to bypass.
What role does social media play for your business and do you have a favourite social platform?
Social media plays an important role for us at Sidekick, we support many of our clients with their social media presence and use it ourselves, primarily for connecting with existing and potential clients, the media, and showcasing our own news and content.
Twitter is fantastic for allowing us to do just that, engaging one-to-one with journalists and businesses and seeking out new opportunities.
My personal favourite, however, is Instagram. I love its simplicity and how it allows you to get little glimpses into people’s lives.
What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs?
Do it! But be prepared for the reality of it. The idea of running a business is very different to actually doing it and not everyone’s cut out for the long hours and sleepless nights it can bring. Understand your market, make sure you’re doing something you’re really, truly passionate about, take advice from people who’ve been there, and then run with it. When you’re down, pick yourself up and keep going. The ability to take control of your ambitions, work however and whenever you want and build your own success is the best feeling ever.
Oh, and start an inspirational Pinterest board – it’s served me well!!
Where do you hope to take your business in the year ahead?
The last year has seen some huge changes for Sidekick. After I joined up with my now co-directors Eve and Charlotte in the spring, we’ve moved into an office at Sheffield’s Kelham Island and won some great new clients, too.
Over the next year we hope our growth will continue and we’re excited about what new opportunities will come our way – watch this space!
Thank you so much to Kirstie for taking the time to be involved with Behind The Biz. I hope you all enjoyed the interview as much as I did. I can’t wait to see what the year ahead holds for Sidekick PR.
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