Jennifer Wilson

StylesWilson

My dream of working in PR came to life when I was working in London at the Hyatt on Cadogan on Sloane Street. I was standing in a friend's office (we're talking a beautiful office in the building that attaches to the Hyatt - and whilst I knew this guy really well - I never did end up knowing exactly what he did for the Hyatt) wasting time and gazing out on to Sloane Street at Prada and Armani saying "I wish I worked with brands like those". He asked me what I wanted to do at those brands. My response "I think PR seems like a lot of fun". Fast forward two weeks and he'd organised a meeting with the head of the new Corporate PR division for Club 21. And less than two weeks following that, I said goodbye to Hyatt and hello to the world of Mrs Ong and PR. And what a world and journey that all turned out to be. Fun was an understatement. It was outstanding. Hugely hard work, hours that still make my eyes water, supreme budgets and non-stop learning. I was so fortunate to learn from and work with two amazing women - Caroline Lynch (now a director of Purple PR in London) and Elaine Sullivan (now Director of Communications for Tods). These women were instrumental in providing me with an amazing foundation and instilling a strong, motivated work ethic. Fast forward to Sydney, Australia 1998 and the first project I managed was the launch of fashion designer, Akira Isogawa's first solo show held at the Opera House. In 1999 I launched my own PR agency - Lemonsoup. Over the 12 years I ran Lemonsoup, we worked with an array of high end lifestyle, beauty and fashion brands including Wella Australia, L'Occitane, Dior, The Metropolitan Museum of Art Stores, Bird Textile, Caravana, Reckitt Benckiser, to name a few. I merged the agency with another larger lifestyle agency in 2011 (The Trish Nicol Agency) to enable me to spend more time with my young daughter and by way of getting back to the business of actually doing PR as opposed to running an agency. In early 2015, I ventured back into the world of doing my own gig and freelancing. StylesWilson came to life. The difference this time is that I'm not looking to launch an agency with staff. I'm thrilled at being able to work with a small group of clients and freelance for other agencies. When running an agency, I would be the one to bring in new business, do the presentation and then pass the business onto an account manager to look after the day to day work. Clients were often frustrated by this process since their initial face to face time is with one person and that one person is who they want working on their business. StylesWilson now enables me to work directly with the clients that I pitch to (if I'm successful in the process). The journey so far has been wonderful.

my core skills

Storyteller

event manager

copywriter

creative collaborator

ideas sounding board.

Q & A

Whats the best thing to happen to you in your career to date?

I couldn't put my finger on a single event. I literally get a buzz every time a client achieves the type of publicity they've been aiming for. I love creating an idea or an activation that I get to see through to it's inception and getting feedback that it met all the KPIs put in place. And meeting HRH Princess Diana, Donna Karan, Miuccia Prada and Giorgio Armani in London when I worked there in the 90's along with work trips to Rome still rates pretty highly!

What does a typical work week look like for you?:

Goodness, typical isn't really a word that suits a freelance PR practitioner since every week (and day) is different. The only constant is starting each day with coffee, and often even working out of my local cafe bright and early for an hour. I have a daily to do list of things that must take place in a given timeframe along with blocking out time for clients to brainstorm, strategise and plan. An up to date database is crucial so this is certainly a daily activity. Emails, phone calls and research round out most days. Other days are spent collaboration with agencies, suppliers and venues for events and activations. And I'm trying to get better at networking amongst all this as well. I can go from organising a beauty or photographic event through to working with well known bloggers setting up Garden Towers and talking all things worms and compost and environment. No two days look the same.

Describe your working environment in a few sentences..

It's beautiful - I absolutely love it! As someone who is passionate about design, my choice of desk and chair was incredibly important. I've had both pieces for years and I imagine I'll have them through to retirement. It's worth investing in pieces that you love since you literally spend the majority of the day with them. I'm surrounded by amazing artwork and pictures of my daughter. Music or ABC 702 keep me company during the day as I get through my work load.

What sets you apart from other freelancers in your industry?

I ran my own PR agency for over 12 years. Combined with working as a Group Account Director in a larger agency and working in both London & Sydney, my experience is broad. I've worked on global accounts through to start ups. The diversity of clients I've worked with combined with strong media relationships has enabled me to have a thorough understanding of what's not only achievable for clients, but what actually works for their business. Many clients worked with me for years and have since become a source of great referral which I’m forever grateful. It’s pigeon holing to say that ‘I’m a PR consultant’ or ‘I’m an events manager’ or ‘I’m a content writer'. Clients simply need to be able to call on someone that they trust and say ‘I need your help with the following’ and know that you can manage their issue. I tend to think of myself as a producer since I need to be across all elements of a client’s business. I need to know what angle to develop in order to create interest in what they’re doing. I need to be able to connect them with other people who will benefit their business, be it a journalist, an influencer, a buyer, a supplier or key stakeholder. I need to assist on their marketing campaign, to manage budgets, to be a frequent cheerleader and an occasional sceptic. I help to shape their campaigns and hire people for these. I work with them on the future direction of their business. This is what makes my job so dynamic and enjoyable!

What are the tools of your trade?

My laptop, mobile and mind.

Do you collaborate with others? If yes, how does that works?

Yes, often. I work with media and creative agencies who work in partnership with my clients as well as collaborating with agencies who need an extra person at times to manage specific projects.

Whats been the biggest freelancing lesson to date?

Develop a criteria for the sort of client you want to work with - and learn to say no to work when this criteria isn't met. There are times when you'll be tempted to take on a client or a project because you need the income - but if it doesn't fit the criteria, then the relationship is unlikely to work and you're unlikely to enjoy the experience. It's also critical to factor in exactly how many hours you have available during the week - not only the hours that you 'sell' to clients, but the time you need to spend on your business to ensure that everything functions successfully. I have a spreadsheet that shows exactly how many hours I have available at any given time so I know when I can promise to get through something, engage in a project, and devote time to an agency. And when to say no.

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