FashionPR.com Interview : Sally-Anne Shrimpton – Boudoir PR

fashion PR .com: A little about yourself:

Sally-Anne Shrimpton, Boudoir PR Managing Director

fashion PR .com: Where did you work before founding your FashionPR firm?: 

Prior to starting Boudoir PR I worked in a well respected London PR agency representing brands including Daniel Galvin Hair Care, Trussardi Jeans, Rifle, Nevada Bobs Golf, K2 and Burton skiwear, WASPs rugby club the agency had a real cross section of fashion, beauty and sports. I then worked in-house for 365 . com this gave me a chance to work see how working for a PLC inhouse differed. After a year, I missed fashion and beauty and returned into agency to work with Internationally known beauty brands.

fashion PR .com: Why did you start your fashion PR firm ?: 

My first agency experience was amazing, I really admired my MD and still hold her in high regard today. The Inhouse experience showed me another side to PR, but it was my final position in the beauty PR agency where I essentially ran the agency for my MD(apart from the financial area) that made me realise I could do it for myself. I had all the PR skills, contacts and management ability to do so. My boss was a total terror and after 2 years of extreme stress working for her; myself and the rest of the team decided enough was enough. Her agency closed 2 months later!! It was at this point I spent about a week thinking what shall I do…I could easily get another job in a PR agency or I could go for it. I called my friend Tavy Mogridge who at the time had her agency Octavia PR representing leading hair and make up artists, we met for lunch and I told her about my idea of launching a PR agency at the end of the lunch I asked her “so what do you think?” she said, ” great idea! Good luck” to which I responded “no silly, lets do this together!” from that day we never looked back. Octavia closed the following week and Tavy and I started working 16 hour days from her bedroom to launch BOUDOIR PR a month later in November 2003

fashion PR.com: A little about your company:

Boudoir PR is a full service London PR agency based in Soho. Established by co-Founders Sally-Anne Shrimpton and Tavy Cussinel in 2003, the PR agency provides high level day-to-day and strategic public relations for all of its clients. Boudoir PR is a press agency experienced in fashion PR, health PR, beauty PR, E-tailer PR, retail PR, restaurant and lifestyle PR across all media.

Boudoir PR agency represents brands within the UK and Internationally. The highly skilled PR team is constantly liaising with strong contacts that stretch across every sector of the media, luxury glossies to the celebrity tabloids, including journalists, style writers, columnists and stylists within fashion, health and beauty, restaurant, food, retails, features and lifestyle to finance and business. Our relationships with the media are at every level including; assistants, editors, freelancers, advertising managers and publishers.

Boudoir PR has a committed and pro-active specialist PR account team of ten that provides a personalised, hands-on service. From the get-go the agency becomes an extension to a clients’ team, we consistently maintain longstanding loyal relationships and our clients repeatedly continue to sign to the Boudoir PR portfolio. The PR team offers translation for our international clients; translating from English to and from French, German, Greek, Italian, Russian, Spanish, and Welsh.

fashion PR .com: How many hours you rougly work per week?:

When it is your own company you never switch off, office based I work approx 50 hours a week, but then I go home and continue working, my blackberry is permanently glued to my hand and the weekend, I may do research, write a pitch, attend a show or launch or something. In addition, as a PR it is key to be out networking and not just extending your network but maintaining them. Personally, I am not one of those fake PR people, I am not interested in keeping fake air kissy relationships. My relationships with designers, brand directors, company owners, editors, publishers etc are all real and long standing and this is the key to being a respected and long standing PR and the essence of Boudoir PR. We are all very genuine people at the agency. Any fraudsters or people not prepared to work hard just won’t cut it!

fashion PR .com: What do you find interesting about fashion pr ?:

Every day is so different, you are surrounded by beautiful things, you meet amazing dynamic people, its creative and I personally think its just one of the best jobs in the world! I love what I do!

fashion PR .com: What are the key skills to being a great fashion pr ?:

Strong long term networking skills, understanding of trends and genuine passion for fashion and designers past, present and future. To understand and have knowledge of all fashion not just the fashion that the PR likes to wear his or herself. Loyalty, honesty, hard working, adabtable, very creative, meticulous, strong written skills, tidy and organised. Also well read, immersed in popular and celebrity culture.

fashion PR .com: How to chose a fashion pr ?:

It’s incredibly important to fit into their portfolio of brands. Look at what they currently represent or ask for case studies of brands they have represented in the past. Your PR should liaise with the designer daily so you need to also ensure your personalities wont clash! Especially if you consider the pressures both the designer and their PR will be under during the shows…this time can really become fraught! Having a calm PR is always a benefit!

fashion PR .com: What part of your job do you find the most challenging ?:

One of the most challenging aspects is actually rather dull, but it is recruitment. There are thousands of people out there desperate to become a Fashion PR however finding someone who has natural flair, is mouldable, adaptable, a multi tasker with good written skills, relationship building skills and all the other aspects needed to become a great PR is difficult to find. We are VERY tough in our recruitment process and I have to say our team is very loyal. Our staff are the most important thing to our agency, having worked in an environment myself where bullying took place and staff were unhappy. Tavy and I always have our staffs happiness and career progress in he forefront of our minds. Of course our clients are highly important, but our staff do come first. We have regular reviews, KPIs and progress the career paths of our PR team internally. Our team is incredibly strong and committed you won’t find any flaky PRs at Boudoir PR…but finding new PRs to join the team sure can be challenging.

fashion PR .com: How do you bring new brands into your agency ?:

80% is word of mouth…the other 20% are brands we will actively seek out as brands we like and want on our books.

fashion PR .com: How has the new media landscape changed how you do business ?:

The past 3 years it has been changing dramatically but the past 18 months has seen a real digital peak. As an agency we treat bloggers and online editors with the same clout as a regular editor. We create campaigns for our clients that include digital/online strategy including SEO, PPC, Affiliate, Lead email…this is all done in house by our digital team.

fashion PR .com: How do you demonstrate results for your clients ?:

Reports, reports reports! ROI (return on investment) is the bottom line, there is no point in creating a fluffy PR campaign if it doesn’t deliver results. Create goals, targets and deliver the results. This is all entered into monthly, quarterly and annual reporting systems. Each client will ask for different style of reporting.

fashion PR .com: How to know what a publication or stylist wants?:

Firstly, the PR should know that stylists style! So when we get a call-in from a publication or stylist immediately we will rule out certain items, we will also rule out certain brands or designers who are the wrong demographic market. We listen very carefully to the publications

fashion PR .com: Are there busy and quiet periods during the year?:

Not really…its is always busy for us…there are busy periods and then there are insanely busy periods! Of course February and September fashion show season just is on another level!!

fashion PR .com: Are many of your friends fashion PRs ?:

Yes, working in the industry for 12 years many of my friends are fashion and beauty PRs, or brand directors, company CEOs etc. When I first started in the industry in 1998 as an intern at Marie Claire Magazine my co-interns and I would dream of our future in fashion. Today, those girls are magazine Editors, Fashion PR Directors and one has gone on to create her own label. When we are all in the country and get to meet up we always laugh about our days in the fashion cupboard.

fashion PR .com: What would you recommend to college graduate to help start their career?:

In this industry it’s all about experience. You do need a natural ability and PR flair, but It’s important to get yourself into the PR workplace trying both in-house and agency. It is important to remember that it isn’t just about a good agency name or reference on your CV the point in work experience and internships is for you to really learn the logistics of how PR works and to see if it really is the area of fashion that you thrive in. Listen to the PRs in the office, watch what they do and ask for their advice. If you prove yourself to a fashion PR Director with hard work, staying late, showing creativity and standing out from the rest you will find you will really excel and it can often lead to a job. At Boudoir PR we have hired 4 past interns over the past 6 years because they worked incredibly hard and proved themselves.

fashion PR .com: What sums up ‘fashion PR’ for you ? :

Multi-tasking, hard work, an endless hunt for targeted exposure, building a brand to a new level, working in tandem with the client as one team

A PR can talk about exposure, networking and PR admin as much as they wish. However, the client and PR should only really be interested in how it has benefited the clients bottom line. The return on investment is key to any brand, this also applies to quantifying PR spend with a return.

fashion PR .com: Please list 3 designers who you like the most:

Designers – Miu Miu, Roland Mouret, Jenny Packham

Shoes – Cleo B, Charlotte Olympia and Christian Louboutin

Current lust – the Louis Vuitton Sensual knee high boot

fashionPR.com: What’s your favourite quote?:

I enjoy reading historical quotes and business quotes…I look up a quote a day…so I will give you my quote from today…”Ability is nothing without opportunity” Napolean Bonaparte