05 Sep Start Your Own PR Agency: An interview with Mavis Amankwah of Rich Visions
This is the next in my series of interviews with people who have started and built up their own successful PR companies to celebrate the publication of my book Start and Grow a PR Company
Mavis Amankwah of Rich Visions is an award-winning entrepreneur, specialising in marketing, PR, diversity communications and business sustainability. And what’s more, she’s based near me, in Stratford, East London.
Firstly, can you tell us about Rich Visions?
Rich Visions is the UK’s leading communications agency and consultancy offering expertise in all aspects of equality and diversity. We help organisations understand and embrace diversity and improve the equality of their offerings and the way they work day to day. We also plan and implement communications campaigns to enable organisations to engage with diverse and hard-to-reach groups. There are currently eight members of our team and currently we’re working with eight corporate clients and 15 SMEs (small/medium enterprises).
If you could put your success down to one thing, what would it be?
Determination and perseverance and staying focused on tough days.
What’s been the main thing that you have learned about managing and leading a PR company, as opposed to doing PR?
There’s much more calculated long term and forward planning involved and a greater part of your work is proactive rather than reactive.
Do you still take an active role in PR, or is your role now more strategic?
As MD my role is more strategic and I give more direction.
Can you run through a typical day for us?
I wake up around 6.30am; get myself and the children ready, then I’m at the office by 9am. There is no typical day for me – it can be anything from going through my hundreds of emails, attending meetings, to forward planning, conference preparation, seminar/workshop planning or dealing with HR issues. There’s no danger of me getting bored.
What’s been the worst financial worry or mistake that you have encountered?
Not knowing your own financial situation is not advisable. Cash flow is King and relying on your bookkeeper or accountant is not a good idea – you should be aware of your finances every day.
And what has been your absolute favourite moment?
Being put on the Central Office of Information (COI) roster, for cultural diversity framework.
How do you cope with the work/life balance (if you do, that is!)?
Forward planning! I write everything down, prioritise and reprioritise, family comes before business.
What do you look for in a new team member?
Enthusiasm, passion and energy.
Managing clients’ expectations is always a difficult one…one minute you are pitching and selling in these great ideas, and next minute they want the results and they want them now. What are your tips for managing impatient clients?
Keep them updated regularly (daily if you can). If something is going wrong, then take the time to talk them through it and explain without giving excuses. Don’t ignore them and be patient with them.
Any advice on building a team that works together or do you just hope you get the right mix?
To build a team you need a good leader, good listeners and they all should be the type of people who will muck in whenever they’re needed.
In my conversations with most PR company owners and MDs, the issue of fees and pricing seems to come up again and again…do you have any advice for pricing well and making a profit?
You have to be open and honest from the outset. Specify if you charge by the hour or day and don’t forget to discuss ‘out of pocket’ expenses as these can cause problems at a later stage. Look at what you’re charging against the industry standard and see how you compare. Also your fee comes down to your company’s financial situation – know your bottom line, what’s the minimum you need to run your business and how much do you need to make a profit.
What have been your must have investments (gadgets, PR tools, taking the time to learn about…)?
Simple project management and database software. Ongoing training ie social media and general technology updates, and a Blackberry!
Who do you admire most in the PR world, and why?
Max Clifford. He seems like a genuine character, a ‘take me as I am’ person which I like. He’s incredibly successful but he doesn’t brag about his success, he just gets on with it.
What are your plans for the future?
To open offices around the UK and internationally, and have Rich Visions be the first port of call for businesses Equality and Diversity communications needs.
You can find Paula Gardner’s take on starting a PR company in her book Start and Grow a PR Company, available on Kindle.