Last week we had an amazing talk from the lovely Ingrid Asoni on how to build a business and survive in the luxury & lifestyle PR industry.
(Photo credit: Benedicte Nylund)
Ingrid focused on topics such as how to present your social media, and the challenges and rewards of running a company. She began working in freelance PR and events and had experience within fashion houses before studying Event Management at Greenwich University. Ingrid believes that even though she was more progressed within the industry she does not think that it made creating a business ‘any easier’.
Ingrid’s first tip was to use social media such as Instagram and Twitter to build your portfolio and keep it professional as well as a reflection of you as a person.
“Your degree is not enough”
Ingrid claims that nowadays just having a good degree is not enough. You have to intern, connect and build a business or get a job opportunity from using your contacts. Another tip of hers was to ‘work out what your niche is’.
Ingrid came to create her business when she realised that she did not want to take directions or be dependent on someone else who paid her, from this it made sense to create a business of her own. Asoni Haus is a luxury/lifestyle PR agency who works on a variety of things from events to travel to investing in hotels. Ingrid noticed that lifestyle PR was on the rise at the time, and not only were there gaps in the business but nobody had a strong focus on the Asian/African market.
There are days you do think ‘how am i going to keep the lights on’
Ingrid’s main suggestion for running a successful company is to constantly adapt your business model as you go along on your journey. Always question if there is anything you may be missing and make sure you develop as you go along and understand what your customers want and evolve with the times.
Ingrid graduated in July a few years ago and by August 1st had started the business. Six months on from that she opened her 2nd office in Marrakech which she claims at the time was partially selfish because she liked the area and the weather. However, she quickly realised the amazing opportunities that Morocco had to offer. Ingrid has worked with Free People, Vogue and various other large companies as a result of her office in Marrakech. A further six months and she opened up in Dubai, as she felt that it was a nice middle point for her Asian clients. From then onwards it became constantly about monitoring everything as she was working in many different time zones.
“Go with what the market expects”
Ingrid lightheartedly warns us that opening a business means that you just won’t sleep…ever! It’s all about keeping your ‘foot on the pedal’ and making sure everything is right. In the luxury market, Ingrid claims that there’s no room for mistakes and relaxing as you have to be on and ticking all of the time. Ingrid has created a stunning business but tells us that it hasn’t been easy due to having to constantly be thinking about what the market is thinking and how to make collaborative partnerships.
“People find us mainly through networks,and word of mouth…not our website.”
Ingrid says that she uses the website because it’s almost mandatory to own a website for your business in todays digital age. However when gaining new clients, she feels that it is usually organically rather than through an online search. When explaining the challenges of running a business, we were told it was obligatory to be thick skinned. “If you’re the type of person who emails 50 people and gives up when they don’t reply then starting a business is not for you.” It’s all about dealing with rejection, learning from your mistakes and not dwelling in the past.
One comment Ingrid made really stuck with me and it was that sometimes you don’t even need to be confident, you just need to deliver the best work and show that you have gone from A-Z to prepare. When asked about what she looks for in an intern or when hiring, Ingrid explained that she wasn’t conventional and hired based on the passion of the person. Ingrid describes the Luxury/Lifestyle sector as the ‘relationship industry’, and how it is all about relationships. Stakeholders and clients within this sector are not buying into the company but you as an individual, so the pressure is high.
“Social media is a business card”
It is your portfolio so be very conscious of your social media. Ingrid says she has rethought working with people in the past due to their social media, so don’t just make it for your family and friends, keep it professional as well. Ingrid’s last point was to always use university as time to prepare yourself, and not just another three years of education.
If you missed Ingrid’s talk then have no fear! On Monday 6th March, we have the successful Giles Kenningham the Special Advisor to the Prime Minister back for the second year running to give us an insight into political PR. Follow our Facebook Page for more info!