Celia Harding is the founder and director of PR Shed, a DIY PR solution providing businesses with all the tools they need to do their own public relations.
1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?
Currently, I’m the founder of PR Shed, a startup disrupting the PR industry by providing affordable PR services to startups and SMEs on a DIY or pay-as-you-go basis. I set up the business as I realised too many good stories were going untold, so I help people tell them, to the right people, at the right time.
There are a lot of misconceptions about what PR is (the PR industry does a terrible job of promoting itself), and who can do it. Most think it’s some form of wizardry that only those in the know can execute, the truth is far from it. My goal is to change that.
Before setting up PR Shed, I worked in consumer PR, agency-side in both London and Sydney for the best part of 12 years. I’ve worked on some incredible brands and projects over the course of my career for the likes of Jack Daniel’s, Smirnoff, Google, Mastercard, Harley-Davidson and more.
2) What does a day in the life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?
I’m a big fan of F45, I joined it circa 5 years ago and didn’t believe I had the time or energy for anything beyond sweatshop agency life. But I’ve since realised if you do something that nearly kills you first thing, the rest of the day is a breeze.
Well, it is once I’ve wrangled the two kids in the car and dropped them off at nursery. Once I’m at my desk, I scan the news for any big breaking stories or anything relevant I’m working on for my clients and then crack on with the day.
A typical day could include pitching to the media on behalf of a client, putting together a PR strategy for another, mentoring entrepreneurs as part of my role as the ‘PR Expert in Residence at the Sydney Startup Hub’, attending events or general admin. Days vary considerably.
3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?
The other reason I set up the business was to give me flexibility when I need it.
When I’d had my first child, I realised that agency life wasn’t compatible for me with kids, so wanted to find a way to carry on what I enjoy doing, but in a way that works for me.
Particularly in PR, I think this is a real issue for the industry at large as a lot of talent departs once they have children.
I have been working remotely during the pandemic but prefer to work in an office. I enjoy being around people and a more sociable vibe. I’m currently based out of an awesome co-working space called Bustle Studios in Surry Hills.
The other bonus of flexible working is holidays. I bloody love them. I normally like to take an extended break in Europe during our winter time but given everything going on at the moment, it’s been a chance to keep my head down and focus on the long-term goals.
4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?
If the kids, husband and clients are happy then I’m happy. It is a balancing act trying to manage all three. but I do my best and am constantly looking for ways to work smarter not harder. I have a VA and work with a talented team of freelance PR professionals who I call on for relevant projects.
I work four days a week so I can spend a day with the kids. Weekends I really switch off and consciously try to be more present than I often am in the week. After the kids go to bed in the evenings, the laptop comes back out as when you run your own business, it’s down to you to continually learn, grow and deliver.
Since starting my own business and having children, I’m also very aware of not losing my sense of self. I go out with my friends most weekends, for a Friday or Saturday night out, out. I also love a festival or a cheeky night at the disco (if there’s a DJ in town) although the fun is normally curtailed a little earlier these days.
5) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?
I don’t look at my phone for the first 8 minutes of the day, one of my clients, the wellness guru Chelsea Pottenger recommends this to avoid starting the day in high-stress mode and I’ve been feeling the benefits.
One massage a month – I made a pledge to myself yesterday on this.
I’m trying to listen to one podcast a week and read 10 pages of a book each day but must try harder on both of these fronts.
6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?
Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell.
PR Moment (work-related), then Cercle and Anjunadeep on the music front.
I’m subscribed to a lot. Here are my favourites: Business Insider – 10 Things You Need to Know Today. Contagious – a round-up of great marketing campaigns from around the globe. The Hustle – business and tech news (with a US slant) Sourcebottle – journalists requesting content for their stories. Urban Junkies, Broadsheet, Concrete Playground and Urban List for keeping abreast of best restaurants, social happenings and festivals on a local and international scale.
7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?
Yes! Mailtrack – basically like WhatsApp for email. It lets me know if someone has read my email, clicked on a link, forwarded it or reopened it months later. Vital on so many levels.
Whatsapp Web – the desktop edition so I can streamline conversations with clients, friends and colleagues and minimise unnecessary emails.
Lunchclub – a new virtual networking facilitator.
Guardian news app (the live blogging is always on point) and being a Brit I love to read the UK edition of the Sunday Times through their app.
8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?
Any President or Prime Minister – I’m intrigued as to the inner workings of parliament and how they bear the weight of a nation on their shoulders.
9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?
PR is regularly ranked in the top 10 most stressful jobs out there, so it’s always good to be reminded of the industry saying, its PR not ER.
COVID-19 has shown healthcare workers and those working in the emergency services on an everyday basis, don’t get the recognition they deserve. Ultimately your wealth is your health and they are our saving grace. Beyond that, you only get one life, so make the most of it.
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