Sophie Blue is the founder & director of Blue Planet PR, a boutique PR agency launched in 2010 based in Balmain, Sydney.
1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?
I am the founder and director of Blue Planet Public Relations, a boutique PR agency based in Balmain, Sydney. We’ve been in business since 2010, and currently we’re a team of five.
I started my career as a journalist, working as an Editorial Assistant at Dolly and Cleo Magazines at ACP (which became Bauer, now Are Media).
My first real taste of PR came during a working holiday to London, when I landed a job at an agency who ended up sponsoring me to stay in the UK. By the time I came back to Sydney, I had a good few years’ PR experience under my belt, which allowed me to land a job at a bigger global agency (Professional Public Relations).
Fast forward a few years, and I had been promoted to Group Director at PPR, managing clients like Nike, Emirates, 3M, NewsCorp and more. Those were the days – it was the 2000s, and Sydney was basking in the glow of the Olympics. Work hard, play harder, and decent budgets to boot. It was all-consuming, and an amazing time to be in PR.
After seven years at PPR, I took a break to start a family, and ended up at UTS teaching PR – lecturing, tutoring, course coordinating and writing subject content. One day one of my students asked me – ‘why are you teaching? Why aren’t you running your own PR business?’
I had always toyed with the idea, but wasn’t 100% sure I could do it. But I gave it a shot, and Blue Planet PR was born in the front room of our house. My daughters were very little, and I was still teaching. It grew faster than I expected – all of a sudden I had several international clients and I was BUSY. Scary and often stressful – but exhilarating.
Blue Planet PR has now been in business for over 11 years. It hasn’t been all sunshine and unicorns (TBH some days running your own business sucks) but we have a fantastic team, wonderful clients, and have worked on some impactful, award-winning campaigns. I’m so proud of what’s been achieved. Thank goodness I decided to give it a go.
2) What does a day in the life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?
My younger daughter has just started high school, which means both kids are now out of the door at 7.30am (hooray!). This allows me to take our pup Miffy for a decent walk by the Harbour, grab a coffee, check social media and emails, generally clear my head before the working day starts.
I’m usually in my office by around 8.30, 9am. As my team works remotely, I’ll check in with everyone to make sure they’re across the most immediate priorities for the day.
Once key action items are delegated, the day will be a mix of meetings, writing strategy documents, client contact, research, prospecting for new clients, checking of social media, plus scanning the news agenda to see where there may be opportunities for BPPR clients.
If my husband is at home (he’s mostly WFH now) we’ll head out for lunch together. Once the working day is over, if I’m feeling particularly energetic I’ll take Miffy for a ball-throw, or attempt a KX Pilates class (I’ve just started this, and I’m obsessed.
So far I’ve managed to avoid falling flat on my face, which is a major achievement), or tackle the housework / laundry / dishwasher / whatever crap has accumulated around the house.
The day usually ends on the couch, watching repeats of Friends on Netflix or the latest binge-worthy series (currently Goliath on Amazon Prime, starring Billy Bob Thornton – Rod and I are loving it).
3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?
Yes – absolutely. I work from a studio office at home, and all my team are remote. I did have an office pre-COVID, but once lockdown hit, I got out of my lease and moved home.
Best move ever – I realised how convenient it was, especially with the never-ending round of sporting commitments and general activities that come with having teenage children. I also save on rent AND get to play with my dog during the day. Winning!
4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?
I prefer to view work-life balance as work-life integration. Work is part of life, and life is part of work. I’ve been fortunate enough to always enjoy what I do (well, most of the time) and work has always been at the heart of my life and identity.
I think the key to achieving ‘integration’ – especially if you have children – is to have a strong support network.
I’m fortunate in that my husband, mother and mother-in-law were always there for me, and happy to help with looking after the kids, picking up some groceries, cooking dinner. Whatever helped keep Blue Planet PR ticking along. I’m very fortunate on that front.
5) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?
In the past 12 months I have made a conscious decision to worry less about things that are beyond my control, and trust myself more.
For most of my life I’ve been quite an anxious person, obsessing over the smallest work-related details and decisions. This is a good and bad thing. Good because you have attention to detail, bad because it becomes hard to delegate tasks which ultimately holds you back.
Also, in 2020 a family member faced a major health scare and this made me 100% re-evaluate what is important in life.
My career is still very important (when it’s your own business it will always be a part of you) but at the end of the day it’s all about family, friends, loved ones and spending quality time with the people (and puppy dogs) who make you smile.
6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?
One of my favourite books of all time is called Brave, by Australian author and international keynote speaker Dr Margie Warrell.
She writes about the importance of taking risks, getting out of your comfort zone, and backing yourself. Margie’s latest book (which we did the launch publicity for) is called You’ve Got This! The Life-Changing Power of Trusting Yourself.
I can’t recommend it highly enough for female entrepreneurs. So often we doubt ourselves when we shouldn’t, and this book is a must-read for anyone who needs to tackle imposter syndrome head-on.
Although B&T is an industry newsletter, the daily eDM newsletter is a total hoot to read. Their headlines and subheadings are comic genius. If you don’t subscribe to B&T, I strongly recommend that you do, you’ll be chuckling over what would otherwise be dry industry news.
Podcasts? Anything on the ABC Listen App (Conversations, Parental As Anything, Ladies We Need to Talk, and anything in the true crime genre) and I’m working my way through Podcast One. Your Morning Agenda with Natarsha Belling is always very informative.
7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?
In terms of apps, I’m addicted to the Health app on my iPhone, and tracking my daily steps. I also love Deezer, a music streaming app that (I believe) has a better interface than Spotify.
News apps (of course), IMDb, Canva, WeChat, and OMG my favourite, Le Figaro Properties. Total real estate porn. I love scrolling through the incredible chateaux that are for sale in rural France for the price of a two-bedroom apartment in Balmain. Such a pity we can’t travel to France right now! I’m also exploring Clubhouse, not sure it’s in the ‘can’t live without’ app category just yet.
Products and gadgets? Hmmm. Probably my iPad Pro, and Fugoo Bluetooth speaker, it goes everywhere I do. Always good for impromptu dance parties.
8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?
Probably Gail Kelly, former Westpac CEO, and mum to triplets. I’m in awe of her achievements.
I love that she says women can have it all, but they just need to accept they cannot do it all. Very true words – working mums often need to be kinder to themselves, and ask for or accept help when it’s offered.
9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life, or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?
I think not losing sight of what’s important in life is crucial.
When you run your own business, it’s really easy for work to become all-consuming, and you can end up taking loved ones or your health for granted.
Treasure the small moments, look up from your phone and laptop, and make the time to take holidays because down the track, this is what you’ll remember, not whether a particular work deadline was met. I think the whole COVID-related WFH scenario has made many of us realise this.
Thank you Hao for the opportunity to answer these questions. I’m chuffed to be featured! To the reader, feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn and of course, check out Blue Planet PR or on Instagram and Facebook @BluePlanetPR. Oh and if you’re a dog owner, please connect with Miffy on Instagram – @Miffy_cavoodle.
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