The Juice – Lou Draper, Rockstar PR

THE BASICS…

Name: Lou Draper

Age: 30

Title: CEO

Organisation: Rockstar PR

Industry: PR

Blog: http://www.rockstarpr.co.nz

Twitter: @rockstarpr_nz and @LouDxx

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 SLIGHTLY MORE COMPLEX…

  1. How did you get into communications and what inspired you to set up your own business? Totally by accident!  After an uninspiring number of years bouncing around various corporate organisations, I took a contract at a boutique PR agency in Auckland.  I had no real idea what PR was at that point, but got thrown in the deep end and I guess my entrepreneurial upbringing leant towards the swim vs. sink mentality, so I worked hard, learned a huge amount and had a great time!
  2. What’s the most challenging situation you’ve faced professionally and how did you overcome it? As a business-owner you have a different set of priorities.  When my friends and family finish up work at 5 or 6pm – I’m only just getting started.  They are visibly annoyed when I’m not able to attend everything they do.  All of my decisions are based on how they will affect my business first, so obviously when I need to work at 5am on a Sunday morning, staying out till 3am isn’t going to work for me.  I’ve tried to get the work-life balance thing right, but actually – I don’t think it exists.  So if that is the ultimate challenge… I’m only part way through solving it!
  3. What are three tools you couldn’t do your job without and why? My iPhone.  I only got it a few months ago and it’s the most amazing tool ever – I have no idea how I managed without it!  It has absolutely everything I need to communicate with my clients, the media, my contractors – everyone and everything!  My business cards – sounds archaic, but it is still the best way to leave recognisable details with someone. Also, word of mouth is 50% of how I win business, so having cards dotted around with various people and clients is the best way to introduce my business to potential clients.  My notebook – I have several notebooks, one by my bed always for the 3am ideas (I have at least five ideas both good and bad every night!) the others are on my desk, in the car, in my bag…everywhere!  Being a serial entrepreneur, you never know when the next billion dollar idea is going to hit and you need to jot down a biz plan, fast!
  4. How much has PR changed since you started your career? Crazy amounts!  When I first dipped my toes in ten years ago, press kits were far more impressive in terms of effort than they are today! I think as publicists or comms professionals, whatever we call ourselves – we are far too lazy.  We annoy journalists on deadline, we don’t provide enough choice of angles, and we rarely spend time building real, working relationships with those who will deliver our message.  Obviously two sides to every story and of course, we all deliver amazing campaigns today too, but by taking the sheer effort we put in ten years ago and use it today, our working relationships with the media, in terms of delivering to them, what they need and when, will be far more effective and more effective for our clients too.  Social media of course, has contributed to the crazy change factor.  As well as sharing our messages with the media for delivery, things that are less critical can be shared with the public directly, as well as giving a whole new meaning to the term “viral”.
  5. What do you believe will be the biggest challenge faced by PR in the future? Biggest opportunity? Education will always be a challenge.  People and business need to understand the point of public relations, what it does exactly and how it can help a business.  We need to adopt a less BS approach and invoke more courage to be honest with ourselves and our clients.  In terms of opportunity, and I’ll probably get shot for saying this, but I still think social media is a communications function.  The key though, is to work towards a collaboration model in businesses instead of this second-rate silo situation we sometimes find ourselves in.  Working with front-line professionals to gain credible insights, combined in a team situation with comms professionals to articulate the message, works much better than a random and very off-brand comment online.
  6. What do you see as the most frustrating thing about your profession and how could it be resolved? Relationship between journalists and PR people.  Most of the editors I work with, I have a great relationship with, but with constant change in the media industry, keeping those relationships authentic and workable from both angles is almost a full-time job!
  7. What are your five top blogs? Not sure about blogs, but industry pages that I read regularly are: www.mumbrella.com.au (yes an Australian info source!); www.stoppress.co.nz; www.prbreakfastclub.com; www.nbr.co.nz/advertising-and-media (this is Hazel Philips’ bit in the National Business Review and I like it a lot); www.admedia.co.nz.
  8. What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned during your career? It’s not personal, it’s business.  Pull the emotion out of a potentially emotional situation and roadblocks are much easier to shift!
  9. Where do you think the New Zealand PR industry sits on a global stage and what are the strengths of the local market? New Zealand-ers are a very entrepreneurial bunch!  We are innovative, creative, motivated and generally fantastic at everything we set out to achieve.  In terms of dancing on the global stage, we absolutely would be the best at that too, but in reality the opportunity just isn’t there.  I’ve set up a model in my business, where I have contacts all over the world to help my clients gain international growth.  It’s worked really well in most cases too, but until our little country grows, we’ll be looking after the same type of clients and offering similar strategies for a while yet!
  10. In-house or agency and why? There are merits to both, but I’m an agency girl!  The creative direction sits with me which is great, I think in-house there is potential for a “too many cooks” situation and even worse, the CEO or similar who is not a comms specialist, giving their direction on a campaign when clearly it isn’t their role to do so.  However, in a Government situation, healthcare etc, in-house wins.
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