Q: Events and public relations (PR) have been a huge casualty of COVID-19. How have Sweaty Betty and your other communications-focused businesses been forced to change as a result of the pandemic?
The power of social media has been vital in maintaining real time communications with consumers as PR agents. Instagram Live has become the new norm! Additionally, from a Sydney perspective we have become used to doing one-on-one experiences – and many of them – instead of one event. If anything, that has been a positive change as the ability to communicate with media and influencers on a one-on-one basis can be more powerful than a large scale event where everyone is gathered at once and messaging can be lost.
I used to hold regular business seminars where I would discuss an array of PR, social media and business topics covering everything from digital, and how to make your way in business – be it as a start-up or an established operation. But instead, I have now developed online courses. Over 1200 participants recently undertook The Brand Bootcamp, and I am about to launch my second course, The Marketing Bootcamp in upcoming weeks.
Q: You’re known for your chutzpah and make-it-happen attitude. How has this helped at this challenging time?
I threw it in for about three months as I needed a break, and while I was still on email, I wasn’t actively in the business in person day-to-day. I think I needed the time to stop, refocus and adjust.
I rely heavily on my business to support my family, so the chutzpah and make-it-happen attitude is a given – I don’t have the luxury of thinking, Oh well, someone else will do it for me. It’s all on me.
Q: To what extent do you think COVID-19 will have long-term impacts on your industry? Post-pandemic, do you foresee permanent changes in how people launch brands or hold events?
I think with any industry you need to be able to pivot quickly and often. That has been my motto since I started my businesses and why I have managed to turn one company into six.
We needed to shake things up as an industry. The same processes had been happening for as long as I have been in business (16 years) so if anything, it has been a welcome change to think outside the box in terms of how we do things and how we can work within new parameters.
Q: Many people have been made redundant as a result of the pandemic. For those who perhaps are looking at going out on their own, starting their own entrepreneurial venture, what is your advice from a PR point of view?
Don’t do it! I personally don’t think now is the time to be starting a new business in the communications industry – it’s flooded. Unless you have a very big point of difference and also are happy to work harder than you have ever, it’s not a good idea. Even for me, my thoughts having done it are, you are better to be the most valuable employee and irreplaceable in someone else’s business!
Q: Do you see your Jewishness expressed in what you do?
Yes, my work ethic, without question. My drive and determination are definitely from my Jewish roots!