PR in the Covid age – a Q&A with Clare George-Hilley

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Clare George-Hilley is co-founder of Shoreditch-based technology PR agency Centropy. As the company celebrates its third anniversary, she answers questions on the challenges Covid-19 poses to businesses, prospects for growth and how technology can drive sales 

Tell us about Centropy PR

We’re one of the UK’s fastest growing b2b tech and fintech PR agencies, working with enterprise-size technology vendors, VC-backed start-ups and FTSE 250 companies.

I co-founded the agency with my husband in September 2017. We saw a gap in the market for a results-driven agency that could combine traditional PR services alongside policy expertise.

We have a team of 10 staff and a large portfolio of retained clients across the areas of tech, fintech and financial services.

How did you grow the business?

Ask any entrepreneur and they will tell you that it is not easy to go out on your own. We started with a very clear business plan about the kinds of clients we would like to win, what we would offer them and the necessary upfront costs and investment that would be required.

We had a few big wins in our first few months which helped calm our nerves and in the last year we have accelerated our growth plans in line with new business and client demand.

We are hoping for another record year of growth, despite the disruption caused by the Covid-19 outbreak and will work hard to keep client services strong.

What challenges have you had to overcome?

How long have you got? Getting a new company off the ground requires a lot of personal investment, both in terms of cash and time. You are suddenly juggling a mountain of new paperwork like invoices contracts, HMRC documents and VAT returns which can be a little daunting to say the least.

In the early days, it was a very steep learning curve, we had a good new business win rate, but occasionally we’d lose out due to our small size. The client portfolio and team is much bigger now, so we feel we’re in a good position to build on these achievements.

What advice would you give to other start-ups that have just started their journey  

Stay strong, work hard, and keep positive.

The next year is going to be tough for all companies, with the pandemic still causing so much disruption.  Having a start-up is not a plain sailing journey, there will always be disappointments along the way.

The extra hours, late nights and sacrifices in the early days will pay off in the future. Most importantly, don’t lose faith in yourself; SMEs are the lifeblood of the economy and you mustn’t stop until you’ve made it!

 

Clare George-Hilley is co-founder at Centropy PR