It’s that time of the week again: #GirlBossMonday!
Jayne Alexander is the Managing Director of The Dovetail Agency, London. Jayne spent 7 years with Virgin, working alongside the man himself, Richard Branson, before building her own business in 1997. The Dovetail Agency specialises in luxury travel and lifestyle PR, a sector I can only dream of working in.
Jayne has extremely valuable advice for students like ourselves, advice that I will be putting to good use. Read on to learn how Jayne finds the right work/life balance and how travelling is a large part of her role.
The reason I conduct these interviews is to inspire you, my readers, and fellow PR students to be successful in your careers and business leaders of the future. I have asked the important questions to gain an insight of how these #GirlBosses made it to where they are today, and how we can emulate their successes.
Here’s to strong women. May we know them. May we be them. May we raise them.
OC: Hi Jayne! An easy question to start us off (I hope) – What is your full job title?
JA: Managing Director at The Dovetail Agency.
Can you give me a background of your career and education? How did this lead you to be in your PR position today?
I began my career in the travel and lifestyle sector from a young age and immediately knew I had found my passion. My career began in sales, marketing and promotion. As marketing director with The Virgin Group where I managed several communications agencies globally for the brand, I learned to appreciate the importance of an integrated approach to public relations, through media activity, brand partnerships, events and sponsorships.
How and why did you start your business?
After launching two companies within the Group, I made the decision to build my own business. Our approach has always been driven by the client’s overall business strategy, driving sales through an intelligent marketing and PR plan of action.
We are entirely motivated by increasing year on year results for our clients and subsequently have been retained by one client for 18 years of our 20 year history.
How did you go about securing your first client?
Our first client came through word of mouth as with most of our clients today.
Where are you based? Does your job involve a lot of travelling?
We have a very smart office in Mayfair, just off Grosvenor Square, just minutes away from some of the best shops, restaurants and bars.
With a number of travel clients on our roster, I travel at least once a month. I continue to enjoy exploring the world as part of my job. We also arrange product launches and showcase events for clients in major cities each year; London, New York, Paris. We will also travel to trade shows and exhibitions relevant to fashion, beauty, travel, real estate, jewellery and design.
What does a working week look like?
Our days are never quite the same. Every Monday morning we will hold a team planning meeting when each of the team highlight their key priorities, and talk over media and brand partner meetings we have scheduled for the week.
There will always be at least two events each week to attend, either one we are managing for a client or an Awards ceremony. Leanne, my PA, and I will sit down each day to help keep me organised! I try to squeeze in a Pilates session at least twice a week.
What do you find most rewarding and challenging about your role in PR?
When a client can see their business start to grow over an initial 12-18 month period when working with Dovetail. Momentum then builds and they are achieving yearend financial targets.
We are driven by results. Understanding the most profitable revenue streams for a client and increasing these further is a great motivation for me. The most challenging part of my role is to manage a healthy work/life balance.
How do you find the right work/life balance?
Having a healthy work/life balance has always been important to me, having launched the business when my daughter was only 3 months old. It suited me to work from home at the time and as she and my son grew older, my business evolved to suit their needs.
I like to ensure that my team are working sensible hours and unless we have clients in town or events taking place we head home no later than 6pm. We also have summer hours for July and August to make the most of the lovely sunshine late afternoon.
What do you wish more people understood about PR?
PR is just one discipline of an overall marketing strategy. It has to reflect the business and sales strategy of any company. It has to work as an integrated area of activity in order to deliver results. Our approach is based on segmenting a business to deliver across all sectors through strategic media relations combined with intelligent marketing.
If you were to hire someone for a PR role, what skills and qualities would your ideal candidate have?
Working in an agency requires strong multitasking and organisational skills. The ideal candidate will need to have a creative mind with the ability to think on their feet. Most importantly the candidate must be a great team player and have exceptional communication skills and an understanding of how we apply our skills to each client strategy.
What do you think is the biggest challenge facing the PR industry today?
The economic and political climate worldwide is incredibly volatile and a threat to all business.
Who has been your biggest inspiration/role model/mentor in your career so far?
Working with Richard Branson directly on several new projects had a huge impact on how I approach business. He taught me to keep entirely focused and to look after the bottom line. Creativity, energy and fast thinking was the approach I adopted from my 7 years with Virgin.
What advice would you give to a student like myself that wants to emulate your success and make it in the PR industry?
Knowledge is power – you cannot be too informed. Demonstrate your knowledge of a sector you would like to work in through reading and research. This may be food, wine, fashion, design or architecture – know who the big players are from a communications standpoint and understand who the talent is, who is making waves, who is setting the trends – the fashion designers, the hoteliers, the architects, the travel outfitters.
Build your own little black book of contacts – those individuals you aim to reach out to once you are in a role – the editors and specialist writers.
Apply for relevant internships to develop an impressive CV and be sure to demonstrate your genuine passion and keen interest in a sector by talking about the industry in an interview.
Thank you, Jayne ♥
You can visit The Dovetail Agency’s website at www.dovetail-agency.co.uk
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