This week I chat to Bran Cook of Motherbrown PR, all about her fabulous life and career (and she is fabulous!) She also was kind enough to share some invaluable PR tips with us too, I know you’re gonna love this..
Hey Bran and welcome to the Green Room! For those of you unfamiliar with who you are, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Hey! My name is Bran (or Branwen if you want the full Monty, or Brannage or Branny. I’ve even been called Brian before now). I’m a 40 year-old, red-haired, working mum of two beautiful boys. I’m married to Chris, a self-employed creative designer (he does the pictures, I do the words) and I live in the heart of Worcestershire. I’ve worked in PR for about 17 years, rising through the ranks from general office dogsbody to running a small but successful business from the comfort of my home office.
After the birth of my first son, I soon realised that there was very little point in having a baby that you kept in child-minder storage for 12 hours a day, so with the help of a friend who owned a one-woman marketing company, I plucked up the courage to leave my job working as the PR for a large radio station (one of the best jobs of my life) and join her on a temporary contract to help her inject some PR into her business offering.
After a year, we parted company as planned and she was kind enough to hand over one of her clients that she was growing out of; a lively restaurant in Birmingham that was part of a big, national chain but whose owners preferred the personal touch of a local PR person rather than a large, faceless agency.
With years of experience in the consumer market, this was the perfect start for me. I loved the idea of working for companies that meant something to me. If I was the target audience for their business, then surely I could give a much more honest, sincere and most importantly believable service. This became my goal and so I made sure (when possible) I could work with brands I love – restaurants, bars, theatres, clothing, etc.
I met my first ‘wedding’ client a few years ago at a networking event and after a light-hearted, no-strings chat over coffee; Rachel Simpson Shoes started me on a journey into the wonderful world of weddings. And that’s what I love about where I am now. The wedding industry is still growing rapidly but it’s been remarkably easy to forge incredible friendships through the events I’ve been to and through social media. The rest, as they say is history.
So, why PR? What is it about it that you love about it?
Hmmm good question…It was never my dream to go into PR. I fell in love with it slowly and continue to do so even now. I tried my hand at all sorts of jobs growing up, purely to make enough money to be independent. I was bullied at school so decided against sixth form and opted instead for two years at Secretarial College, where I learned some basic PA skills and had the best time of my life! I then went on to have a smattering of jobs including years behind my local pub’s bar, which taught me so much about how to interact with people, how to read people and how to get the best from them.
My first bite of PR was when I worked for a company that makes shower enclosures. I was the marketing assistant in a busy office and the PR girl was this incredible, larger-than-life, energy-overdosed woman with manic hair and who spent most of the time I was there, rushing in and then rushing off again. I knew then that this was what I wanted to do, it looked exciting!
I think I love PR because it has grown with me. I’m conscious at how much it has changed and evolved over the years and that definitely helps keep the love alive. Don’t get me wrong, there are times when I want to hang up my hat and go and work behind a bar again, but I also know that whilst I never set out to be in PR, I think I was always meant to.
What inspires you as a businesswoman and as a person?
As a businesswoman (that sounds really funny to say about me) I’m massively inspired by small, independent businesses, who work their arses off to give the very best of themselves to their customers. Those that are so incredibly clever and talented that they inspire me to be even better at what I do. My offering is definitely more about building a relationship with my client and if I can’t do that I can’t be myself and ultimately I can’t provide a service I’m happy with. It’s not always about the money.
Personally, I love all things creative. An memorable meal, a classic G&T, a beautiful image, a well-written story, a random selection of music genres, the innocence of my boys and watching them turning slowly into men (which scares the crap out of me). I’m tactile and flirty and fill my life with beautiful, creative, happy people who regularly inspire me. Life is way too short to spend time with people you have nothing in common with.
If you could go back to the beginning of your PR career would you offer yourself any advice or change anything?
I’d tell myself to stop worrying about what other people think! I’m the world’s worst over-analyser and in my desperate need to be liked by everyone, I’ve probably been walked over one too many times and that’s not a great quality for a business owner. I’m always amazed when people/companies/clients don’t pay for services they have asked for, yet the thought of getting all ‘solicitor’ on someone fills me with dread.