All posts by Michelle Brown

Happy New Year 2019

Last year was a fantastic year delivering creative, high-impact PR campaigns, across all media platforms for my clients which included The Centre, Livingston, Business Gateway Edinburgh, Edinburgh Women’s Aid and Foxlake Adventures. 

Results included a multitude of coverage across various online and offline national, regional and local titles and a flurry of activity on social media. Over 30 clients were also featured on BBC TV Scotland and Radio & STV with everything from beehives on rooftops to charity launches and business expansions.

I’ve hosted many workshops for start-ups and growth business too on behalf of Business Gateway Edinburgh, on areas including marketing, branding and PR, and loved every minute of it and as a huge fan of networking I decided to launch my own networking club exactly a year ago, Love Your Business, which runs on the last Thursday of every month at Black Ivy in Edinburgh.

It was a huge success with fantastic speakers every month, including –

Alice Thompson co-founder of Social Bite, former STV reporter Zara Janjua, blogger & vlogger Kim McAllister, Cal Mark, General Manager at Foxlake Adventures, John Robertson founder of Drinkly, Karen Knowles founder of Bon Accord Soft Drinks, Keith Jeffrey founder of The Roberts Partnership Ltd, Scott Newby of NewbyCore Consulting Limited, Andy Johnston founder of Eido Studio, Marcus Henderson, Investment Manager at Par Equity, Michael McCuish, Consumer PR Manager at VisitScotland, Sarah Robertson founder of ScotBeer Tours, Bruce Walker co-founder of FutureX, Michael Harkins founder of Turtle Pack, Larah Bross founder of Bross Bagels, Stephanie Foulds co-founder of The Eco Larder, Sarah from Sarah Laing Sings, Mike McGrail founder of Velocity Digital and Getgo Studio, Brian McGregor founder of Henry’s Coffee Company, Michael MacLeod, former editorial associate producer at Instagram and now senior producer at Vogue, Dani Trudeau founder of Tribe Porty and Alison Grieve founder of G-Hold

All shared great stories about their business journey’s and gave invaluable tips on starting and growing a successful and profitable business.  This year I have even more fantastic speakers lined up, which I’m really excited about.  Tickets for January at

It was also attended by some incredible entrepreneurs who I’m delighted to say I will be collaborating with this year to run my own Love Your Business Skills Labs at Black Ivy.

These include –

  • The Power of PR with journalist Gina Davidson – 26th January
  • In collaboration with Mike McGrail, Director at Getgo Studio & founder of Velocity Digital –
    • Harness LinkedIn for Max Results – 23rd March
    • Video Content & Creation for Max Results – 27th April

Would be great to see you at the LYB Skills Labs or monthly networking club.  Details can be found on Facebook @howtolyb

Till then, here’s my top 5 tips to help get your business off to a great start this year –

 1) Bring a new element to your business – something completely new or identify a better/different way of doing something or stop doing the ‘thing’ you know is taking you off track and costing you in time, effort and money

2) Take time to plan well – financially and strategically for the next 12 months but be kind to yourself and be realistic

 3) Be even clearer about your goals, objectives and ROI in 2019 – are you charging enough, when did you last do a competitor analysis and how often are you measuring your success and shouting from the rooftops about it

 4) Devise a strong marketing plan which is creative and cost-effective and includes a content planner for relevant social media platforms for the next 3mths with engaging and exciting copy. Also, attend more networking events to meet people face-to-face and share practices and referrals.  Networking events allow you to market yourself direct to people on a personal level and works, especially as most of us tend to buy into the people behind the brand – it can also help you feel less isolated if you work on your own

 5) Take more ‘me’ time to help keep you motivated and refreshed – walks in the park/beach and time with family and friends works for me and is something I plan to do even more of this year!

Thinking about starting your first business?

Whether it’s choosing a change of career, realising that your work/life balance isn’t where it should be, looking for a more flexible arrangement to work around your children or deciding that now is the time to follow your dream – whatever the reason is, we all have one key factor in common when deciding to be our own boss – to be successful and profitable.

No budding entrepreneur ever sets out to just survive the first three months or to lose money every year for the first five years. Most of us, with fire in our belly, try the best we can as novices to the business world, to do the necessary research and planning to make sure the idea, product, or service is viable and our target audience will pay us for it.

After working in a media agency for over 10 years, I decided to launch my own business, Michelle Brown PR in 2014. Although I had worked in the media industry for over 20 years, including media monitoring and guest lecturing in Media & Communications, I had never run a business before. I knew I had a lot of learnings ahead of me to build and grow a successful company. Nearly five years in, I’m still learning and fine-tuning but it’s been my learnings, experiences, results and opportunities which leaves me feeling extremely content and grateful to be in charge of my own destiny.

Here’s just a few of my top tips to help get you off to a great start if you’re planning on flying solo –

  1. Research – ensure you have done enough research which proves there is a market for your idea, product, or service. Speak to as many people as you can; friends, family, industry bodies and organisations like Business Gateway Edinburgh who offer a wealth of free resources for start-ups. Even your competitors, who might just give your half an hour of their time in return for a coffee
  2. Planning – what’s your timescales? Make sure you have factored everything in from laying the foundations to going live online. You never want to be in a position where you’ve launched too early and can’t meet demand
  3. The business plan – love it or loathe it, it works! From my own experience it helps to keep you focussed and forces you to think through every aspect of the business including your SWOT analysis, competitor audit and the all-important finances. It will keep you on track, give you the opportunity to think about what success might look like and a clear indication on what you are working towards
  4. Finances – plan well! Ensure you have set out a detailed spreadsheet which accounts for everything you need, from a personal perspective and the exact costs you need to set up the business and sustain it. Expert advice from Alison Millar, Director at JS Accounting in Morningside, “Getting off on the right financial footing is key to the longevity and success of your business. Other factors may get in your way which are unavoidable but poor financial forecasting shouldn’t be one of those.”
  5. Register with HMRC. Not only should HMRC be high up your priority list at the start but throughout your entire self-employed journey – make sure you keep a timesheet of exactly when payments need to be made and if you need help, don’t be afraid to ask. There’s a lot of help out there but check out the videos on the HMRC website first
  6. Insurances – protect yourself at all costs. Determine what you need and ensure you’ve got it all in hand. Public Liability and Professional Indemnity often comes as a package. Shop around and get advice. If you do need PLI, be clear about the limit, some businesses required £5m cover and always keep a note of renewal dates
  7. Workspace and the working week – is working from home an option to get you started and what can you physically do in the time you need to be able to run the company? Working from home will help keep costs down but if you want to be around other people check out some of the great co-working spaces in Edinburgh, such as Tribe Porty and Black Ivy Bruntsfield, which has quirky work stations situated around ping pong tables, providing great opportunities to meet people. When is comes to the hours you put in, always make sure you take time to catch your breath, take a walk and be with friends and family. You might think you don’t have the time but trust me, even after a half hour walk you will feel even more refreshed, energised and productive
  8. The best ways to tell the world what you are doing – branding, marketing and PR. Devise a creative strategy outlining where your audience is and the best way to target them. If is a multi-channel, integrated marketing campaign you want to implement, make sure that your brand is exactly where you need it to be in terms of the identity, vision, personality and promise and make sure you have the right tools in place to measure the results. Marketing can be costly and time-consuming if you don’t have a strategy in place – think about everything from flyers to Facebook ads and LinkedIn to networking events – it’s important to be seen and heard in all the right places, even when the business is going well
  9. Taking on staff – taking on your first employee can be daunting but it will pay off to get it right first time. Emma Reid, employment law solicitor and joint founder of Ergo Law, “Growing your business and going from 1 to 2 can be a minefield which is why we are have created an easy-to-understand, basic package for small businesses to be well equipped from a legal perspective when taking on an employee. This includes a contract of employment and essential policies for your staff handbook together with our top tips for new employers. Our goal is to protect small businesses and to help them grow with the right advice and guidance and make it as smooth a ride as possible, giving them the confidence to take that next step and continue to build their empire.”
  10. Follow your dream – be clear about what success looks and feels like for you personally. It could be the car or house you always wanted, but it could also be a good work life/balance where you get to enjoy a walk on the beach every weekend with the family. Keep focussed, resilient, confident and strong, and remember ‘you always get out what you put in’.

How far can your PR reach go and what’s changed over the last year?

From wakeboarding and zip wiring to VW campervanning and Prosecco runs, this year has been the most exciting and varied yet at MBPR with campaigns hitting even more broadcast channels, including BBC, STV and YouTube and even more online and social platforms.

The appetite for an action-packed, high-impact creative PR/Marketing and Communications campaign hasn’t changed this year but what has changed is the increased number of platforms which brands can tap into to reach even more of their target audiences at one time with their key messages.

In August, and on two separate occasions, STV reporters Chris Harvey and Zara Janjua, jumped on a wakeboard at Foxlake Adventures new park on the Waterfront in Dundee to try it out, along with the Dundee Courier and Telegraph. This resulted in a successful multi-channel campaign with TV pick up, on and offline press coverage and brilliant engagement on all social media platforms, culminating with Foxlake Director Callum Mark’s excellent debut radio interview on BBC’s Good Morning Scotland.

Throughout the year both STV and BBC have played major parts in our client’s creative campaigns, including fitness demonstrations at The Centre in Livingston, where over 45,000 people visit daily and a tour of Araminta Campbell’s studios in Edinburgh – the talented hand weaver who boasts Camilla and Mary Berry as her customers.

BBC interviews were secured and provided great results for other clients including Keith Roberts, from The Roberts Partnership on the launch of its new Training Academy, Karen Knowles from Bon Accord on the relaunch of the family brand alongside Susan Harkins, Head of Business Gateway, promoting the Global Entrepreneurship Conference and Ali Wylie from Run the Sights.

Ali talked about the birth of the company and the launch of the new Prosecco tours which have been a huge hit. Ali also captured the attention of the Head of Digital at the Scotsman who joined her in an early morning run in the city, watched live by thousands of people around the world from his GoPro at the top of Arthur’s Seat.

We’ve also worked with over 50 bloggers to ensure our clients brands reach the right audience digitally including Solveig in Scotland and Ruth MacGlip (Urbanity Blog) who have helped Armaminta to raise her profile across the world.

Tactics and strategy are still as important than ever, including charitable partnerships, stunts and media stories but more so than any other year for us our clients, with our help, are acknowledging the power of broadcast platforms and reputable and trustworthy social influencers.

But what’s really changed since I started out in PR?


The days of having someone in the corner of the office faxing press release to all 300 people on a media distribution list have well and truly gone. Now, strategically targeted media stories tailored for both on and offline platforms are being created on phones and pitched in as exclusives, with pics and video content.

It is also no longer a luxury for the large corporates – it is now for everyone! More brands, small and large, are taking the time to ensure internal audits are carried out before external campaigns are embarked upon and fully understand, now even more so with social media, that it can take years to build a brand and seconds to ruin it. Hence, always take the time to look at the reactive PR you might need at the same time as creating your proactive PR/Communications & Marketing campaign.