Not content with simply founding PR specialists Aura, Laura Sutherland is also the person behind #PRFest. She tells us about her ambition, and why she hates a heavy handed typist.
Describe your role in no more than 100 words.
I run Aura, and I look after everything from developing the business to looking after the reputation of my clients. Public relations is about building and maintaining relationships with client’s target audiences, in-line with the purpose and objectives of the business. I do this by devising strategies which engage audiences through an integrated approach of paid, earned, shared and owned media.
Public relations has changed in the last 10 years and we now look to a more technical and indeed digital approach.
I’m a thinker, a doer, and I do it all in an entrepreneurial fashion.
What is it the company does?
Simply put Aura devises strategies which help businesses achieve objectives. Short, medium and long-term objectives of a business will determine the approach to which public relations will take.
You need to understand your audiences; who they are, where they are, what they talk about, what they care about, and importantly, you need to understand what they think of your business. This forms part of the research and planning stage and we use data and analytics to help inform.
From there, I would devise a strategy which acknowledges all the research. I recommend what activity would suit your audiences, which ‘platforms’ to use, what form of activity would work best on the platform and then use your knowledge of what they care and talk about, to devise your message.
Public relations doesn’t sell. It should be a two-way conversation. This is how relationships start to develop. The audience will then know you care what they care about. You are listening to them.
After a strategy and work programme has been developed, I would then identify key performance indicators for each activity, which would tell us if the activity has been effective.
Whether it’s an event, content marketing, social media, email engagement or an initiative to improve internal communications and staff engagement, we would monitor the effects of the activity, report back and at key milestones, measure and evaluate success.
Nowadays we have a whole host of PR tools we use along the way. Tools which reduce time wasted on ‘admin’ activity and increase productivity.
No client is the same. I look at each client business from a fresh perspective. Yes, I can use experience and knowledge from industry learnings, but every business has different objectives, different Boards and staff and every business is unique.
Give us a brief timeline of your career so far – where did you start, how did you move on?
I left school with an ambition of working in hospitality. I was at college for three years studying Hospitality and before I finished my final year (aged 19), I was made Restaurant Manager and had been on a year-course of management training through Big Beat, which was Scotland’s leading hospitality group.
When Big Beat went into administration, a regular customer asked me to go and work for her small lifestyle PR agency working with luxury brands.
I was made redundant after a year and a half, but had secured on the same day, an in-house PR and marketing role, which I had pitched to a former client, a Scottish restaurant group.
After two years, when I felt I had done all I could in the restaurant group, I moved back into PR agency and worked for a firm which concentrated on media relations and crisis management.
From there, I moved into an integrated agency heading up its PR division before being headhunted to open an office in Glasgow for an independent Scottish PR group.
After a year there, I set up Aura with my business partner. I bought her out in 2012 and now run Aura independently, collaborating with clients across the UK both in consumer and business-to-business.