PR business 'helping small fish in a big pond'
At Small Fry PR, Sian Blackmore likes things small. She has a short client roster, and she works mostly with small businesses.
“Our slogan is ’helping small fish in a big pond’,” she said.
She started the company in 2018 when her employer Troncossi Public Relations closed down.
"I found a job doing the PR for the Fairmont Hamilton Princess & Beach Club,“ she said. ”But a lot of my Troncossi clients were going to be left without PR support. I was happy to connect them with other people, but some of them were keen to stay with me. It was quite flattering.”
Small Fry PR was born.
For a long time she worked for the hotel four days a week and focused on Small Fry PR on her day off.
Then the pandemic hit last March. During the lockdown her hours at the hotel were cut back drastically.
“I am extremely grateful that I kept my job,” she said. “But I had more time to spend on my clients and pitching for new ones. Now I find myself getting up earlier in the mornings to work for one or two hours.”
She is now back to working normal hours at the hotel, but is looking to take on a few more clients.
“Good PR can come in many forms, whether it’s by publicising what makes your business great, charitable endeavours or getting the word out about your product or event,” she said. “Capitalising on it and getting it to your demographic can make all the difference between you and your competitors.”
Ms Blackmore spends a lot of time on social media on behalf of her clients.
“My friends tease me that I am super-glued to my phone,” she said. “But it is vital.”
A single negative review on a local social media site like Maj’s List can cause major headaches for her clients, maybe even lose them business.
“Facebook carries a lot of weight in Bermuda,” she said. “Things can turn on a dime.”
Ms Blackmore said it is possible to look away for only a short while, only to find that a negative review has been posted, and “blown up” with more than 25 comments.
According to websitebuilder.org, more than half of consumers will not buy a product after seeing three negative reviews.
When controversy does surface, Ms Blackmore works hard to construct a coherent strategy for the client and offers multiple solutions to the problem. If the complaint is a legitimate one, she feels it is important to address it with honesty.
“People respect you more if you say sorry this did not work out, or we are looking into it,” she said.
But sometimes it is better to take no action. If the complaint is baseless, she has seen a businesses’ fans rush to the company’s defence.
But Ms Blackmore said it is always worth paying attention to the conversation.
“It is quite a good barometer of the public mood,” she said. “It is important to be both reactive, and proactive. If you have anything on the horizon that could cause an issue like an opening or something like that, it is good to have all your ducks in a row.”
But she still loves her job at the hotel, and works hard to balance her day job and her home business.
She said often it is the little moments, not the big ones, that make the job worthwhile.
“You always think it is going to be the big story, but it is often those small moments where you fix something or you catch something before it becomes a problem,” she said. “I love providing that insight and that moment when someone says ‘oh, I hadn’t seen it that way’.”
Ms Blackmore grew up in the United Kingdom, but her mother, Winifred Hughes, is Bermudian, and still has family here, including Ms Blackmore’s grandfather Walwyn Hughes.
“When I was a child I returned to Bermuda all the time,” she said. “When I was 18 I spent a couple of months out here to help out with my family and it became a habit to spend my summers in Bermuda once I started university.”
Living in London, she worked on the Britain’s Stronger in Europe campaign which opposed Brexit. She moved to Bermuda in 2017 intending to stay only a year or two.
But she soon found she loved working and living on the island.
“Four and a half years later I am still here,” she said. “It is really nice to spend time with my family. I have dinner with my grandparents once a week.”
And she said Bermuda has really proven itself during the pandemic.
For more information see Small Fry PR on Facebook @smallfrypublicrelations or her website smallfrypr.com.