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On The Table Read, “the best book magazine in the UK“, PR strategist and founder of PR With Perkes, Laura Perkes, talks about her new book, How To Get PR, and how she helps her readers.
Written by JJ Barnes
I interviewed Laura Perkes about her life and career in PR, what inspired her to start writing, and how her new book, How To Get PR, helps her readers.
Tell me a bit about who you are.
I’m Laura Perkes, I’m a PR strategist, Brand Storyteller and the Founder of PR with Perkes. I live in Hertfordshire, UK with my husband, Hayden and our three French Bulldogs. I studied Public Relations & Media Studies at University, graduating in 2004 with a degree from Exeter University.
From 2004 – 2013 I worked for two medium sized PR agencies working with specialist health & fitness brands, such as Power Plate, WaterRower and Star Trac, as well as household brands such as BIC, Beefeater, TGI Friday’s and Costa Coffee.
In 2013 I made the decision to leave my full time role as a Senior Account Manager and launched my own business, LKB PR.
I wouldn’t ever describe myself as an entrepreneur, but as I approached my 30th Birthday I started to question how aligned I was with the brands I was working with, realising that my own reputation was impacted by the brands I was representing. So, I decided to launch my own company, fuelled by the passion to support innovative new brands within the health and wellness space, who couldn’t justify the price tag of a PR Agency.
In 2018 I decided to rebrand the business and have worked with an eclectic mix of clients ever since, from solopreneurs and start-ups, through to multi-million pound businesses.
When did you take a step to start writing?
For years, mentors have been telling me that I have a book within me, but the timing never felt right. I didn’t feel like I had anything new to say and didn’t believe I had the time or headspace needed to write a book.
However, in October 2021 I saw a post from one of my connections on Facebook, who happens to have her own hybrid self-publishing agency, Authors & Co. Her post detailed the revenue she’s been able to achieve off the back of her book, to demonstrate how you can make the investment back.
I’m very detail oriented, so seeing those figures broken down sparked something inside of me. In that moment I knew that it was time to put pen to paper and put my words into the world.
How long did it take you to complete your first book from the first idea to release?
In October 2021 I joined The One, which is a group training programme from Authors & Co. It was an eight-week live course that walked me through the book writing process and the publishing journey. In Jan/Feb 2022 I set my desired publish date and started to physically write the book in March 2022.
I usually leave things to the last minute as I thrive off the pressure of a short deadline. However, I knew that this book deserved more time, focus and attention. I knew this book would help me to leave a legacy and could still be picked up and implemented after I’ve left this mortal Earth.
So, in total the entire process, from joining The One to my book being published is 13 months, but it can be done in a shorter amount of time if you want it to.
What made you want to write How To Get PR?
If I’m honest, part of it was born out of frustration. Not enough business owners understand what PR is or the role it plays in business growth and therefore feel frustrated or disappointed that they’re not seeing the results they expected, despite not fully understanding what PR does. Alternatively, when business owners see their peers sharing their PR coverage online they want a piece of the action, but don’t know why, therefore they invest in PR thinking that opportunities are going to flood in immediately. It doesn’t work like that. So I had to ask myself; ‘do you want to continue to be annoyed with the lack of education and understanding, or do you want to be part of the solution.’
Then of course there’s the credibility that comes with being an author, and the increased impact you can make. It’s my mission to give business owners a platform to show up and share their message with a much bigger audience, but I’m only one person and I can’t reach as many people as possible with my current business models, therefore I knew that a book would help me to reach more people, impact their lives and help them to create the change they want to see in the world.
What were your biggest challenges with writing How To Get PR?
The main challenge was time management. As well as running my own PR agency with retained clients to serve, I’ve also launched a hybrid group training programme this year to teach business owners how to get PR, but also to support them throughout their journey. Then of course there’s all the other things going on behind the scenes that business owners need to do to keep their business running smoothly.
Each month I would step back from my business for five days to focus purely on the book. It didn’t always go to plan, but on the whole it was a process that worked for me.
At the halfway point I started to question how good the book was and if I was writing in a way that would resonate with the reader. The book takes everyone back to basics, explaining what PR is, how it works and what you can expect from investing in it. It’s about laying a solid foundation upon which to build. Each chapter details each step of the PR process, from the assets you need and the mindset you need to achieve success.
The self-editing process was also brutal. I’d been warned that it would be hard, but I assumed I’d sail through it as I’d edited each chapter before starting the next one. The team at Authors & Co teach you a four-step process, suggesting that you tackle one step at a time. I ignored this advice to begin with, but soon realised that there’s a process for a reason. Towards the end of the process I had to ask myself if I was being a perfectionist, or if it really did need extra work.
What was your research process for How To Get PR?
The book is based entirely on the knowledge and expertise that I’ve amassed over the past 18 years, so there was very little research required. One of the chapters explores mindset and details the different types of imposter syndrome that may pop up throughout your journey. Although I’ve experienced these myself, I did want to include information from a more qualified source, so that chapter was thoroughly researched to ensure I wasn’t giving out mis-information.
How did you plan the structure of How To Get PR?
The structure of the book was probably the easiest part! As part of The One programme we were taught how to structure a book and the journey that we wanted the reader to go on. At the start of the programme we were asked to write a book blueprint and share it with the team for feedback, to keep us on track and keep us focussed. We were encouraged to brain dump everything on a sheet of paper and then focus on being more specific. So, if there were themes that were similar we could group them together and cover them in one chapter. We were taught to use a traffic light system, so green was for vital information, amber was for information that could be used in the book and red was for information that wasn’t relevant, or wasn’t adding extra value to the book.
As my book is a ‘How To’ book I simply shared the process that I use when working with retained clients and what I teach to business owners in the hybrid group training programme.
Did you get support with editing, and how much editing did How To Get PR need?
As part of ‘The One’ programme, our introductory chapter was read and reviewed by an editor, to ensure that I was set up for success from the start.
I was then responsible for the self-editing process, which was split into four stages. Once I’d completed the self-edit phase the book was then read by a proofreader, who made additional tweaks. I then had the opportunity to accept the tweaks and make final changes before the final manuscript was sent to the formatter.
The book didn’t need any major edits once it had been sent to the proofreader, thankfully! Although I did have to re-work the first few chapters during the self editing process. My writing style had changed so much throughout the book that I wanted the same amount of energy to be felt in the first half that you could feel in the second half.
What is the first piece of writing advice you would give to anyone inspired to write a book?
Have a clear plan and stick to it. Writing my book blueprint allowed me to get really clear on what I wanted the book to do, in terms of the reader experience and the results it would deliver. If ever I had a wobble I’d refer back to the blueprint and bring myself back to the present moment.
During the writing process it’s easy to get into flow and go off on tangents. I did this during one of the chapters I was writing. Rather than follow the plan I thought I’d simply sit down and write whatever I wanted to. By the time I’d finished writing I realised that what I’d created wasn’t really relevant, and therefore a waste of time and energy.
I do still have the copy that I wrote, so it may be turned into a blog at some point, but I learnt a very valuable lesson that day: don’t deviate from the plan!
Can you give me a hint about any further books you’re planning to write?
I swore I was never going to write another book, or at least not until 2024, but last week I had an idea for an entire series of books! The next book will probably be ‘How To Start A Business’ and then the next one may be ‘How To Promote Your Business’.
And, finally, are you proud of your accomplishment? Was it worth the effort?
It was definitely worth the effort and I’m so incredibly proud of what I’ve accomplished. I see so many people in the online space writing books that the brevity of writing a book is often lost, or perhaps it’s the expectation that it’s easy as everyone is doing it! Yet, in the offline world, writing a book is a massive deal and something of great honour. It’s been interesting to see how my online network has reacted to me writing a book, compared to my friends and family.
As I type this, the book hasn’t yet been published, but it feels like it’s going to have a huge impact on my business. I don’t yet know what that is, or how it will present itself, but it feels like I’m on the edge of something spectacular and I can’t wait to welcome it into my world.
Pop all your book, website and social media links here so the readers can find you:
How To Get PR – https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B0BGPXDWDN
PR with Perkes – www.prwithperkes.com
Facebook Group: www.facebook.com/groups/howtogetpr
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