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Talk to the Press: Natasha Courtenay-Smith

The founder of Talk to the Press on why her baby will always come before her business

Company name: Talk to the Press Website:www.talktothepress.co.uk Founder: Natasha Courtenay-Smith Age: 32 Based: West London Staff numbers: Natasha plus two staff. Date started: January 2008

Tell us what your business doesMy business is a media consultancy, providing media strategy and publicity advice, plus journalism services to individuals wishing to sell stories to national newspapers and women’s magazines.

Where did the idea come from?I would love to say I had a light bulb moment, but actually the idea initially came from my desire, as a then freelance journalist, to create a way for people wishing to ‘talk to the press’ to find me, rather than me constantly looking for stories. Alongside this desire, I also knew that there were many people out there who might want the services of an experienced journalist to manage their story. I subsequently discovered that each month on Google alone, there are more than 5000 searches with keywords such as ‘sell my story’, ‘sell your story’, ‘talk to the press’ and ‘selling stories to press’.

Had I always wanted to run my own business? Looking back over my life, I think the answer to this is yes. My parents were self employed, and together ran a very successful business. My father died 17 years ago, but my mother has remained self employed ever since. So in that sense, I imagined I would do the same. I reached a point where I started thinking about running a business and I was also at an age where I was starting to think about having children. My previous job at the Daily Mail, which involved working long hours and being sent anywhere in the UK at a moment’s notice, wouldn’t have worked well with children. I hoped that by being entrepreneurial I would have more say in how I ran my life.

What planning did I do or advice did I seek? Erm, I’m not sure I should admit this, but none. I didn’t take any advice, didn’t do market research and didn’t put together a business plan. The point here is however that setting up my website initially involved very little financial outlay. I thought I would just set it up and see what happened. It then took on a life of its own!

How did you raise the money? The business was started with £1500 of my own money – the cost of the website – so there was no need to raise money. My business has only ever operated without investment or bank loans.

What’s growth been like? Turnover has grown steadily and the business has been profitable since month one

How have you promoted your business? I largely promote my business through PR, and Google Adwords. Both have been successful. I have also tried advertising for stories in local newspapers and with the use of fliers handed out in central London. These were both a waste of time!

What’s the impact on your home life been like? Well, a week after launching the website I found out I was pregnant, so perhaps this question should be asked in reverse. I had a baby when the business was nine months old and although I’ve continued working, and went to the office one day a week from when my baby was six weeks old, I haven’t been in a position where the business could dominate too much. I do work evenings and often sit at my laptop trying to get links into my site (to improve organic search in Google) or thinking of marketing ideas, but the baby comes first.

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