Why I moved my London-based PR agency to rural Devon

For founder Rosie Davies-Smith, relocating her London-centric business to the countryside during the pandemic proved to be a winning decision.

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The onset of the pandemic dealt a severe blow to the PR industry, rendering traditional agency services unaffordable for many brands. My own multi-award winning, Startups 100-listed PR agency, LFA, experienced an 80% loss of business within 48 hours.

It was no easy decision, but closing LFA at the beginning of the pandemic and channelling my resources into a new venture, PR Dispatch, was a pivotal moment for me as a business owner.

On top of this, in November 2020, I also made the life-changing decision to relocate away from London – the UK’s established hub for all things PR – moving my own life to the countryside and embracing remote work for my team and fledgling brand.

Blending business success and work-life harmony

The idea of relocating either of my businesses, LFA or PR Dispatch, which had always been run from a physical office, had never crossed my mind. That is, until one random Rightmove search during lockdown revealed my dream home – a farmhouse in Devon.

The sprawling green space surrounding the farmhouse presented an opportunity to exchange my small London office for a garden studio.

Initially, the move felt like a substantial risk – personally and professionally. Lockdown or not, the team was still London-based at the time. I was uncertain about how the team would adapt to a fully remote working system.

However, in hindsight, I’d now say that it was the best decision I could have made – for me, or my business. Living in Devon has revitalised my perspective on work-life balance. It’s just one of the reasons we’ve implemented a four-day working week policy for the PR Dispatch team.

With team members scattered across different locations like London, the Cotswolds, and the Lake District, the newfound flexibility and the opportunity to reset and indulge in hobbies for three days each week have significantly enhanced the team’s well-being and productivity.

Can a PR agency succeed outside of London? Undoubtedly. In fact, I’d attribute much of PR Dispatch’s growth to an embrace of a rural lifestyle. I couldn’t have anticipated just how much leaving behind the fast-paced routine of London would positively impact my overall team wellness, but the impact has been brilliant, and I wouldn’t change a thing.

Why lean and affordable is the way to go

Although some may view the closure of my previous business, LFA, as a business failure, I’d argue it was ultimately the path to her PR Dispatch’s success.

PR Dispatch, founded in 2017, adapted a new business model by creating the UK’s first PR membership platform. With a strong focus on supporting independent ecommerce businesses, PR Dispatch currently helps over 450 such enterprises to handle their PR in-house.

The pandemic was a catastrophic setback for so many businesses in the PR industry. But, it’s one that taught me PR Dispatch’s affordable and accessible model was the way forward for independent businesses seeking PR success in challenging times.

I’ve witnessed the struggles of independent businesses unable to afford agency fees, but having great products deserving of media coverage. For just 3% of the typical PR agency retainer fees, PR Dispatch provides its members with invaluable insights, support, and access to press contacts.

The platform caters to a diverse range of members, including startup founders managing their own PR, established brands delegating PR tasks to their team, and in-house marketing teams at larger ecommerce businesses.

The PR Dispatch model proves effective for several reasons. By contacting editors themselves rather than through an agency, brands are able to establish direct and personal connections with editors.

Secondly, ecommerce brands themselves know their product and story better than anyone so who better to do their PR? Possessing a complete knowledge of their journey, values and unique offerings makes them the best storytellers

Startups 100 success and a bright future

For myself and LFA, being featured in the Startups 100 proved pivotal to our continued success. It offered two essential advantages: networking, and credibility as a sector leader.

Startups 100 gave us opportunities to connect with fellow startups, exchanging ideas with like-minded entrepreneurs and industry experts. This networking avenue opened doors to valuable partnerships, fostering growth and learning from shared experiences.

Moreover, the recognition earned from Startups 100 significantly bolstered our credibility as a leader in the PR market.

Being acknowledged among the top 100 startups in the UK validated our reputation as a trustworthy and innovative player, enhancing our appeal to potential clients. Overall, Startups 100 played a pivotal role in our journey.

The future for PR Dispatch

With a recent brand refresh and the successful launch of our best-selling Christmas gift guide access, the future is exciting for PR Dispatch.

The positive response from our members on our custom built platform has been great, and we are about to start Phase 2 of the platform update to implement even more changes to give members the most efficient and supportive PR tool on the market.

We have a large variation of great brands who we are confident will gain some amazing Christmas gift guide coverage this year.

As always, we continue to be dedicated to creating a thriving community of business owners and in-house PR and marketing professionals, empowering them with effective PR learning and resources to achieve long-term success.

Headshot of Rosie Davies-Smith, founder of PR Dispatch
Rosie Davies-Smith, Founder, PR Dispatch

Rosie is the founder of PR Dispatch, an affordable PR membership platform helping over 450 product-based e-commerce businesses to do their PR in-house. Members include startup founders that do it themselves, established brands that delegate their PR to their team and in-house marketing teams at larger e-com businesses

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