Holly Pither, MD and founder of Tribe PR tells us why after working in the industry for over a decade including for HSBC she decided to go it alone.
What do you currently do at Tribe PR?
We’re an independent communications agency based in Oxfordshire, specialising in earned, owned and shared media to help organisations of all sizes increase their brand advocacy. We work in partnership with both B2B and B2C brands, earning them reputation, helping them understand their audience and deepening their media relationships.
We do everything from working with clients to produce their PR and marketing strategy, to pushing out their news, increasing their profile in the press, drafting owned content for clients on their blogs and websites and also running their social accounts for them.
Tribe PR is a new player in the PR agency world (founded April 2019), though I have over a decade of experience working in PR and marketing personally, having worked both in house at HSBC and over 10 years in agency land.
All of our clients tend to be doing something that little bit different and that’s why we love what we do. All of our brands are focused on doing some form of tribal marketing, inciting their customers or clients to join them to start a movement or initiate change for the better. For instance, many of our clients are profit with purpose businesses, firms trying to transform the way we all do business in the future putting the human at the forefront of everything, sustainable brands and even mental health brands. All our clients are fully bought into our mantra here at Tribe PR which is that “people don’t buy brands, they join them.”
What was the inspiration behind your business?
I guess I have always grown up knowing I wanted to be my own boss. I come from entrepreneurial parents who always ran their own business, so in many ways I just feel like I was meant to do this. When I was a child, I spent many a dinner time listening to my mum and dad talk about company financials, sales, staffing and so forth. From then on it was always something I aspired to do.
In terms of where the idea came from, well as I’ve alluded to above, I believe that increasingly these days the gap between B2B and B2C communications is narrowing. This means that instead of focusing on one discipline or the other, we need to help clients reach a far more essential audience; that of people. And people don’t just buy brands, they join them to be part of their tribe. This means that good brand communication is about engaging directly with people, understanding what makes them tick, responding to their needs and turning them into fans. These people then become brand advocates and tell the brand’s story for them. Tribe PR is therefore all about helping brands start movements, creating brand advocates and great storytelling.
Who do you admire?
Gosh, there are so many people I admire, from working parents who are able to deal (and excel at) the juggle and fight the parenthood penalty, to managers who have led me over the years and made me into who I am today.
I think rather than talking about one individual I would rather focus on a leadership quality that I admire; and that is vulnerability. So many business leaders believe that to be vulnerable they have to expose their inner most thoughts, or spill out their childhood secrets, but this isn’t the case at all at all. In fact, a client of mine recently said that actually vulnerability is about being brave, courageous and most importantly leaving our ego at door, and I just love this. I couldn’t agree more.
Looking back, is there anything you would have done differently?
Nothing I would have done differently to be honest. And that’s not to sound big headed, but rather because I have found that I am learning so much from the whole experience of running my own business and the mistakes I make (of which there are of course many) are helping me with future growth and ensuring I stay grounded.
What defines your way of doing business?
I guess what defines my way of doing business is staying true to that mantra of “people don’t buy brands, they join them” and then ensuring that the clients I work with do indeed fall into that category, or that we can at least get them there. You might be surprised that even the smallest brands can be tribal in their marketing approach. My aim is to prove that you don’t have to be a massive brand like Innocent to be tribal, any brand can get there if they have purpose behind what they do, they tell an authentic story and most importantly they bring their customers along with them for the journey.
What advice would you give to someone starting out?
My main piece of advice would be – even when setting up – try to avoid working for free or contra deals. I think it’s important to value your services properly, and as such, I have tried to avoid contra-deals and reducing my costs to try and get my foot in the door of a new industry. Start as you mean to go on and people will take you more seriously.