SPOTLIGHT ON: RONKE LAWAL, FOUNDER, ARIATU PR

Name: Ronke Lawal
Company:
Ariatu PR
Job title: Founder
Twitter: @ronkelawal @ariatupr
LinkedIn: Ronke Lawal
Blog & website: www.ronkelawal.com and www.ariatupr.com

Did you go to university?
I studied International Business (Economics) at The University of Lancaster with a year at The University of Richmond, Virginia. My original plan was to get onto a graduate programme in a major corporate or to become a stockbroker, however life had other plans for me.

What was your first job in PR?  
I actually never worked in a PR position before I started my business, After assessing my core strengths and passions  I realised that the job I had at the time really was not for me, it was turning me into a Dragon with a Den! (although technically I had an office so perhaps that could be considered my den). There was something telling within me which compelled me to look at an entrepreneurial route in order to create the career of my dreams.

I had absolutely no agency experience so I had to teach myself a lot in PR

How did you get from there to your current role?
I started working on a PR and branding project of a friend who was launching a beauty business after having a conversation on marketing strategy and that sparked something within me to look more closely at my core communication strengths. I had absolutely no agency experience so I had to teach myself a lot in PR but after more than 12 years I think I’ve finally cracked the code!

What do you do on a day-to-day basis?
8AM: Breakfast, Check social media and respond to any messages and then crack on with work.

10AM: I’ll be deep into checking up on client updates, including assessing PR coverage, pitching to journalists, responding to journalist emails, researching media opportunities and sending out relevant press releases.

NOON: Hopefully I will have had lunch by this time.

2PM: more of the same work unless I have client calls/meetings.

5PM: Start to wind down, chase any outstanding work, reminding clients about media interviews.Prepare for a networking event or speaking engagement.

7PM: If no events then its Supper time! Favourite time of day!  Also a great chance to watch some netflix.

I really love that PR teaches you how to be mindful, reflective and how to pay attention

What do you like most about working in PR?
I really love that PR teaches you how to be mindful, reflective and how to pay attention. Working with people and managing relationships, messages and reputation means you have to always take a moment to assess words, context, nuance and behavioural patterns. The relationship aspect of PR is my favourite part of the work, getting to know people, understanding how people communicate (or don’t communicate) effectively. I also love that whilst some people see the “obvious” I can often break things down and see beyond the obvious initial message, for example looking beyond a media headline to the impact of the piece on the wider narrative.

What’s the hardest thing about working in PR?
So many clients tend to focus on media relations and want to see coverage even if their story isn’t necessarily strong or compelling enough to gain media attention. So it becomes a process of drafting interesting press releases with relevant headlines and then pitching to journalists who are constantly busy. It can be really hard to see a client gain little or no traction even after I’ve done everything I can to get them coverage…doesn’t help when a random hashtag will go viral and get more coverage than an actual story! 

Who is your PR inspiration?
There are so many individuals within my network, I respect and appreciate them all, especially the BAME PR practitioners based in the UK who are fighting that good fight to change media narrative and enhance inclusive narrative.

What’s the best career advice you’ve ever been given and who gave it to you?
Funnily enough it’s from someone who I have not met yet. Oprah Winfrey once said “Don’t put a ceiling on yourself”- I mean she says many wise things but that’s one piece of advice that has stuck with me. It’s something I work on daily, removing the barriers that I have set for myself, it’s vital given that society has already placed so many barriers in front of me.

Which PR blogs, news sites and websites etc do you read?

https://bmeprpros.co.uk/

PRDaily.com

It is also important to respect the value of relationships

What are your tips for aspiring PRs?
Stay Focused. Work hard and play hard. Research and be prepared. Build relationships and respect everyone you come across throughout your journey. PR may seem glamorous and in some ways it can be but for me it is not about the glamour it is about the results. So if you’re serious about being in PR then you need to be serious about working hard to get your clients the coverage and profile they deserve, managing their public profile and image and working on impactful strategies. If you do the research you can find avenues on engagement that are beyond the usual so that you can stand out. I am a believer in impact, it’s great to get the mainstream and big press but sometimes those unique media outlets can really do great things for a client’s brand profile too. It is also important to respect the value of relationships, I have really learnt to trust my instinct when it comes to relationships in business they can make the difference between ultimate success and demise. I have a few videos on my YouTube Channel to help.

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