Sara Tye, Top 500 PR, on Working with Anita Roddick & PR Strategy for Entrepreneurs

Sara Tye, serial entrepreneur and top 500 international PR, founded redheadPR over ten years ago.

The company’s broad range of client experience includes; organic chocolate brand Green & Black’s, Frangi Tie Rack, Blue Dragon, Nokia and Raleigh International, amongst others.

Sara built two previous PR agencies, running international brands from Packard Bell to Nokia, all with 360- degree stakeholder communication plans and online and social networking strategies.

With over 20 years of communications expertise, Sara was a finalist in the first Cosmopolitan Women of the Year Awards 1999 and has been voted ‘Green PR of London’ by the Evening Standard.

Sara spent three years managing the personal PR initiatives at home and abroad of The Body Shop's eminent founder, the late Dame Anita Roddick. Sara took The Body Shop online – one of the first companies globally. This role also involved working in crisis situations and running campaigns such as the Ken Saro- Wiwa campaign against Shell at The Body Shop with some of the most senior global figures in politics, industry and journalism, working out of Glenys Kinnock’s office in Strasbourg.

Sara has experience of all forms of media, on and offline and has worked with most global outlets, from The Philippines Inquirer, to 60 Minutes Australia, to the Financial Times, through to Pamela Wallin Live in Canada.

We spoke to Sarah about her recommended PR strategy for entrepreneurs; about working with Dame Annita Roddick; and her audience with Boutros Boutros Ghali! 

TNW: What kind of PR strategy would you advise for female entrepreneurs with limited time and budget? 

ST: To start with, social media. All journalists, especially woman, are great networkers and the web is a brilliant tool for them. Social media is one of the best tools for spreading messages. Most leads come via social media now.

Secondly, networking face to face. This is also something women are very good at, making it highly effective and excellent value for money.  

Lastly, PR and media relations. It’s a fraction of the cost of other methods and, let’s face it, social media is PR. Getting good coverage online and in magazines is worth so much and helps publishers provide good content.

TNW: redheadPR is the third PR agency that you have built. What aspects of running a business have you kept the same throughout all three companies, and what have you done differently through experience?

ST:

I am much calmer now. I went through boom, bust, boom and now bust again. I wouldn’t be where I am now if I hadn’t kept pushing the boundaries and moving the goal posts. 

Every experience I have had has given me the opportunity to be the best consultant, to train great staff and run a very successful business of my own. I have worked hard and in return have been privileged to work with, meet and be friends with some of the most awesome people on this planet. 

TNW: You have worked a lot with sustainability and green PR. Do you believe that entrepreneurs have a heightened responsibility for the future of the planet? Which environmental issues would you most like to see tackled by entrepreneurs in the next ten years?

ST: Yes, entrepreneurs do, because they need to be frugal and stay frugal. They started the social enterprise movement, where the profits go to good causes. Belu is a good example.

I think the alleviation of poverty and human rights problems through natural economic growth and movement is inextricably linked to environmentalism. The people of the Amazon are good examples.

As for environmental issues, I can’t stand waste.  We don’t waste anything at redheadPR - we reuse every envelope and elastic band. We minimise travel and use technology as much as possible to make our work sustainable. 

TNW: Tell our readers about your experience working with Body Shop and specifically Anita Roddick. What did you learn from working with such a hero? 

ST:

Anita was amazing; kind, different, loud, quiet, a maverick. She used all the styles and techniques to do things differently. You needed stamina to work with Anita.

If you weren’t one step ahead you would get left behind. You had to be interested in changing things. You needed to be questioning and not frightened to do things differently. You needed to be able to speak out and not be scared. She stood up for the vulnerable and those who were not listened to. Sometimes we were criticised, but in the end Anita was right. If she was alive now she would still be banging on about animal, human and environmental rights and people would still listening because we have a long way to go to improve things. At least now people are starting to get it. It’s not fringe anymore. Anita also loved skin care and women – and I loved that about her. She was also a great story teller so we had some fantastic evenings.

TNW: You worked on the Ken Saro Wiwa campaign for The Body Shop. What an amazing and humbling experience that must have been. Can you tell our readers a little about it?

ST: We were thrust into a story and an issue that was global and of the highest level. The story was about the potential abuse of people in a beautiful and richly resourced area of our planet. We campaigned very hard beyond our day jobs, sleeping in the office at The Body Shop or working out of Glenys Kinnock’s office in Strasburg.

We had an audience with Boutros Boutros Ghali, the then Secretary General of the United Nations. That was probably my biggest PR moment ever as these audiences are rarely granted. 

I also worked with Gavin Grant, now CE of the RSPCA. He was an amazing role model.

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