For every woman struggling to push through challenging circumstances to seize the life they want, there is a successful woman in business who is proof that if you find the right support, anything is achievable.
WaltersPR is a small public relations company based in Nelson Tasman that celebrates the great untapped potential of women in business. Established by Jacquie Walters in 2012, this award-winning firm punches above its weight, handling an impressive portfolio of high profile New Zealand and Australian companies.
It is now five years since Sandrine Marrassé came to Jacquie and offered to work a small number of hours per week as an intern.
“Having achieved outstanding results during her studies towards a Bachelor of Communications at Massey University, Sandrine had retrained in public relations for a second career in her late 30s, a brave thing to do. I was impressed.”
Sandrine stepped up and worked incredibly hard. The quality of her work was so high, she is now a senior account manager for WaltersPR, a crucial client role.
Sandrine is a great example of how the right kind of opportunity at the right time can open doors for all women who want to get into business.
“After I had completed my studies came the much harder bit – would I be able to find a job in Nelson or would it mean upending my life and starting again somewhere else?” says Sandrine. “I was at the point where I was researching relocation costs when I took a chance and contacted Jacquie. I was absolutely over the moon when she gave me an opportunity to work with WaltersPR, and I’ve never looked back.”
Jacquie understands it is difficult for some women to find their feet in business.
“Especially those of us who try to run our business and be parents at the same time.”
She knows exactly how hard it is because she is a single mum herself.
“When I started the business, my children were four and five,” says Jacquie. “Now they are teenagers. Being parents, and particularly single parents shouldn’t stop us from working with fantastic clients, working at a high level, and earning a good income.”
Jacquie says that even though WaltersPR is small and based in the regions, it has become the agency of choice for some outstanding clients.
WaltersPR has worked with Pic’s Peanut Butter for nearly eight years while Pic’s has achieved incredible growth. Another great client is glass packaging manufacturer O-I New Zealand and Australia. WaltersPR also works for a specialist brand agency VOICE based in Auckland and Melbourne.
“Clients like that could chose to work with anybody. We’re delighted they see us as very effective and their preferred PR company.”
She says, another key aspect of being a small agency is they understand what it’s like to take a risk and to start something new.
“We work alongside a number of entrepreneurial businesses who are growing their businesses, like carbon fibre e-bike designers Hybrid Bikes and IdealCup, a reusable cup manufacturer whose groundbreaking CupCycling system aims to dramatically reduce the number of single-use disposable cups going to landfill.
“Many businesses like these come to us in the early days of their journey. They’ve seen that we can have a significant and measurable impact on their business success.”
WaltersPR helps businesses with a whole range of public relations services, offering a particular focus on media relations, internal communications, community relations, social media management and marketing communications.
“We are tellers of compelling stories. So we work with a wide range of media to tell our client stories.
We also help businesses when unexpected things happen. We are well-known for our issue and crisis management work.”
She explains, “During crises, there are messages you have to get out to a wide range of people quickly under pressure. We provide media statements and help the team within our client’s business respond to the media. We also help them to talk effectively to the whole community.”
One of Jacquie’s favourite aspects of her job is the internal communications work she does to enhance company culture.
She has done a significant amount of work like this with the team at Pic’s Peanut Butter for a number of years.
“Once a year I talk to every member of staff – there are around 50 now, which is an amazing testament to Pic’s Peanut Butter’s success. These conversations help us to find out how things are going in the company. I ask if members of the team feel that they can express their opinions, whether they feel valued and so on. It’s a check in. Afterwards I write a report and suggest recommendations. It’s exciting work that feels like it makes a tangible difference for the hardworking and dedicated people that work within the business. And it’s great that a company like that invests so much in its staff. It’s a great product and they have great people.”
Both Sandrine and Jacquie are quietly celebrating milestones for business achievement this year. They are also providing a compelling example for other women in business looking for a professional services company to help them with their PR or who may be wanting to take their entrepreneurial journey to the next level.
Jacquie has proven, you don’t have to be big and flashy. Small and purposeful is just as powerful.