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Women in Leadership: Setting up a business

Rhian Morgan

If you’re not a multinational, there is often not enough in the budget for blanket coverage. Entrepreneur Gemma Guise saw a gap in the market and set up JournoLink, a site that introduces start-ups and small businesses to journalists. Rhian Morgan talks to the former PR about setting up the perfect business marriage

You’ve taken the leap, and started your own business. Yet when your budget is small, conversely you need to spend more money on marketing to grow your company’s reputation.

It was a problem Gemma Guise saw all the time when she worked in public relations – news firms struggling to get the publicity they deserved, while going unnoticed by the journalists looking for business stories. And so JournoLink was born, a directory of small businesses available to the media. For a monthly fee, the company will help you prepare press releases and send them to the relevant journalists. They also notify businesses about relevant events that can be used to maximise press interest. There is also a PR Toolkit, which gives advice on various aspects of marketing your business in the media, and across social media.

I talked to Gemma about spotting a gap in the market, her advice for fellow females, and how she has turned being perceived as a bimbo to her advantage.

RM: Can you tell me a little about your background - and why you decided to set up JournoLink

GG: After working in mainstream PR agencies, I saw that the smaller businesses we represented weren’t getting the coverage they deserved. This was simply down to the fact they couldn’t compete with bigger companies in the amount of money they paid us. Unfortunately, this meant the smaller businesses didn’t have the same amount of time or dedication given to them. This bothered me because the smaller businesses actually had the better products and stories than the bigger ones. Journalists told me they were desperate to find the small business stories but didn’t know where to look for them. And so Journolink was born, a platform that enabled small businesses to be found by journalists.

RM: How would you describe JournoLink – and how can it help business managers?

GG: Journolink is an affordable online PR platform that helps to link journalists to small businesses and industry experts. It can help business managers by giving them an affordable option to engage with the media. Many journalists are looking for case studies/spokespeople but simply don’t know where to find them. One of the key things journalists are continually looking for is female entrepreneurs/spokespeople. Being on the Journolink platform gives these women the chance to get coverage and shout about their achievements.

RM:  Who inspired you when you were growing up, and why?

GG: I would have to say my parents. My father has always been hardworking and dedicated to anything he puts his mind to. I have definitely adopted his can-do attitude. My mother, on the other hand, has taught me to be patient and to nurture people around me. Looking after your team and showing that your care in business is key to a successful company. 

RM: Do you have any personal anecdotes about your rise to the top? Eg any sexist attitudes?

GG: Being blonde and having a massive passion for shoes has lined me up for many bimbo jokes. However, I have learnt that actually these traits are a benefit. Everyone remembers me for my shoes and bubbly attitude. Once I have proven my business ability, I can use these traits to my advantage!

RM: What advice do you have for women CEOs and managers? 

GG: Listen to your gut, be kind, and support people around you.

RM: Do you have any advice for women looking to set up on their own?

GG: At the beginning, make sure you identify your weaknesses and employ accordingly. Make sure whatever you decide to do you are passionate about it. If you don’t love your company, no one else will.

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