We were incredibly excited to interview our newest Echo member Rachel White, founder of House of DIY and Brick London. We asked Rachel what attracted her to join the Echo community, how House of DIY came about and what her key learning moments are amid a pandemic.
So, tell us a bit about yourself and your business? Where did the idea come from to set up House of DIY to encourage people DIY their own PR?
Hi, I’m Rachel. I’m the founder of a PR agency called Brick, which I’ve been running for 10 years, and DIY PR platform House of DIY, which I set up in 2019. Brick lives in the arts & culture sector, specialising in music. We work with lots of independent brands, from music artists to festivals and start-ups.
When I began guest teaching at UWL in 2017 I realised how much I loved mentoring and educating on how start-ups can benefit from PR, and decided to create House of DIY, where small business owners can learn how to do PR for their business or brand. I do this in a few different ways: a signature comprehensive 1:1 training course; through workshops; 1 hour PR pick-me-up calls.
I’m also launching a monthly mentorship programme in the new year. I think PR is such a beneficial skill to have in the digital age when so much is focused on self-promotion and DIY culture.
Where are you based – what drew you to the area?
I’m based in Deptford in South East London and I love it here. I’m actually from Nottingham originally and have been in London for 14 years. Deptford has such buzzy energy – full of independent shops, arts venues, bars and restaurants. It also has a really warm, community feel.
The Covid-19 crisis has had a big impact on small businesses over the last few months. Have you had to make any drastic changes due to the crisis, and what have been key learning moments for you?
Yes, Brick’s PR roster was almost completely put on hiatus in March due to our clients being mostly a mix of festivals, events, venues – Covid 19 has pretty much grounded the arts & culture sector, and it’s hard to see our clients going through closures and cancellations. I had a baby in May, which added a whole other element to bracing my business for the pandemic, but it’s given me an opportunity to keep my Brick roster very small and pivot my focus to House of DIY.
I’ve certainly learnt not to take work for granted. I’ve been running Brick for so long that I’m very grateful to have the majority of our work come to us through recommendation or word of mouth, so for everything to suddenly grind to a halt, it made me realise I need better contingencies in place. Covid didn’t affect House of DIY in the same way, so on a positive note, it’s given me more time to spend helping other small businesses at a really crucial time, and to write workshop and course material.
You’re a new Echo member. Welcome to our community. How did you first hear about Echo and what attracted you to join?
Thank you! A friend of mine recommended it to me over the Summer, which led to me joining up. It’s such a great idea for a platform, I love the concept of trading in time and skills. The potential for collaboration is endless.
We recently collaborated with you on your workshop ‘10 steps to PR’ing your biz’ – how did you find the experience?
Hosting workshops give me so much joy, I love the whole process, from writing the content through to the final Q&A. Things are, of course, a little different at the moment with all workshops being hosted online, it’s a very dissimilar experience to IRL, but I really enjoy it all the same. The members in attendance were from a whole host of diverse businesses and really got involved, I loved it.
For those who missed it – could you share a few highlights and tips for the PR rookies amongst us?
Sure! PR is all about credibility and reputation. It’s a power move in growing your profile and visibility and can get you in front of your ideal customer or client. This can obviously impact your business in many wonderful and varied ways. I always advise anyone looking to DIY PR to first work to your strengths and availability. What are you good at when it comes to PR opportunities?
E.g. writing a guest article, taking part in an interview or panel discussion, appearing on a podcast. Don’t set yourself up to do anything you feel uncomfortable with or don’t think you’re particularly good at, instead focus on what you’d enjoy doing.
Then decide what availability you have to work on this, e.g. a couple of hours a week, or a day every fortnight? Realistically, if you’re also running a business you have a lot of work to do across the board. By matching your strengths with your availability you can enjoy the process and avoid the overwhelm. I cover lots of tips over on the House of DIY Instagram page and in our monthly newsletter if anyone would like to join.
What are you offering on the Echo marketplace at the moment?
I’m currently offering PR pick-me-ups! 1 Echo for 1 hour of DIY PR advice. It could be about your strategy, ideas, media outreach and targeting, press release writing, anything DIY PR related, I’m here for you.
What are you hoping to get out of being an Echo member and the network?
I hope to meet lots of interesting business owners and creatives and learn from a very diverse community. There’s such a massive skill set here, and opportunity for collaboration.
Where would you like to see House of DIY go next? What does success look like?
I’m looking forward to working with more business owners 1:1 and being a part of their journey, which is why I’m launching a new monthly programme in the new year. Success to me has always looked like work-life freedom. It’s why I went freelance in the first place a decade ago and, although I’ve experienced highs and lows, I’ve never looked back. I want my day to look the way I want it to, and if I achieve that, I’m happy.
Are you working on something new or exciting behind the scenes?
As well as the monthly mentorship, I’m launching a new online course very soon, a collaboration with Tasty Comms called Nail It: PR & Social Media for your Business. Amy Lainchbury, founder of Tasty Comms, and I met at a female founders networking event towards the end of last year and decided to co-host a series of IRL workshops for small businesses covering both PR (my area of expertise) and Social Media (Amy’s). When Covid hit we adapted the idea to an online course, which has been a few months in the making, and we’re both really excited about it. If anyone is interested, we’ll be talking about it on socials and our websites.
What do you love to do in your spare time when you’re not working on your business?
Well, I have a 6-month-old daughter so I don’t have spare time in abundance at the moment! Even if I do get the chance I love staying local. Going to lunch (Isla Ray is a really characterful, friendly spot on Deptford High Street), shopping (Deptford Does Art is very cool and has a lovely shop upstairs, perfect for gifts), taking a yoga class (Kindred is lovely, with strong community vibes). Otherwise, my spare time has been invested in TV boxsets. Succession was a recent favourite, though I also love a bit of trash TV, Married At First Sight Australia was just.. wow!
What was the last thing that inspired you? E.g. could be a podcast episode, talk, book, website, quote, anything you like…
The book Quiet, by Susan Cain, about ‘the power of introverts in a world that can’t stop talking’. My partner bought it for me as a gift and it’s been a revelation. Many people feel they can’t PR themselves or run a business because of introversion, when in fact the opposite is true. I highly recommend it.
Rachel will be hosting the next Digital Skills Workshop! Find more details here.