I never set out to be a business owner.
My ambitious career trajectory was self-planned by the age of 16: I would go to university to become a journalist and work hard to earn a job as a TV reporter.
The TV opportunities presented themselves at the wrong time so I embraced my roles in print media, having the privilege of meeting and interviewing hundreds of interesting people, mostly in Queenstown and Wānaka, from 2003-2013. My mission was to tell their stories in an interesting, accurate way and earning the respect of my peers and local business leaders alike.
I’d also never considered a career in public relations. The relationship between journalists and PR professionals can involve a difficult balancing act, with both party wary of each other. But when the time came to start a family and the daily commute from Wānaka to Queenstown was no longer an option, I needed to make some tough decisions about my next career move.
I’ll never forget the advice at the time, from one of the best editors I’ve ever worked with. “You’ve just won a national journalism award, a new opportunity has presented itself, what have you got to lose? You can always go back to journalism.” These words were etched in my memory and gave me the confidence to set out to do PR differently. I’ve never looked back.
This month, Scope Media turns 10 – eight weeks before our daughter turns 10.
Starting out from humble beginnings at the kitchen table, Scope Media has evolved into a multi-channelled, multi-faceted communications consultancy that constantly challenges the status quo, seeking to create lasting value for clients and communities.
We’ve embraced digital PR to the point where we have been told by a Kiwi industry expert that our PR-for-SEO service is leading the way in NZ. We create content and stories with authenticity – delivering what the journalists want while serving the needs of the brand. We amplify stories, make messages stick and grow the vital connections that communities and businesses need to flourish.
We’re now a team of five, with a purpose-built office in Wānaka, we do cool stuff for clients and in 2022 we won Best Small-to-Medium PR Consultancy of the Year at the PRINZ Awards.
I am so proud of how far we have come. I couldn’t have done it without the help and support of many people, especially my insanely talented team – Rebecca Williamson, Steph Johnstone, Monique Wijnen and Aspen Bruce – and my husband Hamish and our two wonderful children.
Here are my top tips for anyone in the early stages of business, or considering going out on their own:
View everything as an opportunity
Even when things don’t go the way you expect it – whether it’s market changes due to a pandemic, or feedback from a client – look for the silver lining. We constantly evaluate our service delivery and look for ways to improve the customer experience, or internal efficiencies. In the case of Covid-19, we productised some of our services to make them affordable to SMEs, and looked at other possible revenue streams.
Find team members who are better than you
I’ve always subscribed to the mantra, ‘Our whole is greater than the sum of its parts’. When building a team, I recognise when people’s skills are compatible with mine, or better than mine. I love the fact that my colleagues are better than me.
Focus on building a strong company culture
In my case, I lead with vulnerability and authenticity. Yes, I have the Brene Brown books but I didn’t need to read them to know that that’s what I do, inherently. We were a home-based business for eight years, so you really have to prioritise culture in a remote working environment.
If you don’t believe in yourself, find mentors to be your cheerleaders
I never expected how much you can lose your confidence after having children. I guess starting a new career can do that too. It’s no secret that I have battled with Imposter Syndrome, and continue to do so today. I have several mentors that I am lucky enough to learn from. These include two Auckland PR industry veterans, a Wānaka brand strategist and business and accounting mentors.
Celia Crosbie is also the Wānaka Business Chamber vice chair and board member of Te Kupeka Umaka Māori ki Araiteuru (KUMA).