A conversation with Lysbeth Fox about breaking into PR and starting your own company

Lysbeth Fox, Managing Director, Fox PR, has 20 years of experience in the luxury, lifestyle and travel sectors. She has created high quality and innovative media campaigns for some of the best known travel companies world-wide including The Ritz-Carlton, Virgin Limited Edition.

As owner of Fox PR, Lysbeth dedicates her time to her clients, networking with influential journalists, VIP’s, opinion formers and luxury lifestyle brands. Her raison d’etre is delivering exceptional results and creating highly successful campaigns.

1. Talk us through your career journey. How did you get into the world of PR?

PR has always been highly competitive and it’s hard to break down those entry doors. I, like many others, did an internship for three months and then secured a permanent job in Consumer PR with an agency. The reason for my absolute insistence at Fox PR for our Internships and Graduate Scheme to be engaging and interesting for every candidate, is because my 3-month internship consisted of making tea & coffee and photocopying. It wasn’t until one sweet Account Director took me under her wing and let me do a ring round on a press release she was sending out. I ended up seeing an angle in the release and getting a piece in the Daily Express, not bad for an intern! The entire company came round my desk in amazement when I showed them the article. In all honesty I was quite over the world of PR by that stage (aka making teas/coffees & photocopying) and wondered what all the fuss was about. Roll on 20 years later and if an intern had achieved national coverage in their first three months I’d probably hire them!

2. What does a typical day involve in your job?

You hear this all the time, but it’s true, no one day is the same. When I meet people wanting to get into PR and hear the said ‘I think I’d be good at PR because I like going to parties’ it puts my back up. Us PR’s love to PR our own industry, but that’s NOT what PR is about, sure it comes with the job from time-to-time but that’s not a typical day. A typical day will be reading the papers and checking social media, knowing what the news agenda is for the day and what’s trending. Depending on the job level, a day could be meeting with a journalist and selling story angles to them over a coffee… or super smoothie in the world of wellness, doing a ring round – which entails picking up the phone YES picking up the phone, emailing journalists pitching stories on our clients and writing press releases. Our relationships with our clients is 40% of our day, I wish it was less but there is a lot of admin we have to do as clients have stakeholders to report to and show how their investment into PR is being returned – it’s literally called ROI, return on investment.

3. PR seems very glamorous from the outside, is this a misrepresentation of the industry?

Yes, it is misrepresented somewhat. BUT compare what I do, go, see, to an accountant or banker. I don’t sit in front of a computer screen all day. At Fox PR we specialize in Luxury Travel, Wellness & Gourmet so I am blessed to be visiting clients in far flung places, or going to some fabulous event at the latest cool luxury hotel opening. I dine out most evenings, with press or clients, and they expect to dine at the best restaurants, Cecconi’s is a favourite for early dinners and the Arts Club for meetings & drinks. The joy of working in PR is that we have to experience the clients’ products to fully understand it, now can you see why Fox PR specialises in luxury travel, wellness & gourmet?!

4. Why did you decide to start your own company?

You are in for a long winded answer, as I decided to start my own company 10 years before I actually did it. Not because I didn’t have the courage, but because every time I went to set it up one of my clients took me on full time! I left Halpern to set up Fox PR 10 years ago and was hired by Mason Rose. I thought, I could always go back and set up Fox PR and would benefit from the knowledge of working in a travel sales company. Then when I left Mason Rose to set up Fox PR again, my client Jet Republic asked me to be their fulltime Communications Director with 13 global PR agencies reporting into me. The experiences I gained and contacts I’ve made by taking on both roles have been invaluable in the making of Fox PR, so I am very happy I made those decisions, even in retrospect.

5. What’s been the biggest ‘pinch me’ moment of your career so far?

Ohhhh that’s such a hard question, in all honesty there have been so many, plus I hate name dropping, especially when I’ve said how unglamourous the world of PR really is, BUT if you twist my arm…I think my pinch me moment was when we were working with the Virgin Limited Edition team to promote Necker Island and their other hotels. I had flown out to Necker to experience the island first hand. My first night on Necker, and suffering from jet lag, we were having dinner with Richard and Joan Branson and the Necker Island staff, it’s very informal when Richard visits, there was about 10 of us on a long kitchen type dining table – Richard sitting opposite me. When Richard’s opening line was, ‘apologies if I seem slightly distracted but I am just about to launch space travel’…even now it gets me! And my response, apart from being jaw dropping star-struck by his comments, was ‘I know a good PR if you need one!!!.’

6. How can young people reading this follow in your footsteps and break into the industry?

You know 20 years later, it’s still the same, experience…Internships and Graduate Schemes! I had to do it and you’ll need to do it too. I’d never take anyone on that hasn’t had some experience in a PR firm. My advice would be to try various companies that specialise in different areas in your internships to see what you’d like to specialise. Next, find a Graduate Scheme in your desired specialism, like we offer at Fox PR, and get applying. At Fox PR we really try to nurture our Graduates, making sure they experience all three divisions – Travel, Wellness and Gourmet as well as Social Media so they get a good understanding of what PR is really about – we don’t just leave them to make the teas & coffees and photocopying, that’s my promise!