PR is powerful. It’s the special magic of making a business meaningful to the media, making it something the media can work with. I’ve watched people’s profiles light up because of good PR strategy, and I’ve seen it make stock fly off shelves.
I built a tech startup on the belief that editorial coverage can happen for anyone if the right information is made accessible to them. I was interested in empowering businesses to tackle PR on their own behalf. Young businesses with big ideas but tiny budgets. Those that are newsworthy but can’t yet hire a PR firm. I wanted to build a platform that provides validated, up-to-date media contacts, sorted logically by industry.
My startup has now ‘gone live’ in a couple of major markets. It was picked up by a prestigious accelerator in Berlin just after it launched and now I’ve being invited to incredible conferences around the world. But the journey was rocky, and I was sustained only by belief in my vision and the belief my loved ones had in me.
Tomorrow’s best business communicators cut their teeth on snapchat captions
I was at the 10 year mark in my PR career and at the strategic forefront. My skill as a Fashion & Luxury specialist had taken me to big glamorous cities like Dubai and London. I’d run a highly-regarded agency with my name over the door for years. I was still in love with doing PR work when I turned my face to a new direction.
The world of PR has always been behind a velvet rope; an exclusive world with secret networks. My vision was to open this world of opportunities to those who also deserve a seat at the table.
When you set out to build something you believe will solve a big problem, that vision can be so crystal clear that you underestimate the weight of the challenges you will face.
Part of the problem was the unaffordability of Public Relations. Few bootstrapping businesses can afford PR consultancies. Another part of the problem was information accessibility.
There wasn’t a reliable, affordable resource for accessing media contacts for independent businesses in my corner of the world. Media data companies were serving the big end of town and the communications industry, but for small businesses there was nothing. No one was making the best use of digital technology to deliver small businesses the constant updates that happen in media.
I worked with developers to create a platform that delivered the names and contacts for key media people, sorted into tidy industry categories. Crucially the platform we built made this intel both affordable and fathomable to users who are outside the world of professional communications. We left out the complex metrics, I didn’t want it to alienate anyone with a good story to tell.
I’ve watched people’s profiles light up because of good PR strategy, and I’ve seen it make stock fly off shelves.
Enter here for a chance to win free media lists for your business.
How tech do you need to be, technically?
When you set out to build something you believe will solve a big problem, that vision can be so crystal clear that you underestimate the weight of the challenges you will face. I entered the tech world fairly read-up on it’s inequality issues. The stories of sexism, under-representation and funding discrimination were filtering through the media.
Here are the ways I navigated it and a few things I learned.
Firstly, I worked out early on that I wanted to self-fund rather than take on investment. My early experiences with the investment world cemented this resolve. This to me was an empowerment issue. It was really reassuring that there was early investment interest in the concept.
Words like ‘scalable’ were peppered through conversations, and “you can add a zero to that price point”. However I knew instinctively that if I took on investment early then List Co. would not make it to market as the accessible service I believed it should be.
I met with a female VC at this early juncture. I told her I was hearing out investment options, but I felt I could personally fund the project to launch. Her advice; “Lady, do it”.
Bringing something to market with the vision intact can be an ideal worth holding onto. You will be in a better bargaining position down the track once the concept has been ‘proven’. When it’s ready to scale there’s no doubt the right kind of capital will help your startup achieve it’s potential.
Secondly, I regret not learning to code prior to building List Co. Working with tech leads and coders requires you to think in new ways just to see information the way they see it. I strongly believe every creative thinker and business mind should learn to code. You may never use the skill to build something, but when the time comes to work with a tech team you will be a greater support to their work process.
How much can you withstand before it begins to take shape?
And finally, the setbacks. Realistically, most tech builds take three times longer than expected. When you kick off with all the gumption in the world you think your project will take six weeks to accomplish. This is something you will laugh about in the end.
It’s often said that setbacks can work in your favour. That’s truly an annoying thing to hear when you are facing technical hurdles and coders gone AWOL. I can look back now and see how the long technical delays that List Co. experienced made it an even better product. Six months in I had finalised the media lists planned for industries like Fashion, Interior Design, Travel and Food, but the platform itself was far from finished. So while I waited I began to build resources for the other markets that I have worked in and am passionate about, including the UK, Asia and the Middle East. Ultimately, launching with a number of markets ready to go has given List Co. greater dimension and opened up opportunity for the users.
List Co. is now live in the US and Australia with media contact lists for the consumer-facing industries. It will be launching in other markets soon also. The dream is to bring it to every market with an entrepreneurial community that needs valuable, up-to-date media contacts. Ultimately I hope it helps to change the balance of representation in consumer media.
In 2016, I finally found my voice. I always thought I had one, especially as a business owner and mother of two vocal toddlers, but I had been wrong.
For more than 30 years, I had been struggling with the fear of being my true self and speaking my truth. Then the repressed memories of my childhood sexual abuse unraveled before me while raising my 3-year-old daughter, and my life has not been the same since.
Believe it or not, I am happy about that.
The journey for a survivor like me to feel even slightly comfortable sharing these words, without fear of being shamed or looked down upon, is a long and often lonely one. For all of the people out there in the shadows who are survivors of childhood sexual abuse, I dedicate this to you. You might never come out to talk about it and that's okay, but I am going to do so here and I hope that in doing so, I will open people's eyes to the long-term effects of abuse. As a survivor who is now fully conscious of her abuse, I suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and, quite frankly, it may never go away.
It took me some time to accept that and I refuse to let it stop me from thriving in life; therefore, I strive to manage it (as do many others with PTSD) through various strategies I've learned and continue to learn through personal and group therapy. Over the years, various things have triggered my repressed memories and emotions of my abuse--from going to birthday parties and attending preschool tours to the Kavanaugh hearing and most recently, the"Leaving Neverland" documentary (I did not watch the latter, but read commentary about it).
These triggers often cause panic attacks. I was angry when I read Barbara Streisand's comments about the men who accused Michael Jackson of sexually abusing them, as detailed in the documentary. She was quoted as saying, "They both married and they both have children, so it didn't kill them." She later apologized for her comments. I was frustrated when one of the senators questioning Dr. Christine Blasey Ford (during the Kavanaugh hearing) responded snidely that Dr. Ford was still able to get her Ph.D. after her alleged assault--as if to imply she must be lying because she gained success in life.We survivors are screaming to the world, "You just don't get it!" So let me explain: It takes a great amount of resilience and fortitude to walk out into society every day knowing that at any moment an image, a sound, a color, a smell, or a child crying could ignite fear in us that brings us back to that moment of abuse, causing a chemical reaction that results in a panic attack.
So yes, despite enduring and repressing those awful moments in my early life during which I didn't understand what was happening to me or why, decades later I did get married; I did become a parent; I did start a business that I continue to run today; and I am still learning to navigate this "new normal." These milestones do not erase the trauma that I experienced. Society needs to open their eyes and realize that any triumph after something as ghastly as childhood abuse should be celebrated, not looked upon as evidence that perhaps the trauma "never happened" or "wasn't that bad. "When a survivor is speaking out about what happened to them, they are asking the world to join them on their journey to heal. We need love, we need to feel safe and we need society to learn the signs of abuse and how to prevent it so that we can protect the 1 out of 10 children who are being abused by the age of 18. When I state this statistic at events or in large groups, I often have at least one person come up to me after and confide that they too are a survivor and have kept it a secret. My vehicle for speaking out was through the novella The Survivors Club, which is the inspiration behind a TV pilot that my co-creator and I are pitching as a supernatural, mind-bending TV series. Acknowledging my abuse has empowered me to speak up on behalf of innocent children who do not have a voice and the adult survivors who are silent.
Remembering has helped me further understand my young adult challenges,past risky relationships, anger issues, buried fears, and my anxieties. I am determined to thrive and not hide behind these negative things as they have molded me into the strong person I am today.Here is my advice to those who wonder how to best support survivors of sexual abuse:Ask how we need support: Many survivors have a tough exterior, which means the people around them assume they never need help--we tend to be the caregivers for our friends and families. Learning to be vulnerable was new for me, so I realized I needed a check-off list of what loved ones should ask me afterI had a panic attack.
The list had questions like: "Do you need a hug," "How are you feeling," "Do you need time alone."Be patient with our PTSD". Family and close ones tend to ask when will the PTSD go away. It isn't a cold or a disease that requires a finite amount of drugs or treatment. There's no pill to make it miraculously disappear, but therapy helps manage it and some therapies have been known to help it go away. Mental Health America has a wealth of information on PTSD that can help you and survivors understand it better. Have compassion: When I was with friends at a preschool tour to learn more about its summer camp, I almost fainted because I couldn't stop worrying about my kids being around new teenagers and staff that might watch them go the bathroom or put on their bathing suit. After the tour, my friends said,"Nubia, you don't have to put your kids in this camp. They will be happy doing other things this summer."
In that moment, I realized how lucky I was to have friends who understood what I was going through and supported me. They showed me love and compassion, which made me feel safe and not judged.