Behind the Headlines with The Spa PR Company’s Tracey Stapleton

Tracey Stapleton, MD of The Spa PR Company, on the importance of developing the agency’s role beyond PR, being a great list maker, the thrill of achieving a media “snowball” moment during a campaign and the five things she’d like to tell her ten-year-old self.

Tracey Stapleton Portrait 2014 cropped

Tracey Stapleton

Before I reach the office in the morning, I’ve already…
I’m a bit of an exercise and beauty junky and believe that if you feel good, you are not only happier but can achieve more. So every morning I spend ten minutes doing a combination of stretching and toning exercises as well as a daily body brush before plastering on layer on layer of creams and serums, and that’s before using any make-up.

At the moment I’m being influenced by one of our new clients, Sorabelle, a Korean beauty blogger who has a ten-step skincare routine. She’s a 40-year-old mother of four and looks incredible.

While getting ready, I catch up with the main news on Radio 4 and then on my train commute, the more popular news via Daily Mail, Huffington Post and our social platforms! I respond to emails which have come in overnight from our international clients and email myself with my daily ‘to do’ list. I’m a great list maker!

You’ll mostly find emails about…in my inbox.
At the moment I’m working on a magazine and forthcoming World Congress for our international client, CIDESCO, the world standard for beauty and spa therapy, so there are quite a lot of emails and activity around this. I’m also involved in new partnerships for the company. We’ve built up a strong reputation within the spa and wellness industry so developing our role beyond PR is an important part of our development strategy.

I know I’ve had a good day if…
I’ve had one of those ‘lightbulb’ creative moments in solving a strategy for a client campaign and we’ve been given the go ahead to make it happen. I love that sense of excitement of doing something different and you just know it’s going to be a success.

I’m lucky enough to work with a fantastic group of people who produce great results and, like my children, if they’re happy, I am too.

My first job was…
A legal secretary for a London solicitor specialising in matrimonial law. I studied law at college and found it fascinating so was tempted to pursue a career in this sector. However, after a year dealing with masses of paperwork and tearful wives it was enough to send me running to the recruitment agency for a complete change. However, what it did teach me was to have a high attention to detail and accuracy. This has been invaluable in my PR career.

I can tell a campaign is succeeding when…
There’s that ‘snowball’ moment. An article we’ve secured in one key publication such as the Daily Mail leads to a flurry of enquiries on the same story from other print/online media and TV.

I eat….when nobody is watching.
I feel I should say something like chocolate but since giving it up for lent a few years ago, it’s never quite tasted the same since! Before then, my children would say it wasn’t safe to leave their Easter eggs unguarded! My one weakness now, which I suppose you would call my healthy guilty treat, are nuts especially the packs from Marks & Spencer! I can nibble away at my desk all day long.

The first time I pitched to a journalist…
Hmmm, this was some 30 years ago so difficult to remember the first time and I’m not sure we even called it pitching then!  However, I do remember in my early 20s when I was working on travel accounts, spending quite a lot of my time out at lunch with travel editors. I’ve never been a big drinker but it seemed everyone I took out was, so getting them to agree to run a story didn’t seem too difficult!

Another time which has stuck in my mind is one of the first radio interviews I did. It was a discussion about ferry travel (my client, Brittany Ferries had just launched a new ship) and the topic turned to sea sickness. Now I am the world’s worst sea traveller and had spent many a journey on a press trip locked in my cabin worse for wear. So when the conversation turned to sea sickness, instead of trying to steer the interviewer off the subject, I went into great detail on how to avoid being sea sick (keep as low down in the boat as possible or if that fails, have a few drinks) more probably to convince myself than the listeners.

The worst thing anyone has said to me is…
“That’s not possible”.  It makes me even more determined to do it. I guess then that’s actually the best thing someone could say to me!  That’s one of the benefits of running a company, it gives you the freedom to do things your way.

The last book I read was…
Shape Up Your Business by the founders of Notonthehighstreet. There’s always something you can learn from other people in business and Sophie Cornish and Holly Tucker give some great advice based on their own experiences. They haven’t been afraid to call in help when they need it and talk about days when on the surface they appeared successful but were struggling to keep going and how they then rose stronger and more successful for it. They also give some useful ‘workshop’ style exercises within a 30-day success plan.

I’ve never really understood why…
Companies of a certain size feel they have to use a big agency. I’ve worked in both big and small agencies and it’s very much the experience, industry knowledge and talents of the team allocated to that account that matters.

If I could go back and talk to my 10-year-old self, I’d say…

  1. The next eight years are going to be challenging but will shape you to achieve more than you could have ever imagined.
  1. You have a good sixth sense, so always be guided by that.
  1. Get as much ‘mentoring’ support as you can. Most people are happy to help.
  1. Don’t worry about finding the perfect partner, he’ll come along just when you’re least expecting and you’ll have a long and happy life together.
  1. Love and respect your parents as they won’t always be there. Give your Mum as many hugs as you can.

Fancy featuring in a Behind the Headlines interview? Please

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