From managing a wedding PR firm, to creating a successful wedding and lifestyle blog, to handling a busy schedule as a working mother of almost two little ones, Leila Lewis has what it takes to grow her business as well as help other small businesses with all of their marketing and PR needs. I have witnessed the skill at which Be Inspired PR can assist in the growth of a business and have enjoyed the daily blogs of wedding, lifestyle, and career inspiration on InspiredByThis.com.
I have been able to personally work with the team over at Inspired By This Blog as well as turn to Leila for the planning of our wedding. Not only was she an incredible planner in sorting out the vendors and details, but was also there to offer any support or advice needed throughout. A wonderful team that will continue to do wonderful things.
Learn what it takes to succeed in the wedding industry as a business and how to decide on wedding vendors as a bride through Leila’s Q&A below. The answers are sure to inspire.
How did you first get interested in the wedding industry & PR? How long has Be Inspired PR and Inspired By This Blog been going strong?
In 2002 I was working for a magazine and had taken on a more marketing/PR role, including planning all of their company events. I stumbled into the world of weddings, traveling around the globe planning multi-million dollar weddings. A few planners I was working with started asking me to help with their internal PR. I started pitching them to TV shows and landing those opportunities, submitting their weddings and getting them picked up by magazines. It was a natural fit, so in 2008 I decided to branch out and start the first-ever wedding PR firm!
In 2009 we started Inspired by This. Blogs were just starting to pop up, but most were real-wedding focused and we wanted to create a site that also shared the process leading up to the wedding (proposals, engagement parties, bridal showers, etc). After I got married in 2010, we decided to add post-wedding content too, sharing home and apartment inspiration, children/family content and business owners so that our readers can stay and grow with us!
Have you always loved all things wedding related, or have grown to love the industry after being apart of it?
I didn’t always love weddings per say, but I’ve always had a love for all things design. It was when I started working on events that I was exposed to the amazing world of weddings. 10+ years later and I still am just as obsessed as I was in the beginning!
How did you first get started with opening your own business? Any insights or advice to those interested in opening a small business?
I decided to start my own business in 2008 after finding a niche that hadn’t yet been filled – PR for wedding-based businesses. My biggest piece of advice to anyone looking to start their own business to to prepare themselves for long hours. As a new business owner, you’ll be solely responsible for everything! When I first started, I was the one knocking on doors making things happen. My other piece of advice is to not be discouraged by people telling you no. I was told so many times that my business wouldn’t work, no one would hire us, etc. But I was passionate about my idea and motivated to make it succeed. Fast-forward to today where I have 9 employees, a full-client roster and hundreds of wedding-professionals we work with around the world.
What lessons have you learned along the way in regards to starting a successful business; the importance of social awareness and marketing?
One of the most important lessons I’ve learned is that if you want your business to stay relevant, you have to embrace change. Social media is a perfect example… I was an early adapter to Twitter back in 2008, and that platform was very valuable to jump-start my business. Today, Instagram is a great source of referrals for us. I know so many successful wedding professionals that did not (or will not!) embrace social media, and their presence in our industry has dramatically decreased. So whether it’s social media, branding or something else – it’s important to keep things fresh.
As a busy business owner and mother of (soon to be) 2 little ones, how do you juggle the days with your schedule? What advice would you give to working mothers that has seemed to help you?
Every day is a new challenge. The key thing that allows me to balance both is to have great help. I have a wonderful nanny, a very supportive and hands-on husband and a great staff at the office. I try to be 100% present wherever I am. If I’m at the office, I try to be fully present there and get through as much as I can. If I’m at home, I try to be fully present with my family and not be working. It doesn’t always work out that way, so recognizing you can’t do it all is also key.
Be Inspired PR has helped many brands to see their full potential and gain awareness within their respected industry. Why is having PR or marketing for a small business important? Any examples?
PR is so important for any business, no matter the size. A lot of PR is press-focused, being in magazines and on blogs is great for building the brand and attracting potential clients. However, PR is so much more than that.. it’s also about brand management, establishing relationships, messaging, managing social media, and so on. Often times a small business doesn’t have the bandwidth to manage PR efforts on top of everything else, or they get so overwhelmed by it they don’t even know where to start. I’ve consulted with hundreds of businesses around the world working with them to create a successful PR strategy for their business. It’s opened doors for so many – press features, new clients, a boost in social following, etc.
How does a wedding vendor set their business apart in such a competitive market?
I think for wedding vendors, sticking true to their design aesthetic is key. There are certain weddings that when I see them, I know it’s a Mindy Weiss event. Or when I see certain images, I know the’ve been photographed by Elizabeth Messina. The most successful businesses I know have found what they love and are passionate about, and they stick to that. They don’t try to do it all.
What is the most enjoyable aspect of running a successful and trend driven PR business and blog?
There is always something new happening at our office! New clients, new projects, new blog posts going live. There is definitely never a dull moment. That keeps things fresh and keeps us inspired! Both are so important for creating quality work, and for continuing to grow a business.
How does a bride decide on which wedding vendors to work with? Anything they should look for when hiring professionals for their special day?
There is so much to consider when choosing your wedding team! The most important aspect is how much you love the vendors’ work and secondly does the fee associated with heir work fit into your budget. Everyone has to make budget sacrifices, decide what is most important to you and your fiance and divvy up the budget based on that. Lastly, do your research! How reputable are the companies you are considering to hire? Ask around, Google, read reviews, etc. Chances are if they have poor customer service or shady business practices someone has written about it online. Don’t hire the first person that writes you back, take your time to make sure they’re a good fit for your wedding!
Any advice you could give to someone looking to pursue their passion with a startup?
Integrity and honesty will take you far. Work hard and be nice while you build your business and consider a glass of wine after the end of a stressful day- it can encourage you to relax and take a break once in awhile 🙂
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