I count myself very lucky that I’ve forged a career out of my passion
In celebration of International Women’s Day on 8 March, we are sharing the experiences of Sheffield women in businesses all week. Follow @Creativesheff to learn more.
Kirstie Kinrade may have shocked her teachers by leaving school at 16, but as the now co-director of Sidekick PR, she’s glad she took the leap and followed her instinct. She’s continued to make scary decisions ever since with great results.
Here, Kirstie tells us about the highs (seeing her clients reap the rewards of her work) and the lows (fighting for PR’s place around the board table) of working in PR – and why Sheffield is the perfect base for her business.
What were your early ambitions?
I’ve always had a passion for storytelling and so my ambition was always to make a career out of it. When I was at primary school I’d always be writing magazine articles for my friends, or short stories for the school newspaper, and it continued as I grew older.
I initially trained as a journalist at the University of Sheffield before moving into public relations (PR) where I felt like it just ‘clicked’. The industry allows me to work with companies to share their stories creatively and, in turn, help their businesses to grow.
I count myself very lucky that I’ve forged a career out of my passion and achieved my ambition of doing what I love for a living.
What advice would you give to your 14-year-old self?
I’d tell myself it doesn’t matter that you’re not the most academic of people, if you work hard and are passionate about something, you can achieve whatever you want.
Whether it was leaving school at 16 against your teachers’ advice to study for a BTEC rather than A-levels, or taking the leap into self-employment, you’ll make some scary decisions – but if you believe in yourself and ignore the naysayers, those decisions will pay off.
Why have you chosen to do business in South Yorkshire?
I’ve lived in South Yorkshire for almost 12 years now, after coming to university in Sheffield and never leaving! I’m originally from the Isle of Man and I think the region has the same friendly feeling – businesses support and encourage each other. Also, as we’ve got clients right across the UK, we find South Yorkshire is fantastic for connectivity. You can be in most major cities within three hours, by road or rail.
What is the most challenging thing about your job and what is the most rewarding?
The most challenging aspect, in my opinion, is fighting for PR’s place around the board table. PR is all about reputation and helping businesses to grow through strategic communications activity; if we’re not aware of potential risks to a company’s reputation or if we’re not used in a strategic manner, it can make our job very difficult!
On the same topic, however, it is very rewarding when clients listen to our advice and ideas and then reap great results. A great example of this is a recent campaign we delivered for the British Tinnitus Association, which resulted in widespread national media coverage and, importantly, an upward trend in the number of people seeking the charity’s help.
Has there been a pivotal moment in your career that propelled it forward more than any other?
I initially started Sidekick on my own in 2015 but, after working collaboratively with two other freelance PR practitioners, we decided to join forces as a trio in spring 2016 and I’ve never looked back.
We formed a new company under the same name and I’m now a co-director with Charlotte Dimond and Eve Worthington. Together, the three of us are able to share ideas and skillsets, offering our clients an enhanced service and, in turn, the business is flourishing.
You can get free and impartial advice to help you set up or locate your business here in Sheffield. Contact Business Sheffield on 0800 043 5522 to learn more.