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LONDON CREATIVES: Sarah Lacaille and Katie Barkshire

SL and KB colour photo
This week we caught up with Founders of Silks PR & Marketing and The Directory. They are consultants specialising in lifestyle and new companies.

1) WHAT WAS THE INSPIRATION BEHIND FORMING SILKS PR & MARKETING?

We have known each other for almost 20 years and both worked independently as consultants but found ourselves increasingly coming up with useful ideas for each other so we decided to join forces and work together.  We have complimentary skills and felt we could achieve more by working as a team and could provide a better and more rounded service for our clients. When for example we are thinking of new product or promotional ideas for our clients it is much easier to brainstorm these together as we invariably see things from different perspectives as Katie is more visual and Sarah more analytical. We work very closely, sharing information and conversations so we are both completely informed which logistically is a huge benefit when one of us is in a meeting or travelling and the other can cover for them.

2) WHAT HAVE BEEN YOUR BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENTS TO DATE? 

This is hard to quantify as we care about everything we do and sometimes even small things can feel like a huge achievement but we do get excited when we achieve particularly high profile PR coverage for our clients. We can spend a long time building relationships and working with journalists on specific pieces but when the articles appear and the client is happy we feel proud, especially as it is such a competitive industry.

For example we spent quite a long time working with British Airways High Life Magazine last year on a piece about Pom Harrington, the owner of Peter Harrington Rare Books. The final printed article was interesting and Pom was delighted with it.  High Life Magazine is placed in the back of every seat on British Airways planes and has a global readership of 3.2 million people and this piece led to further press and an increase in customers for the client.

Also, more recently we helped Partridges, the Queen’s Grocer, launch a delicious new Chelsea Flower Gin which achieved high levels of press and online sales before it was even available to buy in their shop!  We were as thrilled as Partridges were about this.

3) YOU HAVE MANY IMPRESSIVE LIFESTYLE CLIENTS AND NEW COMPANIES ON YOUR BOOKS. HOW DO YOU SUSTAIN YOUR CLIENT BASE?

Our clients have mainly come to us via word-of-mouth. We are promoting the photographer Caroline Gavazzi’s forthcoming exhibition at the moment and she was recommended to us by one of our long-standing clients, the couturier, Fiona Clare. Other clients hear of the work we have done and get in touch to see if we can help them. We started off doing a short project for Peter Harrington Rare Books some years ago which has now resulted in us handling all their PR. We also get a few clients each year from The Directory for Thomas’s Schools, which we produce.  Our clients tell us that they like the fact that when they employ us it is us they get, not a junior assistant, and they can tell we are passionate about their businesses.

4) YOU ALSO FOUNDED THE DIRECTORY. CAN YOU TELL US MORE ABOUT THIS AND HOW THIS EVOLVED?

We founded The Directory for Thomas’s four London Day Schools and Kindergarten eight years ago when we were both parents at Thomas’s Battersea. We kept meeting parents at the school and then discovering that they ran fantastic businesses which we felt other parents would be interested in. It therefore seemed quite logical to us that we should find a way to help parents to recommend and support each others’ businesses, so with the help of the schools and the Parent Teacher’s Associations, to whom we give 10% of the advertising revenue for charitable use, we set up The Directory.  It has been very successful and this Autumn we will start working on the 8th edition. To begin with we printed The Directory as a smart A5 booklet but now there is a website (www.thedirectory-thomas-s.co.uk) as well and we also use social media and e-newsletters to promote it to a wider audience.

5) WHAT IS THE SECRET OF EFFECTIVE PR IN LONDON DO YOU THINK?

We are not sure it is a secret but we pitch our clients’ stories to as wide a range of media outlets, journalists and potential customers as possible.  We encourage our clients not to be bashful about promoting themselves as well as their businesses, as we believe in them and their products and want other people to hear about them.  We try to achieve wide coverage by the regular use of social media (Instagram, Facebook and Twitter) and e-newsletters alongside traditional PR.  We have a number of clients, including the charity Link-Up Battersea and the fashion label Maison de Choup, who have very small promotional budgets and we have become very experienced in keeping costs down at the same time as spreading their messages as widely as possible.

6) APART FROM PR AND MARKETING DO YOU HAVE ANY OTHER INTERESTS AND TALENTS?

We are both quite sociable, have busy lives and love travelling whenever possible. We are also both parents and have 6 children aged from 14 – 23 years old between us, plus 3 step-children, so we don’t have a lot of time for many other outside interests. On Friday mornings though we do take a Lotte Berk exercise class together with our marvellous friend and Lotte Berk teacher Nicky Whiteford which is a good way to reduce the stress of the week and think about things other than work.

7) WHAT ARE YOUR FAVOURITE HANG-OUT SPOTS IN LONDON?  

We love Partridges outdoor champagne bar and their glorious Saturday market in Duke of York Square which features a wonderful eclectic array of artisan food and drink stalls. We also love the atmosphere of the Imperial pub in the New Kings Road which has a fabulous outside garden and a delicious and responsibly sourced menu. We frequently have our Silks Christmas lunch there…which usually takes place, due to time constraints, in March or April!

Website: www.silkspr-marketing.com

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