Mumsclub PR Competition Winners: Sam of What’s On 4

Today we’re talking to Sam Willoughby of What’s On 4, one of the winners of the Mumsclub PR challenge 2009. If you feel inspired by Sam, you can enter this year’s competition here. The competition will reward your every PR success. You can get points to help you win for anything from a mention in a playgroup newsletter, while top scores got to daytime TV coverage.

Sam, how long has your business been running? Nearly 4 years

And the key point for anyone who is promoting a business, what is unique and special about your business?  My business was started because a personal need but backed up with my previous business experience.   This meant I could make it commercially viable as well as giving our visitors what they wanted.  By building the business on creating a flexible career for myself it’s meant this has always been at the heart of what I do.  I can now give this opportunity to other Mums in my team and now even wider with!  It’s sort of my “Remington moment”!  It’s important to have strong values and aims in your business, it keeps you grounded and keeps things real.

What helps you get coverage in your local media? It’s about building a long term relationship so they want your “next instalment”.  Local press love stories about local people and places so make your story very much about you and your community.  Don’t worry if they don’t pick it up straight away, keep giving them updates and they will! Look out for local coverage of What’s On 4 when Sam runs her annual awards for great activity classes. It works very well for her business.

How have you promoted your business online?  Although expensive Google Adwords delivers us clicks but we work hard to make sure that every click counts, that is the tricky bit.  We need to make sure the people clicking are interested in our websites.

 What about national coverage?  Our own awards programmes have given us a lot of national coverage as well as national local coverage if you know what I mean!  This then snowballs into being a source for journalists for other features.

Have you had any PR blunders or failures which you don’t mind sharing with us? And the lessons you learnt of course!  I think generally every PR activity has it’s risks.  If you have a story it needs to have an edge and this often means that it doesn’t appeal to everyone for one reason or another, keeping this to minimum is key to avoiding a disaster.

 How much did you spend on business promotion in the last year? £10-£15k

What advice would you give to other business owners who do their own PR?  Don’t be shy!  Be a one woman PR machine at all times.  Every opportunity is a PR opportunity!  It’s how I managed to be on the front page of The Times and win the Practical Parenting magazine Business Parent of the Year award in 2007.

The media are always on the look out for a good story but they have very little time so you need to make it easy for them.  Make your press releases easy to cut and paste in part or whole and be available for additional comment or info.

Find out more about Sam and her business at and enter the Mumsclub PR Challenge 2010 here



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