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Ideas & Observations

Behind the entrepreneur: Rachel McBryde, McBryde & Co

Tell us about McBryde & Co

McBryde & Co is a communications agency, established in 2019 and we’re based in the centre of Newcastle. It is focused on providing PR and content services to the public sector, professional service, sustainable and renewable sectors.

We’re currently the Chartered Institute of Public Relation’s Small Consultancy of the Year, as well as the holder of three CIPR gold awards for Best Public Sector and Best Healthcare campaigns and Best Use of Content.

We work with some of the North East’s most successful organisations, many of them operating nationally and globally.

Our main purpose is to help organisations raise their profile and generate content that creates conversations, and ultimately drive action.

What inspired the brand, values, and mission?

After my dad passed away in 2014, I reassessed every aspect of my life. Our time on earth is so short, and my dad lived his life to the fullest; I wanted to do the same, with no regrets.

Working for myself was a means of enabling more freedom and more choice, and coupled with that, was the idea of creating a workspace that truly looks after people. And where, as well as delivering world-class work, we have fun.

We shaped our core values collectively as a team, and one of them is ‘caring’ – and by this we mean treating people as individuals, with their own unique personalities and circumstances. We’re always reflecting on how we can better support each other, and our clients and suppliers, in all aspects of our lives, not just working life.

Our whole team – from our graduates to our most senior leaders – have a voice in shaping the business and bringing ideas to the table.

We are very fortunate to have an award-winning group of communications professionals who are truly invested in helping our clients create conversations with meaning. Part of the reason our team is so successful is because they are empowered to shape our culture, shape the conversation, and where everyone takes responsibility for delivering on our promises.

How did you navigate starting/building a business during the COVID-19 pandemic?

I started the business six months before lockdown, and the day it was announced I lost 80 percent of my clients overnight. I spent a couple of weeks freaking out about how I was going to pay the mortgage.

At the time, I was part of a business accelerator programme. Chatting to other business owners on the programme, I quickly realised that everyone was in the same boat, and I had to pull myself up by my bootstraps and act.

Very quickly I taught myself how to record and edit Zoom calls and began interviewing business and marketing leaders about how they were coping and started publishing the conversations on LinkedIn. They got lots of engagement and immediately the phone started ringing with work opportunities.

Not long after, we picked up a contract to deliver PR for the seven North East local authorities, addressing many of the Covid issues. It was a huge profile-raiser for us – and the campaign won a ton of national awards – and from then on, the business has grown. Back then there were two of us delivering the Covid work, and now there are 10 in our team.

What are the short and long-term plans for the business?

We’re expanding into audio visual content creation with the aim of delivering more content across more platforms.

We currently specialise in LinkedIn as a social platform and create content for a number of clients, as well as delivering training for businesses that want to utilise their employees as brand ambassadors on the platform. This year we are aiming to broaden this offering out to other social platforms too.

Offshore renewable energy is an area we’re seeing growth in. The North of England and Scotland has huge capability in this field, and we’re working with some key players including Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult, Global Underwater Hub and Soil Machine Dynamics. We have a real specialism in this sector and see huge opportunities to support more businesses and organisations by improving their communications and helping them reach a wider global audience.

What advice would you give someone with a business idea?

Do your planning before you go for it. Take advice from people you know and trust who are in business themselves and aren’t just going to tell you what you want to hear. Talk to potential clients about what they might be looking for. Make sure it’s the right time for you too. For years people told me I should start a business, but my children were young, and I just wasn’t in the right space personally to make the move.

Once you have your plan together, calculate the risks and mitigate them – as far as you can – for example, I had six months of savings, so that was the timeframe I gave myself to make it work. Mostly, be brave and back yourself, because really, you’re the only person who can.