Emily Keogh: Founder of Palm PR
Emily Keogh is living the ultimate foodie’s dream.
As the founder of Palm PR, she sets the agenda for what is hot (and not) in the world of food and drink. My Little Black Book met Emily to talk communications, women in business and 2014 food trends…
My Little Black Book: Emily, you set up Palm PR in 2010, aged just 26, to provide real results for disruptive and young food and drink businesses. Tell us a little more about yourself and your agency.
Emily Keogh: I studied English Literature at Newnham College, Cambridge, and so have always been interested in communications. My first job after university was for the launch of a News International magazine, but I soon became interested in Public Relations and so hopped the fence and started out in the Consumer PR team for international agency, Ogilvy. There I worked on large FMCG brands, across campaigns for established household names.
I set up Palm PR nearly four years ago with a clear objective: to create an agile and dynamic agency that specialised in the food and drink sector. I felt that there was a real ‘gap-in-the-market’ for a specialist agency that also had a bigger understanding of what makes a great story and how to implement it across a wide spread of media.
MyLBB: How can good PR support businesses in the food and drinks sector?
EK: Good PR and a strong social media presence is crucial to the success of a food and drink business. The industry is so exciting right now, with continual launches, innovative and ground-breaking products, and exciting leaders from chefs to brand owners. We really find that the media is receptive to the start-up culture in this sector and are keen to hear the ‘story’ of individuals, which is wonderful.
We are passionately interested in our client’s businesses, and work closely with their companies to ensure that all our PR activity supports and drives their specific business objectives, an intelligent and strategic approach that stands out from our competitors.
Our campaigns are rooted in strategic understanding, and we combine this with creativity to ensure our stories are relevant, interesting and topical.
MyLBB: What is Palm PR’s most memorable PR campaign?
EK: There are lots to choose from! A few campaigns which stand out include:
– Creating a new category with Bubbleology Taiwanese bubble tea.
– Hosting an experiential ten day pop-up for D&D London and the Thames Festival called ‘Blackout’, letting diners feast under the stars next to the Thames by candlelight.
– Creating a series of astronomy master-classes to showcase the fantastic rooftop space of The Varsity Hotel.
– Working on the launch of a unique alcoholic popcorn for Joe & Seph’s.
– Organising a buzzy bluegrass whisky event for London Design Festival and design brand Teroforma.
And, of course, the many times we help our small, passionate start-up clients secure a major stockist or a great review, which helps their brand to grow.
MyLBB: Describe a typical day as MD of Palm PR.
EK: No two days are the same – I may be in and out of the office attending meetings with clients, journalists, or buyers. Thank god for smartphones so I can check emails on the go!
Despite being busy, it’s important to stay on top of the latest food trends so the whole team consumes a staggering amount of media and information every day, whether via the papers every morning or social media and newsletters throughout the day and night.
MyLBB: What interests you most about being a business owner?
EK: There’s no point glamourising the day-to-day responsibility of being a business owner. You have to be entrepreneurial, not afraid of setbacks and failures, and be incredibly passionate about what you do at every single level of the business.
However, there is nothing more rewarding than realising your own vision, working with challenging, disruptive and interesting clients, and most of all, leading a really smart team whose work you can be truly proud of!
MyLBB: Do you have any advice for women keen to set up a business of their own?
EK: Yes: do it!
There are too few women that lead in this country. We only have to look at our political system; in parliament there are only three female cabinet ministers and under a quarter of MPs are women.
I was lucky enough to be educated at the all-female Newnham College in Cambridge, which was an inspiring place to learn with some of the smartest and most talented women in our country, across so many different disciplines from the arts and humanities to science.
There’s huge opportunity in the UK for women, if we dare to take it.
MyLBB: How receptive is the food and drinks industry to women? Have you ever suffered any prejudice because of your gender/age?
EK: There are some amazing, inspiring women making waves in the food & drink industry at the moment – and we’re lucky enough to work with quite a few! From Amelia Harvey (ex Gu Puds Director) who launched Britain’s fastest growing yoghurt business The Collective, to Charlotte Knight who left a six figure City job to follow her dream and launch her own dips brand G’NOSH, and Tamara Arbib, a busy mother who is passionate about health and has launched an innovative dairy-free ‘mylk’ range of drinks for kids and adults called Rebel Kitchen.
I have found the industry to be largely open and accepting of people regardless of age, gender, or other factors. It’s not like other industries which may have more entrenched prejudices.
MyLBB: What keeps you motivated?
EK: Palm PR is a fast-paced place to work: we thrive off creativity and innovation. It’s a cliché but no two days are ever the same. It’s really this dynamic atmosphere and energy that makes me excited to get out of bed every morning!
MyLBB: And finally, what are your foodie predictions for the months ahead?
EK: Funnily enough we published a post on this recently! Check out our thoughts on our blog (hint: includes ‘digital dining’, food with a cause, and eating tea – yes, really).