Ruth Bonser, Co-Founder and Director of Rumour PR – a small, specialist PR and Marketing agency set up in August 2009 by Ruth and her business partner Mel Lee. Mel and Ruth decided to go it alone and set up an agency after working in-house for many
years in the home, lifestyle and gift industry, for brands such as Mathmos, The Conran Shop, Graham & Green and Cath Kidston. Rumour PR was a quick success signing up the companies Anorak, byGraziela and Clothkits in the first six months of trading.
Representing these core distinctive brands set the tone and ethos of the company, to be a specialist PR & Marketing agency in representing design-led, visual and unique British brands in the home, design and lifestyle industry.
Where are you?
South-East London, UK
How did you get started?
I worked in-house at a number of big companies doing PR. I got into PR after working in shops and finding the PR side of the business really interesting – badgering head office to give me experience. I headed up Cath Kidston PR for five years and met Mel, my business partner, there. We became good friends and worked well together and we decided to start up our own agency after returning from maternity leave at around the same time.
What’s the story behind your business name?
Full credit to Mel for that one – she put together Ruth and Mel and came up with Rumour. We worried a bit that the word ‘rumour’ had negative connotations but actually there can be good rumours, too!
What does your typical day look like?
Drop the kids off 8am at childminder and go for a quick run. Get into office about 9ish, I usually have checked for any urgent emails before but will action anything that needs to happen then. We work hard to respond quickly to journalists, so that is our top priority when juggling our workload.
I am often out of the office meeting with clients or catching up with journalists or stylists. As our office is in East Dulwich it is really easy for me to get to, but it means we spend a lot of time out of the office in central London.
Most days I finish up at 3 so I can go and pick the kids up from school/childminder and I usually plug back into the email for an hour or so once my husband is back from work. We are very boring and are usually in bed by 9.30/10pm!
How long is your commute to work?
10 minutes in the car, 15 minutes on the office Brompton Bicycle, or a 25-minute run! Guess which one I usually end up doing…
Describe your workspace.
It’s a converted stables yard off North Cross road, East Dulwich. We share our office unit with an interiors photographer and a couple of interiors journalists/bloggers which is really nice – all we need is a stylist to complete the circle!
What are you currently working on?
Just finished working on London Design Festival – it gets bigger every year and this year we have four clients with something going on. Also working on Christmas, and starting to plan SS15 activity for our clients.
What’s your worst work habit?
Anyone who has worked with me will tell you this straight away – I am messy. Very messy. It looks like I work in complete chaos but it’s the only way I know. I am actually trying hypnosis to stop myself being so messy and to declutter, and it seems to be working… so far.
Who are your main influences?
Work-wise, I looked up to my old bosses at Cath Kidston – Cath and the old MD, Jo Staveley. Both inspired me hugely and showed me that it was possible to juggle work with having a family. I trust Mel 100% and always double check things with her – she has a very different brain to me and it’s great to have her view on things. Personally, I constantly sound my mum out and she has always taught me to work hard, enjoy my job and be nice to people. I have lots of strong female friends who juggle interesting careers with kids, we often get together for a meal and to let off steam!
How do you stay creative?
I am not a real maker of things – I love to knit and cook but that is about it. I am a huge sponge for music though and I am always looking out for new music to get obsessed about. I find listening to music both at home and out at gigs/festivals is massively inspiring and helps me to stay calm, make decisions and be a better person.
How do you stay true to your values in a competitive marketplace?
We only work with brands we admire and would have in our lives – it’s not a priority for us to build the business quickly and make loads of money, we would much rather work with who we love and build Rumour slowly with a good collection of clients.
What is your biggest challenge?
For me it is managing to fit everything thing in the hours I can work – I seem to be spending more and more times in meetings with clients and less time at my desk which is great as it means the business is growing but it’s hard sometimes to keep all the plates spinning. Trying to work in the school holidays is hard too but hopefully this will get easier as the kids get bigger.
What are you most proud of?
Apart from my kids, of course, I love the fact that we are providing jobs for four people (apart from ourselves) and contributing to the economy in some way.
Name three favourite things.
- Sausage sandwiches at Mudchute Farm on a Sunday morning with my family.
- Cooking a curry banquet and playing records with good friends.
What one trend really excites you?
I have always loved copper in the home, so was very pleased when it became mainstream! I am also championing the return of cork and am planning cork walls for my sons room.
If you were to start over, what would you do differently?
I think we have grown in a way we are comfortable with, but we have had a couple of instances where we should have trusted our instincts – it’s all good experience though, I don’t have any regrets, even bad things that happen are excellent learning tools.
What tips would you give to anyone starting out?
Be yourself. I was always worried that being a scruffy, over-enthusiastic girl with a south London accent didn’t put me in the same league as all the posh, smart, cool as a cucumber PRs I came across, but I have found that it has never put employers or clients off – in fact most of them seem to like the fact I am not trying to be something I am not! I have tried to smarten myself up a bit over the years though…
Can you recommend a business or personal development book?
Have never read them – sorry! Maybe I should, have you got any? Oh, my decluttering download is good…
What’s your alternative dream career?
I’d quite like to run my own craft shop/community space. Or a record shop.
Name three people we should all be following.
- @smugjourno Very funny retweets (good for fellow PRs).
- @daisyfay_ Our lovely Amy in the office – runs a great interiors blog.
- @myfriendshouse Funny, perceptive design blog.
Tell us something about you we don’t know.
I know all the words to House Of Pain’s Jump Around and do a mean karaoke version of it.
Connect with Ruth
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