PR on a shoestring, and being Frugl

Suzanne Noble is the Founder and CEO of Frugl, an app that helps locals and tourist find things to do in London - from music, art shows to theatre -  that don’t tax their wallet. She has been praised for her thoughtful app that is up with the times. And Suzanne has set her sights on other markets too with the acquisition of Tickethelden, a Munich-based last minute ticket selling platform, giving Frugl access to a user base spread across Berlin, Cologne, Hamburg and Munich.

She spoke with HQ about her experience as a PR consultant, her advice to fellow startups and how Frugl got off to a sparkling start.

“I’m really enjoying watching London’s tech sector explode. It’s a magical time to be in the Capital and watch so many start-ups growing beyond a shared coworking space.”

 

How your career begin as an independent PR consultant?

I had been working in television and video production for almost ten years when my husband, who had just started his own PR agency, from our loft, asked if I could help him out with a new client. At the time I knew absolutely nothing about PR but I blagged my way through that first year. A decade later I was co-director of the business and managing over a dozen staff. I found PR was something I enjoyed doing and could do well. In 2008, long story short, we split the Agency up and I took my client LazyTown with me, working as a freelance consultant for them as well as other businesses.

 

You’ve made a point of connecting and networking broadly. Which sectors or areas of business do you feel are the ones to watch in 2015?

I’m really enjoying watching London’s tech sector explode. It’s a magical time to be in the Capital and watch so many start-ups grapple with growing beyond a shared co-working space in Shoreditch or elsewhere to become global businesses. I do spend a lot of time around Silicon Roundabout because of how easy it is to meet potential collaborators, investors and advisors. I think the obvious sectors ripe for expansion are wearable technology, any apps or products that help teams to work better such as “Slack”, mobile payments and fintech in general.

Suzanne’s top 5 tips for growing a following on a shoestring budget

  1. Don’t underestimate the value of PR. A great story, in a mainstream media outlet, can deliver thousands of eyeballs at no cost.
  2. Use social media to reach out to journalists, influencers and whoever can grow your awareness but be smart about it. Nobody likes a stalker.
  3. Decide on your business’s ‘tone of voice’ and stick with it.
  4. Network. “Eventbrite” and “Meet-Up” are a great source of where to go if you’re looking to get your business out there. There are pitch events taking place weekly and plenty of opportunities for you to spread the word.
  5. Keep your eyes peeled for my “PR on a Shoestring” class on Monkfeet!


For those starting their business what is your advice for building awareness for their new brand?

Don’t spread yourself too thin. I’ve seen businesses try and maintain a presence on all social media platforms, direct mail, digital marketing – it’s too much. I’ve managed to grow Frugl completely organically because of my PR background but most start-ups don’t have the benefit of 20 years of PR experience. Equally, I’ve made the mistake of not using some of the great free tools that are out there that help measure engagement and value. I would always say, being Frugl, try and exploit the free tools that are out there before spending money on expensive campaigns.


“Don’t spread yourself too thin. I’ve seen businesses try and maintain a presence on all social platforms – it’s too much.”



Based on your experience in working with independent businesses, what is the common mistake they should avoid when starting new careers?

Trying to do too much and not focussing on what’s important at the time. I’m an obsessive list maker otherwise I do think I’d be all over the place. Instead I start with the easy stuff every day, get it out of the way and then move onto the bigger challenges so that I’m doing a little of both every day. Also, learn to delegate. “People per hour” and “ODesk” are a great source of people who can do administrative jobs and more. When it comes to really boring, repetitive tasks I’d rather pay someone else to do it.


“I launched Frugl last year because of my own challenge of trying to find fun things to do in London that didn’t cost a fortune.”



In brief, what is the best way to tell your story or pitch to a journalist?

What’s the problem you’re trying to solve and how are you solving it. Never lead with a product description but a back-story that will resonate with the readers.


You’ve recently launched an app for those on a budget, Frugl. What inspired you and how has the app taken off?

I launched Frugl last year because of my own challenge of trying to find fun things to do in London that didn’t cost a fortune. Back when I was young and we didn’t have the internet, Time Out, flyers and word-of-mouth were the only way to find out what was going on. Now, with the growth of the Internet, there are a multitude of blogs, apps and sites all trying to help you find stuff to do. I wanted to help users cut through all that noise to discover events on a budget while out and about. We launched last year and very quickly achieved thousands of users, great word of mouth and awards. I’d say it is going pretty well!


To talk with Suzanne or find out more about Frugl, email suzanne@frugl.com and http://www.frugl.com.