Cari Guittard: What inspired you to start Foundry Communications, what makes your approach different in the sea of communications companies and over the years what has kept you going?
Zahra Al-Harazi: The inspiration to start Foundry can be put in the simplest of terms - a better way. Throughout my professional career, working with someone else calling the shots left me with a sense of frustration. I could see the potential to work with clients in a way that would garner even better results, I could see new ways of brainstorming that would lead to incredible ideas, and I could see ways to build a team that would solidify a company. So what I did with Foundry was put the pieces of the puzzle together, and through a great deal of trial and error, encompassing both success and failure, found a better way.
What has kept me going? It’s not so much an element as it is an environment. It’s the place in which I find myself in that allows me to keep learning, keep exploring, and keep positive. In the end it really does come down to the people you work with, and surround yourself with on a daily basis. When it comes to teams, ours at Foundry is second to none. At Foundry ”be curious” is one of our core values. I encourage my team to take something apart, and put it back together again, throw it up against the wall and see if it will break…or stick.
Cari Guittard: What are some mistakes you see small businesses make when it comes to PR and their communications? Any guidance or advice you would give them as they are thinking about engaging a firm like yours to support their communications and outreach?
Zahra Al-Harazi: The biggest mistake I see small businesses make comes down to one word - consistency. Trying to do it cheaply, shopping different aspects of your brand around to get the best prices means that there is a high likelihood that the brand messaging is not being fully considered. One clear voice/message/brand is key to brand recognition and loyalty. It will allow small business to achieve their objectives and goals, find their voice and convey it to their target audience and measure success – thus ensuring a consistent message.
Small business are very concerned with budget and overhead, and sometimes (or most of the time) their PR and communications takes a back burner to all the other expenses they have, and in my mind that is a big mistake. Most small businesses cut communication and PR before anything else. But, there is so much competition out there for the target audience’s attention that they can easily get lost in the shuffle, unless they pay attention to how to attract their target audience.
Most successful businesses spend around 15 to 20 percent of their gross revenue on marketing, and you can tell the difference between the ones that do that and the ones that don’t.
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