Sydney’s Samantha Dybac has carved an enviable niche out of the public relations industry over the years.
Her journey has by no means been straight-forward. Before launching her public relations firm, she worked closely with entrepreneurs to help build their personal brand and spruik their range of personal care and health supplement products.
She also worked in marketing and sponsorship in television, had a personal training business, co-launched an organic skincare business and had been the director of a catering and events company.
This article is sponsored by the American Express Platinum Business Card
Over these years, she was rubbing shoulders with experienced business owners and by the time she turned 30, she had racked up a solid amount of work experience.
“I also had a job cold-calling clients in a bid to sell television advertising packages. No easy task. It was an experience that completely changed my mindset about selling and gave me a lot of confidence about my own ability in the world of business,” she recalls.
The idea of launching her own PR firm came about when she was working in government relations for a well-respected former politician running the operations side of the business while managing their media interviews, speaking engagements and board appointments.
With a background in marketing, brand management and sales on both sides of the fence, she regularly crossed paths with PR professionals and often worked alongside them.
Looking back, Samantha’s work career gave her a solid grounding in brand management, business strategy and PR, but she was looking for ways to take her business to the next level.
So, she forged a public relations company which ultimately became The PR Hub, helping entrepreneurs, CEO’s and disrupters build their brand story as a foundation for developing trust, credibility and awareness for the businesses they’re in.
Ultimately, she helps leaders in their field understand the power of telling their own story as a way for not only building personal reputation but as an opportunity to connect with their audience with a communications strategy that accelerates personal and business growth.
“I love the fact that you can do so much with a person’s story when you tell it in a genuine and authentic way in the media. I could see the potential to shape an entrepreneur’s business journey through storytelling,” Sam says.
Through Samantha’s own networking as well as via word of mouth and referrals, the business grew organically, and today, several clients remain with her from those early years of business and/or continue to refer others on.
The PR Hub employs 11 people (and is currently hiring) and has a small army of contractors working behind the scenes to get its star-studded entrepreneurs in the media spotlight. Late nights and working on weekends is common. She admits that the juggle is real, and it’s constant.
“I love solving problems for clients. Entrepreneurs are smart, hard working and driven people who are often humble, too. The entrepreneurs I have worked with don’t start their businesses because they’re expecting to be on television or on the front page of The Australian Financial Review. They do it because they’re passionate about an industry and excited about solving problems.”
Samantha has worked closely with some of the nation’s highest profile journalists and presenters and hosts her own podcast, Influence Unlocked, where she interviews celebrities, entrepreneurs, athletes and industry leaders, sharing their personal stories and exploring the highs and lows, to inspire and inform her audience.
Levelling up: seven-figure success
The hard work has paid off, and she has grown The PR Hub into a seven-figure business without taking any external investment or bank loans. “I’ve bootstrapped the business and we’re constantly growing and hiring and building our team while looking for new clients.”
Travel is all part of the job, so when a business friend recommended the American Express Platinum Business Card to her, she was keen to learn more. She considers it to be by far the most rewarding business charge card in Australia.
The Card is aimed at small to medium business owners looking to maximise the Amex Membership Rewards program and earn points at an uncapped rate1.
It comes with a suite of premium lifestyle perks and offers, including airport lounge access2, elite tier hotel status3 and dining benefits. It’s handy for rewarding staff or when meeting with clients away from the office.
The Card also gives her financial breathing room with up to 55 days to pay for purchases.4
“Our team makes a lot of domestic trips to Melbourne and Brisbane and now that international travel has opened back up, I am also making a few overseas business trips, too. We also send our team away on short breaks as part of our incentives scheme for years spent with the business, so it’s helpful to reduce the costs. As a business owner, you’re constantly focused on money in and money out.”
Her Amex Card unlocks access to more than 1,400 airport lounges worldwide and gives her complimentary travel insurance5 (Terms, conditions and exclusions apply (such as maximum age limits, pre-existing medical conditions, and cover limits)), which comes in handy.
There's also no extra cost to get up to 99 additional Employee Cards6 for team members, which has been important as her business grows.
“I was able to order extra Cards linked to mine for my team so they can easily pay for work expenses such as travelling to events or taking clients out without having to rely on me being there physically with a Card. That’s a real bonus for us in our business.”
She has put in the hard yards. Countless networking events for entrepreneurs, cold-calls, coffee appointments and working without pay has helped her get to where she is today. “Getting out there and networking was really critical for me in those early days.”
There have been sacrifices, particularly early on when she had her daughter. She admits that she regrets not taking a proper maternity leave at the time to instead continue building her business which was still very much in its infancy.
“At the time there were only a few employees in the business, and I was concerned that we would lose momentum or that clients would leave if they saw me taking an extended period of leave.”
Challenges have also come along the way, including the loss of 80 per cent of business revenue in response to when the pandemic first started. “Marketing and PR was one of the first things on the chopping block. But we knew we had a solid business model and stayed positive. I threw myself into whatever opportunities there were, also leaning on my business advisor for guidance throughout the period.”
Knowing she had an Amex Card to help manage the ebbs and flows during this period was a financial lifeline, she says.
“It wasn’t long before revenue returned into my business, and the following year we grew 74% year-on-year,” she says.
One of the biggest lessons has been understanding when to charge, and when to take on a small project without invoicing the client in the name of building a long term relationship.
“I don’t necessarily charge people I know who call asking for my help, because I know they’ll help me out when I might need it down the track. PR and business in general is all about building long-term relationships, so that’s what it takes,” Samantha says.
Knowing that Amex is on her business journey with her has been invaluable, she says. “There is still a lot more to be achieved, but I know that if you’re passionate about something, you don’t do it because you think it’s going to make you a lot of money. You don’t do something because it’s going to bring you status or connections.
While its cliché, she admits that being in business is a marathon, not a sprint. “Business is very much a long term game. It takes time, and it’s often not until you’re further down the track that you can look back and see how far you’ve come.”
Samantha shares her top tips for business success:
Look at how to save: You’ve got to spend money to make money, so look for ways to collect points via programs like American Express Membership Rewards5 so that you can use them to save in your business.
Be financially savvy: Successful businesses are profitable, so don’t shy away from that because otherwise you can’t grow and you can’t pay your staff.
Learn to lead: Embrace leadership and put in the time and effort to learn how to lead a team in a style that works for you.
Accept there are challenges: No business journey is easy. Accept there are going to be bumps in the road and embrace them as opportunities to learn and improve.
Not everything can be done: Entrepreneurs often have a million ideas floating around their head, but accept that you can’t do everything you want to every day. Learn to focus on the most important tasks first.
Build relationships: Businesses are built one relationship at a time, so work on relationships and the work will follow.
This article is sponsored by the American Express Platinum Business Card
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