Tucked away in a little lane in Sydney’s leafy suburb of Paddington is Piccolo PR, a boutique agency that is anchored in three sectors – lifestyle, homewares and kids. We spoke with founder and director, Sarah Cichy, about her decision to break free and start her own agency in and how she’s grown it both locally and globally with her small team.
Browsing through Piccolo’s online portfolio of beautifully styled homewares and children’s products it is easy to see Cichy’s rosy-cheeked, convivial take on the world of PR. It’s this voice and personality that has helped Cichy distinguish herself and her business from other publicists.
Breaking free from the pack
Having worked in other agencies and in-house, it took quite a bit of faith to decide to break free and work as a freelancer before finally launching her business.
‘The right opportunity presented itself to me at the right time in my life and I took a deep breath and backed myself. I started with one client, and through word of mouth another followed and so on. I woke up three years later with an office, staff and an amazing stable of brands. Serendipitous, yes,” said Cichy.
It certainly was a grand move to make as she had little equity or foothold in the Sydney industry.
“I had pennies in the bank. Just Pennies! Thankfully I was breathtakingly innocent and fiercely determined.”
Being a specialist
Speaking about why she decided to really go for it then, Cichy spoke about the importance of specialising and how fundamental she feels it is when planning your business strategy.
“I knew very early I wanted to specialize. We make it our job to know the style, writing style and individual sass of every journalist and stylist within homewares and kids sector. I don’t believe in blanket pitches. That’s just lazy. And, anyone can do that.’
Challenges of operating a business
Every owner faces their fair share of obstacles when running their business, but since launching Cichy said it has to do with TURNING OFF!
‘I love everything about business and enjoy the creative dalliance and collaboration of brands. Because of this, I wear a ‘strategy hat’ all day and night which can be overwhelming at times. I find it hard to switch off. But then again, I don’t really want to.’
Following your gut instincts
Communicating with clients, balancing numbers and organising spreadsheets is all part of the job but being a good publicist also means trusting yourself and following your instincts in deciding what’s right for your business.
Cichy is quick to admit that she often makes decisions based on her experience and intuition. Now that she has established her business she likes to consider whether she is the right person for a client and if the fit is right.
“We’re not greedy when it comes to representing everyone who approaches us. It’s not my style. When clients sign up with the agency they know I’m going to be present and active throughout the campaign. It’s important to me.”
While still continuing to attract and work with Australian brands, Piccolo is also expanding their little black book with work in the US.
“I encourage my clients, particularly those who have an online presence to explore USA market and extend PR coverage abroad. Constant ethos of us is to stretch yourself. And then stretch some more. Why would you not want to, right?”
Advice for other small businesses
Considering what advice she would give to other small businesses and budding entrepreneurs, Cichy said it comes down to finding the strength in your craft and in your voice to be able to back yourself.
She adds, “Do your numbers. Check your finances and make decisions using a balance of figures and gut feel. Have a clear definition of what success looks like to you so you can map out how you’re going to get there.”