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WPR Spring Media Lunch with Sam Barker

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Sam Grocutt

Managing Partner, Essence

As a huge fan of online content platform, The Pool, being able to secure the inspiring co-founder Sam Baker to attend and share her working insights to Women in PR members, was a real coup.  Set in the stunning St Martin’s Lane Hotel, over 50 influential business women attended to eat really great food, sample refreshing wine, and be motivated by Sam Baker.

The lunch kicked-off with a welcome drink to enable guests to network and chat up close with Sam before the three-course pan-Asian inspired lunch was served.  WPR President, Mary Whenman, interviewed Sam with questions focusing around The Pool, publishing career, and being a senior woman in business.

The 20 minute Q&A style talk, just flew!  With lots of great soundbites from sitting in a coffee shop with her business partner Lauren Laverne and seeing that the whole queue was made up of people looking at their mobile phones and realising The Pool was definitely going to be tapping into just the right audience, to sharing how her busy team all wear lots of hats (herself included) and really understand how their audience interact and use The Pool. (Personally, I’m a “get my newsletter in my inbox and click a couple of stories when I wake up” type of reader…)  Interestingly, Sam’s advice to us that we should consider a course in Coding, hit home with me – I’ve been thinking about it for some time but wasn’t sure it really was an essential aspect of my business, but from hearing Sam talk about how it opens up your understanding of the internet, consumers, and is almost another language that just helps you make more sense of things…she may have me signing up for a course, after all.

With talks, such as these, we do always touch on how it is to work as a woman in business – like PR, journalism (especially the magazines that Sam worked on) are women staff heavy but men led, so it’s that ongoing conversation about how we, as women, need to be seen as experienced, confident and knowledgeable.  With Sam, now also a business woman, alongside her journalism expertise, that male/female divide is perhaps even more common place when you’re trying to expand your business and meet with male investors.  That, I think, is what makes groups like Women in PR, Women in Journalism etc so important to us – yes, we can also belong to mixed groups (as many of us do) but it’s good to be able to sit with like-minded women and hear that each of our experiences aren’t one-offs.  The more we talk, the more we share stories, hopefully the more we can break down that ceiling.

As an avid reader, I was also in awe that whilst launching The Pool (almost a year old now), Sam has managed to write a thriller.  Sam kindly organised with her publishers, Harper Collins, to provide all the guests with her new book “The Woman Who Ran” – I started mine the next day, and am already hooked!  As a business owner myself, I’ve absolutely no concept of how I’d find the time to do that. Judging by the guest questions asking the same thing, I wasn’t alone.

Getting to meet Sam and spend time with her over lunch and listening to her talk was wonderful; the positive feedback we’ve all had from the guests on the media lunch makes it all the more worthwhile too.