A former journalist who was made redundant twice has launched her own marketing consultancy after clocking up more than 30 years in the industry.
Alison Gallagher-Hughes has spent the last 10 years dreaming about starting her own business after taking voluntary redundancy from Staffordshire Police in 2010.
But the 53-year-old finally took a leap of faith earlier this year after losing her job, for a second time, after the pandemic.
Alison, who lives in Stafford, said: “After spending 10 or 12 years as a newspaper journalist, I moved into a media relations role, working for the Staffordshire Police press office.
“I did that for 13 years, then the public spending review happened in 2010 and I took voluntary redundancy with the idea of trying to set up my own business.
“Just on the cusp of me starting to progress that, I applied for a temporary head of marketing and communications job at a housing association – and I got that job.
“That led to a succession of other short-term roles and contracts, and in 2016, I became head of PR at a full-service agency in Lichfield.
“By the end of 2019, I was once again considering starting my own PR business – then Covid came along!” continued Alison.
“But in March we were all furloughed, and it gave me a chance to take my foot off the gas for a little while.
“The pandemic had brought the agency to it’s knees, and I suspected that the writing would be on the wall at some point in the future, so I started making a bit of preparation early on.
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“Eventually the agency jettisoned most of its staff and that was the kick up the bum that I needed to move things forward.”
Just 10 months after officially launching Tillymint Communications, Alison has developed a portfolio of varied clients which include trade associations, building products and construction businesses and technology companies based in Staffordshire and beyond.
The company specialises in everything from media relations, copywriting and social media marketing to reputation management, crisis communications and business development.
Alison said: “In some ways I’ve come full circle. I started off writing, then I went into the mechanics of marketing and communications – such as strategy, advertising and market research – and then I came back round to writing PR, and now that’s what I do again.
“The market for marketing and communications activity has become more buoyant, and now I want to continue to build the business up.
“At some point I need to pivot my business model and actually start to take people on so we can become more of an agency rather than an independent consultancy.”
Alison – who also co-owns a dance studio with her husband – added: “I’m now in my early fifties, and some of my friends are starting to take early retirement but I have a real passion for what I do, so why would I want to stop? The culmination of my career has come to this, running my own business, which is what I have wanted to do for a long time.”