Growing up in a household with the latest magazines constantly strewn across the coffee table, Dionne became familiar with a variety of publications from a young age. Birthday presents meant subscriptions to glossy titles and very quickly, a passion developed.
Dionne completed a Bachelor Degree in Media Communications and throughout her studies she broadened her expertise in a variety of media outlets by securing internships with Nine to Five, City Weekly and She Magazine, to name a few. Appointed the entertainment reporter for a weekly title, Dionne’s appetite for getting a scoop was whet and she soon gained exclusive interviews with celebrities including Britney Spears, Craig David and Nelly Furtado.
Lured to the other side of the media fence, she then found herself in the throws of a PR career, working on international brands and local businesses, where she used her communication skills to convert story ideas into coverage. Armed with her varied experience and her strong drive for challenges, in April 2006 she opened her own agency, Polkadot PR, working from the midst of a share house. The company grew quickly, and the growth soon demanded staff and a head office.
Polkadot PR is a full-service agency that works with a variety of industries, acting ethically with every campaign we undertake and always with the end goal in mind: media coverage.
Describe yourself in 3 words: Ambitious, impatient, creative.
What is your life motto? One door closes, another door opens.
When did you start pursuing your career and how long did it take to become successful? I started my career whilst at university completing internships to further grow my experience. I started my PR agency, Polkadot PR when I was 23.
I’m still striving for success but thankfully growing year-on-year.
How many hours did you dedicate to pursuing your dream? As many as I’ve lived and breathed since opening in 2006.
Describe how difficult the business really is? The ‘business’ of running a business is always a juggle. Whether you’re juggling your clients, your staff, the new media that keeps popping up, your client’s competitors or even your own personal life; running a business can have its moments but the rewards do finally pay off.
What is the mistake that taught you an extremely valuable lesson? I was once approached by an entrepreneur who wanted to hire my agency to run the PR for his new TV series. We invested a lot of time and energy (before being paid) only to listen to my gut, which told me that the guy was really untrustworthy. The valuable lesson learned is to go with your gut with everything you do. Instinctual qualities can never be underestimated.
What is the best piece of advice you have been given to date? Go with your gut, it never fails you.
In your mind, is formal training essential? Training can come in two ways: on the job or at university. I respect my employees for dedicating their time to tertiary education, but I have more respect and admiration for those who complete internships and work experience. What happens in “real life PR” is not what they can teach you at university.
Do you think having a mentor is important? How would you go about getting one for this industry? I do; I have two mentors. The first mentor I have was organised via a program I completed through the Australia Israel Chamber of Commerce some 3 years ago. He is still my mentor now and we confer weekly. My second mentor was organised through the Public Relations Institute of Australia and I confer with him monthly. Both mentors provide me with incredibly introspection and advice.
What are some steps emerging talent can take to start/further their career? Experience, experience, experience. Don’t job hop because you think you’re getting experience. You will find the most experience and education whilst working long term in one organisation. Employers value loyalty and you will be rewarded for it.
What kept you going when you felt like giving up? My mortgage.
Do you believe that ‘making it’ is about luck and being in the right place at the right time? I do believe in serendipity but ultimately it’s up to the individual. For example, you can be at a networking event with many influential and well-connected individuals, but if you don’t make the effort to network and get to know the people, follow up and separate from the pack you will never benefit. The idea of ‘making it’ ultimately either comes down to a really clever idea and/or a lot of hard work and determination. In order to ‘make it’ you have to make everything your business.