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Business profile: Tracy North, founder of Mold-based communications firm Outwrite PR

Business profile: Tracy North, founder of Mold-based communications firm Outwrite PR

WHEN business owners in Flintshire need help in publicising their achievements, many of them look to the North. Tracy North that is.

The 48-year-old founded Outwrite Public Relations in 1994 and is a respected and well-known figure in both media and industry circles.

Vice chairman-elect of the North Wales committee of the Institute of Directors, Tracy represents the Mold firm on the region’s CBI (Confederation of British Industry) committee and is a member of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR).

With dozens of clients including gap personnel and the West Cheshire and North Wales Chamber of Commerce, Outwrite is going from strength to strength.

Originally from Morecambe and married to police officer Mark, Tracy was the third generation of her family to go into journalism.

After working as a staff reporter, sub-editor and designer for several years on weekly and daily newspapers in the North West of England and North Wales, Tracy decided to cross the divide and move into PR.

Using a lot of the same skills – writing stories, interviewing and communicating with people – she cut her teeth with a PR agency in Liverpool before taking the plunge and going freelance.

Tracy added: “I founded Outwrite in 1994 and one of my first clients was the former Delyn Borough Council.

“I didn’t give up my day job until I had some contracts signed, though. I worked from home in the spare bedroom, which meant my overheads were kept extremely low.

“A lot of people I’ve spoken to say they are easily distracted when working from home, but fortunately I was always able to keep focused.

“I was working long hours and seven-day weeks for some time but with my husband being a shift worker that didn’t affect family life too much.

“I worked as a freelancer, hiring other freelancers who were long-established contacts to help as necessary, until 2000, when I formed a limited company and began recruiting employees.

“This was because my client base was growing all the time.”

Employing four people and regularly using three part-time freelancers, the vast majority of clients are in the private sector, and Tracy admits Outwrite ‘shrank’ in the early stages of the credit crunch because its clients were reacting immediately and some stopped doing PR.

“But we seem to have been coming out of our own trough for a while,” she added.

“I’m very pleased that we have signed up some significant new clients since the start of 2010.

“We’re almost back to where we were pre-recession. I’m now feeling cautiously optimistic about the long-term future.

“However, there are no immediate plans to increase our permanent workforce. We will increase our freelancers’ hours before adding full-timers to the payroll.”

However, with a team of former journalists – lovingly labelled ‘poachers turned gamekeepers’ – Tracy is planning for a resilient period of growth.

So how is she going to achieve that, and what’s the secret of surviving such a period of economic despond?

“It’s quite simple,” said Tracy. “If turnover reduces then you must cut overheads accordingly, which is exactly what we did.

“By controlling costs we were nevertheless able to invest in new IT and software, because you have to keep looking to the future.

“You can’t just hide your head in the sand. It sounds obvious but keeping close control over the business is key.

“Despite the recession, we were able to win some new clients, which was very pleasing.

“Our move into online marketing has enabled us to tap into new revenue streams.

“Virtually all of our clients are private sector, which means we hope to be fairly resilient in the face of the coalition’s spending cuts.”