Sachkia Barnes, Owner of Barnes PR
Meet Sachkia Barnes, a communications strategist and founder of Barnes PR. Sachkia’s strengths as a strategic thinker and love for public service and communications has enabled her to form a PR company. She combines classic communications with innovative strategies to help her clients say what they mean and to be heard.
Location: Virgin Islands
Year Founded: 2009
Company Name: Barnes PR
Education: Norfolk State University
Favorite quote: “It’s always impossible until it’s done.” – Madiba (Nelson Mandela)
At the end of the day – nothing beats hard work. I believe you have to have the depth in your field and be ready to do the hard work to realize your vision. – Sachkia Barnes
Can you introduce us to Barnes PR? What decision/background led you to start your own business?
Barnes PR is a boutique public relations firm helping people, brands and causes achieve their goals using communications. As cheesy as it sounds, I started my company because I really wanted to live my best life. I’m a child of Oprah and I really believe that time invested in really exploring why you are here and what contribution you can make to society leads to a life of happiness and fulfillment both personal and professional. I love public service, I’m a strategic thinker and I love communications, so I formed a company that allowed me to offer that to the world.
Would you be willing to share how you started your company (IE: funding, branding, and advertising)? What surprised you about this process? Was there anything that was more difficult or easier than you expected?
In my industry you really do not need much funding to start. I started my business cold turkey – I resigned from my very nice job to become an entrepreneur. I had savings that provided me a good amount of cushion while I developed my business and while I didn’t have major overheads. Coffee shops and client’s offices were my meeting places; I invested in a few solid computer programs and just set about to offer a distinctively different brand of public relations to my immediate market.
What surprised me most about entrepreneurship was the “winging it” that happens. Often times when you are challenged to do something new or at the next level, you might feel completely out of your element as an entrepreneur. During those times you have a choice of putting your best effort forward or playing it safe. The fun and exploration I’ve found are the times when I stepped out on the belief that I will find a way to make it work and so far it’s worked well.
Coming up with the ideas, strategic communications and connecting with the needs of a client’s audience is the easy stuff, running a business – now that’s a whole different thing for me. If you are not good with the numbers learn from my many failed hours of trying to become an expert accountant. Find a friend or a starting out financial entrepreneur and get the help that you need to take care of your books.
What would you say are the three main ingredients to a successful business?
Persistence – there is not enough you can say about sticktoitiveness.
Courage – it’s best to do what you really want to do than spending all the time dreaming of what you could be doing.
Hard work – there are no magic pills for sustained success, but hard work surely gets you there in the end.
What business tip can you offer entrepreneurs who are doing their own PR work? Also, how can you help them get their message/business across using your services?
Know your product and don’t be afraid to tell your story! I’m finding that a lot more persons are genuinely making buying decisions about a product or service based on the actual story of the product or business. When you look at products such as Toms, Kiva or even if you are buying an Apple product – we buy them because of the larger story – social impact or a device that can improve our lives. Know your audience and develop a PR campaign that is attuned to the customer you are really seeking to make not just one, but multiple purchases.
Barnes PR is very partial to entrepreneurs, we offer discount services to new and developing businesses. Feel free to send me a note; sometimes you just need someone to be as excited about your venture as you and I think entrepreneurs should definitely find the time to continue to support each other.
In business there can be self doubt, which hinders people from trying new ventures. Did you have any doubts along the way? If so, how did you overcome them or what words of encouragement can you offer others?
In my office I have these humongous posters which clearly tells you who are a few of my heroes and the spirit that I want around me whilst working. On the left there is Steve Jobs with a quote reminding me that my time is limited and to have the courage to follow my heart and intuition. On the right wall, there is Nelson Mandela with the simple quote “It’s always impossible until it’s done.” Self-doubt is very real, but those posters remind me every day that there is always a way and to follow my gut.
I’ve learned that you just have to buckle down and get it done. I’ve also learned that it’s better to get it done than to get it perfect. I’ve missed opportunities because I wanted to get something done perfectly. One of the biggest programs to support entrepreneurship that my office runs is Global Entrepreneurship Week VI. It was postponed an entire year because I didn’t have everything I thought I needed to make it perfect. When the time came for the event again, a month before, self doubt kicked in and I remember in a matter of minutes I had a serious pep talk with myself and decided come hell or high water we are launching this event. I did, and we won the High Impact Award from our UK office each year since. You will learn from your mistakes, but you have to be brave to do things, so the learning can take place. Chin up – it is always 50 times worse in your head than it is in real life!
What did it take to get your brand where it is today?
You have to be passionate about what you are doing. Not just blind passion, but passion that also recognizes that there will be genuine hard times and hard work. That passion and belief in your product or service will give you the energy and motivation to get up day after day and work at developing your business and servicing clients.
I also took the time to develop my concept and approach to communications which reflects in my work. I wanted to work with clients that are trying to make a distinctive impact in their communities. Clients that have been willing to try an alternative approach at times and we have been successful. I got a few mentors that were not necessarily in my field, but had years of successful business experience that I was able to call on for advice and to bounce a few ideas around.
At the end of the day – nothing beats hard work. I believe you have to have the depth in your field and be ready to do the hard work to realize your vision.
What productivity tools do you use to get work done (This can be an app, software, book, etc)?
Google is my best friend. My office operates wherever I am in the world on Google. My team is largely virtual and we’ve been successful because of Google for Business and their throng of productivity tools to edit documents, create spreadsheets, write lists, etc. We also utilize the PM app – Redbooth. After trying quite a few PM apps, it’s the best bang for your buck. When I need to do a mental dump, nothing can replace the tried and tested pen and paper.
What does a typical day at Barnes PR look like and what can we look for from your company in the coming years?
The days really varies on events or campaigns that we work on. I am an early riser and unfortunately still sleep with my phone next to me. The first thing I do is check for news updates. I like theSkimm – it gives me the type of news that I’m interested all at a glance. I check email to get an overview of priorities for the day and then around 8:00 I will check our local news sites. I try to get into the office before 8:30 and look at my list for today. There are meetings that I try to keep in the morning and leave the afternoons for really getting things done. I find that I’m most productive when everyone else is at home and not at their desks calling and emailing you, so quite a bit of planning and writing work actually gets done in the ungodly hours after midnight. One of these days I hope to have as a fixture in my schedule consistent running and gym time.
Anything else you’d like to add?
We all have something to offer the world. Entrepreneurship is the area that I’ve found more fulfillment and opportunity to impact my world in the way I wanted. Everyone has the opportunity to really make a difference in people’s lives, regardless of the field that you are in, so I just say give it your best shot. At the end of it all you want the satisfaction of knowing that you did your very best.
Be sure to check out Barnes PR and follow their social media channels.