Clare Hudson, Enterprise Educator of the Year 2010, has gained many achievements in her relatively short career, including the success of her two music and entertainment based businesses Hudson PR and In4merz.
Clare has worked in the business for over 12 years, with a client roster including Universal, Samsonite, Warners, Lady GaGa, Alexandra Burke, Pixie Lott, The Saturdays and Ministry of Sound.
Clare is currently embarking on a social media enterprise scheme in which she is setting up an academy for young people to develop their media and entrepreneurial skills.
What got you started in the world of PR and marketing?
I started in the music industry nearly 13 years ago with a three month unpaid placement as part of my sociology and communication degree. I had no idea what PR was and initially only applied for the unpaid placement because it was at the end of my road and meant I didn’t have to commute and could instead stay longer in bed (well I was a partying student after all). I loved the world of music and PR so much that never left. I continued to complete my degree and work in PR almost full time for the next three years. Once I graduated I was made a junior partner in the PR company and remained there for over eight years before branching out and setting up my own press and digital PR agency: Hudson PR.
When did you begin In4Merz, and what was the chief raison d’etre of the company?
In4merz started organically when I was working on the digital PR campaign for singer Gareth Gates, 19 mgt; his fans found my contact details and started calling asking to help Gareth with his campaign. So I started giving them daily missions to do like writing reviews on Amazon, blogging on forums, posting the album sleeve on their social networking sites and so forth. The momentum rose from there. We initially ran the business from Myspace and Bebo and then progressed onto our own website. The business has changed its model since those early days, it’s now equally about inspiring, engaging and educating our users of social media as much as it is about marketing artists to friends who might like them.
The education angle is the side of the business that really gets a fire in my tummy every morning, I’m determined to try and reach as many teens and grads and educate them on social media to help bridge the gap between education and employment.
What have been the company’s biggest successes?
For me, the company’s biggest success is the number of teens and grads who have said that being apart of in4merz.com has given them something positive to focus on and opened their eyes to a career direction that they had never previously considered. Obviously being acknowledged and winning Enterprise Educator Of The Year 2010 is our biggest success but as in4merz is growing, our success is measured on the feedback from our members and the campaigns and artists they love supporting.
What have you personally been most proud of at the company?
I love walking into our office and seeing several placement students buzzing away with ideas and creativity in our office, as that’s the whole business concept. In4merz.com allows users to be creative within social media, develop their skills whilst doing something they love.
When the actual in4merz.com website went live, I was very proud at how quickly we’d grown from just me liaising with a few fans to help artists to a whole company with over nine employees dedicated to the business.
What can you tell us about “Supporting Tomorrow?” When and why was it set up? And how has it progressed?
Supporting Tomorrow is a not-for-profit company, designed to support people who are interested in a career within music, digital marketing, social media and traditional media. The idea is to open a London HQ which will offer approximately 3500 students a year the chance to learn and develop their skills in a commercial environment. Sending students to hairdressers to sweep up or wash hair or to a bank to make cashiers cups of tea and file paperwork is detrimental to their development and their hunger to succeed. Schools across the UK have commented that many students found their placements demotivating and some schools have even stopped placements. The younger we can reach individuals to train and educate them about the working world and the academic and personal skills they need to succeed, the better. The company was registered and set up in October of 2009 and we are currently trying to raise funds and looking for sponsors to support the business. Ideally the London HQ for Supporting Tomorrow will be opening in 2011.
When did you begin Hudson PR – and what’s the difference between that project and in4Merz?
I started Hudson PR in 2006. Hudson PR is an entertainment print and digital PR company, while in4merz.com is a peer-to-peer marketing company. Some clients use both companies simultaneously, for example, musicians Mz Bratt and Inju5tice, while others only hire in4merz.com, like Streetdance 3D The Movie in order to promote the theatrical release of the film.
What keeps you motivated as an individual?
Positive feedback and growth are the biggest ingredients to feed my motivation. It’s tough running 3 businesses at once and being so hands on and involved with them all daily but when I see clients returning with repeat business or in the case of in4merz.com, with sign-ups growing daily, it makes those 15-hour days all worth while. I believe that if you work hard and find a career you love, money will just naturally come but it has to be a by-product of your success not how your success is defined.
Who (or what) are your biggest inspirations in life?
Seeing hardship first hand as a child and coming from a background where 50p for the electric meter was sometimes a struggle has motivated and inspired me. I always wanted to achieve something with my life and break the cycle of either unemployment or a mundane job. I always knew I wanted a career and from an early age I wanted to run a company. I obviously had no idea doing what but I always loved the idea of being in control of my own future, whether that meant success or failure.
What have been the biggest career challenges to date for you?
Employees – trying to instill the same passion and drive as the owner of a business was always going to be an impossible task but it’s one I can’t give up on. I believe if you are driven, hungry and have a ‘work hard’ ethic, then it has to rub off on your team. Managing client and label expectations is probably the most challenging element of my job because their heart, soul and financial wallets go into their artists and albums so their expectations are incredibly high, yet journalists and publications are extremely cynical and always want to see the “plot,” which can be tricky when a publication works three months ahead of their shelf date.
What are the biggest challenges facing the music and/or PR industries in 2010?
It has definitely been the toughest year so far in my 13-year career in the music industry. Many of my clients are based within major labels and have recently been made redundant, which has obviously been upsetting from a personal point of view and has hit the business financially. Everyone is cutting their marketing budgets as these are obviously based on sale predictions and from Hudson PR’s point of view, PR is often one of the first things to be cut as it can’t be quantified in relation to direct sales unlike digital advertising. In4merz.com has done well this year and hasn’t suffered too badly although every product and marketing manager is looking for discounts of up to 50% and expecting 200% increase in their results.
Finally, what will you be talking about at YAIC?
I’m going to be talking about the importance of peer–to-peer marketing and why directly interacting and engaging with your fan base must be a fundamental part of your marketing strategy. I’ll be talking through campaign examples via in4merz.com, and creative suggestions to get your fan base involved both physically and digitally on your artistic release, at little or no cost.