Tara Punter Equine & Rural PR is based deep in the equestrian rich countryside and is very passionate about promoting rural business which can be a very tough industry. With rural life deeply rooted in Tara, Samantha Hobden from Haynet recently caught up with her to find out more about the personality behind this PR business and what exciting plans she has for the future for Tara Punter Equine & Rural PR:
Your love for rural life stands strong with you Tara. Has this passion stemmed from your childhood?
I’ve always been horsey and into rural sports and fashion, I just feel that passion gets stronger as I get older. I’m now married to a farmer and living on an Organic farm so it’ll continue to be that way, which I love. I wouldn’t change a thing – I find my true inspiration when strolling stubble fields and riding in the Cotswolds.
What was your childhood ambition? Was it always to work within the rural industry?
I had so many strange ones when I was younger – generally wanting to be a DJ or air hostess as I love music and love flying! It was only when I got to be 18 and started working as a yard manager before I went to university (to do an Equine and Agricultural Business degree) that I realised I wanted to be involved in the equine industry, I just didn’t want to be a groom!
How long have you been horse riding? Is it a struggle to get in the saddle with your busy PR business?
Since I was a teeny tiny baby – my earliest photos are of my Mum and Dad holding me on a pony! I’ve had my current horse, Ollie, a gorgeous 16.3hh ex-racehorse for 3 years now. I got him when I first went self-employed and rode him pretty much every day in the first year. The business then picked up and I started to ride him less and less. While I have lots of farmland to ride around, I don’t have a school which was a real issue last Winter with that horrendous weather. So he had most of the Winter off. I was then getting married in June followed by a 3 week honeymoon so every single waking hour for the first 6 months of the year was spent planning the wedding and planning to leave my business in the capable hands of my assistant and journalists while I was away. It also meant an awful lot of social scheduling and writing up front so everything was ready for our departure. I’m pleased to say, I’m now making the time for Ollie, having weekly lessons which are on the same day and same time every week, and we have much more structure. He’s 15 (although still feels like a 5 year old) – I don’t want to realise in a few years time that he’s too old and I should have focused more on him when he was younger! He’s got such potential and loves jumping, next year will be our year, that’s for sure!
When did you decide to step into the world of marketing and PR?
It was in June 2015 – I had a really horrible, full time job when a chance meeting at my place of work with a business owner led me into equine journalism. The Hickstead Derby was my first event as a journalist, I’ll never forget that day, one of the very best of my life! Hickstead still holds a special place in my heart. From there I started doing social media management (which I’ve actually been doing for nearly 10 years now!), working as a web editor and running pieces of PR. I chose to focus on PR specialising in the areas I love most – horses and country life! My business model has changed over the years but I now feel it’s where it’s meant to be – handling PR for some of the best brands and I’m just about to start 2 coaching programmes, for those that want to manage their own PR but just don’t know how!
What would be your piece of advice to a school leaver wanting to work in the marketing industry?
Just get experience and ask people questions, ask for an opportunity and ask for advice. If I hadn’t [jokingly] offered to write an article on retraining racehorses, I might never have had that break. As my business grows I’m always looking to outsource more and to take on people who have similar interests to me, whether for work experience or for a more permanent position. I’ve spoken to so many young, super talented people, who just don’t know how to get started or how they can get work. I’ll always continue to offer the advice, support and guidance wherever I can, as I really didn’t have that when I started out and in some cases, definitely learnt the hard way!
Business in the countryside and equestrian industry can be tough. What is your key advice to clients who want to improve their online presence?
Know who you’re talking to. Some businesses are on every social channel when they really don’t need to be. If you’re targeting the under 25’s, I’d almost certainly not be on Twitter and would only have a small presence on Facebook. Instagram is where it’s at it, particularly for that younger generation. Ensure your social media content is valuable to your audience, your imagery is good and your message is clear. Finally in terms of web presence, ask someone to go over your website, there are so many affordable packages now for website design, it’s much better to make a small investment in a new, professional website than try to promote one you’re not happy with and doesn’t look professional. Again, I’m more than happy to have a look at peoples brands – I actually offer a complimentary 20 minute strategy call for this very reason – to help business owners.
What are your plans for the future of Tara Punter Equestrian & Rural PR? Have you any exciting projects on the horizon that you can tell us about?
My coaching programme has to be the biggest and most exciting! There are 2 options – an 8 week programme, with 4 modules (and some follow up work that I’ll analyse and go through with the individual, offering constructive criticism to help them get it right) and an intense power hour for those that already know about PR, but just need some areas fine tuning their campaign.
Tell us about your animals that share your life.
I have 2 very special ones – Ollie my ex-racehorse, whom I just adore, and Kiwi, my little Jack Russell (and office manager!) They’re both so special and time spent with each of them out in the fresh air is what really helps me unwind, whether riding or walking the dog. Animals are so important to me, I just can’t imagine life without them. My husband has lots of Aberdeen Angus cows too, which are just the friendliest you could wish to meet, so I do help with those too, although I’m sure they only like me as I treat them like a horse and scratch their withers!
On a day off, where can we find you?
Weekends off are actually something I’ve only just started having! Having been working 7 days a week for the past 3 years, I realise I can’t sustain that and actually it was affecting my health. I work very intense hours, and very long days from Monday to Friday and will occasionally do a couple of hours either Saturday morning or Sunday afternoon. But I love going on long walks, I like clay shooting and I love going to garden centres. Throw a pub lunch into the mix and you have the perfect day!
Where do you see yourself in ten years time?
Still in the Cotswolds, still riding and as the go to equestrian PR and equestrian PR coach in the U.K. There’s no going back now I’ve said it!
Against The Clock
Bays, Greys or Chestnuts: Greys – despite having had 2 bays the past 2 times, a grey will always hold a special place in my heart.
Champagne or Gin: Champagne!
Schoolmaster or Youngster: Schoolmaster – she says retraining a racehorse!
Sunshine or Snow: Sunshine all day long
Home Cooked or Eating Out: Eating out – I do love to cook but it’s much more enjoyable when you haven’t had to do the food shop or wash up after!
Spend or Save: Spend, I just like pretty things!
Music or Film: Music, totally love music and never work in the office without it
Horse Racing or Racing Cars: Horse racing but I do love fast cars!