q&a and giveaway: roxy jacenko
I recently reviewed Public Relations dynamo Roxy Jacenko’s debut novel Strictly Confidential. Large parts of Strictly Confidential are inspired by Jacenko’s career, particularly when her protagonist sets up her own PR firm with barely any funds.
Despite running one of the most reputable PR firms in Australia, being a new mother and planning her wedding, Jacenko kindly took the time to speak to me about PR, writing and what’s coming next.
1. In the first chapter of Strictly Confidential Jazzy Lou poses as a popstarlet at 3AM, in order to ward off negative press. What’s been the most luducrative and crafty spin you’ve had to in your career? (that you can tell us, in any case!)
“Hmmm I can’t give away too many details unfortunately – that’s why my clients trust me, and why I changed all names in the Strictly Confidential scenarios! However I do find myself in these situations quite regularly – comes with the territory. Whether it’s jumping behind the microphone as the event host when the client was gripped with stage fright, quashing rumours of drink-spiking at a very luxurious launch we managed, even taking undercover shots of a very high profile rock front woman while she stormed the racks at the Intersection Paddington (and almost getting arrested by her security in the process!) – I’ve learned to think and act fast in these situations!”
2. How did you find the somewhat solitary process of writing when you’re used to the fast-paced world of PR?
“It was actually quite therapeutic; my days are so hectic, I never stop firing out emails, I’m constantly glued to my Blackberry and the pace is not just fast – it’s break neck. So taking myself off to a quiet spot to write the book was a welcome reprieve. Saying that, I probably penned Strictly Confidential in record time – slow and steady is not in my nature!”
3. Sweaty Betty is known for the work it does with fashion brands– what’s your best piece of fashion advice?
“My job means I am constantly monitoring the international fashion industry – I see so many amazing outfits and looks every day, but those that really stand out at the people who take a trend and give it their own personal twist. Anyone can wear a head-to-toe runway look, but it’s the fashion followers that get creative and make you look twice that I really respect. Fashion bloggers are the most exciting thing to happen to the industry in the last five years – Elin Kling, Taylor Tomasi-Hill, Susie Lau, Sunday Girl in London are all fantastic fashion role models.”
4. Now that your PR company is one of the most successful and well-known in Australia, have you found that you have had to make some business decisions that could make you perceived as tough as Diane Wilderstein – do you have a degree of empathy with her, or do you try to steer clear of her business ethics?
“Every business owner has to make tough decisions, but it’s the way that they are delivered that makes the difference. Sweaty Betty PR is nearly eight years old and in that time I’ve learned how to run the business productively AND ensure my staff are working happily and growing in their roles. I am proud to have some members of the team who have been with me for nearly five years – a big achievement in the PR industry where staff turnover is notoriously high.”
5. How did it feel for you to have to trust someone else to do the PR for your book, when it’s the job you’re known for?
“Very good question! Luckily I have an amazing relationship with the team at Allen & Unwin; we’ve been plotting Strictly Confidential for nearly 18 months so when it came to the PR, we were all on the same page with what we wanted to achieve. I have been absolutely bowled over by the feedback and interaction we’ve had from readers – our Facebook page is full of great ‘reader’ shots, so many bloggers and magazines have given the book great reviews, and my launch party last week was definitely a major career highlight for me.”
6. You started your own business, you’ve written a book, you’re a new mother – is there anything you want to try next?
“Well it’s only January and there’s a HUGE year ahead. We have a London ‘Betty’ who set up our operation in the UK late last year, so that’s an area we will be focusing on, plus I am in the middle of planning my wedding – so that’s enough to be going on with for now!”
Our Strictly Confidential promotion is running until the end of the month. We have one copy to give away – to win, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org with how you would describe Roxy Jacenko if you were disguising her in your own novel.
Allen and Unwin
Out in bookstores now
Image credit (1+2)