TAKING A PLUNGE: HOW ASHLEIGH MCINNES FOUNDED ONE OF AUSTRALIA'S FASTEST GROWING PR FIRMS

TAKING A PLUNGE: HOW ASHLEIGH MCINNES FOUNDED ONE OF AUSTRALIA'S FASTEST GROWING PR FIRMS

ASHLEIGH McInnes, founder of Papermill Media, will tell you her successful firm was the result of a fluke.

"You know that old saying fake it till you make it? I faked it for two years," laughs McInnes.

Despite her humility, McInnes founded the company from her bedroom when she was just 24 and it has grown to be one of Australia's fastest growing PR firms

Based in Victoria, Papermill Media represents many of the city's biggest brands. From the City of Melbourne, to luxury developer Gurner, McInnes' firm has some of the city's best accounts under wraps.

Though when McInnes founded the firm, she wasn't sure whether everything would turn out as well as it did.

"Before starting Papermill Media, I got a job as a receptionist at a Property PR firm," says McInnes.

"Strategically, I decided not to apply for 'Account Coordinator' roles straight out of uni because I knew I would be up against every other recent grad.

"Instead, I decided to target smaller, boutique firms, for an EA or receptionist role. I ended up securing that rule, and cut my teeth on reception for a year, before working my way up to an Account Coordinator, then an Account Manager.

"About two years later my boss decided to close the business. She saw a spark in me and suggested I service some of the existing clients in a freelance capacity.

"I was 24 at the time and barely even had enough experience at Account Manager level let alone driving campaigns."

Against everyone's warnings (except for her partner's), a 24-year-old McInnes took the plunge and started her own firm.


"I knew they had my best interests at heard but also knew this kind of opportunity would never arrive again," says McInnes.


"I was literally going to meetings and people would say 'can you write me a reverse brief?', and I'd be like 'absolutely!' before racing home to google what a reverse brief was."

Through perseverance, and an obvious knack for the PR world, McInnes has built Papermill Media into a firm which offers services for the 21st century business.

"I've been in PR for about a decade, and when I started, Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn didn't exist. Print publications were the be all and end all," says McInnes.

"Fast forward five years' time and print stopped being a driver for sales. In its place is a far more digitally led world where millennials are reading news on Facebook, their Apple iPhone is delivering news straight to their curated News App."

"The world of traditional PR, of pitching and working with print, doesn't actually exist anymore. The world of PR will never be the same again."

Want to be part of Business News Australia's prestigious Young Entrepreneur Awards? Nominations close soon! If your business is changing the game or if you know of a business that is innovative, passionate, and inspiring get your nominations in now. Applications for the Melbourne Young Entrepreneur Awards close at the end of December, and Sydney's in January. 

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