Industry Insider: The Everyday Agency Co-Founder, Managing Director Sunita Dhaliwal

We chat with Sunita Dhaliwal about how marketing is changing in 2020, getting into the business and more.
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Sunita Dhaliwal

Sunita Dhaliwal

The battles between publicists and journalists can be acrimonious at times, and that isn’t necessarily a problem, but often the work benefits both parties. The job as a publicist requires constant attention to client needs, endless email communication and a stone cold temperament to handle rejection. Co-founded by Managing Director, Sunita Dhaliwal and Matt McKillop, Co-founder and Creative Director, music marketing and branding agency The Everyday Agency has represented a wide variety of clients in music, health and charitable organizations to push their clients’ ideals to the world. With clients in London, Ibiza and New York, they look to represent stories that influence action, whilst delivering commercially and ethically.

TEA have helped a diverse range of music clients including Traxsource, Vicious Recordings, Cancer Research, Mind, Love Support Unite, Inner City & Kevin Saunderson, Kenny Dope, Last Night A DJ Saved My Life foundation, Plastic Free Ibiza, Ibiza Preservation Foundation and more.

To get to the bottom of how to make it in PR and marketing, we decided to chat with Sunita Dhaliwal for an Industry Insider about what it takes to push companies successfully in 2020, new PR trends this year and how to get into the business.

What do you see being the big PR trend in 2020?

PR is constantly evolving and main topics that are trending right now include well being, AI, mental health, businesses with purpose and environmental issues. The big trend I see is really edging towards everyone becoming content creators - we will see individual voices taking over brand voices because of their authenticity. You will see the big 3 Giants Facebook/Instagram (owned by Facebook), YouTube (Owned by Google) and LinkedIn (Owned by Microsoft) all putting emphasis on content producers. This will naturally flow into PR, and actually who you are and who you work for will matter less than WHAT you actually have to say. Before it was quite easy to become an influencer and now it’s going to be a lot more competitive as you will be requiring many more skills than having a pretty face and likes to last.

What is your favorite part about working in branding & marketing?

For me the best thing about marketing is the ability to connect people together. To create meaningful, life long relationships that benefit one another - that’s the ultimate right? And, it’s not about quantity it’s really about creating quality connections that then create an entire community and culture as a result. Making a brand the center of a cultural movement is really when you know you have succeeded in a way that supersedes any financial reward.

How are publicists dealing with the slow and impending death of music media?

Music media is not necessarily fully dying, it’s undergoing a huge metamorphosis. The way that media is defined now is completely different. It’s transferred from traditional print and media to a more content driven process through producers, partnerships and social media. Yes, editorial teams are getting smaller and the competition is fierce, but the wise ones are using this period of change to really reinvent themselves and how they define visibility whilst linking this with more sustainable and profitable ways to gain exposure.

What is something about publicity that most people do not know or understand?

The one thing that is often misunderstood about publicity is its ROI. Publicity is trackable, but it’s a lot harder to see the effect on the bottom line than a Facebook Advert, an event or sales team outreach. People think you will get a piece in a leading publication and it will directly impact sales. No, it doesn’t. It certainly can, but it depends upon how you use that content, how you spread it. 

Publicity isn’t always the powerful piece you read and then makes you want to purchase something. It can be something as small as a sentence or quote that just sticks. It may take another touch point a leaflet, social post or email and then you recognize that brand and the relationship starts to build. It could be as simple as the article on a digital publication that has great Google authority, featuring first on the Google search and becoming a great piece for SEO so that your business is found, but it can be hard to track the ROI if you do not put the right tracking in place to do so.

Sunita Dhaliwal & Matthew Mckillop

What was a project that had results beyond what you or the client imagined?

It’s really hard to pick one, but looking into the music industry - working with both Traxsource and Inner City has been great. For Inner City we have managed to tap into a younger audience and following, making them relevant and engaging a growing audience even 30 years on.

With Traxsource we have helped them achieve a record year, when sales of records are dropping overall in digital downloads, it’s great to see through the correct marketing we can beat trends and show profitability for our clients.

Why did you co-found The Everyday Agency?

I first started the agency in 2014, I was working in financial services and running entire marketing divisions and simply had enough. It was creatively stunting me, dealing with multi-million pound budgets and corporations, I was losing my passion and there was little freedom to really experiment, which for me is the end of learning. So I started working with charities on the side, supporting them through marketing and it became a real breakthrough for me. I loved being able to have full autonomy and follow my own knowledge to create lasting and successful marketing strategies that worked and impacted people positively. 

Then I put my neck on the line, quit my job and by May 2014 started the agency full time. Matt (my partner) and I decided to work together. We both think very differently and hold diverse backgrounds, this culminates in an astounding collective energy. I am more analytical and he is more creative, it’s a great balance as we fill in each other’s gaps. He also has a great depth of understanding from many businesses in hospitality and the music industry, which gave us an edge. He has run labels, been a DJ himself, involved in publishing and also been a Head Buyer of HMV so his business and sales acumen really stood out. We had our first client in the first week and we haven’t looked back since.

How did you get into the business?

I have always been a natural marketer, I think it comes down to wanting to help people and understand the psychology of what makes them tick. That is all marketing really is. This started very early on, actually for me in my teens, I was obsessed with psychology and human behavior. I read (and still do) hundreds of books covering the topic and how people’s personal thought processes work. I was always a natural networker; I used to run charity parties when we were underage at school (sudden flashback). I was highly fanatical about music of all kinds, so it was no surprise I ended up in the music industry. My first job when I was legal to work was an Account Manager for Elizabeth Arden and this is where I really began to understand marketing and sales first hand. Then I landed my first Marketing role straight out of University and worked my way up. Since then I haven’t stopped!

What do you look for in potential clients?

For clients we are really looking for brands and individuals who have their purpose at the heart of what they do. They must be actively on a mission, and respectively that mission positively impacts the world we live in, in some shape or form. Making sure they have a good ethical and green way of business is a must. We also look for clients who support creative expression, so this could be dance, music, writing or art. For us creativity needs to be celebrated and the moment we stop being creative, we stop innovating … and in the end we become complacent and stagnant. To create is to bring dreams and ideas together and then make it happen, it’s one of the most authentic things about being human (outside of hugs and love!). 

I am also a true believer that everyone can be creative, so we will always push people to get out there and make something - anything, because making ideas a reality is a true form of self-expression. This is an exciting vision to share with clients, helping them to evolve and reach exciting levels where there is far more freedom than the standard business.

How Is Everyday looking to become greener in the new decade?

We are already a really green business, everything we do is digital, we rarely print and advise our clients to do the same. We share office spaces so this keeps things very efficient, in fact our co-working space the HUB.ibiza is soon to be fully solar powered so that will really improve things even further. We avoid traveling for meetings, preferring Zoom or Google Hangouts. We have fully embraced the digital nomad lifestyle, and have teams all across the world. There is one thing I would like to work on and that is transport, this year we introduced car pooling to work so that was great, however we still need to fly which is a big contributor to our carbon footprint. We will be looking at ways we can offset each single flight we take by planting trees, investing in sea plants (which is a great reducer of carbon).

What do you look for in potential employees?

We look for dynamic, lust for life type of people, who aren’t scared to be out their comfort zone and who really genuinely care about people. Earlier this year we developed the “Big 6” brand values which pretty much sums up the type of culture we have, and if people fit in it - these are Curious, Crafted, Connected, Balanced, Generous & Brave. We are pretty fanatical about music and food, so you will be judged on what you can bring to the table in both those aspects! We tend to have lunches together, it’s a bit of a ritual with home cooked goodness and treats, it keeps the family culture alive, encourages sociability and fuels our teams talent.

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