To be made redundant could seem like the end of the world to many. But what if the prospect of redundancy can turn into one of the best things to happen to you? What if it ignites a desire to go out there and fight for your dreams?
That is exactly what happened to Danielle Booker – who after eight years of working as a careers adviser was given the news that redundancy beckoned. At first, Danielle admits the news was upsetting, but after collecting her thoughts and forming a plan of action there was only way to go and that was forward!
“It was gutting at the time, after almost a decade building a career, the thought of starting again was daunting,” said Danielle. “But once I got my head around the idea I started to plan for the future.”
Danielle turned her attentions back to a passion for writing, something she had an interest in as a child. She applied and was accepted onto an accelerated two-year English Literature degree at Staffordshire University.
“At first it was just a back-up plan, but once I had my place I was more excited about the prospect of being made redundant, rather than worried,” Danielle adds. “I began to see it as an opportunity to pursue an aspiration I’d always had.”
During the two-year degree, Danielle completed work experience at The Sentinel newspaper. This progressed to theatre reviews and freelance projects, and during her second year of studying she was offered regular work as a freelance features writer.
After graduating with a first-class degree in English Literature, Danielle continued to work at The Sentinel as a journalist for three years. She was also approached by several Staffordshire-based PR agencies who she worked for as a freelance PR consultant.
It soon became apparent to Danielle she could take her new career to another level and she launched her own PR consultancy, Lyme Communications in 2013.
“The move from journalism to PR felt like a natural progression,” said Danielle. “Working at a newspaper meant I could turn around high-quality copy quickly, had good interview skills, could spot a good story and knew how to tell it. All desirable skills in the PR industry.
“Working as a freelance PR consultant was valuable experience but I got to the stage where I had the confidence to go it alone and set up my own business. It was scary at the beginning, especially during the first year when I was finding clients and building my portfolio.It was challenging, but I persisted, and now in my fifth year I’m proud of what I’ve achieved.”
Lyme Communications, based in Staffordshire, is an independent technical PR consultancy. Danielle works with clients from various sectors, but has specialist expertise in manufacturing and construction PR.
Lyme Communications creates PR campaigns for clients across the UK. Core activities include strategy and audience insight, media relations, award entries, and content creation. Danielle’s campaigns have successfully gained targeted media coverage in regional and national press, and both UK and international trade publications.
In November last year, Danielle scooped a top PR award at the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) Pride West Midlands awards. She won the Silver award in the Outstanding Independent Practitioner category.
“The award win topped off a momentous year for Lyme Communications,” she says. “It’s acknowledgement of all the hard work I’ve put into building my business and recognition of my position as an industry leader in the West Midlands.”
As well as Danielle’s established and growing PR business, she’s also a part-time lecturer in Public Relations at Staffordshire University – another challenge she took up in September last year – teaching a module on PR Campaigning to third year journalism and PR students.
“I was thrilled to be asked to lecture at Staffordshire University,” she explained. It’s a fantastic experience, I’ve got a great bunch of students and I love being able to pass my real-world knowledge and experience of PR onto them. I actually began lecturing at the university exactly seven years after starting there as a student!”
In 2010 Danielle was made redundant from a job she was more than comfortable with. At the start of 2018, she is not only a lecturer, but has a successful PR business. The question is what will be the next step on the career ladder for a lady who overcomes barriers and embraces challenges.