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Ten questions with…PR guru Elizabeth Tee

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When one mentions public relations in Bermuda, they cannot help but to think about Troncossi Public Relations, a powerhouse in the industry for close to 20 years before owner Liz Tee decided to close its doors in 2018 (but it’s just a hiatus, she says).

The 47-year-old who currently resides in London, tells SheHub that on average she was putting in 60 hours a week, and would sometimes pull all nighters if she had to in order to keep her clients happy. Troncossi Public Relations served clients of various sizes, and represented notables such as Bermuda CableVision and international construction developer Aecon.

Recognising she needed a break from the grind, Liz decided to change gears for a bit and is now enjoying life in the UK and travelling. She loves going to the gym, walking her dogs and enjoying the food and art scene in London.

How did you become interested in Public Relations? Was it always your chosen career path?
When I was 17, I organised my graduation ball from school in the UK. My peers thought I did an excellent job (and the Head of Careers tells me to this day that it was the only ball that broke even!). I had a great time organising the event and decided to go into public relations because I thought it was all about planning parties. During my degree at Gettysburg College, I did a PR internship in London and quickly learned that there is so much more to PR than this! I worked for a small firm called Entertainment Promotions and was booking radio interviews for Diana Moran (aka The Green Goddess) all over the country and arranged for her to open a health show. Of course, I was also making the coffee and doing the photocopying but learning about the business every day and I loved it! So, after I graduated from college, I moved to London to work in PR. I had some other career ideas when I was a bit younger but by the time I was 17/18, I knew PR was for me!

Was it difficult to break into the Public Relations industry in Bermuda? What made your business stand out?
Yes – it was difficult to break into PR in Bermuda. When I decided to move back to Bermuda in 1998 (having worked in PR in London for four years), there were no PR firms. I met with a couple of the advertising agencies and one of them told me that clients don’t want to pay for PR reps to have lunch with journalists. I thought that was a bit shallow and I persevered. I met with Government PR but they wouldn’t hire me as they said I’d get frustrated with Government bureaucracy and I think they were right so I’m grateful for that guidance!

I was considering changing careers when the Bank of Bermuda created the first Public Relations Officer position and they recruited me back to the island for that position. I worked for Henry Smith, Barry Shailer and Peter Smith and loved it! I gained so many business contacts and, at the time, Bank of Bermuda was the largest private employer on the island (900 employees) so it was a very influential organisation. I worked on the 60/40 campaign for the bank to be granted exemption from having to be owned by 60% Bermudians. We were successful in obtaining it and this paved the way for the bank to list on the Nasdaq Stock Market, where you can’t control who buys the shares. It was very interesting work.

In September 2000, I founded Troncossi and I would say that it was the service that we offered that made us stand out as a company. Many of the employees were young and hungry and passionate about using PR to help the many businesses with whom we worked.

Describe the moment when you decided to close Troncossi Public Relations.
I woke up in January 2018, I realised that I needed to take a break – more than a holiday. I had just spent 18 months working with Aecon to help them secure the airport deal and educating the Bermuda public on the need for it. It was satisfying to see the opinion polls change in favour of the project as we moved through the programme. It is a professional achievement of which I am very proud. I looked at several options and decided that giving up our contracts was the best way forward, although the company is still in existence.

Did you have mixed emotions about ending this era in your life? Did anyone try to dissuade you from closing?
I knew it was time to take a break and so I didn’t have mixed emotions. I was proud of what I had achieved with the company over 18 years. My mother was surprised but I knew it was the best decision for me.

How did you feel when you closed the doors for the last time? Were there tears?
I was really excited about my move to London and the next chapter in my life. I celebrated the last day with a glass of champagne with my only employee and that was it!

Any regrets?
I maybe should have had a bit more balance in my life but I always put my clients first and I think that’s why the company was successful.

What’s next for you?
I am going back to work this week for a couple of clients who need PR support and I’m excited to get stuck back in.

What is something that you enjoy doing now that you didn’t have the time for when you were running Troncossi Public Relations?
Travel without the restriction of client responsibilities! This year I have been to Andorra, China, Paris, Russia and Guernsey.

What do you say to women who are afraid to venture in unchartered waters in their professional lives?
The world is your oyster. You only have one life and you are the author. Make the most of it. You can do anything you want if you put your mind to it. If you have doubts, speak to a business coach to get you to where you want to be.

What have you learned about yourself since closing Troncossi Public Relations?
There’s more to life than work.

Do you think that you would start another business?
Oh yes! I have several ideas percolating in my mind right now 🙂

 

If you would like to be featured in SheHub’s Ten Questions With…series, drop us a line at shehubtv@gmail.com.

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