Aileen Eglington – a profile in PR

Public relations consultant Aileen Eglington set up AE Consulting 22 years ago, providing PR, marketing and event management services to technology, business and consumer clients. She also undertakes an extensive amount of pro bono work on a voluntary basis.

How do you describe your business?

We are a marketing communications agency that believes in being the best we can be regarding delivering real return on investment to our clients’ businesses. By having real knowledge, experience and contacts across the disciplines of advertising, promotions, and PR, we can offer a very cost-effective and creative service, always with a business perspective.

What’s your greatest achievement to date in business?

I think it’s the longevity of our relationships with our clients and yet still managing to be innovative for them. We worked with CARA, the computer people for 15 years and for the software alliance organisation BSA for 17 years. And, more than 20 years after we started with them, we still work with publishing company Mediateam and travel company Topflight, among others.

What was the lowest moment?

Seven years ago when some of our clients went bang owing us a fortune – most of it third party debt that we had to pay back regardless. At the same time, we had a six-year lease around our neck.

How have you coped with setbacks?

In that case, I think our relationships with the media saved our bacon because they respected my word that we would eventually pay everything back.

“I think many small companies have gone under – or nearly gone under – in the last few difficult years trying to hang on to people when they couldn’t really afford to”

What’s your attitude to risk?

I am a little scared of financial risk as I think you need to have quite a lot of money behind you to take it on. What I am risky with is my time – and that has nearly always paid off – both from a business and a volunteer perspective.

Who has inspired or motivated you and why?

Many people have inspired me over the years. Firstly Charlie Walsh in Alfred Bird – that’s Birds Jelly which used to be manufactured in Dublin. I still remember the smells! Then Jim Nolan in Arks Advertising and Mike Rogers, MD of CARA, who gave me the break to set up AE Consulting and had faith in me to become our first client. We are still in contact which is great.

From a voluntary work perspective, my mother and father inspired me in terms of the work they did for Kilternan Parish – where I still live – they were unstintingly devoted. Eamon Duffy, who used to work for The Council for the Blind, and also Eddie and Kathleen Sythes who teach skiers with disability at the Ski Club of Ireland. I would do anything for these three and they have taught me a lot.

What do you do, if anything, to switch off from the business?

That’s a hard one these days, with that damned smart phone! But I still have ways – I love gardening, I love getting lost in TK Maxx, I love live rock gigs, I love getting lost in a good book – and I love getting lost in a spa or indeed a bar in Austria. This winter I hope to get lost with friends in Bad Hofgastein, Lermoos and St.Johann. Roll on ski time!

What would you do differently if you were starting your business today?

I’m not sure I would do anything differently. I am proud of what I have achieved so far. Except perhaps I think I should have saved a little more for that rainy day and planned my pension better.

What lessons have you learned in business that others could apply?

Make the difficult decisions quicker and don’t feel guilty if you have to let people go. I think many small companies have gone under – or nearly gone under – in the last few difficult years trying to hang on to people when they couldn’t really afford to. Big companies make those decisions more quickly.