Q&A with Michelle-Ann Letman, the PR Belle
It is often said that in the midst of every crisis lies great opportunities. Such has been the case for many Jamaicans who ventured into business over the past 18 months, during one of the worst global pandemics in modern history. In 2020, the pandemic seemed to have birthed a renewed entrepreneurial spirit, with business name and company registration increasing by 12 and three per cent, respectively, according to the Companies Office of Jamaica (COJ).
Public relations (PR) strategist and marketing communication expert Michelle-Ann Letman was among the 12,809 persons who registered business names with the COJ, who officially cemented her business – PR Belle Media, for the records.
The seasoned PR professional, with over 14 years of combined experience in media, public relations, and marketing communication, recently celebrated her first business anniversary and shared with Living how she balances her PR Belle hats as the manager for PR at one of Jamaica’s largest financial conglomerates and being the boss of her own business.
What was your ‘aha’ moment that made you decide to start a business, especially during a pandemic?
It was a number of factors, but that heightened awareness of one’s mortality, and the suddenness with which life can change, jolted me into realising that there is no such thing as an ‘ideal time’ to do the things you’ve always wanted to do. I never thought in my lifetime I’d experience a pandemic, but navigating the novelty of the situation also placed a lot of things into perspective for me. And from that first step when I made the decision to register my business, so many other good things have flowed from that single action.
How challenging is it to maintain a full-time corporate career and manage your own business?
It is only as challenging as you make it. My business is primarily serviced-based and for now, I am the face of my business, I am the COE, chief in charge of everything, so I am strategic in the number of clients and projects I take on, ensuring that my commitment to excellence in fulfilling my job functions is solid, while at the same time delivering an on-par standard of excellence with my PR Belle Media clients. In essence, time management and prioritising.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to take the step to start their own business but is doubtful and fearful?
I believe that each person, in their heart and gut, knows when it’s the right time to do something. And I truly believe that when you want something badly enough, the universe conspires to make it happen. That is a quote, paraphrased from my absolute favourite, book – The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. You just have to start, make the decision to do something, and don’t wait on anything to be perfect… stop waiting, because life isn’t waiting on us. And it is important to surround yourself with supportive and encouraging friends and family who will cheer you on and show up for you. I have my ‘show-up’ friends and family who were right there from day one and who continue to be there, and it makes a tremendous difference knowing you have people rooting for you.
When you aren’t busy being the ‘PR Belle’, how do you relax?
I don’t think I ever pause from being the PR Belle, but when I’m not actively working, I enjoy reading/listening to a good book, sleeping in extra late, or spending time with my friends – you can find us at a good restaurant or beach – cocktail or wine in hand. Rest, fun and spending quality time with the people I love and care for is super important to a balanced life for me.
What’s next for the PR Belle?
I’ve had this book in my head for a while now, and I need to get it out, so I am hopeful I will get it out on paper in 2022 (pray for me). I also want to resume my passion project, which I launched in November 2020 – Everyday Boss Belles, which is an ‘all woman’ conversation series, where I focus on sharing the stories of passionate and successful career-driven women, who I believe can positively influence and inspire the lives of the next generation of women. I completed eight episodes between November 2020 and May 2021, interviewing some amazing women with great stories. Persons can watch the episodes on the Everyday Boss Belles YouTube channel.
What inspires you?
My past inspires [me] to dream big, bold and audacious dreams. It also serves as a reminder that everything in this life is temporary, and once you decide to do something, it will happen exactly how and when it should. My past does not define my present or future self, but it does help to fuel my passion for accomplishing all that I want to.
And finally, what is your mantra?
Celebrate yourself. Celebrate life. Celebrate people. I do my best to live my life celebrating my every win – no matter how small they may seem; and I extend that same energy to my friends and family – and even strangers, too. Life is short; celebrate the time you are sure you have.