Entrepreneurship: Valerie O’Reilly of Unicorn Communications

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Do you have the entrepreneurship bug? Valerie O’Reilly is the owner and managing director of Unicorn Communications. Here she tells us about her education, her career path and setting up her business.

I have always been described as a ‘people person’. So when it came to embarking upon a career path, I decided to combine my social skills with a flair for business subjects and studied Marketing at third-level.

Throughout my three years as an undergraduate, I volunteered with Chris Roche Publicity – Ireland’s leading PR firm at the time. There I worked on a number of high-profile charity events. I gained invaluable experience from Chris. Following graduation, I continued to work for him as a Junior Account Executive until his untimely death in 2002. To this day, I am forever grateful to him for all that he taught me about the world of public relations.

In 2003, at the tender age of just 23, buoyed by an innate, enterprising spirit, I decided to take the leap to set up my own business. Coming from an entrepreneurial family – both of my parents and my older brother all took the entrepreneurial path – I knew that I would, inevitably, encounter numerous challenges along the way. However, I also had the self-belief to know that there wouldn’t be anything that I couldn’t overcome in the long run.

By constantly adapting, evolving, and developing a creative attitude to meet – and, where possible, exceed – our customers’ requirements, we design effective and innovative solutions that deliver measurable results to a myriad of blue-chip clients throughout Ireland. These range from Corporate and Professional Services to Consumer, Financial, Entertainment and beyond.

My daily responsibilities include pro-actively and effectively marketing the business; forward planning; networking; seeking new business; pitching to potential clients; overseeing all client projects; maintaining regular contact with all of our clients; liaising with various media; pitching ideas to journalists and broadcast producers; researching media features that could be suitable profile opportunities for our clients; overseeing finances and the overall management of the business.

Without doubt, a client receiving positive, accurate coverage in the media is the highlight of my job. Not only is it proof that we have done a great job and delivered measurable results for our client but it is also an acknowledgement of the time and effort that we have invested in pitching to the media source and preparing our clients’ delivery of an accurate and effective message. In short, it is immensely rewarding.

The importance of upskilling

I am a strong believer in the importance of Continual Professional Development. There is value to be gained from being open to learning and growing – personally and professionally – each day. In 2006 I completed a Diploma in Business, Executive and Personal Coaching.

I took this course primarily for my own personal development. However, I soon realised that the lessons and skills that I learned are invaluable to me in my professional life. In addition, I always wanted to complete a Masters in Communication. Therefore, in 2009, I graduated with a Masters Degree in Public and Political Communication from Dublin City University.

I sincerely believe that, in order to achieve success, you must be prepared to question and heed advice; work hard; work harder; never say ‘no’ because you are afraid of the unknown, set achievable goals and realistic deadlines and, most importantly of all, enjoy going to work every day!


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