If one of your goals in life is to find the right work-life balance, especially with your horses, then my latest Country Bumpkin Chic Chats to interview with Katie from Riviera PR is a perfect motivational read. Plus, she used to work in F1 – how cool is that?
1. Katie, welcome to the CBC blog… first of all, tell us the inspiration behind your business Riviera PR.
I have spent the last 10 years working mainly in motorsport – I was fortunate to gain a place on the McLaren F1 graduate scheme straight out of university, I realised I wasn’t going to win a world championship as a rider myself so when I was sat one weekend watching it on TV I realised I could combine my love of competition with a career in engineering. I set my sights on it, took a Masters in aeronautics and then was 1 of 2 to make it into the company.
Since then I have been fortunate to work as an F1 race strategist, gearbox engineer, travelled the world with GT racing representing a big brand, to run the test and development programme for a hypercar, running a simulator for Ben Ainslie Racing in Bermuda and most recently project managing the Engine and Turbo for the Mercedes AMG One.
I loved racing and being trackside, but I came back from one race and my horse had injured himself and was to never be ridden again. I realised I had spent so much time working I had not spent time with my wonderful horse, and I could not get that time back.
I moved then into less racing-based roles, I dabbled in Defence for a little while but it didn’t quite fulfil me – the pace was very slow!
I finally took what I thought was my dream job and relocated to the Midlands only to discover it really wasn’t what I thought it would be. I was working from 7 am to 6 pm at a minimum, up at 4 am to ride before work and just wasn’t enjoying it. So, I handed in my notice, which was 6 months and decided I would work the rest out.
PR was a career direction I had considered many years earlier, but I couldn’t fathom the idea of running my own business. But I knew the power of social media to support riders and businesses, from first-hand experience and I saw that riders now need to be more than just a great rider – they need to be a business manager, accountant, social media guru and so much more. I knew I could help, it was just working out the how!
I’m glad I did a few more years in the corporate world though, the skills I have gained through engineering and programme management, especially working for high-end brands has taught me hard work, dedication and a real attention to detail.
The business is named after my horse River – she’s my world and she drives most of my life decisions now. So, I couldn’t really not name it after her!
2. You offer a mix of services both for riders and brands – can you explain a bit about this?
I do – I set out to help riders, but I ended up going full time in my business in the middle of the global pandemic, talk about timing! And lots of businesses needed help with social media, a few friends recommended me to them, and the rest is history. Those clients have been fabulous, and I have become good friends with them all.
I am fully booked with the do it for you social media service, but I offer training to help others if they want to learn to do it themselves.
Similarly, I coach riders on how to go and get sponsorship themselves, there’s so much everyone has to offer and I really enjoy helping riders realise the amount they can help a brand, and then help them structure a strategy and write successful applications. So far two riders have already gained their first sponsors.
I have recently launched my rider management service, where I look after riders’ sponsors, help find them for them, take care of the paperwork, organise photoshoots and much more. So those riders can focus on what they do best – riding!
3. What element of your role do you enjoy the most?
Good question! I love seeing people learn and progress, so the coaching is brilliant for that, but I also love helping a rider get the support they need and I also work with some incredible up and coming brands – watching their social media grow and their business flourish is fantastic. Basically, I really like helping.
4. What has been your biggest business & dressage highs – & any lows?
Biggest business high is managing to set up and survive during Covid! It makes my heart sing when I see someone recommend me too, it means a hell of a lot. And I am really excited for what is to come.
My biggest dressage high, tough one! I love the journey I am on with River, we have been placed 3rd at Nationals twice and was the highest amateur, we also won the Home International last year and the Area Festival qualifier for Nationals. But I am really enjoying learning the more advanced movements with her now.
My low was when Oskar got his injury – I was heartbroken, but he was responsible for me pivoting what I did and for what my life looks like now. Life is too short not to ride.
5. What does the future look like for Riviera PR?
Oh gosh – you will have to stay tuned!
Quickfire Country Bumpkin Chic round:
1. Top PR / social media tip for busy riders?
Plan your content – just having a few ideas down means you don’t get decision fatigue and then not post. Also, pick a time and place that you will post – I aim to post on my riding page as I sit in the car about to drive home.
2. Top 3 professional riders that you think are nailing it on social media?
- Ben Hobday @benhobday – great behind the scenes! And an honest page which I really appreciate.
- Michelle Kenny @_michellekennyrle – she does a really good job of getting sponsor info on and she appears to comment and get back to everyone.
- Sophie Christiansen @sophiechristiansencbe – I went to uni with Sophie, I just think how she has utilised social media, come up with the gold club and gets good content out there is just brilliant.
3. Favourite motivational book?
Favourite motivational book – How to be a Badass by Jen Sincero, it’s a good one, as is her money-making one.
4. I can’t live without ….?
Instagram for business and River my horse.
5. Favourite motivational quote…
If you never ask, you will never know. I really believe in this, from getting jobs or other opportunities I know I wouldn’t have got half of where I am now without trying. I believe in being polite too. I figure the worst thing they will say is ‘no’, and a ‘no’ is just a ‘not right now’.
Thanks, Katie for sharing such a fascinating insight into your life & business.
Tell us where all the places we can find Riviera PR online:
- Instagram: @rivierprltd
- Facebook: Riviera PR Ltd
- Twitter: @rivieraprltd
- Website: www.rivieraprltd.com
If you enjoyed the interview with Katie from Riviera PR, you might enjoy my interview with designer Alice from Alice Rose & Co.