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Helen Croydon riding a Bianchi road bike

Here's my story,
how would you tell yours?

About Helen Croydon

Getting into journalism

My portfolio career has led me to a true place of calling.

Starting with a degree in Japanese, and joining one of the then-called big-five accountancy firms (Arthur Andersen), using my Japanese to advise ex-pats on their UK tax position, I soon discovered I wasn’t cut out for corporate life. I lasted two years – enough to get a tax accountancy qualification!

Back to college I went, to put my lifelong love of writing to use by studying a PG Dip in journalism. There began a 15-year career in the media. I started in local radio (Cheshire's Silk FM), on a quarter of the salary of my corporate life. I remember chipping ice of the gate at 5.45am when opening the studio, ready to write and read the flagship breakfast news bulletins. (I still have recordings. For LOL's, here's me reading the breaking Cheshire news in 2002!)

From there, I moved to ITN, producing and voicing networked radio news bulletins for the UK network of nearly 200 local radio stations (Then called IRN). (Yep, still got a demo from that era too!) From there, I got my break into TV news production and did the odd bit of on-screen reporting (way too cringeworthy to share).

But still, my call to write wasn’t met. So, I left the safety of employment at ITN to go freelance. That was 2009, and I spent the next 10 years pitching and writing features to newspapers and magazines, commenting on the likes of Sky News and BBC News Channel. 

 

It was in this era that I wrote three books. The first made the WHSmith annual best-seller list in 2011. The third was long-listed for The William Hill Sports Book of the Year in 2018. Through that I regularly got asked to do talks.

Freelance journalism and becoming an author

Helen Croydon giving a book talk at Hay Festival

Sounds successful right? But somehow I never felt successful. The monetary reward of journalism and authorship doesn’t match the social kudos. People were always expressing how impressed they were that I had regular bylines in UK newspapers (some highlights here), had three published books (summaries here), and was a regular talking head on programmes like Woman’s Hour and Good Morning Britain (the best-of is here).

But what they didn't see was that all these media gigs produced only ad hoc income. So, I left the seemingly impressive world of journalism, broadcasting and book writing. As much as I loved the buzz that comes from seeing your byline in The Sunday Times, it was too bitty.

 

That's how I came to found my business, Thought Leadership PR in 2019. I shaped it into a PR agency specialising in personal PR and developing thought leadership. First it was just me – giving advice to entrepreneurs on how they can become commentators in the media and to build their personal brand.

The business grew. After five years, I employed seven people. We were the go-to agency for the niche specialism of personal PR. But it consumed me. In everything to date, running a business was the hardest thing I've ever done! Harder than writing three books. Harder than studying Japanese. Harder than qualifying to Team GB in my age-group for triathlon (that's what my third book is about!)

Every day, I flitted between sales calls, difficult calls with clients who had unrealistic expectations of media coverage, team catch-ups, calls with lawyers, calls with partners. But I was on a mission to grow, and sell, and retire by 50! So I kept going.

 

Until, in 2023, drained and frazzled from running this business, I went on a retreat. A powerful epiphany resulted.

Founding a PR agency

Helen Croydon in black top

Becoming a ghostwriter

Ahead of this retreat I was pondering a beautiful question I had heard recently: "What's the gift you're called to give?"

 

During a meditation, one word came to me: 'Articulation'. The common thread in all of my careers has been helping people articulate their message. My gift is that I can help tell stories that need to be told.

 

I concluded I no longer need to write for my own by-lines, or for my own name on the cover of books. I've done all that. My skill can be put to better use - writing for other people.

It took me a year to scale down my business. I had to make redundancies, turn down business, phase out suppliers and - most painfully - let go of the personal brand I'd created, to move onto a different path towards ghostwriting books that need to be written and writing for thought leaders with messages that need to be shared.

If you want to work with me while I'm boldly forging this new path - for ghostwriting, for writing coaching, for thought leadership writing or personal brand building advice, the button to talk is right below!

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