The Interview – Susie Fraser

What’s next for this Glasgow business woman?

Susie Fraser

When Susie Fraser walks in the room you notice. Bursting with energy and a warm smile, she immediately makes you feel at ease. We sat down to discuss her business philosophy and long-term love of the publishing industry.

“It seems that most of my early years were spent around the kitchen table with my parents and brothers, reading the newspapers and chatting about current affairs” Susie Fraser begins. It makes sense. Her family is intrinsically linked to Scotland’s media. Her dad was the editor of the Daily Record for years and Chairman of Trinity Mirror. Her mother was also a journalist, covering showbiz in the 60’s and writing a TV column for the Sunday Mail. Today her two brothers are successful journalists.

Susie originally wanted to be on stage and studied drama at the Royal Academy (now the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland) in Glasgow, before winning a European scholarship to study in France.

Susie worked as an actress in roles that ranged from a leading lady in West End Shakespearean productions in to topical new shows on BBC radio. At the same time, she took up a position at a men’s fitness magazine as a marketing and PR executive. “Once I started that job, I never looked back. I fell in love with the industry.”

Within two years she was Head of Marketing for Men’s Fitness and Shape and then moved to be Head of Promotions for Northcliffe Media overseeing strategy and implementation of major marketing campaigns across 120 titles.

After 15 years in London and with two small children under the age of three, Susie realised she wanted to come home to Scotland. She had a limited network in Scotland, it was all mainly in London so she decided to form her own digital marketing firm, Parlez, originally Incentive Media. This experience has stuck with her: “I realised the importance of a wide network, even of European or global size.”

Susie started Parlez at the start of the 2007 at the beginning of the recession. She used her commercial sense to identify what both the public and newspaper industry needed at this time, which led to her launching sales promotions and reader offers. During this time, she launched the “Captain Crunch” pages in the Sun newspapers, helping consumers to identify bargains and beat the recession. Susie created over £1million pounds of savings for readers over 18 months.

Susie’s clients soon realised the benefits of having someone who understood the bottom line managing their public image. She started to pick up major PR contracts, including Cameron House, Hilton Glasgow, Ideal Home Show, Great British Bake Off Live, Lonsdale and Firetrap. Over eighty per cent of Susie’s contracts were new to Scotland ensuring new investment to the Scottish economy.

My advice to anyone running a company would be to know what you want to achieve so you can work towards it, never lose that focus.

Business philosophy is important to her and she has worked mentoring others develop their companies and lecturing at Strathclyde University’s Hunter School of Entrepreneurship. In 2010, she won the “HSBC Scottish Business Star of the Year” award, something she is particularly proud of as it was for her commercial ability, rather than marketing skills.

Susie is also aware of her weaknesses, including being a little disorganised: “I have to counteract this by bringing in fantastic management people around me. It’s so important to be confident enough to take people on who are better than you to ensure an effective well rounded team.”

In 2015, after a short illness, Susie decided it was time for a change in direction. She sold Parlez to a larger Scottish PR firm and, after staying with them for a year to ensure a smooth transition, she moved on to new challenges.

She has recently worked as a marketing and commercial advisor to Scottish Women’s Football. In her time, she significantly boosted turnover as well as putting in place a communications and marketing strategy for the incoming season. She has also started working with boutique communications consultancy, Morrison Media, helping the company to diversify its offering for consumer and digital clients.

She lets me know she has been asked guest edit the next issue of Business Women Scotland and finishes: “I’m so excited to get back to my roots in publishing and work with my old friend Lynne Kennedy. It’s a great publication and brand and there are so many great stories out there to be told.”

I leave thinking that Susie Fraser has so more great stories to tell and I look forward to hearing them.

Susie’s Top tips for success

Surround yourself with a great team of people that can bring skills you don’t have.
Network is key to growth, making new connections is so important and to spread your contact base.
Believe in your product, enjoy what you do, hard work does pay off.