Maz Coote on running her own PR agency and the secret to her success

Whether you’re a content creator, journalist or PR professional, you’ve likely heard the name Maz Coote. The powerhouse of a woman has gone from strength to strength over the last few years and isn’t showing signs of slowing down anytime soon.

Coote is best known for founding Coote Connex, a beauty and lifestyle PR agency, in 2015. It was only last year she decided to rebrand to Coote Agency, where she added two new additions to the business: A digital marketing offering (Coote Digital) and a modern talent agency (Coote Experts).

With over 15 years of experience, BEAUTYDIRECTORY had to sit down with Coote herself to pick her brain about her career so far, what a day in her life looks like and what we can expect in the future.

Take us back to the beginning — what made you want to start Coote Agency?

It might be handy to start with that earlier this year, we rebranded to Coote Agency. We brought all the arms of the agency — our original beauty and lifestyle PR agency, our talent agency and our digital marketing offering — under one umbrella. So BEAUTYDIRECTORY readers would have probably known us as Coote Connex formally. 

I wanted to build a PR agency that specialised in the beauty and lifestyle space rather than working across the whole gamut of categories. The beauty space is so unique, and there is a real art to the work and a real advantage in having deep relationships with relevant media and content creators. I was also pretty passionate about building an agency that could cater to a market that was changing; I wanted to be able to welcome global brands but also start-ups that maybe didn’t have the budget for extended 12-month PR campaigns.

We launched, and I built this approach into our DNA from day one. We were an agency with the reach and team size of an agency, but that brands could plug in line with more of a contractor model in that we could offer shorter terms and project work. 

This is still our philosophy. We build custom strategies per client, and we do not take a one size fits all approach. 

Walk us through your career before starting Coote Agency - where were you working?

I spent the first part of my PR career, seven years or so, at another agency, Sweaty Betty PR. I went in as an intern and worked my way up to GM. In that GM role, I wore many hats and managed our portfolio of beauty clients. We have had Coote Agency for eight years this year. 

What hurdles have you faced since starting your own brand?

So I have always said, more tongue in cheek, that PR doesn't sleep. There is an opportunity around every corner, and if you think like that then you will deliver for your brands.

Fast forward 15 years from when I started saying that — and this industry that is so digital and so global —  now really doesn't sleep. We are tasked with navigating a landscape of infinite opportunity and our role is to distil down the best of the best opportunities that are going to drive value for our clients.

It's an amazing position to be in when building a brand. I have found though, that budgets put in the PR bucket have not necessarily caught up with this. So I think the challenge for PR is to stretch the thinking of our clients, so we can go and grab spend usually dedicated to above-the-line activity and funnel it into other areas.

PR has two key roles: We are a powerful content creation funnel for all other activities, and we build third-party authority. I challenge you to think about how successful other activities are in today's market without those two things.

What does your daily routine look like?

My one-year-old daughter is my alarm clock these days, and that can be anytime from 6am to 7am!

We go downstairs and have a coffee (me) bottle (her). I check my emails and answer anything that has come in overnight from international clients. Then I try and squeeze in at least 45 minutes of exercise, which could be a walk with Charlotte or weights (and we play in between sets ha!) before I head to the office for a 9am start. These days I get in a bit later than I like, but it is a balance between getting my daughter ready for the day and making sure I spend quality time with her before work. 

I am also supported by the most amazing team in the agency. I feel so lucky to have been able to find such wonderful people to work alongside, and I get to kick goals with them every day. They are clever, dedicated to their clients and just really good people. 

My day is generally filled with client meetings, new business meetings, meetings with our team to brainstorm ideas and reviewing client strategies the team have put together. Plus, taking journalists to breakfast or lunch is always a highlight of the week!

Lunch is salad or sushi. Then I'm back out the door at about 5pm to have a few more hours with my daughter before she goes to bed and I get back on my laptop!

It is busy, crazy, and nonstop, and I have reached new levels of efficiency that I didn’t even know I was capable of!

What would you say is the secret to your success?

I understand that reaching ‘success’ is dynamic. At every turn, you celebrate what has been achieved, and then plan out new goals and keep moving the needle forward. 

The business started as a PR agency, and we have kept building to serve the market better. With the PR agency, we learnt that brand voices were in demand.  So we built an agency of industry-leading experts that brands and journalists alike can lean on (an Olympic team nutritionist, leading dermatologists, and relationship and leadership experts). 

We then learnt that the traditional digital agency model wasn’t suitable for all brands, because they couldn’t speak the digital marketing language, and they were getting bombarded with metrics and numbers and felt they were losing control and becoming dependent. So we went and built a digital agency that was boutique, that could demystify digital marketing and talk in a language that was easy to understand and digest. 

What advice would you give to journalists/influencers when it comes to working with PR?

Our showroom has an open-door policy. We want to see you in real life, or we can tour you virtually!

We prefer a tailored approach. We want to send you things you are interested in, that you want to use, and that you have already used and loved. So we are all about getting to know you personally!

What is the best beauty advice you’ve received?

Use the serums and moisturisers that you don't like or don’t sit well under makeup on your neck, chest and backs of your hands. These areas age along with your face - Leigh Campbell, Mamamia and Brillo Beauty

Apply your fake tan to your hands and feet with a damp foundation brush - Natalie, The Parlour Room Clovelly

Let me tell you, you will never look back. I have not had a streaky patchy hand disaster since. 

What can people expect from Coote Agency in the coming months?

We have built out a new service offering called E-PR, which marries PR and Digital Marketing together in a really plug-and-play into your business kind of way.

You have content specialists (PR) partnered with digital marketing specialists, driving a strategy that works for several reasons. Still, the key is that the content was built by people that understand the trends in the market intimately. 

We found our brands had two pain points: How to get more eyeballs on their content and their PR wins, and how to speak the new language that is digital marketing.

Using PR as the content funnel, we then build digital marketing strategies to get the maximum amount of eyeballs on your product/service/brand, and we break it down into digestible projects that our clients intimately understand.

Follow Maz on Instagram here, and Coote Agency here.