Photo by Neelakshi Vidyalankara
Indy Vidyalankara is the founder of Indypendent PR, a specialist PR consultancy in broadcast, music and entertainment. She is a former Sony Music Director of Communications, BBC Communicator and Saatchi & Saatchi advertising executive.
Across 17 years, Indy has worked with the country’s biggest names in TV, radio and music. Indy’s PR career started at Sony Music after leaving a career in advertising at Saatchi & Saatchi. Over four years, she worked as a publicist for a multitude of Sony Music artists across all the labels. She got the call to join BBC Radio 1 and started what would become an eleven year tenure at the broadcaster.
While there, Indy publicised the biggest presenters and shows on Radio 1, 1Xtra and the BBC’s biggest flagship entertainment programmes such as Strictly Come Dancing, The Voice UK, Children in Need and Eurovision.
Indy came full circle by returning to Sony Music in 2014 when she was appointed by the Chairman & CEO as Director of Communications.
Towards the end of 2015, she founded Indypendent PR and hasn’t looked back.
Describe a typical day for you?
A typical day for me would be dropping my two children (Aria aged 5, Blake aged 2) to school and nursery respectively. I recently left the corporate world to start Indypendent PR, my own boutique PR consultancy in music, broadcast and entertainment, I’m in my first 6 months and it’s liberating!
I have weekly meetings in Central London, these could be with my business associate, any of my clients, or networking meetings with my industry contacts. My office is based at home, where I have regular Skype meetings with some of my overseas clients that are based in Israel an Miami.
I also always make time to contact journalists about whatever I’m currently working on.
I will also do some work on the kids community art project and social experiment ‘Through A Child’s Eye: A World View’ that I founded and currently run on Facebook. In it, I’m asking 4-12 year olds to draw what their idea of a better world looks like. It has no political agenda and I will be collecting the drawings for an exhibition. It’s exciting that the project is already engaging little hearts and minds!
The local school is backing it, mums around the world are inspired and getting involved, and I’m also debuting it at the Big Fish Little Fish at the Mini VAULT Festival in Waterloo on Saturday 6th February. It also happens to be my son’s 3rd birthday this week, so I have some party organising and baking on the agenda also!
Having children has given me a work-life balance that I probably wouldn’t have found otherwise. Having a family and my other new child, my business, is both hard work and incredibly rewarding in equal measure.
What do you feel are your biggest achievements?
3 things that I can think of!
My children Aria and Blake – Having my youngest at the age of 40 was definitely tougher physically on me, but many women have kids well into their 40s perfectly well.
Having my own business allows me to do the school pickups and homework, something I wasn’t able to do before when I was full-time employed.
Being around more has transformed family life. At the age they are, I have realised how much they need me around. Being a firm feminist believer that women can have both a family and career, I also discovered that I’m most happy when my children are happy. It took me a little while to work that out!
My career so far – I’m a former record company Director of Communications, BBC communicator and Saatchi & Saatchi advertising exec, I’ve been able to adapt and re-invent myself professionally in every new job in each of the big organisations I’ve worked in.
Embracing the new and change have been a signature theme in my professional life. I’ve had nearly 20 years in the PR and entertainment industry, travelled the world and worked with some of the most brilliant, inspirational and creative minds. I’ve learnt a lot from failure and it doesn’t deter me the way it used to when I was younger.
I don’t feel I’ve finished yet I terms of what I want to achieve, but I’m honoured to have got to work with some legends, among them the recently and dearly departed David Bowie and Terry Wogan.
My kids community art project and social experiment ‘Through A Child’s Eye: A World View’ – this project has given me so much as a person a short time since and I really want to make a contribution to the community with it.
The opportunity of this project in an educational sense is to help children express themselves in their drawings, be empowered and expand their consciousness, and for grown ups to be touched, moved and inspired by the children’s creations.
Our children are inheriting our world, and among them are tomorrow’s world leaders, the purity of what a child sees is so powerful, let us shine a light on children and let them show us the way for a change.
As I write this, I have received messages from mums in both Dubai and Australia who are getting involved.
It’s not my project any more, it belongs out there in the world and I’m getting a lot out of watching it grow daily.
What’s in your handbag?
Right now it’s:
- Kids cereal bars and raisins
- Revlon lipstick
- Nars concealer
- Body shop hemp hand cream
- Notebook – analogue not digital!
- Portable iphone charger
- Water bottle
What are your ambitions in life?
To keep growing as a person, both personally and professionally. I want to make a difference to my community and give something back to the world. I want to also work with innovative, creative, visionary people.
What advice would you give your pre-baby self, that you now know, having had children?
Start getting more sleep, you’ll be playing catchup for 18 years.
Commence pelvic floor exercises as soon as that baby comes out.
Take hair vitamins as soon as you stop breastfeeding, it helps slow down hair loss and strengthens the hair up again.
Get a cleaner. Ironing is overrated!
Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?
Happy, fulfilled, but still driven and still thirsty for more!
What advice would you give a budding PR/ Entrepreneur?
Hone your offering, make it distinct and stand out from the rest, work out your purpose, your ‘why’.
Hit up all your contacts, and your contacts’ contacts
Never be afraid to ask, the worst you’ll get is a ‘No’.
Don’t take things personally.
Be great at listening.
If you get rejected, get back on the bike.
Finally, happiness is…
Being cuddled by a child.
Being able to love, protect and take care of the people I love most.
Being connected, sharing and out there, in the world.
Please support Indy’s kids community art project on Facebook: like, share and get involved!