Victoria Carr, who is chief baker at Victoria’s Sponges and an account manager at PR agency Cirkle, on how her public relations skills helped her build her cake business

PR has become a part of my life and is somewhat second nature now. But when I look back, my role helped to give me a head start over many other businesses when building my customer base.

Firstly, I got the confidence to start Victoria’s Sponges after my boss asked me to make her wedding cake, having enjoyed the many, many cakes I brought into the office. Secondly, PR is a form of marketing that is mostly free in the form of editorial coverage and social media, and can be applied to any business if you know how.

I first turned to social media, an increasingly exploited and powerful medium for small businesses. Who isn’t on social media these days?

Reaching consumers has become so much easier for brands that cannot afford huge advertising spend following the growth of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram – although it’s also a very cluttered shop window.

Working in PR has helped me to understand what works and what doesn’t in this digital age.

Consumers don’t want to see posts constantly promoting your products; ‘Here are my Gin & Tonic Cupcakes! Buy some’, just won’t cut it. They want useful tips, life hacks, humour, something that will make them relate to the brand and build an affinity with it, and they want you to do it consistently. Once the customer builds a connection with your business, they will buy from you.

If I were to go back in time to when I started Victoria’s Sponges three years ago, with the knowledge of social media I have now, I would have advised myself to start investing in Facebook advertising sooner. As little as £10-£15 a month will allow you to target new audiences and can result in increased impressions and engagement.

PR has taught me that you should not approach your marketing through a single medium. Social media is great, but it’s not enough. A blog and newsletter are also good ways to speak directly to your audience, although it takes hard work and dedication to build readership. And I have to say, I’m still working on that!

The content needs to be engaging, relatable and useful and you need to push it in some way. I use my social channels to drive traffic to my blog on my website, which was built free with Wix.

It’s still early days for my little, Reading-based cake business and by no means is Victoria’s Sponges the finished article, but all of these things take time… and consistency.