Women We Love: Valerie Roe, PR Guru and Founder of Valerie Roe PR

“In one corner you had Paul Harrington playing the piano, while Julia Roberts, Aidan Quinn, Ronan Keating, Slash from Guns & Roses, Jim Sheridan, Brad Pitt and more were upstairs dancing together,” Valerie Roe says nonchalantly of one of the most memorable nights at Lillie’s Bordello nightclub.

Though being at the helm of the celebrity hotspot in Dublin for 13 years was just one peak in a career that has reached lofty heights.

From winning the Miss Ireland crown to holding the title of Ireland’s most in demand PR agent, Valerie Roe has had an epic journey, securing major clients, filling up her overflowing ‘little black book’ of contacts, and throwing countless parties on the path to building Dublin’s only 24-hour agency – “Don’t be surprised by my 2am replies,” as her Instagram bio reads.

In fact, in the industry, Valerie’s name is synonymous with a great party – when you see an invite coming in from Valerie Roe you automatically check what you have on the next morning, as it will probably be a late one.

Image: Des O’Neill

We chatted to Valerie about what it takes to get to the top of the PR game, her secret to throwing a great party, and why you shouldn’t ever challenge her to a Sleepless in Seattle quote battle…

How did you get your start in the entertainment industry?

My first foray into the entertainment industry was with modelling and music. Before I got my ‘break’ I was doing lots of charity shows, singing and dancing.

Always a show-girl and I loved to be in front of the camera; I grew up with a performer’s mentality. I suppose I really got my start in the industry when I won the title of Miss Ireland.

I was chosen to fill the spot in the band and little did I know that this would mark the beginning of a long and varied career within the entertainment industry

Soon after, Louis Walsh – with whom I’ve remained close friends with – organised an audition for a popular UK band – The Dooleys – that were at number 3 in the charts at the time and looking for a female lead vocalist.

I was chosen to fill the spot and little did I know that this would mark the beginning of a long and varied career within the entertainment industry, approaching it from all angles.

My first gig was on Top of the Pops in Germany – quite the baptism of fire – and my first tour was in Japan where we did our own live TV show and had 10 number one hit singles.

During your time at the helm Lillie’s Bordello was Dublin’s celebrity hotspot. Can you name some of those who visited:

I could fill up a whole magazine with the list of names of those who visited Lillie’s Bordello while I was at the helm, so it’s probably easier to say who wasn’t there!

I had the pleasure of meeting everyone from Leonardo Di Caprio, Beyonce to Prince Albert of Monaco, Gerard Butler and Bono were my favourites.

Was there a particular moment or night during your time that you’ll never forget?

There were so many stand-out nights, I’m not sure I ever had a dull night at Lillies, but I’ll never forget The Rolling Stones “End of The World” Tour party.

In one corner you had Paul Harrington playing the piano, while Julia Roberts, Aidan Quinn, Ronan Keating, Slash from Guns & Roses, Jim Sheridan, Brad Pitt and more were upstairs dancing together.

It was surreal and the energy in the Piano Bar was palpable; it really was the IT place to be in Dublin for a considerable length of time.

At what stage did you move on from Lillie’s to set up Valerie Roe PR?

While at Lillies I did all the PR in-house and was tasked with managing and organising events of all kinds so I got first hand experience looking after some of the biggest names in the industry.

At the same time I also wrote a social column for the Sunday Tribune so for me it was very much a natural progression to move into the world of PR.

It’s no secret; anyone who works with me or knows me knows that I am on the other end of the phone and email 24/7; I work tirelessly with my team to run Dublin’s only 24-hour agency

It was a job I was already doing and I had built up quite the little black book of contacts. My relationships with those in the industry are very important to me.

What’s your secret to being at the top of the PR game for over a decade?

It’s no secret; anyone who works with me or knows me knows that I am on the other end of the phone and email 24/7; I work tirelessly with my team to run Dublin’s only 24-hour agency – much to the detriment of my sleeping pattern.

I’ve always had a strong work ethic and a willingness to go above and beyond for a project that I believe in. I only take on clients or brands or projects that I really do feel passionate about.

Your relationships are also crucial. It’s not just about who you know or who follows you on social media but having meaningful connections and mutual respect for those within the industry.

You won’t go far in the PR game without a good reputation behind you, as well as integrity.

What is the biggest risk you’ve ever taken?

Without going into the specific details – because again, PR is all about confidentiality, respect and loyalty, there was one particular experience when I ignored my gut instincts – which we all have for a very good reason – and wound up working on a project that I really shouldn’t have.

But I am grateful to have made some mistakes along the way too because after all, there is no failure; only feedback.

Taking risks, whether they pay off or not, is something you have to be comfortable with, but what you will eventually learn is to listen to your instincts.

What do consider your greatest achievement?

As much as I love what I do, my greatest achievement will always be having my son Josh.

Motherhood can sometimes appear to come secondary to someone’s career, but for me and for all working mums out there – it deserves a whole load of kudos. I’m immensely proud of the young man he’s turning out to be.

In the wake of the Irish ‘influencer scandal’ what’s your opinion on the future and value of influencers?

Influencer marketing has always been around, it’s just that we refer to it as something new these days, and because most of the influencing happens on social media which is still a relatively new construct in the world of PR and advertising.

It’s not just about who you know or who follows you on social media but having meaningful connections and mutual respect for those within the industry.

Celebrity endorsements are nothing new though, and there will always be value provided those who are doing the influencing have integrity.

It’s no secret that bloggers and influencers get paid, but the key in terms of value is ensuring that they align their name to something that really fits with their brand and their core values.

What are the strongest growing trends in marketing and events?

Though I am known for my parties, I’m definitely finding in 2018 that smaller, more intimate events are proving more popular and effective.

People like to feel that bit more special. It’s always great to catch up with contacts at a larger event where everyone can mingle and network, but there’s a lot to be said for having the time during one event to actually have a conversation with those you’ve invited.

We recently had Chloe Goodman over to launch the 3D Aesthetics in The Penthouse in The Fitzwilliam Hotel, and we invited a select few guests who could experience the technology first hand, catch up with a coffee and leave with valuable insights.

Though technology seeks to connect us, very often we can feel cut off, so it’s really important to sit down face to face with the people you’re emailing on a weekly basis.

Your launch parties are legendary, what’s your secret formula?

My secret formula for a legendary party will remain under wraps!

When I’m planning a launch party, I focus on the word ‘party’ first and foremost.

I incorporate the entertainment and the fun element into the overall objective and allow my guests to feel as though they are at a genuine let-your-hair-down party; the kind of party where they won’t want to leave.

Again, my black book of contacts will prove hugely valuable for party planning. I work with the best in the business.

Of all the events and marketing campaigns you’ve organised which have been the most memorable?

Definitely the charity Nobu Ball in association with Boodles in aid of Outreach Moldova – it was the first time Nobu ever came to Ireland and the first time The Four Seasons ever allowed a takeover of their kitchen.

All of the Nobu staff worldwide came in and gave their time for free and we hosted an unforgettable night with incredible food – including the Nobu signature dish Blackened Cod cooked by Nobu’s celebrity executive chef Mark Edwards.

When I’m planning a launch party, I want my guests to feel as though they are at a genuine let-your-hair-down party; the kind of party where they won’t want to leave.

A host of familiar faces from the Irish celebrity scene were in attendance. The late Gerry Ryan MC’d the evening with London’s hottest club DJ at the time – China White.

Even the co-owner of Nobu, Richie Notar, flew in for the occasion. I’ll never forget it.

What women in Ireland, and Irish women abroad, are inspiring you right now?

I’m really inspired by all of the Irish women using their voice across a number of really important issues, including the Repeal campaign.

For one name in particular, I’m in awe of author Emma Hannigan’s bravery surrounding her cancer battle. She has raised so much awareness and was an incredible woman.

If you could raid anyone’s wardrobe, whose would it be?

Victoria Beckham – she just exudes sophistication – or designer Sara Battaglia.

And what is the most treasured item in your wardrobe?

A sheriff badge my Gran gave me when I was 4 years old. It holds a lot of sentimental value for me.

Aside from this, and any living things, what are the three things that you would save from your house in a fire?

My phone, My Laptop and My Black Coat – The Valerie Roe PR Essentials.

What are your three desert island beauty essentials?

Clarins Double Serum, Vaseline for my lashes – it helps them grow right before your eyes – and if I could afford to keep myself stocked on a monthly basis, it would have to be Crème de la Mer The Moisturising Soft Cream.

Image: Des O’Neill

Is there a movie that you know by heart?

I gravitate towards movies with happy endings because I like to feel good as the final credits roll. I would challenge anyone to a Notting Hill or Sleepless In Seattle quote-off.

What is the worst job you’ve done?

I once worked in a chain pharmacy selling soap on a rope and yes, it’s as odd as it sounds. Retail was not for me.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

‘Trust your instincts; you have them for a reason’. This is the most valuable advice I’ve ever received.

Can you share any plans you have in the pipeline for 2018?

I have some really exciting new projects happening this year, including the development of my production company VRTV – we’re already up and running but this year I want to take my 360 multimedia brand solutions offering to new heights – and some excotic destination shoots. Stay tuned for details!

For more information on Valerie Roe PR on www.valerieroe.com. You can follow Valerie Roe PR on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.