Alice Dodge is the founder of The Comms Suite, a PR & communications headquartered in Melbourne with a work-from-anywhere approach.
1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?
After 15 years working in television news and in PR agencies plus two years of lockdowns here in Melbourne, I took some time to reflect (didn’t we all?!) and decided to start my own communications consultancy, because life is too short to ask “what if?”.
The Comms Suite officially launched in January 2022 and I work closely with my clients to help them unearth and tell their compelling stories in the earned media space and support their paid spend with newsworthy tactics and out of the box thinking to help their investment work as hard as it possibly can.
2) What does a day in your life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?
I am usually up pretty early so I’ll start the day with a coffee and catch up on the news headlines, sharing any relevant opportunities with my clients regarding topics or conversations they need to be aware of or a part of or what their competitors are up to.
I bought a Peloton at the beginning of the year so I love starting the day with a spin class to get the endorphins flowing and then I am ready to take on the day. My workdays are usually a mix of client WIP calls, pitching stories to journalists, writing media materials and taking calls with creatives, businesses or collaborators on behalf of my clients to unearth and execute content and storytelling opportunities together. I’ll unwind in the evenings with a good TV show and occasionally, a nice glass of red.
3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?
One of the main reasons I chose to branch out on my own was to have the flexibility to work from absolutely anywhere, any given day of the week.
I admire agencies for adopting flexi policies for their employees (great for retention!) but I love the fact that I can now wake up and decide whether I feel like working from my kitchen bench, my client’s office in Sydney or Melbourne, the cool co-working space up the road or lying horizontal on the beach in Noosa!
When you work for yourself, the world really is your oyster but I have learnt that human interaction cannot be manufactured so you really need to find a way to weave in face-to-face time, we’re not designed to sit behind a screen 24/7.
4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?
Boundaries, boundaries, boundaries! I do not take on more work than I can comfortably service and deliver a high standard of work that I am proud of. This sometimes means declining new clients and briefs but I am always up front from the get-go and I have found that my current and prospective clients are always grateful for that transparency. I am also very respectful of my clients’ lives after hours because they too deserve to switch off so that means there will be no emails at ridiculous hours from me!
5) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?
I now charge my phone downstairs at night to avoid “doom scrolling” and staring at that blue light in bed when I should be winding down. While this is not new or ground-breaking, it’s a little trick that has improved my quality of sleep and I don’t miss having it nearby at all.
I also make sure I move every day, whether that’s a Peloton ride, a boxing class or a 20-minute walk at a minimum because movement truly is medicine when we sit at a desk all day.
6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?
I am a big fan of all of Brené Brown’s books and podcasts and have found her observations of the human condition delivered with warmth, frankness and vulnerability especially inspiring as both a manager and now as a business owner.
I also really enjoy The World’s First Podcast by U.S sisters and entrepreneurs Sara and Erin Foster. Sibling banter and rivalry aside, they always offer up great advice when it comes to relationships, friendships and work and have the occasional celebrity guest which is great when you just want to switch off.
7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?
Since getting a Garmin smartwatch last year I have been enjoying the convenience of having that technology wrapped around my wrist, especially when it comes to hitting a daily step count or monitoring sleep.
Instagram is probably my most used app (my screen time report never lies!) and is a fantastic tool in general when it comes to marketing, staying connected and of course coveting fashion, holidays and the hottest new dining destinations.
8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?
I greatly admire Zoë Foster Blake’s drive and how she juggles a young family while managing a multimillion-dollar skincare company, carving out time for creativity and writing and all while looking effortlessly fabulous all the time.
Carrie Bickmore also spins many plates. When she’s not ferrying around her three kids; she’s hosting drive-time radio and then backing it up on The Project later that night and working tirelessly all year round to help find a cure for brain cancer which is incredibly inspiring.
9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?
Stay true to your values, always set professional boundaries and be prepared to learn a lot as you go along. I set out to create a consultancy where I only work with good people and where everything is underpinned by mutual respect and support for one another.
This occasionally means having to say no or politely walking away from any partnerships that might be causing stress or anxiety or where your time and skills are clearly being taken advantage of.
You are always in the driving seat of your life so it is vital to back yourself and know your worth. With that front and centre, the good people will always know where to find you and vice versa.
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