Today we’d like to introduce you to Gemma Long.
Alright, so thank you so much for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us a bit about how you got started?
My husband and I launched Illinois Local in December 2020, and since the membership has grown to more than 180. Members are local independent businesses and casues in Illinois.
We have members in a variety of industries and located throughout the state. Our annual calendar consists of member pop-ups, the Holiday Market on Small Business Saturday, November 26, at the Illinois State Fairgrounds, and our annual Conference and Awards on September 12. In addition, we are active on social media, have a members-only Facebook group, a monthly member newsletter, and a search-engine-optimized member directory.
I moved to the US in September 2014 and launched Gem PR & Media (US) in Springfield, Illinois. I relocated with my husband, Chris, from Guernsey, the Channel Islands. We met in Australia at Bond University in January 2005 and married in 2008. We have two daughters aged five and two.
After completing my master’s in journalism and international relations at Bond University, we returned to Guernsey, and I took a reporter job at the local newspaper. I became the news editor two years later and then moved into public relations working for clients in the Channel Islands, UK, and continental Europe.
In 2013, I launched Gem PR & Media in Guernsey. Today, the PR firm caters to local businesses in Central Illinois (and has worked for companies in STL, the UK, and the Channel Islands). We offer public relations, media relations, and crisis comms to businesses and causes.
We love our community and try to give back as much as time allows.
Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
I think our greatest struggle was surviving the pandemic. Overnight, we lost two-thirds of our PR and media business. But over time, and as our clients were able to get back on track, we recovered and even added new clients.
Illinois Local was born of our experience managing similar memberships and networking groups.
Through Illinois Local, we want to provide value-added opportunities for our members, such as professional photography for us in marketing and social media, events so that members can raise awareness of their businesses and sell products and services, and backlinks to member websites through the online directory, to provide education at our conference, and to celebrate our membership’s success through our annual awards.
Our motto is support, grow, and celebrate. Illinois Local has exceeded our expectations, and it is our members we have to thank.
Great, so let’s talk business. Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
We believe in supporting and investing in our community, both my husband and I are members of boards of non-profits and volunteer in organizations we are passionate about.
We always work with our clients at Gem PR & Media to identify corporate social responsibility opportunities – giving (through donations, sponsorships, and time) – as we feel this is a vital component to the ‘success’ of a business.
Our global perspective – having lived on three continents in 10 years – and our passion for local businesses brings knowledge, expereince, and a genuine understanding of what it’s like to own and run a local independnet business in 2022.
Are there any apps, books, podcasts, blogs, or other resources you think our readers should check out?
My husband, Chris, just attended Gather2022 with Facebook in Washington, DC so, I am soaking up all he learnt there and using this to help our clients and membership . We grow together and learn from each other.
Abby Kate Photography and 1221 Photography
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