Ethel Da Costa is the Founder and CEO of the award-winning Media, PR, Fashion & Lifestyle Content company, Think Geek Media. With more than two-decades of experience as both a journalist and forward-thinking Mediapreneur, Ethel creates media stories and manages PR events and celebrities across a variety of verticals.
A single mother, published author-poet (Eve’s Revenge: Stories of Nemesis 2008) and winner of the Goa Women of the Decade Achievers Award 2015, Women Economic Forum 2015, New Delhi, Ethel Da Costa continues to straddle the best of the East and the West, making her truly a feisty global professional with a perspective that defines her experiences, wisdom, inspiration and personal aspirations.
Name: Ethel Da Costa
Title: Managing Director, Founder-CEO
Education: Goa University, Masters in Economics
Location: Goa, Mumbai, India and the UAE
Company: Think Geek Media
Instagram: @etheldacosta @thinkgeekmedia
Twitter: @dacostaethel @thinkgeekmedia
How did you get started in the industry?
My career as a Journalist started in 1992 with a local newspaper in Goa called the Gomantak Times/Weekender. Then I moved to the OHerald, The Times of India, Femina, Tarun Bharat, The International Film Festival of India, Radio Mirchi 98.3FM. Over 24 years, I’ve created and re-invented myself constantly, learning and unlearning, then learning more about media. I’ve traveled around the world covering stories on fashion, lifestyle and travel, meeting all kinds of celebrities and locals, watching, assimilating, absorbing like a sponge all the time.
During this period, I founded Think Geek Media. My first event was creating the Daniel Pearl Peace Concert (2003). Inspired by its huge success, I created community-centric fashion and art events and festivals (The Grape Escape for Goa Tourism, Govt of Goa, Celebrate Panjim, Down-to- Earth Jazz Festival, Fashion Fridays Club Night Series).
So really, my first job was creating Intellectual Properties for Think Geek Media, executed in public spaces and gardens of my city.
In January 2015, I launched Think Geek Media into the public domain, driven by the vision to become a niche 360 degree content and media solution company. My vision is to give the company and our clients opportunities to localise, nationalise or reach international markets through the networks and collaborators we bring to the table.
How have you built your business?
I network aggressively, I make cold calls, I meet people, I just pick up the phone and introduce myself and my work, and there’s always Linkedin and Facebook. I seek opportunities to collaborate, to explore new markets and find new creators. Right now I’m working on 5 different projects, while simultaneously making time to write my freelance articles and create content for my own social media handles. Next to Content, EXECUTION is King. It speaks for itself.
What are your responsibilities?
As CEO, first and foremost ensuring we are generating revenue, producing quality work and setting the goals and vision. I make sure there is effective time management, where our team maximises output in relationship to effort/time spent.
In addition, I oversee detail. I’m a detail freak. Some of that is anticipating what problems might happen, and preventing them from happening in the first place. Keep ears to the ground, eyes on the ball.
I work with clients each financial quarter with plans and customised budgets. Clients often need to be educated on the principle of effective, authentic, sustained communication that goes into long term brand building. Some understand, but some just don’t.
What is your approach to signing new clients??
First I ask the client to lay down his/her vision. I listen to what they say and pay attention to body language. The shop talk lets me know where he/she comes from. Once I understand these fundamentals, I cut to the chase in an open, honest and to the point discussion. Time is money.
Powerful communication comes from conviction, ownership and ambition. I’m not shy to say NO to what doesn’t feel right by instinct. I tell my clients that it’s better I tell you straight. I’m inspired by driven people who want to make something out of their lives, whose personal goals, vision and drive stand for something. I look for clients who are driven by their beliefs and a strong value system.
What are you working on right now?
Right now I am managing fashion portfolios, bespoke eco-luxe real estate and hospitality brands, a forthcoming a music and art festival, and a wedding blog assignment.
Next to Content, EXECUTION is King. It speaks for itself.
What are some of your career highlights?
A humble, small fashion client with big dreams who I launched with a grand PR buzz in Dubai. The second is a true eco soldier at heart, a nature conservation builder in India, now now hailed as a trend setter in real estate design. Very different businesses, but with each I helped to develop engaging stories that really helped with growth.
I’m inspired by driven people who want to make something out of their lives, whose personal goals, vision and drive stand for something.
Launching Forest Essentials in Goa with a celebrity soiree, creating and managing media for my favourite designers, Wendell Rodricks and Malini Ramani’s fashion show. Launching Oman Air, winning the Woman of the Decade Achievers Award and being featured in Paris’ CLAM Magazine for my creative entrepreneurship in media. This moment on PR Couture is another one – it feels good to know my hard work is worth it.
What is the media landscape like right now in India – what should we know about?
India boasts a vibrant media landscape. There are so many publishing houses, magazines, TV channels springing up almost every week in the verticals of lifestyle, politics, opinion, capital, fashion, and social work. Regional content is also seeing an upswing. The Start-Up boom has erupted in India making more people want to be their own boss. It is a productive, creative, buzzing environment. My personal favourites continue to be old school Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, fashion brands like FDCI (Fashion Design Council of India), digital platforms like PopXO, and colleagues who have reinvented themselves as influencers like Naina.co.
PR can be stressful and full of rejection – how do you deal?
Yes, I agree. Out of ten clients, two of them will get coverage in a traditional, conservative market. Many companies want or expect this for free, or want to pay a pittance but expect your arm and leg in delivery! Fortunately I have sold radio space in a print driven market. I just soldier up, dust myself, sharpen the battle sword a little bit more and battle on. Being consistently persistent keeps me sane, positive and moving forward. My head is full of dreams and the ability to work at them. I just don’t quit!
What do you wish more people understood about your job?
That it is bloody hard work! I work long hours, even if I make it look effortless. I want people to understant that brand value is built through consistency, respect, relationships, integrity, passion and honesty. Growth is a partnership.
What’s the biggest challenge facing communicators in India right now?
In India, there is a lot of gray area when it comes to PR. Those who are willing to work for free, or work for a free dress, do a disservice to those of us who are seasoned professionals. Most clients are caught between the noise and the freebies and they are confusted. My sincere advice to brands is that you have to sieve through the noise and the riff-raff,’ and choose your foot soldiers. I always say a client who treats his brand with respect, will seek a PR partner who shares the same values when it comes to brand-building.
What would you tell someone who wants to be like you when they grow up?
Oh, sweetie be ready to work your ass off. It ain’t gonna come easy!