Story by Greg Ellis from the Illawarra Mercury
20 April 2016
In 2015 a cheeky post on Facebook made in bed late at night resulted in Lisa Burling, of LBPR, sharing the stage with her hero Richard Branson the very next day.
Six months later Ms Burling has shared a similar post and is trying to convince him to come to Wollongong.
And she is encouraging the Wollongong community to help her on social media by saying how much they would like to see him and how welcome he would be.
She is hoping she may be able to arrange for him to skydive onto the beach and visit some major attractions and eateries while he is here so he can get the full Wollongong experience. And is open to help or suggestions.
After sharing the stage with Richard Branson last August and enjoying the moment so much Ms Burling vowed she would find a way to meet him again.
Even if that meant visiting Necker Island.
But getting him to Wollongong would be even better.
She recently discussed the idea of inviting him to speak at an event for business people she is hoping to organise.
And when she heard he was coming to Sydney on May 25 and 26 to speak at the World Business Forum she lay in bed that night and decided to throw her idea of writing to him out to the universe on social media again.
It said the next day she was going to write to Branson inviting him to Wollongong and she did.
The encouragement she has received since from friends and family has only made her even more determined.
In 2015 it was Virginia Wren, of Illawarra ITeC and Illawarra Women In Business, that told Ms Burling that Richard Branson was speaking at the National Achiever’s Congress in Sydney.
Then the post she put out to the universe on Facebook as she fell asleep triggered a chain of events that saw her tick off the number one item on her bucket list less than 24 hours later.
Her uni friend Erin Maher, the news director at 2GB, had seen how she had put her head on a photo of a lady with Branson on a beach. The post read “I am going to see him tomorrow..and if we do get together this is what we’ll look like”.
Ms Maher was looking at the picture at work the next morning when Ben Fordham walked past and saw it. When he asked what it was she told him about her friend’s dream to meet her hero. Fordham asked for a copy of the photo because he was interviewing Branson that night.
As he wrapped up that interview on stage in front of hundreds of people he said ‘’Sir Richard one of the things we really love about you as Aussies is you are a big believer in making dreams come true and believe that they will happen”.
He then mentioned Ms Burling’s dream to meet him, put the photo up on the screen and said “Lisa Burling where are you..come on down?”
She later told the Mercury how she gave him a massive hug and told him she loved him.
She shook for the rest of the night and woke up next day thinking “did that really happen”?
She was on a role. Just a few weeks later her business LBPR was awarded the title of Micro Consultancy of the Year at the Public Relations Institute of Australia Awards.
Then in November LBPR was named Outstanding New Illawarra Business at the Illawarra Business Awards.
Early in 2015 Ms Burling was highly commended as the runner-up to the winner for the title of Illawarra Women In Business' Business Woman of the Year.
Following all her success during the last 12 months Ms Burling has been invited to speak about her life, work and the Richard Branson experience at various events such as Illawarra Women in Business and Business in Heels and will soon tell the same story in Nowra at the Shoalhaven Women's Conference.
In February she showed her innovative side when she launched Catalyst. It is a result of her public relations consultancy LBPR teaming up with the business faculty at University of Wollongong to help keep skills in the region by nurturing young PR talent.
It is also about helping local businesses and charities who do not have the kind of budget required to hire a team of experienced professionals.
Alyss Phillips was the first to get hands-on experience at Catalyst and has since been joined by Siobhan Kelly.
Both are studying at the University of Wollongong and started working with their first client, Catherine Andrews, of Lotus Wellbeing Centre, recently.
Ms Burling’s meeting with Richard Branson came after a very tough couple of years for the single mum and her message to everyone she meets is that anything is possible.
You just have to put it out to the universe and if it is meant to be it will happen.