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PRmoment Podcast

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The PRmoment Podcast is a series of life story style interviews with some of the leading lights of UK PR.


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Recent Episodes

Mark Lowe, co-founder at Third City, on the PRmoment podcast
This week, in the latest of our life stories podcasts, I’m interviewing Mark Lowe, co-founder of Third City. Third City is a consumer PR firm in London with a fee income of over £2 million and a turnover approaching £3 million and 28 employees.Mark co-founded Third City in 2008 with Graz Belli. Previously Mark had worked at Band & Brown for six years.Here is a summary of what Mark and I discussed.[00:01:09] How Mark originally wanted to be an actor. [00:03:01] Mark talks us through his early career as a singer in a band. [00:05:09] Why if you have a dream in life it's important to at least give it a go! Even if you ultimately end up doing something else.[00:06:35] Mark and I discuss the trend of people going plural and having two or more jobs.[00:07:42] Whether PR firms offer sufficient flexibility in working practices. [00:08:32] Why Mark reckons his CV in his 20s was "a bit of a mess". [00:12:33] Why Mark's career accelerated when he joined Band & Brown and met Graz Belli. [00:13:05] Why you don't have to have a conventional career path, the most important thing is that you really believe in, and want to do, what you're doing. [00:13:31] Why "trying and failing" is an important part of life/your career.[00:15:19] Mark talks us through the challenges and advantages he had of starting his PR career pretty late. [00:15:54] How meeting Jill Brown and Graz Belli was a critical change in Mark's career.[00:16:43] Why Mark believes the PR sector has some cultural preconceptions about age which hold the industry back.[00:17:53] Why Mark would like to redefine PR as "brand communications".[00:18:23] Why PR firms are now working in the space that was previously occupied by branding agencies.[00:20:19] Why the barriers between consumer and corporate PR are being broken down.[00:20:36] Why the way VCs are buying public relations is changing the agency market.[00:22:20] Why brands can no longer manage their reputation and brand out of two separate departments.[00:22:38] How Mark went from a senior account director at Band & Brown at 29 to a director at 32.[00:22:59] What did Mark do in those three years to accelerate his career?[00:26:26] Why Mark decided to leave Band & Brown to set up Third City alongside Graz Belli and Gill Brown.[00:27:22] What were the reasons behind Band & Brown losing its momentum quite quickly? [00:29:53] Mark talks about how Third City was founded.[00:30:44] Why Mark believes its important for a PR firm to be able to blend the best of consumer agencies and corporate agencies. [00:33:02] Why Third City is looking for opportunities for regional expansion in the UK and models for international expansion. [00:34:29] Mark talks us through Third City's structure, including its Third Citizen network. [00:37:41] Why Mark believes public affairs professionals are often more interested in the political process than the political context. And they are very rarely interested in brands. [00:38:23] How people who work in brand communications are often not that interested in politics.[00:40:08] Mark asks whether the rush for purpose is explained by the idea that we are now entering a world in which businesses are neither paying taxes nor creating jobs, so they are having to come up with other reasons and justifications for their existence. [00:41:05] Why is it that VC firms tend to prioritise public relations as a method of marketing?[00:45:11] How the uncertainty of Brexit is impacting the UK PR busines
Tom Buttle , CEO of Chameleon, on the PRmoment podcast
This week on the PRmoment Podcast, in the latest of our life stories series, I’m pleased to welcome co-owner and managing director of Chameleon Tom ButtleChameleon is an independent tech PR firm in London with a fee income of £2.1m and 20 people.The business was originally owned by Helen Holland before Tom Butttle and Tom Berry (what are the chances!) completed an MBO of the business in April 2017.Here’s a summary of what Tom and I discussed:[00:01:08] How Tom was a late starter in PR, having previously worked in HR, but has since had a pretty accelerated career path. [3.8s] [00:03:35] Tom talks about the advantages of moving into PR from a different sector. [0.9s] [00:05:04] Why Tom took a pay cut to move into PR. [0.4s] [00:07:15] Tom tells us how, and I quote, " he fell in love with content and storytelling".[00:09:21] How Tom has benefited from having a mentor in his career.[00:12:56] Tom worked for Flieshman Hillard before moving to Chameleon – he talks us through why this was an important stage of his career. Tom also compares the differences of working in a large agency with a smaller one. [00:16:58] How Tom, when he joined Chameleon, went about updating the content services of the agency.[00:19:21] How Tom and Tom Berry restructured, repackaged and modernised the business.[00:20:10] How Chameleon went about reducing the number of clients their teams worked on.[00:20:21] Why Chameleon resigned a number of accounts whilst they were modernising the business. [00:20:43] How Chameleon managed to win some big-name clients that supported their new strategy. [00:21:28] Why, having initially been bought into the business to prepare it for a trade sale, Tom and his colleague Tom Berry decided that they wanted to take the business on themselves.[00:27:38] When you need a broker, when you need an accountant and when you need a lawyer in the process of buying or selling a business.[00:32:14] Tom talks about achieving a balance between personal investments, loans and borrowing on the future income of a business when raising the finance to purchase a business.[00:34:01] Why it works that Tom and his business partner Tom Berry are "not best mates but just good friends." [00:36:41] Why Tom believes that PR people say "yes" to much.[00:37:45] Why overservicing stops PR firms from being able to nurture your team because you can't promote, reward and train people if you're not making any money. [00:38:57] How the bridge from a client-service mindset as a junior member of staff to the consultative/advisory approach of a director can be difficult in public relations firms.
Natasha Hill, managing director at Bottle, on the PRmoment podcast
This week on the PRmoment podcast, I’m pleased to welcome Natasha Hill, managing director at Bottle.Bottle has a turnover of £2m and is an independent multi-specialist PR firm in Oxford.The business was previously owned by Will and Claire Cairns. Will Cairns still has a stake in the business but Natasha and creative director Colin Cather now run the business day to day.Bottle has 25 staff and about 60% of its work is in consumer markets and 40% in B2B.Here is a flavour of what Natasha and I discussed:[00:01:21] Why Bottle founder Will Cairns can now be found in the Cotswolds, on a bike with a bunch of American tourists![00:02:02] How Bottle founder Will Cairns has exited the day-to-day running of the business and handed it over the Natasha and creative director Colin Cather. [00:04:49] Natasha talks us through the story of Bottle as a business – how it grew to about £2m in 2014 and then lost some momentum (fee income subsequently fell to circa £1.4m.) The business has now grown back to a fee income of £2m. [00:05:14] How Natasha has retained a high number of retainer clients at Bottle, despite the sector trend for an increased number of project-based agency/client relationships. [00:07:10] Why PR clients increasingly value strategic advice over campaign implementation. [00:10:51] Natasha explains the recruitment challenges for PR firms near, but outside of London, in places like Oxford.[00:13:01] How Natasha has restructured Bottle in-line with her brand marketing background.[00:14:36] Why the fact that neither of the current leadership team of Bottle have come from a pure PR background has helped its client proposition.[00:15:32] How Bottle has re-engineered the way the team works and the structure of the working day to reflect the challenges of modern public relations. [00:17:09] Should all PR teams, both in-house and agency split into reactive teams and proactive teams?[00:19:33] How Natasha and the rest of the management team at Bottle have turned around a business that was in decline and created growth. [00:23:08] Why Natasha made the move from a strategic marketing director role at the UK’s biggest charity Cancer Research UK to a small PR firm.[00:25:00] How Natasha's belief that Cancer Research UK needed to become more of a human charity, rather than purely a research-focused charity – led to the organisation’s rebrand.[00:28:40] How post the rebrand in 2012 Cancer Research UK's income was up by 6%.[00:29:44] As a marketer how does Natasha see PR’s contribution to the marketing funnel – which bits of the funnel are realistic for PR firms to grab and which bits are not?[00:32:29] Why agencies are increasingly having to draw the line on the type of work that they can do – otherwise you end up just trying to cover too much with insufficient expertise.[00:33:47] What does PR actually do for a huge charity like Cancer Research UK?[00:37:52] How does Natasha see the relative advantages of having an in-house team compared to outsourcing to an agency?[00:39:38] Natasha talks us through the process of digital transformation she implemented during her time at Cancer Research UK.
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Podcast Details
Nov 18th, 2016
Latest Episode
Jul 30th, 2019
Release Period
No. of Episodes
Avg. Episode Length
36 minutes

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