Ready10, a new agency focusing on the PR-for-SEO space.
Length of PR career (so far): 12 years and counting. In 2004, I was working in the not-for-profit sector and progressing nicely. But I got a sniff for agency PR and on a whim, jacked in my job, took a 50% pay cut and started at the bottom. After eight years I got a seat on the board of the same company and this year I left to start up my own agency, Ready10.
Your most memorable campaign: Running the media campaign for the England cricket player Steven Davies when he came out as gay was not only a memorable experience but a true privilege to be a part of. He was the first English international sportsman to ever come out mid-career and so you can imagine the fears about media coverage that Steve and his family had.
Most poignant professional moment: This came during the same campaign. Quick question: Has anyone ever had their client’s mother pull them aside and say: “I hope you know what you are doing—please don’t ruin my son’s life”? I have! This is what Steve’s mum said to me the first time we met.
She was genuinely terrified for him and questioned whether it was the right thing to do. I am pleased to say it all went well and five years later Steve is still a professional cricketer for one of the best teams in England and thriving both personally and professionally.
Biggest complaint about social media: It’s just so bloody addictive…
Best thing about working at your agency: We are only two months old and so every day is a challenge, an opportunity to learn and to create something new. We have a fantastic team who are motivated to help build what we hope will be a great agency doing exciting work for some of the most ground-breaking clients out there.
Last time you didn’t do any work all weekend: I snuck in a little work this past weekend but the weekend before last was work-free. I am married and would quite like to keep it that way so I try my best to keep some dividing lines between work and home life…
Most misunderstood thing about PR: That it’s about contacts and your black book. It’s not, it’s about news sense and knowing what makes a story. You can have the greatest contact in the world but if your story is junk it won’t get covered. Similarly, you can know nobody but if you have a great story, it will fly.
Most outrageous client request: I once had a client send me a spreadsheet of his department’s birth dates and a request that we make sure we send them each a gift on their special day. I mean, come on!
Most interesting thing about your job: As an agency we are concentrating on the PR-for-SEO space and running campaigns that not only do a great traditional PR job but also help with a company’s online position too. It’s a fascinating and exciting area to be a part of—every day’s a school day!
Number of meetings you were in last week: Lots! Since we launched a few weeks ago, we have been approached by some really interesting brands and potential clients about working with them. There is real intrigue about what we are trying to do and in particular what a PR company can bring to the SEO space and how we may be able to help.
Rate your math skills from 1-10: A steady seven maybe. I was once told to not have a beer whilst doing math as its never a good idea to drink and derive.
Best advice to a PR student: Read, read, read. And read again. Knowing and understanding the media and what they write about, to what their audiences want is the cornerstone of good PR. The industry and the media we consume is changing but the underlying principle—of gaining third party endorsement as a powerful way of delivering a message on behalf of our clients—remains unchanged.
What do you read daily? The first thing I do every morning is go on our website. We have a PR pun on the homepage that changes daily and I like to make sure it’s loaded properly! After that it’s news, news, news. I always read through The Sun—the biggest selling paper in the UK—then I try to read three or four other newspapers. In and around that, it’s the common PR’s diet of Twitter, Mail Online, Buzzfeed and the BBC. Throughout the day it’s PR Week, Facebook, more Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and the QPR website (my football team). For kicks and light relief, I try to go on The Daily Mash (UK satire site, similar to The Onion) at least once a day.
Favorite way to de-stress: I have two young kids who couldn’t care less what their dad does at work, so spending time with them is an instant stress-buster. Once they have gone to bed, Netflix is a pretty good way to switch off.
Brand that does the best PR: Donald Trump. I am not a fan personally but he is, in a PR sense, poetry in motion—his nose for what the people want, what makes a headline and a single-minded, consistent, message has secured him endless free media like no one else is capable of.
Favorite non-work hobby: I’m a big football (not soccer!) fan and I am the co-founder and presenter of The QPR Podcast, which is a show all about my team, Queen’s Park Rangers. We are a small club but have between 5-10,000 listeners from around the world each week. It’s great fun and something totally different from the day job. If there is by any chance a QPR fan reading this, please subscribe to our podcast!
Last book you read: Race of a Lifetime by John Heilermann and Mark Halperin. It charts the 2008 US Presidential race and how Obama won. I am a real US politics junkie and can’t wait to see how things turn out this November.
Your first “real” job: I worked in a local China and tableware shop every weekend from the age of 14 to 21. Even to this day, if I am out for dinner I sneak a look at the backside of the plate to see who the manufacturer is! I learnt tons there that I still use and apply today.
Your next big adventure: Starting this agency is a pretty big adventure! On the first day it was just me, on my own with a laptop at my local coffee shop, the Oak Caffe. We now have five of us in an office in north London with some great clients and are growing quickly. I hope that in five years time, when I look back, I will have come on even further from that first day at the Oak Caffe!
Your ideal Saturday: Playing with the kids in the morning, watching QPR win 3-0 at home in the afternoon, a good dinner out in the evening with my wife and friends, followed by watching Match of the Day (the premier league football highlights) on catch up when I get home! Incase you hadn’t noticed, British people like their football…
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