Mother PR's London office is situated in trendy Shoreditch, with a bongo drum in one corner and a red letter box in the other; it definitely sums up the fun personality of the company.
Meeting Mother PR's MD, Lucy Heather, gives us an insight into her partnership with Jon and a wonderfully surreal world which includes a Tuesday night conversation with the late Michael Jackson…
You co-founded Mother PR in March 2014 after five successful years as a freelance PR consultant. What made you take the plunge?
I met Jon (Jon Joseph Bourgerie, founder of Modball Rally) when he was a client at my previous agency, he was a great client and we became friends. We kept in touch and when the time was right and Jon was ready for a PR campaign, he contacted me and by then I was working freelance. I started managing his campaign and others but because I was working on my own I had to stop at four or five clients. I found myself turning clients away because I didn’t have the capacity to cope with more. There was a need to expand and take on staff; the growth was organic.
At this point, Jon chips in “I knew how good Lucy was at her job and I could see the need to start up a PR company so she could take on staff. It seemed natural for us to go into partnership.”
How does being a freelance PR consultant differ from being managing director of your own company?
Working freelance means you deal with everything yourself. As a managing director, you have to trust and empower your staff. Clients have to know that they’re still dealing with you and trust that your team are going to do a good job.
Can you name a favourite campaign that you’ve worked on?
One of my first campaigns as a freelancer was for a company called Cinémoi, a dedicated art house channel on Sky and Cable showing French films; niche but well respected, with supporters such as Gérard Depardieu. They wanted to be more popular with Sky subscribers and the campaign was about removing barriers using famous actors, and the ultimate measurement of the success of the campaign was for them to have Jonathan Ross presenting a show. When he did, Cinémoi gained international coverage and it created a gateway for them to move into America. Jonathan Ross is now creative director of the channel, which goes to show how PR can completely change a business model.
Mother PR covers – consumer, lifestyle, entertainment and B2B PR, celebrity and personal PR, event management, social media and online PR and crisis and issues management. How is it split?
It depends on the client, Modball is event and social media lead, and international. The Stone Bake Oven Comapny is about product placement and has a place in high-end glossy magazines. It’s all about speaking to the client and understanding their needs. We have strong expertise in all those areas so we can tailor a PR campaign. We ask clients what they want and how success can be measured and work specifically to their requirements.
What campaigns are you currently working on?
Modball Rally, The Stone Bake Oven Company, The Casino at the Empire in Leicester square, London. We also have new clients in the pipeline. In the next three to six months we’re looking to take on five or six fun clients.
How do you think social media has affected the PR industry?
I don’t recognise the world it used to be, it has changed so fast and is still changing. Before social media, the only route was to convince journalists to write a story but with social media you can talk to customers directly and there’s a much bigger reach. Some campaigns are solely focused online and with bloggers.
Having worked in entertainment PR for so long you must have met lots of celebrities. Are there any celebrities who particularly stand out for you?
I managed the PR for Jade Goody and back in 2009 when she was in hospital with cervical cancer, I was getting inundated with phone calls from journalists, well-wishers etc. On a Tuesday evening, I got a call on my mobile from someone claiming to be Michael Jackson’s manager. I thought it was a hoax and was quite rude, telling him that if he was Michael Jackson’s manager then get Michael Jackson to call me himself. After I hung up, my home phone rang and it was Michael Jackson saying he was in the UK rehearsing for his planned concert, ‘This Is It’ and had heard about Jade being ill and wanted to visit her in hospital. It was arranged but getting a phone call from Michael Jackson on a Tuesday evening was a completely surreal experience.