PR Interview with Mike Maynard, managing director of Napier Partnership

About the agency

What industry sectors does Napier specialise in?

We specialise in business-to-business technology: this covers a wide range of clients, from silicon chip manufacturers to companies that make baggage handling systems for airports.

What is special about the agency’s approach to PR?

Like many agencies, we’d say that our approach is based upon helping clients achieve their business goals, not just to hit marketing metrics. But unlike other agencies, we’re prepared to tie our payment to achieving these goals.

How do you ensure your clients get the right coverage in the press?

Writing great content. Good editor relationships. Effective pitching.

In your opinion, what are the main challenges facing the PR industry today?

In the B2B sector, the biggest challenge is the change in trade media. Even five years ago, companies could execute credible campaigns in printed trade titles. As magazines struggle, and channels such as social media grow in importance for B2B companies, marketing plans are being completely rewritten. Whilst some companies have tried to ignore the trends, the ones that have looked ahead are now in a great position to capitalise on the changes.

About clients

Can you list some of your most well-known, or respected clients?

We’re lucky to be working with some great clients: Microchip Technology’s semiconductors make many of the things we use on a day to day basis more intelligent; Panasas helps researchers cure cancer with their supercomputing hardware; Crisplant and BEUMER make the baggage handling systems that get our holiday suitcases on the right flights; and Drobo makes computer storage that is easy enough for my mum to use. Some of our other great clients include Vicor, Peregrine, PRQA, Penn Engineering and LEM.

What’s the best way of engaging your target audience when using social media?

Give them something engaging! It’s all about content that people find useful, funny, or interesting. Good conversation generates engagement, whilst brands doing the equivalent of shouting “Oi, you!” on social media is as effective as trying to do the same at a dinner party.

Is there a potential client you’d love to work for?

I’m so excited about a pitch we’re doing for a company that would be an amazing client for us, but can’t say any more.

Outside of our industry, I’d love to work for the speed skate manufacturer Apex. Hopefully, it would get me a discount off my next set of boots!

About journalists

Which areas of the press do you communicate with the most and which media outlets or journalists do you find you work with the most often?

Our main focus tends to be on trade media, although we’re finding that media is far more fragmented today. Almost every campaign addresses a broad range of media, as well as social and other channels.

How do you build and maintain strong relationships with journalists?

Give them the content they want. Help them out. Don’t annoy them.

In your experience, do you think the relationship between journalists and PRs is always harmonious, or is it more of a love-hate affair?

It’s generally pretty good, although like most relationships, there is the occasional lovers’ tiff!

About you

How did you get into PR?

PR wasn’t on my career plan. I started out as an engineer, but quickly realised that I liked explaining technology more than developing products. So I moved into technical sales, then marketing. When the original owners of Napier wanted to retire, I couldn’t resist the opportunity to take over.

What media do you seek out first thing in the morning?

Radio 4’s Today programme wakes me up. I then turn to Flipboard on my iPad, which is set up to take feeds from several technology, business and PR publications.

If you could work anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?

I love short-track speed skating, so I’d love to be “working” at the Nottingham Ice Centre as a member of the GB squad. Sadly it’s never going to happen, but the dream is wonderful!

Do you attend networking events? If so, which are you attending soon?

We’re PRCA members, so you’ll see us at their events. I’m the vice chair of the PRCA’s B2B group, so I’d love to meet more people at our next event.

What is the best piece of business advice you’ve ever been given?

Ideas are easy, execution is difficult. Of course, great ideas are a cornerstone of any PR campaign, but it’s the execution that determines whether the campaign succeeds.

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