PR Interview with Paul Cockerton and Peter Bowles, founders of Dynamo

Dynamo was founded in January 2011 by Paul Cockerton, Operations MD, and Peter Bowles, Creative MD. With 30 years of tech PR experience covering the likes of AQA, Psion and Symbian, here they discuss the importance of social media in PR, games technology, and their recent appointment by Nordeus.

About the agency

What areas of PR does Dynamo specialise in?

PC: Dynamo is all about an integrated communications approach for consumer tech, social media, digital and mobile clients. We believe in not going for the traditional idea – the ‘treasure hunts’ or ‘art installations’ you hear from many agencies. And we’re very focused on getting results that target clients’ goals – whether they are to grow sales, profit, brand, awareness or reputation.

Dynamo launched in January this year. How do you differ from other consumer tech agencies?

PC: The media landscape has changed significantly and many agencies are trying to retrain their staff to really understand social media. We’ve had the advantage of coming at PR and social media from an integrated perspective from day one – so we offer our clients considerable technology knowledge coupled with staff who see pushing brands using social media influence as second nature.

PB: I am also a big believer in our staff becoming specialists at what they do; not becoming the ‘jack of all trades (and master of none)’ the industry trots out. At Dynamo, if you excel as a creative or with client management, that will become your role. This is born out of a frustration of watching agencies lose great staff over the years by pushing them away from the areas where they can make a real difference for clients and the agency alike.

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

PC: My background comes from running PR and comms for over 20 years for B2B and B2C companies such as Psion, Symbian (which I helped launch), and AQA 63336 (which I co-founded and ran for eight years). As such, I understand how to get press that drives business results, increases brand awareness, drives sales, rather than just packing out clippings books.

PB: This is combined with my knowledge of working for top PR agencies, so we work together to focus on achieving the coverage that will generate our clients the biggest results. For me, I concentrate on the story – the difference between a good story and bad one is often just 5%; a tweak or an angle you’ve not seen yet. I personally put a lot of thought into how to make a story that bit better.

About clients

Dynamo have been using social media PR for a while. What do they aim to prove about social media?

PB: Recently, the industry has seen lots of people spring-up as supposed ‘social media gurus’ with very little experience and a gutsy approach at ‘bullshit bingo 2.0’. But having over 30 years experience in the industry means we know the real potential of social media and can build campaigns that create results for clients in traditional media and by word-of-mouth.

Tell us your recent appointment by Nordeus, a Facebook developer. What do you have planned?

PC: Nordeus, based in Belgrade, has a hit Facebook game called Top Eleven. It’s far more social than most football manager games; you can play against friends, and can play for a few minutes each day managing your team, signing new players, and even attract advertising for your stadium. It is a fast developing company, and after a year already has nearly four million people playing the games every month. We’re helping the company get publicity in the UK and US, and will be working with it on new product announcements as well as new versions of Top Eleven.

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

PB: I would personally love to work for Pioneer on its DJ decks and headphones. I imported the CDJ-1000’s in 2002 to use for resident DJ gigs I had and recently had the pleasure of DJing for a UKTJPR event. Pioneer has a great name and makes quality equipment so does represent the type of quality gadget client we’d love to work for.

PC: I’ve always been interested in games technology, and started writing games software back in 1982 when I had a battered ZX Spectrum. I’m fascinated now by the emergence of ‘gamification’, where we can use the rules of games to help companies grow. I’d love to work with some of the innovators of this industry, such as Mario Herger at SAP Labs. His argument for ‘gamification’? “People working with gamified systems are happier and live longer.”

About you

How useful do you find social media?

PB: The other day I was thinking through how much press I take in from reading articles shared on Twitter and Facebook. It really is an outstanding percentage of my media intake now – around 60 or 70%. Twitter is regularly beating traditional publications on the latest news, so it’s clearly the future.

The influence social media is having on consumers is steadily increasing, so for a new agency like ours this is an incredibly useful opportunity as we have had every staff member thinking about this since we launched.

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

PB: We attend a wide variety of networking events covering mobile, social media and consumer tech events. I personally love going to UKTJPR events, as this Facebook group has grown to over 3,000 people in tech journalism and PR. I had the opportunity to DJ in the Big Chill House for the group recently and everyone had such a great time (thanks NVIDIA).

PC: Networking events are great for new business, but can also be good for finding bright employees. I do frequent talks at events aimed at students or recent graduates, where I’m able to talk about setting up a business, working in the tech industry, or beginning in PR. The next one I’m at has been set up by Exeter University, which has a very strong alumni association.

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

PB: Asking clients ‘what does good look like?’ was a piece of advice from Ginni Arnold when we were both at Hotwire. It’s important that PR professionals really consider what their clients are trying to achieve throughout their PR and social media campaigns and do everything they can to drive these results. I’m also a big believer in taking a route that no one else is looking at. PR is all about maximising opportunities for clients, so I look carefully for unique angles to generate outstanding results.

PC: Colly Myers, the former MD of Psion, Symbian and who I set up AQA 63336 with, gave me the best bit of advice ever, and that was whatever you do, make sure you execute. I was reminded of this recently at one of those ‘networking events’, when Simon Woodroffe (founder of Yo Sushi) recited this poem:

Good fortune? The fact is
The more that you practice,
The harder you sweat,
The luckier you get.

Ideas? We’ve had ‘em
Since Eve deceived Adam,
But take it from me
Execution’s the key.

… (extract)

[img|jpg|Peter Bowles and Paul Cockerton]

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