PR Interview with Paul Stallard, Director of Berkeley PR
About the agency
What industry sectors does Berkeley PR specialise in? We have three separate divisions – B2B/tech, consumer and digital – so we cover a wide variety of different sectors. Our clients in each division benefit from having support from a team with specialist skills that are relevant to them. What is special about the agency’s approach to PR? This is an important differentiator for us as an agency. Our founder was a former journalist so his ethos of understanding what makes a good story is key to who we are. We help our clients to understand that what their company says and does is not, by definition, newsworthy. Our secret lies in the way we overcome this. Writing and distributing news about a client is not going to work. However, creating stories about the problems customers face (and how they can help solve them) will. How do you ensure your clients get the right coverage in the press? A combination of our approach mentioned above, as well as research, contacts and hard work. The process is always evolving and we never sit back on our laurels and think we have cracked it. We work hard with our clients to ensure that it is a team effort and that both parties understand what success looks like. What do you look for in new recruits? I believe it totally depends on the level that you are recruiting at. When taking in trainees, we look for people with initiative and a demonstrable interest in PR – a university degree can be an added bonus but isn’t a prerequisite. We find common sense and enthusiasm are far more important. If we’re looking for someone to fill a management role, ideal candidates will come to us with an agency background. A specific type of management skill is required within an agency, and although in-house experience can be valuable, there is always a bedding-in period if the ‘agency-craft’ needs to be learned. Journalists are always interesting to meet during a recruitment effort, and obviously have a natural affinity with the world of PR. But that said, they don’t always fit into the traditional agency roles, so it really depends on the sort of vacancy you are looking to fill. There isn’t such a thing as ‘one size fits all’.
Can you list some of your most well-known, or respected clients? We work with a variety of clients from the very techie (Adax), consumer (Go Ape) and multi-national (Kaspersky). What are the main issues for your clients in the tech industry right now? Getting heard in a noisy market. Publications are disappearing and news teams are constantly shrinking so journalists understandably have obvious time constraints. We help our clients get heard by helping them produce compelling and newsworthy stories rather than pushing out bland inward-looking announcements.
What can you offer to journalists seeking a story on one of your clients? I believe that we offer them a reliable, honest and valuable source of information. We are often commended on our attention to detail when dealing with the media. How do you build and maintain strong relationships with journalists? Most importantly, we try not to waste their time. In addition, we invest in trying to meet them outside of work scenarios, such as going for a beer, so they get to know us better and we can understand what they are looking for. How do you think the PR/journalist dynamic will change in the future? The way that we contact and communicate with each other will continue to evolve. Social media is already having a big impact and I don’t think this will diminish any time soon.
How did you get into PR? I was fortunate enough to live next to a successful agency outside of London and after writing to them, I was lucky enough to be given the opportunity to become a trainee. 15 years later not a day goes by where I don’t feel thankful for getting my first opportunity and introduction to our great industry. I have always felt that going to work was a pleasure rather than a challenge. How useful do you find social media? It is an essential part of how I communicate. I would struggle to do my job as efficiently without it. This question feels a little like, "how useful do you find email" …it is simply a tool I now use to do my job. Do you attend networking events? If so, which are you attending soon? I have a two year old daughter and my wife works at a theatre so it can be difficult to attend networking events outside of office hours. I have been to quite a few PR and journalist meet-ups which are always good fun and I always look at the line-up for Digital Surrey. They always have some strong speakers and it is always good to meet other techies from the local area. [lnk|http://www.berkeleypr.co.uk/|_blank|Berkeley PR] [img|jpg|Paul Stallard, director]