PR Interview with Simon Corbett, MD of Jargon Public Relations
About the agency
What areas of PR does the agency specialise in? The technology market is our focus. We primarily concentrate on the B2B tech space and have a variety of clients including Vendors, Re-Sellers and Consultancy lead businesses. We’re good at understanding the channel and working with partners to deliver great PR. What is special about the agency’s approach to PR? Several clients refer to us as an ‘action agency’, meaning there’s always plenty going on every clients account. A lot of our business comes from clients wanting a more action orientated approach to their PR, i.e. less strategy meetings and reporting, more interviews, ideas and action! We’re also often told how good we are at allowing companies to punch above their weight, i.e. getting a greater share of the press than they perceive their brand deserves. How do you ensure your clients get the right coverage in the press? We spend a lot of time reading the tech/trade press, getting to know the right journalists and coming up with innovative ideas that work. At Easter time we sent the top 30 tech journalists a giant Easter egg with a perosnalised message and the phrase ‘Appy Easter’ engraved in icing for a client involved in the apps market – ideas like this make our clients stand out and judging by the reaction we had, are still loved by journalists. What do you look for in new recruits? The old saying ‘recruit for attitude; train for skills’ has always appealed to me. Finding the right person who ‘gets’ the agency, where we’re going and what we’re trying to do is important to me. In the next 18 months I expect us to win another award to build on last years CIPR ‘Outstanding Small Agency of the year’ win, increase our position in the PR Week league tables, expand the team from 5 to 8 full time consultants and open a US office. Some people love this pace of agency excitement/development – others hate it. Choosing the right people that want to come with us on the ride is crucial.
Tell us about one of your clients you are working with at the moment. How is the campaign for them going? One of our most interesting clients is called Ancoris. They are a Google Apps for Business re-seller. They are involved in a fascinating market and as Microsoft launches Office 365 against Google Apps, things are about to really heat-up. In the past few months we’ve had Ancoris on the front cover of Computer Weekly, Computing and VITAL magazine. Last week they were on Bloomberg TV and recently spoke at a major channel conference. Nine months ago they had virtually no media presence. Today the channel and technology media regularly features them. Is there a potential client you’d love to work for? There’s no one specific brand we’d love to work for, but our ideal client is someone who wants to punch above their weight in the press. Jargon PR has an excellent team of five and we’re good at enthusing campaigns with ideas, energy and results to get things moving. What is the best coverage you’ve achieved for a client?/Which campaign are you most proud of? We’re all especially proud of the work we’ve done for Amplify Trading, a training company that teaches graduates how to become city traders over a three month course. We squashed three months of learning into three hours and regularly invite journalists to ‘become a trader for the afternoon’. In the past few months we’ve had a huge piece on the BBC On-line, we made the front page of The Guardian Weekend supplement and had full page reviews in City AM, a four page spread in FHM, and positive page reviews in The Independent and Observer. What has been the agency’s biggest PR/communication challenge? Differentiation in our market is always difficult. Lots of agencies have won awards, are on league tables and employ good people. We stand out by the quality of our campaigns. 90% of our new business comes from recommendation. However I’m conscious that this will inevitably slow down. Finding the time to package and communicate our results to attract new business is difficult.
How did you get into PR? I’d completed my Degree and Masters and went travelling in Canada. I’d previously completed a year’s placement with The Weber Group mid way through my degree but had missed the deadlines for agency graduate applications due to dissertation pressures and travelling. I returned from Canada and found out about an Account Exec vacancy at Porter Novelli in their Banbury office. The other applicants were all graduates with 2-3yrs experience under their belts looking to move up from a JAE role, I had barely 12 months experience. I got the job and spent three great years living in Oxford commuting between their Banbury and London office – it was an excellent agency and allowed me to work on tech clients in London and consumer clients from Banbury. Are you involved in any other projects? I am involved in an organisation called the UK PR Training Academy. It’s an organisation that runs a 10 week part time course for graduates looking to get into the PR industry. The course teaches students how PR works across 10 industries, i.e. Healthcare PR, Entertainment PR, Tech PR, etc, etc. The course is taught in central London by agency managers/leaders and guarantees each student a minimum 2 day work placement at a top 40 agency. How useful do you find social media? Very. We use Twitter a lot as an agency and for clients and are running more specific social media programs for clients each month. Do you attend networking events? If so, which are you attending soon? I attend events at the British Library. Jargon PR is a recognised partner with the BIPC centre. The networking events are excellent. In the past 12 months I’ve met Lord Sugar, Deborah Meaden and numerous other highly successful entrepreneurs. What is the best bit of business advice you’ve ever been given? Never take no for an answer, believe in yourself, don’t be afraid to ever ask for help and don’t limit what you believe you can do. In three years we’ve won the CIPR Awards for ‘Outstanding Small Agency of the Year’, come second for ‘Campaign of the Year’, been named by PR Week as a top 40 tech agency and New Media Age has just named us as a top 100 New Media agency. How do you think the PR/journalist dynamic will change in the future? We’re seeing more on-line channels spring up everyday, as-a-result journalists are looking for content that works well on-line. Rather than just considering the audience, the medium it will not be communicated over is more important than ever. [img|jpg|Simon Corbett] [lnk|http://www.jargonpr.com|_blank|Jargon PR]