PR Interview with Rob Ettridge, Client Services Director, Red Lorry Yellow Lorry

This fortnight, we speak to Rob Ettridge of Red Lorry Yellow Lorry about the importance of language in PR, recruiting the right lorries, and cutting out corporate jargon.

About the agency

What areas of PR does the agency specialise in? Within the lorries there are two main divisions. On the PR side our focus is technology, media and telecoms. We’ve made a conscious decision to stick with what we know – and give clients specialism with a global reach. The brand language side works with organisations to help them improve their written communications. We help brands like eBay, LV=, Virgin Atlantic and Sotheby’s to define and implement a written tone of voice to improve the customer experience. Red Lorry Yellow Lorry recently adopted the word ‘lorry’ for the Adopt a Word initiative. How significant is the use of words to your PR work? The whole ethos of the company is very much about words and how to use them most effectively. You only have to look at our company name to see that! Writing is an area where clients often criticise PR agencies. We strongly believe in the mantra of putting the right words in the right places at the right time, and how engaging communications can help build and position a client’s brand. What is unique about the agency’s approach to PR? We only take on accounts in the areas we truly understand and where we can really add insight and value to our clients, whether they’re a multi-national company or a local start-up. We can only do this by hiring the right lorries – ones with in-depth industry knowledge and excellent relationships with the key industry influencers. Our teams run fewer accounts than those at the large tech agencies but because of their specialist backgrounds they can offer so much more to the client. What do you look for in new recruits? Above all, we look for bright, energetic and confident people with ‘can-do’ attitudes – whether it’s for an intern or an account director role. We ask ourselves, ‘how would they fare in front of our most demanding client?’ This generally gives us a good idea. While PR skills are important, we believe personal attributes are far more crucial.

About clients

What advice would you give to businesses in how to communicate clearly? Don’t try and over-complicate things, and think about who you’re trying to communicate to. So often clients fail to see the bigger picture and are communicating what their senior management want to hear internally rather than what’s going to capture the imagination of their customers or the media. We’re on a mission to get rid of corporate management-speak and industry jargon, which serve only to confuse the intended audience. Using plain and straightforward language will make your messages much more understandable and engaging. How do you ensure your clients get the right coverage in the press? By spending a lot of time up front with clients to really understand their business, their market landscape, their aspirations, challenges and objectives. For it to work, we need to get under the skin of their business and be a partner, not simply a tactical supplier. To do this, we focus much more on building the personalities behind our clients and generating high-level thought-leadership opportunities. These are far more effective in positioning and building a brand than chucking out lots of press releases.

About you

Do you use social media? If so, how useful do you find it? Yes, but probably not as much as I should! I tend to use LinkedIn and Twitter as my main business social media tools to follow subjects or people of interest. It’s like with every media channel – if it’s used in the right way it’s very useful but you do have to sift through a lot of rubbish to find the nuggets! Do you attend networking events? If so, which are you attending soon? Yes a large part of our business is about networking, whether around the big media and telecoms trade shows such as NAB, IBC and Mobile World Congress, or around the myriad of smaller vertical seminars such as Mobile Mondays or Chinwag. And I’m heavily involved in PR industry events as a member of the PRCA marketing and membership committee and on the PRCA Digital and PRCA Technology steering groups. [lnk||_blank|Red Lorry Yellow Lorry] [img|jpg|Rob Ettridge]

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