PR Interview with Stuart Pearson, MD, The PR Farm

Stuart Pearson, MD of food and sustainability specialists The PR Farm, explains the agency’s approach of ‘cultivating ideas, growing business’, and recruiting the right person and targeting niche outlets as the keys to success.

About the agency

What areas of PR does the agency specialise in?

The business splits into two distinct areas: sustainability, particularly within the built environment, and food. Our B2B team also manages accounts spanning the technology sector, too.

What is special about the agency’s approach to PR? Does the farm analogy that the company uses come into play here?

The PR Farm came about as a result of wanting to demonstrate how PR is an essential component in delivering business growth. Our strapline is ‘cultivating ideas, growing business’ and I believe this sums us up. As a team we’re approachable, straight talking and we don’t try and make what we do sound more complicated than it actually is.

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

It’s a combination of knowing what makes a story and, of course, the contacts that we’ve developed over the years. More often than not it just comes down to hard work and persistence.

What do you look for in new recruits?

Whenever PRs are asked that question the most common answer is the ability to write. I completely agree with that. However, for me, one of the most important aspects is whether or not you feel that you can work with that person. That’s instinctive and I tend to trust my instincts. Genuine enthusiasm also plays a role and, as yet, my ability to spot that quality hasn’t let me down. If you can recruit someone who is hungry to secure coverage on behalf of their clients, is great with the clients and has genuine business acumen – something that tends to get left behind in the world of PR – then you’ve cracked it.

About clients

Tell us about one of your clients you are working with at the moment. How is the campaign for them going?
One of our clients is the UK’s only underground waste vacuum system. Underground pipes suck waste at up to 70mph over distances as far as 2km straight into a waste collection station. It reduces waste collection vehicles by 90% and doubles recycling rates. It’s a fantastic client and our campaign to position them as the future of waste management and a key sustainability player within the built environment is working really well.

What is the best coverage you’ve achieved for a client?

A blanket spread across the nationals is always well received however some of our most important coverage, which has been of huge benefit to our clients, has been generated in the smaller niche outlets. It’s a great example of how targeting the right audience for the right reasons pays dividends.

What has been the agency’s biggest PR/communication challenge?

Although we felt the downturn in the construction sector one of our key challenges has been finding good recruits. There are a growing number of PR candidates out there and finding the people that best suit our business has been time consuming. Recruitment is a long-term decision so you need to ensure that it’s right.

About you

How did you get into PR?

A degree in public relations was a good start. My first job after graduation was at NatMags and from there I made sure I gained a good mix of agency and client side experience before establishing The PR Farm.

How useful do you find social media?

I find it very useful, particularly from a monitoring perspective, however there are still a significant number of businesses wanting to use it just because they feel like they should. I see social media as yet another route to communicate with your audience and like any other outlet its use needs to be justified, targeted and, most importantly, relevant.

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

The phrase ‘you get out what you put in’ takes on a new meaning when you run your own business however the two most valuable tips I’ve had are a) trust your instincts and b) watch your overheads.

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[img|jpg|Stuart Pearson, MD]

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