Sir Martin Sorrell’s WPP was never too far removed from the mounting speculation, but ultimately it was French advertising giant Havas that secured a controlling stake. Fast forward twenty years, and Maitland is now a central piece of Havas’s global financial PR network, AMO, a network that covers every continent and advises on hundreds of M&A deals valued at hundreds of billions of dollars on an annual basis.
It was a hard decision to leave the agency, particularly when global expansion was afoot, but I was determined to relocate back to Scotland. From my own perspective, I think the PR scene here is much stronger today than when I landed back north of the border, and I’d like to think I’ve played a small part in that evolution.
Domestic agencies like Charlotte Street Partners have really helped to move the dial, in a mould not too dissimilar to the agency environments I remember from London. Charlotte Street’s founding partners Andrew Wilson and Malcolm Robertson have set the standard in the Scottish context, not unconnected to the fact that both guys have gravitas in spades.
As a CEO, founder, or director, the public or media-facing profile of your company is a big deal. How that corporate reputation plays out is going to be significantly determined by how you handle press relations, and how that translates to resulting coverage in column inches or on the airwaves.
With this in mind, next week we are going to announce the appointment of an associate partner to run dedicated media training for our client base. We think we’ve found a great person to take on the role, a former BBC broadcaster who has spent years advising the financial services, professional services, and technology sectors - a strong overlap with the sectors we already work in - on connecting better with various audiences when it comes to external communications.
So, that could be preparing for a milestone press announcement, dealing with crisis comms, carrying out a broadcast interview, pitching to investors, or delivering a keynote address at an industry conference. While we already cover these disciplines to an extent, the rationale for the appointment is to supercharge our existing offering.
If PR can be considered a craft, then I think it’s natural to want to continually improve that craft. Not to rest on your laurels, and all that. I have a friend from Jeddah, the Saudi Arabian port city on the Red Sea, who talks passionately on the subject of craft. As an institutional and private investor, he strongly believes you must continually work at your craft no matter what you do for a living, and I hope he will share his insight in this column in the not too distant future.
If craft is important in life, it’s equally important to graft. Talking of which, it’s time I got back to the grindstone.
Nick Freer is the founding director of strategic corporate communications agency the Freer Consultancy