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We must encourage PR entrepreneurs as they will help us out of the recession, says Threepipe’s Jim Hawker

8th February 2013


At the end of 2012 and for a number of reasons, I set up an entrepreneurial group for the PRCA which is designed to bring together agency-owner managers within the PR industry.

It is imperative that people starting their own businesses are encouraged to succeed and I felt that there was little in the way of informal support being provided to entrepreneurs within the industry. PR businesses are pretty simple really, yet it would not surprise me if there was the same failure rate that can be found in other industry sectors.

Some of the best PR people are brilliant because they are creative, well networked, insightful and charismatic, but that does not mean they are good business people. It still surprises me the number of senior PR people that could not understand a client’s profit and loss (P&L) statement. How can you have a decent conversation with the CEO of your client if you can’t understand how its business works or what commercial pressures it is under? I would encourage anyone working in PR, regardless of your speciality, to find someone to teach you how to read a P&L statement – it will stand you in good stead for the rest of your working career.

When we started Threepipe, we approached an old client of mine to become our mentor. He was himself an entrepreneur (from the manufacturing sector) who taught us quickly the importance of cash flow and generally how to run a business. To a couple of 29 year olds, this was at first quite a painful process, but one which was invaluable.

The entrepreneurial group that I set up is not to teach other agency owners about cash flow though (some of them are doing very well indeed when it comes to cash!) but more to develop an informal framework of support. Agency rivalries are put to one side as we learn from each other share our own experiences in running agencies.

The meetings so far have been inspirational and there has been a genuine desire to help each other succeed. Given that our world is extremely competitive, this has been great to see happening at first hand. Something that the group was keen to do was to learn from other entrepreneur’s experiences outside of the PR industry. While most businesses in general are similar, it will be exciting to hear how other entrepreneurs from other sectors are tackling their own problems and what we can learn from their experiences and bring into our own businesses.

We are constantly told that it is the smaller businesses that will get us out of this recession. Most people in the UK work for small businesses and yet too much attention is given to the larger global corporations and the larger agencies. We must do everything we can to encourage young businesses to succeed – the health of our sector depends on it greatly. With new businesses come new ideas, fresh talent and the next generation of industry leaders.

In my experience, the best agencies are those that are run by those people who took that leap of faith in starting their own business. They are totally committed, confident and more often than not, these agencies produce the best work we have to offer as a sector.



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