A stalwart of Londons Tech PR scene, Stephen Waddington is MD of Speed Communications

Stephen Waddington is half of the duo behind multi-sector agency Speed Communications, working on both digital and traditional PR for brands ranging from The Economist to Tesco.

My Day

4.30am: Monday mornings start long before the crack of dawn. I live in the wilds of rural Northumberland, 40 miles north of Newcastle, and get up at 4.30am to make the train to London. It’s a journey that I’ve being making for almost two years since moving our family from Ealing. It’s a hell of a commute but the benefits of living and raising children in a rural community with extended family nearby outweigh the challenges of co-location.

I rent a flat near London Bridge during the week. 5.30am: I whip out the laptop once on the train to Kings Cross. Everyone at Speed is kitted out with an iPhone and laptop and we’ve invested in infrastructure to facilitate mobile and home working. My Mondays to Thursdays are typically spent in London and I travel back north on Thursday evening and work from home on Friday.

9.00am: Inbox cleared and a diet of podcasts digested. I land in our Leicester Square office at nine and the morning kicks off with a round of client calls. Speed co-founder, Steve Earl, and myself spend approximately 50 per cent of our time on client work, working with the teams on strategy, communication planning and training.

11.00am: A finance meeting follows with Gemma Curtis, our finance director. We check in on the consultancy’s vital statistics, namely cash, debtors, creditors and monthly and quarterly sales numbers. This has been a tough year for the PR industry. Budgets are under pressure and more than ever before clients are seeking assured returns. Traditional media is much reduced but remains important, trade media is fragmented, and the metrics for online programmes remain a work in progress.

12 noon: Our planning for 2010 is just being finalised and I grab 20 minutes to go over things with our business development director, Clare English. At Speed we’ve taken three agencies and five brands that were acquired by Loewy during the last four years and rebuilt them around a rigorous planning and measurement methodology – and a training drive to ensure that all of our consultants can plan and implement digital campaigns, rather than having a specific division focusing on this area. As the digital space becomes more and more integral to effective communications, we feel we owe it to our clients and to our staff to ensure that all team members are ahead of the game.

12.30pm: Lunch is a mentoring session with a colleague and talk of the London property market and the merits of CIPR membership follows. Everyone in the business is assigned a senior director as a mentor in addition to the framework of regular line management. Approachability is really key for a productive and happy culture.

1.30pm: I head straight into a brainstorm for the Economist after lunch where we debate how to extend its brand via social networks with the ultimate goal of driving subscribers.

3.00pm: Every brief we receive at the moment contains a digital component. We’re currently re-editing our ebook about social media to bring it up to date for 2010 and I’ve earmarked a good few hours this afternoon for proof reading and suggestions for the final draft. We’ll be holding a series of workshops on the subject for brand managers and marketing directors in the New Year. The PR industry is polarised between people that are just starting to get to grips with planning and delivering a social media programme and those that are caught up with the exuberance of the medium. We believe that Speed bridges that gap.

6.00pm: Breakfast, lunch and evenings in London are almost always spent in the company of clients, colleagues or contacts at industry events. Tonight is a catch-up with an old friend Danny Chapchal, who runs Camcon, an early stage eco firm in Cambridge. It will almost certainly be a late night … splitting work and family life between London and Northumberland has its advantages.


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