Jim Hawker talks PR

Jim Hawker is owner of multi-award winning agency Threepipe, which he co-founded in 2004. We recently caught up with him to ask how he got started in PR, why he sticks with it and any advice he has for the rest of the industry.

Hawker has always had a rebellious streak, which is an ideal attribute for an entrepreneur. Describing his earliest ambitions he says: “I didn’t really have much of a career plan as a teenager – I was just into sport, friends and doing my best to keep up at school. I have always been a little rebellious and done things my own way though, so I think that had I known that I would have ended up running a PR business, I would have been happy. I do genuinely enjoy what I do and that is so important in this job which is pretty demanding.”

Once Hawker realised his ambition was to work in PR, he sent off many letters to agencies, but they never even replied. His tenaciousness paid off, as “eventually” Nick Taylor, the founder of Harvard PR, “saw something in me and offered me a job, even though there wasn’t one available at the time. I then went travelling and would call in every month until he told me to come back to work on the Nintendo account.”

An ambition to have his own business before he was 30 was one driver for Hawker to start up on his own. He was also encouraged by those around him: “I was fortunate enough to have worked with some amazing entrepreneurs, both as clients and agency bosses, which inspired me. My best friend also started his own business at 26 and being surrounded by these people gave me confidence that I could do the same thing. I had worked both in-house as well as agency-side and across so many different sectors so I had a good contacts book which really helped. I also wanted to launch an agency before I was 30 and throw my thirties into making it work.”

Like all entrepreneurs, Hawker has made his share of mistakes, but like all successful entrepreneurs, he has always made sure he has benefited from them: “I took control of my own career and have taken risks throughout it. I chose paths that weren’t about the money and all for building up my experiences that have got me to where I am today. Even when I have made mistakes I have learnt from these moments.”

The reason why Hawker has chosen to stay in communications, he says, is because the creative process of developing new and effective programmes for clients makes the industry so stimulating. “It’s an exciting industry that never stands still and which rewards those people that stay ahead of the curve and work hard.”

Lastly, when asked what advice he would give to others thinking about PR as a career, he advises: “You get out what you put in. Walk into a client meeting knowing more than your clients – even about their own company and industry. Learn how to read a profit-and-loss statement and talk in commercial terms as well as be an expert in communications. Be yourself and don’t change. Ask questions all the time and never stop learning. Be honest and fair with people. It's a small industry and word gets around!”

Jim Hawker, owner of agency Threepipe

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