Spreckley MD Richard Merrin on their MBO, career regrets and cashflow!
Daney Parker, Editor, PRmoment.com
Richard Merrin, managing director of PR agency Spreckley, loved drama when he was at school, little knowing that the performance skills he was learning then would be so useful in his future career. That’s why he says it is important for all comms people to learn how to present themselves. We ask him a few pertinent (and impertinent) questions in this quick ten-minute catch-up.
What did you want to be when you were a teenager?
It feels like a lifetime away now – especially as I am now employing people who were born in the very late 1990s! However, the one thing I loved and enjoyed was drama and performance arts. Little did I know that those skills – taught in school – would hold me in such good stead in my professional life. I absolutely love presenting and if there is one thing I would tell any young comms professional today is get training in this field, it’s essential in many walks of life.
Would your teenage self be pleased with the way things have turned out?
He would be surprised. Never in my wildest dreams would I have ever thought I would be running a PR agency with a turnover of just under £2m in the West End of London – never!
How did you get your first break?
I owe my career to two people both of whom worked for Shandwick. The man who gave me my first break into PR – Gordon Young, the then MD of Paragon and Sean Kennedy, the MD of the then Manchester outpost of Shandwick, John Fowler & Partners. He took me under his wing and was a complete mentor for me – he didn't train me in how to write a press release, I guess he saw something in me and we spent hours discussing the soft skills needed in this job – understanding client and corporate psychology. He was a huge figure in my life and I want to ensure that I pass those skills on to my team.
What is the best career decision you have made?
Buying the business I had helped to build over a decade.
Any career regrets?
A few – I have worked with some superb people who have moved on in their careers and they can be found littered across top management in many agencies in London. I just wish I had been able to keep them and they know who they are!
Why the name Spreckley?
The name of the founder Mike Spreckley and my business partner for nearly two decades. We are in fact called Spreckley Partners (I was the partners!). But when I went through the MBO I had to take a tough decision – keep an established brand which the market knows, or rip and replace with my own name. I am still fighting that debate.
What are the greatest challenges of your present role?
Cashflow – it’s always cashflow – and the fact that after 25 years we are moving to Farringdon. It’s like moving house with 20 children!
What advice can you give to others in the communications industry?
Understand your client – be it external or internal. Know your market inside and out and know theirs even better. And show passion, show creativity and show you care. But understand this – you are part of the sales process, PR is a business tool and not a nice-to-have.
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