Stay curious says Ogilvy’s Michael Frohlich

As UK managing director at Ogilvy Public Relations, Michael Frohlich has a busy schedule, as he is in charge of developing the UK business as well as the EMEA and global brand marketing practice and individual country businesses. Luckily, Frohlich has a passion for what he does, driven, he says by two things in particular: First, the people: “At Ogilvy, the diversity in the backgrounds of our people is extraordinary, and I love the variety of conversations I can have in any one day.”

Second, Frohlich enjoys the race to stay ahead in the “influence” game: “Influence, and in particular earned influence, is the holy grail all marketers regardless of discipline aim for. I’m excited to be working for an agency that continues to prove itself to be one of the most prolific game changers in this arena.”

Frohlich was one of only two UK judges at the Cannes PR Lions 2010, and has regularly judged the SABRE, PRCA and PR Week Awards. Discussing why he takes the time to do this, he says that awards in all their parts are very important, adding, “It is heartening when reading the entries to see such a breadth of creativity and talent across the industry, and I always leave feeling both hopeful and inspired.”

“A particular judging occasion does stick in my mind. I was asked in 2014 to be a judge for the inaugural Young PR Lions competition in Cannes. If I ever need to remind myself why I am in this business, I just take myself back to that experience. The Young PR Lions competition gave me a confident, fresh perspective, knowing there is a new genius generation of talent who understand not only how to inspire, but also know how to create change through their creative endeavors.”

“The talent of the young teams competing was incredible. The winning pair had an outstanding idea with amazing emotional resonance, but also demonstrated the crucial need for ‘performance’ when selling an idea. Enthusiasm, chemistry and dynamism – all things us marketers so quickly forget as our years in the industry add up.”

As a young man himself, Frohlich got his first break straight after university, where he had studied politics and economics. He spent a year working at the National Students Union, doing marketing, and got a real taste for it, as he realised he enjoyed strategic and creative work. Frohlich adds: “I could never work in an industry that sits still, comms by its very nature is a world of constant change. I love how it drives curiosity in us, forcing us to always have our eyes open, observe, ask questions and seek out new ideas.”

From then on, Frohlich says his career has been a “fast ride”. He explains: “From first job to now, I have always been passionate about working with global brands. I have been lucky enough to have had the backing of industry-lauded names such as Lord Bell and worked with some amazing people, including President Gorbachev and the Royals, and now here, as we work to continue our network growth.”

It may have been a speedy journey to the top, but there have been some bumps in the road. “I have taken many wrong turns and I have certainly never taken the easy route. Founding and running my own business was career defining for me, the responsibility to care for the people I employed combined with the pressure to continually produce exceptional work and grow the business year on year, was physically and mentally demanding. However, I wouldn’t change a second of that experience, and many of those employees are now long-standing friends and advisors.”

When it comes to sharing what he has learnt, Frohlich has plenty of advice: “Work hard. Challenge yourself. Keep it simple. Collaborate and then collaborate some more and seize every opportunity you get, especially if it’s outside your comfort zone. Stay bold and believe in yourself and your decisions, be they right or wrong, own them and learn from them.”

“Oh and stay curious. Curiosity about the world around us drives me and my team every day. If you love to ask questions and learn you will never put a foot wrong in my book.”

Michael Frohlich, UK CEO and EAME COO, Ogilvy Public Relations

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