Avoid taking yourself too seriously in PR, says Nelson Bostock’s Nick Clark
24th February 2016
Even though Nick Clark, managing director of PR firm Nelson Bostock, was a party animal when he was a teenager, it did not occur to him at the time that he might end up in PR. In fact he was rather keen on joining the police (and eating pasties): “I’d like to think that my teenage self would be pleasantly surprised that my career has panned out as well as it has. Growing up in deepest, darkest Cornwall I wasn’t really aware of a life beyond beaches, pasties and cream teas - and certainly had never heard of public relations. I remember quite fancying a job in the police and did a week’s work experience, part of which involved being blindfolded and dropped in the countryside to find our own way home. No idea why, but I knew exactly where they’d taken us and where the nearest pasty shop was.”
Clark’s move towards PR began when he was a student, he studied languages and business studies at university, and part of this course was marketing, which involved working in France (first Nice and then Paris) in commerce. Clark naturally gravitated towards the sales and marketing departments. When Clark then moved to London, it was a meeting with Lee Nugent from Nelson Bostock (Nugent also happened to be Clark’s brother’s flatmate) that set Clark on the right track: “Lee Nugent suggested I came in and meet the team. The rest is history.”
Since then Clark has stayed put, a decision he has never regretted. He says it is a “hard-working, but down-to-earth agency that still very much runs in the image of its founders Roger Nelson and Martin Bostock. Most people who’ve worked here recognise it as a special place and even though Roger and Martin are no longer in the business, their influence can still be felt. I’ve been loyal to Nelson Bostock Unlimited but in return, the firm has been great for me. I’ve learnt an incredible amount, worked on some amazing campaigns and met some exceptionally talented and lovely people.”
Although Clark says he has too many career highlights to mention, he lists a few particularly memorable moments: “Working on Facebook in the relatively early days when it was experiencing incredible growth; helping launch EE; hanging out with engineers in Whitehaven at midnight as the nation switched over to digital; and getting global coverage for a Canon campaign that suggested that the next range of photocopiers would come with thickened glass due to the number of people sitting on them at the office party (I’ll let you work that one out).”
Despite Clark being pleased with the way his career has developed, this is not to say everything is plain sailing: “I grew up as a PR practitioner, but the more senior you get, the less actual PR you do. I’ve battled with this in the past and I’ve had to learn new skills, but it’s still really important I’m close to teams, clients and campaigns. Given the demands of running an agency, this can be challenging, but I think I’ve got the balance right. The agency is only as good as the people who work in it, and I’m lucky to have a great team.
“The other challenge is keeping ahead of the industry as it evolves. PR as we know it has changed beyond all recognition, which is exciting and creates a number of opportunities for progressive agencies.”
When it comes to offering advice to newbies coming into PR, Clark keeps it short and to the point: “Be prepared to work hard, but don’t take yourself too seriously”.