According to a certain recruitment consultant, Jim Hawker shouldn’t be working in consumer PR now, let alone running an independent agency

Jim Hawker, co-founder of Threepipe, an independent agency in Covent Garden, says that in his opinion, consumer agencies such as his are under more pressure than any other sector. He explains why: “There is a greater need for innovation in reaching audiences and a need to educate clients about the digital media opportunity which constantly changes. We also work in a very competitive sector against some great agencies which means we must always be on top of our game.” This means Hawker is justly proud of the success of his agency so far, which he established with his co-founder Eddie May in 2003.
One of the reasons Hawker believes it is all worthwhile, is because of the potential his work offers to come up with creative solutions, although he adds, “the sleepless nights trying to think of the right ideas can be quite tiring!“ The skills that have helped Hawker get through these nights and come up with strategies that work, he says, are: “single-minded determination and the ability to just keep going through all the day-to-day challenges in starting a business from scratch.“ Hawker claims that he probably developed these skills from his parents’ encouragement over the years, although he adds that they may also have come from “supporting Fulham!”

Discussing a recent project, Hawker describes a teenage anti-bullying campaign for Vodafone which he believes shows what can be done creatively with a tough subject matter. He says, “working with multiple partners required an incredible attention to detail, so that everyone knew what was happening and pulling together to pull off one of the best campaigns I have worked on.”

Hawker loves working in consumer PR, but if he had listened to advice early in his career, he would be doing something completely different now. He explains: “I was told by a leading recruitment consultant that after four years of my first job working in consumer tech that I could never work in consumer PR. That really spurred me on to prove otherwise, but shows you how some recruitment consultants can negatively affect people’s career choices.”

Once Hawker had ignored the career advice he had been given, he found his niche in an agency that gave him a thorough grounding before offering him the opportunity to work in the States. This gave him lots of confidence and a feeling that he could really take control of his own career. The next significant career event, says Hawker, was meeting Eddie May, adding: “This was obviously the catalyst for Threepipe, as we get along very well and yet are quite different people with our own skill sets. The combination works well and there are no power struggles which can negatively affect other agencies.”
Not every day in PR is great though, and Hawker describes one particular moment which stands out for all the wrong reasons, when he had to dress as Super Mario in Slough Town Centre for a day when working on the Nintendo account. Apart from this, though, Hawker is extremely positive about his work, and Threepipe, although he does have one gripe, concerning how the Cannes Lions PR campaign winner was chosen. He is cross that the judges deciding this winner were “a bunch of advertising people”, adding that this meant it was little surprise when an advertising campaign picked up the award. He complains: “Not many people are outspoken about it as they are taking a pay cheque from group-owned agencies. There are only a few independent consumer agencies that really create fantastic work and they are not being properly represented.”

Career History
2003-present: Co-founder, Threepipe
2002-03: Associate director, Spreckley Partners
2001-02: Associate director, Maclaurin
2000-01: Sponsorship manager, Tommy Hilfiger in New York
1995-99: Account executive, to account director, Harvard PR

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