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Andy Peake, London CEO of VCCP on the PRmoment Podcast

On the PRmoment Podcast this week we’re chatting with Andy Peake, London CEO of creative agency VCCP. I’ve known Andy for about 25 years so, to an extent, we’ve followed each other's careers with interest over a couple of decades!

As Andy is now CEO of one the largest creative agencies in London I thought it would be interesting to get him on the show to chat about the intersection of PR firms and advertising agencies.

VCCP London has 850 employees and according to Nielson Billings Rankings is the UK’s highest billing creative agency with £483 m in billings, in 2022. Up 34% from £360m in 2021.

The agency was founded in 2002 and is owned by Chime, which also owns the PR agencies Good Relations and Harvard.

Chime is majority-owned by private equity firm Providence Equity Partners.

The intersection between PR firms and advertising firms has become an interesting one - because if you listen to a PR firm describe itself and an advertising firm describe itself, you’d think they have become basically the same or very similar.

But they seem to rarely compete for briefs and clients' budgets - and we’ll be discussing that and no doubt much more on today’s PRmoment Podcast today.

Before we start, if you haven’t already do take a look at our new event PR Masterclass: The Agency Growth Forum.

At this one event, 22 experts will give 11 Masterclasses on essential elements of managing a modern, profitable and successful PR firm.

Also, a reminder that the final entry deadline for the ESG Awards is 29th September 2023.

Finally, thanks so much to the PRmoment Podcast sponsors of the PRCA.

Here is a summary of what Andy and PRmoment founder Ben Smith discussed on the show:

2.30 mins As far as many PR people are concerned advertising agencies wedded themselves to producing 30-second TV ads that no one watches any more. So what have advertising agencies become?

5 mins What types of discipline specialists does VCCP have?

8 mins How does an advertising agency differ from a PR firm?

“The simplest way of categorising what different parts of the agency do is into paid, earned and owned and there’s obviously an enormous amount of overlap now.”

12 mins Andy talks about why he thinks don’t PR firms and advertising agencies compete against each other more often.

15.30 mins How much tension is there between a long-term strategic view of a brand strategy, with the need to respond to a news hook or an event?

19.30 mins Agency-wise we’re living in an era of specialism over the generalist. PR firms have more specialists than ever - but Andy talks us through the extent of specialism within VCCP.

22.30 mins With the level of specialisation in agencies now, is there a danger that everything just takes too long? How do you remove bureaucracy and hierarchy from a multi-specialised agency structure?

The client shouldn't feel like there dealing with a big group of people.”

24.30 mins From the client's perspective, has the buying of marketing services either become or, is in danger of becoming, too confusing and too messy?

“You’ve got to find a way of constructing yourself as an agency, and as a client, that is going to make that experience for the customer as seamless and consistent as possible.”

27.30 mins How is the creative market for VCCP at the moment? If 2022 was an 8/10 where is the market now?

“You have to be winning new business. There are going to be reasons, which are completely out of your control, that mean some clients are not going to spend as much next year as they did this year, so you’ve got to be good at new business.”

“We have to attract the best talent we can here, to do the best work possible. And if we do the best work possible we’ll attract better talent, it’s completely self-perpetuating.”

31 mins How do you retain a challenger culture in an agency business of 850 people?

“We’re not one big company, we’re a group of specialists.”

34 mins How is VCCP approaching the challenges and innovation required to integrate AI into your processes and workflow?

36 mins Like public relations the advertising sector has significant issues when it comes to increasing the diversity of the people who work within it. How is the advertising sector trying to improve?

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