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Chris Hides, managing director of The Academy on the PRmoment podcast

On this week's show, I'm chatting to Chris Hides, managing director of The Academy.

Chris joined The Academy in December 2020 having previously been co-founder and MD of M&C Saatchi Talk, which was the merged business of M&C Saatchi PR and Talk PR.

The Academy employs 50 people and has revenues of £4.4m.

As many of our listeners will know it was founded by Mitch Kaye and Dan Glover in 2014.

Before we start, thanks so much as ever to the podcast sponsors, the PRCA.

And if you haven't taken a look yet, all the categories for the PRmoment Awards 2021 are on the awards microsite

Here’s a summary of what Chris and I discussed:

01.00 min How Chris, during 10 months of lockdown, has merged an agency, launched an agency, left an agency and joined an agency!

03.00 mins How a chance lockdown meeting with The Academy co-founder Mitch Kaye led to Chris joining The Academy.

04.00 mins Did Chris know Mitch or Dan Glover before he joined The Academy?

06.00 mins What it has been like for Chris - as the new boy in a business for the first time in 18 years!

07.00 mins Why Chris met all his new colleagues in his bedroom!

09.00 mins Why as a senior player joining a new business, you have to earn your stripes all over again.

10.00 mins Bearing in mind the record of Dan Glover and Mitch Kaye at Mischief, does Chris feel the pressure of expectation as the new managing director of their business?

12.00 mins How Chris started his PR career with Angie Moxham at Le Fevre and an office dog called Bollinger!

15.00 mins Why “one of the greatest constraints to creativity is a lack of confidence”.

16.00 mins Why the most successful agencies recognise, reward and promote creativity, they must not constrain creative talent.

17.00 mins Chris talks us through his time at Talk PR and why he co-founded M&C Saatchi PR.

22.00 mins Chris talks us through the rapid growth of M&C Saatchi, alongside CEO Molly Aldridge.

26.00 mins In 8 years M&C Saatchi PR went from a start up with pretty much zero revenue to, at its height in 2016/17, a 120 person agency with offices in New Your, Madrid, Paris, Milan, London and UAE. Chris talks us through the reasons why the business went through a period of decline.

27.00 mins Chris says growing a business at that pace “is very much like a rollercoaster, you sit yourself in it and the ride starts and off you go. That’s the deal. My philosophy was always, you’re not getting off until the ride has finished.”

28.00 mins “A lot of the decisions about expansion are about risk and your ability to manage risk and calculate it.”

29.00 mins “America...was a real challenge. We tried incredibly hard to get America right and I don’t think we ever did.”

30.00 mins Looking back Chris says “he would be more considered in the attitude to accumulate costs. It’s very easy to put people into a business, it’s quite difficult, damaging to then remove them.”

33.00 mins How the PR agency model has shifted - “the range of skills sets needed has increased...the costs go up, so you’re placing bigger bets! You can’t win the work without the talent.”

34.00 mins Why do, in the main, UK consumer PR firms struggle to thrive in the US?

41.00 mins Chris talks about what it’s like joining The Academy’s management team of Mitch Kaye and Dan Glover - who have worked together for so long.

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