Ben Smith, Founder, PRmoment.com
This week, in the latest of our life stories podcast, I’m interviewing Dan Neale, co-founder and MD at Alfred.
Alfred is an independent PR shop in London focusing on the consumer, entertainment, technology and gaming markets.
It has a fee income of circa 1.3m and about 15 employees. Alfred was founded in 2013 by Dan Neale and Gemma Pears.
Gemma moved to the US for a short while and during that time Dan bought her out, meaning he now owns 100% of the business.
Previously to Alfred, Dan headed up Unlimited Group’s then digital and social offer – Things with Wings.
He was only 30 when he launched Alfred – so he was a relatively young PR entrepreneur.
Here’s a flavour of what Dan and I discussed:
[00:01:21] Whether Dan, as a 30 year old, reckoned it was a risk to leave a salaried job and launch Alfred.
[00:04:26] How Dan was influenced by his father being an entrepreneur.
[00:06:40] How Dan always had the ambition to build and create something, he just wasn't sure what it was going to be.
[00:07:48] Why Dan believes that too much PR activity is obsessed with short-term objectives, rather than ideas that will help change a business.
[00:08:52] Why PR needs to be more confident in its impact – reputation has a huge impact on brands.
[00:09:27] How and why Dan had to buy Gemma Pears, co-founder of Alfred, out of the business.
[00:12:06] Whether it feels different now that Dan owns all of Alfred.
[00:13:40] Why Dan wants Alfred to approach work like a creative agency rather than a traditional PR agency
[00:15:55] Why doing a year’s IT and computer programming course at uni (which he then dropped out of) has helped Dan in the long term.
[00:17:05] Why Dan decided early on in the life of Alfred to employ two experienced non-executive directors.
[00:20:01] Why agencies must create an environment where people are willing to challenge and be challenged.
[00:22:32] Whether Dan is pleased that after six years he's built a business with a fee income of £1.3m – or is he disappointed?
[00:22:38] Dan argues that there have been fewer independent UK start up PR firms in recent years.
[00:25:48] Dan talks us through what, in hindsight, he would do differently since launching Alfred.
[00:27:52] Whether agencies should to try and build their own IP or tool or buy an off-the-shelf product?
[00:31:21] Whether there is a similar mindset linking the careers of music and public relations.
[00:33:01] Why Dan believes PR has an irrational focus on coverage versus impact.
[00:34:07] Why Dan believes linking reputation to impact is the answer to PR’s measurement dilema.
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