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In Hindsight: Pangolin PR co-founders David Phillips and Will Cookson reflect on ten years of running their agency

On the PRmoment Podcast today, Pangolin PR co-founders David Phillips and Will Cookson reflect on ten years of running their agency.

Pangolin is a consumer PR shop in London with a fee incline of £1.75m. Clients include Pernod and Pepsi, and it employs 17 people.

On the show today, we will reflect on their regrets, lessons and achievements as they look back on ten years of owning their own business.

To deal with the elephant in the room straight away - some listeners out there might be pointing out that many firms have exceeded £1.76 m over ten years, but in a way, that’s the whole point.

Ultimately this is a story of success but only with a few wrong turns along the way, which makes it an interesting story.

Before we start, if you haven’t already, 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.

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

Here’s a summary of what David, Will and Ben discussed on the show:

2 mins David and Will talk about their “real naivety about setting up a business.”

“I genuinely think we were the most naive co-founders back in the day…we were senior account directors when we set up the business.”

4 mins Do David and Will wish they'd given it a few more years in a big agency before starting on your own?

“We’ve learnt everything on the job..it’s meant it’s been slower.”

“We’re not natural risk takers.”

“We were both late 20s and didn't have massive commitments…if someone were to ask me to set up a business now, it would be a very different story.”

9 mins Freuds has a mythical status amongst some consumer PR folks - is that a vital cog in their story?

10 mins When Pagolin launched, it was called Caffeine. Will talks us through why they had to change the name.

“There’s a wider lesson there about what to do when it goes legal.”

15 mins Will and David tell us how they bought a ticket to win the Pepsi account.

“Dave slightly overcooked it on the cocktails the night before.”

“It just shows that you have to take a risk at some point, and it might work out.”

19 mins David talks us through why they nearly decided to say no to the Pernod Ricard account in their first year of business.

“We had a look at the current clients on our roster, which included a birdseed brand and a few others, and thought let's do it and see where it takes us!... It’s led to a 10-year relationship with Pernod Ricard.”

24.30 mins 70% of Pangolin’s work is project-based. David and Will talk us through why that is.

28 mins 50% of Pangolin’s work is UK-based, and 50% is global. That is quite rare for a consumer PR shop of Pangolin's size.

30 mins What do global consumer PR campaigns look like at the moment? Are they a media brief or a social media brief?

“Brands want a percentage share of conversation online.”

“We’ve had the best year to date; revenue has grown by 25%.”

“New business feels a bit slower, a bit stickier.”

34 mins How big do David and Will want Pangolin to get?

37 mins Do David and Will believe they have benefited from founding Pangolin together, or do they wish they’d been solo founders?

“Dave and I talk about things A LOT!.... Sometimes we need to stop talking about stuff and just do it.”

“When we were at Freuds, Will and I weren’t really the best of mates…”

“Overall, having a co-founder - the benefits outweigh the negatives.”

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