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Is UK PR losing its entrepreneurial flair?

Welcome to the PRmoment Podcast. 

On the show today, I’m chatting with Jule Herd. Jules is the founder of PR agency Five in a Boat, which she started six years ago. It’s a tech PR firm with a fee income of about £750K. The business mainly does reputation advisory work, so it is at the more serious end of the PR spectrum. Looking to the future, Five is a Boat is looking to double in size and wants to launch in San Francisco in the short term.

Five in a Boat has grown for five years since its launch, but like many tech PR firms worldwide, it has had a tougher last twelve months or so.

If you’re wondering, the name Five in a Boat is a nod to Jule’s rowing prowess!

On the show today, Jules and I will discuss whether UK PR agency founders have lost their confidence in recent times and no doubt we’ll chat about a bunch of other stuff.

Before we start, a plug for our new subscription training service for senior folks within agencies' PRmoment Leaders. The line-up of speakers for the first semester is now complete, and even if I say it myself - it’s almost perfect!

Do take a look at our latest PR Masterclass: PR and AI. I’m tremendously excited about it because we've filtered out the snake oil salesmen, the bluffers, and the AI dead ends to create it. It really is an exceptional programme of speakers. It’s only been live for a couple of days, but tickets are already going quickly.

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

Here’s a summary of what Julia and PRmoment founder Ben Smith discuss:

2 mins Why does Julia think UK PR firms have lost their entrepreneurial confidence?

“There has been a reticence to take risks since COVID, work environments have changed and people have become more reliant on being able to have a better work-life balance, which I’m an advocate of. The downside to that is the sense of ambition has dissipated.”

7 mins Are UK PR firms losing their ambition?

“There’s not this drive that there was five years ago on the sector.”

“(In the UK) the younger generation…if you come last in a race, you get a medal. If you apply that to the business world, that isn't good. Business is about elite performance.”

9 mins Being aggressive in business is much easier if a) you’ve got lots of money in the back or b) you're spending someone else’s money. Most PR agency founders in the start-up stage don’t have those luxuries, do they?

“Failure is not trying at all… Nothing is going to be perfect in life.”

“50% of our clients are non-UK clients.”

“We get most of our new saints through cold calls.”

12 mins The games industry made up 70% of Five in a Boats fee income 12-18 months ago. That sector has cut back on its PR spending heavily. How has Five in a Boat managed that shift from one sector to other areas of work?

17 mins Why did Julia leave a senior in-house position to start our own agency?

“I’m probably un unhirable now.”

20 mins Looking back over the past six years - where do you feel Five in a Boat could have been more aggressive?

25 mins How has Julia’s sporting background influenced her career in business?

“A sporting background teaches you how to succeed and, more importantly, how to fail.”

27 mins Does having a portfolio career help Julia’s PR business, or mean she can never quite focus on it?

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