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James Wright, Havas PR's Global Chairman on the PRmoment Podcast

Welcome to the PRmoment Podcast.

I’ve been looking forward to this one. We’re chatting with James Wright, the global chairman of Havas PR.

James is one of a decent number of Brit PR folks who have moved to Australia.

Havas PR has had a good run globally and in the UK over the past few years. Global revenues are reported to be $236 m in 2023, up 5% on the previous year. Havas PR has 1600 employees globally.

Before we start, a plug for our new subscription training service for senior folks within agencies, PRmoment Leaders. The programme of activity, including the tutorials, is now underway. If you're interested in learning more about this bespoke training programme for agency leaders, we’ll include the link in the show notes.

Also, do take a look at our latest PR Masterclass: PR and AI, which will be held on July 2nd in London.

At this one event, 12 experts will give 10 Masterclasses on PR & AI. Face-to-face and virtual tickets are available.

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

Here is a summary of what James and I discussed:

3 mins James talks us through the recent growth of Havas’s PR revenues.

“Some markets are going really, really well, some markets are sluggish this year.”

“2023 was a very good year for us.”

“Havas Red started at $19 m in 2019, now $57m. Part of that is through acquisition, a great deal of that is organic.”

4.30 mins James talks us through the shape of Havas PR. Where do Havas Red, H/Advisors and One Green Bean fit together?

“We’ve gone from having 28/29 PR brands to 5 or 6.”

“Our global PR group is now Havas Red. It now exists in 19 markets, soon to be 20 and 21 before the end of the year.”

8 mins How does PR fit into an integrated offer within Havas? What type of work and what channels is PR responsible for?

“The strategy for Havas Red was to continue to own the earned but now to earn the owned…Over time, we have put social content and data solutions at the centre of our agency. In the US, when we started, only 3% of our revenues were social content, it’s now 40%. In the UK, it's a similar number.”

“For me, the concept of earned has changed from earned coverage to earned conversations.”

“Ad agencies just aren't set up to fast turnaround content.”

22 mins “The UK has been a massive success for us since we started in 2019 with just a few hundred thousand pounds to where it is now. The team there, led by Rachael Sansom, have done a phenomenal job.”

24 mins PR revenue-wise, Havas seems to have outgrown your holding group peers, albeit from a lower base.

24. 30 mins Does the Havas PR group follow the broad revenue model of most other international PR firms? Are the bulk of the revenues in North America?

25 mins What’s it like doing a global role from Sydney? Does James ever sleep?

“Sydney is the only place in the world where you can live a world-class lifestyle and do world-class work.”

28 mins James talks about the Australia PR scene in Australia.

“Consumer confidence is super low at the moment.”

“We hub some of our global accounts from here now. They just love the talent here.”

31 mins James talks about Havas’ approach to digital technology.

36 mins How big does James want Havas PR to get to?

“There is a very good opportunity in the next five years to break the $300 m mark.”

37 mins James talks about Havas PR’s acquisition strategy.

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