Jon Lonsdale, CEO and joint founder of Octopus, on the PRmoment podcast

This week on the PRmoment podcast, I’m pleased to welcome Jon Lonsdale, CEO and joint founder of Octopus.

Octopus has a fee income of £5m and is an independent technology-focused PR firm in London.

The business has been going for nearly 18 years and was founded by three mates who worked together at Bite. Those friendships are still intact and are still at the heart of the business.

Octopus has also, in Jon’s words “bet the farm” on its brands to sales positioning of the agency and we'll be talking about that, amongst other things, in this podcast.

[00:01:14] Why Jon reckons "running a business with your mates is about as good as it gets."

[00:02:44] How Jon, Billy Hamilton-Stent and Pete Hendrick have retained such a good working environment between themselves over such a prolonged period of time.

[00:03:04] Why Jon and the partners of the business have treated themselves as employees to avoid Octopus having a "cult of the owner."

[00:06:03 ] How Octopus has codified and developed a methodology for its brands to sales approach.

[00:06:13] Why Octopus has specified hard sales metrics in many client contracts.

[00:07:03] Jon discusses how PR firms are able to have radically different commercial conversations with clients when you're willing to commit to hard sales metrics.

[00:07:23] Jon talks us through Octopus's client scorecards approach to KPIs.

[00:08:27] The interconnectivity of reputation and sales.

[00:13:23] Jon describes the structural changes they made to the business as a result of its brands to sales approach "ripping the business up."

[00:13:35] How it took four years to restructure the business to the new approach.

[00:14:01] Why Octopus has had to reskill the whole agency around digital techniques and digital marketing.

[00:14:49] Why Octopus's net client fees have gone up since taking a brands to sales approach.

[00:16:02] Why Jon believes PR teams moving to an impact on sales approach, increases budgets and means that as an agency you become a sales tool, not an overhead.

[00:19:30] Jon discusses Octopus's internal training programme called the Brand to Sales Academy.

[00:24:43] Why modern agencies need to have the capacity to flex and move skills and people around.

[00:25:07] Jon talks us through the reasons Octopus had a tough year in 2017.

[00:28:20] Why a failed pitch lead to Jon and his business partners abandoning a multi-brand approach for the agency.

[00:31:08] Jon describes why he loves running a business in the technology sector.

[00:33:07] Jon and I explore the theory that it's easier for B2B PR firms to win larger parts of an integrated brief than their consumer peers.

[00:35:10] Why Jon believes that the creativity in B2B campaigns is just as good as the creativity in B2C, it's just not as loud.

[00:40:14] Jon identifies the type of PR buyer who wants to purchase all their marketing services from one place.

PRmoment Awards 2020