Justin Westcott, chief operating officer UK and Ireland of Edelman, on the PRmoment podcast
Ben Smith, Founder, PRmoment.com
On the PRmoment podcast this week we’ve got one of PR’s nice guys Justin Westcott.
He’s currently got two jobs – not only is he chief operating officer of Edelman UK and Ireland, he’s also Edelman’s head of technology, EMEA.
Justin started his PR career at Microsoft, before moving to August One and Inferno Communications. He joined Edelman in 2006.
Edelman has a fee income of circa $890 million dollars and 5,500 staff and 60 offices globally.
It’s an independent PR firm founded in 1952 by the last Daniel Edelman. It is currently run by his son Richard Edelman. As of 2018, it is the largest public relations firm in the world by revenue.
Edelman has 600 staff in London.
Here’s a flavour of what Justin and I discussed:
[00:09:42] How Justin learnt the fundamentals of agency life during his time at August One.
[00:13:05] Justin talks about why his time in the Middle East around 2010 was one of the most favourite parts of his career.
[00:15:45] Justin talks us through his 13-year Edelman story, joining as an account director and now being COO in London and Head of Technology EMEA.
[00:17:32] How does Edelman retain a cultural entrepreneurialism within such a big organisation?
[00:18:38] Justin and I discuss whether there is an Edelman way of “doing” communications – a methodology that links the type work?
[00:21:49] Why, if you join Edelman, Justin believes "your success within our firm can definitely accelerate or be accentuated by the relationships and the contacts you make."
[00:24:26] How “a deep understanding of storytelling” underlines everything on Edelman's product and service tree.
[00:25:32] Justin discusses why working with great planners was a career changing moment for him.
[00:26:38] Why for the last 20 years PR has been on a journey of “unbundling the PR executive” by creating the “PR model of specialism.”
[00:28:03] Why the transition of advertising planners into PR is an easier transition than advertising creatives into PR.
[00:30:24] Why has Justin two jobs – head of technology, EMEA and CEO of Edelman UK and Ireland.
[00:33:26] Justin talks us through the realities of running a large modern PR firm – how do you retain profitability when you now need to employ six specialists to do what one person used to do?
[00:34:37] How has Edelman managed to outperform the market for the past 10 years or so by, in essence, simply cross-selling specialist related services in addition to its core PR offer?
[00:37:28] Justin talks us through the practicalities of managing an agency of 600 people.
[00:40:32] What does Justin put Edelman's reduced growth in recent years down to?
[00:42:46] How Justin believes the last five years has been about “PR improving its strategic and creative rigour.”
[00:42:55] Justin predicts that data, not from a data technologies perspective, but from a customer insight data perspective, will define the success of PR for the next five years.
[00:44:33] Why "first party data is where the magic can happen."
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