Ben Smith, Founder, PRmoment.com
This week, in the latest of our life stories podcasts, I’m interviewing Mark Lowe, co-founder of Third City.
Third City is a consumer PR firm in London with a fee income of over £2 million and a turnover approaching £3 million and 28 employees.
Mark co-founded Third City in 2008 with Graz Belli. Previously Mark had worked at Band & Brown for six years.
Here is a summary of what Mark and I discussed.
[00:01:09] How Mark originally wanted to be an actor.
[00:03:01] Mark talks us through his early career as a singer in a band.
[00:05:09] Why if you have a dream in life it's important to at least give it a go! Even if you ultimately end up doing something else.
[00:06:35] Mark and I discuss the trend of people going plural and having two or more jobs.
[00:07:42] Whether PR firms offer sufficient flexibility in working practices.
[00:08:32] Why Mark reckons his CV in his 20s was "a bit of a mess".
[00:12:33] Why Mark's career accelerated when he joined Band & Brown and met Graz Belli.
[00:13:05] Why you don't have to have a conventional career path, the most important thing is that you really believe in, and want to do, what you're doing.
[00:13:31] Why "trying and failing" is an important part of life/your career.
[00:15:19] Mark talks us through the challenges and advantages he had of starting his PR career pretty late.
[00:15:54] How meeting Jill Brown and Graz Belli was a critical change in Mark's career.
[00:16:43] Why Mark believes the PR sector has some cultural preconceptions about age which hold the industry back.
[00:17:53] Why Mark would like to redefine PR as "brand communications".
[00:18:23] Why PR firms are now working in the space that was previously occupied by branding agencies.
[00:20:19] Why the barriers between consumer and corporate PR are being broken down.
[00:20:36] Why the way VCs are buying public relations is changing the agency market.
[00:22:20] Why brands can no longer manage their reputation and brand out of two separate departments.
[00:22:38] How Mark went from a senior account director at Band & Brown at 29 to a director at 32.
[00:22:59] What did Mark do in those three years to accelerate his career?
[00:26:26] Why Mark decided to leave Band & Brown to set up Third City alongside Graz Belli and Gill Brown.
[00:27:22] What were the reasons behind Band & Brown losing its momentum quite quickly?
[00:29:53] Mark talks about how Third City was founded.
[00:30:44] Why Mark believes its important for a PR firm to be able to blend the best of consumer agencies and corporate agencies.
[00:33:02] Why Third City is looking for opportunities for regional expansion in the UK and models for international expansion.
[00:34:29] Mark talks us through Third City's structure, including its Third Citizen network.
[00:37:41] Why Mark believes public affairs professionals are often more interested in the political process than the political context. And they are very rarely interested in brands.
[00:38:23] How people who work in brand communications are often not that interested in politics.
[00:40:08] Mark asks whether the rush for purpose is explained by the idea that we are now entering a world in which businesses are neither paying taxes nor creating jobs, so they are having to come up with other reasons and justifications for their existence.
[00:41:05] Why is it that VC firms tend to prioritise public relations as a method of marketing?
[00:45:11] How the uncertainty of Brexit is impacting the UK PR business.
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