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Ben Smith, Founder, PRmoment.com
This week on the PRmoment podcast, I’m pleased to welcome Natasha Hill, managing director at Bottle.
Bottle has a turnover of £2m and is an independent multi-specialist PR firm in Oxford.
The business was previously owned by Will and Claire Cairns. Will Cairns still has a stake in the business but Natasha and creative director Colin Cather now run the business day to day.
Bottle has 25 staff and about 60% of its work is in consumer markets and 40% in B2B.
Here is a flavour of what Natasha and I discussed:
[00:01:21] Why Bottle founder Will Cairns can now be found in the Cotswolds, on a bike with a bunch of American tourists!
[00:02:02] How Bottle founder Will Cairns has exited the day-to-day running of the business and handed it over the Natasha and creative director Colin Cather.
[00:04:49] Natasha talks us through the story of Bottle as a business – how it grew to about £2m in 2014 and then lost some momentum (fee income subsequently fell to circa £1.4m.) The business has now grown back to a fee income of £2m.
[00:05:14] How Natasha has retained a high number of retainer clients at Bottle, despite the sector trend for an increased number of project-based agency/client relationships.
[00:07:10] Why PR clients increasingly value strategic advice over campaign implementation.
[00:10:51] Natasha explains the recruitment challenges for PR firms near, but outside of London, in places like Oxford.
[00:13:01] How Natasha has restructured Bottle in-line with her brand marketing background.
[00:14:36] Why the fact that neither of the current leadership team of Bottle have come from a pure PR background has helped its client proposition.
[00:15:32] How Bottle has re-engineered the way the team works and the structure of the working day to reflect the challenges of modern public relations.
[00:17:09] Should all PR teams, both in-house and agency split into reactive teams and proactive teams?
[00:19:33] How Natasha and the rest of the management team at Bottle have turned around a business that was in decline and created growth.
[00:23:08] Why Natasha made the move from a strategic marketing director role at the UK’s biggest charity Cancer Research UK to a small PR firm.
[00:25:00] How Natasha's belief that Cancer Research UK needed to become more of a human charity, rather than purely a research-focused charity – led to the organisation’s rebrand.
[00:28:40] How post the rebrand in 2012 Cancer Research UK's income was up by 6%.
[00:29:44] As a marketer how does Natasha see PR’s contribution to the marketing funnel – which bits of the funnel are realistic for PR firms to grab and which bits are not?
[00:32:29] Why agencies are increasingly having to draw the line on the type of work that they can do – otherwise you end up just trying to cover too much with insufficient expertise.
[00:33:47] What does PR actually do for a huge charity like Cancer Research UK?
[00:37:52] How does Natasha see the relative advantages of having an in-house team compared to outsourcing to an agency?
[00:39:38] Natasha talks us through the process of digital transformation she implemented during her time at Cancer Research UK.