Ben Smith, Founder, PRmoment.com
I suspect that one day we all hope to have as many stories to tell as Phil Hall, chairman of The PHA Group - until then you can listen to him on the PRmoment podcast!
For those of you that are not aware, Phil was the editor of the News of the World from 1995 to 2000. His old bosses included Piers Morgan and Rupert Murdoch – he was at the pinnacle of British tabloid journalism before he left it all behind in 2005 and founded Phil Hall Associates (Now The PHA Group).
He started the business in his front room and his first client was none other than Paul McCartney.
He went on to represent Heather Mills McCartney in the infamous divorce and has since built The PHA Group to have revenues of well north of £9m in the pre-Covid-19 world that we all used to enjoy.
The PHA Group employs around 100 people.
Here’s a flavour of what Phil and I discuss:
- How the Covid 19 crisis has impacted PHA Media.
- How making people redundant is the hardest part of running a business.
- How PHA Media has won 20 new clients in the past few months.
- Phil talks us through the story of how he stared PHA Media including how his first client was Heather Mills McCartney, to now being a multi-sector PR firm with nearly 100 employees and outside investors.
- Why Phil’s wife Marie gave up her job as a corporate lawyer to run the business side of things, which gave the business proper structure. This in turn, meant they kept their best people and could grow the business.
- A rollercoaster: How PHA media lost 40% of its fee income at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic and has replaced 20% of that already.
- What Paul McCartney said to Phil when he told him he was going to represent his wife in their divorce case.
- Phil tells us how he ended up in Ecuador at a presidential palace in the middle of a coup, surrounded by machine guns.
- Phil tells us the story of how he got to know Piers Morgan, because of Piers Morgan’s grandad who was a pen friend of Myra Hindley and Ian Brady.
- Phil tells us why Rupert Murdoch was the best boss he ever had.
- Phil tells us why his time as editor of the News of the World was such a hard time of his career.
- Phil talks about why he lost his job over the Jeffrey Archer story, where, in effect, Rupert Murdoch’s best-selling editor had exposed his best-selling author.
- Phil tells us why he thinks the closing of the News of the World was “such a shame.”
- Why Phil took the gamble soon after he’d left his role as editor of the News of the World set up his own PR firm in his front room…
- Does Phil regret leaving journalism?
- Phil talks about how the growth of PHA didn’t really follow a strategy, it was more about how “we kept winning business.”
- Phil tells us about a couple of big exclusives early on in his journalism career.
- Phil gives his perspective of the phone-hacking scandal.
- Why Phil is a big believer in “jumping in with both feet and going for it” an approach that has stood him in good stead, like the time he ended up on the phone to Colonel Gaddafi.
- Why Phil has no problem working for the like of Qatar and Fred the Shred.
- Phill tells us about a time Princess Diana tipped him off about the James Gilbey story.
- What does Phil make of the challenges facing the media today?
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