Tom Buttle, CEO of Chameleon, on the PRmoment podcast

This week on the PRmoment Podcast, in the latest of our life stories series, I’m pleased to welcome co-owner and managing director of Chameleon Tom Buttle

Chameleon is an independent tech PR firm in London with a fee income of £2.1m and 20 people.

The business was originally owned by Helen Holland before Tom Butttle and Tom Berry (what are the chances!) completed an MBO of the business in April 2017.

Here’s a summary of what Tom and I discussed:

[00:01:08] How Tom was a late starter in PR, having previously worked in HR, but has since had a pretty accelerated career path. [3.8s]

[00:03:35] Tom talks about the advantages of moving into PR from a different sector. [0.9s]

[00:05:04] Why Tom took a pay cut to move into PR. [0.4s]

[00:07:15] Tom tells us how, and I quote, " he fell in love with content and storytelling".

[00:09:21] How Tom has benefited from having a mentor in his career.

[00:12:56] Tom worked for Flieshman Hillard before moving to Chameleon – he talks us through why this was an important stage of his career. Tom also compares the differences of working in a large agency with a smaller one.

[00:16:58] How Tom, when he joined Chameleon, went about updating the content services of the agency.

[00:19:21] How Tom and Tom Berry restructured, repackaged and modernised the business.

[00:20:10] How Chameleon went about reducing the number of clients their teams worked on.

[00:20:21] Why Chameleon resigned a number of accounts whilst they were modernising the business.

[00:20:43] How Chameleon managed to win some big-name clients that supported their new strategy.

[00:21:28] Why, having initially been bought into the business to prepare it for a trade sale, Tom and his colleague Tom Berry decided that they wanted to take the business on themselves.

[00:27:38] When you need a broker, when you need an accountant and when you need a lawyer in the process of buying or selling a business.

[00:32:14] Tom talks about achieving a balance between personal investments, loans and borrowing on the future income of a business when raising the finance to purchase a business.

[00:34:01] Why it works that Tom and his business partner Tom Berry are "not best mates but just good friends."

[00:36:41] Why Tom believes that PR people say "yes" to much.

[00:37:45] Why overservicing stops PR firms from being able to nurture your team because you can't promote, reward and train people if you're not making any money.

[00:38:57] How the bridge from a client-service mindset as a junior member of staff to the consultative/advisory approach of a director can be difficult in public relations firms.