W Communication’s founder Warren Johnson on the PRmoment podcast

This week, on the PRmoment Podcast, I’m pleased to welcome founder and managing director of W Communications Warren Johnson.

Warren established W nine years ago and the business now has a fee income of circa £7.5m. W is the largest of a group of independent consumer agencies in London which are leading PR’s fight for creative work.

Here is a flavour of what Warren and I discussed:

  • Why he once left a career in PR to be become a builder
  • Why if you’ve worked for someone for 10 years – you don’t really know what you know.
  • Why he didn’t want to start W Communications
  • Why Warren fell out of love with PR – first-time round
  • Why Warren is a better senior PR person than a junior PR person
  • Why Warren is ultimately driven by commercial success, not the quality of work
  • Why people who confuse PR as a form of art are misguided
  • Why Warren decided to self-fund his business, rather than taking backing or getting a partner
  • What the growth path was of W Communications, from year one to now
  • Why you work harder if you don’t have a backer
  • Why PR firms shouldn’t need investment
  • Why a sole owner business is often more collaborative
  • Why Warren is more proud about his business success, than PR success.
  • How W has kept growing and broken the £7m fee income barrier
  • Why Warren has never written a business plan for W
  • Why Warren believes any proper entrepreneur has to blend their business and personal lives
  • Why social energy creates opportunity
  • Why W bought in Mark Perkins as executive creative director and Adam Mack as CEO about a year ago
  • Why W has bought a number of smaller PR firms in recent years
  • Why W has managed to win larger clients in the last 12 months
  • How PR firms with circa £1m fee income often struggle to grow
  • Warren’s regrets and learnings about the House PR integration with W Communications
  • Why Warren doesn’t want to buy firms and merge them into W Communications
  • Why Warren has not sold W Communications
  • Why, if an independent business is growing, most deals mean that the buyer is paying the founder from his or her own profits
  • Why Warren expects a new wave of buyers for PR firms in the next five years
  • Why PR people are the most agile and entrepreneurial of all the marcoms disciplines
  • Why Warren believes PR firms will be competing with ad agencies for the big creative budgets sooner than people think
  • Why the PR industry needs more swagger