On the show today I'm talking to Warren Johnson, chairman and founder of W Communications about the state of the UK public relations market at the moment.
W had a turnover of £10m in 2020 and despite the COVID economy it had its most successful H1 ever in the second half of 2020. Warren appointed Rachel Friend as W’s CEO in July 2020, so 9 months in, it seems like a good time to catch up about how things have changed at W.
Before we start, just to say thanks so much to the podcast sponsors, the PRCA.
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Here’s a summary of what Warren and I discuss:
1 min Why there’s been a lot of big pitches over the last few months, specifically in Q4 2020.
4 mins Why Warren is surprised that more businesses are not seeing now as an opportune time to “land grab” market share.
6.30 mins “Advertising/creative agencies modus operandi is to make TV ads and while everyone gave up watching (ads) a few years ago, we’ve suddenly had to because it’s either that or go for a walk.”
7 mins “We’ve seen a re-emergence of a newer breed of creative agencies.”
9 mins Why W hired a lot of PR people last summer but in a very different way.
12 mins Why we’re about to enter a period of wage inflation in PR.
13 mins Which clients has W won in the last 6 months?
15 mins Warren gives an update on how W has changed since Rachel Friend joined as CEO in July 2020.
19 mins Warren talks about W’s M&A strategy, exclusively revealing that W has appointed a head of M&A who has a “long shopping list...and a decent war chest.”
20 mins Warren reports on W’s international revenues which are now between 10% and 20% of the business’s revenues.
24 mins New York has been a tough place for UK consumer PR shops to launch - why should W be any different?
27 mins PR of all industries thrives on interaction, creativity, collaboration and you just can’t do it on Zoom, I don’t care what anyone says.”
28 mins “The idea of having ambitious, high growth businesses, and having it enshrined that people only have to spend half the time in the office, it’s certainly not the way I think we could run our business successfully.”
29 mins “We’ll offer more flex on start and leave times, I think that's the thing that will improve people’s lives much more than working from home.”
30 mins “There will be several tracks of career development: A lot of people have decided that they like to work from home because it suits their lifestyle...I think that shows a lack of ambition.”
“There are other people who thrive on the hustle and bustle of the office and the adrenaline and you can’t replicate that at home, and they are often slightly more ambitious people.”