Written by Alex Felton • Published 15th June 2020 • 4 minute read
Tell us about your experience to date and your background
I was a journalist and news producer with CNN for eight years before making the jump across to The PHA Group.
The access to big international stories and business leaders at CNN was amazing and I was very lucky to work on some massive stories including the Russian annexation of Crimea, the growth of ISIS in Syria and Iraq, a Royal wedding and I was outside Downing Street for a couple of elections and referendums too!
After years on the road travelling all over the world, I came back to London and thought I wanted to work in communications and step to the other side basically.
Business has always interested me, and I thought I could be successful if I moved across taking with me my journalistic knowledge, international background and applying it to help CEOs, businesses and private clients navigate the media.
What was it about The PHA Group that enticed you over other agencies?
The work that the agency is most known for was the real appeal. Phil Hall is known as one of the best at crisis and reputational PR and I thought that my skill set could probably adapt to this type of work and I could add value to the business. When you are a journalist you never truly get to see behind the curtain, and I wanted to be in the room with clients from the start and to know exactly what was going on and how I could help. For years I saw first-hand how journalists and editors could misreport, jump to conclusions or turn a blind eye to some facts but zero in on speculation to suit their audience or own needs and the work at The PHA Group lets you sit as the broker of trust to make sure balance and the truth is there.
What is it about litigation PR and communications that interests you?
I have always been fascinated by the law. Building an argument in legal terms is the same as building one in journalism or communications and digesting complex matters and distilling it for an audience who may read the Daily Mail or The Sun can be a real skill.
More and more legal teams and their clients are looking to build comms work into their long-term litigation strategies. Often clients are with their legal teams and want to win in the court room and neglect the media or public opinion but as we have seen time and time again the influence of public opinion around cases and the media’s effect can really add a context around litigation that can leave a lasting impression.
Whether it be a divorce case, a personal dispute or a corporate fraud case, a considered communications strategy can help the press take a stance and be the judge and jury for public opinion.
Some interesting projects must come across your desk
There is never a boring day that is for sure! The scope of the work at The PHA Group is always varied. Whether that be working with a legal team and an individual on a blackmail case, providing strategic counsel for an international hospitality group in a crisis or working with private clients and HNWIs on campaigns going through the courts or just to avoid intrusion into their own personal lives.
What has always struck me is a certain degree of naivety at how the media works from some clients and their teams. Our value is to consult and advise and take the lead to get the best outcome. Many think they do not need PR help because they don’t want to be in the papers but like it or not the media finds them or a report is published without their knowledge and then the emails flood in from interested journalists looking for the story.
What is the most rewarding aspect of your job?
When I am working with a client in a high-profile situation, perhaps under close media scrutiny, and I feel I can use my experience to advise them and help them navigate it then that can be very satisfying.
We all need to bring something to the party when we sit around the table and if I can devise a strategy that isn’t linear but looks at different stakeholders, impacts in foreign jurisdictions or simply advise on how this will play out in the media from their point of view that perhaps client’s advisors, employees or legal teams are slightly hesitant to tell them up front then that is rewarding.