Tell us a bit about yourself and your background?
I’m originally from Australia but have lived in London for over five years. Before moving to the UK in 2014, I dabbled in a few different PR and media roles, including charity PR, hospitality and lifestyle PR, and broadcast journalism, with a key highlight being a trip to Vietnam where I tutored university students in foreign correspondence and how to package stories for radio and TV broadcasts.
By the time I moved to the UK, I was keen to work in a sector where I would learn and see the broader impacts of the companies I worked with and found my niche in technology PR. Since then, I’ve worked across all kinds of businesses, from data centres and semiconductors to charity tech websites and dating apps, but I’ve got a growing interest in mobility technology too.
Having worked with an engineering simulation company that’s helping create sensors for driverless cars, telemetry companies that are improving driver habits, and companies like Virtuo that are changing the future of car rental for the better, I’m really interested in how these companies will change how we travel in the future. With the global attention on climate change, it’s also critically important that we find more environmentally friendly ways to get around that are also as simple and cost-effective as possible for consumers.
What trends are you expecting to impact 2020?
As new mobility companies continue to spring up, the market is becoming highly saturated, especially in the world of taxis/ride-hailing apps and eBikes/eScooters, so these companies are increasingly having to find new ways to differentiate from one another. A growing trend is for these companies to show how they give back to people or integrate CSR, with companies like Uber giving free rides to NHS staff over Christmas. I expect we’ll see more of these ethical stances and tactics coming out of companies throughout 2020 in order to keep audiences engaged.
In line with that, sustainability is obviously a huge talking point at the moment, and mobility companies need to demonstrate how they’re committed to the cause, whether it be carbon offsetting schemes, targets to reduce emissions, or using and lobbying for more electric and hybrid transport options. The latter however is a big challenge in the mobility industry, as the electric vehicle charging infrastructure required to support mass adoption of EVs simply isn’t there. This could present a great opportunity in 2020 for the growth of companies helping to fix this, such as Pod Point.
What is the most rewarding aspect of your job?
We’re lucky to work with a lot of emerging companies at The PHA Group, and it’s very rewarding to see well-deserved attention on these clients that have so much potential and that the world needs to hear about. More broadly, I love learning about technical topics I never expected to be knowledgeable on. For example, a few years ago I wouldn’t have expected to be able to talk about the importance of reliable 5G in order to progress new technologies like driverless cars, and why investment in more cell tower infrastructure is a huge challenge for it.
What sets the technology department at The PHA Group apart from other technology-focused PR agencies?
I think the breadth of technology businesses we’re able to service is a great advantage. Many technology-focused agencies will specialise in either B2B or B2C, but we wrap in both of those and have a specific fintech arm as well. With a number of different departments across the broader PHA business, we’re also able to pull in specialists for crises, personal profiling, sport, corporate, consumer brands, social media, design and more where required, ensuring we can custom-create the best account team for each client.
Finally, what has been the best piece of advice you’ve received in your career so far?
It’s hard to isolate just one! At a strategic level, a good piece of advice is to always establish your client’s ‘champagne moment’ – that is, establish what results would have them clinking a glass with you at the end of your PR campaign. Defining this will give a clear idea on what success looks like to that client’s business, and should be an important thread in how you create your strategy. After all, if you’re not doing work that will satisfy the client’s business objectives, then what’s the point?
At a tactical level, a great one is doing the “why should I or my readers care?” test. It’s important to put yourself in a journalist’s shoes for any pitch, and this is a great question to keep in mind when drafting your story. Your client is probably very interesting, but how are you going to concisely summarise what they do in an interesting, non-marketing-speak way? What is the bigger story here, how do they fit into it, and what are the main benefits that will make this interesting to a reader? If you can nail this, you’ll typically have a better response rate to your pitches and show you’ve genuinely thought about what the journalist needs.