A Decade in the Business
A Decade in the Business
Launching a brand-new PR consultancy in the first recession the country had seen in almost three decades was a bit of a leap of faith (you could call me crazy!). But having spent five years already in financial PR, I felt I had spotted something potentially missing from the pensions industry, and that was accessible support to organisations wanting to challenge the norm and take advantage of a changing industry. Ten years ago it was assumed that only big budgets could stretch to PR support, so I wanted to show that real hard work, honesty and reliability, when coupled with new and fresh ideas, could reap benefits for companies without needing to break the bank.
It also seemed that the UK was on the brink of something transformational with digital, social media and PR. Social media and platforms that we know now went mainstream in 2009, as everyone and everybody was on Facebook and discovering Twitter (you can find us @WeAreKBPR - please do follow our news!) – and fully embracing it. Teletext closed its doors (oh the shock for my teenage self) and the media and PR industry at least were amazed when the Evening Standard became a free paper. The financial services industry was focused on print editions and there were a myriad of titles to target, sadly not all of which still exist. The tools of PR have since changed in the past 10 years, so whilst the essence of successful PR might be the same, getting it out to the right audience at the right time has evolved significantly.
Despite the financial crisis, it was an exciting and inspirational time on the world stage – Barack Obama had just been inaugurated as US President. Closer to home, the Labour Government had just over a year left before it was replaced by the Conservative and Lib Dem coalition; and the Bank of England had reduced the interest rate to its lowest ever level. For our industry specifically, Auto Enrolment and pensions freedoms were a few years off – so pensions PR was a little different to the member focus it has now.
It was with that backdrop that I launched KBPR, later bringing in the guidance of our now non-exec director Gail Chopping, who was previously a founding PR agency director herself. The business back then was focused entirely on pensions and investments, although now we work across a wider range of topics from employee benefits to personal finance and technology. We’ve also now broadened out to offer clients much more than the pure PR of 2009 – a full suite of communications services from events and awards to marketing, branding, research, social media, crisis management, videography and more!
There are a few fundamentals to how we operate - we ensure our clients are challenged (and we expect them to challenge us too), are always given new ways of thinking about and doing things, and that journalists are treated like a client themselves - we have never been gatekeepers but rather truly believe in the real value of direct relationships between clients and press.
As we mark our 10th anniversary I look at our client list and see names who have been with KBPR for many years and I am brimming with pride: at what the business has achieved and evolved to become; at what we have achieved in results for our clients; at our strength of standing in the industry and the close relationships we have with so many publications and journalists; and how I have seen many of our clients, grow, develop and enjoy such success – especially with what they have done for members, trustees, schemes and the wider industry.
We also now have a fabulous office in the City, but our approach to flexibility and most importantly keeping a happy team still remains. We are proud to be forward-thinking about flexibility - a good work life balance was, and still is, a crucial component of what KBPR is about.
Who knows what will happen in the next 10 years? The social media and digital revolution have been long since overtaken by what is coming down the line in terms of AI and automation. While automation is already used across some marketing and business reporting, as well as to write some stories we see in the media, I can’t see that in 10 years we will look back and see an AI revolution for the PR and journalism industry. Robots can never replace the grit of real PR and communications and that adrenaline rush of the light bulb moment; planning, message building and brainstorming; the people part of PR, face to face meetings and events. And most of all feeling you have made a valuable contribution to helping a journalist’s article, combined with the anticipation of seeing your clients’ hard work crystallised in print and going on a journey with them as their brand grows. They are the kind of moments that pushed me to take the leap and launch KBPR in those dark days amidst the financial crisis; they are the moments that still make me look forward to getting up for work every morning; and they are also the moments that will inspire and motivate me and the KBPR team for the next decade to come, and hopefully beyond.
We are not embarrassed to say we are really proud of what we have achieved both as an organisation and for our clients. We are proud of our journey, and to have been recognised four times now as Financial Service PR firm of the year at the FT’s PIPA Awards. We are proud to have played a small role in the journey of our clients and we would like to thank them all, past and present, and all of our journalist contacts and friends for their support over the past 10 years.