In our new ‘get to know’ blog series, I’ll be posing questions to members of the Element team to find out about their work highlights, what a typical day looks like, and what inspires them in their careers.
Before I put others on the spot, it was suggested to me that I should go first… so reluctantly, here goes with our first Q&A with…me….
What’s your background?
I’ve spent my whole career agency side, as I love the variety it offers. If you’re ambitious and willing to work hard, the learning trajectory in the right agency environment is incredibly rewarding.
I’ve been fortunate to work with people I’ve considered amazing mentors and had opportunities to work in the inner circles of clients who are highly successful entrepreneurs and business leaders. In many ways, I’ve learnt the most from these entrepreneurial clients, many of whom are natural storytellers and pair communications with business results so successfully. This experience always fuelled my own desires to build a business and it’s what led to founding and growing Element.
How would you describe your job?
As CEO my responsibility to the agency is to set us up for success. That means bringing in the best talent and empowering them to deliver exceptional results for our clients. We work on creating a high-performance culture and that relies on doing the little things right to maximise productivity which leads to our continued company growth.
I also retain deep client relationships and have no ambition to distance myself from the work and spend my days too buried in spreadsheets!
Tell us about a memorable career moment?
One that I’ll never forget was early in my career. I was representing British Gas at the time and supporting their sponsorship of an initiative that was installing pop-up swimming pools in interesting locations to raise the profile of how many children don’t get the chance to learn to swim. Our flagship location was on London’s South Bank and we’d locked in Boris Johnson (Mayor of London at the time) to cut the ribbon.
As well as managing media for the launch, I had the glamorous job of being on standby to look after Boris’ bike, as we were informed he’d be cycling to the event. His entourage had been quick to warn about the many occasions that people try and steal his bike! As it turned out, Boris cycling to our event was the best thing that could have happened, as in his trek across London he’d managed to corral a flock of journalists and paparazzi who followed in toe (also on bikes). The week prior, Boris had accidentally slipped and fallen into the Thames while posing for snaps during a litter pick, so the appeal of our event seemed to capture the imaginations of journalists who thought lightening might strike twice.
They say never work with animals, children or politicians!
What does ‘Authentic Communications’ mean to you?
Authentic communications is about finding your voice; what you stand for; and what makes you different. For our client base of ambitious startups, fast-growth SMEs, investors and influencers, this couldn’t be more important. We started Element on the belief that communications have a far more significant and tangible impact for startups and scaleups because their window to gain market share and tackle industry norms is limited. This means they must be bold in their communications and speak with authenticity in order to gain awareness, relevance and credibility.
What would you say to people pursuing a career in PR?
PR people, in my opinion, are often underestimated for their rounded business skills. Being in an agency environment, you not only get fantastic experience to develop soft skills, but you also quickly learn the importance of thinking commercially and entrepreneurially. So, my advice to those planning a career in PR is to put yourself in an environment where creativity is matched with commercial know-how.
What are you known for in your team?
I’d like to think I’m considered calm and collected by our team and clients, which I think is a strength when you’re working in a fast-paced environment and multi-tasking. I try and think methodically to help set things up for success, and then importantly, utilise the talent and different skillsets we have across the team to bring strategies and execution to life.
Finally, and most importantly (according to the team), I’m known for my vast collection of quarter zip jumpers…
Connect with Tom on LinkedIn here