Stuart Skinner is divisional managing director at London PR agency PHA Media, looking after the firm’s enterprise department. He talks to Gorkana about the challenge of overseeing three diverse teams.
Tell us about your new role
The divisional MD role gives me overall responsibility for client delivery and revenue growth in the agency’s largest PR division. There is also a big onus on continual innovation and fine tuning of the skills and services we offer our clients, and also on the types of work and clients we engage with.
I do have wider agency responsibilities too, such as working with all executives to design creative new business approaches, helping to train employees in different PR and management skills and also assisting our HR team to identify the best emerging talent in the industry.
What/who are your teams responsible for?
Currently I’m responsible for three teams: technology & innovation, entrepreneurs & business and campaigns & causes. All three are led by excellent directors who report to me, and there has been consistent growth over the last 18 months to two years in each area. I also work closely with our head of political strategy to help more of our clients see the benefits of political advice and campaigning.
What are the advantages of agency specialism? Are there any disadvantages?
I am an advocate of creating pockets of expertise within an agency that serves a broad church of clients and industry sectors. We have found that building teams from scratch around carefully researched growth areas is hugely rewarding; not only does it establish multiple revenue streams and increase the scope for commercial growth but, equally importantly, it provides focus, ownership and great opportunities for key people to progress their careers.
Describe your ideal client
I don’t mind who they are or what they do, as long as they are passionate and telling a different story to their competitors. That’s everything we need to work with, and we’ll have plenty in common from the start.
What are your top three tips for people management?
1. Be transparent and honest at all times. Give full background and explain decisions, don’t fob people off with throw away lines, respect their intelligence and take time to explain and answer questions.
2. Ensure everyone knows your team ethos and vision, so they can look ahead and see the full journey, and try to reiterate this regularly.
3. Always have time for people and remain approachable – if the communication lines are always open, you will benefit as much if not more than your team. Making this work can be as simple as sitting in an open plan bank of desks, rather than behind a closed door, making an effort to speak to everyone every day and scheduling regular one on one time with each team member.
What advice would you give your 23-year-old self?
Take a breath, don’t rush and look at the bigger picture more often.