Natalie Luke, founder of Aduro Communications, explores the importance of measuring PR output to business objectives, the entrepreneurialism of ex-Shine staff and the importance of flexible working.
You, like a number of others, set up an agency after working at Shine. What is it about the agency which gives staff confidence to build their own business?
Shine bred a strong culture of entrepreneurialism. We were given a huge amount of opportunity to stretch our wings and learn how to run our own mini businesses within the structure. The agency put people at the heart of its business allowing, every individual a voice to evolve and grow the agency in their own way.
Rachel Bell, Shine’s founder, was very transparent about every element of the business helping us to learn quickly about every facet of agency life and what was required to make it a success. The energy within that agency was incredible and inspired many of us to feel like we could start something of our own.
A big part of that confidence came from Rach as well. She is one of the most prolific and successful entrepreneurs in our industry, if she says you can do it, then you start to believe that maybe you just can!
What has been the most challenging part of creating Aduro?
Building our own brand profile with such a disparate route to market within our own marketing press. So many different awards and opportunities exist now and ensuring cut-through as a younger agency is hard to achieve. We are challenged in our own industry in a similar way to the brands we work for are.
Aduro has built a client list of household names, including Mr Men and Spar. How are you able to attract household names as a smaller agency?
Some 80% of our business growth has come through client referral. The extent to which clients are behind us as a business is something we are really proud of. We have built our reputation on always delivering against promises and most importantly focusing on commercial results wherever possible.
Clients like to know you will put your money where your mouth is and to deliver what you said you would. They like the energy and passion that has come from us working on young challenger businesses and want us to apply that mentality to deliver results for them.
Our case studies are packed with insight and data showing how we have influenced the bottom line and testimonials from our clients to support this. We always invite new names to speak to our existing clients to hear from them directly what we can deliver.
What has been your biggest success?
Our founding client was BEAR, the healthy snack brand for kids, no-one had heard of them when we took them on and their commercial director attributed 89% of their growth in one year to the work we had done for them (they went on to sell for over £70m!).
His testimonial played a key role in us being PRWeek’s Highly Commended Best New Agency, which really helped take the business to the next level. Nearly every piece of new business that walks through our doors asks about our work for BEAR, whether that be FMCG or one of the other sectors we work across.
We now deliver award winning campaigns across FMCG, fashion, tech, sport, retail and e-commerce brands and we are very proud that solving client problems no matter which sector they work in is our goal.
You introduced flexible working and other policies to address work/life balance upon founding Aduro, how important do you believe these are to the agency’s growth?
I am a mum of two young girls and it never ceases to amaze me how inflexible our industry has been. It makes absolutely no sense to lose great talent to maternity/paternity leave and not provide individuals with a robust flexible working offering when they return and ensure that great senior talent stays within the business and inspires the next generation.
I believe that is fundamental to successful agency growth of the future. It also adds an element of freshness to the working environment with different senior faces in at different times. Work/life balance generally is crucial to our 88% staff retention rate. When people get bored, fed up and burnt out they leave….it is in no-one’s interest to allow that to happen.
How important is measurement of your work against demonstrable objectives?
Vital. You have to be able to have open and clear discussions with clients to agree what success looks like at the start of your relationship and a key part of this is understanding their business objectives. The next step is building a robust measurement framework to ensure we can show the commercial value of a strong PR campaign.
We were recently rewarded by AMEC, the leading international association for the measurement and evaluation of communication, for delivering the most effective consumer PR campaigns. It was a milestone in our business to be rewarded on a global stage for our fresh thinking and approach in this area.
Finally, what does the next year hold for Aduro?
We are celebrating our fifth year and are in our strongest place yet as a business with an incredible roster of fantastic clients and some of the best talent in the industry working with us.
We want to continue to inspire a culture of entrepreneurialism within the team, harnessing this passion and energy to grow our business in the digital, social and content management space, as the lines become increasingly blurred between comms specialisms.
My priority will be to ensure we continue to be a loyal and trusted agency partner to our clients and continue to reward staff against their own personal goals and motivations.