What made you decide to found Little Red Rooster after 12 years in PR?
I absolutely love PR. I think I was always destined to be my own boss, as I am a shamelessly hard worker and always felt it sucked working for someone else. PR is very simple but can be very hard to do well if you don’t have a passion for the brands you work for.
Having your own agency is the dream and after many years of hard work our carefully curated portfolio of brands at Little Red Rooster fills my heart with pride every day.
The agency’s core specialism is in areas where design, fashion and technology collide, why those areas specifically?
Initially it was because my expertise lay in the tech area. I was tired of seeing tech and gadgets in only one space. I fought hard to see tech on the pages of the national shopping pages and in women’s magazines.
I had a column in Look and later in the Metro where my role really was to take tech to new audiences. I wanted to reach people who may have been scared or intimidated by tech. As the agency progressed I started to see opportunities everywhere and especially across fashion and importantly design and interiors media. In one month we had three clients in Vogue!
Things are incredibly different to when we started out and it’s very satisfying to see we were ahead of the curve. The agency is expanding further now with clients across sport, health and beauty also on our roster – exciting times!
How were you able to grow the agency to a point where it could compete with larger competitors for the likes of Bang and Olufsen, Smeg and Ted Baker?
Winning Ted Baker actually came along very early in the agency’s history and is when my partner Henry came on board as joint owner. I was originally working with Ted Baker via my first client Proporta which has the licence to make Ted phone cases.
Via that, Ted asked me to come in and pitch for a new project to launch Ted Audio – a collection of headphones and portable speakers. At that stage Little Red Rooster was just me but I had met Henry through mutual friends and I’d been helping him out with Ruark Audio (still a client of ours now) so I asked if he’d return the favour and come in to pitch with me. I felt a little out of my depth at the time!
We beat three other agencies to win the pitch and Craig McKinnon-Smith – then head of brand at Ted – said we’d won it by a landslide but that we now needed to go away and officially form an agency together. I guess it was kind of obvious we’d been winging it. I can remember a very fun evening at the Gilbert Scott to celebrate.
With Smeg and Bang and Olufsen it’s like most of our new business which comes through word of mouth and organic growth. Smeg had actually gone through a three-way pitch and picked an agency. Lucky for us they called a journalist we knew to see what he thought of the agency they’d chosen. He then asked if we’d meet for a coffee and during that meeting the UK MD did a U-turn and hired us on the spot.
Much the same for B&O as the UK sales director had been unhappy with the incumbent for a while and had been pushing to change. He knew us through our work on another client and eventually we were asked to pitch off the back of those results.
I always think organic growth and loyalty is critical to any agency. Consistency for media and clients is key and the only way to ensure this happens is to continually deliver flipping epic results!
When starting a new agency, how important is it to cultivate long-lasting relationships with clients?
See above! It is the be-all and end-all. The churn at some agencies terrifies me. Henry and I still have our founding clients Proporta, Denon and Marantz, Ruark Audio, Ted Baker and Bisque.
It’s not just about clients though. Long lasting relationships with media are also critical. On a weekly basis I still talk to a lot of the media professionals I did when I first started out. The great thing is they are all editors now!
I try and teach our staff the importance of this from day dot. Whether they stay with us, which I truly hope they will, or they move on, every single person you meet is another string to your bow. You never know where they will end up – or you – so always be kind, always do your best as quickly as you can and always make work as fun as possible!
How do you measure your PR output?
We use various measures across PR and social which we have formulated ourselves in consultation with our clients including: engagement, sentiment, key message analysis and % of coverage from agreed target media lists amongst other things.
However, no one size fits all so, we work closely with clients to deliver reporting based on their wants and needs. We endeavour to work hard to show clients the benefits of new ways to measure as we need to keep them on top of the latest developments.
Finally, you say your design icon is a Triumph Spitfire Mark Four after owning one, but why did you get rid of it and what did you replace it with?
I didn’t choose to get rid of it she just kind of died and had to go to that giant scrap heap in the sky. She’s been replaced by two horses; Delta – a 15.2 Irish sports horse who I drag hunt, and a beautiful showjumper called Connie – a giant Danish Warmblood.