Behind the Headlines with Exposure’s Raoul Shah

Raoul Shah, founder and CEO of Exposure, on his marker for campaign success, his penchant for Japanese food and wanting to learn to fly hawks.

Before I reach the office in the morning, I’ve already…
Had breakfast with the kids and our new canine addition called Summer, checked Instagram (@raouls), read BBC News & Sport, and walked across both Primrose Hill and Regents Park keeping my phone firmly in my pocket. The morning walk to work is the most incredible opportunity to reflect, plan, and dream with no distractions.

You’ll mostly find emails about…in my inbox.
Fixing meetings with clients, re-connecting with a variety of people from the early days of Exposure (circa 1993) and, occasionally, even before that, when I was marketing manager at Pepe Jeans.

I know I’ve had a good day if…
There’s less than 50 ‘read’ emails in my inbox. I’m a little obsessive about reading everything and answering most. The ‘read’ emails are always my work in progress. A really good day would end with a glass of red wine and friends at home.

My first job was…
Working in the Agnes B store in Les Halles, Paris. I thought I’d learn French but I actually looked after all the Japanese customers so my manners improved considerably!

I can tell a campaign is succeeding when…
It reaches you via your friends and different parts of the agency. Since we are arranged across three buildings on Little Portland Street with four agencies, it’s important to keep close and connected to the whole UK team, which is approximately 200 people. They work within Exposure (consumer PR, fashion, brand experience, digital and social), Beauty Seen, THRSXTY or The Gild.

The minute a campaign has gone live and reached a different part of our team via earned media, we know it’s working. It’s funny to think how news travels today – it leaves the second floor and, via a series of channels around the world, it reaches the third floor later that day.

I eat…when nobody is watching.
London is currently the best place in the world for new restaurants, great chefs and people trying new things. The quality of Japanese food is particularly good. As a result, if nobody is watching, I love to go for a quick Japanese lunch near the office including the sushi counters at Chisou, Roka and Sakana-Tei.

The first time I pitched to a journalist…
It was the first campaign we shot with Roger Charity for Hardcore Jeans featuring Barry Kamen (RIP). That was in 1991 and it ended up in Arena. Those images are as strong today as they were back then. We worked with a truly iconic team of image makers, stylists and artists.

The worst thing anyone has said to me is…
“You’re not going to work dressed like that, are you?” My wife is the ultimate barometer of style in our house and when she picks up on a small detail that needs fixing, she makes no apology for a blunt comment like this. She’s generally right, so a quick change of jacket or shoes and the problem is fixed. I can handle constructive feedback!

The last book I read was…
H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald. An incredible and captivating read. In fact, I read it twice and then contacted Helen on Twitter. I impatiently await her next book.

I’ve never really understood why…
People who once worked at Exposure have chosen to omit this detail from their CV or LinkedIn page. There’s a couple of them out there and none of them left under a cloud or difficult circumstances. Some have started their own agencies yet their staff have no idea where they cut their teeth. That’s always amusing in interviews. Learning from others and getting help along the way is actually a good thing.

If I could go back and talk to my 10-year-old self, I’d say…
Buy shares in Apple and start a social networking site called Facebook.

This time next year, I’ll be…
Running more, learning to fly hawks and starting a social dining club.

Fancy featuring in a Behind the Headlines interview? Please email [email protected].


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