Behind the Headlines with Experience12’s Chris Whittle

Chris Whittle, founder and MD of Experience12, on his marker for a successful campaign, how painting Homer Simpson next to the Chalk Giant was his first big success in PR and his love for all things Asterix.

Before I reach the office in the morning, I’ve already…
Scanned Twitter on the train (and nine times out of ten had a moan at a train company about their shoddy service), caught up on emails, perhaps read if the mood takes me and walked to the office from the station to have a bit of time to pull the plan together for the day (if it’s dry). It’s an important bit of the day.

You’ll mostly find emails about…in my inbox.
Our current projects, some future projects and pretty much every day a client needing a quick response and turnaround on something. We’re trusted as fixers and can generally turn things around pretty swiftly (and we’ll pretty much always give it a try). That, and people trying to sell us SEO for our website (so many of them). No spam filter seems to be able to defeat them.

I know I’ve had a good day if…
We’ve got something signed off, a client has responded positively to a pitch or someone has dropped something interesting into my inbox which made us smile and is a little challenging. That or getting the buzz from a successful event – there’s nothing like it (whatever time you finish up).

My first job was…
A theatre technician and projectionist in an Arts Centre in Devon. It taught me a lot, not least of which was how to deal with a cinema full of an irate audience when the film or projector broke – it happened quite a lot.

I can tell a campaign is succeeding when…
People start smiling. You can feel the atmosphere change within the team and with the client when you start getting positive feedback on a campaign. You get that prickle up the back of your neck, you can feel the tide changing, the anxiousness disappears and everything feels like it gets easier. You know the client’s or your team’s idea is vindicated. It’s an addictive feeling and the reason I still do this for a living.

I eat…when nobody is watching.
Sauerkraut (everyone knows I eat Cornish Pasties at any point).

The first time I pitched to a journalist…
I was lucky, we had just painted Homer Simpson on a Hill next to the Chalk Giant in Cerne Abbas in Dorset for The Simpson’s Movie and it was all hands to the pumps on the sell-in. It was such a compelling photo story that it was an easy sell. I thought it was always going to be like that – the second time was a lot more difficult.

The worst thing anyone has said to me is…
“I don’t know what we’d do without you, but starting from Monday – we’ll find out….”

The last book I read was…
I always have about three or four books on the go and swap between them according to my mood. The Kindle App is my friend in this, I love the Kindle App. The ones I’m willing to admit to are Influence by Robert Cialdini which is fascinating, Warriors of the Storm by Bernard Cornwell (loved The Last Kingdom on BBC2 so have now read all the books) and some really ‘bad’ fantasy or science fiction that will remain nameless. If we’re talking real paper book it’d be Asterix and the Missing Scroll (I got it from my sister for Christmas. I always get something to do with Asterix for Christmas from someone in my family. It’s been happening since I was about seven years old).

I’ve never really understood why…
People think it’s acceptable not to have their oyster card or ticket out ready for the barriers. Absolutely baffles me, it’s not as if they don’t know they’re going to need it.

If I could go back and talk to my 10-year-old self, I’d say…
For god’s sake learn to surf (you come from Cornwall, people are going to ask you whether you surf for the rest of your life…). Don’t worry about being a bit of a geek, everyone else seems to have caught up, just hang in there.

This time next year, I’ll be…
Working with a larger team of talented people and looking back on a fun and successful 2016 (and probably trying to work out how a computer works again after the Christmas break like normal).

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