This week on the PRmoment podcast I caught up with Mark Flanagan, the UK MD of Portland.
The Omnicom owned agency is a rare example of an PR firm owned by a holding group that has a recent track record of double digit growth. What is it that has enabled Portland to grow much faster than almost all other PR firms owned by a holding company owned?
Mark has had an interesting career; he has had big jobs outside of PR and communications before make the move into public relations, first of all within government and now agency side.
Here is a flavour of what Mark and I discuss:
- Why did Mark make the move from MD at LBC radio to a role in PR?
- Why Mark used to be a radio DJ?
- Mark compares working in government to working in the corporate world
- Whether Mark enjoyed working for UK government communications, firstly for Tony Blair and then Gordon Brown…
- How Mark replaced the Foreign Secretary with Eddie Izzard at a European Council meeting!
- How Mark loved the camaraderie of working in government communications
- Why the transition into agency world was harder than Mark thought it was going to be
- Why when Oliver Pauley, the previous UK MD left Portland, a pretty corporate agency, they appointed Mark (its digital guy) to the top job
- How the Omnicom owned PR firm has sustainably grown at double digit growth, when most of its holding company peer agencies have not been able to grow and anything like that rate (my words not Mark’s)
- Why Portland attempts to constantly re-invent itself
- The dangers of commoditised, lower margin work for an agencies survival
- How can an agency of Portland’s size create an entrepreneurial culture
- How Portland’s bonus scheme is critical to its growth and entrepreneurial approach
- Why Portland has taken a flexible and pragmatic approach to its international expansion
- What is the Portland model – is London the epicentre of the strategy and content with the regional offices doing the execution?
- The importance of language capabilities in modern public relations
- How Portland has built a design and content central function of 20 people
- Why design and content people sitting next to the account teams creates a more integrated, faster solution
- Why becoming a more integrated firm has changed Portland’s culture and increased the firms diversity
- Why Mark believes PR, comms and reputation consultancies should continue to thrive
- How Mark believes the likes of Portland must help clients measure the ROI of its strategic advice
- Why procurement hasn’t impacted corporate PR
- Why Mark believes the financial PR sector is ripe for disruption