Sunday, 24 April 2016

The Comms Crowd goes global!

Global comms, it ain't no job for a lone dog!
On how we are growing ( albeit vicariously).

When you go freelance, you quickly realise the limitations of what you can competently do and therefore the nature of the projects you can take on. So then, if you're smart, you collaborate playing to your strengths working with others similarly smart but with complementary skills. Here at the Comms Crowd we have been sublimely happy in that phase for the last few years - steadily adding interesting clients that appreciate the hands on approach and building up the merits of the crew in a wholly organic stylee, even getting nominated for an award along the way. But what does our next iteration look like?

When I founded Comms Crowd it was not to become the next Edelman or even to get into the PR Top 100. In my experience bigger does not correlate to better - not for the clients, where more can buy you less; not for the staff, unless your job satisfaction depends on the length of your job title; nor even the bottom line, impressive offices and charismatic receptionist do not come cheap. 


For me, small is truly beautiful and that’s the way we are going to stay. But that said who can deny the global nature of comms and the tech start-ups we work with, have global appeal and we need to secure them global attention without busting the budget...

So we have joined a network, courtesy of Manzer Communications in the US - a great fit for us and our clients.

  • All the partner agencies are small independents like ourselves so we know all the work will be done by senior, accountable and personable teams and the buck stops with the founder.
  • All the agencies focus on tech and start-ups so little will get lost in translation – geek is geek wherever you go.
  • Between us we can provide PR support from Singapore to Sweden United Kingdom to the United States and stopping off in Belgium, France, Germany, Israel, The Netherlands and Poland along the way.
In tech comms at least, you don’t need to be big to be clever… just clever.

Gorgeous pic courtsy of  sit means sit

Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Happy 5th freelance birthday to me

elliot age 11
A lot can happen in five years. Five years ago my 11 year old little cutey baked cakes and gave freely of his cuddles and enthusiasm. Five years on and my ‘little’ cutey looks down on me in disdain while raiding the fridge and giving freely of his criticism. He loves me really - it’s just a phase right?

And so too has the freelance life grown up. On the client side we have really found our niche now – tech startups, the way we work combined with our business model make us a great fit for the nimble and ambitious startup. None of us have the appetite for long meetings or long emails – we all just want to get stuff done! Most recently our client work was short-listed for an award, for a PR campaign we ran in the public sector. And I confess it feels good to be ranked up there alongside the more established agencies.


elliot, coming up for 16
It’s gone from being just me to a tight little collective of PR Pros, Analyst relations peeps, designers, creatives and copywriters, working together and playing to our strengths.

But it’s grown bigger in all the right ways, while holding onto the core freelance premise, which is no premises at all! 


Proud to say CommsCrowd HQ is still my former dining room and therefore we still have no need for a receptionist, an IT team, an office manager, an HR team or an accounts department. Just outlook, dropbox, google docs, and some wicked spreadsheets (a personal forte). The only expansion our'office' has seen is the addition of another dog.

new girl Tullah 
with founding team member Moby
In addition to the bulking up of expertise, the other fantastic side of forming the freelance collective is that it offers the opportunity for each of us to develop outside of the world of comms. Whether it’s renovating a 300 year old cottage, bagging munros or learning to surf.



I’ve really got into the talent development element of PR and I’m now an associate lecturer for Westminster University and The London College of Communication. College days are the best days, I get an enormous amount of satisfaction nurturing the next generation of young ones and helping them prepare for the world of work.

And when you feel supported by a brilliant team; when you genuinely warm to your clients and get a kick out of every campaign that delivers; when your pockets are over flowing with psychic income and you’re still learning and still evolving - well then there’s no reason to stop. Here’s to the next five years!

If you want to read of how the other years went you may enjoy these posts too:

year 4
year 3
year 2
year 1
month 1

















Sunday, 17 January 2016

Tips for PR Internship Interviews

As well as running The Comms Crowd I am an associate lecturer in PR at several universities, my speciality subject is ‘employability’. Just before Christmas the module on which I was working culminated in mock interviews for the entire class. The 40 odd students had just ten minutes each to make their mark. 

I am an experienced, strategic team leader
 with excellent creative and interpersonal skills,
as my week in the scouts shows... 

And this is what got me, it’s not till you interview 40 potential interns back to back do you realise how important it is to make a mark and stand out, for the right reasons.
Below my top ten tips for delivering a compelling interview:

1) Dress up not down, you’re a student, I know what students look like, show me what you look like as a young professional, help  me imagine you in my world. Lads put on a suit, girls tie back the hair, easy on the make-up, everybody make sure the shoes compliment the look and are clean, Oh and take your coat off!

2) Bring in a portfolio and refer to it.Clips, references, college work, certificates etc.

3) Don’t be worried about nerves, we expect you to be nervous and can see through them, just focus on coherent answers that stack up.

4) Be able to answer the question ‘what do we get if we hire you?’ in three word that are true to the core of you. Even if you’re not asked it, have a handle on your personal brand, what it is, what you stand for.

5) If you are studying PR be able to talk about the industry, our issues, our successes, where we are heading, your PR super hero etc.

6) Don’t offer up a single adjective unless you have a story that backs it up. Don't fell obliged to provide us with skills or qualities that you are unlikely to have at this early stage of your career. If we're looking for a new CEO we would have advertised for one.

7) Be comfortable with your more humble achievements. The most convincing candidates where those that talked about everyday PR duties, how tricky it was to get coverage when there was no news, to create 10 tweets a day for a fish and chip shop, to get journalists to talk to you - at least that way we know you know what you are letting yourself in for.

8) Don’t be too eager to please, ‘I don’t care where I work who I work for what I do’ isn’t actually that compelling. Moderate your desire to learn with a view of where you'd like to end up.

9) Be able to be reflective, think about things that have not gone well that were actually down to you not someone else. Why was that, and what did you learn from it? The ability to demonstrate you can own and learn from mistakes is a key character strength not weakness.



10) Have a story lined up that lets us see the passion in you the one that lights you up! It doesn't have to be work related, just something where we can see your natural energy and pride.

Good luck, and enjoy the experience!


Need more tips on PR internships? These posts might be useful: