The UK’s first radio station, dedicated to all things to do with public relations, recently took to the air, broadcasting online for a day. Shout! Digital Radio featured some of the biggest names in the industry and a programme called “Five At Four” show-cased profile interviews with founders and agency bosses including Sarah Ogden, Head of Corporate Brand at 3 Monkeys Zeno. This is a transcript of some of the highlights from her interview with Shout! Communications Joint Managing Director, Catherine Bayfield:
What or who inspired you to become a PR?
Well it was certainly my first boss that inspired a deep love and affection for the craft but actually I didn’t start off having a great love for PR in my early career. I didn’t really understand what it was. I did have a passion for businesses and helping businesses to be better. Then an opportunity and circumstance set me on the PR path.
How did you become MD at one of the UK’s first .com agencies?
Some good friends of mine worked in a fast-growing company called Midnight Communications. So that is how I started. I joined in 1999-2000 when everything was shifting to third gear in .com land. I was eventually an MD there.
What has been your biggest professional challenge?
This job is challenging every week and day. I think the biggest challenge was probably having taken over the reins of an agency that has gone through a lot of change and growth. Aged about 26 or 27 I took over the reins as MD. I think there has been no greater professional short-term learning for me, then how to manage a business through an economic decline. It did result in having to make people redundant, including the person who got me the job in the first place, who was a friend. But I think to make the best decision for the business in the long term, is the best decision for everyone. But it does come at a personal cost to people sometimes.
When did you feel you had made it in PR?
I think it is something that people put upon you and perceive you as. I think people who pursue success never feel they have got to that place and stop. They are too busy doing what they are doing and getting on with it. So, when did I think I made it in PR? I don’t think I have, as long as I continue to be challenged and feel confident that I am making an impact and clients, colleague and people who pay my salary agree with that, then I feel happy and successful. But I’m not sure I’ve made it.
Any moment so far that you thought was pivotal in your career?
I think there has been a number, what I previously described about taking on an MD-ship young and through quite dynamic good and bad economic times was a pivotal moment. Then becoming part of 3 Monkeys. Most recently being acquired by Zeno and becoming part of the DJE and Edelman family – it is phenomenal, digging into Zeno and part of a global agency, being able to give 3 Monkeys a global footprint – not least with probably one of our biggest client wins, a global business from Lenovo most recently. Again, hugely rewarding and exciting moment in the career path.
Your proudest moment in your years in PR?
The people I work with, particularly managing a team and seeing people develop, come on, grow in their confidence and watching people realise their own potential. There is nothing more rewarding.
How was the move from MD at Midnight to your next role?
What happened was having done about a 3 and half year stint during some difficult times at Midnight, I wanted to pursue a masters and have a breather. Angie (Angie Moxham, founder of 3 Monkeys) got in touch quite quickly, having knew her from before and said: ‘We just won Microsoft. We have a small team trying to bed in a big business quickly. Would I come in and help build a team’. I came in on a temporary contact to begin with. But you don’t bed-in in a business like Microsoft in 3 months. So, I stuck it out and the rest is history really with how I evolved in the business.
Why the corporate route?
If I was to be perfectly honest, the corporate role was put upon me at first. After the Zeno acquisition we re-structured to more mirror how they formally are. We created a corporate practice upon the Zeno acquisition, so I took that on. Corporate public affairs for me was some of the last corners of our industry that still could do with some modernising and re-shaping.
Summing up your career to date?
Well blink and you miss it, somebody new in the office last week said, ‘god it moves so quickly, I just look at the clock and the day’s gone.’ I just said, ‘welcome to the past 9 years of my life’.
To hear Sarah Ogden’s interview with Catherine Bayfield in full, go to our website page called “Shout Digital”. Scroll down to find the programme “Five At Four”.