PROFILE: Graham Goodkind, Frank PR - A Frank approach makes for good PR. Why a down-to-earth philosophy is right up Graham Goodkind's street

With a background in notoriously luvvie-ish Lynne Franks PR, and then founding a company called Funmail, is Graham Goodkind the kind of man who can build a serious consumer PR agency from scratch? In the space of a few months?

With a background in notoriously luvvie-ish Lynne Franks PR, and then founding a company called Funmail, is Graham Goodkind the kind of man who can build a serious consumer PR agency from scratch? In the space of a few months?

Quite possibly, Goodkind seems relaxed at the prospect. He's excited about returning to PR after a two-and-a-half year spell in dot.com world, and says being an entrepreneur 'now holds no fear'.

Having spent his entire PR career at Lynne Franks PR (changed to Life PR in 1997), he started Funmail, which is now known as another. com in 1998. Of the internet world, he says: 'There are good things you can learn, and apply to PR. I'd love to get some internet-related business.'

That Goodkind should have taken so long to go out on his own in PR is something of a surprise. He seems like a natural-born-promoter - if not of himself, then certainly of the businesses in which he's involved. He has turned himself into something of a media commentator on e-mail issues - although the issue of selling domain names resulted in him appearing on a BBC programme Hard Cash looking into cybersquatting earlier this year. Indeed, one former colleague describes his style as 'bordering on the barrow-boy side of PR'.

He's certainly a great talker, and even a straight-forward question can elicit a long-winded, circuitous response.

North London born and bred, Goodkind's passion outside work is his family: wife Lisa and six-month-old twins Dexter and Summer. 'I'm very, very, very occupied with them - they're the best thing in the world,' he says.

He is also a huge Arsenal fan. In fact, he's just managed to combine his two passions, with the purchase of the just-released Arsenal minikit for babies. 'I had tears in my eyes,' he laughs. 'It's great having twins, because I got the home kit for Dexter, and the away kit for Summer.'

Goodkind's entry into the world of PR was accidental. A friend was working at Lynne Franks PR, and asked him to help out with a proposal for Lloyds Bank. 'I knew nothing about PR. I turned up in a suit on my first day - a huge mistake in a fashion PR agency,' he jokes.

Two weeks work turned into two months, and when the agency won the work, Goodkind was asked if he wanted to stay and work on the account. Lloyds remained a client for the ten years Goodkind worked at the agency.

The end came when Life PR was merged into sister agency Ketchum in 1998.

It was reported at the time that Goodkind and chairman Samantha Royston left because they were not convinced of the viability of the merger - although others suggest their sudden departure was not voluntary.

The name of the new venture can't go unmentioned. Frank PR - a catchy name, yes. But is it merely cashing in on the past?

Goodkind actually denies the name was his idea. 'I'd love to take credit for it,' he says. While the name reflects his past ('I spent ten years at Lynne Franks and loved it, it was a big part of my life'), it also reflects the new agency's philosophy.

'It's about down-to-earth, no bullshit PR,' says Goodkind. For example, all proposals will be a maximum one page in length; and - in a change for Goodkind who never used to turn away work - 'we will tell companies if we don't think we have the right skill set'.

The agency is backed by Branded, a marketing consultancy run by ex-Lynne Franks' client Philip Ley. The plan for Frank is to make it a serious consumer PR agency, with clients ranging from big multinationals, to smaller start-ups.

Goodkind says he plans to build the agency quickly. 'That's something I learned in the dot.com world - how to accelerate growth,' he says. This time next year, he wants a team of about 15 people, and within two years 'I want to be in the top 50'.

Two Ketchum Life staff are now ensconced in Frank PR's offices: Andrew Bloch, who worked with Goodkind at Lynne Franks, and Nadia Gabbie. Both managed teams at Ketchum, and it's probably some testament to Goodkind's business nous that they are now on board with a start-up agency.

Ley says: 'Graham's a very creative PR man, which he balances with being down-to-earth. He takes the bullshit out of PR, and that's why I'm doing this with him.'

Former Lynne Franks director Julian Henry, who struck out on his own over three years ago with Henry's House, is impressed by the people involved in the venture.

'Philip Ley is incredibly gifted and intuitive, and Andrew is a new generation of great PR, with a solid brand and corporate head on him.'

So it just may be that Graham Goodkind has what it takes to turn Frank PR into a serious player.



HIGHLIGHTS

1988: Trainee, Lynne Franks PR

1997: Managing director, Life PR

1998: Founder and managing director, Funmail

2000: Chairman, Frank PR.



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