Next Fifteen's Tim Dyson: PR agency acquisition unlikely but PR "far from dead"

Next Fifteen CEO Tim Dyson says the firm will not actively target PR companies for its acquisition programme - which will focus on the UK and US - but instead look at content marketing and ad agencies to strengthen its existing PR capabilities.

Tim Dyson: Next Fifteen will not be actively targeting PR companies for acquisitions
Tim Dyson: Next Fifteen will not be actively targeting PR companies for acquisitions

Dyson was unable to name any companies, but confirmed Next Fifteen is focusing on digital companies and is in talks with two content marketing businesses, one of which is an ad tech firm.

Next Fifteen yesterday announced plans for a share sale to raise approximately £4.3m. It's targeting three acquisitions and investment opportunities over the next six months.

Dyson told PRWeek: "It’s not that we are trying not to be a PR group, but public relations is more than pure media relations business. It’s something much richer than that, especially in a digital context. The acquisitions we’re making are to strengthen and modernise our current PR businesses."

He added: "The dividing line between PR and advertising is disappearing. More and more we’re getting asked to provide paid services that compliment the PR business. Moving into areas like that makes a lot of sense for us."

Last year, Next Fifteen acquired New York-based content advertising agency Story Worldwide, which Dyson said was "a deliberate step in that direction".

The agency also bought a 75 per cent stake in London-based research consultancy Morar last year.

Dyson confirmed that the UK and US were the company’s "key areas" with the "greatest opportunity from an acquisition point of view", although he did not rule out investment in Asian and European markets if the right opportunity arose.

Following yesterday’s trading update, Dyson said the company was feeling "bullish" about how the business was performing. He attributed this to the quality of the company’s business as well as being a reflection of how well the industry itself is doing.

"PR is far from dead. There’s resurgence in PR but in a modern context. There’s a dividing line between businesses that have invested and modernised and those that haven’t.

"Those that have modernised are experiencing some very good growth right now, whereas the ones that haven’t are probably finding it difficult."

Dyson said he was "sceptical" of the term 'integration', but said that customers are becoming less focused on traditional PR and more on broader business challenges. "Whether you call yourself a PR business, an ad agency or a social media agency, I think clients care more about having a strategy that works. That’s what’s driving businesses like ours to offer those types of solutions."

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