PRWeek 30 Under 30 profiles, part three

Saving the best until last? Here are the final 10 profiles from PRWeek's 2015 30 Under 30 list.

Thomas Morris, 26 - Consultant, Fishburn

Morris has been at Fishburn for almost three years, in which time he has built relationships with clients including Mitsubishi UFJ Securities, MasterCard and the Dubai Mercantile Exchange. Outside work, the Oxford English graduate, who previously int­erned at the BBC as assistant producer, is funding his own finance diploma at Birkbeck.



What has been your proudest achievement in PR?

Working with the CEO of the Dubai Mercantile Exchange to elevate it from a relatively unknown company to a genuinely viable global oil benchmark of the future. It culminated with his appearance on Sky News, having met The Economist, The Times and Wall Street Journal earlier in the day.

How do you expect PR to change over the next 10 to 15 years?

PR is increasingly going to evolve into a form of business consultancy, of which communications is simply the focus. So outputs (whether they constitute media coverage, social conversation or stakeholder engagement), rather than being an end in themselves, are going to be the means to achieving a strategic company goal.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years’ time?

Somewhere happy and exciting, working alongside colleagues I get along with, doing work that people care about. That’s the important bit. The rest is detail.


Christopher Onderstall, 29 - Associate director, FleishmanHillard

Another star to shine brightly at the start of his career, at just 24 Onderstall became the digital lead for the agency’s Johannesburg office. His team grew by 500 per cent during his tenure following "phenomenal" results, with work across major clients including Nokia, Microsoft and BMW. He is credited with transforming Philips' annual reporting process at FleishmanHillard Amsterdam. He is now based in London.

What has been your proudest achievement in PR?

By obsessing over understanding the client’s environment, I have delivered work that most wouldn’t have expected from a comms agency. This has ranged from global social listening protocols to reassessment of the value proposition of annual reports and the introduction of new models for campaign life cycles.

How do you expect PR to change over the next 10 to 15 years?

Within the next 15 years I expect we will have ditched the term PR, leaving only a few heavily commoditised services behind. A few ‘drive-thru’-style organisations will service the bulk of content production requests, with agencies having diversified into business consultancy.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years’ time?

I hope to continue taking my focus on building structure into organisations.


Julian Rea, 29 - Managing director, UK, CitySavvy

Rea runs the London office of CitySavvy, having worked his way up from an account executive at the financial services PR firm. He is a native Dutch speaker and works with international clients across FMCG, banking, asset management and private equity industries.



What has been your proudest achievement in PR?

Joining the board at CitySavvy was a very proud moment as this was a recognition of my work for clients, but also of my contribution to the business.

How do you expect PR to change over the next 10 to 15 years?

The skills used in PR today will remain relevant and important, though the way these skills are deployed will change. I don’t expect PR to be such a distinct discipline in 10 years’ time; a ‘holistic’ marketing approach will be the norm, with PR work being integrated into a single service that combines many different modes of stakeholder engagement. Clients will however always value sector and geographic expertise, so I expect agencies will continue to arrange themselves based on specialism.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years’ time?

Hopefully running a holistic marketing agency, though I’ll probably have to come up with a better way of describing it. Most likely I will continue to focus on financial services.


Rebecca Ridge, 26 - MD and founder, Rebecca Abigail PR

Heard of Tinder? That may be partly due to the PR expertise of this high-flying 20-something, who founded her agency three years ago with the dating app among her first clients. Her agency’s impressive roster also includes fast-growing app GetTaxi.

What has been your proudest achievement in PR?

Setting up a PR agency at 23, representing some of the world’s leading brands, carving a niche for the agency in the consumer lifestyle sector. In year one I won and retained nine clients.

How do you expect PR to change over the next 10 to 15 years?

The industry is becoming driven so much more by digital influences and this will become more prominent over the coming years. The power celebrities hold via their Instagram and Twitter channels allows a given brand to share their key messages and campaign to millions of people with the press of a button, which in turn has a huge effect on the PR campaign and its objectives. Also with the rise of the tech industry alongside the healthy funding rounds many start-ups are completing, this will become a lucrative industry for PR professionals.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years’ time?

Continuing to run Rebecca Abigail PR alongside a team of talented and innovative PR professionals who continually generate hard-hitting coverage in top-tier titles. And, of course, working with some of the world’s biggest brands.


Henry Sands, 29 - MD, Sabi Strategy Group

Former army officer Sands became a consultant at New Century in 2008, providing comms and election campaign services to international political parties in Iraq, Zimbabwe and Turkey. After a stint at Livingstone & Company and CTF Partners he is currently the managing director of Sabi Strategy Group, a comms agency with offices in London and Johannesburg.

What has been your proudest achievement in PR?

Winning our first new contract shortly after setting up Sabi Strategy Group.

How do you expect PR to change over the next 10 to 15 years?

Digital media have of course changed the media landscape but there comes a point where the limitless sources of information drown out messages. Audiences then rev­ert to more traditional trusted channels of communication. We’ll see more of that.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years’ time?

Hopefully still running Sabi Strategy Group, only with a rather larger team around me.


Andy Silvester, 25 - Campaign director, TaxPayers’ Alliance

His role sees Silvester make regular media appearances and brief senior colleagues on current affairs, and the organisation credits him with elevating the TPA into the national political debate. He previously spent two years at the Institute of Directors as senior parliamentary affairs officer.



What has been your proudest achievement in PR?

Seeing the Prime Minister squirm a little when asked a question that we’d been the first to ask, just two weeks before the election, was pretty satisfactory. We’d been banging the drum on "coming clean" on public spending for months, and it became the defining narrative of the election. Placing and writing the first op-ed in The Times was pretty special, too.

How do you expect PR to change over the next 10 to 15 years?

I’m not sure it will. Ultimately it’s still going to be about getting the right content to the right people at the right time – even if the content, the people and the times might be different.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years’ time?

I still haven’t quite given up on playing for Wimbledon, but if that doesn’t work out I imagine I’ll still be a fully paid-up member of the Westminster Village. There’s still a lot worth fighting for in politics and, though others might disagree, I still believe politics and the PR around it is the best route to change.


Ryan Sketchley, 29 Senior account director, Thirteen Communications

Sketchley worked at Red for two years after topping the agency’s graduate programme. He later moved to TVC as senior account manager and has been at Thirteen for 18 months, where he has led and won four pitches. He is des­cribed by his agency as being "wise beyond his years" and "calmness personified".



What has been your proudest achievement in PR?

I started out as a broadcast specialist and have taken the skill into video content. There is still nothing like landing a major broadcast story – like the Silvertown planning announcement we ran last month, which ran all day on the BBC.

How do you expect PR to change over the next 10 to 15 years?

Analytics will force agencies to be more business focused in terms of real outputs, as our industry’s contribution to the bottom line needs to be clear. Mobile is everything; with the contraction of media space, the value of a message landed by video will only increase in this age of social sharing.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years’ time?

Creating believable content that causes people to discuss, share, add to, or even disagree with is something that I am focused on. Also our group has international opportunities so helping establish the Thirteen brand in new markets would be rewarding, especially if there were a sports element to it too.


Adam Tanous, 28 - Senior account manager, Performance Communications


Sports enthusiast Tanous has been at Performance for six years, rising from office admin assistant to working for some of the agency’s biggest clients. Last year the talented Tanous launched a blog called the Dapper Chapper and now oversees a team of writers – the site has been shortlisted for Best Lifestyle Blog at the UK Blogging Awards.

What has been your proudest achievement in PR?

Devising the Cooper Precision Challenge to activate Cooper Tires’ sponsorship of Arsenal FC, after developing the structure, managing the shoot, creating the influencer campaign and then watching it go viral.

How do you expect PR to change over the next 10 to 15 years?

Looking at how quickly Twitter and Facebook have changed our industry in a short space of time, we’ll continue to see the rise of the online influencer. The individuals who are now spending their time building large social communities will soon be the ones topping PR’s priority list. There will be less emphasis on getting coverage in prestigious print titles and more time will be spent focusing on social influencers and bloggers. One thing’s for sure – to be a great PR you need to be ready to evolve.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years’ time?

I’d hope to be at the top of the agency tree or gone out on my own. I’d also like to spend more time working in football, run an award-winning blog and hopefully still be scoring goals on a Saturday afternoon.


Max Tatton-Brown, 29 - Founding director, Augur

Tech specialist Tatton-Brown founded Augur Communications in 2013. He previously worked at web-based business network Tradeshift as EU comms manager, where he redesigned the way the company delivered news by rep­lacing press releases with a ‘blog-first’ approach. Tatton-Brown is also a technology writer for The Guardian, Wired and Econsultancy.

What has been your proudest achievement in PR?

I’m pleased that my achievements have come from doing what I believed was right. But I’m most proud of developing my ability to learn from when I was wrong. The former opened lots of doors but it’s the latter that rescued me from being just another frustrated, precocious account executive.

How do you expect PR to change over the next 10 to 15 years?
There’s a common dishonour in old PR. Insincerity, insecurity, ineptitude. We need to refocus agencies on what they once were and can be again: smaller teams of unusually talented individuals delivering really
focused strategy.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years’ time?

I hope to have made progress offering great PRs a better way to spend their time, doing great work for great clients. If Augur continues to thrive, I play with the idea of handing it to one of the team to refound and reforge. After all, they say life begins at 40, right?


Duncan White, 29 - Director, News Academy

White has been a key member of the team responsible for the rebrand of News International as News UK, including communicating the changes internally. His current role heading News Academy, an initiative to protect the journalism profession, has seen White host 12 national conferences to more than 4,000 students. He has also worked as a technology columnist for The Times.

What has been your proudest achievement in PR?

My part in transforming the crisis-struck News International into a place where staff are proud to work, understand our mission and are optimistic about the future. It has been a privilege to work in a team that has successfully taken us from the ‘naughty step’ to the front of the class, where we can properly champion professional world-class journalism.

How do you expect PR to change over the next 10 to 15 years?

Some things will never change – such as the importance of being authentic and able to tell a clear and compelling story about yourself and your brand. But the way PR operates will be transformed. From navigating new media to consumer power, it will be even more important to understand and establish a credible conversation with customers – across platforms that don’t even exist yet.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years’ time?

If my golf career doesn’t take off (decidedly unlikely), I would love to stay in the communications game, working somewhere that makes a positive contribution to society, in the UK or abroad. As a self-confessed politics geek, I also harbour ambitions to work in the political world.

Click here to view PRWeek's overview of the 30 Under 30 article. To view our video and picture gallery of the day, click here.

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