David Davis, the newly appointed chairman of start-up PR news
service na europe, is equally at home in the newsroom as he is in the
boardroom. He arguably now has veteran status in both territories.
But with all the enthusiasm of a fresh-faced new recruit, he is
optimistic about his role at the Press Association-linked firm, where
once again he can combine his two fields of expertise.
'As a former journalist, I will always love and need the excitement of a
busy newsroom, which is what we aim to create at na europe,' he
As Davis builds his team from its present three to what he hopes will be
Europe's premier news release distribution service, he finds himself
reminiscing about what many see as the golden days of journalism, and
the early days of PR.
Back in 1956, as a journalist fresh out of the Croydon Times, he landed
a job in Fleet Street as a sub-editor with the Press Association. 'And
here I am, at the other end of my career, back at PA,' he jokes, making
a sweep with his hand to acknowledge the open-plan room space he rents
at PA's new offices in Victoria, London.
The PR world beckoned him and in 1968 he joined Daniel J Edelman for the
launch of the agency's London operation. He became head of Edelman
Europe and was then promoted to the role of Edelman Worldwide deputy
'David helped Edelman build its UK operations in the 1980s, and he
helped us diversify into publishing and financial PR. He is a
hard-working, totally honest man with a fantastic commitment to
quality,' says Richard Edelman, Edelman Public Relations Worldwide
Davis was with Edelman for 24 years, leaving in 1992 to become
international president of Medialink Worldwide, and pioneered the early
introduction of video news releases for global PR communities outside of
Eight years later, Davis was made chairman of Rainier Corporation, and
established the wide-ranging RainierNet. 'David joined Rainier as
chairman 18 months ago, enabling it to scale and develop the agency from
an early stage start-up to a progressive hi-tech marketing services
business,' says Rainer Europe MD Stephen Waddington.
na europe is a subsidiary of Germany's News Aktuell, and has signed a
distribution agreement with PA. It is from there that Davis aims to make
an assault on the European media for his clients. It has the same
distribution agreement with DPA in Germany so as to give it reach into
former Eastern bloc countries.
He also sees new technologies as the key ingredient to na europe's
potential success. 'The means now exist to target all forms of media
quickly and efficiently,' he enthuses.
Davis is ambitious and multifaceted. He enjoys chewing the fat with
fellow journalists about the old days and exchanging anecdotes of
editions past. But he is keen to stress that he is also a formidable
'I'm an entrepreneur. I like being creative in business. I like building
things up from scratch and making them a success. I think having this
ability is in the genes. I always wanted to be a reporter, but I have
found myself good at business too,' he says.
Davis admits the market for PR news services is particularly
competitive. Is he therefore out to rival the likes of UBM's PR
Newswire, which recently bought UNS successor firm Two-Ten
Communications? 'We are just a minnow and cannot pretend to rival them.
But we aim to offer a more specialist services, tailor-made to meet our
clients' needs as they realise the growing importance of Europe,' says
Davis, a self-confessed Tory, royalist and backer of the pound.
It was at the UNS in 1960 that he met his mentor, the Austrian UNS
founder, Alfred Geringer. Geringer wanted to rival Reuters and while
everyone said he was insane, he merely declared he would be the one to
challenge the mighty agency. So he asked Davis, among others, to join
his fledgling team as chief sub-editor.
'I learned much from him,' Davis says. But after four years, he found
himself missing the cut and thrust of journalism, so he left to join The
Times as a reporter. It was from here that he made the key Edelman
Davis believes the best PROs come from a journalistic background. 'I
think its crucial to know how both sides operate,' he says.
After a life of consultancy and a background in journalism, he has two
true loves: business and the media. 'I can remember my first story, a
few pars on the front of the Croydon Times. There is none other like it
- that buzz of a good story,' he says
In his spare time, Davis is a fan of Millwall FC and considers the
team's New Den a second home. One of his favourite phrases is the cliche
trotted out by footballers and pundits: 'At the end of the day'.
At the end of the day, service sector competition just got tougher.
1960: Chief sub-editor, Universal News Service
1964: City reporter, The Times
1968: London founder, Edelman PR Worldwide
1992: Vice-president, Medialink
2001: Chairman, na europe