Q&A: James Kelly, creative director at GolinHarris

James Kelly, creative director at GolinHarris, speaks to PRWeek about his new position and what it means for the agency.

James Kelly started as creative director at GolinHarris, a new position for the agency, on March 1. Previously SVP and creative director for Weber Shandwick's UK and Ireland region, Kelly speaks to PRWeek about his new position and what this means for GolinHarris as an agency.

PRWeek: What are your responsibilities?

James Kelly: My job is to two-fold. One is to root all of our creative development in strategic insight, building from our "brand story" planning process and embed that across the agency. Also,  to work with our major clients in developing new campaigns and new assignments. Probably, thirdly is developing our new creative development process.

PRWeek: What are your goals for the new position?

Kelly: First of all, I'd like to see bigger ideas, a lot more integrated work, and  I'd like to be seeing us doing a lot more content production and a bigger push into digital, which is what we're already doing for our major client assignments. And ultimately, I'd like to see more recognition in the industry for Golin as a multimedia conversation shop, not just a PR shop.

PRWeek: What are you doing to increase revenues and clients?

Kelly: In my role, I'm working through our client roster and talking to them to see what more we could be doing for them, so we can say "let's take a fresh look at your program." There is always a constant hunger for clients for new ideas, whether they are asked for or not.

PRWeek: How does your appointment fit into Golin's overall strategy?

Kelly: I think that my appointment is solidifying our commitment to coming up with bigger ideas that span all channels of media, that knit together the opportunities that come from digital and traditional. But also to break us out of a mentality of just producing stories, but also to reach into content development. [I will] make sure that we harness the opportunities for bigger ideas and think multichannel. What's the narrative that surrounds those [ideas and] that is rooted in the brand's essence and character?

PRWeek: What is going on with clients right now? Are you seeing a lot of RFPs or is it more from current clients, organic growth?

Kelly: As of late, we've been very busy. We've responded to four RFPs in the last four weeks. Certainly, there seems to be an upswing in the demand on us to produce more content-driven ideas, which goes back to the appointment and the creative director role. They are looking toward us, increasingly, to say, "we're ditching our digital agency, can you just take over the whole thing?"

PRWeek:
That's interesting because what we've been hearing is that PR agencies are going up against digital firms more often in pitches. Are you seeing that as well?

Kelly: We certainly are. More and more, we're being invited to respond to RFPs against purely digital agencies, and winning, which I think is inevitable consolidation on the client side. Early on, when social media seemed to be such a muddle and such a ball of confusion, they wanted a specialist agency. Now I think they are starting to realize, as with integrated planning, the fewer agencies the better. If you can do PR and social media as well, all the better.

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