Creative staff with the drive to make a difference

The right depth of expertise on subject matter, combined with a broad range of talent, is the key to achieving fully integrated work - across industries, practices and the globe, says Jim Donaldson, UK managing director of FleishmanHillard.

I am certainly not new to the PR industry, having spent more than 20 years running agency teams, offices and regions across EMEA. However, I am new to FleishmanHillard – and am grateful for the warm welcome I have had from a thriving team here that is doing some very exciting work with outstanding clients.

Our industry is undergoing a significant period of change. Our remit is no longer just a case of drafting releases, media relations and general client management – although that remains a core part of any agency’s offer.

We have had to adapt to meet our clients’ desire for integrated solutions: we need to continue to be brave and we need to be flexible and agile. In a switched-on world, clients want counsel around the clock on a huge range of issues. 

Award-winning work

FleishmanHillard has responded by quietly recasting, reinventing and realigning our business in the UK to suit this changing world. We’ve hired new talent and invested in new capabilities and last October our London office won PRWeek’s International Agency of the Year 2014 – of which we are all very proud.

That award recognised the work we have done to transform from a public relations consultancy into a comms hub, providing creativity, insight and senior counsel in a complete comms package – capable of reaching any audience, anywhere, anytime, with any message, through any channel… all to prompt the right response.

Our brand statement, ‘the power of true’, runs through all this. It speaks of how we help our clients find an authentic voice, how we act as trusted advisers navigating the complex communications landscape. It also speaks of the integrity, purpose and passion that our people bring to their work every day and the trust that our clients place in them. I was astounded to learn that some client relationships go back 30 years.

I’m constantly inspired by the quality of talent coming into the industry and the diverse background of people I get to work with every day. At FleishmanHillard we will continue to evolve and grow thanks to this amazing pool of fantastic individuals working for us. From hugely creative new blood who are on every social media channel going, to respected big-hitters who have built solid reputations in their field, the people here are as inspiring as the brands we work with.

So what do I look out for when hiring talented individuals?

We not only have to be excellent advisers, but also entrepreneurs. And that means understanding FleishmanHillard’s business as well as our clients’. So I want people to come here knowing what we are about, eager to get involved, but unafraid to challenge. They have to be thinking about what is coming round the corner, from local industry insights to global trends. Take the general election this year. I don’t expect the public affairs team to be the only ones thinking about how a change of government could affect the reputations and businesses of the brands we work with.

Inquiring minds

I am also looking for curiosity. Why is a brand underachieving or over-expanding? Why do some campaigns in our industry stand out, while others that might have looked good on paper wither and die? Inquisitive minds are the most creative, but there is no point in having them if thoughts are not heard. So I am looking for positivity and teamwork. No idea is a bad idea, and everyone should be heard.

Actually, one thing that I find very refreshing at FleishmanHillard is the lack of hierarchy, something I believe helps build characters and avoid cliques.

Finally, I am looking for strong points of view. Clients need focus and so do we. This comes from great industry insight and strong, confident counsel that embraces our commitment to quality and service. Our voice needs to be the best in the business and it is up to every team member to ensure that it is heard.

So London is calling. This office is going to be the most exciting, hardworking and creative in the city. We are going to retain and win more of the globe’s top clients. And we are going to build a name here in this town that will make FleishmanHillard the go-to complete agency of choice for organisations throughout EMEA. This will be a year of significant change for us, with many exciting announcements due soon.

Views in brief

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