'Too much PR creativity is here today, gone tomorrow' - Creative Q&A

PRWeek grills a creative comms pro on how they got where they are, their career highlight, solving creative writer's block, and more. Today we speak to Alec Samways, chief executive and head of creative strategy at Splendid Communications.

How did you get where you are now?

Music led me here, mixed with more luck than judgement. I started my career as a business analyst while DJing on the side, a mix of pirate radio, warehouse parties and club residencies. As the responsibilities of my day job grew (global head of consumer at Datamonitor), the DJing had to take a back seat.

After eight years, I quit that job, went travelling for a year, and started afresh when I got back. I offered to work for no or low pay at several music companies to gain experience and landed a role at Slice PR, which was then a specialist in music clients.

I ended up building a brands division at Slice, combining my music passion with previous strategy experience all the while learning the ropes in PR, events, digital marketing, and influencers. That went very well, so after three years I decided to start Splendid Communications. That was 2004 and, 17 brilliant years later, here we are.

What's been your creative career highlight?

To pick one, I’d say our journey with Greggs encapsulates everything I stand for in creative work. We helped take the brand from being the butt of internet jokes to cultural icon in our five years working with them.

After establishing a clear brand positioning for social, our first years were based on smart and mostly reactive social content, sharing a Greggs point of view on cultural events through always-on content with products as the hero. We built a huge social media following, and alongside Taylor Herring, Havas and the in-house teams, created new fans across the country. Greggs’ Vegan Sausage Roll, which we launched with Havas, and the cultural and commercial impact it created, was the creative highlight.

Lockdown and the closing of stores put paid to our work for Greggs, but since it would be hard to top that launch, I already felt it was time to move on, and I wish them the very best of luck in their future endeavours.

What's your favourite campaign of the past three months (not one that you or your organisation were involved in) and why?

Last week I saw The Pedestal Project from @ColourofChange on Instagram. People can project images of racial justice leaders onto pedestals where the statues of figures associated with slavery once stood. I hope that technology comes to the UK and I hope, one day, the statues are real and not just projected. As creatives we all need to think about the positive purpose of our ideas, not just the media coverage.

How do you solve creative writer's block?

Play music, think about music, buy music. I do at least one of these at least once an hour. If that fails, it’s time to go for a walk.

How should PR grow its creative prowess?

By being more strategic. Delivering brand stories and creative ideas that are rooted in consumer insight, that deliver a positive and truthful brand message. And thinking about how creativity can build brands for the longer term. Too much PR creativity is here today, gone tomorrow.

What's your hidden talent?

My limited talent is always on show, for all to see.


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