'We're trying to create news, not a marketing pamphlet' - Creative Q&A

PRWeek grills creative comms figures on how they got where they are, their career highlight, solving creative writer's block, and more. Today we speak to Andrew Olley, co-founder of OlleyGoss PR.

How did you get where you are now?

I’ve been fortunate to have worked with some big – albeit very different – characters in PR. My first account director, Ben Ruse at Ogilvy PR, was a 'straight to the point on strategy and delivery' man. It set a good precedent.

Pete Mountstevens at Taylor Herring created an atmosphere in which people were encouraged to come up with their own ideas without fear of ridicule.

Mark Borkowski restored my faith in the industry and proved that campaigns can still make a difference - but only if you know the subject, understand how news works and move fast enough to give journalists what they need.

What's been your creative career highlight?

The campaign that kicked off OlleyGoss PR. We created the world’s first A.I. Bar for the launch of an unheard of machine learning business called DataSparQ, achieving more than 1,000 pieces of coverage all over the world, including the front page of the Times.

Working alongside a company at conception is a dream. We came up with an idea that allowed us to take an obscure A.I. start-up working within a specific market place – and implement its service into an everyday scenario that people could relate to.

A one-month project became six - the exposure we created meant companies from industries that would never have previously thought to use A.I. professionally came to our client, and generated a lot of new business and a huge jump in revenue.

It was great to see the difference our work made on the company, beyond clicks and coverage reports. The story’s success also put us on the map as an agency - so we’ve got a lot of love for our first campaign!

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

Aldi’s #FreeCuthbert campaign in response to M&S – being fast and funny helped tip the social media debate in their favour.

How do you solve creative writer's block?

We have an incredible network of journalists who we see outside of work. Sharing a glass or two with these hardened hacks soon gets the creativity sparking again.

My business partner Oli has news in his blood. His brother is the news editor of the highest circulating national newspaper in the UK - and his father has run an independent press agency for more than 50 years, after stints working on many of Fleet Street’s finest.

So we can always pick up the phone if we’re in need of some inspiration... as long as it’s not during morning conference!

How should PR grow its creative prowess?

We never forget that what we’re trying to create is news, not a marketing pamphlet. The ability to convert a client’s marketing messages into a story - that’s actually newsworthy - is at the crux of everything we do.

To prove any 'prowess' - firstly you have to achieve coverage; if a journalist deems what you’ve created is worthy of editorial space, then you’ve done your job.

Secondly, if the coverage you’ve achieved encourages commercial and market growth for your clients, your creatively has paid for itself many times over.

When PR is done right, it remains the most cost-effective and impactful way to showcase a client’s offering and point of difference – as well as protecting a brand’s reputation, should any banana skins appear.

What's your hidden talent?

Pina Coladas – it’s all about the Coco Lopez.


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