Obituary: Tim Jackaman, Square Mile Communications founder and financial PR stalwart

Tim Jackaman, one of the big-name PRs behind the rise of financial comms after the City's Big Bang in the 1980s, has died aged 63. Mike Harris, chief executive of PR agency 89up, where Jackaman was chair, looks back on his life and career and pays tribute.

Tim Jackaman: industry veteran worked at Hill+Knowlton, Weber Shandwick, Greentarget and more
Tim Jackaman: industry veteran worked at Hill+Knowlton, Weber Shandwick, Greentarget and more

Tim Jackaman began his career as a journalist with The Ferrari Press Agency – falling short, in his own assessment, because “I couldn't spot something innocuous and turn it into something fabulous” – before moving across to the PR industry in his late 20s.

In 1985-86 he worked for Hill+Knowlton in Hong Kong. In that time, he recalled, “so much was happening out there – unit trusts would grow 10 per cent in a week”.

He moved to Hill+Knowlton's London office, leaving in 1989 to co-found Square Mile Communications, one of a new wave of financial PR firms launched in the aftermath of the ‘Big Bang’ with the deregulation of the City of London. Square Mile grew quickly, both organically and through a series of mergers and acquisitions including that of Fleet Financial Communications in 1999, making the firm one of PRWeek's Top 40 agencies by fee income.

In 2000, Square Mile Communications was bought by global agency BSMG Worldwide, which the following year merged with Weber Shandwick to become one of the world’s largest PR agencies. Jackaman rose to become the chair of the UK financial PR business in one of the world’s biggest PR consultancies.

Fellow Square Mile founder Susan Ellis says he was “an ideas man”. Interviewing him for a book, political communications academic professor Aeron Davis describes how he “took the time to explain to me how it all worked… he saw how things operated [in the City] in anthropological and linguistic terms”.

Jackaman left Weber Shandwick in 2004 for a two-year career break, during which he studied for a Master's in Medieval and Tudor History at the University of Kent.

In 2006, he returned to the industry, launching GJR, named after his and his colleagues Melissa Rowling and Nick Glanvil's initials – offering design and branding support as well as PR. The new agency swiftly merged with Chicago-based consultancy GreenTarget. Jackaman quit Greentarget in 2011 and retired from the PR industry altogether.

While he was a driving force behind agency mergers, Jackaman was also critical of underperformance, telling PRWeek: “I've yet to see a big player make the most of its size. It's much harder for a big agency to seem hungry.”

A long-time friend of Theo Paphitis, Jackaman was appointed non-executive director of Millwall FC when Paphitis rescued it from administration in 1997, with the difficult task of rehabilitating the club’s reputation. He also chaired the Deal Festival of Music and the Arts, a role he performed for three years.

In 2018, Jackaman approached agency 89up because he wanted to support a growing purpose agency, seeing it as the major new trend that could disrupt the entire industry. He became the chair of the agency, and with smart advice and the occasional telephone call to urge bravery, he became a brilliant personal mentor to the chief executive. During the period Jackaman was chair, the agency's revenue nearly tripled, with the agency appearing in the PRWeek UK Top 150 Consultancies table this year for the first time.

Jackaman had a quiet manner, belied by a vibrant dress sense, and was very well-liked by colleagues. Former Manning Selvage & Lee managing director and director of comms for Rolex, Jackie Elliot, called him “always congenial, carefully insightful and an all-round lovely bloke”.

He is survived by his wife, Edwina, sons Jack and Patrick, and daughter Evie.

Tim Jackaman: February 1958-October 2021

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Register
Already registered?
Sign in