Profile: The true blue at Red - Mike Morgan, chief executive, The Red Consultancy

Mike Morgan started his PR career promoting the Carling Premiership and is currently most passionate about his work for McDonald's football-in-the-community programme.

The fact that beer and football book-end the 41-year-old's CV is no coincidence, given his long-standing love of both.

As we speak, Morgan is in the midst of his annual 'dry test' (he hopes to go more than a month without a pint), but his 'obsession' with Liverpool's blue team, Everton FC, endures and he can't resist using endless football analogies in his mild Scouse accent.

Morgan, talking to PRWeek in the fifth-floor boardroom of The Red Consultancy's new Soho offices, assumed the reins at the Incepta-owned agency when co-founders David Fuller and Lesley Brend stood down last autumn, after a decade at the helm.

The agency's transition under the guidance of Morgan, alongside similarly long-serving joint MDs Andrew Baiden and Amanda Duncan, has, by all accounts, been hiccup-free.

Although Red has a consumer heritage, Morgan is quick to point out the variety of business it handles, such as B2B work for Microsoft MSN and Cap Gemini, and PR for charities such as the PDSA. Other clients include Expedia, the COI and Johnson & Johnson.

Morgan acknowledges the challenge of maintaining Red's impressive momentum going (the agency's fee income grew by eight per cent last year to around £8m, and staff now number 120) and acknowledges that rivals will relish any blips.

'The received wisdom is that every agency goes off the boil - people expected us to "crest it" in about 2000,' he says.

Born in Wales to Irish parents (giving him, he says, a 'weirdly Celtic outlook'), he was brought up near Runcorn in Cheshire.

After leaving school at 16 and working in a chemicals factory, he went to night school and then the University of East Anglia, from which he graduated with a 2:2 in politics and sociology.

Being 'always really into the papers and the media' (these days he digests The Sun and The Guardian on his daily commute from Crouch End), he enrolled at the London School of Journalism.

He then joined the former Paragon Communications ('the Red of its day') as a writer on Woolworths News.

He met Juliette, now his wife and with whom he has two young children, at Paragon where he also handled PR for Carling and Czech lager Staropramen.

'Once I was told to go to Prague and live like a Czech person for a week for research - that kind of (cultural) absorption would be done from paper now,' he reflects nostalgically.

After the football and beer at Paragon ('Now, why would you leave that?

Put it this way, I needed some discipline... I was also a bit aware that I was my own boss too early,' he says) he joined Red.

His early days at the agency, then a fifth of its current size, provided him with 'rigour and focus'. Asked how agency PR has changed in the past 15 years, he replies: 'People are a lot closer to clients now - and it's all about that word "integration".

'We talk more to ad agencies now - we used to play second fiddle to them but now they will show us a creative before it's shot.'

Alun James, the incoming head of sports marketing at Four Gritti who has worked with Morgan in the past, says: 'Mike is as at home with captains of industry as he is with junior staff in the pub.'

Indeed, Morgan's ready banter and relaxed demeanour don't seem to have been diluted by the responsibilities that come with stewarding Red into its second decade.

As to the future, he refers more than once to 'making your own luck', adding that he's 'not great on life-planning'. But with a glint of fulfilment he asserts: 'Compared to most people's jobs, PR jobs are brilliant.'

RESUME

1990: Writer, Paragon Communications

1994: Senior account director, Paragon Communications

1996: Account director, The Red Consultancy

1999: Board director, The Red Consultancy

2001: Deputy MD, The Red Consultancy

2003: Managing director, The Red Consultancy

2004: Chief executive, The Red Consultancy

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