Name: Kevin Taylor FCIPR
Company: There’s more than one but Robertson Taylor PR is the core
Job title: Founder
Did you go to university?
I had a place to study Politics and Sociology at Essex University in the 70s. It was fashionable to “drop out” in those days but I took that one stage further by never even showing up. I got married and got a job in PR instead.
What was your first job in PR?
I worked as a trainee at the London Borough of Islington and also attended the London College of Printing doing an early version of what would now be called the CIPR certificate.
How did you get from there to your current role?
I was in a hurry to progress, personally and professionally. I moved to Yorkshire and continued to climb the local government PR career path. Later back in London I spent three years doing early morning radio at London Transport and then moved to BT. I spent six years there, often at the heart of national news stories such as the company’s flotation and the launch of Cellnet (now O2). I then moved to consultancy and joined up with Ian McCann (who had headed Vodafone’s press team) to try to build a PR business around the fast-growing mobile phone. We worked together for some 20 years building an agency now called CCgroup – but I don’t think we ever imagined how big mobile would become.
What do you do on a day-to-day basis?
I started my own business, Robertson Taylor PR, in 2009 with a client kick-start from CCgroup. Over time, I have gradually moved the focus of the business to content creation so a large part of my day is spent writing.
I also set up a network called Standing Tall to enable independent consultants and small businesses to work together under a single brand. Sometimes to offer a range of services, sometimes just to come together to handle bigger accounts.
On top of that, I am the point man in Europe for a US agency, Global Results PR, using my network to provide client support and a range of editorial services.
PR is pretty much the perfect role for me
What do you like most about working in PR?
PR has given me some great experiences and I have met some truly superb people so for that I will always be grateful. I enjoy the process of getting under the skin of a company, listening to their market challenges and then helping them articulate their proposition. I enjoy building relationships, networking, and writing. So PR is pretty much the perfect role for me.
What’s the hardest thing about working in PR?
Waiting. When you’ve organised an event and you are waiting for the guests to arrive. You always have a number that represents success and waiting to hit that number can be agony. I once deliberately chose not to invite a single journalist to a press conference until the day before the event. The strategy was to be the news event that gate-crashed their diary, rather than the one that had been in it for two weeks but they blew off because something newsier came along. It was risky, but the story was strong and 25 media were there on the day – including most of the broadsheets.
When I was President of the CIPR I gave the Stephen Tallents medal to Anne Gregory, she’s a real PR warrior.
Who is your PR inspiration?
There’s not just one – that’s the beauty of PR, the people you get to meet and learn from along the way. For me that would include Denis Kelly, John Egan, and of course Ian McCann. Ken Deeks was also an inspiration and a great help when I started my own business. When I was President of the CIPR I gave the Stephen Tallents medal to Anne Gregory, she’s a real PR warrior. And if I had the chance to award that medal again today – Stephen Waddington would be pretty high on my list of candidates.
People do business with people they like, and that they enjoy doing good business with
What’s the best career advice you’ve ever been given?
My late Father was a publican. When he was running the pub he used to say to me that behind the bar, was simply where you took the money, but in front of the bar, among the customers, was where you “made it”. He didn’t call it networking, but that’s what he did: building relationships, fostering groups, and creating the right atmosphere for business. I like to think that rubbed off on me.
People do business with people they like, and that they enjoy doing good business with – that’s why my father’s pub had a really good crowd of “regulars”; and it’s the core reason why some clients follow consultancy staff when they move around and vice versa.
Which PR blogs, news sites and websites do you read?
I think the new CIPR Influence site is really good. And I enjoy the PR Moment and Behind the Spin. Of the blogs, Wadds’ site is the obvious regular one but I also find Facebook really useful and it points me at plenty of interesting reads. I am a member of a number of Facebook groups – the joint group for tech journalists and PRs is particularly good; as is the one for freelancers.
What are your tips for aspiring PRs?
Listen before you speak, hear all sides, and keep an open mind. If you do that, you’ll learn when to “stick to your guns” and when to recognise that another approach is actually better than the one you had in mind.
Just last week a client rejected a draft of something I had written. I listened to the argument, recognised the elements that were valid, but also knew my overall approach was right. I was able to reply explaining my thinking, acknowledging some points to change, and quickly reach agreement to simply slightly rework the original approach rather than ditch it for a different one.