Company Name: Open Communications
Location: Nostell Priory Estate Yard, Wakefield
I was born in a small village at the bottom of the Yorkshire Dales before moving to Leeds in 1998. After a four year degree at Leeds Metropolitan University I embarked on a career in PR and marketing. I worked for a number of leading agencies before launching Open Communications with my business partner Emma Lupton in September 2008.
2. Tell us how you started your business?
Over too many bottles of wine! Emma was my Director at a former agency. We worked well together and became friends after I left to work at another agency. As two very different people (Emma is very organised and structured, where as I can be quite hot headed and inpatient) we realised that we often meet in the middle, giving our clients the best of both worlds. We wanted to approach PR differently becoming a straight talking agency that would add value and treat clients’ budgets as if they were our own, while delivering excellent results. We don’t believe in air kissing and we don’t conform to the usual stereotypes which can be associated to the industry.
3. How long have you been in business?
Nearly three years now.
4. Did you know how you were going to make money with it? How did you do it?
It is always difficult when you start a company but we had experience of fee structures. We wanted to make sure our clients were getting value for money but that we were also running as a commercial business. We look at the time it is likely to take us to meet with our client’s objectives and work backwards to make sure we capitalise on all opportunities.
5. What was your inspiration?
Seeing others doing it so badly and my Dad, he started a business when he was just 26 with no prior experience.
6. What was your highest moment?
Turning a profit in the first year.
7. Were you ever scared? How did you overcome it?
There are times when you feel like a rabbit caught in headlights but you just give your head a shake. It can all become very overwhelming but you have to get on with it and do your best – no one can ask for anymore than that.
8. What’s the best part of your job?
The variety. We deal with clients in very different sectors, so one day you could be dealing with changes to legislation or government announcements, the next a major development in a city centre or the launch of a new sweet treat. No two days are ever the same.
9. What is the most important lesson you learned along the way?
Don’t try to be something you are not.
10. What piece of advice do you have for business owners out there?
Remember that people buy people and always treat those you come into contact with how you would like to be treated – you don’t know who they are or more importantly who they know.