Build it, and they will come
Five years ago I left a perfectly good, well-paid job to go and do something quite mad. I knew in my gut that PR could be done better, with more business purpose. I felt companies were spending a lot of money on PR, and often getting very little in return except for some puff pieces. It had become clear to me that good PRs should be business consultants first and foremost, using public relations and communications expertise to advise clients on how to move their businesses forward and having a real, value-adding impact. I also knew that no-one else was properly servicing the sector I knew best. There were great tech, b2b, corporate and financial agencies, but none wholly focused on high-growth businesses, their investors, and the community around them.
But… how to present that to people? How to convince them to try doing PR in a different way? To leave their perfectly good agencies and come somewhere wholly unknown and untested? Indeed, although I’d spent many years working with startups, how to set up my own business, build a website, manage accounts, do it all myself? How to actually be an entrepreneur?!
Funnily enough though, while it was a bit crazy, I wasn’t scared, or overwhelmed. I’d had huge amounts of confidence instilled in me by people who told me that if I started my own agency, they would come – be it as clients or to join the team. And they did. After six months FieldHouse had a waiting list of clients, and it was time to start hiring a team. Of course Neil came first, just as he said he would, and we haven’t looked back!
Sitting here now reflecting on it all, I can’t quite believe it. And yet here we are, 12 amazingly brilliant people (soon to be 15), with a roster of quite incredible clients who we all absolutely love working with. We’ve genuinely built an agency with a unique specialism – and one where we treat clients, the media, and the team with huge amounts of respect.
So over the course of the last month we’ve taken some time to reflect, celebrate what we’ve done, and thank all of FieldHouse’s many friends and supporters. We had a super dinner in early April to thank the team, and a few alumni, for all their hard work and commitment. Then last week we held a drinks party at Skyloft (complete with outstanding views of London!) to thank all our clients for their loyalty to us, journalists for believing in us, and a bunch of other people who have simply been kind to us! It was a really memorable, and quite emotional, evening and meant a great deal to us all as a team.
To mark the 5th anniversary, we also had our website entirely redesigned and revamped. Plus we filmed a video (that makes me cry when I watch it!) of clients and team talking about FieldHouse, and the impact we’ve had. Do take a look! Finally, and very unusually, we did a little bit of our own PR and were interviewed by Real Business about FieldHouse and its growth.
All in all it’s been quite a month marking our fifth year. However, the naval gazing is going to stop (once this newsletter has been issued) and we are all looking forward to what’s next for FieldHouse. The future is bright, fun, and exciting. Onwards!
Thank you for all your support, as ever.
Happy Birthday to us!
April 2012 marked the launch of FieldHouse Associates. Cordelia set up the company on her own and started working with clients such as MMC Ventures and EVRYTHNG, both of which are still clients today. Fast-forward five years and we’re 12 people strong (with another few on the way) and we have more than 20 clients on retainer. I can’t profess to having been here the full five years, but as employee number one I’ve been part of the company since January 2013 and it’s been a phenomenal ride so far.
Cordelia introduces me as “her first nut”… A bit strange out of context, but if you’ve heard the ‘first follower’ story, you’ll already know why (if not, you can watch it here). It’s a term that I now fully embrace (albeit while making sure people know the backstory); I simply couldn’t be prouder to be here and feel privileged to have been part of the company from the very, very early days.
Like many of the clients we’ve worked with over the past five years, we’ve been a company experiencing fast growth. It doesn’t seem that long ago that there were just three of us around laptops in an alcove at the Adam Street Club, or making sure we were outside the doors at Royal Festival Hall when it opened so that we could race up to the members level to grab the tables by the power sockets. Meanwhile, today we sit in our floor-to-ceiling glass-walled office in The News Building, where we look out on our neighbours in The Shard. It’s been a great journey over the past five years that’s seen us in members’ clubs and offices in Trafalgar Square, Soho, Fitzrovia, and now London Bridge.
As a company, we’ve gone through that awkward stage of growth where you go from just a few people who have all worked together before to hiring people outside of your networks, trusting new faces, getting to double figures with staff and putting proper structure, processes, and feedback in place – all vital to make sure that we help our team continue to flourish and grow as professionals and as people. It’s certainly not been a straightforward process, and from a personal point of view the amount I’ve learned over the past four and half years has been incredible. Whoever said ‘everyday is a school day’ really wasn’t joking. PR is a business all about people and relationships, and too often in agencies the importance of applying that mantra internally is forgotten. It’s an all-too-familiar story of junior members not being allowed to do certain things, go to certain events, speak to certain people, and senior people being too senior to do ‘junior’ tasks – ridiculous.
It’s been an immense month here at FieldHouse celebrating our fifth birthday, and it’s given us the chance to stop, take stock of everything the company has achieved over the past five years, the talent we’ve nurtured, the connections we’ve made, the work we’ve done, the impact we’ve had, and indeed the business we’ve all built. It’s given us the unfamiliar opportunity to put our mobiles on silent and give ourselves a small pat on the back, before getting back online and cracking on with things as we rapidly move towards the second half of the year.
Whether you agree with the ‘first follower’ concept or not, FieldHouse is indeed a movement now. We’ve established ourselves as one of the best in our field, and – for the moment at least – there’s no sign of our growth slowing down. I don’t think we’d have it any other way.
New people, new ideas
Working for a fast-growth business, one of the key challenges is often recruitment. How do you find the right people with not only the right skills but also – more importantly – that ‘X Factor’ that makes them ‘one of you’? You need to balance that need to find the ‘right’ person with the need to hire quickly. You can brief recruiters until the cows come home but it is rare that they really take the time to understand you, so sifting through CVs and continuous interviews early morning and in the evening are a given.
The past six months at FieldHouse has seen us go through some major growth, with not one, not two, but SIX new people joining the team. We have scoured our own networks, spent lots of time with our potential teammates, and – most importantly – the whole business has been part of the process, making it easier and ensuring that when that person finally starts on day one, they already feel part of the furniture!
Cordelia always says you should ‘hire people better than you’, and each one of the new joiners in 2017 has brought some unique experience and insight, or an approach to work that complements the FieldHouse offering. Ellie, Gayle, and Tom bring that youthful energy, a passion to learn and develop, and smart brains that continuously come up with good ideas and angles, beautiful writing, and charming client management.
Our new director, Liz, was motoring even before day one, bringing a fresh approach to existing clients, bedding in new ones, and supporting the operational growth of the business at a key time.
Last week, Amelia started and easily joined in with our team training session with the fantastic Sally Prescott from Zest for Life. We took a day to regroup and discuss our values and ways of working – the ‘FieldHouse way’ – to stay true to our culture as we grow quickly.
Lastly – for this month at least – Aidan will be joining in week or so. Another tech obsessive, set to work wonders for some of our clients.
All we need now is an office that fits everyone in…
Welcoming new clients
It’s been a busy few months for the team, with a crop of exciting new clients coming on board. We’ve been lucky enough to work with and meet incredibly driven and impressive entrepreneurs, founders, and teams over the past five years and if the last few months tells us anything, it’s that we have some serious entrepreneurial talent in the UK.
Recently there’s been a feeling that Britain doesn’t have the capacity to build the next Google or Facebook, but we beg to differ given some of the new clients we’re working with. There’s Egress, which is tackling one of the biggest security issues facing businesses – staff accidentally sharing information they shouldn’t – and has seen its revenues grow 100 per cent year on year. Meanwhile, Pivigo – a data scientist hub – is solving a huge challenge facing the market. Not only is it re-skilling academics to become data scientists though its S2DS programme, providing talent to help meet the growing demand in the field, it has also created a global marketplace which connects businesses to freelance data scientists to complete specific projects.
Other new additions include FIXR, a ticketing platform for student events that is expanding rapidly and is looking to branch out into commercial partnerships that help brands engage with Generation Z; MUSO, which holds a huge cache of data analysing the global issue of content piracy and wants content owners to consider the opportunity presented by piracy, not just the risk; and Homelyfe, which is aiming to help simplify the insurance process and provide consumers with far more personalised quotes and policies. And that’s to name just a few…
Something that is pretty unique to FieldHouse is our network – of journalists, yes, but also of other ‘influencers’. Investors, event organisers, bookers, people with power, connectors, government departments and advisors, campaigners, or specialists, all who play a key role in the growth of a business.
We do work hard to help clients get the right ‘column inches’ or social media posts read by the right people to positively impact their business. But we also focus on connections – who do we know, or should we know, that we can connect our clients to to support their growth?
As a consequence, the whole team is out and about constantly at events we sponsor, work for, or just attend. While we embrace online networks, we are also traditionalists and think old fashioned ‘talking’ is important – you get a different sense of someone when you can see the whites of their eyes! Whether it be big mega-events such as Mobile World Congress or invite-only ones such as the Duke of York’s Pitch@Palace, there is nothing more thrilling than meeting new people with great experience and great ideas.
There is an events list at the end of this newsletter – we hope to see some of you there!
There is a busy season of events coming up!
5-7 June: White Bull Pathways, Barcelona
12-16 June: London Tech Week
13 June: The Europas, London
14 June: Enterprise Awards, London
14 June: IP and Disruptive Technologies: How to protect your innovation
15 June: IP and FinTech: How to protect your innovation
15 June: Women4Technology: Extending Markets, London
6 – 9 November: Web Summit, Lisbon
30 November – 1 December: Slush, Helsinki
4-5 December: TechCrunch Disrupt, Berlin