How has business been in 2016?
Business was good in 2016 and we have now seen steady growth over the last two years with 2017 looking to be stronger again. The market is now highly competitive and as such it is important to develop a business model that works equally as well for the client as it does for us. The old adage of always staying close to and listening to your customer is as important now as it was 25 years ago when the business was launched.
What has been the business’s highlights, major changes or key achievements in 2016?
The highlight of the year has to be the fact that we celebrated our 25th anniversary. It provided us with the opportunity to reflect on the phenomenal number of companies and organisations that have placed their confidence in us during that time. From international businesses such as KLM, Ernst & Young, AkzoNobel, Marriott and Rio Tinto through to brilliant locally grown firms such as Hodgson Sayers, Hargreaves and Hyperdrive Innovation, we have been most grateful for every client that has utilised our services. To maintain a business during the good and bad times requires strong management backed by great people and over the years I have worked with many brilliant, high-achieving colleagues. None more so than my former partner and director, Tony Bradley, who became President of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations in 2006.
To mark our anniversary we wanted to give a little back. So, at the beginning of the year we provided pro-bono PR support for the Great North Snowdogs aimed at the business community. Then, in the summer, I was introduced to South Tyneside TEN, a great charity that helps build confidence and self-esteem amongst the long-term unemployed. I was so impressed that I became a trustee in November.
What has been the biggest challenge?
The biggest challenge, which also happens to be the greatest opportunity, is to assist companies to develop a clear strategy and focus to their communications and messaging. As a result of digital, there are now so many channels-to-market available that volume output is becoming more important than clarity of voice. Those companies that communicate clear points of differentiation in a controlled manner and whose messages are memorable and easy understood will win out.
Have any external factors had an impact on your business?
Thankfully, none of the breath-taking external factors that have taken place in recent times, most notably Brexit, have as yet steered us off course. Having survived what was almost a decade-long recession, nothing that has happened this year can compare.
What are your business plans for 2017?
We will increase our sales and marketing activity during 2017 having highlighted sectors we wish to target.