Jim Hawker is Co-Founder and Creative Director at Threepipe, a PR and Digital Marketing agency based in London. Jim has worked both agency and in house for a wide range of brands across multiple sectors including Amazon, Vodafone, Campari and Oracle. Jim is responsible for overseeing creativity at the agency as well as leading on new business development.
How did you get into the industry?
I was social secretary for a number of societies at University and someone recommend I should take a look at marketing and PR as a career. I wrote off a lot of letters to agencies and had a reply from an owner of a great agency who became my first employer and is now non exec at my own company.
Any emerging industry trends?
The PR industry has taken a while but it slowly creeping into the digital age. More budgets are being directed at social content led campaigns as the influence of traditional media wanes and brands need to be present in more fragmented media channels.
Any industry opportunities or challenges?
The PR industry now has an opportunity to attract new talent from different disciplines to ensure that we have the skills needed in this new media landscape. We currently amply data analysts, developers and performance marketers to ensure we have the right blend of personnel on our account teams. For too long, agencies and in house departments have been fishing from the same ponds when it comes to recruitment which does nothing to bring in the new thinking which modern PR needs.
Inspiration for the business idea, and your vision for the Business?
The idea was simply to build an agency that could be better at commercially channeling creativity. That meant having a decent understanding of the commercial opportunities and threats facing our clients.
As we progressed we have changed our agency business quite considerably by investing in digital skills and finding the right mix of clients that have a digital first approach to their comms and marketing.
What's next for the Business in the near future?
We have just acquired a SEO agency and we are busy integrating that into our PR teams to provide a more integrated offer that demonstrates the value of content marketing to our clients and prospects. This has started well and we have won some significant new business and we will be ensuring that this momentum continues!
Your key initiatives for the success of the Business?
We have renewed our focus on driving client growth and referrals rather than chasing new business. This has proven to be far more successful than pitching to people with whom we haven’t had a relationship. We do great work for clients and there is nothing more satisfying than your clients recommending you to others.
Your most difficult moment at the Business? (and what did you learn?)
In the last few years I have overseen a merger with another agency and the acquisition of another. That has provided me with a lot of business experience outside of running client campaigns and has given me great confidence in taking risks and having a plan for the medium and long term rather than just worrying about the next few months ahead. We have invested heavily for the future and that is now starting to reap its rewards.
Ideal experience for a customer/client?
Definitely and honest and frank approach which will lead ultimately to trust between us and our clients and hopefully a long time working together.
How do you motivate others?
Through my own energy, ambition and often humor. Not everything is going to go your way and agency life can certainly have its up and downs. Having started and run an agency for 12 years now, I am pretty sure I have seen everything that can be thrown at you. Having that experience provides me with context to meet these challenges.
Career advice to those in your industry?
Never stop learning. I spend at least 30 minutes a day reading industry news, listening to podcasts and ensuring I am on top of new developments to share with my team and clients.