David is Managing Director and founder of Ready10 and set up the agency in 2016 after 12 years at Frank PR. PR Week’s New Consultancy of the year, they have brought a different outlook to the industry with their unique PR-for-SEO approach – and it’s working with names like Paddy Power, MoneySupermarket and Europcar already being listed as clients.
Ready10 also has a unique approach to staff benefits including an unlimited holiday scheme, two pay day in January and a fund for staff to gain a personal development qualification.
Outside of PR, David is a keen podcaster and is the founder and host of the award-winning QPR podcast, Open all R’s.
Describe your background in 5 words max
London, jewy, third of four boys.
How did you get into PR and/communications?
In a roundabout way. All through my teenage years, I was involved in working with young people and after uni, I worked for a not-for-profit. Three years in, I applied for the internal PR job at the charity and to prepare for the interview I went to pick the brains of Andrew Bloch at Frank PR. One thing led to another and Frank offered me an entry level role but with one big problem: It required a 50% pay cut from my not-for-profit job the year I was getting married and getting a mortgage. I decided to go for it, kept to a budget (I had £5 a week to spend on ‘fun’!) and worked hard. Six months later I got a promotion and then another one soon after that. When I left 12 years later, I was deputy managing director and that’s when I took the plunge to start up Ready10. We’ve just celebrated our second birthday and are PR Week’s New Consultancy of the Year – so so far, so good.
What do you love about your job?
I love news and newspapers (whatever format they are in these days) and the buzz of landing a piece of coverage has never gone away. The access we have to the national narrative and news agenda and the ability to affect it and dictate the national conversation is something I’ve always found incredibly exciting.
What are you most proud of?
On a personal level, my little soldiers Lily (8) and George (5) are much nicer, politer and respectful to their elders than I ever was. I take a little pride in being responsible for up to 50% of that!
Professionally, starting and building Ready10 is the best thing I’ve done, and I’m pleased with where we are after just over two years.
I say the following not as a ego-driven fishing exercise (really!) but because I know what I am and what I’m not and I want others to not worry about going for these things: I’m not especially bright and I’m not especially gifted but I’ve managed to get this moving OK. I like to work hard, I like the challenge and I’m motivated – think if you have that, you can pretty much go as far as you want.
If there is anyone out there that thinks they have it in them, I say stop messing about and JFDI already.
What’s been the hardest lesson to learn?
Not everyone is like you or shares your view of the world. It doesn’t make you good or them bad – it just is.
It’s such a hard lesson to learn because it’s so counter-intuitive and even after however many years I have to remind myself of this every day. I think it’s something we all forget from time to time and I guess it’s what makes managing people such a challenge.
Who are your favourite people in PR/communications and why?
Aimée, Katy, Lucy, Jamie & Dean. My ‘day ones’!
They made up the Ready10 staff team at the end of our first year and are the guys who took a chance on coming here when a lot of people didn’t fancy it. Their hard work, passion and dedication helped lay the foundations for where we are now, and I will always be grateful.
What skill do you think every PR has to nail?
How to hustle. With media, with your colleagues, with your boss, with everyone. The best people in the industry are ones who make sure things happen, the worst people in the industry are the ones who tell you why it’s not possible.
Don’t find an excuse, find a way!
What is your favourite social network and why?
I could live to a thousand years old and I will never find a better social network than twitter. It’s just awesome, full of content, full humour, full of ideas…and an essential resource for PRs.
Who is your favourite journalist and why?
Being the contrarian and pain in the arse I am, I am not going to answer this directly and instead will get on my soapbox of asking people to STOP BEING OBSESSED WITH CONTACTS. I have lots of journalists I get on well with and collaborate with, but I maintain if you have a story that’s gold, everyone will want to write about it and if you have a story that’s junk you are going to struggle. Let’s concentrate on the best possible content (and knowing where to pitch it) rather than who we know and get on with.
[Note from editor, totally agree, David. But, er, we didn’t mean contacts. Just, you know, journalists whose work you like.]
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
If you find yourself agreeing with everyone else, question it
What’s your ‘yay’ and ‘nay’ campaign of the year so far?
The World cup campaign by Paddy Power (they are a client but it’s not our work btw) to donate £10k to LGBT+ charities for every goal Russia score is genius. It’s a simple idea but has been excecuted beautifully.
Staying on that side of the world, the faked death of Russian journalist Arkady Babchenko by the Ukrainian authorities and how they communicated it was just weird. I guess if you take it on face value, this was simpy a police operation, but it feels like a bit of a propaganda/PR campaign that has come across as…. very odd.
“PR agencies only talk about diversity to win big awards and look good. But it’s just tokenistic”. Discuss.
I’m not sure how helpful that view is, to be honest. In my experience, people want to do right but are not quite sure what they should be doing.
Even if that statement is true, I take the position that it’s better someone does the right thing for the wrong reasons than for them not to do it all. Because if they are doing the right thing, then you are half way there, right? That’s a good starting point to educate from and challenge the authenticity. So I would say about those who might be doing it for the wrong reasons: Let’s pull them in and get them to do more, not push them away.
From my point of view, I recognise the huge diversity problem in the industry – we are not reflecting the people we are marketing to and that’s bad for business, bad for creativity, bad for insights….bad for everything.
In particular we are terrible at creating opportunities for people from a BAME background but that’s also not the start and end of our diversity issues – we are far too biased towards middle-class, privately educated, kids and we need to be creating opportunities way beyond that demographic.
Finally, I don’t want to come across as some shining example on this issue. We are not. But I can see the problem and want to do more. The best I can say is that we are trying and will continue to do so.
What advice would you give a talented BME PR Pro starting to think this sector will never give them the opportunities they deserve and are close to jacking it in to retrain as a doctor (which would make their African parents very happy)?
Life is too short for this bullshit. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Finally, on a lighter note… We can’t wait to see you at the BME PR Pros Summer Party. What can the DJ play to get you on the dancefloor?
I’ve thrown this one out to the office and apparently you can’t go wrong with a Michael Jackson song.