From a bedroom start-up to becoming the PR force behind some of New Zealand’s best entertainment projects, 818 is continuously growing to meet its clients’ needs. Here, we talk to founder and managing director Chris Henry, who gives insight into keeping a PR agency successful.
How has 818 evolved since it was founded?
When the business first started in 2016, it was just me out of my bedroom in my flat in Grey Lynn. Since then I have grown an amazing team, bought some incredible entertainment projects to audiences and then in late 2019 opened our own social talent agency, People of Influence.
What were the client challenges you were working to solve and what are they now?
I don’t think our client challenges have changed so much, but as the media market has evolved, it’s crucial for us to adapt in the way we work too. As time has gone on, the space that PR lives in has shifted, but the DNA of what we do remains the same.
We are still charged to excite and engage people with the projects we are working on, but now our challenge is to find new and smarter ways of getting these great projects to the right audience. We are seeing some awesome examples of this in our People of Influence business, with that arm securing a host of influential Kiwis to participate in branded campaigns as part of a wider PR plan, in a way that makes sense to both the brand and talent.
Why should someone use a PR company rather than run comms themselves?
I really believe PR is a team sport. Everyone needs to be in it together if you are going to win. Having a PR company involved in the campaign means that brands can focus on their key job of having a great product, and ensure the publicist has all the tools they need to run with.
As PR’s, our strength is in our relationships and objective views. We’re able to utitlise our unique skill set and relationships to deliver a client’s product to a targeted audience, meaning everyone has the best chance of success.
What lessons have you learnt about running a PR company in the last few years?
My biggest love of our industry is that if you stick to your core values of being good to people, you will have success. People really respect transparency and a passion for what they do and I’m incredibly proud of building a team that lives this day in day out.
Are there myths you want to see busted?
Perhaps that our world is all Patsy and Edna? Champagne and parties? In PR and talent management you get to go to a lot of parties, but you always organise them and when you’re there, you’re working. You get really good at trying to eat a canapé while still trying to hold your phone and a clipboard at the same time.
How do you make sure you are sparking authentic conversations with your clients?
If you aren’t authentic or realistic about the right editorial and social homes for your project, the campaign just won’t work. The key of our work is finding the right outlet, journalist or talent that makes genuine sense to what you are promoting. If you don’t follow, then it just will never work. We are really proud of how we do that and grateful for our wonderful clients to believe in this too.
What problems are you expecting to tackle in the next five years?
There is no doubt that the change in our media landscape will change how we traditionally did our jobs, but moving forward it’s something that actually excites me. Our clients will still have amazing projects they have to get out there, and it will be our job to find new and inventive ways to get audiences engaged. The industry will be forced to get back to its core objective – matching great stories with the people that genuinely care, whether that’s via press, social talent or even at a grassroots level.
This story is part of a StopPress series celebrating the ever changing PR landscape. To read more on Storyteller Month, click here.