In conversation with Boyd PR: Telling your brand’s story in the time of Covid-19

Auckland-based Boyd PR is a full service agency combining fresh ideas and an innovative approach to delivering successful results for their clients in this new Covid-19 reality. John Boyd shares insight into why he believes his company is best placed to do so.

With more than 30 years working in public relations both locally and internationally, John Boyd, managing director at Boyd PR (BPR) is drawing on his a wealth of PR experience across a number of sectors to help his clients navigate their internal and external business relations post-lockdown.

Prior to the establishment of BPR, Boyd held key roles as managing director of Hill & Knowlton in New Zealand and, prior to this, a partner at Crossman Communications for ten years. He has worked with various major companies both locally and overseas including; Mazda, Canon, Sony Mobile, United Airlines, NZI, Fairfax, BHP, adidas and Nestle. With such an impressive CV, we began by asking the man why he decided to put his name on the door.

How did Boyd PR start?

After 10 years as a partner in a PR firm, we sold it and I became MD of an overseas owned PR firm and realised working for someone else wasn’t for me so started this company. If I’m being honest. at the time I wanted to provide an income for me and my young family at that time.

Today, we are driven by delivering exceptional results for our clients, which range from rapidly growing SMEs to some of the world’s leading brands. Through our network of affiliates we have the ability to manage PR campaigns in both local and international markets.

Tell me about your love for PR?

Every day is different. From the variety of clients we have and the opportunity to make change to the creative side of things. And above all this, the challenge of growing a company from the time 18 years ago when we borrowed a desk, shared a space, and had no clients, to now where we provide employment opportunities for a great team of people and work with bloody great companies.

How does Boyd PR stand out in a crowded market?

All PR firms offer similar services, they may dress them up differently and put different labels on them but it comes down to how well you implement those services and the benefit they deliver to clients. While it may sound twee it comes down to relationships. BPR has been around for 18 years and many of our clients have been with us for 10-plus years and that is testament to the quality of the work we do. 

How has the Lockdown and Covid-19 impacted your business operations?

While it has been great we have retained all our clients there has been a drop off in spend. Clients have remained positive and supportive, with a real focus on working through the challenges of Covid-19. This ensured the team remained busy during lockdown and it has continued to slowly but surely ramp up as the alert levels decreased.

Are you aiming to get back the way you operated pre-Covid-19 or are you working on changing things as a result?

Like many businesses we have had to review our business model and make appropriate changes to ensure we continue to provide our clients with a wider range of services that will help them to grow post Covid-19.

What worked well for you during the lockdown and what didn’t?

The team adapted well to working from home and we started every day with a Zoom call to catch up on work, and it also allowed us to ensure that everyone was coping with situation. In terms of what didn’t work so well, as a creative industry you need that immediate interaction and collaboration and Zoom didn’t really allow that.  

How should brands approach PR in this time of Covid-19?

The first thing is the need to be flexible – the Covid-19 environment changes on a daily basis so a brand needs to be able to adjust and be nimble. During times like this people want to align with brands that are authentic and tell real stories. There is also an appetite for positive stories among all the doom and gloom, so if a brand has good story that has value then share it. Brands also need to be very conscious of the environment they are operating in and make sure their actions won’t upset people of groups that are struggling because of Covid-19. Brands need to ensure they don’t try and capitalise on the crisis in a way that is self-serving and disingenuous.

For those companies who haven’t considered an external PR agency, how can one benefit them?

Outsourcing services can save a company money, and communications and PR fits into that equation. Not that being an external agency means you operate separately from the client. At BPR we become one of our client’s wider team. It is also valuable having an external agency who sees a business and brand, and how it operates and works, differently from someone who is working in the business. This can provide insights which can be used to support business objectives and activity going forward. An external agency can bring a fresh creative perspective to a company and may have specialised expertise across a number of areas including events,  financial, consumer and B2B comms and crisis work, digital/social media and specific media contacts.

This story is part of a StopPress series celebrating the ever changing PR landscape. To read more on Storyteller Month, click here.

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