Media: Double Standards - 'Wife called me wanker for using laptop on beach'

Two partners discuss starting a comms planning agency, office furniture and the pursuit of false gods.

GREG TURZYNSKI PARTNER, EXPERIENCE COMMUNICATIONS

- Why did you launch your own business?

Because I felt confident enough to do it, I was financially in a position to invest, the right partners came along and there was a gap in the market. Three of these reasons were facts, one was a theory. Two-and-a-half years later, they are all facts. Of all the reasons, the most important was the right partners.

- What are the challenges of launching a start-up communications planning agency?

It is remarkably simple in reality. It is a knowledge-based industry and, therefore, there is very little infrastructure requirements or overheads. The big challenges are the same as most businesses - generating new business, cashflow and enjoying what you are doing.

- Is it harder work now than when you ran a big media agency?

No, it is easier. I do not have unproductive time.

- Are media-neutral solutions important?

We are not neutral about media. Neutral can mean disinterested. We are in a position to understand the relevance of all communication channels and make rational and accountable recommendations that we believe will deliver against the objectives.

- What's the most interesting piece of work you have delivered for a client?

The most interesting thing is that we have yet to do the same job twice. The next challenge is always the most interesting.

- Who are your main competitors when you pitch?

There are no main competitors. We rarely come up against the same people twice.

- Which media agencies are you most impressed by and why?

I now understand why MediaCom is so successful, why Unique Digital will be, why Guerrilla is about to change the way we look at content and why Shaun McIlrath is still the best creative I've ever worked with.

- If you could change one thing about the industry, what would it be?

Tear it all up and start again.

- Describe your hiring policy

We already know the next ten people we would like to work with.

- What is the best career move you have ever made?

Pointless question to an eternal optimist.

- What does your office look like?

It doesn't look like an office. We've just moved into Golden Square and we've furnished the office from Ilva. - Who do you like to socialise with in the media industry, and what do you do?

I like the fact that we work in a very sociable industry. The characters are as eclectic as the opportunities.

SIMON MATHEWS - PARTNER, RISE COMMUNICATIONS

- Why did you launch your own business?

As an aspiring graduate, most of my interviews went Pete Tong when I answered the traditional "and where do you see yourself in ten years' time" question by replying "running my own agency". Not only was this not very ingratiating, it was also inaccurate by an additional nine years.

- What are the challenges of launching a start-up communications planning agency?

Do you REALLY want to do it or are you running away from a rubbish job? Do you want to do this from scratch or do you want backers with cash and accounts? Can you afford to do it from scratch? Do your loved ones think it's a good idea? Normally, you decide the existing job is rubbish beforehand - just don't let it be the only reason.

- Is it harder work now than when you ran a big media agency?

I enjoy it so much more that I've stopped analysing how hard I work. However, my wife did call me a wanker for getting my laptop out on a beach (fair point).

- Are media-neutral solutions important?

Of course, the ONLY end game for brands in marketing and communication is enhanced revenue, so you need an agency that is free to pursue the growth of your brand's profit rather than supporting its cost base.

- What's the most interesting piece of work you have delivered for a client?

All of it ... we've never had a brief where we already knew 90 per cent of the answer, so it's all interesting.

- Who are your main competitors when you pitch?

It varies from obviously other communication agencies to brand, data and integrated creative agencies.

- Which media agencies are you most impressed by and why?

I think MindShare has done a good job on the Skinny Cow TV buying; they strike me as being well resourced and nice people to work with.

- If you could change one thing about the industry, what would it be?

The pursuit of false gods ... awareness scores, creative awards, media discounts, breakthrough ideas; none of that stuff matters a flying banana. How you harness all of that to drive increased profitability for a brand really does ... when was the last time an ad agency threw a fab party because the client's profitability doubled?

- Describe your hiring policy

I don't believe we do policies. However, we do like people with experience across various disciplines and who are comfortable talking about brands as communications. They also have to make tea occasionally.

- What is the best career move you have ever made?

I'll resist the cheesy answer and say it was working for Maurice Levy in Publicis Groupe, who is massively impressive.

- What does your office look like?

It's the top floor of an old tea warehouse near Borough Market full of Italian furniture. Sadly, the effect (carefully cultivated by my wife) is ruined by my partner Ollie Joyce's turquoise orthopaedic chair for his dodgy back.

- Who do you like to socialise with in the media industry, and what do you do?

I'm lucky enough to have many good friends in the industry who range from occasional drinking partners to godparents for my children. Despite him having had to work with me for about ten years, I even count upon the friendship of Greg T, because he always tells the truth and occasionally makes funny comments.

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