Where are you based?
Where do you work and what job do you do?
How did you get into marketing/communications?
I launched Big Bear Comms in March 2019 following a ten-year career at three of the most well-respected independent agencies in the Midlands and Manchester (Lava PR, WPR & Citypress) and one of the world’s largest global agencies (Grayling).
Joining Lava PR as the businesses’ first full-time employee in 2008 was a trial by fire. Founder and managing director, Matt, informed me on day one that he’d really wanted to employ an account manager. I quickly learned, however. that I loved securing coverage on behalf of clients and particularly helping smaller businesses hit way above their weight, securing national TV pieces and newspaper reviews and even cooking curry live on BB6 Music for Scunthorpe-based Mr Huda’s Surma Secrets. Following a six-month self-funded trip across Europe, I was fortunate enough to be invited back to Lava.
I joined Grayling in 2010 becoming a subject expert in engineering, manufacturing and electric vehicles and winning two awards in the process
In 2013, following a further 12-month self-funded trip across Asia with my now wife, Hannah, I joined WPR. Starting as a senior account executive I worked myself up to account director within three years, securing 12 industry awards for the agency across both B2B and B2C campaigns.
My decision to launch Big Bear Comms in March 2019 was as much to do with personal ambitions as professional development. At the time I had two children under four (Dori then aged 3 (soon to be 5) and Grace 11 months (now two)), my mum was living with incurable cancer and I’d recently moved to a new agency, the pressure of which led to me being diagnosed with anxiety and depression.
I needed to shift my focus away from full-time agency work towards a position where I could spend more time with my kids and mum, better support my wife Hannah at home and continue to be the main breadwinner for our family.
Although a huge risk, with little hope of securing a family-friendly role either in-house or agency, I made the decision to go it alone.
What are you most proud of in your career as a marketing/communications professional?
Starting from a baseline of no clients and no other income I was able to secure two retained clients and a project within the first 30 days of Big Bear Comms existence, thanks to my enthusiasm for comms and PR, past experience and professional recommendations.
Through careful management, I kept the business afloat supporting my family and took on the care of my mum within the last months of her life alongside my sister and uncle. Having secured six retained clients and a major project in support of the Midlands’ delegation at the MIPIM 2020, international property event in Cannes I increased my income by 30% compared to a full-time account director wage.
As with all agencies and freelancers, Covid19 has taken its toll on Big Bear Comms. Clients in the advertising and hospitality sectors have pulled budgets and others have reduced spend (prior to Coronavirus I had a 100% client retention rate). I’m pleased to say, however, that I’ve secured my first new account since the lockdown and with more than 13 reviews and recommendations on LinkedIn, Google and Facebook I’m confident that I will continue to grow Big Bear Comms in 2020/2021.
How has marketing/communications helped the organisations you’ve worked for?
LInkedIn, networking and professional connections have been incredibly powerful in helping me to grow and develop my consultancy over the last 12 months.
What challenges have you overcome on your professional journey to where you are today?
See How did you get into marketing/communications?
Do you have any words of wisdom for someone starting out in the marketing/communications industry?
Placements are key for getting that first role and luckily these are increasingly paid positions, albeit at minimum wage initially.
Fortunately, PR and comms is incredibly entrepreneurial, so I would say my biggest piece of advice is to get to know the businesses you’re working for, how and what they bill clients for your time and how they have grown over time.
Fortunately, I no have a background that includes four incredibly well-run agencies each of which I’ve learnt so much from. I would say one of the biggest benefits I’ve had to date has been starting at a small ambitious agency with a really experienced founder in Matt. I’d opt for this over one of the huge London agencies any day of the week.
Where can we find you online?
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