Impossible to pun without alarming people

Posted on: 2013-02-27 in How To   |   Tagged: b2b pr pr agency pr careers pr leadership

The latest post in our PR Leadership Series: An interview with Lara Leventhal (@LaraLeventhal), Managing Director, Eulogy! and Onlinefire

Lara Leventhal runs Eulogy!, a full-service PR consultancy working in the consumer, B2B, marketing and entertainment sectors. Onlinefire is the organisation's social media offshoot. 

How did you get to be in charge of a PR agency?

Lara LeventhalSometimes the story even surprises me. I was always very passionate about marketing and I started my career working for MORI in the 1990’s. I was very ambitious and after being in b2b marketing for a few years, I wanted to try something new and exciting. So, I decided to move to an internet start-up, which, like many of the time, failed soon after.

In 2000, I was introduced to Adrian Brady, Eulogy!’s founder, by a friend of a friend and then found myself joining the consultancy as an AM. I loved PR but I was always very interested in the running of the business. Fortunately, the board recognised my interest and six years ago I was asked to take on the role of MD, whilst Adrian (Eulogy!’s founder) became CEO. I haven’t looked back since. Adrian and I are a fantastic team. We have such complementary skills – he’s creatively brilliant and I’m more driven by process and operations.

We’ve grown year on year because we’re very focused on our business strategy. Business planning is taken very seriously at Eulogy! and the plans aren’t written down on paper and stuffed away in the cupboard. I revisit them every week, every month, every quarter.

When I took over as MD in 2007, we predominantly worked in the marketing services space and were recognised as a market leader. However, we didn’t want to solely rely on this sector and made the decision to diversify by launching a consumer division.

Despite the sector being notoriously competitive, through hard work and determination we grew the consumer division and it’s now half of the business. We tried to achieve this without headhunting expensive people from big agencies, and instead focused our time on reaching out to and building relationships with the right people. Our success was marked when we won Royal Mail Stamps as our first ‘big’ consumer client. A client we still work with.

What’s been your proudest day on the job?

For me every day’s a proud day. It’s great when the team shows me the latest piece of coverage they’ve achieved or tell me about an exciting event they’re planning.

Winning PRCA agency of the year was such an achievement in so many ways and winning gold in PR Week’s best places to work was also a high point. This award is a true testament to the fantastic working environment we provide for our team.

How did you learn the finances?

Financial management is the hardest thing I’ve learnt in the MD role.  Being an MD is instinctive, but a lot of financial management has to be taught.  Astute financial management is absolutely critical.  For example, you must always be on top of debtors and should never be scared of phoning to ask for money that’s due. Remember, it’s your money.  You’ve earned it.

And what’s been the lowest point?

Work life is always full of highs and lows. It’s important to remember that the lows present real opportunities and you can always learn from them. You’re never too old or experienced to learn.            

If you had to offer advice to an aspiring PR leader, what would you say regarding agency management?

Set a clear vision and strategic plan and use it as your Bible and don’t let the plan gather dust.  Remain knowledgeable about market trends so you can stay at the top of your game. Our social media division, Onlinefire, has been instrumental in keeping the rest of the agency up-to-date with the latest technological trends.

It’s also important to have the conviction to stick with your gut feeling. This is why the job of managing an agency requires instinct and the ability to judge risk wisely.

And regarding people management?

Always remember that it’s the people in the business that are core to its success. Recruit the right people and surround yourself with loyal and committed people. This will make the challenges easier to overcome and the successes more fun to celebrate.

We’ve a long-standing management team. All of the executives have been with the company for over five years and their talent has been nurtured within the business. Retain people and you retain valuable sector knowledge and experience, especially in b2b.

What’s your advice on business development / strategy?

Since I became MD, I’ve always had a marketing manager. No matter how good your reputation is you still need to market yourself relentlessly. Business development is time consuming, so it’s important to make sure you’ve got a plan.  Pick prospects wisely and to build confidence invest the time in areas where you have proven experience.  Don’t be scared to contact people as if you don’t someone else will!    

What does 2013 hold for Eulogy!?

It’s already been a great year. We moved to our new office in Farringdon and we love it.  We’ll continue to push new boundaries and as well as adding to our product and service portfolio we’ll be launching a new division.  We have a wholly owned subsidiary in India and we are already seeing growth this year in Anglo-Indian opportunities.  And Onlinefire continue to do exceptional work from social audits through to campaigning.  I have to mention our legendary Christmas parties. Last year we took the whole company to Brussels. The team had a great time and the Christmas committee is already planning the next one!

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About this blog

The B2B PR Blog is a resource for both PR professionals and people working in B2B industries on how to devise and implement successful B2B PR campaigns. The blog was founded by B2B PR specialist Heather Baker, who runs video production and corporate animation agency TopLine Film and digital PR and SEO agency  TopLine Comms. The B2B PR Blog takes contributions from sensible industry folk with something interesting to say.


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