Setting tongues a-wagging with Cairbre Sugrue

Posted on: 2013-03-04 in How To   |   Tagged: b2b pr pr careers pr leadership

The B2B PR Blog talks leadership with the man in charge at Waggener Edstrom UK (@CairbreUK)

Cairbre SugrueWaggener Edstrom Worldwide (WE) is a global, integrated communications agency. For 30 years the independently owned firm has developed strategic communications programmes for innovative and world-changing clients, working to influence markets, inspire people and improve lives. In the last few years, the agency was honoured with countless awards for their creative and strategic work. Among them WE was recognised as Global Technology Agency of the Year, Best Large Agency to Work For, Communications Agency of the Year and Technology Agency of the Decade. The agency has more than 850 employees in 19 offices around the world including Geneva, London, Johannesburg, Munich and Paris in EMEA. Along with its Global Alliance partners this expands the agency’s reach to more than 80 additional international markets

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

I’ve spent my career in communications, working my way through the ranks in agencies and also a stint client-side, in both London and Silicon Valley. The international experience I’ve had, coupled with my strong background in technology, corporate and B2B communications has led me to run the UK operation at Waggener Edstrom working with a fantastic and committed group of people.

What’s been your proudest day on the job?

I’ve worked with some of the world’s leading brands and business executives, experienced working in the heart of the technology industry in Silicon Valley and learnt from some great PR professionals, so I’ve been very fortunate at every stage in my career. However the proudest moment on the job so far has been winning the global and UK AVG account at Waggener Edstrom in November last year. It was an exciting time, and I was so proud of the amazing work and sheer dedication the team had put into the pitch.

And what’s been the lowest point?

Like every PR person starting out I’ve had to put in a lot of hard yards, but I’m glad I did it, because it’s certainly helped me to gain the experience I’ve needed to progress.

If you had to offer advice to a budding PR entrepreneur, what would you say regarding: Consultancy Management?

It’s obvious but a trusting client relationship is the bedrock of success for any PR agency. Every client is different, but it’s essential you understand their business, have taken time to understand how they’re measured by their peers and superiors and don’t allow your relationship to become too routine. Always look for ways to inject creativity and new ideas. The more you stay ahead of your clients and are constantly challenging them, the better. You may not get to activate every campaign idea, but you’re showing commitment and that is critical.

Financial Management?

Whether your long-term goal is to lead a multi-market account, run an agency or lead an in-house team you must be confident with finance. Being able to cost a project or run a P&L efficiently is important to inspire confidence among your clients, peers and superiors. If you can be trusted with running the business side of a PR programme it will open up new opportunities for you.

Business Development / Strategy?

Depending on the path you choose this could be a number of different recommendations. That said being able to demonstrate understanding of strategy is integral to securing more senior roles in this industry. If you’re unsure ask those already in senior roles, as you will always find someone willing to be a mentor. Over time look to develop areas of expertise that you are passionate about, but always with an eye to how it could help develop your career opportunities. Business development also has varying degrees of importance whether you are in-house or agency-side. Either way you need to be able to sell your ideas to stakeholders, in order to get them to invest in your ideas. Another priority is developing your network, because relationships go hand in hand with reputation. The network you develop throughout your career will be invaluable as you move towards senior level roles in Communications/PR where business development and strategic thinking are core competencies.

What does 2013 hold for your company?

2013 will - hopefully - be the year when the discussion about measurement and creativity moves beyond the broken record we’ve been hearing for the last few years. It is time for the PR industry to become more outspoken about why it should be taking the lead on client campaigns, because we are in an era when storytelling to engage audiences across complex, fragmented channels is essential. The key to our success is demonstrating how we combine research-led approaches with creative storytelling to deliver tangible business outcomes. Something I believe we do exceptionally well at Waggener Edstrom!

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UK Agency Awards Winner 2016

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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