If I look a little tubby in these pics, I’m not – promise. The lighting was terrible that day. And it's common knowledge that cameras instantly add a stone. But I digress.
When I worked as a journalist, I always felt that the way PR was ‘done’ was wrong. I figured that PRs tend to make the worst PRs, and that journalists make the best PRs, as they understand the media and know what a story is. So like most areas in my life, without knowing what the hell I was doing I started up my own PR agency. Quite to my surprise, it worked. Well when I say it worked I mean we’re still solvent and have an ever-growing roster of great clients.
But seriously, I think the real reason for our success is that we talk to our clients in a language they understand, avoid all the corporate fluff that other PR firms go in for and always get serious results. We’re brilliant at what we do, have some seriously bright people here and simply will not tolerate ‘average’.
Unfortunately I share my name with margarine. I’ve decided to carry on this ridiculousness and call my future children Clover, Anchor and Lurpak (unsalted). So we are one big, happy, buttery family.
I realised I should be in PR with my first successful pitch – to a festival bouncer. The premise was ‘let me in and I’ll give you my sandwich’. It really was delicious – crispy bacon, melted brie, smashed avocado and obviously flora margarine.
It was inspired – a simple pitch but with huge rewards. Walking through the festival gates with the taste of success on my lips was the moment I knew I should enter the fabulous world of PR. One sandwich down, I was ready to get my hipster side out, lose all inhibitions and probably my dignity, too.
After a year of selling in stories about gyms, cactus water and tampons, I realised consumer pr was not my cool-ling in life. I knew I wanted a challenging and stimulating working life, with the freedom to express my creative brain.
I applied for an Account Exec role at Rhizome Media – a metaphor for non-linear and highly disruptive thought. I was asked in my interview about my spirit animal, and I answered ‘fox’, with a necklace to show for it and I think that sealed the deal.
I like to think of myself as quite the comedian. I don’t want to blow my own bagpipes, but making up jokes is definitely my forte – Doctor Doctor jokes being a speciality.
I’m also a massive foodie. Being particularly greedy I’ve acquired the nickname ‘the gobbling turkey’. Which isn’t my favourite name, but I’m not going to lie, it’s probably true.
I am the unassuming and modest member of the Rhizome team, working quietly in the background, ensuring that Rhizome purrs along like a Persian cat with cream-covered whiskers. Away from work, you’ll find me in some Costa or other in Bath, panting like an Alsatian dog with heatstroke and partaking in a little military fitness training.
I find my most creative feature ideas pop into my cerebellum when I’m knocking out burpees in six inches of mud, with a retired army captain shouting in my ear: “Number 67, you call that a burpee? You look more like the last turkey on the shelf you poor excuse for a man.”
Oh yes, and before I made the worst/best decision of my life, and jumped onboard the Rhizome train, I dabbled in a little medicine, accountancy and television production, before finally finding my calling in the world of PR. Did I just say that?
As Rhizome’s resident broadcast media guru, I’d love to say I was born with a silver microphone in my mouth. Sadly nothing could be further from the truth.
But my childhood ambition to be an astronaut foundered when I realised that rocket science is, in fact, rocket science. So I read languages at Cambridge instead. Graduating hungover and overdrawn, I decided to become a journalist. A professional gossip – how hard could it be?
Soon I was an ink-stained hack on the local paper. The pay was atrocious, but the perks… well my name was on the guest list of every nightclub in the Fens. OK, so I may not have been the East Anglian P Diddy,but I was very good at talking and showing off. So I switched to being a TV reporter. I joined the BBC, and rose up the ranks to foreign correspondent – first in Brussels and then Washington DC.
But eventually I decided to give my passport a rest and plunged headlong into the world of PR. From the Rhizome eyrie I’m now all about getting our clients as much broadcast coverage as possible. I’m still drawn to cameras and radio studios like a moth to a flame, so I also use my expertise to provide broadcast media training for clients who find the idea a tad daunting.
By the time I arrived on Earth in the early 80s it was five-and-a-half centuries since my ancestor Gilles de Rais – one of the worst mass murderers in history – had been executed (true story). It was time to give something back so I became a Fleet Street hack.
Having paid this debt to society at the Sunday Mirror, The People, Evening Standard, Mail and The Sun, and just in time to dodge the post-truth age (which ironically doesn’t exist), I decided to find out what else life had to offer.
Favourite hobbies include commuting and eating. Oh and I like making conference calls in fields.How can you think straight with all that furniture?
Truth is I still get a thrill out of finding a good story and I’m delighted to have stumbled over Dominic who has assembled a crack team of ex-journalists and bright sparks to wreak multi-media havoc in a world where, thankfully, the story is still king.
Unlike many of my fellow Rhizomers, I'm not an ex-hack and have been loyal to the PR game from the very beginning.
Throughout my career, I've led media campaigns for several Fortune 500 companies with the aim of increasing brand exposure and supporting strategic marketing initiatives. I've also had the pleasure of working with exciting startups, helping them build their brand’s reputation from the ground up.
When I’m not securing top-tier media coverage for my clients, you’ll either find me Netflix-binging, which usually involves eating copious amounts of chocolate; in a salsa bar stepping on people's toes trying to learn the Latin dance; or exploring London's food scene.
I’ll leave you with a weird fact about myself – I don’t drink tea or coffee...I know, shocking stuff! It's a mystery how I survive the working day.
Barack Obama said he only ran for President because he couldn’t be Bruce Springsteen and that’s pretty much been my approach to life as well - I (eventually, reluctantly) realised I’d never be the Boss so I guess I’d better do something. So working for Rhizome is currently what’s keeping me in rent and electricity and alcohol - the holy trinity.
In truth, I’d long compromised my 'rock n' roll star' ambitions by exploring journalism, a step that most recently took me all around the world working for golf’s European Tour (which curiously counts the likes of Kazakhstan, Oman and Kenya as part of its domain). When you look at me, I exude ‘jet set glamour' so it was a natural fit.
After three years, I realised that there’s only so much interest to be found in golf, and golfers - not to mention your life being in a suitcase and any semblance of a friendship or relationship long having been forgotten - so I jumped off that particular hamster wheel and onto the PR one.
And despite having escaped the interminable airport terminals, the daily commute, with all of TfL’s hidden joys, has done a very effective job replacing them as the object of my despite. So that’s me. Misanthropic. Dishevelled. Alcoholic. All with a (un)healthy dash of eye-rolling cynicism, just for good measure.
In a previous life, I was Managing Director at Carphone Warehouse. In fact, I started my career in the fast-moving world of mobile communications - a different world altogether to specialist tax relief, I can tell you. Anyway, one day I woke up and realised I'd had enough of travelling around the country and Europe and wanted to spend more time with my family.
Moving back to Manchester, the country's real capital, I was on the look out for a new venture when a friend invited me into a business idea had about something I'd never heard of before: capital allowances. After spending a month getting m head around it all, I decided there was an opportunity and threw myself into launching Catax, which has now become the UK's leading provider of specialist tax reliefs.
Catax have worked with Rhizome since 2011 and when they approached me about helping grow their business to the next level, it was a no-brainer. They're the best PR firm I've ever worked with and my goal is to ensure they continue to grow and succeed.
I’ve done my time in the newsroom. Several years in fact. From the glamour of a regional newspaper in Hull – which had just been voted worst place to live in Britain for the second year running when I moved there – to the shiny glass offices of Murdoch’s empire, then the Daily Telegraph sweatshop.
Being a journalist was fun, most of the time, but living out of a bag in the back of my car and working the oddest hours outside of A&E eventually lost its appeal.
I went into journalism due to a love of writing and I came away from it with that love still intact so PR and copywriting was a natural move. I haven’t looked back and am still happiest when drafting copy, whether for news, features, blogs or web content.
Having taken a break to sail around the UK in 2018, I am now back to the PR grindstone but when away from my computer can be found back on the water or swinging from the rafters while performing aerial silks – if you don’t know what they are, google it!
As a graduate of Journalism and Politics, I left university with grandiose delusions of becoming the next David Frost. Those lofty ambitions were quickly dashed when I found myself covering local council meetings at a Yorkshire seaside resort for the local rag.
After nearly three years of cutting my teeth on stories about seagull attacks, mobility scooters and one resident with a penchant for Miley Cyrus tattoos, I had earned my senior journalist qualification and set off for London to work in the national press. It was in the wee hours of the night shift in one Kensington-based newsroom that I honed my news-gathering skills to a sharp point. However, the novelty of filing 10 or so stories to the newsdesk a day eventually wore off, so I decided to make the leap into the world of PR.
But leaving journalism behind didn’t mean I stopped being a newshound altogether. I’m still a stickler for a good story and have quickly become Rhizome’s Freedom of Information aficionado. When I’m not getting clients into the news, I can usually be found cycling around West London, catching trains t’up North to my hometown of Richmond (North Yorks) or convincing myself I’m getting better at guitar after 20 years of punishing meritocracy.
Having defected from journalism in 2018, the only thing I’ve found myself missing is the opportunity to introduce myself as a reporter at parties. Telling people I ‘do PR’ usually receives some quizzical looks. The benefit, however, is I no longer have to pretend to laugh when people ‘joke’ that our conversation is ‘off the record’.
I fled local journalism so I did not have to witness the loss of more newspapers around the country. Thankfully Rhizome doesn’t mind an ex-hack with cynicism running through their veins, so I packed up my bags and moved from the South West back to my hometown of Luton.
It turns out that PR is a lot like journalism. I’m still juggling multiple stories at once, determined to get something onto a front page and knee-deep in research. Outside work, I’m usually at the cinema, watching cricket, or down the pub. I also love accumulating history books, and I’m sure I’ll get round to reading them one of these days.
Born in China, I moved to the US in 2008 to go to college and get some work experience. I did a degree in Computer Science at Cornell University and managed to graduate Summa Cum Laude (Google it if you can be bothered!). During my time in the US of A, I also worked at Facebook as a Software Engineer where I learnt a lot and got to meet some Zuckerberg guy or other. But as a free spirit, I always wanted to do my own thing, so eventually moved back to Beijing and set up my own design and app studio.
Today, we work with brands globally to give them highly advanced (and hopefully always good-looking) websites and sophisticated apps — basically anything online they could ever want to boost their businesses. Rhizome are a valued partner and work with us to ensure the copy for all English language websites is, in their own words, tippety top!
Ironically, long before I discovered the joys of paid advertising, I worked as a press photographer for a Bristol news agency. My most memorable story was covering the Tamworth Two, a pair of pigs who escaped from a Wiltshire abattoir in 1997 .The search for Butch & Sundance (as they became known) became a huge news story, with journos and snappers dispatched from all over country.
On the run for more than a week, eventually they were caught by a local copper, and a national paper paid the owners to save them from the chop. A surreal week, which probably traumatised me. I havn't worked for the press since.
Nowaday, I generate high quality PPC leads for UK businesses using search, display and social media channels. I love coming up with new marketing strategies for clients to reduce their cost per lead, or increase their landing page conversion rate. And there's no pigs to contend with either. Outside of work, I love playing poker (I finished 3rd in the 2007 Welsh amateur championships), stockpiling unread books on my kindle and mispronouncing words. But not all at the same time.