James Kelliher, Managing Director, Whiteoaks, in an exclusive interview with Slogan.
A: Whiteoaks is headquartered to the west of London in the UK's technology triangle, in close proximity to the UK offices of some of the world's leading technology brands. We are also a founding member of the Whiteoaks International Network that gives us a total of 25 offices, enabling us to provide PR services in over 70 countries worldwide.
Q: What services does Whiteoaks International Network offer?
A: In the UK, Whiteoaks provides public relations, social media and influencer relations consultancy and services. These full capabilities are also delivered across the Whiteoaks International Network via our trusted partners.
Q: What is your prime function in the company?
A: I am the managing director, responsible for the day-to-day operation of the business but also for formulating and delivering our strategies, which include continuous service line development and client retention and business development.
Q: Are you affiliated with any international PR network?
A: As referenced above, Whiteoaks has developed and is a key element within the Whiteoaks International Network.
Q: What exactly is meant by 'Technology PR'?
A: When we use this term we are referring to the provision of public relations, social media and influencer relations services to technology companies. Our clients include some of the world's best-known technology brands, as well as innovative businesses with new technologies to bring to market.
Q: How would you define online and digital PR? Is it any different from traditional PR?
A: In its broadest sense, we believe that PR encompasses online, digital and traditional channels, as well as identification and engagement with key influencers in our clients' target markets. Online and digital PR offer new channels that we can use to engage with our clients' end audiences. They also provide a level of measurability in relation to demonstrating positive changes in perceptions and behaviours that are not always evident using traditional media channels.
Q: How is Whiteoaks unique in terms of its online PR offerings?
A: We believe that the biggest opportunity that digital PR services offer is the ability to demonstrate that the work we deliver can produce high-quality sales leads for our clients. We are currently delivering lead generation-focused campaigns for many major companies.
Q: Could you please define the concept of 'Total Transparency' service and its application to the PR function?
A: Total transparency is a key differentiator for us. It replaces traditional clients' agency engagement models where the emphasis is on the procurement of time, often via monthly retainers. Instead, it provides our clients with complete transparency in terms of the investment that they will make, the campaigns we will deliver and the results we will achieve. Critically, we tie performance commitments to all of those things that are also formalised via service level agreements that provide fee rebates to our clients if we do not achieve the targets we have agreed.
Q: Where do your services find a place in the traditional mass media?
A: Mass media is still a very important and influential channel that many of our clients use to engage and influence their target audiences. We are also seeing a blending of traditional and non-traditional channels where, for example, a journalist who works in traditional media may also be very active and influential in social media.
Q: What is the impact of online PR in UK and Europe?
A: Any credible PR agency needs to understand that there are now multiple channels available to communicate key messages to their clients' target audiences. We articulate that via our 360 PR service offering which recognises that there are now a broader number of ways to engage and influence.
Q: How can it be relevant for other markets around the world?
A: One of the characteristics of online and/or digital is that it doesn't have the same geographical limitations as traditional media. So, its potential and value for clients wishing to engage on an international scale literally has no boundaries.
Q: What is your personal experience of 'Totally Transparent' and '360 PR' market propositions?
A: Both propositions have enabled us to become one of the leading technology PR consultancies in the UK. In terms of our 'Totally Transparent' approach, clients and prospects have responded extremely positively to this new way of procuring and receiving PR services, where we are able to guarantee both the inputs and the output of our work. 360 PR represents an evolution of our proposition to the market, developed in recognition that the world is changing, as is the way that people and organisations communicate. We need to understand that there now a broader set of tools and techniques at our disposal that, if used correctly, provide our clients with extremely powerful and effective communications campaigns.
Q: How is Whiteoaks different from the traditional PR and communication companies?
A: Whiteoaks is differentiated through its ability to deliver totally transparent and 360 PR offerings as referenced above. We are also structured by teams of specialists that focus on specific skills and tasks - for example, content creation and influencer engagement - and this provides a consistency and quality of service that is not always present in a traditional, hierarchical PR structure.
Q: Can you share some of your company's success stories, prominent case studies or campaigns?
A: Details of key success stories and case studies are available on the Whiteoaks' website.
Q: In this age of social media, is print media a dying industry with regard to communication?
A: No. We believe that individuals will continue to want a choice in regard to how they receive and consume information. Print, online, social, broadcast are all different formats that different audiences will find valuable and will want to continue consuming.
Q: In your opinion what is the future of Public Relations?
A: The opportunity for public relations is to redefine itself away from just being predominantly about traditional media relations to instead being recognised as understanding, and being able to effectively deliver, multi-channel campaigns that encompass traditional, social and online approaches to PR. As a result, PR has the chance to be more accountable and have a greater strategic role to play in helping companies achieve their business objectives.