Since I tweeted that I was moving back to the freelance life a few days ago, quite a few people have asked me what exactly I'm going to be up to. One of them, an MD of a social media agency for which I have huge respect (from afar…I've only met him once, and very briefly) asked me to send him an email with a bit of background on my career so far and what I fancied getting up to next, in case there might be an opportunity for us to work together. I did that, and thought it might be worth posting a slightly amended version for general consumption…so here it is.
I've been working in PR and marketing (mainly PR) since '93, after graduating from Loughborough University with a degree in Information Science. In typical fashion I fell into PR rather than it being a planned career choice. In '95 my short experience in PR allied to my degree in IT became an irresistible combination to Text 100 – then the UK's leading light in tech PR – and I joined the group in which I remained for the following eight years. In 2003 I moved my family to south-west France and became a freelance PR/comms consultant. After doing some freelance work for Edelman, I was offered a permanent position last year, though was still able to base myself in France, travelling to the UK every other week or so. Though Edelman has done its best to accommodate my unusual work/life structure, acting independently gives me the flexibility I like and want, hence the return to a freelance life next month.
To be honest, though, I'm keen to move in a slightly different direction. PR – which is really where I'm seen as working – is a dying discipline. Actually, that's probably a bit dramatic. How PR has become perceived, as a discipline that's dominated by an obsession with generating media coverage, is dying with old media. Of course a traditional definition of public relations is well-suited to the new world of direct audience engagement, but the perception of the sector is now too ingrained to change in my view. Why anyone would create a new agency today and call it a PR company, which they are doing, is rather beyond me. And in the rush to own the new communications landscape, PR companies are losing in the main (which in some part relates to PR being heard by the wrong people in client companies, but I could bang on about that all day).
I'm a content man. I love great content: words, video, audio, online, offline, books, magazines, photography, architecture. Digital for me is a really brilliant medium, but content will always be king. I like working with companies that are brave enough to create content that is entertaining, informative, controversial, thought-provoking, outrageous…whatever works to get the message across and inspire the audience. Companies that are prepared to take a few risks. I think these companies are few and far between and unfortunately to most of the comms people you often end up dealing with in big multinational companies, taking a risk comes a far second to covering their arse.
I generate my own content now and again. As an experiment that helped me get to grips with blogging and building communities I co-created the (what became) rather notorious tech PR industry blog …the world's leading…; I sporadically blog here about things that catch my eye or I need to get off my chest; I market our own gites here at our place in France, Les Chapelles, and I'm using social media in building some momentum around the small gentlemen's cycling club that I've established (that's a small club, not a club for small gentlemen), Les Veloistes Gentils…story of the 2009 ride here and our social network here.
I've got a few bits of work lined up which are quite exciting, fingers in a few other pies and, as always, a few ideas buzzing around for new stuff. I've never been driven by ultimate financial gain; I want to work with people and companies that I like, that like me and that want to do exciting stuff. As long as I feel that I'm being fairly rewarded for that, then I'm happy.
My email address is mark (dot) pinsent (at) gmail (dot) com. I'm always more than happy to meet people for coffee and a chat about, well, anything really. Something often comes of it.