Maja Pawinska Sims 07 Dec 2018 // 7:55AM GMT
We kick off our 2018 Review with our top 10 Echo Chamber podcast episodes. Remember, you can subscribe to the show via iTunes or the direct feed. And a big thank you to Markettiers, which produces the show, and our sponsors this year: March Communications and the Bulleit Group.
1. The 'emergency podcast': Cohn & Wolfe takes over Burson-Marsteller
Fittingly, the biggest PR story of the year, in February, was also the most popular Echo Chamber hit of 2018. As the drama unfolded, Paul Holmes and Arun Sudhaman explored what the mash-up of one of the oldest firms in the business and its younger, sassier sister might mean for both firms — from the heritage of Burson to the extraordinary leadership of C&W boss Donna Imperato — and the broader PR industry.
2. Omnicom PR chief Karen van Bergen on agency performance and what makes a great CEO
Karen van Bergen made her long-awaited Echo Chamber debut in February, two years since taking on the top PR job at Omnicom. It was worth the wait: in a wide-ranging conversation with Arun Sudhaman, a “cautiously optimistic” van Bergen covered the performance of the PR agencies in her stable, the challenging market conditions, collaboration, diversity in all its forms, funding start-ups, and what she thinks makes an ideal agency CEO.
3. Unity founder Nik Govier launches her new agency, Blurred
After Unity’s Nik Govier suddenly left the highly-regarded agency she had co-founded with Gerry Hopkinson in 2005, the London PR community was watching closely to see what the passionate polymath did next. She joined me in the Echo Chamber to talk about her new venture, Blurred, pitched as a new kind of agency that sits in the third way between fully-employed and virtual, with an equal focus on strategic counsel and creativity. Fellow founding partners Katy Stolliday and Stuart Lambert also came along for the ride.
4. Torod Neptune’s first year at Lenovo
Lenovo chief communications officer Torod Neptune joined Arun Sudhaman in the Echo Chamber in May to chat about his first year with the technology giant and driving the reputation of — and culture within — a global brand with Chinese roots, in interesting geopolitical times. Neptune also talked about the state of diversity in the industry after choosing to incorporate D&I criteria into his high-profile agency search last year, as well as discussing the changing nature of the CCO role and what it means for agencies.
5. Robert Phillips returns to the Echo Chamber
Former Edelman EMEA CEO Robert Phillips returned to the podcast he used to host with Arun Sudhaman, to chew over what this lively political era means for companies and their leadership. Phillips, who now heads Jericho Chambers, also talked about his firm’s Responsible Tax Project with KPMG, and why PR agencies still need overhauling. Institute of PR president and CEO Tina McCorkindale then joined the show to discuss the latest PR trends, including purpose, gender equality and behavioural science.
6. Michael Frohlich: PR guy turns ad agency boss
Michael Frohlich joined the Echo Chamber for the first time, five months after his appointment as UK CEO of Ogilvy, to chat to Arun Sudhaman about his rise from PR practitioner to leading one of the UK's largest advertising agencies. Frohlich also explored what the PR world can learn from adland, including craft, what advertising creatives can learn from PR, including cultural immersion, and why PR agencies have struggled to build planning departments.
7. Behavioural scientist Richard Shotton on consumer bias
Richard Shotton, head of behavioural science at Manning Gottlieb OMD, published The Choice Factory early in 2017, outlining 25 common biases that affect consumers’ responsiveness to brand messages and advertising. He joined me in the Echo Chamber to talk about his distinctly unstuffy book — described by Ogilvy’s Rory Sutherland as “a Haynes Manual for understanding consumer behaviour” — and to look at how these biases, and the broader field of behavioural science, are relevant to PR and comms.
8. Tim Sutton talks global agency consolidation
Tim Sutton, Weber Shandwick’s chair of EMEA and Asia Pacific, joined Arun Sudhaman in the Echo Chamber to discuss the state of the global PR market, agency growth – including the slowdown in China and the end of “wild west” double-digit growth – and the increasing trend of consolidation, while also defending the holding group agency model. To the enduring relief of our many American listeners, cricket was barely mentioned.
9. The end of the Sorrell era
Sir Martin Sorrell may be back in bullish acquisition mode at new venture S4, but in May the marketing world was reeling from his dramatic exit from WPP, the firm he built from the ground up over 30 years. Arun Sudhaman and Paul Holmes reflected on his enormous influence on marketing, his largely accidental acquisition of leading PR firms, his impact on the agency world, and how the industry reacted to his departure.
10. Richard Edelman at PRovoke18
It might be one of our most recent podcasts but the pull of Richard Edelman ensured this unedited session from our Global PR Summit leapt straight into the top 10. In an expansive conversation with Arun Sudhaman, Edelman talked about the state of the PR industry, the cultural challenges facing his agency, opportunities for growth and why PR firms need to transform if they are to compete with advertising shops for CMO budgets.