My Life in PR – This Much I Know, is an interview series that talks to PR professionals about their career journey and what they’ve learned along the way. From the innovation that they wish they had invented, to their favourite books and mentors who have left a lasting impact. This series covers more than just career advice and takes a look at the person behind the title.
Graham Goodkind is Chairman and Founder of Frank PR. Graham started Frank PR in September 2000. He then sold the company in 2007 to an Australian marketing services firm and in early 2021, Graham bought back the agency making it fully independent again. Based in Farringdon in London, Frank PR produces campaigns that kickstart talkability and make a real difference to the futures of the brands it works with. Graham graduated from London Metropolitan University in 1990 with a degree in Business Studies and began as a trainee at Lynne Franks PR in 1988. He rose through the ranks and eventually became Managing Director of the company. Graham’s career has spanned over three decades and in that time, he has gathered in-depth knowledge of the PR industry.
Name the one work tool that you couldn’t live without
It’s very recently become the new Nespresso coffee machine at Frank HQ in Farringdon. Prior to being seduced by its delicious caffeine hits, I would have said my reMarkable paper tablet.
What communications innovation do you wish you had come up with?
The exclamation mark!
What is the best book you have read in the past year?
It’s too close to call between ‘What You Do Is Who You Are’ by Ben Horowitz, and ‘All New Dad Jokes’ by Kit & Andrew Chilvers.
Why did you decide to follow a career in PR?
I didn’t really know what I wanted to do. I did some work experience at a PR agency and from day one I loved it and knew it was the right environment for me.
What do you know now that you wish you knew at the start of your career?
To look after my health better.
What one piece of advice would you give to someone starting out in their career in PR?
Become indispensable to your clients: offer solutions, not problems. Think round corners and be proactive. If you become indispensable to your clients you’ll be indispensable to your agency – and career progression will follow.
What are the three biggest lessons that you have learned throughout your career?
- Never take “no” for an answer.
- Don’t get too carried away by the highs of the job: the pitch wins, the scoops for clients, the promos etc. Try and keep on an even keel emotionally or this job can be a bit of a mental health rollercoaster.
- Always try to do the right thing and be kind. Sometimes you have to make tough decisions, particularly over years of running an agency, but do so with compassion and respect for people.
Name three principles that you hold dear when it comes to your PR work?
- Ideas come from everywhere and everyone, tune in to people and your environment, listen and learn.
- An agency is nothing without its people. Hire character and personality ahead of qualifications and slickness of CV every day.
- Have fun. As much as you can. You spend more time at work than anywhere else so enjoy it.
If you could make one lasting change in the PR industry, what would it be?
We’ve got to do more about the diversity of people that are coming into the business. As an industry, we’re not in any way reflective of the publics we relate to.
What are your top 3 media relations tips?
- Love the media. You’ve got to innately have a feel for a media outlet and what sort of story is going to work for them.
- Write readymade stories for the media and not press release copy which has mainly been written to please the client. Try to explain to your client the balance that needs to be found between what is a story for them and what is going to make it a story for the media.
- Keep plugging away and you’ll make your own luck.
What do you love most about working in PR?
The people. The team at Frank excites and inspires me every day.
Who in the media do you most admire and why?
Lord Chadlington. He has always been happy to meet, have breakfast and share his experiences with me over the years, as well as offer advice and very wise counsel whenever he can. In addition to being a PR industry legend who has been there, seen it and done it, he’s a thoroughly nice and down-to-earth man who has the most incredible enthusiasm and passion for PR. After every occasion I meet him I come away charged up and raring to go.
Who was your first boss in a media-related job and what did you learn from them?
The ‘Absolutely Fabulous’ Lynne Franks was my first boss. She had an amazing ability, probably still does, to be able to look ahead and predict what was going to happen in the world of consumer marketing and how that would apply to brands. I remember her talking about what we’d now know as CSR easily a decade before the phrase had ever been coined and how companies needed to be more mindful of their actions and their place in society. She understood the vital role of ESG and purpose for organisations before anyone else. She taught me that it is always good to have a strong point of view, a perspective, a vision for the future and to share it with others. Be they clients, or staff and other stakeholders.
More about Graham Goodkind
Twitter: @ Goodkind
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