Carl Hopkins Europe Public Relations

Uncle Carl: Praise be

By The Drum | Administrator

May 29, 2008 | 6 min read

Uncle Carl is back in his pulpit to preach his gospel of marketing know-how to those that worship at the alter of creative communications.

Dear Uncle Carl,

I was just wondering if you think that awards should go to the creatives or the company - as they do now?

Don’t agencies have photocopiers? It is a shared award. The agency has the client relationship and the opportunities to win are derived from that relationship. PLUS they give you a job.

While you have the talent and the idea, it’s a shared commendation. Perhaps the awarding bodies should consider giving duplicates...also what about a copy for the client who was ‘brave’ enough to go with the idea... and if it was a ‘team’ effort we may need another copy. Oh and my mum would have liked a copy...

Dear Uncle Carl,

I’m currently an account director for an ad agency and am looking into a similar role at a digital agency. Is it going to be an easy transition and how should I go about the move?

Interesting question. I have myself in the past moved ‘traditional’ account managers into digital roles and it works. Your weakness may be the ‘techno-pointy-headed-babble’ they are prone to use. It’s an area that is saturated with its own language (bores me rigid) but that doesn’t mean you couldn’t do a job.

You have to make sure that you position yourself as an advertiser/marketer who understands the role of ‘digital’ in a fully rounded and comprehensive customer communication strategy.

Be prepared for half of the digital agencies you meet looking at you from their anoraks with cynical eyes and thinking you are totally unskilled and unable to work with/for them - they are wrong.

But I am also sure that you will find an agency or two that sees the advantages of having an experienced, well connected, and hopefully ‘channel balanced’ individual on board. As an account director I would hope you have many facets: the ability to extract a brief from clients, the ability to brief creatives, a tactical and strategic approach to client needs, team leading abilities, commercial abilities, selling and presentation skills, etc.

If so, then don’t panic simply because you don’t know much about SEO and PPC strategies - you can learn. If on the other hand you are a half-wit-chancer looking to jump ship from some airy-fairy-brand-wank-advertising agency to the ‘sexy world of digital’ then they will see through you in a moment and tear your ego apart!

Dear Uncle Carl,

Can I really achieve anything if I put my mind to it?

No, Stupid. I can think of flapping my arms and flying but it ain’t going to work.... unless I’m already in a plane, mmm then maybe you can!

If however you mean can you achieve great things in work or personal life then yes you can, it’s simple, you need three things: a ‘dream’, a plan and perseverance. It’s worked for me at least four times this year and it’s still only May! I work with lots of different people on their own wishes and it can be done.

I would need to know more about what you want for a fuller answer but yes, you can.

Dear Uncle Carl,

We’re a fairly young agency and have never really done much PR. However, we think it’s about time the world knew about us.

My question is this... who should handle it for us? Should we appoint a PR agency; hire a freelance PR; appoint someone in a permanent role; or give it to the most capable writer within the office?

Speaking as a ‘PR tart’ I would go for it. I would not ‘give it to someone in house’ as it doesn’t work - other things take priority and PR goes to the bottom of the pile.

Employing someone - again I wouldn’t, you probably wouldn’t have a ‘full-time’ need for them so you would end up giving them something else and then you are back to scenario one, plus the person wouldn’t be happy as they want to ‘do’ PR. So go outside.

There are many great PR agencies around but again, I would not rush into it, they can be a tad expensive in the short term and as by your own admission, you are ‘young’.

I read into that you don’t have lots of money or stories and PR agencies will need you to have both. They may offer payment by results - don’t do it.

Remember this: ‘if something looks too good to be true - it usually is’. So I would find a good sole operator and retain them for 2-3 days per month and be prepared to be patient - it will take time for the person to get to know you and your business and then get stories in front of the right people. Hang in there, and treat it as seriously as any advertising channel and it will work.

Dear Uncle Carl,

I’ve only ever worked for large full service agencies, but of late I’ve had a yearning to have a more hands-on role within a smaller agency. What can I expect from life in a small company?

Less glamour, less money but less politics, who knows? I would look closely at your ‘yearning’ my friend. ‘More hands on’ - does that mean you feel you are in the wrong job and NOT the wrong agency, regardless of its size?

What to expect is an unanswerable question as every agency has its similarities but many, many differences. As I said, I don’t think it’s a question of your possible location but more likely a question of your chosen vocation.

Good luck.

Are you troubled? Don’t be. send all your questions for The Drum’s agony uncle to Or, If you wish to meet with carl to talk about your business, then simply email him on

Carl Hopkins Europe Public Relations

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