The Fix: Introducing Profile

On the first episode of The Fix, Sam Patchett and Jordan Greenaway discuss the launch of the agency – and what the team hope to achieve over the coming 12 months.

Sam Patchett and Jordan Greenaway

On the inaugural episode of The Fix by Profile, Sam Patchett and Jordan Greenaway discuss the launch of the agency, the nature of thought leadership, as well as what they hope to achieve.

Sam and Jordan break down what makes an effective thought leadership campaign, and they also ask whether visible leadership is now more important than ever before. The pair also talk about the agency's unique approach.

The launch of Profile also dovetails with the publication of new research, which shows that new recruits prefer working for companies with recognised leaders and that customers prefer to buy from businesses with visible leadership teams.

Sam and Jordan discuss the implications of the research, and what it means for C-Suite executives.


Jordan Greenaway (J): Hi Sam. So, we're here in the office to discuss the launch of Profile. So, for anyone listening, Sam, just give us a kind of overview of what Profile actually is – the basics: what does Profile do? What are we? 

Sam Patchett (S): Absolutely. Traditionally, Jordan, we would be referred to as a PR and communications agency, but in reality, we're a little bit more than that. To put it simply, to crunch it right down to one idea: we build visible leaders. We do that by building the profile of leaders online, in the media, on social media, digital media, multimedia – all those different platforms.  

J: But some people would also refer to us as a thought leadership agency, wouldn't they? So, thought leadership, big word, is often used in the industry. Can you, kind of, give your take on what thought leadership is and also what good thought leadership is, Sam?  

S: Absolutely. And it is a bit of a buzzword, isn't it, sometimes, thought leadership? 

But at the heart of thought leadership, it is all about saying something interesting, something unique, something different, something that is really going to cut through with audiences, make people listen and position that particular thought leader as an expert in their field, in their sector. And, it's not about being a salesman, it's not about being commercial, it's not about talking about your products or your services. 

It's about talking about the issues that people actually want to hear about, and people actually care about. 

J: That's right, and that kind of nicely segues in to our approach. On our website, if you're on the website now, you can look at our little approach section and we, kind of delineate it into four separate distinct phases, or sections.  

Number one, what's your idea? Finding an idea that cuts through, feels authentic, is fresh, and original. Phase two, turning it into great content — that could be multimedia content, that could be written content. And, as you well know, Sam, we spend half the week running about town, doing great video content, doing great podcast content. 

Thirdly, getting it out into the world. Now, usually that kind of spits into two parts for us. That's getting media coverage, getting people in the media talking about you as a particular leader in your industry, and your content and ideas, and also getting it onto social media. And finally, we have this kind of catch-all category, called set piece activity, which is taking it a step beyond. 

We've now established a baseline profile for an executive – that might be enough for them. They might say "actually, I'm happy where I stand. Previously, I wasn't relatively well known. Previously I wasn't credible. Previously I didn't have gravitas. Now I do, I'm fine". But some people want to take it a step further, that might engage website buildouts, that might engage even talking to publishers about a book. That's kind of our little approach. 

So, given that Sam, we've been in this market, we've been operating in PR, between us I think it probably adds up to about 15 years. And, we both started in more, kind of, tried and tested conventional PR and comms — brand comms, working for companies, pushing out communications under a company's particular voice, new product launches, et cetera, et cetera. We found that this approach, I think at least, is more powerful. Why do you think that is, Sam?  

S: Well, first and foremost, the days of PR and comms being 80% media engagement and trying to get your clients into the news, those days are well and truly gone. That's in the past, that's history. 

These days, we are far more focused on utilising all the different great platforms and different ranges of media out there. As you alluded to before, social media, it could be websites, it could be other online platforms, could be audio content, could be video content, could be photographs, it could be any range of medium to really get that message across. But, the question I kind of have in mind, Jordan, and I obviously have a very set answer to this myself, but I want to get your thoughts on it: why is it so important to build your profile as a leader? 

J: I've got a really clear answer to that, and actually it dovetails very nicely with our launch. Because at the same time as we've launched, we didn't want to just go to market saying this is what we think, you know? You buy it or you don't buy it. We wanted to go to market with evidence, and we've got evidence here.  

Alongside the launch, we did a bit of polling with an agency, and they found two headline things. One, employees want to work for companies and with companies with visible leaders and visible leadership teams. This doesn't need to be a single individual at the head of a company. It could be having a credible and well recognised CFO or CMO, or CTO as well. So, you know, the world is getting faster, the world's getting more competitive. We know last year that unemployment in the UK, at least, but also this is replicated globally, was at its lowest point. At its lowest point in 40 years. There is a battle for talent. And our research showed that three in four recruits or, what we call kind of top talent, would want to work for a company with a recognised leader. That's number one. 

But often when we talk about PR and comms, it does sound a little bit all internal, light and fluffy. That's why we commissioned this second bit of research and that showed that customers want to buy from companies with products and services with visible leaders, with leaders who they recognise. It fills them with confidence in the brand.  

So, it's not only about getting the best talent, although, of course, that's also the case. It's also about bumping up the bottom line. This is no longer an optional. This is no longer a choice. If you think of it as a choice, that you can or can't take, you are going to find yourself in five years lagging behind the rest of the field. That's what I would say, Sam. 

S: 100% agree with everything you've just said, Jordan. And, it just goes to show that having that really visible leadership can manifest itself in so many different ways. And, I cast my mind back to previous companies and organisations I've worked for — I didn't even know who the CEO was. And that is just so inexcusable. 

If you know the leader of a business, of an organisation, you get a much better sense of what that company stands for, what they're all about, and why they're a leader in their particular sector. And it's not just CEOs, it's not just business founders. It's entrepreneurs, it's investors. It could be someone that leads an NGO or a philanthropist that leads a charitable organisation. 

So, before Jordan, you used the words credible and leaders having a sense of gravitas. How is that actually achieved when you are building the profile of an individual without it looking too egoistical, or anything like that? 

J: This is what we always butt against. There is, sadly, a misconception in the industry around what good thought leadership looks like. People accidentally associated with what I would, kind of, call social influencers. People who are out there building up a personal brand and personal audience, almost because they want people to sponsor them or they want free products or something else. This is not — there are companies, very good companies, in that sector, but the CEO of Sainsbury’s, the CEO of a very fast-growing AI start-up that's just raised 20 million, doesn't need that. Their founders don't need that. 

What they need is credibility, respect, and to be recognised as an influential voice in the sector. That's what helps them secure great talent. That's what helps them secure great investment. That's what gets them to secure new customers, new partners, et cetera, et cetera. 

So, when we start to pull together a program, it's not aimed necessarily at the general public. There might only be a thousand people who really matter for them in their business, and how do we give them appropriate and professional visibility amongst that collection of people? Now, take in video content, for example, but as soon as you think about video content, you think of somewhat cringeworthy YouTube videos. It doesn't need to be like that.  

Thought leadership can be professional, polished, and dare I say, even elegant. It's a properly managed shoot, that looks and feels appropriate to the brand of the company. And that tone of voice should also echo itself over social media, should also echo over media. And, also, the media brands you should be working with should be those media brands that the audience that you're seeking to reach respects. So, not any coverage, you know? It's best to turn down coverage in some instances.  

We want our clients to sit alongside brands that their audiences or target audiences respect. So, it needs to be done in a careful, subtle, and strategic way. That's why sometimes I like to say to clients; actually, we are a strategic communications agency that happens to focus on executive profiling. 

When we go to market, we are a thought leadership agency. But sometimes it has, kind of, undertones and misapprehensions and assumptions that I like to try to, kind of, get over with the client and say "actually we are professional, high-end, strategic comms  who work on an executive profile". That's what I'd say.  

S: And, when you talk about building a strategic profile, making sure that it's purpose driven. We know that visible leaders, they typically lead organisations that grow faster, they hire better, they secure more investment and they act more responsibly. 

But how do you measure that success? Those things are quite hard to measure. So, when you're working with a client, what's the best way to measure how good a job we've done in building their profile in a really strategic and purpose-driven way? 

J: I would say the best way to do that is to look at a client's profile before and after. 

Now, every client is going to have slightly different weaknesses, slightly different problems that have to be overcome. But, you and me know, we sit down a lot and there are usually three key things.  

One, when you look at a client online, and principally it is online, that's where people are searching; there's no core message. You don't know how they're positioned. 

They haven't got a kind of a distinctive positioning. It's just a bit kind of organic and messy, they're doing a little bit of that, little bit of this, there's no kind of coherent single-core message behind their profile. That's usually weakness number one.  

Weakness number two is just the lack of multimedia content. Many people have, kind of, tuned in for the need for more written content online — they might have a biography on their corporate website, for example. But they usually haven't gone as far as building in multimedia content. And we know that's given much more precedence online these days, and we know that's the best way to build trust with audiences. 

And thirdly, again, although they might have a biography on their corporate website, generally they don't have a sufficient amount of coverage — especially coverage in the appropriate publications. So, I would say, Sam, how do I measure success? It's overcoming those three core problems that we see a lot. And, usually, that will turn into better relationships with partners, a better pipeline of talent, a better pipeline of business prospects, and a better pipeline of investments for your start-up too. 

S: That's a really interesting take on that question, Jordan, because I've got my own answer and it's a lot, kind of, simpler. But it also brings all of those three weaknesses, that you've talked through, into one. And that is: if you are to Google a leader, or if you are to search a leader's profile on LinkedIn, you'd be able to look at that first page on Google, or you'd be able to look at that those first few posts on LinkedIn and know exactly what it is that leader stands for, what they look like, what they sound like, and what they're all about. And you should be able to tell that right away. And that should be portrayed in a really credible way, that positions them as a thought leader. 

J: Thanks, Sam. And, really, this discussion was just about giving people a flavour of the agency, the flavour of what we are doing. So, if we just kind of run down, review those questions. Who are we? Look, we're Profile. What do we do? We're a thought leadership agency. How do we do it? We build your profile through a blend of media coverage, social media, multimedia content, written content, that's placed online. And where do we do it? We are based in London, but we operate worldwide.  

Thank you for listening. 

Profile is an award-winning thought leadership agency. We create visible leaders. If you would like to discuss building the profile of your leadership team, book in a no-obligation strategy call.

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