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PR Interview with Jonathan Kirkby, Founder & Director, instinct pr

Jonathan Kirkby
Recently launched agency instinct pr is headed by Jonathan Kirkby, 2010 finalist for the CIPR Outstanding Young Communicator Award. Here, he shares his knowledge of consumer PR, handling Pixie Lott's 21st birthday and having a knack for remembering journalists' favourite drinks, shoe sizes and other vital stats...

About the Agency:


instinct pr launched only last year. What was the reason behind setting up independently?
After working in the PR industry for ten years I felt ready for a new challenge. Setting up an agency was the natural step, as it meant I could have full control and an agency that I could feel proud of.

What industry sectors does the agency specialise in?
We are a consumer agency and our specialist areas are predominantly fashion, beauty and health. We also look after high profile events, such as Pixie Lott’s 21st birthday last month.

How do you ensure your clients get the right coverage in the press?
With all our clients we create a strategy that ensures that the correct messaging is communicated to the correct media. We also focus on building strong relationships with journalists which results in strong, positive coverage.

What qualities do you look for in new recruits?
Drive, ambition and enthusiasm. You could hire the most intelligent person in the world but without common sense and the right attitude it’s just not going to work!

In your opinion, what are the main challenges facing PR today?
The media landscape has changed so much since I started working in PR. Obviously digital media means that stories now break really quickly, don’t linger for as long as they used to, and one small mistake can go everywhere! However, there are also a lot more exciting campaign and coverage opportunities to embrace; agencies just need to adapt to create press worthy campaigns.

About Clients:


Can you list some of your most well-known, or respected clients?
We have been very lucky to work with some great brands in our first year, including Panache lingerie, Puma and Lucinda Ellery.

Tell us about one of your clients you are working with at the moment. What campaign do you have planned?
We are currently working on Puma’s Bodytrain collection which is fronted by Kimberley Walsh. The campaign utilises a wide variety of PR tools including bread and butter media interviews, picture exclusives, a photo call, product placement and we’ve also built a social media plan into the activity. Our recent twitter interview for Puma with Kimberley Walsh trended at number two in the UK.

Is there a potential client you’d love to work for?
Over the years I’ve been very fortunate to work with some amazing brands including Gap, Spanx, lastminute.com and Karen Millen to name a few, and instinct’s first clients are some of my ideal clients. However, we have our eye on quite a few more...watch this space!

What has been your most memorable campaign so far?
This is such a hard one as I’ve been very lucky to work on so many great campaigns. One of my favourites is the collaboration with Pixie Lott and high street retailer Lipsy. Not only did we get cut-through in every national media outlet, we also won a number of awards and most importantly, Lipsy saw a huge increase in sales, which makes everybody happy!

About Journalists


Which areas of the press do you communicate with the most and which media outlets or journalists do you find you work with most often?
We are in touch with pretty much every consumer title as well as the relevant trade titles for our clients. The fashion and women’s lifestyle press are never far off our last calls.

What can you offer to journalists seeking a story on one of your clients?
We offer journalists a forward-thinking tailored approach for each publication/client/magazine/website. It could be over breakfast, cocktails, at their desks or over a mani at Cowshed! One thing that always comes back from press to us is that we provide strong and effective stories for their specific titles, which is great feedback.

How do you build and maintain strong relationships with journalists?
See above! We just ensure that we have constant communication with our contacts and offer them topical stories. After ten years I know journalists’ bra sizes, shoe sizes and their favourite drink!

About You:


How did you get into PR?
I studied Media and PR at East London University, during which I did countless placements at press offices. I then ended up working at the press office at Gap in San Francisco before returning to the UK to work at my first agency. The rest is chip paper...

What media do you seek out first thing in the morning?
I read Twitter in bed and then the Daily Mail Online; 77million people can’t be wrong!

Name three guests you’d invite to a dinner party...
Princess Di, Freddie Mercury and Victoria Beckham.

Do you attend networking events? If so, which are you attending soon?
I love meeting new people, it’s so important to network and get out there, I wish I had more time to do it, but I always attend The Industry event and also the fashion trade shows Moda, Pure and Bread&Butter.

What’s the first rule of good PR?
Honesty. This isn’t the 80s anymore!