This week on the PRmoment podcast I’m interviewing Greg Jones, European chief executive at Smarts.

Smarts has a fee income of approximately £12.5m and employs 150 people. It’s an agency headquartered in Belfast with offices in London, New York, Dublin and Glasgow. Smarts is owned by MSQ.

Greg started his career at Shine, before stints at Slice, M&C Saatchi, Splendid and finally back to Engine joining Mischief as creative director before getting the CEO job in 2019. 

He left Mischief to join Smarts last November.

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2 mins Why did Greg leave Mischief to join Smarts?

6 mins How successful have PR firms been building themselves into integrated PR firms?

“There are winners and losers, there are those agencies that have grasped the opportunities… and there are those that have been left behind, so much of it comes down to client opportunity.

Can you create the opportunity to broaden the type of work that you do for your clients beyond the box that some clients put you into and have you got the people in place to take advantage of those opportunities?”

7 mins What do we mean by (integrated) PR today?

8 mins The implications of the increased agency services on agency businesses.

10 mins What are the expertise areas a modern PR firm needs to have?

11 mins Is it better to have social first people or SEO first people working in a PR firm today – or is it better to have PR people who’ve gained experience within these specialisms?

“I would rather have experts in the room that I know will be able to answer the questions”

“Most agencies will have invested in a head of strategy or a head of creative, that’s almost become a client expectation these days.”

13 mins Most of the creative directors in PR have a PR background: “An earned first creative thinker is worth their weight in gold.”

“There’s not so much of a leap from being an advertising planner to being a PR planner”

16 mins Will community specialists be the next big job title we see emerge from PR firms?

17 mins The need for earned first internal comms specialists within PR firms.

“Internal comms has been largely overlooked…in terms of growth and futureproofing your agency it’s a great opportunity.”

20 mins The difficulty is making it all add up! Is there a fee level you need to get to to be able to bring in these specialists?

23 mins PR has been given a huge opportunity, it’s challenge is not to mess it up!

24 mins When going into an economic downturn agencies will need to get their attack and defence right: Greg talks us through what his Boxing analogy means in practice for PR agency owners.

25 mins How do integrate your offer? 

“It tends to get brought together by client opportunity.”

26 mins A discussion of the investment PR firms need to make in technology tools: As PR has broadened its offer across more channels, so has the need to purchase channel-specific analytics tools.