Behind the Headlines with Alex Clough

Alex Clough, social media director at Splendid Communications, on using his Nan as a success barometer, why the industry needs to desperately improve on measurement and giving his 10-year-old self a dose of reality.

Before I reach the office in the morning, I’ve already…

Checked BBC News, Twitter and Imgur on the way in, before picking up a coffee from Ozone on Leonard Street – my favourite coffee shop in town. Great breakfast too.

You’ll mostly find emails about…in my inbox.

Content. Splendid’s, other agencies’, the general public’s, old, new, good, bad – everything can inspire. Digital trends and news review round-ups make their way to my inbox every morning – it’s one of the first things I look at to help inform and inspire reactive content. We are a very content-hungry team, and like to keep ours insight-driven, real and agile.

I know I’ve had a good day if…

We’ve been truly nimble, creative, busy and tried something new. When we’re at full tilt the office is always buzzing, the music is always loud and all creative expertise across Splendid is called upon to do something amazing and in the moment.

My first job was…

In a local pub in Ryde, Isle of Wight, where I grew up. It was sorting green, clear and brown bottles for recycling – bit of money in my pocket, a lot of beer on my clothes. Things haven’t changed much since then.

But my first “real” job in the industry was as a graduate junior account executive for LEWIS PR. Its graduate scheme should be recognised – it’s produced some brilliant people. Suzy Ferguson was a brilliant woman.

I can tell a campaign is succeeding when…

My Nan texts me to say she likes it. Or hates it. Either way, I know it’s working if she comments on it.

More seriously though, the best way to tell if a campaign has been successful is quite simple – if it has started real world conversations. This is at the core of everything Splendid does.

I eat….when nobody is watching.

Things with hash browns in them. Don’t tell anyone.

The first time I pitched to a journalist…

Before specialising in digital and social in 2009, I was part of the media relations team at LEWIS, so I have a lot of pitching under my belt. My first pitch was to a B2B technology title and they were very kind, positive and receptive. However, shortly afterwards I picked up the phone to a very busy news desk.

I can look back now and laugh…just.

The worst thing anyone has said to me is…

I moved to Manchester after graduation to get started in the creative and media industry without crippling cost of living. During this time there was one phrase that I heard over and over again that came to haunt my dreams…

“We think you’re great and you’d fit in with the culture here, but unfortunately you don’t have enough experience for the junior/graduate/assistant position.”

The sad thing is, I don’t believe it has changed much. I am extremely proud to work at Splendid, where the Splendid Futures intern programme is hands down the most open, inclusive and successful I’ve come across. We took on interns throughout last year and a staggering 50% of them were hired into permanent roles. The way we find and grow our own is remarkable.

The last book I read was…

Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises.

I’ve never really understood why…

Measurement in the PR industry has not really evolved significantly since I started in 2007. It is something I had an issue with then and still have now. The industry desperately needs to improve on measurement and reporting, and is a priority for Splendid this year.

The volume of content being published online, combined with how people discover it, share it and navigate online news media means OTS/unique users alone is almost completely meaningless as a measure of online editorial impact. Social and digital is light years ahead and PR needs to catch up.

If I could go back and talk to my 10-year-old self, I’d say…

“Your band won’t be signed, no matter how much you believe it, so concentrate a bit harder on your AS Levels. You also won’t be an actor. Sorry to shatter your misplaced dreams dude. So learn a bit of code and go travelling when you’re 21. Apart from that – crack on as you are. Your life will be wonderful.”

This time next year, I’ll be…
In my work, I’ll have a bigger digital team, a more diverse set of clients, and hopefully a few juicy awards to our name. In my life, I’ll be healthier, kinder, wiser and no longer in my 20s. On the whole, that’ll all do very nicely indeed.

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