Dan Masser became head of corporate at LEWIS in June, 2016. He talks to Gorkana about agency life, his idea of a productive work environment and what excites him about his new role.
What led you to a career in corporate comms?
Honestly? Not being willing to secure qualifications in journalism after finishing university. Journalism was my first choice career, but I couldn’t face more studying – I wanted to get straight into work. PR sounded like the closest thing to journalism and I managed to land a place on the H&K grad scheme working in the crisis team. It was an excellent grounding and I was very lucky to have two fantastic mentors in Damaris O’Hanlon and Alex Woolfall. From there a sideways move into corporate comms seemed the natural thing to do, so that I could learn about good news as well as bad.
What do you like about agency life?
People talk about the variety of agency world. I think there can be great variety in-house too – I see that with some of my clients and from personal experience working at M&S – but I love agency life. Firstly, there are greater opportunities to grow a team, and build out an exciting practice. And secondly, as the agency is very slightly removed by one step, it can sometimes give you an advantage in being able to speedily and clearly analyse a situation. That’s what I enjoy doing most. You can quickly cut through to the issue and provide succinct advice that clients truly value.
How do you differentiate your agency from its competitors?
We have 26 offices around the world, with a further nine partners across EMEA, APAC and the Americas, but the agency is wholly independent. Because LEWIS is employee-owned, it can make its own decisions and move quickly. It is also better placed to retain its culture and identity as it grows. There’s a real family feel across markets that I haven’t experienced in other global agencies.
As a corporate division, campaigning is at the heart of what we do. We are big believers in the commercial value of reputation. That’s why we also have an offer that’s more similar to management consultancy than traditional comms, with reputation at its heart. We have just started working with Costa Coffee on a strategic communications project that falls under this banner.
How do you create a productive working environment within an agency?
Flipcharts. Gathering the team around a flipchart and cracking a problem together I find is often the most productive way of working. Not only that, it means everyone – no matter what their level – has the opportunity to get involved and learn from each other. I often think I should have bought shares in Blu tack.
What excites you about working at LEWIS?
We’re an agency that’s growing and going places. We have a huge skill-set under one roof with PR, digital, advertising, marketing and web-build teams all working together. We are PRCA’s most recent International Agency of the Year and most importantly for me, we are independent… meaning we are masters of our own destiny.
Where do you hope to be in five years?
Watching Leeds United back in the Premier League. I’m not sure I can wait much longer than five years for that to happen. Aside from that, I’d like to think I’ll still be at LEWIS. There are great opportunities, and an ever-expanding global network… so who knows… maybe there will be a chance for me to take corporate communications on tour.
What advice would you give to your 20-year-old self?
Have confidence in your convictions, don’t be afraid to be thrown in at the deep-end and invest in moisturiser.
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