Augur founder voted PR Week 30 Under 30

When you’re trying to do something new, you don’t always automatically get the establishment on your side. We’ve worked hard to balance the ways we are innovating in PR with the responsibility to ground it in responsible processes — that’s why, even early on, we pushed hard to achieve ISO 9001 compliance via the PRCA’s industry standard audit.

But even so, we’re delighted to have out innovation endorsed with the selection of Augur’s founder as PR Week’s 30 under 30. Read the interview, watch the video and see photos here — or see our answers to the interview below.

1) What has been your proudest achievement in PR?

I’m pleased my achievements have come from doing what I believed was right. But I’m most proud of developing my ability to learn from when I was wrong. The former opened lots of doors but I think it’s the latter that rescued me from being just another frustrated, precocious AE.

2) How do you expect PR to change over the next 10-15 years?

I think there’s a common dishonour in old PR. Insincerity, insecurity, ineptitude.

We need to refocus agencies on what they once were and can be again: smaller teams of unusually talented individuals delivering really focused strategy. Personal chefs instead of McDonalds lackies.

Great PR will help companies create value by communicating their true strengths accurately. Meanwhile, a subclass of opportunistic bottom feeders will continue to see their value erode as everyone from SEOs to ‘social media gurus’ bid their price down.

3) Where do you see yourself in 10 years time?

I hope to have made progress offering great PRs a better way to spend their time, doing great work for great clients. If Augur continues to thrive, I play with the idea of handing it to one of the team to refound and reforge.

After all, they say life begins at 40, right?

Augur’s #PRstack

You might expect that we spend every day thinking about Augur’s future and how to build something better than the old model of PR agencies. But it’s every bit as important to us to share what we learn and raise the standards across this industry. I’ve written a little about the importance of PR’s stakeholders to its evolution before.

Having helped launch #PRstack with Prezly and Stephen Waddington earlier this year, it was natural to contribute to the upcoming book and give away some of what we’ve learned so far.

In our chapter, we talk about how Asana gives us a real advantage working with clients that allows us to concentrate on the work that really matters. Check out our original intro below or download the full book for free.

Nobody really built the way we work in PR. And for a long time, it probably didn’t even matter. But we don’t live in that time.

Anyone creating a business today should be looking for every opportunity to build something more fit for purpose as a distinct advantage over the last generation.

At Augur, we believe that starts right at the top of the stack. Communication is the oil that removes friction from any successful project — but most tools in use in the agency world today just don’t suit modern workflows.

It’s for that reason that almost every single thing a client sees from a project with Augur runs through Asana.

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Why Augur – 1 year on

Today, if you can imagine something, it’s easier than ever to create it. But in such a world, where anything is possible, intent has become crucial. Why must this particular thing exist?

At the same time, it’s not rare to see competitors race ahead of worthier foes simply by virtue of communicating their take on that ‘why’ with more volume or more breadth. It’s clear that even though you are patently great at what you do, that doesn’t immediately equip you to squeeze every drop of value out of your story.

It doesn’t have to be like this. And for Augur, this leads in to why we believe great PR matters today.

Augur is built on a simple concept:

“If you can communicate your true strength accurately, success will follow.”

Reputation reputation reputation

More than ever, PR and communications strategy isn’t a glossy sheen applied at the last minute, (or worse: in moments of crisis), it’s rooted in the bones of a good business. It’s exhaled with the excellence of your service.

PR has historically claimed to help you punch above your weight. Today, it can help you put on real muscle instead. In a world where where your reputation is inevitably jabbed day in day out, this is more important than ever. Especially since those punches are often coming, not from trolls, but newly enfranchised stakeholders with a way to get real attention.

Only substance can weather such incessant scrutiny.

Getting started

In the last year, we’ve learned a lot and we’ve done a lot. The new systems and business model we are pioneering are now certified ISO compliant, we’re PRCA audited (as well as running the PRCA Technology group), we’re active CIPR a members, helped launch #PRstack, have worked with 20+ companies and have grown the team in our HQ at Somerset House.

The exciting thing about writing up what we’ve learned in these 12 quick months is not just the substance of how we have developed. It’s the prospect of where we, our work and our clients will be in another 12. Then another. And another.

Thank you to everyone that has given us the opportunity to prove PR can be better and do better. And welcome to everyone reading this who may be considering that remit.

We’re ready for the next stage. I hope we’ll see you there.

For the guardian

You may know we have more strings to our bow than just agency life here at Augur. We write — in this case for the Guardian, making the front page of the tech section.

It’s our strong opinion that great material has value. But, from music to writing, somewhere along the chain this perception of value faltered.

In the Guardian, we looked at where this started, what this means and how humans might cope with the diminishing respect (let alone cash) that we pay creators.

I can pinpoint the moment it all went wrong. “It holds 1,000 songs – and it goes right in my pocket,” he said. That’s when the value of digital content was irrevocably changed for the masses. No longer was it good enough to shuffle around an envelope of your five favourite albums or half a dozen mini discs. It became all or nothing.

 

For the Guardian: Marketers must get over their social newsfeed obsession.

We’ve started writing for the Guardian. First up, about how it’s hard to properly understand changing use of social networks if you stay hung up on your own expectations.

When your Facebook includes everyone you know, the feed is inevitably going to become like “an awkward family dinner party we can’t really leave”. You haven’t selected what’s showing up anymore, it’s just aggregated noise. Why should it reflect your interests? Especially when it’s only one of a number of sources most people frequent these days.

Read the full article on The Guardian here — and let us know what you think.

Augur talks PR, stories and pitching

(For the record, if you want to understand why it’s so important to say as little as possible, this video is a pretty good demo in itself too. At such moments, I sympathise for every client that I’ve advised to control their passion for the subject in favour of clarity.)

Making Content Matter

I’ve written before about the difficulties of the word “content”. It’s too often bandied around in discussions that lose sight of its meaning to viewers versus its importance in their strategy. And that blindness is costly.

But you quickly find yourself drawing on it because it’s the common reference. Much of the time, that will remain true.

Sometimes, however, it’s worth thinking again to see if there’s another descriptor more suitable. Perhaps another descriptor that can focus on a different detail and a different priority and help you concentrate on what matters.

Made of more

I recently had the following conversation on Twitter. (Incidentally, it’s also one of those incredibly moments that hits home to me how social accounts and interactions can become such an enjoyable scratchpad for new ideas.)

Content’s not included

Material is like the fabric of something actually useful. It’s a bit more tangible. It’s something you iterate on and bang around in different directions — certainly when it’s commonly used in stand-up comedy.

It’s craft-like and something you develop and improve over time. You gather techniques to become competent then workmanlike then artisan. You invent or invest in technology to gain an advantage producing better material than your competition.

Material has customers rather than consumers. Your material must be top notch, it’s not just a snack between courses — it is a product in its own sense.

I’d love to hear suggestions of other words. Even if they aren’t used in conversation, I think clearer definition helps you think about things more strategically and accurately. The power of language is only beaten by the power of the meaning and association that underlies it.

What would you call content to make you appreciate it more?

Photo Credit: ch.weidinger via Compfight cc

Making Content Matter

I’ve written before about the difficulties of the word “content”. It’s too often bandied around in discussions that lose sight of its meaning to viewers versus its importance in their strategy. And that blindness is costly.

But you quickly find yourself drawing on it because it’s the common reference. Much of the time, that will remain true.

Sometimes, however, it’s worth thinking again to see if there’s another descriptor more suitable. Perhaps another descriptor that can focus on a different detail and a different priority and help you concentrate on what matters.

Made of more

I recently had the following conversation on Twitter. (Incidentally, it’s also one of those incredibly moments that hits home to me how social accounts and interactions can become such an enjoyable scratchpad for new ideas.)

Content’s not included

Material is like the fabric of something actually useful. It’s a bit more tangible. It’s something you iterate on and bang around in different directions — certainly when it’s commonly used in stand-up comedy.

It’s craft-like and something you develop and improve over time. You gather techniques to become competent then workmanlike then artisan. You invent or invest in technology to gain an advantage producing better material than your competition.

Material has customers rather than consumers. Your material must be top notch, it’s not just a snack between courses — it is a product in its own sense.

I’d love to hear suggestions of other words. Even if they aren’t used in conversation, I think clearer definition helps you think about things more strategically and accurately. The power of language is only beaten by the power of the meaning and association that underlies it.

What would you call content to make you appreciate it more?

Photo Credit: ch.weidinger via Compfight cc

Interviewed by Gorkana

Gorkana recently interviewed us about our industry, including where tech PR is going and the worst thing a journalist has ever said to me.

Which social media platform has changed your life?

Can I argue BBEdit, which powers the SomethingAwful.com forums? It turns out that growing up out in the country and wasting hours trawling through that community of 70,000+ “goons” would equip me with the insights to understand online communities when they went mainstream. Trolling, lurking, attention-whoring, Godwin’s Law – none of this stuff is new, it’s just that a wider audience is now experiencing the natural rhythms and characteristics of online behaviour.

Read the full interview here.

Augur launch covered across industry

The Holmes Report:

“Having come from managing comms at Tradeshift, I’m most interested in the kinds of unsexy, B2B companies that really power things behind the scenes,” Tatton-Brown told the Holmes Report. “Unsung heroes.”

Augur launches with five technology clients, although Tatton-Brown declined to reveal their names, instead noting that some are backed by investors Passion and Notion. He also pointed out that the “much maligned” state of the PR industry requires a more thoughtful, credible approach to communication.

 

PR Week:

“He said Augur would not be about advising clients to “force themselves on the news” but would take a more considered approach. “It’s about looking at the context of what is around you,” he added.”

 

Gorkana:

“Max said: “Good PR is not about a social media strategy, growth hacking and content marketing. It’s about looking at how you can become a better company, more fit for purpose within the ecosystem around you. The latest channels and trends are part of this bigger picture.”

 

Features Exec:

“Augur, whose name comes from the role of a trusted advisor in classical times who interpreted the will of the Gods through the patterns of birds, is already working with five tech clients, in areas like retail, social/ marketing, collaboration and B2B.”