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Celebrating two decades of Petersens PR!

When a colleague recently reminded me that Petersens PR was first formed twenty years ago (2003), I couldn’t quite believe it – the last two decades have gone by so quickly!

In those 20 years I’ve learned a lot about public relations, marketing and business, so I thought I would share a few of those observations in this piece.

In 2003, having sold my previous advertising agency, The Petersens Partnership, I found myself in a difficult position. I’d had so many wonderful, exciting times in the advertising and PR world, having begun my journey working as a trainee media assistant for Creighton Griffiths Advertising, then progressed to being an MD in the Royds Advertising Group and McCann-Erickson Worldwide, before eventually owning my own agency. Now at a crossroads, with clients thanking me for award-winning campaigns and surrounded by so many brilliant staff, I knew I was not ready to retire and walk away.

So, I decided to start again. This time I wanted to focus on delivering PR services, as I’d noticed clients with big advertising budgets using media buying professionals to obtain the best rates for their companies. Within days of the decision, a previous client offered me free office space, key staff rejoined me – and thus, Petersens PR was born!

I remember that my wonderful father, the famous Welsh boxer Jack Petersen, once said: “No matter what you do, make sure to get a good team around you, so that they can fulfil their ambitions and you can live life.”

I was so touched by the confidence shown by friends, clients and staff in the early days that followed Petersens PR’s creation, which only reaffirmed that I had made the right decision.

I have seen huge changes in the last twenty years, with the biggest development being the emergence and rise of social media. Twenty years ago, PR was very difficult to measure. Say you’d managed to obtain one page of editorial – well, what next? How would you find out what engagement you were getting, and in turn, how much this coverage was worth? You’d often multiply the cost of the advertisement by 2.5 in order to work out a loose figure for PR value. But, flashforward to 2023, everything is much more accurate (and AVE – advertising value equivalent – is banned as a measurement by several PR bodies). Now, you can obtain very detailed analytics for social media posts showing you everything you need to know (and more) in just the click of a button.

With so much more information available, PR professionals now have the knowledge and resources needed to maximise engagement from specific target audiences, which can be broken down into detailed categories such as age, location and interests. In addition, the use of influencers to help promote brands and products is now commonplace.

And now we are seeing the emergence of AI in PR (you can read our recent blog on this topic here). Seeing tasks that used to take hours of research now generated in a few seconds is both fascinating and terrifying, but if utilised smartly, this could ultimately allow the next generation of PR professionals to work much more efficiently.

Taking all these developments into account, it’s clear that clients need now more than ever the support of PR professionals who can advise them on the appropriate strategies and content to tell their stories and promote their brands.

The Petersens PR team: (L-R) Ellie Courtman, PR and social media executive, Robert Petersen, founder and MD, Cath Morgan, accounts manager, Darren Evans, PR manager

It was also interesting to recently read that many organisations are now recruiting retired staff. It was reported that between October–December 2022, there was a sharp rise in 50-64-year-olds moving out of inactivity and back into the workplace. The PR sector is no different, and I have seen many consultancies using older staff to ensure clients get the perfect mix of knowledge from the younger generation, and experience from us oldies.

In summary, as I open a bottle of bubbly with colleagues and friends to celebrate twenty fabulous years of Petersens PR, an exciting time filled with its fair share of successes and challenges but always lots of fun, I look forward to a few more years within such an enjoyable and rewarding business!

Diolch and thanks to all,

Robert Petersen, Founder and MD, Petersens PR

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