The Silicon Review
The term Public Relations (PR) seems very popular, but it is quite evident that not everyone understands what it means. Although every business in the digital world understands that PR is an excellent way to upgrade its reputation and build a marketing approach, very few of them actually know much about what PR involves, and only a few take a lot of effort and time to stay on top. PR is all about sharing the right information with the right people and building a brand’s reputation. PR agencies work diligently with organizations to help them build their image in their industry. To promote the client’s agenda, effective marketing strategies will be used appropriately by PR agencies.
Globally, there are various PR agencies, but one that stands out from the rest is Ascendant Communications. Ascendant’s integrated B2B public relations and communications programs produce results that build brands, transform market perceptions, and drive sales. From insightful thinking to tactical implementation, Ascendant helps you overcome the challenge of being seen and heard in today’s crowded market place. So your message reaches the right audiences — first time, every time. No matter which industry you work in — public sector, green energy, technology, or financial services — and regardless of how big, or small, you are, Ascendant delivers game-changing PR that covers the online and offline worlds. Whether it’s breaking news, a powerful customer testimonial, positioning your thought leadership and expertise, or kick-starting your social media presence, Ascendant’s strategy-led approach to PR ensures everyone — from opinion-shapers to key decision-makers in your chosen markets — hears you loud and clear. Ascendant Communications was founded in 2003, and it is based in London.
In conversation with James Cooper, Director of Ascendant Communications
Q. What was your goal when you founded Ascendant?
I had a very clear idea of the kind of agency I wanted to set up and run, one where experienced people and senior consultants worked collaboratively to deliver real value for their clients. I’d seen the worst of PR — from both the agency and the client-side. I’d worked in agencies where young people did all the work, only to be pushed out when they became too expensive or promoted to management roles that involved little contact with clients and didn’t make the best use of their skills, and I’d worked in companies where it was difficult to access high-caliber external PR services and support. I wanted to do something different. Ascendant is built on a horizontal model with a collegiate, rather than hierarchical, team structure. We work closely together, in the best interests of our clients. In my experience, hierarchical structures are less effective because most of the best and most experienced people do the least PR work, and are too busy chasing new business, etc. I wanted new accounts, yes, but I also wanted to put my skills and my experience as a consultant to use.
Q. What’s a typical day at the agency?
We provide a comprehensive communications service — from message development and media training to campaign planning and corporate positioning — and we cover all communications channels. Our writers craft everything from social media posts and Twitter feeds to thought leadership papers and PR reports. We’re regularly in touch with journalists and with industry analysts to raise the profile of our clients. We commission quantitative research on behalf of our clients, we help them run and publicize their events, and we write case studies showing the quality of service they provide. We communicate regularly with our long-standing clients, and I spend a lot of my time traveling to see companies in Europe and the US and discuss communications strategy with them. Our employees are flexible, and they respond well to our clients’ changing needs. The short answer is . . . there’s no typical day at the agency!
Q. Companies now have to think about sustainability and social responsibility as well as providing value for money and good service. Is the task of building a brand and managing a company’s reputation, then, more complex than it used to be?
Yes, it is in the sense that there are more things in the ‘mix’ and that companies’ priorities have had to change to reflect changing times. Twenty-five years ago, sustainability was pretty much on the fringes of mainstream business, now it’s on every corporate agenda. Companies increasingly eliminate suppliers from shortlists if they don’t meet their criteria for environmental responsibility, or if they mistreat people, by, for example, failing to pay the living wage in poorer countries. The supply chain just has to be ethical. There’s a kind of cross-contamination if it’s not: if a company you do business with gets a bad reputation, it reflects badly on you. So, in PR terms, there are more risks. Businesses today face a dual challenge, I’d say. It’s not just that there’s more naming and shaming on social media; it’s that they can be ‘called out’ for more things — from faulty products and poor service to ‘greenwashing’ and bad practice.
Q. Can a small PR agency really provide the level of service a global business needs?
Absolutely. Today’s technology means it’s perfectly possible: the world has got smaller, in many ways. What’s more, I’d say a small agency with a small experienced team like ours is better suited to serving a company’s external PR needs. We provide a single point of contact for our clients and a dedicated team of people that really get to know a business, and we offer continuity of service and support. In some bigger agencies, there’s a revolving door of people coming and going, and the relationship with the client is less consistent and the quality of service more random.
Q. What does the future hold for Ascendant and its employees?
We’re lucky to work in an expanding sector, technology, and we continue to win new accounts. The Coronavirus pandemic has made the ability to connect with each other through technology more important than ever before — both in our professional and personal lives. Meanwhile, big data and AI have the potential to create new commercial opportunities, free employees for more strategic tasks, and make organizations in both the private and public sectors more effective and more efficient. We think the future is bright for Ascendant and our employees and for our clients and their employees — and we look forward to continuing to provide the kind of PR service that really adds value.
Meet the leader behind the success of Ascendant Communications
James Cooper is the Director of Ascendant Communications. He has specialized in B2B and technology PR for more than 20 years, and is a former PR director of two American technology companies. He founded the UK-based agency Ascendant Communications in 2003, and has since worked for some of the biggest names in the global tech industry, including Microsoft, SAP, Akamai, TIBCO and Hybris. In 2017, Ascendant was named one of the top 20 PR agencies by B2B Marketing magazine. Here, James talks about his approach to B2B PR and his hopes for Ascendant in the future.