Siobhan you come from an in-house PR team and Melissa, you are a former journo. How did you two come to start the agency? MW: We had professional dealings for about a decade - Siobhan was corporate communications for Ansett Australia and I was working in TV news. A great friendship developed and Siobhan floated the business idea a few times but let’s just say journalism had given me a dim view of PR agencies. SD: I had my own average experience managing PR agencies who overpromised and under delivered. Eventually I convinced Mel we could do things differently and that there was a market for us to tap, so we threw up our shingle and we’ve never looked back.
What kind of work does Sequel PR specialise in? SD: Media relations, issues management and sponsorship leveraging are our core specialties. We also have a great range of media and presentation training, along with marketing/sponsorship workshops that we deliver nationally for clients. MW: We are deliberately, proudly generalist. We love being able to turn our hands to a broad spectrum of communications functions from high end issues management to FMCG product PR. It’s probably a hangover from my days in media but I love the fact our agency can deliver results across an eclectic mix of sectors.
What are the challenges and advantages of being a Brisbane-based PR and communications agency? SD: The advantage is more and more large corporates with head offices in Sydney and Melbourne are happy to include a Brisbane-based agency on their roster because they find our expertise, pricing and service delivery highly attractive. MW: We successfully run many national client briefs from our Queensland base and have done for 15 years. The challenge is two words - daylight saving.
You have a team predominantly of former journalists. Was this a conscious decision and how does it affect the way your agency approaches PR? SD: It was very deliberate. Usually about two-thirds of our team will have been working journalists, but the majority of them will also have had some corporate or government communications experience before moving into agency. MW: We wanted to replicate the skills mix Siobhan and I had in the beginning, because we know the yin and yang of media and corporate expertise delivers powerful results.
What are the key issues that are going to keep you and your clients busy over the next year? SD: Hiring fantastic staff and coming up with top 10s for BuzzFeed. MW: Storytelling is back in vogue so I love the growing enthusiasm for embracing digital platforms to help clients deliver news their target audiences can use.
Most memorable PR campaign or project you’ve been involved with? SD: Ansett was one of our foundation clients so as an external agency we were called on to help manage media around its closure in 2001. We’d just done three days solid of issues management around 9/11, but I have to say as a former employee, watching such a great brand collapse is something I’ll never forget. MW: In our first year of business we launched a nifty little website by the name of wotif.com. We love it when our clients go on to become household names, international success stories and ultimately takeover targets!
Where do you get your news from? MW: I remain to this day a relentless consumer of newspapers, magazines, radio, and online. I love it all. I’ve even grown fond of Twitter for its capacity to deliver news fast, reminds me of having AAP feeds back in the day. SD: Our office is like a newsroom… TVs/radios/newspaper mountains everywhere I look. I also love my Hootsuite rolling feeds.
Favourite blog or online influencer? MW: I like what Mark Ragan’s done in the US with Ragan.com. He was a political reporter for many years before moving into PR so I guess there’s a commonality of views. SD: My passions are food and travel so I’m a sucker for the sarcastic ramblings of the late great Anthony Bourdain.
- Telum Media