James Herring is chief executive and founder of PR agency Taylor Herring. The award-winning agency counts the BBC, Coca Cola, and Walt Disney among its clients and is known for its humorous approach to brand storytelling. The company often hits the headlines with campaigns such as transforming a supermarket into an ice rink and creating an hour long film about a Samsung washing machine. James is also founder of The Poke, a satirical website launched in 2002 known for producing humorous news content. He is also the editor-in-chief of famouscampaigns.com, and director of St Marks Studios, which creates news packages for online and broadcast media. In this in-depth conversation, James discusses how the Edinburgh Festival Fringe inspired him to start a career in media and entertainment, describes how he founded his company with his wife nearly twenty years ago as a creative agency promising to deliver fame and fortune to its clients, and reveals how he convinced Stephen Hawking to write a scientific research paper on the odds of England winning the World Cup Final in 2014.
This week on the PRmoment podcast. in the latest of our life stories series, I’m pleased to welcome co-founder of Taylor Herring, James Herring. James started Taylor Herring in 2001 alongside his then girlfriend Kath Taylor. Taylor Herring has had quite a 12 months, with work with Greggs, The Beano, Samsung, Diageo and Easyjet (and I could go on) grabbing attention. Taylor Herring is one of a group of independent firms in London who seem to be pushing the boundaries of public relations - to a more integrated place, but it is doing that by unashamedly taking advantage of its understanding of what is required to make a story fly in earned media. Taylor Herring Group has billings of around £4.5m and employs around 20 staff. Here is the flavour of what James and I discuss: How James ended up getting his first job in talent management at comedy agency Avalon 1.15 minsHow James ended up working on 10 Edinburgh Festivals 5.20 minsWhy James wanted to work in media and show business and didn’t intend to have a career in PR 5.45 minsWhy there two halves to James career - a talent management half and a PR half 5.40 mins How the humourous accent of work that James learnt on the comedy circuit still underwrites Taylor Herring today 6.40 minsHow James’ client portfolio used to include Frank Skinner, Harry Hill, The Mighty Bush and Chris Addison 7 minsWhy Fantasy Football and Baddiel and Skinner was James first big break 7.30 minsWhen James suddenly had to understand KPIs , a SWOT Analysis and Powerpoint 10.10 minsHow James' second big break to take him beyond comedy and into PR was Channel 4 and Big Brother 10.50 minsThe story of hows James’ and Channel 4’s plan of a decoy car and secret hotel for Nasty Nick failed 12.25 minsWhy that Big Brother Nasty Nick moment was a pivotal moment in James’ career 14.15 minsHow the launch of Taylor Herring came about 15.20 minsHow James met his now wife and business partner Kath Taylor 15.43 minsJames talks about why Taylor Herring has not an been an overnight success story and how the story of the business separates into two halves 18 minsHow Taylor Herring made the jump from working with media brands to consumer brands 26 minsWhy Paddy Power was a significant “stepping stone” client for Taylor Herring 27.30 minsWhy James loves clients like Paddy Power which makes him “run with scissors” 29.15 minsIn order to stand out you have to be bold in your thinking 30 minsWhy James believes technology is killing advertising 30.15 minsWhy advertising is losing its influence on society 31 minsWhy James believes PR firms are taking significant budget from advertising firms 33 minsWhy James believes we’re already past the peak of influencer marketing budgets 33.15 minsJames tells us about the Fuck me Doris test for The Sun’s editorial and why this matters to PR people 36 mins Why simplicity is key to creativity 38.20 minsJames talks us through Taylor Herring’s creative process 39 minsWhy a failed pitch to M&S changes the way Taylor Herring approached new business, how they should work and what type of people Taylor Herring should hire 41 mins Why a procurement department’s involvement in a pitch tends to kill creativity 41.30 minsWhy James doesn’t think Taylor Herring is the right agency for luxury brands or high street brands 46.20 minsWhy Taylor Herring likes to take its clients on a jour