This week, in the latest of our life stories podcasts, I’m interviewing Jennifer Mowat, managing director at Babel.
Jennifer went to university at Cambridge. Her first job in PR was at Mantra (now Speed) before moving to Chameleon and Brands2Life as a director. She joined Babel as managing director in February this year.
Babel is an independent tech PR firm with a revenue of circa £2m. It employs 20 people in the UK and five in the US. It was founded by Ian Hood and Narelle Morrison in 2008. Narelle and Ian still own the business.
Here’s a flavour of what Jenny and I discussed:
[00:01:42] How Jenny originally wanted to be a teacher, but changed her mind whilst at university.
[00:03:50] Why Jenny's time at Chameleon had a big impact on her career.
[00:03:59] How Rob Skinner, Steve Loynes and Adrian Ma taught Jenny a lot during her time at Chameleon.
[00:05:42] How Jenny has tried to learn from the senior leadership team in each of her jobs.
[00:05:52] Jenny talks about what she learned during her time at Brands2Life – when the business expanded from 60 to 120 people.
[00:07:45] Jenny gives an insider’s perspective on the transition from being a media-focused PR firm to it restructuring itself with a creative team, a video team, a social team, etc.
[00:08:59] How an integrated team can offer more client value, compared to added-on freelance services.
[00:10:05] Which integrated services do PR firms need the most?
[00:11:29] Why Jenny left Brands2Life to move to a much smaller firm, Babel.
[00:15:03] What is Babel’s sphere of work?
[00:16:26] Are we in danger of overcomplicating the talent issue in public relations – don't employees of PR firms just want to do enjoyable work for clients they care about?
[00:19:00] Why Jenny thinks the PR sector is still behind other sectors with flexible working.
[00:19:15] Jenny talks about Anna Whitehouse's Flex Appeal approach to flexible working.
[00:20:53] Why there’s still a difference between flexible working being laid out in a policy and actually happening in reality.
[00:23:05] Jenny and I discuss the need for equal shared parenting responsibilities to reduce the gender pay gap.
[00:25:42] The need to be transparent and honest with clients about your flexible working policies.
[00:26:41] Why Jenny thinks that PR under spends on training currently.
[00:27:39] How Babel identities its employees’ training needs.
[00:29:24] How Babel's employees average around 50 hours of training per year.
[00:31:19] Does Babels training help it attract the right people and hang on to the right people?
[00:32:32] Why the upskilling trend within PR is good from both the employer’s and the employee's perspective.
[00:33:55] Why succession planning is such a vital part of agency management.
[00:36:54] How does a mid -ized tech PR firm like Babel differentiate itself?