Louise Vaughan, managing director at Definition, talks about the agency's move to Leeds, why it's is different from other agencies and what the future holds for her and her team.
You've just relocated your headquarters from Harrogate to Leeds. What was the thinking behind the change?
The move was fuelled by both strategic and practical reasons – the first relating to the exciting growth potential Leeds offers.
Leeds has always held a position as the strongest professional services centre outside London but in recent years has carved out a fantastic reputation for the tech and creative industries too – cemented recently by Channel 4 relocating its head office to the city. They are a stone’s throw from our new premises.
The commercial growth potential across our core service lines of business services, tech, health and wellness and transport and logistics, as well as the available talent pool, was a huge attraction too.
The rail networks are also much quicker linking London and Leeds giving practical benefits - a number of team members work on cross-site accounts and there’s a need to spend time in both offices to foster strong working relationships both team and client side.
You have three offices - Leeds, London and Dubai - why those particular locations and how do the teams work together?
Our heartland has always been in the north despite our client base having always been national and international. We wanted to retain the fantastic people, clients and reputation we have in the north whilst recognising that key to significant growth would be a serious London presence.
When you look at industry data, 90% of PR income is sourced via London and the south-east. Tapping into this opportunity across our four sector specialisms is a key part of our growth strategy.
Our Dubai operation was led by client demand for EMEA campaign delivery across a number of business service sectors, but the Dubai team have since broadened their own client portfolio to include health, travel, tech and aviation.
We’ve continued to evolve our ‘Defining Journey’ for clients to ensure we offer the same high standard to client care and campaign delivery across all teams.
At least once or twice a year we invest in bringing all teams from Leeds, London and Dubai together to communicate our successes (and challenges!) as well as our vision for the future. This in invaluable in forging bonds – often over beers – right across the agency.
Why did you commit to keeping your headquarters in the north, rather than the London office?
Although Leeds is our registered head office our teams across Leeds and London are of equal size and stature, with both working closely together on a number of client accounts. This has been incredibly important to us to ensure a common approach and culture across both offices.
Whilst both offices have experienced growth over the last few years, we anticipate London will grow at a faster rate purely due to the greater market opportunity in the capital – but maintaining our northern base will remain critical to our national footprint and client servicing.
What is it that differentiates Definition from other agencies?
We’re one of the most successful reputation management agencies in the country and bring together a successful mix of seasoned journalists, corporate comms pros, digital natives, and sales superstars to project, protect, define and refine the reputation of the companies and individuals we work for.
It’s this winning combination that consistently delivers commercial creativity and impact for clients in the campaigns and communications programmes that we devise and deliver.
Key to our success is providing the right balance of proactive and protective reputation management activity to deliver value for our clients and rewarding work for our people. We’re one of the most successful agencies in the country taking this approach – having won over 60 awards since we started out.
Whether an entrepreneurial start up or scale up, a large corporate, a not for profit or an inspiring business leader – all our clients are dedicated to positively improving the world in many ways such as job and wealth creation, pioneering research, new technology or impactful ideas and thoughts that the world needs to know about. We support them to do this – helping them to achieve standout in what are often incredibly competitive marketplaces.
How do you look to measure your work?
We start with the end in mind – so root all our goals and KPIs in what the client wants to achieve. Sometimes this will be an aspect of corporate or commercial growth, sometimes it may be recognition to open up new market opportunities, sometimes it may relate to issues and crisis management.
Sometimes, for the individuals we work with, this can be a personal motivation – for example to enhance personal brand and be recognised as an industry leader and commentator in a particular sphere.
Whatever we do it spans belief and behaviour change across share of voice, brand association to key messages, sentiment and, ultimately, sales.
Finally, what does the future hold for the agency?
Having successfully delivered on our first acquisition last year both organic growth and acquisitions are firmly on the agenda.
As our industry increasingly evolves to offer broader content and digital solutions this will be an important way of both accelerating our growth potential but also ensuring we are able offer our clients a constantly evolving and improving suite of reputation management services.