Five Years at C8 – A Retrospective

October 23, 2023By Jim PopleInsights

As former Prime Minister, Harold Wilson, once said, “A week is a long time in politics”. Therefore, in public relations, you’d think that five years would be an eternity. Well, you’d be wrong. This October marks my five-year tenure at C8 Consulting, and I really don’t know where the time has gone.

It certainly doesn’t feel like half a decade, or 60 months, one worldwide health crisis, 1,826 days – or 43,830 hours, in which I have sent approximately 48,000 emails. I had a three-year-old when starting with C8, and she’s now eight. Yes, I know that three plus five is eight, but that’s staggering in my mind. Anyway, you get the gist.

I have spent more than half of my professional PR career at C8 Consulting, and putting more number crunching to one side, the experience and knowledge that I have absorbed – as well as becoming generally more worldly under our fearless leader, Paula – is something that is worth measuring.

To that end, I have listed below one or two things that I have picked up along the way on my journey with C8, which may be helpful/inspiring to any of you reading, whether you’re in PR or not.

Get Stuck In Where You Can

I was overjoyed to arrive at C8 as an Account Manager in 2018, with something in the back of my mind still asking me if PR was the right career. With the calibre of clients that I’d be working on – some of which we’re still happy to call clients today – and the opportunity to get some solid experience under my belt, these thoughts quickly dissipated.

Although I was in the middle of the pack; with a handful of colleagues above me and below me in seniority, I got the vibe that we’re all one team, we all get our hands dirty, and we all do a bit of everything. This was invaluable in helping me to get up to speed as quickly as possible and learn as much about my clients and colleagues as I could. In fact, I was thrown straight into preparation for a new business pitch on day three, taking place just 13 days after I started. This is not uncommon; businesses need to see how their newbies perform, and it certainly got the creative juices flowing.

This flat management structure is still one of our USPs; we have great strength in depth. I would implore anyone starting out in PR, or making a move at a more senior level, to look for a company that does the same – it really gave me the confidence that I wanted to be at C8 for the long term.

Adaptability and Creativity Is Key

For those at C8, and countless other businesses worldwide, the 2020 shift to home working was reflective of the need to pivot and adapt to the situation that presented itself. It’s the same in PR.

Working from home for 16 months forces you to think differently about something as simple as grabbing a coffee with a colleague to discuss a project or idea, although in the working-from-home world, this can’t happen. It also teaches you to have a thick skin, and to take things on the chin and move forward when problems arise.

The same goes for traditional client events; how can we make these engaging for the hundreds of journalists sitting at home? Budgets were the only limit in coming up with anything and everything – we let our minds run free on what we could create. Ultimately, we came up with the answers, and delivered for our clients.

This is typical of the old adage that “no two days in PR are the same”, which is as true as ever. But I don’t think I would like them to be. After all, variety is the spice of life.

Clients, Colleagues and Connections Make the World Go Around

I called our MD, Paula Elliott, above, our “fearless leader”. That’s not just hyperbole. I have been lucky to learn a lot from Paula during my time here, and see how she uses her experience to approach opportunities, challenges, and crises. I have felt that I have definitely taken some of these traits on board. As I have progressed through the ranks to my current role as PR Director, I have been able to model some of my leadership traits and client-facing skills on Paula’s approach.

In addition, I genuinely love the clients I work for, and I get on really well with my colleagues (there’s a real team atmosphere). I’m genuinely interested in meeting people in and outside of my network, whenever I can – you never stop learning. This may just sound like words, but it’s an integral component to enjoying my time at C8, and in PR as a whole.

Getting Out There

I’ve been fortunate enough in my five years at C8 to leave the office in Reading and get to know some of my peers at a networking or industry event, or to simply spend time with my clients. I mentioned getting stuck in earlier, but I would encourage anyone in PR – at any level – to grab the opportunities when you can. It’s important on a number of levels, both personally and professionally, to not solely sit behind a laptop all day.

In my five years at C8, in addition to the great team and client lunches, I have journeyed to Amsterdam, Paris, Frankfurt, and San Francisco, to name several places. Yes, I’m not Phileas Fogg, but it’s done me the world of good. No pun intended.

Another Five Years?

Not many people can say that they genuinely enjoy the work they do; but I do, so I will. Every day is an opportunity to feed off your colleagues, clients, and partners. Here’s to the next five years at C8 Consulting – who knows what this blog will look like in another 60 months?