2003 to 2023: Time flies

Twenty years ago, the world was a completely different place to what it is today. As Shrewdd Marketing celebrates its 20th anniversary, please allow me to look back on our journey while reflecting on the evolution of public relations (PR).

When we opened our doors in Halifax in 2003, Tony Blair was prime minister (the country has changed leadership six times since then), England won the Rugby World Cup, and Concorde made its last flight.

In terms of running a PR and marketing business, press releases were distributed via fax, connecting to the internet happened via a very slow dial-up connection, websites were essentially just electronic brochures, and social media was virtually unheard of.

While the world around us has evolved with the ongoing advances in both society and technology – we survived the 2008 recession, London hosted the Summer Olympics in 2012, we endured the Covid-19 pandemic, and we bade farewell to Queen Elizabeth II in 2022 – so too has the world of PR.

20 years ago, PR wasn’t driven by the digital options available to us today. Where once traditional PR focused on offline visibility, distributing press releases and news in a one-way communication funnel (via Royal Mail), monitoring the media, and placing stories, modern PR has morphed into an industry that touches almost every aspect of business and has reinvented communication as we know it. It has brought brands online, allowing them to broadcast information in real-time and have an actual conversation with their audiences.

In fact, the rise of digital technology has played a major role in the PR industry’s evolution, making the dissemination of information quicker and easier than we ever could have imagined. Social media has been a key driver, and PR professionals have adapted, learning to navigate each new platform by strategising how to manage, create and post content. This, however, doesn’t mean that print is dead (look out for my next blog!).

Additionally, the advent of the smartphone has enabled PR practitioners to accomplish a lot more in a lot less time, e.g., managing an off-site event while sending and receiving emails, posting to social media, proofreading copy, and liaising with a client on the go.

Bill Gates is often quoted as saying: “If I was down to my last dollar, I would spend it on public relations”. However, another famous phrase, “Content is king!”, is also attributed to him. It came from an essay he wrote and shared with his Microsoft employees in 1995.

The creation and dissemination of quality content is one aspect of the PR industry that hasn’t changed, and it has remained a key service and area of expertise for Shrewdd Marketing. What has continued to evolve, however, is the how, what, and where content is shared. In the words of Richard Branson, “A good PR story is infinitely more effective than a front-page ad.”

As with everything in life, Shrewdd Marketing has had to evolve, adapt, and keep up with ever-changing technological requirements over the past two decades. Gone are the days of offering a static, traditional public relations offering. Today, we are a digitally savvy agency with skilled PR, content and design experts.

I’d like to think we’ve coped well with these changes, especially considering the speed at which it has affected not only the industry, but the world at large. And although many things have changed since our humble beginnings in 2003, some things have remained the same – we are still an owner-managed agency, we continue to deliver the highest quality of work, and we remain true to the principle of putting our valued clients first to ensure we deliver ROI.

We are extremely proud of the milestones achieved along the way, such as setting up a design team in 2010, renovating and moving into our current offices in 2013 – a beautiful Victorian building in the heart of Halifax, my hometown and a town which has since been called the ‘Shoreditch of the North’ thanks to a thriving music, film and creative arts scene – and winning our first industry awards in 2014.

Over the past 20 years we have delivered exceptional service, creativity, and strategically aligned results to B2B brands across the UK and internationally. Through our vast experience, personal approach, and cost-effective business models, we have gained loyal clients across multiple sectors and industries, including sustainable technologies, green tech, chemicals, engineering, lighting, logistics and construction.

It has certainly been a memorable journey, and we are very proud of the long-term relationships we have been able to sustain with many of our clients.

By Alf Lombardi

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