Reputation Managers
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Founder, owner, and director of Dragon Advisory Charlie Methven asserts that ‘PR has been one of the last great homes of the amateur for quite a while now,’ and needs to ‘professionalise on a continuing running basis’. Whether that be long, boozy lunches or clocking off early, Methven says the industry ‘can’t get away with that 1970s working practice style,’ and that clients’ tolerance of ‘sloppiness is getting lower.’ His firm, which has been operating for six years, has based its success on adapting the management consultancy model to the public relations business, while becoming the trusted adviser to HNWs. Methven’s strategy to achieve this has been to recognise ‘the need to start attracting top level graduates who are driven and determined to go places’ — if the brains aren’t there, clients have no reason not to bring the work in house. This changing corporate PR culture is also tied to changing work output in the industry. ‘The days of producing endless strategic key positioning documents and that being enough are long gone,’ Methven says. Instead, clients are focusing on the ‘granular’ detail of PR strategy: rather than just looking at the big picture, clients are now asking ‘but what are you actually going to do?’ With a new partnership in New York and Singapore expansion likely to follow, Dragon is now at the scale where it is starting to command international attention. One area of growth has been the litigation and disputes side which now counts for over 15% of the entire business. Methven first made major moves into this space two years ago when he hired Patrick Elliot from Brown Rudnick LLP to head that side of the business. With’ a lot of these major legal cases never going to court and instead getting settled,’ Dragon’s role is to help clients predict the ramifications of a case beyond the courtroom. Understanding whether or not a case will remain obscure or explode onto the public stage can be the defining factor in the decision to settle. In the age of social media, reputation management is becoming ever more important, but Methven is wary of dismissing the old-fashioned news sources too soon. He says that ‘the biggest digital forces are also the traditional print media companies,’ citing the fact that the Daily Mail is the biggest news website in the world. Methven argues that ‘we absolutely do believe that there is a role for social media and that it channels a certain type of market. However, I think it’s too easy and too facile for PR consultancies to say the days of traditional print media or dealing with journalists are behind us.’

Charlie Methven