A Week in My Life: Andy Oakes, Managing Director of Bluestripe Media
Andy Oakes is co-founder and Managing Director of Bluestripe Media, a communications agency for the technology, marketing and advertising sector. He reveals all about his working week and how he's been working to create a supportive working environment.
As with every Monday, I wake up with the intention of making it to the gym for 6.00 am. And as with nearly every Monday, I’m still aching from the weekend’s hockey exertions and tell myself I’ll definitely almost certainly go tomorrow. A brief glance to check that the teenagers have registered it’s morning and it’s off to do battle with Greater Anglia and the Central Line along with my wife and business partner Lydia.
After a catch-up with Justin Pearse, the third partner in Bluestripe, I meet with Gill our Head of Client Services to go through the week’s plans. We are hosting an event this week for a client and the venue isn’t being super helpful by moving us into a different space (for the second time in two weeks) so Gill is dispatched to have ‘a quiet chat’ with them.
After a quick lunch, Lydia and Sarah, our PR Director join me on a trip to London Bridge to see a prospective new client and outline how we would work with them. It’s funny how nearly every client starts out thinking they want PR when in fact it’s really an entire communications strategy that is required. As such, the hour meeting stretches into two meaning a hasty juggle of afternoon meetings and calls is required.
Against all expectations, I respond to the 5.30am alarm and I do make it to the gym for 6.00. I can now feel slightly smug for the rest of the day; as well as sleepy. I notice that everybody else who writes these columns says that they always spend time meditating in the morning. This will only confuse the teenagers and I cannot see it working on the train into Liverpool Street so give it a miss for today.
We’re interviewing for two junior positions at the moment and so I spend the morning talking to some brilliant young people about working at Bluestripe. The Dad in me wants to hire all of them, the FD in me quickly overrides that.
Feeling full of caring feelings for everybody, I offer to do the lunch run. All my altruism is rewarded by being caught in a particularly savage rain storm and thus the team’s sushi has a slightly soggy feel to it.
I have a great meeting in the afternoon with an existing client looking to grow their business in the US. As our US PR Director Mel White is in town, we both pop over to Old Street for the discussion. Some clients just get it and this one instructs us to draw up a plan to help boost their business by a considerable margin and understands that communications will be at the heart of that.
Event day so I catch a very early train to make sure that Gill has sufficiently scared the venue into getting things right, which of course she has.
Poppy, another of our senior PR team is already busy corralling guests and journalists into the right seats. We negotiate our way around the almost inevitable speaker drop out, the venue insisting on serving hard boiled eggs for breakfast and an incredibly noisy coffee machine to produce another great event which most importantly has hit all the client expectations. Justin, as ever, is a great host and always gets the best out of the expert panel.
Before heading back to the office, I meet with our clients at Teads to discuss progress and how they can get involved with our new editorial venture, New Digital Age (NDA). Interest in NDA has gone through the roof since Christmas so it important we keep our clients up to date with what's going on.
Get back to my desk to see a note from another client who wants us to produce an event. In three weeks! Within an hour we have a venue booked, a panel sorted and invites written. The client then mentions they will be near our office late in the late afternoon and they would like to buy me a drink. Graciously I let them.
Another very early train so meditating will have to be parked again. This morning, Justin and I are attending a breakfast event at The Ivy held by our friends at Redbud. In attendance are senior representatives of the some the UK’s biggest publishers who are discussing the programmatic landscape from the publisher’s perspective.
There are a lot of shared concerns and issues raised by the attendees, especially about the number of vendors that are running on their sites, including a few who have long since closed. You sense that it’s time for a cleanup and that the bad actors need to be called out. You also sense that the publishers don’t feel that the trade bodies are really doing enough for them in this respect.
Lunch with the fantastic Tim Hipperson, Chair of many great companies including Immedia and Fearlessly Frank who are both clients of ours. As ever, Tim gives us some great ideas, some great advice and some wonderful stories which I cannot possibly retell here for fear of legal action. Tim also agrees to take part in our forthcoming podcast series, so I think we chalk this one up as a win.
On the way back to the office I bump in Mary Keane-Dawson who sits on our board. Over a quick coffee, I update Mary on our latest client win, fill her in on our plans for our second birthday party and generally catch up on what’s happening in the industry. Meeting Tim and Mary is a great example of why it's important to keep networking with the senior people in the industry. Great business advice and a great new business lead.
I’m working at home today so you would think that this might be the chance to crack this mediation thing. Sadly, following a somewhat ‘challenging’ PT session this morning every single muscle in my body aches which means I’m not really in the mood as we head through the morning’s calls and catch ups.
We encourage our team to work from home at least one day a week. A change of work venue is really important, and I think keeps the mind fresh. One of the things we are trying to do with Bluestripe is to create a supportive, trusting and caring place to work and I think that trusting your team is part of that.
I spend the morning trying to finish up an article for NDA on the state of the events serving the digital sector before moving on to updating the business plan which is always an up and down experience. Love the fact that we are well ahead of revenue projections for the quarter but then slightly terrify myself by looking at the projected costs for the year end.
I finish the week as we finish every week which is by sending the Ten Things email. This mail outlines our highlights of the week and means that everybody on the team is aware of what’s going on in the business. It’s a small thing but it’s now ingrained in our culture and part of who we are.
In my old publishing days, Friday afternoons would mean a trip to some of Soho’s finest pubs. These days I finish around five and head off to the hockey club where I’m taking training for Under 14s. The meditating might have to wait until the weekend.