PROSPECT PRESENTS DANIEL COHEN


We catch up with Daniel Cohen, MD EMEA at ATOMIC PR to find out more about ATOMIC PR and hear what makes him tick.

•        What was it about Atomic that attracted you and continues to do so?

In my 20 years or so agency side I've experienced different sizes of agency - from boutique to regional, national, Pan European and finally global with Grayling.  Atomic felt different from the start - some of that is cultural in that it grew up in Silicon Valley so it immediately felt entrepreneurial, innovative and ambitious.   Technical innovation was also a major draw to me - through pioneering the use of analytics to fuel insight, strategy and guide creative to its full integration of social and digital services.  And personally, I was attracted to the opportunity of fusing big brand consumer and corporate reputation techniques, which I had developed over the past 10 or more years, with tech brands.

•        Tell us what you and the senior team have up your sleeve for Atomic in the next 12 months?

Well, last year we grew revenue by 38% which took us through the £1m revenue barrier for the first time and over the past 18-24 months we've grown from 4 or 5 people to 14. So continued growth is high on the agenda. But it's the way we grow which is important.   Most agencies will rightly talk about client service, results, creative and strategy being at the heart of their offer.  It's the same with us - we just have some firepower that no-one else has because we virtually created the use of analytics in PR.  But the most important thing to us is our people.  This year I pegged our training budget to 3% of total revenue which allowed us to ramp up our training programme and next year it will be 5% so we'll be ramping it up some more.  We introduced a bucket list fund which has seen team mates do some amazing things like take a helicopter ride over New York, go diving on the Barrier Reef, drink beer at Oktoberfest and learn how to code. So we'll be doing more of that. And we introduced a raft of innovations all aimed at helping the team to be the best they can be whilst giving the clients the best service they can find.   The biggest talking point at the moment though?  Where are we going for Christmas. Last year I took everyone from our London and Munich offices to Dublin so we set the bar quite high. This year?  Wait and see. 

•        What does it take to be an Atomic person?

Affable - we laugh a lot; 

Entrepreneurial - it's not a spoon feeding environment. We like people to show initiative, try new things and push themselves harder than they've done before and if they fail whilst doing that we don't bail them out. We applaud them.  Inquisitive - asking the right question is a skill we focus on, a lot.

Committed - there are no short cuts to being the best at what you do. 

•        You are seen as a real entrepreneur who likes to challenge the norm, can you give us an example of when and how you’ve pushed boundaries?

Am I?  Very kind of you to say so. It's not necessarily about specific examples, it's about a mindset, I think.  Clients want people and agencies who can challenge their thinking and the status quo, who can show them another way of looking at the world and a different way of achieving their objectives.  Sometimes they don't like it when you rip up their brief in a pitch but if you can show them why it's wrong alongside what it should have been and the creative you have for them, it has rarely worked against us. 

•        For those juniors coming through at the bottom, what advice can you give about how to succeed and be seen in a tough and competitive market?

Media, media, media - consume it, live it, understand it, adore it - in all its forms.

•        Digital and social media is so important as a communication platform, what consumer brands do you think get it spot on?

I love the work Harley-Davidson is doing at the moment - to have the Pope bless bikes and their riders in Rome was inspired.  

Skittles - simple and consistent.  

Lego - omnipresent, relevant and cross-generational. 

Red Bull - continue to find new ways of telling the same story and from that they have never veered.

•        What is your favourite technology brand and why?

It's got to be Apple - in the past ten years I've gone from having nothing to having pretty much everything. That and Sennheiser - I travel and fair bit and my travel headphones are like an old friend. 

•        What 5 apps on your phone could you not live without?

If it's my phone I would say:

Temple Run 2 - great for family championships on tube journeys or when you want a bit of adult time in a restaurant

Sky+ - essential when you've forgotten to record a programme

Shazam - I buy a lot of music and this little baby sometimes helps me

Google maps - I still love traditional maps but this has been a game changer - the downside is I have fewer reasons to be late

8mm - just love that app.

On the tablet it would be Evernote, Noteshelf, SimpleMind, Sky Go, Nationwide and Star Walk.  

•        What was the last holiday you went on?

3500 mile road trip, with the kids in the back mainly watching DVDs, through France and northern Spain to explore Galicia. Spectacular. 

•        You are taking a client to lunch, where do you take them and what would you order?

I used to be a restaurant consultant and critic so I instinctively want to try new places and new dishes.  Places which have never let me down though include Bocca di Lupo, Quo Vadis, Polpo, and Scott's.

•        Who is your favourite communicator and why?

Bob Dylan - surely no reason required.

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