This month’s Prospect Presents features Pat Pearson and Paul Davies, Managing Directors and Co-Founders of firstlight PR Agency

Q: firstlight has been established for six years, what was the vision you had when you launched and do you feel you’ve been able to stay true to that along the way?

Paul:  We saw an opportunity to focus on helping companies’ bottom lines using communications as a business development tool not an afterthought.  I think we’ve stayed pretty close to that principle.  Plus we thought we could do a better job than other people.

Q: The agency is known for its flexible working culture – why is this important to you, how do you facilitate this and why do you think we don’t see enough of this within the PR industry?

Pat: We have a problem as an industry. For years, women have left to start families and haven’t come back. It’s a maternity brain drain and it's unnecessary. Many can continue working with a little bit of flexibility on both sides. At firstlight this means using technology - Jenkins our Double robot for participation in office life, cloud based IT and communications and latest Apple kit - and a culture of trust, which to be perfectly honest, is paid back in spades. Our people are professionals who help our clients make business critical decisions - why would we expect them to work here in a mechanical clocking-on system? I think we will start to see more flexible cultures develop, and clearly the agencies that embrace this will retain the talent.  

Paul: It’s not just about returning mums.  We all benefit from this and want to flex days or locations from time to time.

Q: What else makes firstlight stand out and in a competitive market, why should a candidate choose you over a competitor?

Paul: When people join us they tell me that they feel like they’re joining a team and not an agency.  That’s not a size thing.  It’s more of a philosophy.  We’re all on the journey together and we all have an opportunity to shape the direction of the business regardless of seniority.

Q: During your respective careers which piece of work are you most proud of and why?

Pat: The PR industry is incredible. When I think back, I can’t actually believe some of the extraordinary experiences it has given me. As a Government press officer I accompanied the Secretary’s of State on international visits, including some of the first post-cold war meetings and helped launch policies that changed the country. In agency, the medicines, technologies and initiatives I’ve been fortunate enough to be involved in have genuinely transformed and saved lives. Patients originally diagnosed with terminal conditions who are still alive today. It always amazes me that the PR degree courses don’t make a bigger thing of Healthcare PR. It’s got to be one of the most exciting and satisfying career options.     

Paul: I’m most proud, humbled actually, by the people that have joined firstlight and who have become friends as well as colleagues.  As for client work, I love writing so I’m always chuffed when a client is happy to put their name to my copy.

Q: You work together and live 10 minutes from one another… does friendship make firstlight or does firstlight make the friendship?

Pat: We’d be friends with or without firstlight. There’s always time to put the world to rights over a pint.  

Paul: We were friends before firstlight having worked together at Red.  He’s the only one old enough in the office to get my cultural references so we kinda have to stick together.

Q: If you could each choose any brand in the world to work with, who would you choose and why?

Pat: Some of my most exciting work over the years has been with Pfizer. The company has always had great vision and an appetite for innovative campaigns. It would be nice to be working with the Pfizer team again.

Paul: I’m lucky because I’m already working with brands that I’ve always admired.  But there is a gap on our client list for Shropshire Tourism (Simon McCloy, I’ll be in touch), Nikon and JLR. 

Q: Paul, you’re widely regarded as a technogeek – how does technology feature in your personal life compared to work life?

Put it this way, when my robotic vacuum cleaner has fallen out with my robotic mop you can hear a pin drop at home.And as someone that likes photography I’m often to be found buying expensive glass to stick on the front of my cameras.

Q: Pat, you have a love of the outdoors and sports – how do you find the time to fit it all in, what do you do and where?

There is of course never enough time! Skiing, mountain walking, cycling, sailing and watching football. Fortunately my wife Siobhan shares the interests. We spend quite a bit of time in the French Alps, sailing in the Solent and further afield for summer holidays. Trips to watch Southampton Football Club are regular moments of stress during the season.   

Q: You’re both really into (very different types of) music, what would be the Desert Island Discs soundtrack to a typical firstlight day?

Pat: OK. Desert Island Discs is eight tracks. I’ll do the first four for the typical firstlight day...

Arriving in the office: Just Another High - Roxy Music 

Client coverage: Boing Boom Tschak - Kraftwerk

Reporting back to client The No.1 Song in Heaven - Sparks

11am expresso Morning Song - The Lumineers  

Over to you Paul...

Lunchtime: Here Comes My Baby - Cat Stevens

Pitching an idea to a client: Death or Glory - The Clash

Late afternoon push to hit deadline: Try - Dolly Parton (gets me every time)

Heading home: This Must Be The Place - Talking Heads

Q: Describe each other in no more than 140 characters.

Pat (about Paul): Hardworking, pragmatic Shropshire with a sense of fun and wicked sense of humour, focusing on things that matter in life. 

Paul (about Pat): A super-sharp, decisive, confident, thoughtful guy with a big heart and a strong moral compass

Q: What’s next for firstlight?

Simple.  More of the same.  Awesome people, inspirational clients, great work

Q: Tell us a secret…

Pat: I once took part in an English Civil War battle. 

Paul: I admitted to finding a senior member of the Royal Family attractive without realising she was stood behind me.  And no, it wasn’t the Queen Mum.  She already knew how I felt about her.


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