By Catrina Coakley-Burns
Turning 18 is a massive milestone in any teenager’s life. It is the age when you officially become an adult in the eyes of the law and there are many “firsts” that come with this new-found responsibility and freedom: you can register to vote for the first time, serve on a jury, get married without parental consent in England and buy your first pint down the local pub!
At Flame PR, we have had our fair share of “firsts” over the past 18 years whilst working alongside our international client base in dynamic and ever-evolving sectors: technology, finance and retail, to name but a few. In celebration of this extra special anniversary, we chat with our founder and CEO Kully Dhadda, to reflect on Flame PR’s achievements over the last 18 years and find out what we can expect to see from the agency in the future.
As a former BBC journalist, what was the driving force behind starting your own public relations agency?
Serving the BBC for 15 years as a journalist has definitely helped me to understand the importance of storytelling and creating the right narrative in communications, as well as how to position companies and their unique selling points to quality media outlets. Whilst working at the BBC, I would often have companies approach the shows that I was working on and it was evident that their PR agencies weren’t providing them with the opportunities and exposure that they needed to grow their business. This is where I saw my opportunity: I could bring my insider knowledge of how top-tier media operates and their fantastic editorial guidelines to my own PR agency. I could use my storytelling experience from my time at the BBC to help brands make their business proposition compelling and attractive to online, broadcast and print publications. And so, Flame PR was born.
I noted a general lack of transparency and accountability in the PR industry and this was something I wanted to address when I founded my own agency. I wanted my clients to be confident in the results that they could expect from a partnership with Flame PR.
Think of how much the world of technology alone has progressed in the past 18 years: in February 2004, Mark Zuckerberg had only just founded Facebook, and today there are more than 4.62 billion social media users across the world. How has the PR industry changed in the 18 years since you founded Flame?
You are definitely right to draw attention to the booming popularity of social media over the past two decades, as this is something that has been a catalyst for change in the PR industry. Social media has emerged as a key channel for brands to communicate with their audiences and, as such, being able to distribute clips of broadcast interviews and share snippets of captivating thought leadership content on social media platforms has hugely expanded the reach of earned PR content. Even though the basic principles of producing compelling content to engage audiences have not changed since I started Flame PR, social media has proved that longform pieces of writing need to be complemented with bite-sized and engaging multimedia social posts. As social media matures, the biggest trend is telling stories through pictures and film. At Flame PR, we have embraced the social media revolution and the beneficial role that it can play in generating brand awareness, alongside marketing and PR activities. This is why we offer our clients digital marketing support, alongside our service offering of public relations, broadcast PR and crisis management.
What about the agency itself: how has Flame PR’s service offering grown and developed over the years?
With my diverse background in business journalism, I knew that I wanted to work across a variety of sectors in my own PR agency. I have been fortunate to partner with clients from such a vast range of industry verticals over the years, covering stories on insurtech, automotive electrification, energy storage, edtech and cybersecurity to name just a few examples. I am very proud of how the company’s domain expertise has strengthened over the last 18 years, and I know that we will continue to expand our expertise in the future.
The global footprint of Flame PR has also grown at a rapid rate since I founded the agency. It is truly a client-led global success story, since our customers have taken us with them on their business journeys across Europe, Asia and the US. Having an international client base is something which I immensely value, as Flame PR continues to expand its international reach going forwards.
Flame PR must have experienced countless achievements over the years, but what would you say has been your proudest moment?
It’s undeniable that there are new highs every month and we celebrate every positive outcome we’ve achieved for our clients. It's difficult to put into words the satisfaction felt when your client experiences growth and success due to the hard work that your team has put into their PR and marketing campaigns. It’s deeply rewarding to be a part of our clients’ dream journeys and witness their stories being shared far and wide.
If I had to pick one moment, I would say that I am particularly proud of the work that Flame PR has done for active investors, especially before people were talking about responsible investment. Our worldwide campaign for a leading asset management firm was produced in the early days of environmental, social and governance (ESG) and the impact of the campaign on the course of responsible investment is still remembered by many of my connections today. It was a monumental campaign that set the agenda for institutional investors around the world and it influenced government policy across Australasia and Europe – a definite highlight in our agency’s jam-packed 18-year history!
What’s next for Flame PR? What is your vision for the agency’s future?
I can’t quite believe that I am here looking back on the past 18 years of Flame PR; the company has been on an exceptional journey and I am very excited for what is to come. My dream is to see the agency continue to blossom and grow at a rapid pace - I want Flame to become one of the fastest-growing PR agencies in the sector. I have grand ambitions to work with the industry’s most respected players and develop our position as a leading provider across the key industry verticals that we have delivered in since the agency began. Bring on the next 18 years!
I want to pay tribute to Flame PR’s wonderful and dedicated leaders, and the talented teams that they support, as they have undoubtedly helped make the agency the success that it is today. I would like to give a special mention to Rani Gill, who has been with us at Flame PR for over 11 years and is a fountain of PR and industry-specific knowledge for the whole team. I would also like to thank William Nestor for being a pioneer in our agency’s digital development. I have immense admiration for all of my colleagues, who have been true advocates of the agency and have shared my enthusiasm for delivering great results for our clients. Great outcomes can only be achieved through great teamwork and I dedicate Flame PR’s very special 18-year anniversary to my team and all of their hard work.