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The Wrap: Nick Washbourne, Commercial Director, Force24


Each Friday in The Wrap, one of the North’s leading media and creative figures will be giving us their take on the news covered by Prolific North over the last seven days.

This week it’s the turn of Nick Washbourne, commercial director at Leeds-based marketing automation specialist and confirmed Prolific North Live exhibitor Force24.

I think freelance marketer Agatha Chapman-Poole made some interesting points in her opinion piece on Tuesday. She quite-rightly challenged the stigma that exists surrounding ‘going solo’, because the agility benefit is something that a growing number of clients are demanding from suppliers of all sizes. The day of the agency is not dead, but those operating with more of a traditional, rigid and non-results focused agenda, are getting left behind. I think clients are also looking for specialists, not super agencies, so this really is a time for freelancers, small start-ups and larger yet more fluid firms, to thrive. 

Regular visitors to the Prolific North site will know there are always reports of movers and shakers, but after recently reading of 49 potential job losses at Trinity, it was especially encouraging to see so many companies taking on new team members this week. We were particularly interested to learn about the expansion of Leeds-based Smoothwall and the creation of 20 new roles. The firm’s cyber security focus will no doubt be a pivotal catalyst to this current growth – I know our early preparation to ensure our tech is GDPR-ready has proven a big part in our progression over the past six months or so.

Yesterday, Prolific North allowed us a nosey inside the new MediaCity HQ of Kellogg’s, following their relocation from Talbot Road. They’ve clearly thought carefully about the environment they’ve created for staff, with the vibrant moss wall in one of their communal areas particularly catching our eye. There’s a lot more to interiors than gimmicks though, and it seems that this is something the brand has really embraced as they progress on their change journey. An office space is one of the most obvious symbols of modern culture and, I believe, especially in the competitive world of creative and digital, it can prove crucial in attracting and retaining staff. We’ve long thought about what we offer for our colleagues, beyond four simple walls, which is why we’ve got a large open plan space for teams to collaborate, for instance, a vast kitchen area which often hosts our own chef, and a basketball hoop when people get extra competitive. 

And with final preparations at our own HQ underway for Prolific North Live, it’s been great to read up on the last few previews for the event. The schedule for day one is literally packed with reasons to attend – not least a session on ‘saying no to open and click rates’ which is set to be delivered by my colleague Adam Oldfield. It’s unsurprising that GDPR features in the seminar line-up but there seem to be many other really interesting topics on the agenda. I’m intrigued to see what’s new on the AR and VR scene, and I think the ‘What they don’t teach you in marketing school’ session from Paddy Power will kick off the day with a bang.

Finally, a quick shout out has to go to the presenters at Wirral Radio who racked up 50 non-stop hours on air as part of a fundraising drive to save the station. In a world of ever-changing media, radio is something that can so easily get overlooked, but the monies accumulating on the crowdfunding page show that many people don’t want it to go!

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