A day in the life of... Daniel Kennedy

Daniel Kennedy is a Geordie-born, Outer Hebridean-raised, Australian-married, Yorkshireman-fathering PR man who has been promoting the living daylights out of various companies in the region, and beyond, since 1997. He has been a director of Source Marketing Communications since 2012 and recently bought-out founding director, Steve Clark, alongside fellow director, Martha Phillips.

 

For someone with two children under the age of ten, my day surprisingly begins with an alarm clock rather than a small person encouraging me to get up. Its first effort comes at 6am; the second at 6.03; and the final one at 6.05. 15-minutes later, and whatever the weather or the time of year, I’ve tiptoed my way out of the house and am charging through Currer Woods in Steeton, working up a sweat and waking up in a way that only an early morning dog walker can love.

By the time the children are finally up at 7.30am, I’ve returned home, had a shower, emptied the dishwasher, made morning cuppas for my wife and I, and am having breakfast while having a quick look at any e-mails that have come in overnight, and checking that nobody has been saying anything untoward on any of the social media accounts we manage for an increasingly large number of clients.

I’ve commuted into Leeds on the train from Steeton for over a decade and have built up a great circle of occasional friends, who I only ever see on the train, and have never once tried to tap up for business. Although with my share of Source now significantly increased, perhaps its time I start handing out few business cards on my way into and out of Leeds.

I joined Source back in 2002, and have worked in PR since 1997; and the way the industry has changed in those 20 plus years is incredible. In my first job in Otley, only one computer had an internet connection, and you had to pedal like fury to get it online. Everything was done by phone, post or in person. Except, of course, when you wanted to get a press release issued urgently, which resulted in spending an afternoon swearing at a fax machine as you tried and tried (and tried several more times), to re-send the same two sheets of A4 to 137 differently weekly newspapers. A job that was immediately followed by calling every single paper to check your fax had been properly received.

These days, the fax machine is in the museum, and I spend an awful lot less time on the phone and far too much time communicating quietly online. I miss the long and frequent chats with both clients and journalists as they really helped cement relationships; making you so much more than just a supplier or annoying press release peddler.

And then there’s social media. I remember the excitement of discovering Facebook and realising you had a means of finding out what all the forgotten folk from earlier in your life looked like now. Nobody then would ever have believed that Facebook, and all the other social sites it spawned, would have virtually taken over the world within a decade – reshaping not just the way we live, but the way we work; especially when it comes to PR.

A typical working day sees me spending at least two hours on Twitter for various clients, and half that time again on LinkedIn – all on behalf of clients I’m personally responsible for; the majority of who are B2B operators and so don’t rely on social as heavily as the B2C businesses we represent. For example, we manage social activity across Twitter and Facebook for a major bingo chain and that represents virtually a full-time job for the account executive working on it.

Unlike a lot of other agencies, Source ensures its senior folk aren’t just figureheads that turn up for new business pitches and at monthly meetings, but are active in all aspects of client work. As the company wordsmith, this means I still spend a lot of time, writing a lot of words about a lot of different topics – from technical articles for trade titles that wouldn’t look out of place on Have I Got News for You, to succinct press statements in response to journalist enquiries. Short, quirky social statements may well be flavour of the month, but they’ve got to be backed up with the kind of content – whether online or in print – that portrays the quoted company or person in the desired manner.

This daily client work not only keeps me on my toes, especially as I’m being taught new tricks on a daily basis by our social media hotshots, but has helped Source achieve an enviable longevity of client relationships in an industry where short-term is so often the norm. We’ve got clients on our roster that we’ve represented for 10, 15 and an astonishing 25-years, plus a handful that have notched up at five years each.

When the working day’s done, my evenings are pretty varied. I’ve a sporting child and a dramatic one, so can be found beside cricket pitches in the summer, football ones in the winter, and off-stage left throughout the year. And when I’m not on parental duty, I love beer, curry, reading, comedy, quiet nights on the couch, eating in, eating out, playing badminton and (despite the day job) writing – just not all on the same night.

Written by Daniel Kennedy, 04/05/2018