Once upon a time, in a Leeds that bears little resemblance to today’s shiny, uber-modern city; two baggy-trousered, big-spectacled PR men decided enough was enough.
They were done with working for The Man – well the MD they didn’t really get on with.
They wanted to be their own bosses. In charge of their own destiny.
And so, after a series of clandestine meetings in dark corners of dimly lit pubs, Steve Clark and Peter Downey resigned from their roles as directors of a big regional agency; signed some bits of official looking paper; opened a bank account; doodled something that would pass for a logo on the back of a fag packet and presented it to a neighbour who turned it into a proper logo; and, after a series of ever more outlandish agency names were suggested and then rejected by the pair, Source Marketing Communications was born.
The inspiration for the name came from a bottle of Vodka Source that Peter was drinking at a party. He thought (and remember he was drinking alcopops, so was a long way into this particular party) that the name was trendy and that his and Steve’s new company could be a Source of inspiration for others. Only when they were both sober did they realise the name worked in many ways for PR – a reliable source; a source of news; and the source of new PR journeys for businesses.
All of that happened during the winter and early Spring of 2001, with Source bursting into bloom on a sunny April morning 19 years ago this month. Ironically, the early days of Source were masterminded from the very dining table in Peter’s Apperley Bridge home that he’s found himself confined to for the past four weeks.
That though is where the comparisons end.
Peter’s table is now just one in a series of tables, of all shapes and sizes, dotted around the county where the work of Source is being carried out remotely by a team of six during the Covid-19 crisis.
Much of the work being done also bears little resemblance to the traditional PR and marketing fare that Peter and Steve focussed solely on back then. Yes, there are still press releases, opinion pieces and technical articles being written and placed; but there’s also social media, digital marketing, GoogleAd campaigns, SEO, website development, e-newsletters and more.
Gone too are the days when sending a press release out involved envelopes, reams of paper, printed photographs, labels, stamps and an hour spent cross-legged on the floor. The perfect hangover job as Steve liked to describe it.
In fact, the differences between work then and now are absolutely incredible. Take the current situation – 19-years ago the majority of businesses wouldn’t have had a chance of surviving a prolonged period of lockdown.
But today the technology that’s developed over the last two decades, which let’s face it, we all pretty much take for granted, is not only saving businesses and jobs – it’s saving lives. And that’s something a fax machine could never have done.
So what next for Source? Well, even during lockdown daily team meetings have been taking place, during which new ideas for new strings to the Source bow have been discussed; and it’s anticipated some of those will be implemented and launched as new services later in the year.
But in the meantime, the team will keep on keeping on; ensuring the level of service it provides its clients remains as good now as it is in normal times; while also thinking up more fiendishly difficult questions for its weekly virtual pub quiz that is proving to be a lockdown hit for clients, suppliers, friends and families.