10 questions with… Richard Scarlett
November 23, 2020
- Why PR?
I always knew that I wanted to enter the marketing world, but was convinced advertising was the discipline for me. However, about a third of the way through my marketing degree, I realised that PR was better suited to my skills and interests – communication, creativity, relationship building and writing – and would maximise my strengths. Once I’d narrowed in on this element of the promotional mix, I used my placement year to build as much ‘real-world’ PR experience as possible. I’ve never regretted it. PR isn’t a one-size-fits-all effort, and this allows me to have a varied workload, shape public opinion and continuously apply the knowledge I’ve accumulated over the years to help brands position their offering strategically and creatively.
- What about tech inspires you?
To say that tech is ‘fast paced’ would be cliché to say the least. But it’s true. Over the years, I have seen changes in the industry and new market entrants at an astounding rate that I couldn’t imagine fifteen years ago. In addition, we’re currently on the cusp of some pretty interesting integrations and innovations like AI, and coupled with the drumbeat of M&A activity constantly shifting the landscape, who knows what things will look like in another fifteen years. And that’s genuinely exciting. From a PR perspective, tech also feeds my passion for writing, comprehension and creative storytelling. Oftentimes, tech leaders suffer from the curse of knowledge – i.e. their spokespeople are too close to the subject and ‘down in the weeds’ when it comes to the ins and outs of their product. As a communications professional working in the B2B tech sector, I’m constantly challenged to rise above the ‘feeds and speeds’ and explain complex technologies in a way that my non-techie mother could understand. Finally, 2020 has really proven the power and importance of the entire technology ecosystem. From online learning to telemedicine to teleconferencing, I’ve been inspired by the way that different technologies have come together, or been introduced to market to fuel societal continuity during one of the most logistically challenging times of our generation.
- What is your favourite part of your job and why?
Working agency-side, there is a lot of variety in my day. I could be writing a press release on medical devices one minute, then calling a journalist about marine plastic pollution before completely switching gears to edit an article on biometric authentication the next. This enables me to not only build an understanding of many different vertical industries, but also how they interoperate, which ultimately improves the creative cross-industry PR programmes that I can deliver for clients. From a strategic perspective, and with increasing commoditisation in B2B tech, I enjoy working with my clients to find new ways to tell familiar stories that help them cut above the noise and stand out in crowded markets like cybersecurity or enterprise hardware. Finally, and even after so many years in the profession, I still get that unmistakable buzz from earned media, especially when I see my own words published in print (albeit attributed to someone else!).
- What is your proudest achievement at work or in your career?
Being decisive about the path I wanted to take and getting all of my ducks in a row, from early work experience to an entry-level PR position to where I sit today. That has been a major accomplishment for me, in terms of the commitment, continuous learning, relationship building and focus involved. It definitely helps that I enjoy what I do, and I can genuinely say that I am where I wanted to be at this stage in life. In a similar vein, and at the risk of sounding cheesy, I am always filled with pride when I see colleagues that I manage directly follow a similar path – each one of their promotions is a moment for me, as I know first-hand the work and effort that they have put in to achieve that.
- What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
‘Don’t point out a problem unless you have a better solution’ – something I practice myself, and expect from others around me. Also, ‘pick your battles, because you can’t win them all’ has served me very well to date, especially now as a dad to an increasingly strong-willed toddler.
- What do you like doing outside of work?
I take fitness quite seriously, so outside of work you might find me on a spin bike, weights bench or a yoga mat. In addition, being married to an Italian and raising a bilingual son has given me a good enough reason to learn the language, so I’m at night school a couple of days every week. Sta andando bene!
- Name something you couldn’t live without?
Sadly, my phone. Or coffee.
- When you were young, what did you want to be when you grew up?
There were three distinct phases. As a child, I wanted to be a teacher, because I saw how much pride my dad took in his career. Then, through my early teens, I wanted to be a criminologist, until I realised that the expectation probably wouldn’t match the reality and the subject matter would be a bit darker than I’d like. Finally, as I started to make serious decisions about my academic path, I saw that pursuing a career in communications was actually the best fit for me.
- If you could have a superpower, what would it be?
The ability to clone myself, to get everything done that I’d like to. In superhero terms, I guess that translates to being able to either slow down time or speed myself up – a bit like The Flash.
- How would you describe FINN Partners in three words?
Collaborative, entrepreneurial and human