Meet the Team: Jennifer Robertson
Sit down chat with SPEY founder, Jen
What's your life been like since opening SPEY in August 2017?
A total whirlwind! It's the first time I have run a business so that in itself has been a steep learning curve.
In just 2 years, SPEY has taken on the big boys from the city representing an amazing family of brands from our rural base in Aberlour. I've invested a lot of time into two areas; building the right team focussing on retaining and attracting talent to Speyside, creating professional level jobs where they didn't exist before and delivering a fully integrated communications service which delivers wow for our clients. In the last year alone our clients have appeared across national TV networks, global lifestyle titles and delivered trend-setting brand partnerships from blockbuster movies like Kingsman to creating clothing collections with wonderful Scottish independent fashion brands like Kestin Hare.
Why did you decide to start your own agency in Speyside?
I had spent my career in Edinburgh working in consumer PR and latterly in political PR a former special advisor to the First Minister of Scotland and head of PR for the Yes Scotland campaign. I moved up to Speyside in 2014 after the referendum commuting more than 160 miles to work in the city as a director of a food and drink PR agency but I quickly realised there was a gap in the market on my own doorstep but the agency I was working for didn't see it as a business priority.
So that's how I made the decision- A9 exhaustion and a good opportunity in the north. The Highlands and Islands regularly outperforms the rest of Scotland, with major businesses which other agencies were overlooking. SPEY sought to fill the gap in communications services starting off with prestigious brands in the Speyside market who had, until now, used agencies many miles away. Now we represent brands all over Scotland, and also in Ireland! And, as many people who have hired communications agencies will testify, often a director comes along and pitches for their business but a junior team members ends of doing the work. We deliberately have a top heavy structure so that all accounts are managed by senior level specialists.
In terms of employment, the objective of the agency was to attract the most entrepreneurial and talented staff by offering a chance to work with great brands from our gorgeous rural location which offered an excellent work-life balance.
What's been your favourite moment since opening?
Can I say two? Probably winning best new agency at PR Moments and PRCA Scotland awards. It really felt like all the hard work was starting to pay off, a real testimony to my team and clients for believing in us from the get go.
What has been your favourite project to work on and why?
Hands-down when The GlenDronach partnered with blockbuster movie Kingsman: The Golden Circle because The GlenDronach is Director Matthew Vaughn’s favourite Single Malt Scotch Whisky. Our job was to showcase this very special Single Malt to the world coinciding with the release of the film. The news coverage alone generated over 60 stories with over a 2 billion online readership featuring in titles including Esquire, FT:How to Spend it, Vogue France as well front cover Whisky Magazine and Spectator. The ultra-premium expression sold out in 30 countries in less than 30 days and the campaign has been shortlisted for several awards this year.
What is your favourite book and why?
Easy- Jack Kerouac's On The Road. It was a book that defined a generation and inspired by life-long obsession with Beat poetry, as well a few noteworthy road trips.
What career advice would you give?
Work you backside off, build your network and have lots of fun along the way. Sir Angus Grossart said to me, 'never drive looking in the rear view mirror'. Best advice I've ever had.
Lastly, what are you most looking forward to for the year ahead?
As a Leither by heart I have to say opening up our second office on the shore in Leith, Edinburgh. While Speyside will always be the agencies home and our talent hub, the Leith office will help drive the north and service our current clients as well as grow the agency. Leith was at one point one of the busiest ports in the UK which shipped whisky and gin to the world, so our second office in a converted whisky bond building really speaks to our roots