Updated: Sep 8, 2021
Great news! Rory ffoulkes joined The International Bunch as Head of PR & Social Media in March 2020. Here, Rory tells us about himself and what he will bring to the team - and clearly shares a great taste in music with me (Metallica and Megadeth)!
Do you want to start off by telling our readers a bit about yourself and your professional background?
Goodness, where to begin? At the beginning, I suppose!
I shan’t bore you with too many details, but - having gained a degree in Greek and Roman Studies from Exeter and a post-grad diploma from London School of Journalism - I started my professional career as a journalist.
There were some great times - particularly my four years as Editor of online arts magazine digyorkshire.com, which is sadly no longer with us.
But I came to the realisation that I needed something more and thought I might find it in digital marketing (as we used to call it in the olden days).
In some ways, I regret taking on my first role outside of journalism - with a council-run conference venue - because they were so risk-averse and wary of what were then (around 2009) pretty rare skills I’d picked up running an online publication, such as creating e-newsletters, managing subscriber databases, CMS, audience segmentation, working directly with web developers, and using social media for business.
On the other hand, I learnt some really valuable lessons, like positively influencing internal stakeholders, making the right kinds of compromises, developing a marketing channel mix, and successfully delivering projects in spite of barriers.
I sort of fell into PR and PR agencies from there, as so many ex-journalists do.
I can’t say it was all plain sailing - PR agencies are, after all, very stressful and often unpleasant environments to work in. Yet, there were some great successes. Like helping reposition a previously failing engineering business for a multimillion-pound sale (the brilliant new MD and I really clicked when it came to PR and marketing). Or piggybacking the story around Jeremy Clarkson’s infamous ‘departure’ from the BBC to the great benefit of a small food producer trying to get the attention of the big four supermarkets. Successfully lobbying for a change in child car seat laws to ensure much greater safety - and managing all the comms and social media around the long campaign - was another.
Everything I’d learnt stood me in very good stead when it came to leaving a very senior role in an agency for an initial one-year Content & Communications Manager maternity contract at Emerald Publishing. Emerald seemed to like me, and I liked it there, so they kept me on in the newly created role of PR & Social Media Manager. I stayed from 2015 to 2019, helping to raise its profile and enhance its reputation in the academic publishing community.
A bereavement and a change in personal circumstances gave me the opportunity to go freelance as a copywriter and social media consultant, and that’s what I’ve been doing since.
Examples of work I’ve done in this time have included: regular thought leadership articles on the future of marketing and eCommerce; writing blogs, web pages and brochures for a very wide range of clients; generating great uplifts in open rates and clickthroughs for client newsletters; building business and personal social media profiles, and developing tone of voice for varying brands. It’s been a lot of fun and has really helped me hone the skills for the Head of PR and Social Media role I’m now taking up with The International Bunch.
What excites you the most about your move to become Head of PR and Social Media for The International Bunch?
It’s almost a given, but worth repeating: the academic publishing community has the potential to make the world a better place to live in. That alone is an exciting thing to be involved in.
Another thing that excites me is helping the community to share the great work it’s doing with peers and the world beyond academia.
I know some players in this industry do a good job of that on both fronts, but there are others that don’t seem to be quite doing themselves justice from a marketing and dissemination perspective - and the team at The International Bunch and I are looking forward to helping them take the handbrake off and really push what they’re doing out there in a compelling way.
Finally, it’s great to be working with Lou and Megan directly. Lou and I formed a really good working relationship while I was at Emerald, and her passion, determination and ability to think strategically are intoxicating. I’ve only got to know Megan more recently, but have been really impressed with her at strategy days, and think that our skills and personalities will really complement one another.
Finally, outside of your working life, how do you like to spend your time?
Do audiobooks count as reading these days? A recent study says that it does, but I kind of feel like I’m cheating when listening to tremendous novels when I should be physically reading them. Anyway, yes, I love listening to audiobooks and music - Dylan, Neil Young, jazz, Bach, Scarlatti, but also rather less highbrow stuff like Iron Maiden and Megadeth (LOL). I also have two very cheeky daughters that keep me on my toes and a very well-behaved (almost boringly so) labrador. I’m also massively into cricket and rugby. Finally, I keep procrastinating over a series of short stories I’ve been meaning to finish for yonks.
Connect with Rory
LinkedIn – Rory ffoulkes