In a competitive industry the pressure is constantly on to be innovative and cutting edge. But that doesn’t mean that a PR agency’s traditional values and core strengths should be cast aside in a bid to be ‘on trend’.
Instead, when it comes to retaining and developing strong relationships with brands, it’s often the traditional, core principles that keep clients on board. “I get fulfilment from working closely with brands and seeing them grow as part of our portfolio,” explains Aspire founder Layla Smith. “We have to understand their business and the objectives of different team members, so we can adapt our plans accordingly and get results that hit the mark for the brand, as well as all team members involved.
As two of Aspire’s long-standing partners reveal, new brands would be wise to seek out experienced, specialist agencies like Aspire to not only help them through stormy start-up waters, but to also enhance the brand profile, keep it contemporary and ensure it remains true to its own values as it grows.

Know The Game

“Aspire are inventive, passionate and desire to have a detailed understanding of our business and ethos,” says Nick Sadler, Founding Director of gym design specialists motive8. “The teamtruly understands our business and our vision. It’s like they know what we want even if we can’t articulate it.”
Core value number one then, never stop learning about the industry you’re working in? “Absolutely,” says Layla. “We have a select portfolio, only brands from the sports and wellness industry, so we live and breathe in this space. It means we know what’s going on!”
It’s an ethos that Swiss running brand On, appreciates too. “Aspire were especially strong partners for us from the very start because they have a great knowledge of the sports industry,” explains the Head of Media Relations at On, Vesna Stimac. “They knew all the media titles in the UK market and were totally able to draw attention to this new brand coming out of Switzerland because of their contacts.”

Make Size A Strength

Maintaining an efficient, effective and also intimate and manageable sized organisation is an Aspire value that has served it well too in the view of its clients.
“We felt Aspire was the right size for us too,” says Vesna. “When you deal with too big a company you often have to deal with lots of different people and processes.”
“When we were starting out especially we needed an agency that would be flexible while we found our feet.”
For Layla, size is crucial to ensuring an effective service. “I try and keep the team nimble, we are ‘experience’ heavy, but that means we get results and can work strategically in everything we do. We talk to clients on a regular basis, so even though we are a flexible agency, we keep weekly updates and monthly meetings fixed. This means we chat through what’s working, what’s not and tweak our plans as we go. This is simple, but really effective in keeping a positive work flow.”
That personal touch appeals to clients too. “Aspire were able to dive in and capture the spirit of our brand,” says Vesna. “As we grew and became more structured, Aspire and Layla as the main person of contact, really helped in a flexible, non-corporate way.”

Manage Expectations

Running campaigns or events that hit the target is a core requirement of any successful agency. “We’re realistic,” insists Layla. “We don’t over promise like I’ve found often happens in the PR world. People oversell at the pitch stage and then under deliver. We pitch and deliver realistic plans, that we know will get the right results to meet the given objectives.”
Sticking to this value requires a strong, open relationship with the media, ensuring that the expectations of both journalists and clients are met.
“All our events organised by Aspire have been well-attended by the media and on point in their delivery,” says Vesna. “When we launched the On Cloudventure range, Aspire thought hard and positioned the launch event for this ‘trail’ shoe at a venue close to London – where the media are mainly based – but in Richmond Park, which offered off-road running. It was ideal.”
For Nick Sadler at motive8, that core value of delivering the goods is an essential reason for his company’s ongoing relationship with Aspire. “Aspire run our website and our bi-annual magazine. Our customers always comment on how great they are and often people ask for additional copies of the magazine to take home or give to friends.”

Client Retention

Aspire also prides itself on maintaining long-lasting relationships with clients at a time when many brands chop and change their agencies on a whim.
“Client retention is something of an obsession for me,” says Layla. “We spend time with our clients, going to see them, travelling to events with them, participating in events with them…over time, this builds a strong, trusting relationship. Along with consistent results, this is a good recipe.”
Nick Sadler concurs. “Layla and her team take time to get to know our business and our team so they feel our culture, our values and are able to deliver that out to our customers. It is so important for an agency to truly understand what their client’s visions and goals are and work towards that rather than trying to push their own agenda.”
That commitment to building strong, lasting relationships is one that Vesna and her colleagues at On also admire Aspire for. “On has been in existence for 8 ½ years and Aspire have been with us from the start,” says Vesna. “They’re innovative and also a great soundboard for our own marketing ideas too, especially as they keep their fingers on the pulse of the sports market so well. It’s a collaboration that works really, really well.”
Written by Rob Kemp, Associate Journalist.