Narrative marketing agency’s Esme Flounders speaks her mind
YOUNG love, a passion for making a difference and having daughters have all played a part in Esme Flounders’ career path.
The marketing and communications director at Narrative Integrated Communications in Sunderland explains who inspires her and why she thinks personality is more important than paper qualifications.
What did you want to be when you grew up? A graphic designer. I’ve always been very creative and I remember my grandad, who was an artist, coming back from an event at Northumbria University with a box of cards that graphic design students had made and I was absolutely sold.
How did you end up at Narrative?
I’m from Darlington and I was all set to go and study journalism at the University of Westminster in London but at the age of 17 I met my husband and fell in love. He was going to Newcastle University so I ended up studying journalism at Sunderland.
When I became a PR officer in social housing, not only was I doing a job I absolutely loved but I was also in a place where I could make a difference, such as dealing with women who had suffered domestic violence. I worked my way up and I was there for 10 years.
I’d known Kieron Goldsborough to say “hello” to since we were quite young but when we met properly through work we hit it off straight away when he was the creative director at Press Ahead media agency. I come from an entrepreneurial family and when Kieron asked last year if I was interested in joining him here at Narrative, I decided to go for it.
Clients are at the centre of everything we do here and sometimes we go above and beyond but making lasting relationships is what it’s all about. I’d never wanted to come into an agency but it’s like coming into work every day with your best friends.
Have qualifications got you where you are, has it been sheer hard work and talent or a combination?
I’ve got the usual things, a degree and I’ve an NVQ level five in management and I’ve done various marketing short courses and qualifications but, with hindsight, I probably would be in the same position I’m in today had I just gone straight into work.
The stuff I learnt about how to do PR was academic – it’s completely different on the ground. If a 16-year-old knocked on our door asking how to get into the industry, I would welcome that and have a chat. If they had something about them – a bit of sparkle – then that would make me interested in their potential. I would definitely recommend not bothering with higher education. If we get them straight from school we can mould them and bring them on to give them the best career in the long term.
Do you feel pressure to be a role model to others?
Definitely more so since having my two little girls who are five and eight. I work full-time and then some and live quite far away from work so that does play on my mind.
But I know I am doing the best for me and the best for them and as the girls grow up I want them to see that mum works and mum is hopefully successful because she has worked hard.
My kids are really, really proud of me and I am so much more driven now since having them.
Do you prefer networking on social media or face to face?
There is room for both but nothing is as good as looking into the whites of someone’s eyes.
What is a very underrated business skill?
The human touch is very underrated – that ability to connect with someone. Being organised is also very important but it’s something I’m not very good at. Give me a big campaign to plan and I’m as happy as Larry but spreadsheets are not my strength.
How will the marketing agency world evolve over the next five years?
Our industry is changing massively. The skills that are needed are changing and the ways we deliver services is changing. At the moment there are very few marketing agencies with the foresight to know how to respond to all these challenges.
At Narrative we are always one step ahead as we offer a fully integrated service from creative and marketing strategies to PR and digital communications. It’s a one-stop-shop as people don’t have time to be faffing about.
I think the lines between traditional PR, social media and paid for will become so blurred that I don’t think ‘PR’ will be a term in five years time.
Which three people (alive/dead celebrity or not) would you like to work with?
Advertising legend David Ogilvy, I have all of his books and I just really like the cut of his jib. Germaine Greer because there’s nothing that women doesn’t know about and thirdly, Narrative’s managing director, Kieron Goldsborough, because I really enjoy working with him.
What’s one thing that people would be surprised to know about you?
I love heavy metal music, that’s all I listen to. I’m Slipknot’s biggest fan and I used to be a bit of a groupie in my time.
Website: www.narrativecommunications.co.uk Twitter: @EsmeFlounders