Catching up with Stephen Waddington

In the first of our 'Catching up' series we chat to Northumberland resident and father-of-three Stephen Waddington - a well-known and well-liked player in the PR industry. He has a large and loyal following on Twitter as @wadds.

We caught up with him in Newcastle not long after the launch of his book, Brand Anarchy (co-authored with Steve Earl) and his departure from Speed.

Q. How would your friends describe you?

A. A happy optimist and lucky.

Q. You’ve recently left Speed, the agency that you founded three years ago. What next?

A. I'm taking a couple of months out on gardening leave and then joining Ketchum in December as European digital and social media director.

Q. How do you measure personal success?

A. It's changed over time. It used to be money. Since I hit 40 it’s doing great work, curiosity, health and family.

Q. You give a lot of time to help others in the industry. Why?

A. The industry needs to shed its past as a craft and adopt the rigour of a profession with formal training and continuous professional development. Helping the industry grow up in any way I can is what gets me up in the morning.

Share This, the book I edited for the CIPR on digital and social media, was produced with this goal in mind. We’re almost certainly going to do a second version in some form for 2013.

Q. What’s your big prediction for the PR industry?

A. There is a danger that the PR industry could become irrelevant if doesn't take the opportunity created by media fragmentation and the shift to audience engagement enabled by the internet. Alternatively with leadership and a shift towards professional standards it could become better understood and respected as a management discipline and thrive.

Q. What’s the next big media change we’ll see?

A. A continuing fall in the audience for traditional media as audiences shift to digital media and social networks. It's a narrative that will continue to play out over the next decade. Amazon, Apple and Google will be the big media players of the future.

If you want a tip for this week, it would be make sure that you’ve got a profile on Google+. Here is mine. It’s a reputation engine that sits at core of Google’s search strategies.

Q. What do you do to relax?

A. I'm very fortunate. I split my time between work in London and beyond, and home in Northumberland. I thrive on the contrast.

Q. What gets you on your soapbox?

A. That anyone can set themselves up as a public relations practitioner without any training or qualifications. It's plainly nonsense and needs to be fixed.

Q. Name one good and one bad thing about PR in the North East.

A. I'm in my third year as chairman of Admiral PR. I've learnt about the local market on the job.

Good? There is some great world class work being undertaken by people that are passionate about their profession.

Bad? The economy is shrinking and the gut reaction of agency and in-house teams alike has been to do more for less rather than looking for new opportunities. All that does is accelerate the decline.

Q. What advice would you give to someone wanting to grow their business?

A. Passion and energy go an awful long way and from a practical perspective smile and turn up on time.

Q. What one thing can you always find in your cupboards?

A. Great question. Flour. I love pasta and bread baking.