Andrew Bloch: Frankly a success
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This is an article by Neil Peacock.
Andrew Bloch’s impressive rise through the public relations industry is a reflection of the work ethic and creative talent required in a constantly demanding industry.
Bloch is group managing director and co-founder of Frank PR, a public relations consultancy based in Camden, London. Founded at the turn of the millennium, Frank has grown from success to success.
With an emphasis on an open and honest approach to public relations, the company has flourished over the last decade. It is now a top five consumer PR consultancy with four offices, over a hundred staff, and is the most decorated agency in the industry.
Born and raised in North London, Bloch attended The Haberdashers’ Aske’s School for Boys (1981 – 1992) before studying BSc Management Science at the University of Manchester.
After university he was originally aiming for a career in advertising. However on being advised he would enjoy public relations this is the route he decided on. He gained his first break when Lynne Franks PR offered him an unpaid work placement. He spent his formative years there and enjoyed success from the start.
When Ketchum bought Lynne Franks PR in 1998 Andrew stayed on as associate director heading up the sport and entertainment division.
Then his former Lynne Franks colleague and friend Graham Goodkind approached him to discuss starting their own consultancy. Andrew admits he didn’t take much convincing: ‘The idea of having control over the quality of work produced was a massive incentive. I knew we both shared similar morals and views and it seemed like a great opportunity and time for a new challenge’.
Those morals have shaped the company’s foundations, the name Frank PR reflecting these. ‘The name was a play on words. We wanted our clients to be frank with us and we wanted to be frank with them in return. It also played on the heritage of Lynne Franks; we wanted to keep the best bits of that alive’ .
This down-to-earth, open and honest approach along with creativity and passion has created a recipe that within five years carried Frank to being named as Marketing magazine’s PR Agency of the Year in 2005. Frank went on to win agency of the year two more times in 2006 and 2010 and have been commended every single year, a record unsurpassed by any other PR agency.
Bloch and Goodkind had decided from the start that Frank’s success would be measured by reputation. This began to follow swiftly with a certain campaign Andrew regards as ‘the one that put us on the map’.
Quirky British humour
HP sauce had tried traditional PR before and felt that a new angle was required. They were looking to make an emotional connection with their public and wanted the ‘Britishness’ of the product to be emphasised. Frank identified snooker as a way of exploiting this and approached the world-renowned snooker player Jimmy White with a deal which would see him change his name to Jimmy Brown for the World Snooker Championships that year (where HP were also the first ever brand to sponsor a ball…the brown ball).
The press coverage was massive and continued when Jimmy White said he would not speak to the media and ‘sit and sulk’ if any BBC commentator referred to him as Jimmy White, not Jimmy Brown.
The BBC decided they would not refer to him by either name and refer to him only as ‘the whirlwind’, as that’s how he is known to millions. This only further fueled the media coverage.
Graham White, Managing Director of HP sauce commented: ‘Not only does it capture the slightly quirky British humour that so typifies snooker lovers and HP sauce users alike, but it also shows an honesty and unpretentiousness by sponsoring those unsponsorable great moments in everyday British life.’
Campaigns like this one helped really lift Frank off and their client base seven years later ranges from Lord Sugar to Disney to Innocent.
Now Frank has established itself within the UK a decision was needed on the next step. In 2007 Bloch helped oversee the sale of Frank to Australian media conglomerate, The Enero Group.
With the sale of Frank PR, Bloch felt logically that Sydney would be ideal for their first international office (opened in October 2009). It was important to Frank that it wasn’t a case of just having ‘the name above the door’ but continuing the standard of work of the London office.
Bloch said they had looked at expanding in other sectors: finance, corporate and healthcare were discussed. But they came to the decision that consumer PR is what they were about, what they enjoyed and what they wanted to continue to do.
New York and Manc Frank
The foundation of the London office and the growing success of Frank in Australia saw more room for expansion, this time in New York. They followed this up with the launch of an office in Manchester – Manc Frank.
Bloch’s success in the UK is represented by the awards Frank have won, as well as his own individual accolades. one of the most notable being named by Tweetlevel as the most influential PR person on Twitter, a huge position to hold with Twitter being so important to so many media and PR people.
Wherever they turn next, there’s no doubting Frank PR is moving in the right direction and creating a great deal of talkability within the PR Industry.