With a long, illustrious and award-winning career behind him as a suit and no-nonsense client-whisperer in some of SA's top agencies, Jeremy Crowder knows all sides of the brand business better than most - both in terms of what still works and what doesn't work any more, and how to change that. Positive Dialogue, the new-generation PR agency and member of the Duke Group has announced that Crowder has joined their leadership team as the new managing partner.
Congrats on your appointment. How do you feel about it?
Thank you. I feel a tremendous amount of pride to be working with the good people at Positive Dialogue and the rest of the Duke crew. When you walk into the building you can feel something is going on here. Something good. But also something a little unfinished, like there is still work to do. The business has massive aspirations and is well on its way to achieving them. It’s quite phenomenal.
How and when did this come about?
I had been freelancing for Positive Dialogue for a little over a year when Tracy Jones
asked me to come in for a new project brief. Tracy asked straight up if I’d be interested in joining the team full time as she needed someone to partner with her to help steer the ship in line with the aggressive growth strategy.
We decided to ‘business date’ for a while and see how it went.
We were straight out of the starting blocks and everything seemed to go well and after a few new business wins, we formalised the arrangement.
What excites you most about taking on the role as managing partner?
Positive Dialogue has a superb industry track record and a good client base. After successfully weathering the 2020 storm financially, albeit with a few war wounds, the numbers are looking good. To come in and drive a business forward with such a solid foundation is a great place to be. The team are specialists, the Group is integrating nicely and the work is world-class. To have the opportunity to add my direction to this is energising.
You have a successful track record of being in the PR industry. What are your biggest highlights?
Besides pulling brands out of trouble you mean? I’m really enjoying clients seeing tangible results from their PR work. PR is often perceived as a nice to have. But one thing 2020 has given the PR category is a huge amount of business. Many brands have realised what they can get for their spend, and critically, that it can all be measured.
There is so much noise out there and PR, if done well, has the ability to talk openly and honestly to its audience.
Its innately more trusted by the audience than its other communication cousins due to being 3rd party endorsed whilst speaking directly, authentically and concisely about its brand narrative.
What do you love most about your career, the industry and what you do?
I’ve been working in this communications industry for 20 years now. As much as things change, they stay the same. We are problem solvers for our clients. They trust us to counsel them on their most valuable asset, their brand. It's hugely motivating to see real change to a clients issue, whether it’s a bottom line driver, a reputational risk problem or a longer term equity builder. I think we’ve become good at measuring our work and proving our worth – this makes communicating our value proposition (and seat at the table) a lot easier these days.
What is your biggest motivation in life?
My biggest motivation is to provide for my kids. Their well-being drives ever decision I make. We have a good work, personal and family life balance. So as cliché as it is, I work hard, so we can play hard.
As managing partner, what approach will you take going forward at Positive Dialogue?
I have worked in many agencies, large and small. Local and global. Good and bad. I don’t think Positive Dialogue realises how good they are. I’m going to help them realise that. We’re going to focus internally on ourselves and our service offering, then build on the integration & efficiencies within the Group, and then we’re going to win best mid-sized PR agency of the Year.
Could you share any of Positive Dialogue's plans for 2021?
One of our major differentiators is we are sitting on a stack of developed and owned IP. We’re going to fine tune them and take them to market as standalone products. We’re on a hunt for the very best senior staff across disciplines. We’re building a one of a kind business and we need one of a kind people to help us build it.