We've been following Manifest's PR campaigns for a while and have been impressed with their creativity and bold approach. But, it wasn't until we had the pleasure of meeting some of the team at an event recently that realised there was something special about the agency…
The Manifest team's spirit and attitude to delivering great work is obvious, but we wanted to find out what drives that passion and how the team are inspired to be bold and make statements.
Here we interview senior team member, George Hayley about Manifest team's values, creativity and why the traditional PR agency structure just doesn't work for their modern approach.
What is the Manifest manifesto?
Work hard and be nice to people is our number one rule!
Other core values include:
If you can't find what you're looking for, build it
Kick the shit out of the opportunity to be remarkable
Don't react to the changing shape of the media, drive it
Maintain a healthy disregard for the impossible
Communications should have a conscience
"If you can't find what you're looking for, build it"
Do you follow a creative process?
I wouldn't say there's a set process as such, but we're big on things like curiosity, passion and inspiration. At our annual 'Manifestival' in Lisbon back in November, we asked people to present on topics ranging from 'Alternative comedy' to 'Organised Crime' which may seem a bit random but sparked some really interesting conversations.
Some of the best ideas can come from doing something new, putting yourself outside of your comfort zone or even just having a conversation in the pub away from your usual work environment.
Brainstorm sessions are good but definitely not the be-all and end-all. One thing I love about Manifest is that everyone's passionate about work but also about their other interests and hobbies whether that be poetry, gaming, travel, beer, Middlesborough FC or even Justin Beiber (you know who you are).
What mix of skillsets are behind your success?
Bringing people in from all sorts of different backgrounds has been great for us and with the introduction of roles like 'publicist' and 'insights manager', it's far from a typical agency structure where everyone is either AE/AM/AD. We feel that traditional PR job titles simply don't describe or do justice to the breadth of skills of a modern PR practitioner.
We really value people having a wide mix of skills, but we also like to look at the areas they excel in and are most passionate about and facilitate them making the most of what they are good at and that’s what our role titles are based on.
When it comes to recruitment, we prefer to meet great, creative people who fit 'work hard and be nice to people' and then work out if we can create the right role for them, rather than that other way around. When you produce such varied, integrated work for such a wide variety of different clients, it's not as strange as it sounds!
What is the tool you and/or your team couldn't live without?
Slack. I can't imagine using email for internal comms now and being able to instant message clients really helps keep things moving. Harvest is great too, it's by far the best time management tool I've found. I'm also loving Canva at the moment which for those who aren't familiar is a nifty little graphic design tool.
Do you all work in the same office? Any interesting set-up or working spaces?
Our main hub in London is our Farringdon office but we're big on flexi-time and remote working. All our systems are cloud based to allow for this.
Appear.in is really handy for being in meetings without having to be in the office. We also have a faux picnic area and beanbags because we're THAT cool.
Our Manifest NYC team are based in the WeWork on Madison Avenue which has obvious benefits when it comes to networking. Gotta love a WeWork.
What book would you recommend to young PR professionals?
Sarah Hall’s #FuturePRoof ebook is definitely worth a read, and I'm not just saying that because I've worked with Alex (Manifest) and Jim (Threepipe) who both wrote chapters along with Coverage Book's very own Stella Bayles.
Step inside other innovative PR teams:
Read our interview with Johan van der Zanden, Communications Director at ING Bank and hear how Agile transformed their global PR.
Gisele Navarro, head of media relations at Neomam Studios reveals the tech secrets behind her team's success here.