60 seconds with David Shriver, Tulchan

David Shriver, managing partner of Tulchan, on challenges for the PR industry, changes in investor communications and what he looks for in employees. 

What are you reading on the way in to the office?David Shriver 242 by 300

I seem to be one of the few people reading paid-for newspapers these days but I love them. So it’s the Financial Times and The Times on the tube coming into work and then the others when I get to the office.

How is your day broken up?

As managing partner of Tulchan, about two thirds of my time is spent running the business and the other third on client work. Winning new clients is an important part of what we’re doing. However, the most important thing is making sure our existing clients are happy.

What is the most important attribute you look for in a Tulchan employee?

It’s a combination of being very smart – I am privileged to be working with some of the smartest people I have met in business – and having empathy with the client. To do good, consistent work, you need to be emotionally engaged with the client.

Having worked in-house at Carrefour, how has moving agency-side differed?

One big aspect of agency-life is working on a whole range of really interesting situations. When you work in-house, you will probably see a variety of situations but it’s a different level of variety compared to what you see in an agency. If an adviser has had experience across a very wide range of different situations this will be of great advantage to the client.

If you could change one thing about the industry what would that be?

In a world of digitalised media, companies need a common narrative that resonates with all stakeholder groups. Joined-up communication is critical. The challenge for our industry is making sure we give joined-up advice.

How have you seen the client-stakeholder relationship change?

The importance of the feedback loop between the media and the capital markets continues to grow. The media takes its cue from the conversation taking place in the markets and this conversation is in turn influenced by the mood music in the media. As a company, making sure that this feedback loop works in your favour is critical.

Has the rise of retail investing platforms, which have opened up trading to everyone with a computer, changed the stakeholder environment?

Communication with investors is now transparent and takes place on mobile devices. This is very different to 15 years ago when I first went to Carrefour to run financial communications. Then, results meetings were held in the basement of a Paris hotel, in French, without a webcast. You had to be there to know what was being said. Those days are over. You can follow what a company is saying from your desktop or your iPhone and investors can participate in ways they couldn’t before. Transparency and access has completely changed the stakeholder environment.

Does that mean the language companies are using needs to change?

Language should be used as a means of opening up a connection with someone. It should be inclusive rather than exclusive. It should never alienate. Unfortunately, not all companies put this into practice.

Who’s your favourite commentator in the media?

One of the things I value most in the media is perceptive, clever, smart commentary about the key issues and events of the day. Although I am reluctant to single out individuals, people like Jonathan Guthrie or Martin Wolf at the FT make for indispensable reading. I am happy to pay my subscription fee just to read what they, and their colleagues, write. This is why we have to pay for our newspapers! You can’t expect to get to read the best writers for free. Or you won’t have a newspaper industry left.

What are your interests outside of PR?

I love reading, especially contemporary fiction. I read between 50 and 60 books a year. I am also a season ticket holder at Millwall Football Club and in my fourth decade as a supporter of the club. One of the other great things about living in this great city of London is that you’re at the centre of the arts world; theatre, dance, opera, all of which I love.

What’s your perfect weekend?

Spending time with my family.

  • If you have interesting insights to share on life in corporate and financial PR and are prepared to undertake the 60 Seconds questionnaire, please email philip.smith@gorkana.com.
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