60 Seconds with Simon Hayes, director at Redleaf Communications

Simon Hayes 1

Simon Hayes

In June 2016, insurance specialist Simon Hayes became director at Redleaf Communications. He talks to Gorkana about the move, his ambitions for the industry and his early career in the military.

How has your career in the comms industry led to your current role?
I started life in the City as a broker for Marsh and then as an international business producer for Willis.

After being a broker, much of my career, over 15 years, was spent running my own agency Effective Image, which provided strategic and tactical marketing communications advice and solutions to London market brokers, insurers and insurance service providers.

In 2014, I merged Effective Image into brandformula and then, under its umbrella, set up PR firm Full Circle Communications, which was intended to be a challenger brand in the insurance sector.

brandformula focuses on exhibitions over communications, so when the opportunity arose to work with Emma and her team at Redleaf, I jumped at it.

What excites you about your new role at Redleaf?
Redleaf is an award-winning communications consultancy full of bright, fresh talent, determined to provide the best solutions to our growing band of clients. I bring experience and strong contacts to grow the business in the insurance sector and beyond.

In terms of marketing communications, many sectors are years ahead of the insurance market, which is currently served by more traditional PR agencies. We are changing that with an approach that is contemporary, creative and considered.

What is the agency currently concentrating on? What are the major issues?
I have a clear vision for the future of insurance marcomms, which is to deliver integrated corporate communications solutions, called PR+, to clients across press, digital and social media channels.

In many agencies there is a disconnect between PR and digital. At Redleaf it is different. Here there is a talented team of PR, digital and social media professionals working as one team, which enables us to deliver a truly integrated approach.

Our focus is to bring this new approach to communications to clients in the insurance sector, so that they can take advantage of today’s full spectrum of channels, to build their brands and engage with audiences. These are exciting times, full of opportunities, which we are bringing to market.

How do you create an enjoyable and productive agency environment?
Redleaf is a very friendly company, with a positive culture, and the team has been very welcoming. This atmosphere lends itself to colleague collaboration, which is necessary for the success of any communications agency.

We are a creative, professional, winning team, which is led from the top by our chief executive Emma Kane, who always has time for everyone, however busy she is.

Everyone knows we are here to work hard and look after our clients, but we play hard too, with lots of social events, in-house and with clients. These events ensure that we get to know our clients on a personal level, which helps us to build relationships and understanding and provide the best possible service.

How do you think financial comms differs to other areas of PR?
At Redleaf, we are largely working in a B2B environment, so people can sometimes think the atmosphere and what we deliver is a bit stuffy compared to B2C PR.

However, the truth is that Redleaf is a creative powerhouse, which delivers P2P communications. We understand that when people come to work on a Monday they may be wearing a suit but they are still individuals who want to be informed, educated and entertained.

Personally I feel the insurance sector adds huge value to commerce and industry and I am always on a quest to help my clients promote that value.

What was your first ever job?
I have always worked, from my first paper round at 13 to building sites and bars at 18, but my first proper job was as a young officer in the Royal Marines.

It was a very formative time, surrounded by some of the smartest leaders one could meet, many of whom I am still in touch with. It was an exciting and challenging stage in my life that taught me the value of never giving up.

  • Are you working in an interesting or unusual PR role? Do you have strong views on the industry that you want to share with the Gorkana community? If so, please contact Emily Andrews.
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