Scotland’s largest PR agency continues to make BIG moves across the border

Glasgow-based PR and digital marketing agency, The BIG Partnership, has spread its wings in the North West of England with a flurry of new appointments and the opening of a Manchester office. Taking time out from the hectic world of communications, director, Sharon Mars, shares the story of BIG which began in bonnie Glasgow…

Grown in Glasgow
The BIG Partnership started its journey in a borrowed boardroom in Sandyford Place back in 2000 with the aim of delivering effective public relations to a range of organisations. Our small but determined team began working in the sectors of sport, transport and property, providing communications services which helped to boost the profile and success of clients by targeting sector media. A good amount of Glasgow grit helped the company to flourish, retaining satisfied clients and winning new ones. From day one we set out to ‘do well’, so growth was always on the agenda. Over the years, the dedication and creativity of the team at BIG helped it to steadily transform into one of the largest businesses of its kind in Scotland. Offices were opened in Edinburgh, Fife and Aberdeen and our wider reach allowed us to provide PR services to an ever-expanding number of sectors such as oil and gas, technology and tourism.

Success in the south
Spurred on by our Scottish success, the next logical step for continued growth was to look south of the border. Having our headquarters in Glasgow meant we already had a strong base of clients who were operating nationally – with Glasgow being just one of the major cities they were located. Our growth strategy has always been focused on relationship-building and referrals, we have never employed sales teams. Our strong reputation for results-driven communications and the extensive business network we’d built up in Scotland provided a solid platform from which to expand into Northern England, beginning with our Liverpool office in 2012. Our existing clients were extremely supportive in a number of ways including providing introductions to their own networks, testimonials and, of course, through additional business opportunities with them.  Building on the core values that served us well in Scotland – team, trust, creativity, partnership and results - the Liverpool office has gone from strength to strength marked by the appointment of another senior team member, account director Josh Turner. With our English base established, we cast our eyes further and fixed our attention on Manchester. As the biggest PR hub outside of London, it was the natural choice for our next venture. A string of new client wins including APS Group, Transport for London, Fabdec and Emtelle accompanied the opening of the Manchester office in May 2016, led by new head of North West operations, Sarah Lawless.

Expanding our network
Operating across multiple offices has many benefits, one of which is the opportunity to share knowledge and add value to our clients through local ‘on the ground’ insight and network. Expanding our reach also supports team development, providing opportunities for employees to live and work in other markets. I started out in Glasgow before leading our drive into the North West of England, benefitting from the skills and knowledge of two geographically and culturally distinct environments. The personal and professional development gained from that experience would be hard to replicate in most local PR agencies.

Lessons to be learned
Watching BIG grow has been an exciting journey, but as with any journey, there are lessons to be learned. The experience has brought into sharp focus the need for strong internal communications and a clear corporate vision. No two offices will ever be identical with local cultures and personalities shaping each operation, something I consider a positive. However, it is important to maintain consistency in quality standards and ensure development opportunities are available to everyone equally. This is something we place great value on at BIG and something we believe is of increasing importance as our office network grows and our geographical reach extends.

It’s an immensely exciting time for our business and continued growth is definitely high on the agenda. We operate in an exceptionally fast-paced industry that relies on self-motivated, intellectually curious people and I have the pleasure of working alongside an ambitious, energetic and incredibly smart team of individuals. They are the reason we’ve been able to grow our office network by 50 percent in the last four years and I for one don’t plan to stop there.

Sharon Mars is a Director at The BIG Partnership, Scotland’s largest PR and digital marketing agency. Follow on Twitter @BigPartnership or LinkedIn The BIG Partnership. To find out more, visit the website or call the Glasgow office 0141 333 9585.