Watch out; here’s another disruptive startup… no, stop using clichés and jargon in your external communications

Dominic Pollard, Director, City Road Communications

Jargon is divisive, especially in business. Some embrace it – there’s nothing they like more than to touch base, deep dive or circle back. Then there are those who are seemingly revulsed by these workplace idiosyncrasies. Such phrases are readily mocked, easy fodder as they are for any satire of crap management. 

But I am guilty of using jargon. It’s hard not to. Barely a meeting will go by without my mentioning marcomms, op-eds, sell-ins, and “hits” of coverage – all terms that would have people outside of the PR and communications industry scratching their heads.

I am working on it. Yet there is also an important distinction in when jargon is used.

In everyday internal communication within businesses, jargon fulfils a purpose. They are invariably phrases that are understood and can succinctly convey an opinion or a necessary action. Also, in dialogue, clarifications can easily be provided to ensure the right message comes across. 

When it comes to external communications, however, it is a very different matter. Jargon and, more generally, lazy clichés must be avoided at all costs. 

As PR professionals, our job is to help businesses and brands effectively communicate ideas and stories to different audiences. Jargon can be a huge hindrance, both when speaking with journalists and when putting content in front of a reader. 

Avoiding jargon with journalists 

Journalists are contacted by dozens if not hundreds (perhaps even thousands) of businesses and PR agencies each day. Whether sending them a press release or an idea for a guest article for their publication, to get their attention, your pitch must be clear and concise. Jargon that might be familiar to one business (or PR agency) might be lost on the journalist. The result: they quickly move on to the next email in their inbox.

Yet it is equally bad practice to use phrases that are so commonplace and clichéd that they lose any impact or meaning. 

Here are some of the best examples of this: disruptive, next-generation, innovative, ground-breaking. There is a propensity among businesses to weave these adjectives into their marketing copy. And many PR professionals are guilty of it too.

I’ve lost count of the number of businesses I have spoken to that describe themselves as disruptive. Very few are – in fact when it comes to early-stage startups, it is a tiny, tiny percentage. They might be nascent businesses with the potential to disrupt a market, industry or status quo, but only if they scale immensely. 

If, then, you email a journalist shouting about the latest piece of news from your disruptive, next-gen startup, expect short shrift. Journalists tend to be cynical by nature – they ought to be, given they have to scrutinise and unearth interesting, newsworthy nuggets of information from a vast number of lengthy emails and documents. So, it is logical that they would tut and roll their eyes when reading their tenth press release that day wherein a startup describes itself as disruptive.

Robert Scammell, editor of UK Tech News, sums it up perfectly: “Startups have limited time to capture a journalist’s attention. Why waste it on clichéd words that add no value and will ultimately never make it into a story? 

“At best, words like ‘next-gen’, ‘market-leading’ and ‘disruptive’ come across as lazy. At worst, they indicate a startup is compensating for a lack of identity or, in some cases, a solid business model.  

“The inverse is also true – a startup that clearly communicates what it does and the problem it’s solving without the fluff signals confidence in itself.”

Clear, whenever speaking with journalists, being as plain and direct as possible is the best approach. That’s why brevity is now such an important skill when it comes to PR and communications.

Keeping jargon out of your customer-facing content 

Jargon can act as a deterrent when trying to pique the interest of journalists. Its impact when communicating directly with your desired audience is different, but no less serious.

We could be talking about a press release or guest article you want to get published in the media or perhaps content for your own blog or social media platforms. Whatever form the content is taking, the same guiding principle applies – focus on conveying your message as clearly and simply as possible.

Your content needs to demonstrate a knowledge of a particular topic or issue; establish your brand’s values and align these with those of your customers, and encourage people to trust in what you say and what you do, to name a few key objectives. To achieve this, get your points across using simple language that everyone understands. Avoid banal phrases that don’t actually mean anything.

Yes, yes, there might be times when you are writing for an industry-specific readership, in which case there are likely going to be phrases that will be widely understood by the audience. But one should always be mindful of writing content on the assumption that their jargon is universally known within a particular field. 

Moreover, as stated at the very start of this article, jargon is divisive, even if people know fully well what it means. It will not resonate well with all people nor build a positive rapport. Similarly, clichés are by definition, generic and unimaginative, hardly likely to elicit much of a response from a reader. 

Fundamentally, PR is about building and maintaining a positive image of your business and the people within it. Getting in the right media outlets so as to be seen by your desired audiences is a key part of the challenge, but creating content that will have a positive impact is even more important. Jargon impedes both. 

Businesses managing their own public relations and external communications must step back and carefully consider the language they are using. PR agencies, meanwhile, must have open enough relationships with clients to tell ‘you shouldn’t describe yourself as a disruptive, next-gen fintech innovator’ for fear of pissing off both journalists and their readers. 

Say what you think, explain what you do, or provide insight into the topic. And do it through clear and concise language.

Dominic Pollard

Communications Director

About the author

With a history degree, journalism Master’s, and several years’ experience writing about business and technology for both the national and trade press, Dominic moved into the world of content marketing and comms in 2014. He joined City Road Comms in 2016, becoming the agency’s director of comms two years later. Dominic now oversees clients’ strategies and the overall operations of the agency.


News & Updates

Meet the City Road Comms team: Georgina McBride

Georgina McBride recently celebrated her one-year anniversary with City Road Comms, having joined the team in September 2022. In that time, she has relocated from Aberdeen to London and, when the weekend comes around, is an avid explorer of all the capital has to offer.

Georgina has a languages background, having studied French at Edinburgh university, including a year in Paris. She graduated last year and promptly entered the world of comms, joining our team soon after. She currently works as a communications executive, with her accounts spanning everything from financial services, wellbeing and tech to commercial real estate and flexible working. 

Read on to find out more about Georgina, what she enjoys most about PR (and City Road Comms), and her advice to SMEs seeking media coverage. 

What attracted you to work in PR and communications?

There’s nothing I enjoy more than exercising creativity and solving puzzles, and working in PR allows for the perfect marriage of both. Between writing compelling content, pitching to journalists, and firing out reactive commentary, getting strong results requires you to look beyond what’s obvious and think about why the story you’re telling matters – and, crucially, how you can make it stand out from the crowd.

What do you enjoy about working at City Road Comms?

What is ultimately the most rewarding aspect of the job is seeing what an impact our comms efforts can have on our clients’ growth and reputation. Whether it be achieving widespread brand awareness through national coverage, generating leads for new business, or even getting a deal over the line, the power of strong earned media coverage never ceases to amaze.

Plus, everyone on the City Road Comms team is a joy to work with. They are willing to get stuck in and support on any and every project. I’ve never experienced a more supportive or welcoming company culture!

Describe your job in three words.

Intentionally shaping perception.

What one piece of advice would you give to a startup founder wanting to do their own PR?

When you’re passionate about your business, it can be easy to get caught up on what you’re selling. Rather than focusing on what your product is in your PR storytelling (which can often come across too salesy to pique a journalist’s interest), focus on the wider problem it’s solving. That’s where you’ll find your news hook. 

What’s the worst thing about working in PR?

The news can be unpredictable, and even the best laid PR plans can be thrown awry by an unexpected turn of events – 2022’s merry-go-round of prime ministers feels like a strong example! It can be stressful, but being able to think on your feet and pivot direction when things don’t go to plan is essential.

What are you most likely to be found doing outside of work?

Trying out a new recipe, ticking the next Sunday brunch spot off my bucket list or watching a play on the West End.

What is your coffee order?

Typically, something with lots of milk and sugar – a dirty chai latte is my current favourite!

Georgina McBride

Communications Executive

About the author

Georgina joined the agency as a Communications Executive in September 2022, with clients spanning property, fintech and technology. Prior to this, she graduated with a degree in French at the University of Edinburgh, where she developed an interest in technology and communications while interning at a Parisian startup during her year abroad.


News & Updates

The curse of knowledge in PR – how to tell your story without being too technical

Sian Bradshaw, Account Manager, City Road Communications

Working in PR and communications, we are often tasked with distilling the complex into something incredibly simple. 

For finance and technology clients, this challenge is even more pronounced. In a world where buzzwords like CFDs, NFTs, AI, IoT and Everything-as-a-Service can leave readers with glazed-over expressions, telling a story that resonates with the audience and has broader news appeal, without sounding like a PhD thesis, takes skill. 

This is because, generally, organisations deep in the weeds of building their business are often immersed in the technicalities of their products. When telling their brand’s story, it can be easy to get carried away – many will launch straight into technical lingo and lose sight of the bigger picture. 

Ultimately, when it comes to generating the right content, not to mention positive media coverage, having great technical knowledge can be something of a curse. If not seen through the right lens, a business risks alienating both journalists and their readers by bombarding them with overly technical information. 

So, how do we deliver successful comms strategies for businesses with very technical products, or operating in niche sectors? Here’s how City Road Comms makes its campaigns more PR, less Proust.

Organise a ‘brain dump’ 

Many people in the PR and comms industry are adept at getting themselves up to speed with unfamiliar and complex topics quickly. However, when it comes to grasping all the details about a complex offering, sometimes it can be more valuable to recognise your own limitations and take a lesson from the experts.

If a client’s proposition is particularly complex, or there’s a lot going on in the company at once, arranging and transcribing a Q&A session during the onboarding process can provide a useful starting point for determining your messaging and PR strategy going forward. Ultimately, there is nobody better versed in your client’s industry than your client, and having someone talk through their value proposition in depth can help you determine which aspects will be the most interesting from a press perspective.  

These sessions are the chance to ask all the basic questions to clients – to get the dummy’s guide, as it were. You can delve into the products as well as interesting topics in the media, pertinent industry trends and how their company ties into them. Your client can ‘brain dump’ their specialist knowledge. From there, you can gather the most important facts and ideas to use in your campaigns, not to mention get a strong handle on how your client’s spokespeople talking about industry issues and their proposition.

Focus on the audience 

Once you’ve gathered the knowledge you need, the next step is communicating the right message with precision.

Working with any new client, one of the most important things to consider is who their audience is, and what do they care about most? This will obviously vary between different companies and products, but the end-goal is always the same – establishing what key problem you’re solving for your customer and explaining it with clarity and simplicity. 

In general, it’s very rare that the technical aspects of a product will be the most interesting to readers, particularly in when it comes to consumer-facing comms. Instead, it can be more effective to frame the brand story around real-life examples or case studies that demonstrate how the product improves efficiency, saves time or money, or solves common pain points. 

Take one high-profile product launch as an example – back in 2001 when Apple announced the first iPod, engineers were really excited about the amount of storage space the device had – 5 gigabytes of data. Apple recognised that this messaging was perhaps less interesting to its customers at the time, who wouldn’t necessarily have known whether this was a lot, or even what a gigabyte was. Instead, Steve Jobs simply said “1,000 songs in your pocket” – he spared his audience of the complicated tech specs and spoke about the product in a relatable way that was aligned with their level of knowledge and what they cared about most. 

This is a lesson that most PR and comms professionals will learn at some point or another – that, more often than not, simple and punchy is best.

What’s the wider issue?

While establishing your client’s USPs is a crucial problem to solve, it’s equally important to understand how their offering fits into the broader news agenda.

Instead of issuing too many product-focused press releases or company announcements, looking for connections between your client’s product and broader topics that are already capturing public attention can be a more effective means of spreading the word. For example, if the client in question has launched an investment app, offering regular investment tips or timely market commentary may be a better way to get cut through with journalists and reach your audience.

By offering journalists new insights on these breaking topics (in other words, ‘newsjacking’), whether through your own data or expert commentary, brands can align their stories with popular trends to ensure their relevance – while also establishing themselves as thought leaders. 

Beyond the jargon

Crafting a ‘simple’ brand narrative that resonates with audiences is anything but easy – it is an art form, with a great deal of time and effort required to transform complex ideas into compelling stories. Businesses that invest in PR to help them do this – whether in-house or through an agency –  can curate a stronger brand identity and better-position themselves for commercial success.

For businesses with more technical products or services, stripping away the nuts and bolts of what you do and focusing on why you exist is key. 

Sian Bradshaw

Account Manager

About the author

Sian joined CRC back in 2020 after reading English at the University of Cambridge, with varied experience in student journalism, project management and youth engagement. Since then, she has worked with a variety of the agency’s clients in the tech, business and finance sectors, and now works as an account manager, where she crafts innovative, targeted communications strategies for her accounts.


News & Updates

Meet the City Road Comms team: Jack Manners

Jack Manners is an account manager at City Road Comms. He joined the team as account executive in May last year, bringing with him two years of comms experience in the property development sector. He was promoted to the AM position in January 2023. 

Combining an insatiable appetite for current affairs, particularly political and social issues, Jack has a great ability to bridge the gap between industry trends and the big stories of the day, ensuring his clients remain relevant and in tune with the media landscape. 

Putting PR to one side, Jack is the most likely member of the CRC team to be in charge of music in the office… “eclectic” would probably be the best way to describe his tastes. 

Here’s a bit more on Jack, his thoughts on working in PR, and which company he feels nails its comms. 

What attracted you to work in PR and communications?

Ultimately, I think effective PR and communications hinge on the ability to elicit a desired reaction. Achieving this not only requires excellent writing skills and subject knowledge but an ability to adapt and strategize campaigns to wider public context and external factors. It’s never static – the demands set by a piece of content vary greatly based on time, sector and client, but they will also be completely different depending on the desired reaction or response you are hoping to trigger in the reader. For me, this makes PR and communications a unique but rewarding form of problem-solving. 

What do you enjoy about working at City Road Comms?

The accounts I work on require me to have a strong understanding of various sectors, as well as their respective media landscapes; it’s extremely satisfying to apply this to constructing campaigns that are timely and relevant. It’s also something that you find yourself becoming more naturally attuned to as experience develops and time passes by. 

Which business is nailing it with their PR and comms?


Undoubtedly, they are one of the stingiest brands on the planet, but they completely own it with humour. They are also particularly good at applying this to current events and sentiments – a recent example was their announcement that Boris Johnson wouldn’t be allowed to fly back from his holiday and compete in the leadership election via Ryanair. 

What website do you visit the most?

Definitely Twitter. I’m addicted to it but, in my opinion, it’s the ultimate news source. So long as you take everything with a pinch of salt.

What is the last book you read or listened to?

At the risk of sounding deeply pretentious (yet an avid intellectual), the last book I read was Why Nations Fail. I’d definitely recommend it to anyone interested in the overlap of economics, politics, and history in creating the environments that foster growth and decline. So much of the argument is presented through case studies which exposed me to periods of history from around the world that I had not previously been familiar with. 

What are you most likely to be found doing outside of work?

Thinking about my dog, Claudia-Jane. 

Jack Manners

Account Manager

About the author

Jack joined City Road as an Account Executive in May 2022. Jack has a diverse range of skills and experiences. Previously, Jack worked in Planning and Development communications and strategy, helping to secure planning consent in councils across London and deliver meaningful community engagement. Prior to that, Jack studied Physics at the University of Edinburgh, where alongside his studies he ran several campaigns advocating for student accessibility and inclusion.


News & Updates

Bill Gates and David Brent – two great minds who understand the value of PR

“If I was down to my last dollar, I would spend it on public relations”.

You may have seen this quote from Bill Gates. Most PR professionals will have it tattooed somewhere on their person, so sacrosanct is it to the entire industry.

Yes, admittedly, there is a slight question over whether Gates ever actually uttered the words. But there is also the question of why he would say such a thing… Why should a business commit to PR even if it’s in the financial doldrums? Or why should a startup invest in PR while on tight, bootstrapping budgets? Or why should PR come before other forms of marketing? 

Buy a newer car

At the heart of Gates’ purported quote is the sense that PR hold immense value to a business – that it should be the first and last thing that an organisation invests in. Why? Perception. 

Let’s take another famous quote, this time from a businessperson of lesser repute: David Brent. In one episode of The Office, Brent says: “Does a struggling salesman start turning up on a bicycle? No, he turns up in a newer car. Perception, yeah?”

I’m being completely serious. There is the crux of a very sensible point in there: perception is everything. 

PR is fundamentally about building and maintaining a positive image of an individual or organisation. When it comes to liaising with media, effective PR will improve both the awareness and reputation of a brand in front its desired audience.

Now, one of the most common mistakes that business leaders make – and, in my experience, this is particularly true among tech startup founders (those who become engrossed in the inner mechanics of the tech they have developed) – is to assume the quality of their proposition will be directly proportional to the quality, and quantity, of the media coverage they will get. That is rarely the case. 

Very, very few businesses are talked about due to the genuine inventiveness of their product or service. No, the prominence of a brand and number of articles featuring a business will almost always be the result of its PR strategy. 

Put another way, why invest in any other part of the company if there is no PR strategy to ensure the right people have the right perception of you. And that, in my opinion at least, is what we should take from Gates’ quote.  

Sharing your story

Whether to support customer acquisition, build the profiles of the leadership team, attract and retain talent, or elicit interest among investors, PR is essential. It will help tell your business’ story – who you exist for and why. It ensures people are aware of all the values you champion and perceptions you challenge. It will establish your brand’s tone of voice. It will keep the world abreast of your latest news. And it will maintain the desired, favourable image of your business. 

Bill Gates knows this (apparently). So does David Brent (definitely). And while you might not choose to spend your last dollar on it, any business not actively engaged in PR – in-house or with an agency – is undoubtedly overlooking one of the most singular ingredients for business success. 

Read more:

Dominic Pollard

Communications Director

About the author

With a history degree, journalism Master’s, and several years’ experience writing about business and technology for both the national and trade press, Dominic moved into the world of content marketing and comms in 2014. He joined City Road Comms in 2016, becoming the agency’s director of comms two years later. Dominic now oversees clients’ strategies and the overall operations of the agency.


News & Updates

Meet the City Road Comms team: Hector Johnston Stewart

Hector joined City Road Comms in July 2021, bringing with him a uniquely varied set of experiences.

With a degree in Arabic and World Cinema from the University of Leeds, Hector lived in Jordan between 2017 and 2019, working in copywriting and communications positions. This was followed by a one-year stint with the Chickpea Group, an award-winning collection of pubs with rooms and pizza shops nestled in the South West, as its Communications and Logistics Officer.

Upon joining the agency last summer, Hector made an immediate impression. He progressed from Communications Executive to Account Executive after his first year with CRC, and already plays a key role in devising and executing PR strategies, liaising with clients, and helping in the onboarding and development of new team members.

A man of many talents – not least his ability to order for the entire table whenever we venture out for a team meal – in this blog Hector shares his views on PR and comms, life at CRC, and what connects Dolly Parton and Superman…

What attracted you to work in PR and communications?

PR was once described to me by a family friend as “law for people who don’t want to go to law school”. I’m not qualified to verify this, but I am sure that I didn’t want to go to law school.

PR is a wonderful melting pot of creative types from different disciplines, specialities and backgrounds, and I’ve had wonderful colleagues and mentors in PR and comms roles, both in the UK and abroad. I can’t say I entered the workforce already planning to end up in PR, (I fancied myself a humanitarian at first but swiftly realised I had neither the stomach nor the patience) but now that I’m here I’ve found a lot to like about it.

What do you enjoy about working at City Road Comms?

It’s great to know one has the full backing of your company, and I’ve never felt that CRC didn’t have my best interests and development at heart. Though colleagues inevitably come and go, I’ve always been surrounded by a warm and genuine team and am confident that future hires will fit the mould.

The nature of client-based PR means that one must regularly become an expert in new subjects at short notice. While sometimes overwhelming, it’s exciting to tackle a new topic and quickly bring oneself up to speed. Plus, I can pretend to know what I’m talking about at dinner parties much more often.

Describe your job in three words.

Professional-sounding improvisation.

What’s the worst thing about working in PR?

Coming across an opportunity for a campaign or comment too late. With reactive commentary, speed is of the essence, and we can’t spend all our time scouring the media for every opening. Finding the perfect opportunity to promote a client after the event is terribly frustrating ¬– though there will always be more opportunities!

What website do you visit the most?

Genius.com. This has nothing to do with how brilliant I may or may not think I am, but in my free time, I love to analyse song lyrics in great depth and engage in the discourse of this nerdy little community.

As a short exercise, go away and take a song you’ve heard 100 times before and look up the lyrics on the site (in the biz, we call this a ‘call to action’). See if you don’t find out some interesting nuance or discover a lyric you’ve always misheard. They also have poems, speeches, interviews with artists explaining their songs – it’s a fun little site!

What is the last book you read or listened to?

Bright Lights, Big City by Jay McInerney. Chaotic, moving and fewer than 150 pages¬ – heaven. Reading it, however, I couldn’t shake the feeling that my twenties have been rather tame so far. I still have a while left, I suppose!

Random fact

Dolly Parton is the Clark Kent of fame.

She always wears enormous wigs, heavy make-up in public (even at night in case she needs to run out of the house in an emergency) and has always kept her residence and husband’s identity as a closely guarded secret.

When they go out together in public without her “Dolly” costume, nobody knows who she is. It’s like a magic trick to preserving her normal life. Well done, Dolly.

Hector Johnston Stewart

Account Manager

About the author

Hector joined CRC as a communications executive in 2021, having previously held PR and comms roles at companies in the UK and the Middle East. Since arriving at the company, Hector has worked with clients from the finance, tech, property and hospitality sectors. His responsibilities include liaising with clients and journalists, generating content, and working with the accounts team to provide input on messaging and strategy.


News & Updates

Five great achievements in five years of City Road Comms

A fifth birthday party typically conjures thoughts of hyperactive children, jelly and clowns.

City Road Comms’ recent fifth birthday celebrations, thankfully, had none of those things… well, some may say there were a few clowns in the room, but not in the truest sense of the word.

It was a lovely evening: a chance to spend time with clients – some of whom we’ve worked with for a couple of years without ever meeting in person (thanks, Covid) – in a more relaxed setting. And a chance to bring together all our team, including a few former employees who played important roles in our journey to date.

The event was also a rare opportunity to reflect on everything CRC has achieved since November 2017. After all, how often in businesses do we take a step back and celebrate our own successes?

The nature of being a smaller agency dictates that day-to-day life tends to be busy. Planning, pitching, writing, monitoring, reporting, liaising with clients; you are driven by a to-do list of what needs to be achieved for each client, and ensuring the results consistently meet, if not exceed, expectations.

But from time-to-time, it’s important to put aside busyness and bashfulness. So, having been a director of the agency since day one, I thought I’d share the five things that I am most proud of from CRC’s first five years…

1. Long-term client relationships

During the early months of City Road Comms, as the agency was finding its feet, we had just two retained clients on the books. Fast forward five years, those two clients are still with us.

But it’s not just those two clients that have stuck with us. We enjoy very little churn; the vast majority of businesses we work with remain with CRC for the long haul.

In fact, we’ve worked with 80% of our current clients for longer than 12 months – a little over half have been with us since 2020 or earlier. It’s a clear indication that we deliver value for clients, not to mention the quality of the relationships we have built with those businesses and the people within them.

2. The bigger picture

Over the years, as the agency grew in numbers and our client-base became more stable, we have managed to gain perspective on the bigger picture.

There is an ever-greater focus on purpose within business, often through the lens of ESG and CSR policies. And at CRC, we have taken action in the past three years to ensure we’re influencing positive change.

For one, we have done away with the traditional PR agency model of sending gifts to clients at Christmas – we swapped luxury hampers for charitable donations. Namely, each year since 2020 we have back the Crisis at Christmas campaign, offering homeless people food and shelter over the festive period. We will do the same again this year.

More recently still, we created The Forest of City Road Communications – a carbon offsetting tree-planting initiative that you can read more about here.

In 2023, we have plans to do much more when it comes to supporting charitable and ESG initiatives.

3. Consistency

One of the most common grievances I hear from founders and CEOs about their past experiences of working with PR agencies is the sheer inconsistency of the work, not to mention the results. Often this manifests itself in short bursts of media coverage, which the agency then dines off for weeks or months.

At CRC, we take pride in delivering great results week after week after week. For me, this is the true sign of quality; not being great once or twice, but doing it with unerring regularity.

How? Well, our campaigns are meticulously planned and mapped out in quarterly calendars, providing clients with a clear overview of all our deliverables in advance of each month – it is transparent and ensures complete accountability.

With the plans in place, there’s nowhere to hide from our expecting clients. They know what we are meant to deliver. So, we push ourselves to deliver great content and excellent media coverage every week. In my opinion, this consistency – compared to the complacency of some competitors – is one of our great strengths. Again, it underlines why clients stay with CRC for years.

4. People and culture

My favourite part of working with CRC is the people. Over the years we have assembled a wonderful team of people. Many join the agency as one of their first jobs in the world of PR and comms, and seeing their development is very rewarding.

Irrevocably linked to our people is our culture. It is something staff regularly highlight as the most appealing element of life at CRC.

The culture has evolved organically – we do not have slogans on the wall, we don’t do a lot in terms of team-building initiatives. Instead, we embrace open, honest communication between the team, combined with an ethos where everyone mucks in on the work that needs to be done. Doing away with strict, lineated hierarchies accelerates people’s development, giving them exposure to a greater range of tasks and responsibilities. Plus, I believe, it creates an environment where people have greater flexibility and can express themselves more freely.

5. Mentorship and founder support

Back in 2019, when the agency was just a couple of years old, we began working with London & Partners as a strategic partner on their Business Growth Programme (BGP). What that basically means is that for every cohort of start-ups that join the BGP, we provide a two-hour workshop to explain the value of PR for early-stage businesses, along with advice of how to do it well.

Three years on, we are still performing this role. A rough calculation would say that in this time we have run workshops with some 300 start-up founders and leaders. Often, after the session, CRC will provide further assistance to them, gratis, to help them during the formative stages of their business journey.

It’s really satisfying to meet with founders during those early months and years of their start-up stories. It has heightened our understanding of the challenges smaller businesses face when executing successful PR strategies and, in turn, how we can cater our offering to the start-up community.

It has been an interesting, challenging and extremely rewarding journey to date. I’m excited to see how City Road Comms grows and develops over the next five years.

Want to know more about how CRC could help your organisation? Get in touch!

Dominic Pollard

Communications Director

About the author

With a history degree, journalism Master’s, and several years’ experience writing about business and technology for both the national and trade press, Dominic moved into the world of content marketing and comms in 2014. He joined City Road Comms in 2016, becoming the agency’s director of comms two years later. Dominic now oversees clients’ strategies and the overall operations of the agency.


News & Updates

City Road Comms turns five!

We’re delighted to have celebrated our fifth birthday this week, marking five years of City Road Comms.

It’s been a chance to reflect on the growth and evolution of City Road Comms since November 2017. After all, one in five businesses in the UK do not survive their first year, with 60% failing within three years – so, reaching the ripe old age of five felt worthy of raising a toast.

And that’s exactly what we did. The Ivy City Garden played host to an evening soiree this past week, with clients, staff and partners – of both past and present – coming together to mark the milestone.

Our thanks go to all our clients for the support they have shown over the years. As an agency, we pride ourselves on delivering incredible media coverage for clients. But just as important is the way we go about our work. Honesty, transparency and accountability are core values for CRC and undoubtedly set us apart. 

Indeed, the combination of our results and our methods helps us to form successful, long-term relationships with clients. In fact, we have worked with 80% of our current clients for longer than 12 months – a little over half have been with us since 2020 or earlier. 

It’s sure-fire sign that we’re doing something right. 

For Dominic Pollard, our director of communications, it all comes down to the team. 

“All of our success over the past five years comes down to the incredible work of the people within the agency,” Dominic said. “The hard graft they put in, not to mention their intelligence, amazing writing skills, professionalism, and nose for a good story: these are the things that ensure a brilliant service and excellent results.”

He added: “We also enjoy the unique benefits of being part of the Media Ventures International family. Precious few PR and comms agencies work under the same roof as journalists and editors – it opens up exciting opportunities, as well as giving us the chance the speak openly with the very people we’re pitching stories to on behalf of clients.”

With the Champagne corks swept up and the birthday cake going stale, the back-slapping has drawn to a close; it’s back down to work. We’re ending the year in a strong position and look forward to what 2023 – not to mention the next five years – brings for CRC, our clients and our team.

Marco Callegari


About the author

Committed to elevating brands and advertisers to engage with their audience through data led strategy, Marco specialises in evolving the media landscape with a focus on emerging trends and challenging the status quo. Putting value at the forefront, from business to the people - Marco can often be found organising the team drinks.


News & Updates

Welcome to The Forest of City Road Communications

“We are on a highway to climate hell with our foot still on the accelerator.”

You don’t have to look far to find eye-catching headlines regarding the fast-approaching climate catastrophe. In fact, with the COP27 climate summit currently taking place in Egypt (6-18 November), you’d have to go out of your way to avoid them.

The quote above, from António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations, came as part of a speech to world leaders, imploring them to do more, financially and legislatively, to tackle climate change. But it’s not just governments that must take note – it’s only through a concerted, united effort that meaningful progress can be achieved. Governments, scientists, businesses, charities, consumers – each group has a significant role to play.

To that end, we are delighted to introduce The Forest of City Road Communications.

What’s that?

Working with Tree-Nation, a global tree-planting organisation that was launched in 2006, we are creating our own forest. This is not a one-off donation but rather an ongoing ESG initiative that we have implemented to take action against climate change.

To date, Tree-Nation has helped plant more than 24 million trees worldwide. It develops reforestation and conservation projects to restore forests, create jobs, support local communities and protect biodiversity – organisations and individuals can throw their weight behind this work, financing the projects, offsetting their carbon emissions and contributing to a more sustainable future. We are proud to have joined this mission. 

To get things started, and to mark City Road Comms’ fifth birthday, we’ve planted 500 ceriops tagal trees as part of the Madagascar Reforestation Project. These trees will offset 20,000 kilograms of carbon in their lifetime.

Further to this, as of November 2022, we will be adding to The Forest of City Road Communications regularly: each month we will plant one tree for every member of our team and for every client we are working with each calendar month.

In the months and years to come, we look forward to growing our forest and supporting reforestation projects globally. 

Share your thoughts

We are not sharing this news to pat ourselves on the back. We do so to share ideas as to what we can do – however little or large – to tackle the issues that confront us, as people and businesses, on a daily basis. 

There is no room for complacency – sustainability initiatives and ESG policies are not merely a box to tick. At City Road Comms, we will strive to do more, and we will continue to update you on the action we take.

If you have any ideas of great causes, projects, initiatives or charities to support, please do share them with us. 

Dominic Pollard

Communications Director

About the author

With a history degree, journalism Master’s, and several years’ experience writing about business and technology for both the national and trade press, Dominic moved into the world of content marketing and comms in 2014. He joined City Road Comms in 2016, becoming the agency’s director of comms two years later. Dominic now oversees clients’ strategies and the overall operations of the agency.


News & Updates

Meet the City Road Comms team: Sian Bradshaw

Sian Bradshaw joined City Road Comms (CRC) back in February 2020. She had recently completed a BA in English at the University of Cambridge, and had been working as a project assistant within the Bolton NHS Trust. From her first interview, it became clear that Sian had in abundance the intelligence, creativity and passion to succeed in the comms industry. 

That said, it was hardly the smoothest transition into life with the agency – nor into the world of PR and comms. Just a month after relocating to London and joining CRC, the UK entered its first Covid lockdown.

Nevertheless, despite the challenges the pandemic presented, Sian’s progression within CRC has been speedy; a testament to her exceptional work ethic and professionalism, and the quality of the results she has delivered for her clients. Within two years, Sian had risen from communications executive to account manager, with a short stint as an account executive along the way. 

Today, Sian leads on several major fintech accounts, developing a deep understanding of trends like Banking-as-a-Service, embedded finance and dynamic lending, not to mention the movements of financial markets. Now based back in her home city of Liverpool, Sian visits our London office most months. 

Keep reading to find out more about Sian, and her views on CRC and what it’s like working in PR and comms. 

What attracted you to work in PR and comms?

There are a few aspects of the PR and communications that drew me in. On a very basic level, I love to talk. Whether it’s about a major political event or something mundane that’s captured the media’s attention, keeping up with current affairs and having conversations with different people about everything that’s going on in the world is one of my favourite things about the job. 

My educational background is in English literature, so working in PR means that I’m able combine this with my passion for storytelling, which definitely helps when you’re looking for reactive commentary opportunities first thing on a Monday morning.

What do you enjoy about working at CRC?

The best thing about working at City Road Comms is the team. We’re a small, but lively team of people and we’ve grown significantly over the past year. Everybody is lovely and incredibly hard-working – you can always rely on somebody to pitch in to support on a busy campaign or offer their perspective on a press release you’ve been mulling over for a while.

What one piece of advice would you give to a startup founder wanting to do their own PR?

Whenever you’re thinking of going public with an announcement, it’s important to cut the jargon and think about the “why” behind your press releases. 

When you’re putting all your time and energy into getting a new business or product off the ground, it can be tempting to launch straight into technical lingo and lose sight of the bigger picture. However, journalists will give you more credit for explaining your proposition and how it is tackling a pertinent problem in simple, compelling terms. The founders that can explain the broader appeal of their product and how it impacts their customers without being too technical are able to foster better relationships with the media when building their brand.

What’s the worst thing about working in PR?

Because of the fast-paced nature of the job, sometimes a journalist at a big publication will reach out with an opportunity that is perfect on the surface, but the timings might not quite line up with a spokesperson’s availability or expertise, or they might want you to disclose facts and figures that you’re not legally able to share yet. In these situations, it’s nobody’s fault, but it can be disappointing!

What website do you visit the most?

It’s difficult to pin down just one, but if I had to, I would say I read The Times the most to make sure I have the fullest and most accurate picture of what’s happening in the world. That said, I write a lot about financial services and fintech, so I often look to the likes Sifted and the Financial Times to make sure I’m up to date on the latest trends.

What is the last book you read or listened to?

‘Cultish: The Language of Fanaticism’ by Amanda Montell. It’s a pop linguistics book about the sorts-of-cults people join every day and the linguistic tactics that brands use to reel us in and create a sense of community. It has an interesting mix of criticism, anecdotes, interviews and research; it really made me think about how deliberately brands like Peloton use language to gain a cult-like following, and the buzzwords we hear when politicians speak.

What is your coffee order?

Nice and easy – normally a flat white!

Sian Bradshaw

Account Manager

About the author

Sian joined CRC back in 2020 after reading English at the University of Cambridge, with varied experience in student journalism, project management and youth engagement. Since then, she has worked with a variety of the agency’s clients in the tech, business and finance sectors, and now works as an account manager, where she crafts innovative, targeted communications strategies for her accounts.


News & Updates