I solve complex communication challenges with smart thinking, sharp creative and persuasive copywriting.
I’m a writer, a strategist, an entrepreneur and a trainer. My adventures in business span more than thirty years across a seriously diverse range of sectors, with communication at the heart of everything. I bring this experience to every project.
So, if you’re facing a complex communication challenge and need a tight comms strategy with irresistible copy, give me a call.
I love complexity. Or rather I love the challenge of turning complexity into clarity. It’s a skill I first developed as a technology journalist back in the day when everything was going digital and people’s heads were exploding with befuddlement and frustration. I became the go-to guy whenever something needed to be unpicked and explained in clear, concise language. Today, working in strategic communications, I still am.
Now, a ‘complex’ challenge might mean explaining your next-generation metaverse-powered technology to investors. But equally it might be galvanising your leadership teams around change. Or attracting great new talent with a bold employer brand. Maybe it’s developing impactful training materials for a business or consumer audience. Or developing internal comms campaigns to embed a culture that persuades talented people to stay and helps them thrive. It might even be nailing your value proposition — who you are, what you do, and why anyone should care.
This is all my territory.
WHAT I DO
I’m hired by organisations of all shapes and sizes to solve complex communication challenges. This includes working at a global level with Fortune 100 companies, high-growth SMEs, ambitious start-ups (I do love a start-up), and public sector organisations, such as the NHS.
When the project calls for a full-blown creative approach, I partner with designers, animators, photographers and film-makers. This means I can offer a full creative service (just like a big agency, but without the big retainer). I do all copywriting myself because writing is, and always will be, my thing.
Here are the main services I offer. Most projects cut across several specialities so don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions.
- Video scripts
- Training materials
- Investment pitches
- Business plans
- White papers
- Employer brand
- Employee value proposition
- Business development
- Change communications
- Tone of voice
- 1-to-1 copywriting / tone of voice
- Team copywriting / tone of voice
WHAT I’VE DONE
I’m a shameless opportunist, but in a good way. I’m fascinated by opportunities to disrupt an established model, whether that’s journalism (Scoopt), marketing (Blether Media) or publishing (Blasted Heath). I’m a natural entrepreneur, and successfully managed one of my start-ups through acquisition by a $2b gorilla. I’ve worked extensively with world-leading brands and businesses (Mantra), including L’Oréal where we grew our agency relationship into a partner relationship. And I’ve spent weeks learning from the Silicon Valley tech and creative leaders (TRC Media). I’ve even found time to focus on my own passion project (The Mental Cyclist).
The Mental Cyclist
2020 – present
AUTHOR & FOUNDER
Helping recreational cyclists of every age, ability and ambition get more from their bikes.
Cycling is my passion, which is why I know only too well it can go from awesome to awful with a twist in the wind. That’s because your mind tells you stories. These stories are not always real, but they feel real, and that’s the same thing.
I wrote The Mental Cyclist to explore the psychological blocks and barriers that can so often hold us back, and to help recreational cyclists change the way they think so they can change to the way they ride. The book is wholly accessible, 100% practical, and includes journal exercises to help readers develop deep self-expertise.
If you’re a cyclist, you should definitely read it. If you’re a potential client, say the word and I’ll send you a free copy 🙂
2015 – 2019 (employed)
2019 – present (freelance)
Full-service creative agency, specialising in strategy, internal communications, copywriting, design and video.
I joined Mantra as Strategy Director, tasked with helping the agency find smart opportunities for growth.
As a key part of this, I led the development of new business with L’Oréal’s international teams, focused on internal communications. Projects included developing employee value propositions for the Professional Products and Active Cosmetics divisions, designing and running a global awards program to embed business priorities for 20,000 employees, and developing training materials to help newcomers navigate L’Oréal’s complex culture.
In 2017, I took the role of Managing Partner to help the business owner restructure the business. Today, I support Mantra on a freelance basis with strategy and content.
2013 – 2015
High-level training and development for the digital creative sector in Scotland.
I joined TRC Media to run the annual transformational Cross Creative training program. Cross Creative was a 9-month journey of personal and professional development for a carefully selected cohort of Scotland’s top creative professionals, designed to help Scotland’s digital creative sector compete with the best in the world.
Cross Creative programs featured field trips to Silicon Valley, where I organised visits to the tech giants like Facebook and Google, world-leading creative companies like Pixar, and the most innovative start-ups.
Because Cross Creative was attracting predominantly male participants, we developed a parallel program open only to women. Special Edition was designed to help address the under-representation of women in the boardroom in Scotland, and the outcomes were remarkable. I project managed Special Edition alongside Cross Creative, running four complete programs and launching a fifth during my two years with TRC Media.
2011 – 2017
Digital publisher of original crime fiction
Blasted Heath was a partnership with self-publishing pioneer, Allan Guthrie. In 2011, Allan had just proven the potential to reach audiences directly with his own titles. Together, we spotted an opportunity to disrupt the traditional publishing model with an ebook-only approach.
Specialising in crime fiction, Blasted Heath published excellent authors who were otherwise struggling to find, or unwilling to sign up to, traditional publishing deals. With our low overheads, agile processes and direct marketing strategies, we took authors to market quickly and effectively.
2008 – 2013
Social media marketing and communications agency
Blether Media, a dedicated social media marketing agency, was born of my experience with Scoopt. I’d demonstrated that a one-person unfunded Scottish start-up could build the biggest brand in its space with nothing more than a good story, and I started Blether Media to share my experiences with, in the main, SMEs, arts organisations and charities.
Through a mix of client services and hands-on training, I helped hundreds of orgs get to grips with the strange, exciting new world of social media. I showed them how to level the playing field for customer attention by creating great content and storytelling for social channels, and helped them exploit smart new ways of communicating effectively without needing traditional marketing campaigns or exorbitant spend.
2007 – 2008
DIRECTOR OF CITIZEN MEDIA
World’s largest stock photo and multimedia agency
As part of Scoopt’s acquisition deal, I was employed by Getty Images on a one-year contract to lead Scoopt through the transitional period.
2005 – 2007
World’s first citizen journalism photo and video agency
In 2004, cameras were becoming commonplace in mobile phones. I realised that pretty soon every breaking news event would be captured first by a member of the public, not a professional. That screamed ‘opportunity!’ so I created the first commercial market for what became known as ‘citizen journalism’. This meant bridging the gap between people who found themselves in the right place at the right time, and the global media.
Scoopt was a truly disruptive business. Highlights included striking a deal with Sony Ericsson to embed Scoopt software in 10m cameraphones worldwide, steering a challenging path between legitimate photo opportunities and invasive amateur paparazzi content, and engaging with every major media agency in M&A talks.
In 2007, just 18 months after launch, I sold Scoopt to Getty Images.
1997 – 2005
Author of hardback manuals on consumer technology
Haynes Publishing was renowned for its car and motorcycle manuals. However, the market for these books was decreasing as vehicles became more computerised and less amenable to amateur tinkering. Haynes needed to try something new.
I was engaged by Haynes to write an experimental book on consumer technology, called The Computer Manual. This was an immediate hit and led to a long series of technology manuals. I wrote / co-wrote around 12 hardback titles, plus annual updates, on a freelance basis during my time with Haynes.
1997 – 2005
Freelance journalist, reviewer and features writer for the mainstream media
My real passion was writing, so when I left the fashion business I blagged my way into freelance journalism with a couple of audacious pitches.
This led to a long and successful career as a freelance journalist, where I wrote extensively for the Mirror newspaper (often ghost-writing for Carol Vorderman, though without her pay cheque), ComputerActive magazine, and a wide range of consumer media.
I developed a passion for making complex subjects accessible to everyone. This is a skill I have honed ever since, and now use daily in my strategic communications work.
Boden, Blooming Marvellous, Charlatan
1985 – 1996
Clothing design and manufacture
Having graduated with a degree in Philosophy, I naturally became a fashion designer. I expanded quickly to run a clothing factory, which was fun until it burned down and I went bust.
I then embarked on a career in the rag trade where I became the Production Director for two mail order companies, Blooming Marvellous and, laterally, Boden. In 1996, it was time for a complete change.
University of Glasgow
1981 – 1985
MA Joint Hons – English Literature & Philosophy
Having no clue what to do with my life, but loving literature, an Eng Lit degree was the obvious choice. I discovered Philosophy in my first year and was instantly smitten, so I decided to do a joint degree. I use my Philosophy training daily, in various weird ways.
CONNECT WITH ME
Get in touch
Think we might be a fit? Smashing! I’d love to hear from you.