Catching up with Yousaf Khalid

Yousaf Khalid speaking at an IPA/SEO London event It's been a while since we've caught up with a leading light in marketing and PR so we approached Yousaf Khalid, group managing director of e>erythingd.fferent to find out more about what makes him tick. This is what we discovered...

Q What attracted you to marketing as a career? A I think it was the idea of being able to persuade people to buy or think differently about a product or service. That insight, creativity and media could achieve that was fascinating.

Q How has the industry changed since you’ve been in it? A It seems everything took longer to do before; the strategy development, the creative and the production process but in reality the only elements that have got quicker are the media and production. Twenty odd years ago everything was being physically taken from the agency to the publishers - now, because everything's electronic, time has disappeared. The other aspect is the choice of media for channels; previously it was regional press, national press, outdoor, radio, cinema and DM/door to door. Today is just a little bit different to that with social media - the most important aspect being that brands are no longer in charge of what’s said about them. They still have large enough budgets to outgun social networks but only if they are being authentic. When things are going wrong then no budget can compete with social media. I guess the final point on this would also have to be email, I began at a time when there was a phone on your desk and that was it but now there’s this screen you’re sat in front of pinging emails all over the place (like I'm doing right now!)

Q Tell us 3 things that people wouldn’t expect to discover about you. A That’s a difficult one as I’m not sure I know myself! And that’s not a cop out!

Q You talk about Different actually being different. Tell us how this is true. A It’s something in our genes, our upbringing and our life experience that we challenge the status quo by seeing things differently. It's true because you just need to see our work for Barker & Stonehouse, Benfield Motor Group, Charge Your Car, One North East and the various health campaigns for smoking cessation, Hepatitus C, fire prevention and alcohol abuse. And we aim to go through this process with all our client partners to establish an ownable space for the brand to sit in order to make it memorable in people’s minds.

Q Your graduate recruitment scheme is arguably a national exemplar. What was the motivation for this? A As I mentioned before technology is really changing the way we consume product and service information and the industry itself has an average age of 30. We felt the best people to understand this change were people that had grown up with it so the scheme was all part of our recruitment strategy which has really been successful for us.

Q Time to spill. What’s the worst thing that has ever happened on a client project? A I can’t think of something that’s entertaining at least that I’ve been involved with but one of my colleagues in the days when we carried around large presentation cases rocked up to a pitch and had a moment. The team arrives at the meeting place on time (which is an achievement in the creative world), gets out of the car, opens the back, pulls out the cases and pops them on the road before picking them up and heading off to the building where the presentations are being held. Unbeknownst to him when he puts his case on the floor it acts like a pooper scooper for a doggy deposit. So anyway he and the team confidently stride into the meeting looking to impress. Hand shakes and introductions over, the case comes out and hits - or should I say scrapes - along the shiny new boardroom table and deposits the contents collected earlier right in the middle. Quite an impression!

A What makes you irate? A I guess because we living in such changeable times it has to be a closed mind, when people either don’t or can’t see that the world has changed and our industry needs to keep up with those changes to stay relevant.

Q You have clear views on PR - what do you think the PR industry does well and what does it need to do better? A PR is in a great position to own content in the social media space but too often it uses stunt driven tactical solutions rather than ideas based in their clients' brands.

Q What one thing do you always have in your cupboards? A Recently it has to be protein shakes but before it was always Jaffa Cakes.

Q Tell us your best joke. A It will have to a silly one that I can remember because anyone who knows me knows that I can’t tell a joke because I’m laughing too much! So here goes. Man walks into the doctors and the doctors says what can I do for you today. Man says well doctor I’ve got this steering wheel stuck down my trousers and driving me nuts! Boom-boom! I'm not sure if I want you to keep that in!