Meet the MD: Ruth Shearn of RMS PR

Meet the MD: Ruth Shearn of RMS PR

Ruth heads up the North West full service marketing agency, RMS PR. She tells us how she rode out the recession, why she finds herself dancing in her kitchen, and why promises are important.

Describe your role in no more than 100 words

My overarching role is ensuring everyone at RMS PR is happy and performing to the best of their abilities so we have extremely happy clients. Of course, as MD, I get involved in lots of other things, too, such as business development and ensuring we’re financially sound.  By far my favourite ‘hat’ is the creative one.  I love being faced with a challenge and a blank piece of paper, then coming up with an idea that a client might never have thought about.

What is it the company does?

Despite the name, RMS PR is a full-service marketing agency.  We have talented teams of copywriters, designers, digital marketers, web developers and PR pros, who all work together to help our clients thrive. Some clients entrust their entire marketing budget to us so we can plan and implement activity over the course of a year, others appoint us for specific projects. 

Some use us for just one specialism, others prefer us to provide a fully integrated service.  We are ‘channel neutral’, which means we don’t have a preferred service to push so only ever give the best advice to clients.  As for our clients, we love variety so they range from FMCG brands to professional services firms and leading manufacturers.

Give us a brief timeline of your career so far – where did you start, how did you move on?

After graduating, I moved into arts marketing and worked with organisations including Welsh National Opera and the Royal Exchange in Manchester.  Although I loved it, it didn’t pay too well so I took a junior role at a national advertising agency.  

I quickly worked my way through the ranks to account director, then the agency was bought and the culture changed.  A client noticed I wasn’t happy and suggested I set up on my own.  And that’s just what I did!  I never expected to be sitting here 25 years later with a team of over twenty people!

What do you believe makes a great leader?

For me, a great leader is someone who has an idea of where they’re going but is flexible enough to take a different path if required.  They must be prepared to take risks and make decisions. They should be confident enough to admit when they’re wrong. They should listen to the views of others but ultimately trust their inner voice.  They need to be practical, fleet of mind and still learning.  Be humane and fair.

What has been your biggest challenge in your current position?

Coming through the recession. When the economy took a dive, many agencies closed, while others downsized. It was either perversity on my part, or a naïve belief it wasn’t going to last long or an indefatigable positivity but I decided it was time to diversify and grow RMS.  

Having promised the team we’d get through the bad times intact, I was determined we would. Six months became six years - it was horrible.  Somehow, we didn’t just survive, we prospered. The decision to offer more services was undoubtedly the right one –  as testified by the major shift in the wider market to integrated services.

How do you alleviate the stress that comes with your job?

Simple. Having fun with my daughter, which invariably means dancing and singing around the kitchen. I also drag myself to the gym three or four times a week.  Being outdoors so walking in the country and playing on the beach, especially in the autumn and winter months. And, of course, you can’t beat slobbing on the settee with a glass of wine.

When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?

In order, an air hostess (it was considered very glamorous in the sixties!). An archaeologist. An actress. A journalist. Owning a business never once entered my head.

Any pet hates in the workplace? What do you do about then?

My pet hates apply to life in general, too, and include people who break promises; negativity; lack of enthusiasm; and meanness.  I also have an issue when people use the words ‘myself’ and ‘yourself’ instead of ‘me’ and ‘you’!

Where do you see the company in five years time?

I have no idea.

What advice would you give to an aspiring business leader?

Work hard and be nice to people.  Always honour your promises.