Scriba: showcasing bottom-line benefits of technical PR

Katie Mallinson is on a mission to transform public relations into a service that technical organisations can trust to tell their stories with integrity, in order to achieve tangible business benefits. In this exclusive BQ interview, she reveals the inspirations behind the founding of her award-winning agency, Scriba PR, and her aspirations for the future.

If the PR sector requires some good PR of its own – and many would say it does –Katie Mallinson’s pragmatic, progressive and principled Huddersfield-based agency, Scriba PR, is a place to start.

Mixing no-nonsense Northern professionalism with a commitment to getting results that boost the bottom lines of her growing band of technical clients, with creativity and enthusiasm for her subject, Katie wants to improve the image of PR – less spin more sincerity, is a good way of summing it up.

With clients in varied sectors from recycling and waste management to construction, engineering and mobile technology, Katie makes no apologies for representing the clients that most PR agencies run scared from – because of the highly technical nature of their businesses.

“I have my Dad to thank for that,’ admits Katie. “He was an engineer, and I inherited my analytical mind from him. He instilled in me a desire to know how and why things work, which is an invaluable asset when crafting communications campaigns for the organisations I typically work with. It also means that I am instantly on clients’ wavelengths, able to tap into their business objectives while quickly understanding their products and services, which I use to help them boost sales and growth.”

Destined for a career in communications

This self-confessed ‘word nerd’ wanted to balance her communications creativity with commercial acumen, so she embarked upon a Business Management degree at the University of Huddersfield. This is perhaps not the most ‘traditional’ route into the world of PR, but it inspired her aim to make PR something that has tangible benefits – a ‘must have’ rather than a ‘nice to have’.

“Armed with a first class honours degree I joined a Leeds-based PR agency and my love affair with communications began,” she explains.

“Five years later I’d progressed to the position of account director, but wanted to launch my own company, Scriba PR, to celebrate and communicate the achievements and ambitions of companies whose stories are a little harder to tell.”

The fledgling business was initially based at the University of Huddersfield’s Duke of York Young Entrepreneur Centre in the 3M Buckley Innovation Centre, where Katie received mentoring support, a small grant and office facilities.

Fast forward to the present day and Scriba has its own offices in nearby Heritage Exchange, Huddersfield, with a part time employee already on board and plans for a third team member already underway.

A strong two years

Only two years into the business’ journey, Scriba has celebrated a number of client successes.

Huddersfield-based CCTV, security and electrical specialists, Ti Installations, exceeded first year end pre-tax profit projections by 116%, for example, thanks to Scriba’s copywriting and media relations support; Cascade HR achieved a 225% uplift in referral traffic to its website in only 12 months; and UNTHA UK, an industrial shredding specialist, has seen sales of its waste machines increase by 340% since Katie has been on board.

Katie elaborates: “It’s important to me that, from the start, PR activity is seen as a brand building, revenue generating exercise that is closely tied to the company’s business objectives. That way, I can become a value-adding member of clients’ own teams, which leads to long-lasting, fruitful relationships for both parties.”   

The career highlights also keep coming, the most recent being a Duke of York Young Entrepreneur Award in March this year.

“I was thrilled to receive this award in recognition of what Scriba PR has achieved in such a short space of time,” concludes Katie. “My achievements for UNTHA UK even attracted the attention of their Austrian parent company, with the result that I travelled out to Salzburg in June to begin a knowledge transfer programme with their team.

“I’m now waiting to find out if I’ve won the Chartered Institute of Public Relations’ Outstanding Young Communicator accolade for Yorkshire & Lincolnshire, an award I have been shortlisted for. The results won’t be announced in November, but whatever the outcome, it’s been a whirlwind two years to say the least.”