3 February 2017

Synonymous with Brighton’s PR scene since the mid 1990s is Founder of Midnight Communications, Caraline Brown. It was the very first PR agency in the UK to specialise in the internet.  She says, “Brighton seemed the natural choice to set up as it was also at the forefront of all things digital.”

Brown understands the need to remain competitive in attracting talent, “I attract staff by offering the very best in employee benefits.  We were the very first to offer the many things which are now standard – European away weekends, spa trips, language courses, vocational training etc.”

As for Midnight’s client split only 10% are Brighton based clients with the majority of contracts coming from national UK companies and a further 20% international work.

The variety of PR agencies in Brighton is infinite; from specialist freelancers operating out of Brighton’s own Small Batch Coffee houses; (or soon to be Soho House Brighton); to Healthcare monolith Pegasus, employing 150+ people on global campaigns from the North Lanes. Helen Yearsdley, a Pegasus Board Director said, “Most of our business is with national brands or the UK teams of large, global organisations. We’ve brought digital expertise into our PR business, rather than the opposite approach where digital agencies are trying to integrate PR teams into what are often tech-focused organisations. Our first ever advertising campaign for Bayer is a great example of where we’ve come as an agency in recent years – from traditional PR to delivering truly integrated, through-the-line campaigns. Developed entirely in-house, our multichannel campaign appeared on TV, social, digital display, a new website and as a genuine experience at Crufts. We were proud to learn that thanks to our campaign sales of our client’s product surpassed its competitor for the first time ever."

Fresh to the scene are hot newcomers Switched On Communications with clients like Taste of London, T2 Tea and Visit Brighton. MD Lauren Libin has escaped London to soak up the creative buzz of Brighton, “Brighton has a huge creative community, and combine that with the fact we’re less than an hour on the train to London, means agencies in Brighton can be as successful, as creative and as competitive as those in London.”  

Libin believes that the attitude and general outlook of people in Brighton helps to foster creativity, she says, “I think Brighton is a playground for creative types. There is so much to inspire and engage everyone, and creativity breathes further creativity.” 

Switched On’s client split is mainly UK national however Libin is proud to point out that, “We do look after VisitBrighton, and being huge fans of our fine city, we think we represent them pretty well!”

We were interested to understand how the ‘traditional’ PR Companies were building digital into their offering, especially in such a renowned digital hub. Brighton SEO, the biggest SEO conference in the UK takes place here twice a year and there are hundreds of digital and content producers. It’s clear that PR agencies now build digital their overall offering, just another channel, like TV, print or broadcast. Libin is clear in saying that “It isn’t just about traditional column inches anymore, you need to adapt to your clients needs. Digital channels are now as important if not more important than print media to influence your audience.”

Vicki Hughes of Brighton PR agency Fugu, says, “We’ve been integrating digital for 15 years already. Brighton is certainly the biggest digital cluster in the UK of successful agencies and developers. Having digital partners in your doorstep is a bonus and the proximity to everything is excellent. Where traditional PR agencies have outperformed ‘tech’ agencies or ‘early digital’ has been in the quality of the content. Digital were initially great at the tech aspect but PR was stronger at creating authentic, captivating content. PRs are good at adapting to anything new and technology has made life easier. PR is fundamentally about creating user generated content, whether that’s a journalist, or a blogger or a customer.”

Hughes credits Wired Sussex and Brighton’s ‘forward – thinking’ Chamber of Commerce for emboldening the scene and maintaining perpetual motion.

Helen Trevorrow, MD, Green Row Communications said; "There is a fantastic culture of entrepreneurialism and creativity in Brighton. London is just a memory. Agencies here bring a freshness and an irreverence - its the terroir."

The best PR agencies in Brighton – 5 to watch:

Switched On Communications – Consumer lifestyle all-rounder, vivid fast-paced agency attracting serious clients

Midnight communications – Brighton’s original full service PR agency with far too many awards to list

Fugu PR – At the heart of much of Brighton’s creative scene, a boutique, results focused agency

Pegasus – PR Week Consultancy of the Year 2016, leading the world in healthcare communications from the centre of Brighton

Green Row - Relocated head office from London to Brighton, this agency masterminded Lidl's middle class wine drinkers campaign


Brighton SEO - one-day search marketing conference and series of training courses with global speakers

Wired Sussex – nearly 3000 members working to develop the regional cluster

Brighton Chamber of Commerce – Not what you’d expect from a Chamber of Commerce but absolutely what you’d expect from Brighton