Telum Talks To… Oliver Budgen, Founder and Managing Director, Bud Communications

Telum Talks To… Oliver Budgen, Founder and Managing Director, Bud Communications

Telum spoke with Oliver Budgen, Founder and Managing Director of Bud Communications, on the agency's expansion and how to thrive in tech PR.

Congratulations for the Indonesia and Sydney expansion in 2020! Could you please share with us what is on the plate for Bud Communications in 2021?
Thanks a lot! Since we launched the agency last year it’s been quite a journey and we’re humbled by the response so far. For us the next year is about putting our flag in the ground as the leading communications agency for challenger tech brands, so we have an ambitious and busy road ahead to achieve this. Specifically, this means diversifying our digital and content capabilities and supporting our team to ensure they are continually growing during their journey at Bud.

Bud Communications has more than tripled its team in 2020, having experienced 180% revenue growth. Why do you think brands are looking to independent agencies in fulfilling their business needs?
Larger network agencies still have an important role to play, though I see that challenger technology brands, in particular, are looking for agility and kineticism that similarly dynamic and snappy startup communications firms are probably more aligned with. Ultimately it comes down to the quality of the work. We’ve contained our business vision to work with a specific kind of client, which means we’re able to be far more specialised than larger networks with a broader client base.

What makes you want to focus on doing tech PR, compared to other sectors? What is the most important thing to pay attention to for tech PR to thrive?
It may sound obvious but first and foremost, the technology space is a place we’re genuinely excited about, which helps to ensure we’re injecting energy and fresh ideas into the work we do.

Secondly, technology has a dramatic influence on the way we all work and live and is transforming every traditional industry, from agriculture and education to financial services and real estate. The centre of gravity for this growth is right here in Asia and so our agency’s vision is to partner with these challengers to lead this transformation.

The most important element for tech PR to thrive is to keep pace with the constant change and don’t rely on tried and tested solutions as a crutch. Our clients are challengers and so we must be too.

In terms of media engagement, do you think we will go back to offline events like pre-COVID or do you think webinars or digital meetings will continue to be prevalent?
I think the benefits of shifting traditional events into hybrid or virtual formats makes a lot of sense, and it’s a great opportunity for events companies to scale reputable live conferences into digital platforms to create longer-term business growth.

At the same time, we’ve all become weary of webinar fatigue and we’ve seen a number of our clients come to us to devise creative ways to engage audiences remotely and provide an alternative to passive zoom events.

I think traditional events are a little like business cards - everyone knows they’re a little dated but we all still use them. Long term, I expect live events will retain their importance but with a saturation of events pre-COVID I expect will have to justify their existence more keenly in order to remain relevant.

What media and PR trends do you think we should watch for in 2021?
Given the amount of change we’ve seen in the last 12 months, I’m not sure anyone is qualified to confidently predict what the next year will bring. However, if we look at emerging trends that seem to be gathering moss I think there are two key themes we’re seeing.

As we emerge battered and bruised from a challenging year, companies will be held more accountable to the values they claim and will need to offer transparent communications built on trust rather than aggressive sales.

I also expect we’ll see more specialisms emerge within public relations that focus on specific industries, moving away from generalist agencies that are indiscriminate in the work they pitch for.

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