Jonathan Kirkby’s 10 Takeaways from 10 Years

10th June 2021

Happy birthday to..well us! You may have spotted on our social channels we’ve been celebrating a birthday here at instinct this month, as we reached the milestone of our 10th birthday.

While we’ve been enjoying a glass of something fizzy and a slice of Colin the Caterpillar or two, we’ve also been reflecting on the lessons we’ve learnt in the past decade.

With that in mind, our founder and original instincter, Jonathan Kirkby has given us the low-down on the ten things he’s taken away from the first ten years of instinct, and an insight into how the industry has changed since Adele was number one with Rolling in the Deep, and the world stopped for a certain royal wedding..


A client relationship is like a personal relationship, there’s ups and downs but honesty is always the best policy. If things aren’t working, then it’s best to approach the problem head on, rather than let things build up.


Similarly for press definitely get out what you put in. Whilst the days of wine-ing and dine-ing with long lunches are long gone a little goes a long way. The little black book I set up in 2011 still serves me well now.


Surround yourself with smart and like-minded people, who will push you every day, inspire you and challenge you when needed. I’ve worked with my senior team Juliet, Rosie and Caroline for around 8 years now and it’s so beneficial to have a core, stable team whilst being able to bring in specialists such as our Creative Director and head of Influencer to keep things fresh. We also have a team of brilliant juniors and having such a talented team of Gen Z-ers helps keep us in in touch with what the kids of today are into (and who the latest Tik-Tokers are..)


Work life balance is way more important now than it used to be – no-one batted an eyelid at 12 hour days, and three meals a day at your desk but we’ve come a long way from there.. (fortunately for the better)


10 years later…there’s nothing better than getting a front cover. Running out to the shops and seeing months of blood, sweat, countless emails (and yes, sometimes some tears) on the newsstand is still a highlight.


That personal approach with clients can go a long way. Our clients still tell us to this day that access to myself and the senior team is a real USP – growth is good, but you need to stick to your core values


A term small in length but important in stature! Always worth setting up front in the campaign, and helps minimise those conversations where the client thinks you’ll get 100 pieces of coverage and you were thinking more like 10.


Design has come on leaps and bounds – whether it’s slick PowerPoints, animated press releases, or impactful coverage books, we’ve come a long way from spray mounting coverage from newspapers on to A4 pieces of paper.


Press trips and generally getting journos out the office is a tougher sell now – where we’ve seen media teams dwindle and editorial teams merge, there just aren’t as many press as there used to be. Gone are the days of organising schedules for 10 journalists and frantically booking hotels. PRs need to be cleverer now as to how they get those bigger pieces.


When all else fails, a little gift in the shape of an alcoholic bottle or two can work wonders. We’re fortunate to work with some of the best alcohol brands in the business and it’s amazing what the offer of a premium gin or whisky can do to get that coverage over the line.