Studio Visits: Ph Creative
Ph Creative is an employer branding agency based in Liverpool, founded in 2004 by Bryan Adams. They employ 44 creative thinkers, strategists, marketers, designers and developers with offices in Liverpool, London and New York. They’re changing how companies, like BT, Virgin Media, and Vodafone do recruitment by improving their employer branding, candidate experience, and talent attraction.
With grass as their reception carpet and picnic benches are their meeting tables, you don’t have to walk too far into their offices to know that they do things slightly differently. After walking past the impressive murals on the studio walls, we took a seat and got chatting with their Operations Director, Jim Taylor, who reflects the personality of the space that he’s in; disruptive, creative and open.
They started out as a web design company, with their name Ph presenting ‘Pantomime Horse’, a reference to the front-end and back-end development needed to build a website. “Since then we have grown into a team of over 40 people with offices in Liverpool, London and New York,” says Jim “we were quick to identify digital content marketing as a great way for our clients to grow, and we’ve since helped businesses with every aspect of their digital marketing including web design, SEO, social media, PPC and content. In recent years, we identified recruitment marketing as a great fit for for our skills and abilities, and this has led to us working with some serious brands around the world, helping them find the talent they need.”“ Well, a bit like KFC or Coca-Cola we can’t give away the secret formula! ”
They specialise in recruitment marketing, helping brands find, recruit and retain the very best people for their business. “We work with businesses that are open to ideas, looking for creative solutions and not afraid to disrupt the market. We’ve been lucky to work with companies such as Virgin Media, Telefonica, NBC Universal, Nationwide Building Society, BT and RBS, with more clients coming on board all the time.”
Looking back at their favourite projects, we ask Jim what some of their highlights have been as an agency. “We are proud of every bit of work that we do, but our work with Virgin Media has been a particular highlight. We created a candidate portal for them, Virgin Volt, which is packed with advice and insights to help everyone applying for a job with Virgin Media to have a great chance of success.” Shortly after he reveals that “it’s also been brilliant to start working with some businesses in the USA such as Magellan Health. Growing Ph in the States is a real priority for us.”
Looking in from the outside you can’t help but get curious about their approach to employer branding, it appears to a new and incredibly important area, particularly with how this generation and the next are selecting the employers that they decide to work for. “Well, a bit like KFC or Coca-Cola we can’t give away the secret formula! But we do have a unique framework that helps us get under the skin of the business to develop their employer brand. Plus we are always focused on the creative outputs that will be needed for a successful recruitment campaign, so our creative team has input into the process from the very first meeting with a client, and throughout every stage of development, which is unique.”“ It’s not about age, or background, or gender - we simply look for those who can help us move the business forward by improving the quality, consistency and creativity of our services.”
Ph is a driving force in the world of recruitment marketing, with their CEO/Founder, Bryan Adams and Partner, Dave Hazelhurst being recognized as thought leaders, and regularly speak at marketing events worldwide. Their book, ‘Getting Goosebumps with Content Marketing’ was also an Amazon bestseller. They’ve built a family-like team around them that supports them every step of the way. “There’s a great balance of people and personalities here at Ph. Our designers and developers are widely experienced and regularly contribute industry-adopted updates to open-source software such as Umbraco. We have copywriters, social media experts, PPC and SEO expertise that helps us offer a full range of services to our clients. Our Account Managers keep client relationships front and center in everything we do, and we have design and marketing interns helping us out and learning their trade.”
“We all take enjoyment from producing great work for some amazing brands, and we have a lot of fun in the process. We are easy going and friendly but deadly serious about our work. We don’t do average or mediocre.”
With the team set to grow over the coming year so we couldn’t resist asking what type of people they usually employ. “Great people!” says Jim “Everyone on the team brings a different and relevant set of skills or experiences to the business. Everyone loves what they do and brings bags of energy and ideas into work, and we enjoy our nights out together too! It’s not about age, or background, or gender – we simply look for those who can help us move the business forward by improving the quality, consistency and creativity of our services.”
Considering we spend ⅓ of our life at work, Ph have nurtured the idea of creating an environment where people want to work in and too feel a sense of creative freedom. “We work hard but we’re a close team with a lot of respect for each other. It’s a very creative culture, as you would expect.” In terms of supporting one another, Jim explains “all the team are encouraged to give thanks to their colleagues for help or for delivering a great piece of work via our “Cheers for Peers” system, and the team members with the most “Cheers” each month get a choice of some great rewards. Plus at the end of the working week we all sit down together with a beer to discuss what we’ve achieved before stating the weekend. It’s a great way to catch our breath, highlight some successes and draw a line under the week’s work.”“ We work hard but we’re a close team with a lot of respect for each other. It’s a very creative culture, as you would expect.”
And the importance of space? “It certainly helps that we have a space that fuels collaboration and the sharing of ideas. We’re soon to expand into another part of our building to offer a quieter space too, which can come in handy for thinking time and reflection. The new space will also include an ideas board where we can pin up images and photos of work that’s in progress or which will be helpful for inspiration.”
Needless to say, it sounds like Ph are about to enter an exciting new chapter of their journey. “There’s so much going on here! As well as our HQ in Liverpool, our offices in London and in New York are getting busier and busier which is really exciting for us all. Plus we are soon to refresh the Ph brand ourselves with a whole new look and a greater focus on our recruitment marketing services” Jim explains. “We’re doing more and more video work and we’re loving seeing ideas come to life on the screen. We’re looking forward to 2018 being a great year for us and to working with even more amazing clients!”