Sussex Business Times Interview: PRG Marketing Communications 40th Anniversary

As most friends and clients of PRG know, this year marks 40 years in business for the full service PR and marketing agency. To mark the special occasion MD Simon Groves had an interview with Sussex Business Times.

Tell us about PRG Marketing Communications – how did it start?

PRG was started in 1980 by my father, Ray Groves. He was working in London as a journalist, commuting every day back when the trains had slam doors and buffet cars, but no phones, iPads or laptops. Writing press releases on his notepad, he started quietly building a small client base through his contacts in the gas industry. Eventually, he decided to take the plunge and start up PRG Publicity, with my mother getting involved and running the finances.

PRG started life purely as a PR agency, with Ray working from the spare bedroom of our home in Eastbourne. Over time, it took over the dining room, followed by the garage as the team grew. Eventually, a move to an office in town beckoned and so did the transition to becoming full marketing services as PRG’s graphic design studio was born.

Over the years, the business has grown and evolved to meet the needs of our clients and the market. It was a natural step to move into website development and then digital marketing, as increasingly the website formed the starting point for any conversation around marketing. We have, for many years now, operated as a complete full-service agency and we believe this is one of our strongest USPs. Clients can come to us and know that we will handle all aspects of their marketing, using our in-house team, ensuring that all of their inward and outbound communications are delivered to the same high standards.

The business has always worked with clients across the length and breadth of the country, as well as in a variety of countries across Europe and even some clients in Oman and Africa. My memory as a child is of Ray having to jump in his car and head off to see clients up in Manchester one day, then heading down to the West Country a day or two later. I’m hugely thankful for email and Zoom, that’s for sure!

40 Years in business is an incredible accolade, when did you take over at the helm? Was it always the plan for you to take over the family business?

I actually joined PRG in 2000 when I got back from completing my business degree at University. I came back strapped for cash and returned to my part time job working in a record shop (remember those?) I’d enjoyed the marketing aspects of my business degree the most, as well as the modules on very early website design, so was thinking I’d like to perhaps pursue this further. I was offered some ‘work experience’ at PRG, which I tried for a few months, found I enjoyed, then never left! My first client was a company that made character licenced phone covers, back in the days of the Nokia 3110. They had the Harry Potter licence, which was hot property back then so I managed to secure them a load of national press exposure.

It had never been the plan to join the business, but I’d grown up around it as you do when it is a family business. I worked my way up through the company, developing my skills and knowledge on all aspects of the marketing mix. I began driving the website development and digital marketing sides of the business, as they very quickly became essential parts of what we do.

I took over the business in 2013, just after we moved offices back into the town centre of Eastbourne. It was a bit of a whirlwind, due to Ray having to step away from work for health reasons (he is fine now you’ll be pleased to know). Since then, I’ve been focused on ensuring that we’ve kept the values that PRG was built on, but developed our offering to keep pace with the needs of our clients.

Want to read the full interview? Head over to page 40-44 in the latest issue of Sussex Business Times.

Photo credit: Stephen Lawrence

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