The utterly unemployable entrepreneur 

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Angie is one of the best known and loved female PR gurus in Europe. She set up the PR consultancy 3 Monkeys Communications in 2003, which became the most successful mid-sized agency in Europe looking after a diverse set of clients; from Morrisons to Microsft; Dulux to Disney. She sold her Jungle for £12m in 2016 only to pay off her ex-partner.

Because she’s not the retiring type and doesn’t play golf, she founded an integrated comms agency – The Fourth Angel – in 2018. She, as Arch Angel of the North co-owns and runs the business now with her bestie and biz partner in crime, Sarah Perry, Angel of Hobnobbing. The consultancy offers a new and fresh perspective on how to deliver TTL, measurable campaigns that deliver far better bang for your buck.

Biggest fuck up?

Selling my business 3 Monkeys to the biggest indie agency in the world, Edelman. What an almighty fuck up.

I did it under duress. 

My ex – who’s in a rock band – had met a thinner, younger, Brazilian groupie, and had left me and my 3 little monkeys.

I hadn’t married him but had stupidly allowed him to have his name on the house deeds when I had funded everything.

Which meant he had rights to my cash.

Worse, he had a super fan of the band who was a barrister; who’d agreed to do a no win no fee against me, which meant the legal shenans went on for 3 years.

So I begrudgingly sold my fourth child to pay him away. It was costly on all levels.

Once sold, I had to work a 4-year earn-out. I hadn’t had a boss since I was 25. I was now 53 and had a boss based in NYC called Barby who wore too much makeup and got up at 5 am to pump iron. 

I was very honest with my buyers. I told them I was unstable. Including that, if I was up at 5 am, I was still partying with mates, clients, politicians, and celebrities. I’m all about relationships and living in the moment as I know it could always be our last.

So of course I could not suck the corporate cock.  When you’re an entrepreneur, you’re utterly unemployable. 

Somehow I managed to cling on for two years as CEO of what was now called 3 Monkeys Zeno (they’d merged me with an agency called Zeno which was Edelman’s conflict shop). During this time I was having a proper breakdown due to my ex being an utter greedy dick and, I now latterly realise, going through a terrible menopause which hit me like a train.

I was bat shit crazy for a short while.

Disappointingly, during my breakdown, four of nine of my board directors shafted me. They were probably being incentivised by my new owners. 

I refused to do the sale on the day of the sale as I was having a major panic attack.  

I think they also thought they were the reason 3 Monkeys’ had been successful in the last few years before the sale was because of their talent. Which wasn’t the case. Don’t get me wrong, they were talented employees. But all utterly dispensable. As my NED Bill Jones repeatedly told me. I remained a force of nature and the heart and soul of the biz until the bitter end.

Despite the fact I’d supported and nurtured these people for years, being generous on every level, they royally fucked me over. I gave them the ammo. Went back to the office twice, more than a tadge squiffy, and tried to engender a party as we used to when I owned the biz to thank my team for going beyond the extra mile as they always did. My MD reported me to global HR!

It taught me a salutary tale, which is the name of one of the chapters of my book: Money.Makes.Monsters. Of people.

So the lesson I guess is you can only really trust yourself.  Loyalty lies thin when there’s brass involved. As my Nanna told me: if you ever do owt for nowt, always do it for tha s’en. 

Rant

Despite the fact that great PR practice should be rooted in authenticity, there are a lot of inauthentic operators out there, who drag the industry’s rep down. Mainly because they’re just resting on tactical, stunt-led laurels. Not real strategic roots. Flashes in a PR pan. 

This means they’re operating on a project basis which no truly well-thought-through and planned PR campaign can. So they’re devaluing not only our brains and capabilities but also our critical business model. Critical for the client as well as the consultancy.

When PR peeps operate at our highest, we’re unbeatable storytellers and managers; as good, if not better at strategic counsel, comms and beyond, as management consultants. 

Angie Moxham

We’re the real reputation managers – there to protect and promote brands, businesses, and people. Yet we’re still, sadly, more often than not, at the tail end of the marketing food chain. So I think we probably need to be more confident in our profession and our tools. And brands need to get and appreciate this, as some of the most successful challenger brands do and have done over the last 20 years. They had no choice. You can’t go ATL when you’re starting out.

And now the influencer landscape has changed, especially in terms of media platforms, my belief is that PR should be front and center of every campaign strategy and implementation. We understand earned, and earned content delivers way better than straightforward paid-for. 

The Fourth Angel now does paid, owned as well as earned. It should always be one story. True to a business and brand; amplified through the most appropriate channels.

Useful advice

3 things:

  1. If you see shit, it’s often your shit.
  2. Fail to prepare and prepare to fail.
  3. Good. Will. Out.

1 COMMENT

  1. Love Angie. She’s been a mentor and true friend to me for over 25 years. A total rockstar and as genuine and down to earth as they come. And a proud Yorkshire native like me. Tenacious AF and also truly caring and loving.

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