interview Radical PR /// lejournaldebord.fr

I went to Radical's office without paying attention to this detail during a weekend of fashion week. The place was lovely, spacious, filled with good vibes. It was not until I left the space that I came across Danesh, who was kind enough to ask me if I wanted something to drink. He introduced himself and told me that if I wanted to visit again, the doors were always opened. Duly noted, I came back as agreed during an afternoon to discuss with him & Paul about their past career & launch of their PR agency...

à Paris, une discussion avec RADICAL PR.

Interview & Photography Farade Nicolas

 


French version

Could you introduce yourself?
Paul:
I grew up in Nanterre. I had atypical school studies. I think this sensitivity I developed for fashion has always been present. I grew up with Hip Hop culture, I was interested in a lot of things at an early age. The first jobs I did were fashion oriented, I worked for Saint Laurent where I stayed for 4 years. During this period I met a lot of people & built a specific network.
Danesh: I did not grow up in Paris, I come from the south of France, more exactly from Nice. You can imagine, a set up like this when you're a kid, the beach, the sun, it was great... I had a degree in International and European law. Like Paul, I think I've always felt a particular attraction for fashion. I started in the retail business then moved to Paris to pursue this career path. I worked for Saint Laurent where I met Paul & Lucas, I really enjoyed those years.

Why did you take the decision to leave a position like this, where you had many responsibilities and where you were in a comfortable position?
Paul:
I think we just did our time working there. Personally, I needed to explore other things. To be able to work in this business for all those years gave us a good vision of the market. We thought about what could be missing and what could be done. We wanted to combine press distribution and especially in the retail to work with brands and help their expansion.
Danesh: It was important to establish something who looked like us.

After working quite some time in this business, thinking about launching your own brand wasn't the easy path to follow? 
Danesh:
Maybe, it could have been the easy choice. We could have continued to work for Saint Laurent too. But, you have to know that street culture is also in our DNA, it speaks to us definitely more than the luxury business. I think working with youth, within the street culture, even if I don't really enjoy using this therm, seemed way more interesting at this point in our career.

How many time did it take you to develop and build a business plan?
Paul: Around one year. We slowly started to set up a few meeting with clients. It was only early September 2017 that we officially began this new chapter, we created the office.
 

I guess you looked around your own circle to see what was going on the business, was it hard to develop a project like this, from scratch?
Paul
: Yes, at first everything seemed really complicated. It's a business that not many people knows about. It was familiar to us because we've spent a good amount of time exploring it. I have a few friends who are working in the same field, so obviously asking around, seeing and trying to find what they are dealing with on a daily basis, hearing their experiences, it was definitely something needed. From there, we did not necessarily want to do anything different just to be different you know? We took some time off to understand how a bigger press office work. We made a list of our desires, things we wanted to achieve and just went for it!

What did you learn from these specific pieces of information?
Paul:
That bigger press office tends to work with more international, established press. Working in the luxury business opened plenty of doors. It's not a secret that if you are looking to build something in this type of environment, it is all about the connections you are able to make. Networking is the key. I guess that is what makes our difference, to be able to play in between. Our goal isn't to focus on one single type of established press...

What do you mean by "established press"?
Paul:
Like GQ, Numéro & L’Officiel for example. The goal was to bring another type of contents, to build a solid structure for the brands we are working with based on another type of press we are targeting such as Hypebeast, Highsnobiety etc...

As you said, it was a prolific experience to work in the luxury business but from what I can hear, it sounds like a quite negative environment.
Paul:
It could be true indeed I won't say the opposite but, from what we experienced, by the time you get there, you know who you have in front of you, who you can trust or not, it's nothing new. Sometimes things are working out, sometimes they don't. You just have to figure out who you want to be dealing with. We're just a bridge between the brand and the media, it is important to understand what each part are looking for, what they are aiming for. We have to speak the same language.


Why did you choose to name your press office Radical?
Danesh:
Actually we did many brainstorming sessions before finding the right name. I thought it sounded nice in French & English. It defines our way of thinking but not necessarily how we are working. We are Radical because we want to bring something new to the table, promote things you are not used to seeing and not by breaking the codes neither by the way we are talking to people...


Your office is definitely practical and spacious, how did you find space?
Danesh:
This space was used as a recording studio and was vacant, we knew the person who owned it. We had the luck to find a space like this, especially in the neighborhood for this range price. There was nothing but a ping pong table, we bought all the types of furniture. 

Once you found a space, name, and network established, what was the following steps that followed?
Danesh
: We had to focus on extending the network. We explained what we aimed to do with Radical to the people, friends, and family. It's clear that there is always someone you know who knows someone who knows someone, and so on... The seduction part which occurs after is significant, because once you find a brand, which isn't the most difficult part well you have to remind yourself that it's a business, you have to sell your ideas, your concept, and wish that they'll go along.

So, if I get the thing straight, you discover a brand that potentially could interest you then, you explain your project, ideas and that's it? 
Danesh
: Something like this yes, but you have to understand that we are very selective. We have to be. We are mainly surrounded by brands that somehow reflects our way of thinking, that respect our DNA.

What was the first brand you worked with?
Danesh
: Capsul. You must know that at this time we were still working for Saint Laurent. It was a real challenge because we had no office or adequate structure, we manage to do everything we wanted, it was a great and enriching learning process.

How could you define your DNA?
Paul
: I would say street inspired even if it's not the first aspect, the first criterion we are looking at. It must be a menswear brand & something that as potential and that we believe in...
Danesh: It is difficult to define specific aspects, it all depends on the brand's profile, the meetings we have, the people we encounter, the links you are building with them. At the end of the day, you'll have to defend their projects at 2000%. so you need to maintain a good relationship with everyone involved.

Could you represent a brand which is already established and also a brand that just came out?
Paul
: Yes, we are not limited to the success of a brand to represent it.

Is the challenge the same?
Paul
: I would not say there is more work with an established brand or brand that is not, the job is fundamentally different. A brand that is already established will seek to survive and somehow respect a certain format which is not necessarily easy to manage because they will be selective. On the contrary, a brand that just came out could be less difficult to handle just because they seek for visibility and with fewer constraints will listen to what you have to say because they understand that it will be beneficent for their growth.

Is it more challenging for you to discover an emerging brand that no one "knows" yet and put it on the spotlights?
Danesh
: Definitely. That is actually what we are doing with the brands we are working with at the moment. They're young, relatively known, it is hyperstimulating. It would be fantastic to be able to witness the explosion of a brand we are now representing. 

How do you split the tasks, who does what? 
Danesh
: Everyone has their own areas of expertise, it's also something that is done naturally. It is not like we arrive in the morning at the office and we are giving orders to each person.
Paul: It is all about feeling. It may happen that one of us is having more affinity with a client, a brand, so it makes sense that this person will take the responsibility of the project!
Danesh: Same thing could be said about the press work. 

Paul: It is all about feeling. It may happen that one of us is having more affinity with a client, a brand, so it makes sense that this person will take the responsibility of the project!
Danesh: Same thing could be said about the press work. 

Is the challenge the same?
Paul
: I would not say there is more work with an established brand or brand that is not, the job is fundamentally different. A brand that is already established will seek to survive and somehow respect a certain format which is not necessarily easy to manage because they will be selective. On the contrary, a brand that just came out could be less difficult to handle just because they seek for visibility and with fewer constraints will listen to what you have to say because they understand that it will be beneficent for their growth.

Is it more challenging for you to discover an emerging brand that no one "knows" yet and put it on the spotlights?
Danesh
: Definitely. That is actually what we are doing with the brands we are working with at the moment. They're young, relatively known, it is hyperstimulating. It would be fantastic to be able to witness the explosion of a brand we are now representing. 

How do you split the tasks, who does what? 
Danesh
: Everyone has their own areas of expertise, it's also something that is done naturally. It is not like we arrive in the morning at the office and we are giving orders to each person.
Paul: It is all about feeling. It may happen that one of us is having more affinity with a client, a brand, so it makes sense that this person will take the responsibility of the project!
Danesh: Same thing could be said about the press work. 

You are like chameleons...
Danesh: Exactly, in this business, you have to be multi-tasking.

What was the most complicated thing to manage when building this structure?
Paul: What has been difficult is the relationship you are building. Just like I have said earlier, a major thing is to maintain a good relationship between the press & the brands. You must be able to manage the requirements of each part without compromising your ethics.

I can imagine that sometimes it could get very complicated to play on both sides...
Paul
: Definitely, our goal is to do anything we can to make that work. Even if a project doesn't end well, that nothing really happened, we have to keep going, sustain good relationships.

Is it not up to you to make the concessions?
Danesh
: Sometimes you think that some projects will match and even if you really want it to, but eventually it does not. You cannot decide, neither for the press neither for the brand itself.

 
interview Radical PR /// lejournaldebord.fr

Were they projects that did not work and you felt disappointed ?
Paul
: Any offices will tell you this but most definitely. A common example of a shopping that takes place on an important photo shoot session, which you know the kind of impact it can have for the brand and, during the session the garments were snapped, everything went well, unfortunately, they won't appear in the final selection for the magazine. All those things which do not succeed, we have to explain the reasons. It is sometimes hard for the brands to understand. Just think, if you were in their position, you'll be highly disappointed and frustrated, just like we are.
Danesh: The fact that there are a lot of intermediaries in our job doesn't help. We usually don't have the last word.

Is it psychologically exhausting? Because you have to think about everything... 
Paul
: Of course, exigence is key. It is our duty to find the best compromise.

It's basically a job you do 7/7, there is not really any timeout. You can receive e-mails you have to deal with at 3 o'clock in the morning to solve them...
Paul: Exactly, I always have my post-it notes with me!
Danesh: Completely. It's quite obvious that when you're just starting your own business there is no break, you are constantly on the edge, thinking about ideas to improve everything.

Isn't it complicated? How do you disconnect from work?
Paul
: Frankly, it's difficult!
Danesh: Yes, even if you really want to, it is very tricky. You see, when I am at home, trying to relax by watching some movies or else, I realize that half an hour has passed and I couldn't really focus or keep track of what was happening because I was thinking about my job. It may be the only downside, but it's part of the game.
 

Yes but it must be easier, I imagine to work with friends, people with whom you have built strong bonds and mutual trust...
Paul
: Indeed but that can be the risk too. We have to be careful. That is to say, you have to be on the lookout for everything. This makes the job interesting because we are dealing with a lot of stuff at the same time. It is one of the first reason why we set up the office: get out of any routine.Danesh: You work for yourself, the way you want. That's pleasing.
Paul: The deal was to do what we wanted to do, at any time, we didn't want to look back, ten years from now and have any sort of regrets.

That's exactly what's happening to me as well. I give myself at 400% in what I do every day even if the choices I am making are perhaps not the safest, I do not want to have regrets... So, when did you feel safe enough, to begin with, a project like this, did your loved ones understand you?
Paul
: To be honest when we started to ask around, they just thought we were mad! They didn't really understand. We had good jobs, made a good living. It wasn't perceived well but as I said earlier, we did not want to miss out on something we really wanted to achieve.

How many brands do you represent?
Danesh
: Exactly seven. This was done through our network, step by step. We always wonder if we are the right intermediary to defend and support a brand.
Paul: Yes, it's important to be aware of your strengths because sometimes you have to point out that you could not be the best intermediary for a brand development and that maybe another press office could be a better fit.

Are you limiting yourself to a specific number or brands you could represent, or are you taking into account space where you work, your personal evolution etc ...
Danesh: It's clear that if we represented about twenty brands, space would have been an issue, it would be slightly complicated to organize ourselves.
Paul: Space is a major element but also we have to take into consideration and more importantly our structure, especially the financial data. I really can't say much about it, it's pretty random.

You seemed to be in a good dynamic...
Danesh
: Yes that's for sure but it's the beginning, there are a lot of improvements that could be made, we are learning every day.


What is your relationship with social media?
Danesh:
They are an integral part of our work. As a PR agency, it is not us that we must put on the spotlights but the brands. Nevertheless, I think that the brands we are working with know how to deal with these social platforms, they pretty much handle their own media status. To answer your question, we have an Instagram account, but we do not seek popularity.
Paul: It's secondary.

 

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interview Radical PR /// lejournaldebord.fr
 
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