The Team

Meet the people behind the award winning Manchester PR Agency

Award Winning Manchester PR Agency

Our staff

An agency is only as strong as its people, and we have some very strong PR professors aboard. With decades of experience between us, ranging from consumer and B2B public relations to marketing and journalism, expect inquisitive minds, original thinkers, first rate multi-media experts, and fearlessly intrepid industry orchestrators . Not to mention stand out results.

 

Photo by Jack Kirwin -JK Photography-

 

Your career

At Smoking Gun PR we’re always interested in meeting potential colleagues and welcome applications from novices and veterans alike. That is providing they can think laterally, and come up with inventive and ingenious ideas on a daily basis. Oh, and they need to be jolly nice too; after all, we’re a friendly old bunch. Please visit our PR jobs page for any current vacancies

Rick's Story

Rick's Story

Rick Guttridge

Managing Director and Co-Owner

Rick previously enjoyed spells in full-service agencies, was MD at major consumer specialist PR outfit and has led accounts on many major international brands. He is committed to continuous professional development and enjoys helping staff grow as much as seeing clients in the media.

Rick grew up with the media in his blood thanks to his Uncle Peter, an acclaimed writer. The obsession was confirmed whilst a paperboy, reading the sports section of every national between deliveries each weekend. This was the same time he showed his first entrepreneurial spark, taking on paper rounds for the Wigan Reporter, Leader and Observer papers covering his entire village, before sub-contracting school friends to work for him.

Later, Rick’s customer centric approach and business understanding was formed when working for major companies Whitbread, Georgia Pacific and Royal Mail.

After breaking into media by launching and editing JJ’s magazine for Wigan Athletic Rick faced a career crossroads when he was offered an agency PR role and a position as a football correspondent with the Wigan Evening Post. He chose PR and has never looked back.

His all time favourite story is Lord Of The Rings which he feels remains as captivating for him now as it was when he was a child.

Vanessa's Story

Vanessa Guttridge

Director and Co-Owner

It was clear from a very early age that a vivid imagination and a love of people and company were central to Vanessa’s personality. Over the years these skills became turned into a flair for story telling, becoming the obvious basis for a future in communication.

Vanessa has worked at a variety of PR, event and integrated marketing agencies in addition to in-house marketing and PR roles after studying media production.

Whether dressing Coronation Street stars on the catwalk, running private parties at the homes of England’s international footballers or securing full-page features in national press, Vanessa’s friendly demeanor always comes to the fore.

Vanessa showed glimpses of her future career choice when taking on the task of organising her university leavers ball with her friend, in the process booking up and coming comic Peter Kay to headline the event for the princely sum of £250 with a rider consisting of several hotel mini bars worth of booze!

Vanessa’s chosen story is Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol (it does not pay to be mean, however everyone deserves a second chance)

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Sarah's Story

Sarah Twyman

Associate Director

As one of our most senior team members, you might expect Sarah Twyman to be a seasoned public relations veteran with a passion for seeing big ideas brought to life, and a desire to thrust brands into the spotlight, irrespective of their size or budget. But all that would really be an understatement.

With more than 12 years in the industry behind her, Sarah has had time to specialise, carving out a niche for herself in the fashion and beauty sectors, whilst also developing her skills across the playing field. The end product being an enviably knowledgable professional who places creativity and insights at the centre of her work, crafting innovative campaigns for companies before providing them with the results to prove exactly what she has achieved on their behalf.

Hence her being such a good match for Smoking Gun.

Originally hailing from Kent, but having spent seven years working in London after graduating from UCLan with a degree in Journalism and Fashion Promotion, Sarah boasts an intimidating list of household brand names, all of who she has assisted in garnering attention from the public and press alike. From major supermarket chains to some of the most recognisable firms in the FMCG marketplace, she brings to our office a strategic mind full of unique concepts- exactly the kind of tour de force our clients deserve.

Sarah’s favourite book is 1000 Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini for many reasons, not leas the fact it’s one of the only stories to ever make her cry.

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Hayley's Story

Hayley Peters

Associate Director

In every successful agency you need a mix of experience and fresh ideas. With more than eleven years behind her in Manchester’s communications industry then, during which time she has honed impressive skills and developing forward thinking concepts, Hayley represents both those requirements, personified.

 

Beginning her career at the age of just 17, just over a decade later and Hayley has racked up the kind of resume that would make many more mature professionals green with envy. A specialist in travel, hospitality, mother and baby, food, and retail public relations, her CV name-checks some of the biggest brands in those businesses, from Aldi and Warburtons to Holiday Inn, All Saints and Eurocamp. That’s before we come to mention the British Army.

 

With a keen understanding of what constitutes successful strategic planning, and a love for the same insight-driven approach that lies at the heart of the Smoking Gun PR, her love of data, reports and intelligence-focused campaign work means it took no time at all for Hayley to become a core member of the family here on Bridge Street. Forsaking fluff for hard work based on real insights and knowledge garnered from a big agency background, to say we value her input would be the understatement of the century.

 

Hayley’s favourite book is To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee, which transfixed her as a teenager because of its moral hero and the moving nature of the story told through the eyes of a little girl, making it the first book she ever felt emotional about.

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Jane's Story

Jane Alcock

Associate Director

A fresh face on Manchester’s PR scene, with a refreshingly fearless approach to match, Jane’s experience speaks volumes. She brings over a decade of experience working alongside some of London’s brightest creative agencies, and dealing with brands ranging from Kenwood to Mumm Champagne, she leaves an impressive trail of campaigns in her wake.

 

Jane’s interest in the media developed while studying the subject with Psychology at university. A month after her move to the capital she played a part in organising Sports Illustrated’s annual swimsuit party and a brand building role for FMCG soon followed. As did a journalist in a pumpkin, a pub for dogs and a Bond girl dressed in carrier bags.

 

More recently Jane has adopted an epicurean attitude towards her career with work for Phipps PR. Her job – promoting Green & Black’s, Kettle Chips and Tio Pepe – was almost as enviable as the following career break spent in the Alps and Cornwall.

 

Jane is currently trying to read the Game of Thrones books and struggling to work out whether to read book three or watch series four.

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Kineta's Story

Kineta Kelsall

Digital Manager

At Smoking Gun PR we believe in creating a team of experts capable of delivering first class comprehensive services. Hence the reason Kineta’s varied background makes her the perfect addition to our highly skilled team of ingenious public relations professionals

 

A graduate in Journalism from Sheffield University, experience working for the city’s acclaimed radio station, Hallam FM, as event organiser, and her own endeavours running club nights within South Yorkshire’s finest music scene all prove Kineta is capable of turning her hand to a variety of challenges. More Master of Many, as oppose to Jack of All, this experience promoting gave rise to a love of all social media.

 

An avid tweeter and Instagram obsessive, after looking across the Peak District to Manchester’s burgeoning media industries she found herself in a role as Social Media Consultant for Meltwater Group, advising everyone from councils to the police, agencies to consumer brands on their digital listening strategies, helping to shape the future of their organisations. From there, time spent as Content and Evaluation Analyst for The Co-Operative provided further proof of her wholesale understanding of our industry, clearly showing she has the passion and knowledge needed to build strong, worthwhile communities for socially-minded brands. Like we said then, the perfect addition to our agency.

 

Kineta’s favourite book is Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime, which taught her that communication isn’t all about words.

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Helen's Story

Helen Flannery

Senior Account Executive

In public relations every day is different, no two briefs are likely to be the same, and, given the nature of working with both press and consumers, it’s difficult to predict exactly what skills you’ll need to call upon in order to get a job done.

Hence Helen Flannery being a prized asset at Smoking Gun. Graduating with a degree in journalism from Northumbria University, there can be no questions as to whether she understands what makes great, compelling editorial. If there are, further proof can be found in her time spent on Yorkshire Radio, where she garnered knowledge of creating broadcast content to supplement that print experience.

Making the jump across to PR, from there Helen found herself working with a vast range of clients at an agency in Harrogate. Running the gamut from local tourism to export finance, law firms to business development organisations, it’s no coincidence she’s now a deft hand at both B2B and B2C campaigns. Meanwhile, freelance contracts with educational institutions, who called upon her for social media representation, only adds more clout to our claim that this is one sharp, interdisciplinary mind we really couldn’t do without.

Helen’s favourite story is The Wrong Knickers by Bryony Gordon, the first book to make her laugh out loud, and a refreshing read thanks to the writer’s ability not to take herself too seriously.

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Martin's Story

Martin Hewitt

Copywriter

Martin is a wordsmith who contributes to national print and digital titles, senior editor at Design Exchange Magazine, DJ Magazine’s clubs editor, and a desk editor for UK press agency Free Features. When he’s not penning sentences for Smoking Gun’s acclaimed blog, that is.
With some eight years experience writing on music, food, travel, current affairs, the media, public relations and social media, and a previous life spent handling clients for Marks & Spencer, mumbling aside he understands how to communicate effectively in terms of both copy and conversations. Meanwhile, his desire to learn and master the latest and greatest trends impacting the industry makes him the perfect fit for this award-winning public relations agency.
Martin’s most captivating story is The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 3/4. A far cry from his usual reading material, which largely consists of depressing foreign correspondences, this honest look at life as a teenager in the era before Britain went digital invokes memories of his own school days, and all the things he used to think about but was too nervous to let anyone know.