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.

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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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Louise's Story

Louise Woodward

Account Director

A decade or so after graduating from Sheffield Hallam, Louise remains a Steel City girl, daily crossing the Yorkshire/Lancashire border all in the name of PR.

 

It didn’t take long for Louise to find her feet in the public relations game. Diving in at the deep end of public sector work, her role with an NHS Trust quickly gave way to consumer work for agencies in Sheffield and Leeds, during which time she has produced outstanding results for a plethora of high profile clients. Not least Stoves, Belling, Hallmark Cards and Jet2.com, with one campaign even gaining the backing of Ed Miliband and another a CIPR Excellence Award for social media.

 

Clearly innovative and forward thinking, appearances at universities across the region are indicative of her appreciation for the need to ensure tomorrow’s bright young things can match these high standards.

 

Louise’s favourite book is The Twits by Roald Dahl. A tale she read and re-read as a young girl, this timeless tale is exemplary of why its creator is one of the greatest scribes of all time, regardless of your age.

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Susie's Story

Susie Hood

Digital Director

Originally from a small town in Staffordshire, Susie moved to Liverpool more than fifteen years ago for a ‘year out’, which became far more than just that. With a varied early work history, including everything from a stand-in medical secretary to a children’s and youth worker, her entry into the world of marketing happened after graduating as a mature student from Liverpool John Moore’s University with a degree in English Literature and Electronic Creative Technology.

Starting out as the sole staff copywriter at a Cheshire-based online marketing agency, over several years Susie put together and led a team of in-house content creators, developing a firm grounding in the full digital marketing mix, working on B2B and B2C brands as varied as Denby, Mizuno, Victoria Plumb, 3663, UKMail, St John Ambulance, Engage Mutual Assurance & G4S.

The move from content marketing to PR was a natural progression in a bid to find an integrated, creative outlet for her skills, which she combines with a passion for the data-driven insights and strategic planning successful content requires to achieve meaningful results. Arriving at Smoking Gun armed with this experience, Susie brings to the team an in-depth knowledge of online content methodology, search marketing and social media, integrating digital elements with traditional PR to find new and ever-more ingenious ways to reach and connect with the world.

Susie’s favourite story is The Chronicles of Narnia. As well as being a sneaky way to reference seven books in one, the chapters are timeless classics full of allegorical wisdom that still influence her more than two decades after the first read.

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Kerry's Story

Kerry Aldcroft

Office Manager

Like any creative, ingenious machine, Smoking Gun PR only performs properly when all the wheels are well oiled, and the cogs turning properly. Thanks to Kerry our systems are constantly in tip top condition, with her keen organisational and administrative skills keeping the ship tight and delivering outstanding client service.

Joining us after a 12 year spell at legal giant Pannone LLP, most recently as Member Liaison Manager offering support to a network of external firms and solicitors, whilst there are plenty of differences between the worlds of public relations and law the two industries do share one thing in common. Namely the need for second-to-none co-ordination and management. The perfect professional to ensure we’re always in full working order, when she’s not keeping us on the straight and narrow Kerry can be found cooking for loved ones at home or pulling pints in her family’s pub – two pastimes everyone here certainly approves of.

Kerry’s favourite book is the light hearted The Time Travellers Wife. A love story but with a twist that pulls you in. As with so many successful novels, it was taken to the big screen but as is often the case it’s never as good at the original.

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Stacey's Story

Stacey Waugh

Senior Account Manager

Along with her passion for creativity, travel and culture, Stacey brings to the team extensive knowledge gleaned from a multitude of past PR success stories. As such the word ‘experienced’ would be an understatement.

Over the last six years since graduating in Public Relations, Stacey has clocked up plenty of miles. Time spent working in London and Leeds for stand out clients such as Remy Martin, Piper Heidsieck, Chateaux de Sours and Carte Blanche Greetings Group speaks volumes, not that her talent for marketing and conversation-starting doesn’t go well beyond food, drink and gifts. As previous achievements in sectors ranging from construction to weddings goes to show.

Add to that lessons learned about the wider world whilst passing through South America, Asia and the Pacific, not to mention her current extra-curricular studies in Spanish, and Stacey clearly fits the Smoking Gun bill. That constant hunger for information, the desire for new discoveries and an adventurous, innovative and ingenious mindset all being instant giveaways.

Stacey loves reading books based in far away countries, set in different times or cultures, to accomplish pure escapism. Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts is the ultimate example of this but she also carries her love for childhood favourites Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory or Matilda, because of the wonderful characters who show that being nice pays off!

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Beth's Story

Beth Nicholson

Account Manager

A highly trained academic, avid traveller, passionate creative and dedicated professional, Beth brings to the team both deft industry skills and a perspective gleaned by time spent living and working overseas. Precisely the kind of open-minded asset any award-winning public relations agency looks for.

 

After graduating from Newcastle University with a degree in German and Spanish, Beth travelled across South America, experiencing a variety of cultures and places along the way, before settling in to Madrid life- a move that further fed her love of all things Spanish. Becoming fluent in the language in the process, this is just one example of how keen a communicator she is.

 

Eventually returning to Britain, settling down in London and entering the exciting world of PR, media savvy Beth’s CV to date already includes work for three agencies. Specialising in charity and consumer PR, clients from John Lewis and Avon to Yeo Valley and Save the Children have all been successfully serviced, with campaigns under her belt including the Oxford Street Christmas Lights Switch On and Avon’s Walk of Hope, supported by celebrity ambassador Alesha Dixon. Exactly the type of team member we love at Smoking Gun PR, once a decision was made to come back up north we were only too quick to snap her up.

 

Beth’s favourite book is To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee, because the tale was responsible for encouraging many to believe in human and civil rights, making it one of the most important and influential stories ever written.

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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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Emma's Story

Emma Lowe

Media Manager

At Smoking Gun PR we’re not ones for playing things by the book, unless the book is one we’ve written, amended, and built upon. As such our Media Manager Emma Lowe fits right in; an industry pro who hasn’t followed the standardised path into public relations.

A graduate in English Literature and Creative Writing, penning copy quickly became Emma’s calling in life, and training at the Press Association soon followed, where she gained vocational journalistic qualifications. From there, time was spent as a regional newshound in Devon, before taking up a desk at a Cambridge-based tabloid agency, where she filed stories on everything from animals that look like politicians to serious court cases.

With plenty of experience behind her, the nationals beckoned, and one of the country’s busiest showbiz pages became her new home. After rubbing shoulders with Rod Stewart and Debbie Harry, quaffing champagne and accidentally tripping over Dame Helen Mirren’s dress mid-BAFTA ceremony, real-life editorial emerged as a professional focus, working across UK and US magazine and TV titles. Alas, though, nothing could change her mind when a move back to her native north presented itself, along with an opportunity to switch over to PR through one of the country’s leading agencies here on Bridge Street.

Emma’s favourite book is London Fields by Martin Amis, thanks to the way it can make you cry with laughter, and leave you completely disturbed, raising questions about people, society and the darkness of human nature, all via the slick black comedy of an undisputed contemporary literary master.

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Cara's Story

Cara Churchman

Senior Account Executive

In the media, experience is everything. Especially when that experience veers between different ends of the industry, resulting in a rounded professional who can turn their hand to any business-to-business or business-to-consumer challenge.

Such is the case with Cara Churchman. A graduate in Journalism and Broadcasting at Salford University who helped create content for Guardian Media Group’s TV station, Channel M, a series of guest lectures she attended whilst studying sparked an initial interest in public relations, with visitors including press teams from Coronation Street and Greater Manchester Police.

After finishing her course, and gaining a footing in public relations at a specialist law and professional services firm, Cara spent three years working consumer and B2B tech campaigns at an agency, becoming a self-professed gadget geek in the process, whilst also having some involvement with travel and third sector clients, adding yet more strings to her bow- which also includes basket making, learnt during her past life as a garden centre employee. Today, then, she’s a bona fide social media, digital, traditional public relations, and events maestro, the likes of which we consider ourselves incredibly lucky to have on board.

When she’s not reading real life crime books, Cara’s favourite story is The Ice Cream Girls by Dorothy Koomson, because it has an incredible twist at the end, appealing to her penchant for a good murder mystery, only with less bloodshed.

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Cara's Story

Cara Quinn

Senior Account Executive

Another of our recruits from outside the standard PR career model, it goes without saying that Cara Quinn is a deft storyteller, expert newshound, and dab hand at pitching ideas destined to make great headlines.

Originally from Ireland, where she graduated from Queens University Belfast with a degree in English Literature, soon after finishing school Cara made the decision to relocate, moving to England where she spent time honing her physique as a dance teacher and fitness instructor. Linguistics proved hard to ignore, mind, meaning it wasn’t long before she was back in education, training for her NCTJ certificate in Journalism.

From there, time spent with one of the U.K.’s biggest newspaper groups resulted in her developing writing, content planning and researching skills, eventually moving up the ranks and securing her NQJ- the editorial equivalent to a Masters. Soon finding herself in the role of lead reporter for one of Cheshire’s biggest patches, after years hunting down fascinating, interesting and entertaining stories a choice was made to cross over the press lines, and begin a new life in public relations here at Smoking Gun PR. Needless to say, we couldn’t be happier she did.

Cara’s favourite book is Gone Girl by Gillian Flyn, despite the fact she sees it as an obvious choice. The gripping plot is absorbing and the story powerful, attributes she understands are essential in any great yarn.

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Georgia's Story

Georgia Robson

Account Executive

It’s always a good sign when an employee shows stand out initiative well before joining the team. So, when Georgia dropped us a Valentine’s card explaining she was crazy about the company we were impressed, and now it’s safe to say we’re crazy about her.

 

A previous Public Relations and Communications student from Leeds Metropolitan University who’s was our first full-year intern, there’s no denying that Georgia has the passion, innovation and enthusiasm to succeed in one of the most challenging yet rewarding industries imaginable. Quickly finding her feet and exhibiting a skill-set well beyond her years, this fresh zeal for anything writing and digital related has been more than welcomed by everyone here on Bridge Street, and points to an extremely bright future for this fast-rising professional.

 

Georgia’s favourite book is Schott’s Original Miscellany by Ben Schott simply because the fascinating collection of trivia therein offers plenty to inspire thought and spark creative thinking. Key attributes for any member of the Smoking Gun family.

 

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Annie's Story

Annie Morris

Junior Account Executive

There’s no denying that creativity and adventure are in the blood of Annie Morris. Which is probably why she feels so at home here on Bridge Street.

With experience that belies the fact she only graduated from a Philosophy and Politics degree at Manchester University in 2014, it’s not without good reason that we were keen to have Annie join the team. A seasoned traveller, and veteran festival attendee who cites backstage organisation as one of her favourite tasks, to date she has worked press for some of the region’s finest cultural brands, from the historic Victoria Baths to million pound stately home, Weston Park.

That’s really only half the story, though. More corporate PR contracts have also been fulfilled with the U.K.’s biggest mobile phone network, and a global electronic and photography giant, giving her a rounded understanding of the varied demands our industry can and does place on its professionals. A strong asset who has an impressive career to date, along with an incredibly promising future, we’re as excited about what’s to come as she is.

Annie’s favourite book is Marina Keegan’s The Opposite of Loneliness, because Keegan’s story is a potent antidote to complacency – it perfectly describes how age is no limit to talent and that life is too short to wait to write your stories.

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Martin's Story

Martin Hewitt

Copywriter

An NCTJ, PTC and MA qualified writer with a strong national network of contacts, Martin brings to the team perfectly punctuated web and print copy, leading to efficient press penetration and increased brand recognition.

Prior to his accreditations Martin worked with Marks & Spencer handling supplier accounts. This early corporate experience honed his skill for dealing with clients on a one-to-one basis in environments where strong relationships are key to impressive results.

As well as writing for a host of national and international media titles, Martin has edited various websites and specialises in writing SEO rich copy- from press releases to web content.

Besides perfect prose, Martin has a passion for music and film and can regularly be found backstage at Britain’s biggest industry festivals.

Martin’s most captivating story is The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 3/4. As precious to him today as when he was 14, it features all the things you think about at high school, but are too scared to tell anyone. Hilariously tragic and honest.