Behind B2B #19: Paul Wooding

  • November 1, 2022
  • Reading time: 4 min

For the 19th instalment of Behind B2B, we’re speaking to Paul Wooding, VP Corporate Communications at KX.


With an impressive career spanning both agency and in-house, Paul Wooding is the mastermind behind a wealth of award-winning B2B PR campaigns. We sat down with Paul and found out how a passion for videogames – and a shortcut or two – have led to his current position as VP Corporate Communications at KX, who supply leading technology for real-time continuous intelligence.

How did you end up in the world of B2B PR?

The first thing to say is that it was both luck and great timing that got me started on the PR career path.

I flunked my A Levels through a combination of terrible career advice and an unfortunate dose of glandular fever. So, I was on the dole, looking for a job, when I saw an advert in a local paper for a video game reviewer in a magazine. I excelled at English at school and I’m a big gamer, so this was like a dream come true! Funnily enough, all throughout my childhood, my parents used to say: ‘you’ll never get a job playing those bloody stupid things!’. Shortcut: my first job was playing those things. So, I got introduced to the world of journalism very early on with no formal qualifications or anything other than a cheeky smile, a passion for writing, and the ability to play Sonic the Hedgehog.

From there, I moved into editing trade magazines for the entertainment licencing industry. I was pretty hopeless at it, and got fired within a year. Because really, at the age of 20, with no formal training, you shouldn’t be the editor of an international trade magazine! But during this time, I honed my writing, design, and layout skills. I also became very good friends with a number of PR people, and thought: I quite fancy that for a career!

After a stint at a PR agency in Banbury covering, among other things, pneumatic drills and oil rigs, I joined a B2B tech agency – right on the cusp of the bubble – and that was it really. I’ve always enjoyed tech, and I’ve always enjoyed a good story. It was a perfect match.

What did you actually want to be when you were younger? And how do you think that’s shaped your work today?

Writing has always been in me. When I was 12, me and two mates from school made our own games magazine. We spent a month just writing up stories. My friend had a typewriter, and his dad had access to a photocopier. We produced about 100 copies. It was probably awfully written, badly spelled and terribly punctuated – but the ambition was there, so perhaps it was meant to be!

I was very nearly a fireman: but, I had glandular fever in between the two final stages, which led me to pass out on the physical selection day. So – I could have had a very different life!

What work are you proudest of?

I’m proud of lots of stuff really. For example, with Octopus Group, KX won three PR awards (and were nominated for five) for a campaign that really was the first time my company had ever even considered running a project like that. And, you know, people really recognised the value – so I’m very proud of that.

When I was at Red, we had a client that ranks the performance of mobile networks. And the campaign that we did for them was about showing that you could map the value of a house price to the strength of a mobile network. We reckoned it was about £10,000. This was back in 2010, when mobile signal wasn’t what it is today.

We did some research and testing to get the evidence, generated loads of coverage – and it annoyed a major telco so much that another telco heard about it, went to the client, and signed a six-figure deal! We won shitloads of PR awards for that!

What are the features of great B2B marketing?

From a PR perspective, I think it’s really understanding whatever it is you’re promoting, and how it has an impact on the buyer. I know that’s obvious; but if you don’t truly understand those real, clear benefits, it’s really difficult to get under the skin of anything. You have to know your end user and customers as well as the sales teams do. I’ve sat in lots of agency meetings, and you can see the senior marketing, product and sales lead’s eyes light up whenever anyone asks questions that really get under the skin of the customer pain points and opportunities.

Hand in hand with that go data and insights, they’re critical in convincing clients to push the boundaries, and that goes as much for in-house PRs like me as it does for agency teams

I also love the challenge of building strong relationships with internal stakeholders, partners and customers.

Finally, fun is an underrated commodity in B2B. It’s not a dirty word, right? I think it’s about really being playful with it and realising that you can bring humour in to build that connection.

What piece of advice has stuck with you?

When I was a Junior Account Director, I did a pitch with the CEO of a very large and well-known agency.

I picked her up from Reading station in my vintage camper van – which was understandably confusing for her! But from the back of my van, she told me: ‘always buy the Financial Times before any big client meeting or pitch – because I guarantee there will be something in it that’s relevant’. And she was absolutely spot on.

So essentially: always do the prep, and come armed with the right questions.

We’re giving you the power to axe one B2B PR trope, cliché, or ‘common mistake’ forever. What would you go for? 

So I wrote an article – when I was particularly pissed off with the PR industry about five years ago – about slaughtering PRs sacred cows. I’d just read too much bullshit around the idea that all you need to do is work hard (i.e. spam journalists) to become one of those media magicians who can shape or control the news agenda. The truth is, we’ve lost the ability to control anything, and that’s a good thing.

I saw a comment the other day on LinkedIn on a post about key PR skills saying ‘don’t forget, we can make sure the message also doesn’t get out’ and again, a little part of me died. A PR’s job is not to bury the bad stuff: that harks back to the bad old days for me when PR was shorthand for spin, obfuscation and – let’s face it – lying. We’re so much more, and so much better, than that.

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