10 years in business: The inspiration behind Magenta

This year marks 10 years since Magenta Associates was born. The next few months as we pass our first major milestones are a chance for me to reflect on the past decade in business.

In February 2011, I was seven years into my role heading up FM World, now Facilitate, the magazine which I had launched for the Institute of Workplace and Facilities Management (then BIFM) back in 2004. I had been promoted from editor to publishing director and put in charge of the sales and editorial teams but had a serious case of the seven-year itch. I needed a fresh challenge.

At the same time, I was at a crossroads in my family life. I had three young children (then 1, 2 and 7) and we were living in Highbury, north London but couldn’t quite afford the house with the space and garden we wanted. After much discussion, we decided to move back to the south coast to Brighton, a few miles from where I grew up. We could get more bang for our property buck, better schools and have a healthier lifestyle. But there was also a hefty commute.

In the end it was a quick decision. My then husband would stay working as creative director for the same publishing company I worked for and tackle the Brighton to London commute, and I would do something different. I looked around at the opportunities and PR seemed an obvious choice.  

Starting a PR agency

Having worked as a journalist for the previous 13 years, I’d dealt with PRs for most of my working life. I knew the good ones and the ones to avoid. The best PRs were usually the freelance ones who knew their clients, the market and the magazines and matchmade well. It was a pleasure working with them and I considered them friends. But they had limited capacity and often a narrower set of skills than the agencies. I found the larger PR agencies the more difficult to deal with. They often knew little about our niche sector – facilities management wasn’t well known at all then – and I often found myself dealing with people who had no idea what our readers would be interested in.

There was clearly a gap in the market for a PR agency which specialised in the built environment and knew their clients really well but also had a wider range of skills and more capacity than a freelance PR. The idea for Magenta was born.

Over the course of my career, I’d worked for good bosses and bad bosses, great companies and ones that could do with a bit of a shake-up. I loved the idea of creating a business with the sort of culture that I wanted to work in – one that genuinely cared about its people and its wider community.

So ten years ago this month, I handed in my notice and started planning the Magenta journey.

In my next blog I’ll be thinking about the 10 people who’ve had the most impact on the business over the last 10 years.

Cathy Hayward