7 August 2023 Business Digital Tech


We’re celebrating our PR agency birthday this month. It’s been 20 years of supporting the world’s leading innovators with PR and communications.

In 2003, Cherish PR started life from the dining room table of founder, Rebecca Oatley. She and friend Katie Sheppard had worked together in a previous agency and fuelled by a passion for innovation and a belief that done right, PR would build the foundations for growth, they set to work creating a service that used PR to scale early-stage businesses fast.

“I had never started a business,” Rebecca says. “I had saved five thousand pounds which I used to open a bank account, and family accountants Stone & Co helped me set up the business. Everything was new and I was just learning the mechanics as I went,” she continues.

In its early days, Cherish PR was blessed with the support of some incredible entrepreneurs and innovators. Within the first three months of the agency’s life, King.com Founders Toby Rowland and Riccardo Zacconi brought Cherish in to advise on the company’s launch and one of its first social games, fronted by celebrity Nancy Dell’Olio. “I had known Toby and Riccardo from working on dating brand, Udate.com and it was exciting to work with two incredible entrepreneurs right at the beginning of the company’s life.

At the same time, uDate had been sold to match.com which also became a founding client for the Cherish PR team. “At the time, we were still meeting our partners through friends and family. Being a part of the rapid rise of internet dating and using PR to help the UK meet and match was so exciting. Thousands of singles were signing up for services every day.”

It was around the same time that Cherish started to move into the world of online job boards and career sites, publicising the UK launch of US based The Ladders. “It was at that time we started to realise that new storytelling ideas were needed to get a foothold in the UK market. Founder stories had been done to death, we needed new ideas to showcase innovative products and disruptive business models,” says Rebecca.

Cherish began to work closely with founders to craft their go-to-market positioning against a changing UK media environment. Media brands were shifting resources online and the digital media world was overtaking the newsstand. PR was adjusting at a rapid rate.

Cherish was also building a reputation for breaking new digital brands in the UK, helping fast-growth startups like Wix, Indiegogo, HotelTonight, eHarmony, Kobo, ShopStyle and Vimeo craft their communications for the UK market.

By mid-2015, Cherish was helping many of the world’s biggest digital brands on their journey to success, and was being approached by early-stage startups every day. “We wanted to help these companies but many simply weren’t ready to invest in or make PR work for them”, Rebecca continues. “To be able to help, we need to create a specialist early-stage startup service which wrapped the decade of PR experience into a suite of advice and consultancy services that early-stage startups could use to establish and build their PR and comms function.” The Little Bear PR offering was born.

By 2018, Cherish PR was evolving again. This time into the world of influencer marketing. With the launch of Loud, Cherish offered a dedicated influencer marketing team and social capabilities that worked hand-in-hand with other PR tools. The team at Loud has helped many brands with their influencer relations including eBay, Austin Reed and Access Self Storage.

At the same time, there was a new innovation emerging. The climate crisis had been on news sites for over a decade but the shocking images of climate change seemed to be filling the headlines. The scientists, entrepreneurs and investors who had been driven by financial success in the Noughties were turning their attention to ideas that would impact the planet and people as well as shareholder pockets.

It was at that time that Cherish Founder Rebecca was talking to her long-time friend and sustainability specialist, Narda Shirley. Narda’s agency Gong had been on several client pitch lists with Cherish and together they realised that PR would support the adoption of climate innovation and technology. In 2019, both founders decided to merge their agencies to create the Wilful Group. Whilst Covid delayed their plans, Wilful was born in 2021 and Cherish became part of the Wilful Group, applying its PR expertise to ClimateTech, Greentech and planet positive innovation.

Says Rebecca, “As part of the Wilful Group, we’re excited to evolve and move into our next chapter of life helping those businesses who are building a better world, and who want to get there faster with an agency born to do the same.”

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