I read an interesting article this week by Peadar Loughrey, Project Manager at Dokoo, a digital agency based in Holywood. He talks about a trend that many of us may have noticed over the last decade - the emergence of PR, advertising, design and now digital agencies setting up camp on the outskirts of Belfast.
Indeed Dokoo followed in the footsteps of many other creative media agencies in their own location choice, such as Lighthouse Communications, Birdsong, Morrow Communications, Smarts Communicate…
Need we go on?
It’s easy to understand why businesses in this field would set up in “Millionaire’s Row”. Agencies are the cool, edgy members of the PR-family. They are creative and want to appear slick and ahead of the game. Holywood embodies all of those qualities (much like it’s near-twin across the pond). And there’s no denying that the town has a pretty Main Street with some cracking coffee for anyone pitching to new business.
But does the location actually affect the business? And does the abundance of so many similar businesses in the same confined space help or hinder their competitiveness? Or is it simply close enough to the City Centre but with cheaper rates?
Peadar cites “being in a small creative community of like-minded businesses, we are sure to get the inspiration we need to drive our brand forward.” Perhaps this is true, I can’t comment having only once worked in an agency environment (now working in-house for larger organisations).
He asks readers if Holywood can become a digital hub. Could it be the Silicon Valley of this wee island? A slight exaggeration on our part perhaps, but the abundance of agency signs as you drive along the seafront leaves you in no doubt -
Holywood is quickly becoming PR-Town in Northern Ireland.
And let’s hope it’s got more to do with keeping all the talented people bouncing creativity off each other in the one place, than it has to do with mingling with the rich folk and drinking fancy coffee.