Five Minutes with… John Bowen

Each month, we’ll feature one of our team members in a brief Q&A, so you can get to know us all better! This month we’re meeting John Bowen who is opening a new PR office for us.

How did you get into recruitment?

I was working in PR very much enjoying it but decided that I wanted to make more money. I enjoy talking to people, so thought recruitment might suit me. My recruiter suggested to me that it would be the perfect job for me and I should check it out. Having done so, I’m delighted… It’s a great job, I meet really interesting people and work for an agency I like with supportive management.

Tell us about the sectors you recruit in…

I recruit in PR across technology, corporate, digital, property… To be honest, whatever our clients need, we do our best to make sure their needs are filled.

Why do you think your clients and candidates like working with you?

I think people find me to be genuine when I talk to them, I’m on their side, I’m honest, I’m in recruitment to build long term relationships, it’s something I’ve learned from working with clients in PR and now I have candidates as well. I’m keen for people to come back to me in the future, so want to build trust.

What are your plans with the new office you’re opening?

The Midlands and the north of the UK are untapped for Media Contacts, well we do have some clients there already, but there’s a lot more opportunity there and now we have the resources to open an office there we’re going full throttle. Some people think London is the be all and end all for work, but there’s a lot of rich talent out there and we’re keen to ensure we’re engaged beyond London.

Why are you moving?

I’m moving because my wife is from Birmingham, so we know the city very well. I’ve got two young children now, so we’re keen to see what life is like outside London and spend a bit more time with family.

Now to get to know you!

If you never had to work again and money was no object, what would you do?

I’d like to pick papayas on a desert island with my family and live a very simple life.

What is your guiltiest pleasure?

I’m a closet gamer, I’ve never given it up since being a kid, I’ve always had some sort of console or PC and for me it’s a great way to relax.

What sort of games do you play?

When I was a kid I’d play role-playing games but now it’s first person shooters… it’s probably the stress of recruitment!

Who would play you in the film of your life?

Naturally, George Clooney.

What’s the worst job you’ve done?

It’s a toss-up between two. Collecting eggs on a chicken farm, that was stifling and I was attacked by cockerels all the time, even though I’m 6”3 I couldn’t fight them off. The other job was phoning up offices selling reams of A4 paper, which was really tedious. On balance, probably collecting eggs was worse.

What’s your favourite book?

That’s tough. I think the book that’s had the most influence on my life is 48 Laws of Power. It condenses lots of excerpts of philosophy and history and gives examples of what to do in life and how to succeed.

And your favourite song?

That would have to be Lost in Music by Sister Sledge.

We’ve already discovered that you want to be stranded on a desert island with your family but, if you were stranded on a desert island on your own, what’s the first thing you’d do?

Having watched Bear Grylls’ Celebrity Island, it would definitely be build a shelter while I have the energy to do so. I want to make sure the rain doesn’t affect me too much and I don’t get bitten by bugs. I’ve genuinely thought about this a lot.

And finally, what’s your favourite colour?

I’m a bit of a lover of pink. If it suited me, I’d wear it more often.

Media Contacts – Birmingham office!

In its 25-year history Media Contacts’ PR team has predominantly focussed its efforts across London. Given the vast concentration of PR agencies and practitioners, the capital has long been recognised as a public relations hub. Yet there is a hive of PR activity across the UK and some of the best, award-winning agencies can be found in cities such as Birmingham, Liverpool, Manchester and Edinburgh, to name but a few.


In order to strengthen its relationships with existing PR clients in the Midlands and the north of the UK, and also to tap into some amazing new talent streams, Media Contacts is delighted to announce the creation of its Birmingham office. Former Weber Shandwick PR consultant turned recruiter, John Bowen, will head-up this exciting opportunity and has already been busy building relationships with new clients and candidates alike.


Regarding this new enterprise, John said: “Media Contacts is consistently seeing great PR talent created outside of London, fostered by agencies that dare to be different. We want to act as a conduit for gifted PR practitioners who are looking to make their mark anywhere in the UK and the creation of the Birmingham office will play a key role in this. So if you’re looking for an exciting new job in PR or are in an agency looking to make some great hires, please get in touch!”



Market Update – February 2019

Although, strictly speaking, nothing has changed legally yet, we are already noticing a change in our markets ahead of Brexit. Some people are moving back to the continent, still others are deciding not to move to the UK after all. In some markets this is creating a skills shortage, so it’s a great time to be looking for work. The skills shortage is highest in London and surrounding areas, closely followed by the North West and then the Midlands (where we’re opening up a new office – it’s almost as though we have a plan!).

We’re also encountering continued wage inflation. While in post-depression Britain, wages stagnated, in the last year or so they have risen dramatically. If you’re looking for a new job or you’re due an appraisal and would like advice about how much you should be being paid, call us on 020 7359 8244 or email your CV to [email protected].

An Introduction to… Event Marketing Jobs

If you’re an excellent researcher, love social media and you’re an excellent communicator, you might well be drawn to event marketing jobs.

What’s involved in event marketing jobs?

  • Research and analysis for events
  • National and international market research
  • Maintaining and growing your client database
  • Executing strategic, creative marketing campaigns
  • Managing suppliers and budgets
  • Developing and executing social media and email marketing campaigns

What skills / attributes are required in event marketing jobs?

  • Top notch written and verbal communication
  • Excellent organisational abilities
  • Solid research skills
  • Ability to disseminate salient information from statistics
  • Results oriented

If you’d like to find out more about event marketing jobs, call us on 020 7359 8244 or email [email protected]

Ask the Recruiter – February 2019

My company is about to go through a phase of growth, so I’ll be interviewing and hiring several people. I’ve got plenty of advice about what to ask candidates, but much less about what to avoid asking. Could you give me some tips?

I appreciate this can be daunting – it can seem as though there’s a whole host of rules about what you’re legally allowed to ask candidates. Actually, though, as long as you stick to their ability to do the job you’re hiring for, you should be okay. Here are some examples of what not to ask, and some alternatives.

Don’t ask Alternatives
Which country are you from / where were you born? Are you eligible to work in the UK?
How do you feel about managing women? What’s your experience of managing staff?
Do you plan to have children? The role occasionally requires last minute overtime, will that be okay?
How old are you? Age should only be part of the discussion if this candidate will be selling alcohol or tobacco or in some other age-restricted industry. If not, there isn’t an alternative, just don’t ask.
What religion are you? Are you happy to work with “X” type of clients? Will you be available to work the hours that this job requires?
Are you married? Some employers think a married person will be more responsible, others think a single person will devote more time to the job. Either way, you can’t ask this.
Do you have any health conditions / disabilities? Focus on the candidate’s ability to do the job.
How long will your commute be? Will you be able to start work at 9AM?
Do you have any previous criminal convictions?


Unless relevant to the role (working with children, for example) if a conviction is spent, a candidate does not need to declare it.


This is not an exhaustive list but hopefully you get the gist. Essentially, you should only interview a candidate on the basis of their ability to do the job. One way to ensure this is to use competency based interview questions – you can find plenty of examples online.

I should note, that these all apply in the same way when you’re briefing a recruiter on a new role for them to work on. A good recruiter will always send you the candidates most capable of doing the job regardless of gender/age/race/religion etc.

If you’d like your question to be featured in Ask the Recruiter next month, email [email protected].