#LYNXLife… hashtag not required

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Earlier this month we hosted our annual #LYNXLife meeting at The Lowry Theatre in MediaCityUK, an event that offers the chance for everyone from across the Havas Lynx Group to reflect on 2018 and look forward to the year ahead. In this blog Russ Cockburn, Director at Cucumber PR, recalls his experience of the day and why he left feeling so inspired.

There are very few times in your working career that you’ll get invited into the inner sanctum of a company that employs over 350 people, boasts a turnover of £40m and creates pioneering campaigns for some of the world’s pharma giants.

But that’s exactly what happened last week. I’d been asked by a former colleague and now CEO of Havas Lynx Group to help the healthcare communications agency improve their B2B presence and profile in the North West.

Not my usual bag, but if you’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting David Hunt, he’s a difficult man to say ‘no’ to. After a very good December, dominated by the ’60 new jobs’ story, he invited me up to Manchester to sample #LYNXLife, an annual meeting that is designed to review the year just gone and plot the coming 12 months.

My mission was simple. Attend, listen and soak up any ‘titbits of information’ I could glean to help me shape and pitch future stories.

Better still, I wouldn’t really know anyone and nobody would know what I did for the agency, giving me a complete ‘warts and all’ look at what they do and the culture that has transformed it from a small agency in the Northern Quarter to Healthcare Agency of the Year at Cannes Lions (I’m reliably informed this is the equivalent of England winning the World Cup).

As a micro business with just two employees, the thought of sitting through three hours of presentations from a big agency isn’t what dreams are made of. Worse still, it was the second week back and the inbox was heaving at requests from journalists and clients keen to hit the ground running.

Well what happened next over a rather grey Manchester afternoon (is there any other type?), will live long in the memory. OK, there was the usual review of another successful year, the reveal of a new agency vision and the launch of Union, a new brand that will create synergies between big pharma brands and start-ups dripping with exciting tech.

Even during what I loosely call the ‘corporate’ bit there was a sense of energy and excitement about the place, the type of excitement that you would normally expect at a challenger brand that is on the upward curve and ready to disrupt the market.

The intensity was ratcheted up a few notches when the internal agencies got their moment in the spotlight, each having five minutes to detail 2018 and what lies in store for 2019. We had Sterling impersonating ‘Gogglebox’, the nice people of Pankhurst delivering a ‘bloody’ great poem and Pryce showcasing the sort of stand-up routine that is usually reserved for the London Apollo.

Even the lads from LX Labs had time to poke fun at their ‘nerdish’ reputation and ability to create precise quotes using just one dart and a dartboard. Despite being an ‘outsider’, I could still pick up on the ‘in-jokes and jibes’, with each cameo greeted with huge applause.

It kind of summed up what the Havas Lynx Group is all about. Yes, it is hugely successful, but that success comes from doing good in healthcare and unlocking great talent to make sure things are done differently.

In fact, the whole afternoon was dominated by non-fee earning activities, from donating 255 pints of blood and completing a beach clean, to reducing single-use plastics and, most impressively, the Christmas fundraising campaign that raised enough money to fund 114 rooms for Centrepoint.

Whilst my initial brief was to just focus on the B2B PR, I left Manchester wanting to get a lot more involved and to learn more about the amazing work that is making a difference to people who suffer from migraines, have to live with the stigma of HIV and lose days to the debilitating effects of dermatitis.

I also had the pleasure of meeting Matt Eagles, Head of Patient Engagement at Havas Lynx Group. The West Ham fan (he wasted no time introducing this fact to me) was diagnosed with Parkinson’s at the age of seven and 43 years later is at the forefront of the Parkylife campaign.

A spin on Blur’s popular song from the 90s, it is giving people who have the degenerative disease 50 hacks on how to cope with the condition and, importantly, make the most of life. He’s an infectious fella and he harbours a real desire to create a music video to feature the ‘Eagles’ inspired rewrite. More on that in 2019.

#LYNXLife was nothing like what I was expecting. It was inspiring, emotive and fascinating in equal measure; I’m just delighted that Cucumber PR has the opportunity to play a small role in promoting some of the amazing things that are happening in Manchester and London on a daily basis.