Tag: Conference

Straight talking entrepreneur takes to the stage

We had the privilege once again this year of being the preferred PR partner for the Buy Yorkshire Conference, which took place on the 28 and 29 April.

A lot has happened since then, as I’m sure you can imagine, so apologies for the delay in sharing our experiences. Over the next few days I will upload a series of blogs that we drafted to support the event with the intention of extending the experience to those who were unable to come along, we do hope you enjoy them.

Please do, as ever, feel free to comment on ask any questions that you may have.

And so, on to the first…  

Jonathan Straight is a long term supporter of the Buy Yorkshire Conference and we were delighted to welcome him back for a further year. As a businessman who has worked for 21 years to build a recycling company that he then floated on the stock exchange before selling it many years later, he certainly knows his stuff.

Speaking about his departure from Straight Plc, Jonathan laid bare an honest account of the decisions, challenges and humorous occurrences that can only come from such a roller coaster journey.

Having spoken for several years as the CEO of Straight this was one of the first occasions that Jonathan was taking to the stage as a former member of the company.  Taking us right back to the beginning he references his departure from school in 1965 with an A Level in Business to his name.

He comments: “Being an entrepreneur was never a real option back in those days. The idea was that you went to university and you got yourself a proper job. I had seen my Grandfather run his own business but he left nothing behind, no legacy or real social impact. I didn’t want to be like that.”

Jonathan had a number of jobs before taking the plunge and choosing to launch Straight. The journey was far from a depiction of the businessman’s surname and came with many a battle not least the fact that recycling was a relatively new concept.

He adds: “It was after reading a book one day which included the sentence ‘We pay to buy our waste and put it in a hole in the ground and yet this material we bury has a value and so we pay for it twice’ It was a real lightbulb moment for me. How could we possibly go on buying something twice and why hadn’t anyone done anything about it?”

Fuelled by the enthusiasm and passion that Jonathan had for both his business idea and the need to recycle, Straight soon became a £1m turnover business with 4 employees and that is when he decided that in order to be taken seriously he would have to get a listed on the London Stock Exchange.

Never one to give up, Jonathan got his listing in 2003 but was aware that the challenge had only just begun as he now had to ‘deliver for the shareholders’. Times still weren’t easy for the business and the next challenge was to purchase his main competitor Blackwell, which he did in 2004.

Taking risks doesn’t seem to effect Jonathan in the same way it would others but the next steps in his story were clearly a worrying time as he explains his share price went from more than £3 to just 18.5p thanks to a drought.

Still this didn’t stop him and once again he rolled his sleeves up and built the business back to its former glory – not thanks he explains to the faceless bast*rd banks.

The tale doesn’t end there however as despite its ongoing success Jonathan left the company in 2014 for an 8 figure sum. It wasn’t about the money though, he explains, it was the right thing to do and at the right time.

So, has Jonathan hung up his glasses and combed out his much-loved moustache – of course not! As a true entrepreneur he is working on a number of projects and there is no doubt that he will be back, in time, with another exciting business that he can call his own and make a success all over again.

Leaving the audience with 10 missions (which are actually 11) he says:

  1. Know where you’re going
  2. Communicate effectively
  3. Tell the truth
  4. Never give up
  5. Be memorable
  6. Dare to be different
  7. Know your competition
  8. Keep reinventing
  9. Help others
  10. Lead by example
  11. Plan the exit first

We wish Jonathan every success with his future ventures and look forward to him sharing his next exciting journey with us next year.

What a day!


Today was one of those days that really get your blood churning – they make you feel alive, they spark your passion and they remind you of why you chose the career that you are in – today was the Buy Yorkshire Conference!

As the preferred PR partner for the event, we work for several months behind the scenes to draft press releases, engage with the media and draft stories for inclusion in the dedicated supplement, which was handed out during the event.

On the day however is where it gets really exciting. We had two rooms full of exhibitors, a hotel packed with high profile speakers and more than 4,000 delegates coming through the doors, the Financial Times, the Business Desk, The Yorkshire Post, Yorkshire Business Insider, BBC News Channel and Look North and the Times – now if that isn’t enough to make you wide eyed when you work in PR then I don’t know what is.

We spent all day running around, arranging interviews, making sure speakers and journalists came together, convincing local businesses to comment on national TV (in some cases live) and managing an exciting and challenging press event.

I’m still buzzing from the atmosphere. It was a truly fantastic two day event and everyone I have spoken to felt the same. Whatever company or sector the delegates and exhibitors worked in they were all amazed with the organisation and the unnerved attitude and professionalism of the Buy Yorkshire team.

Hats off guys – keeping it simple, you nailed it!

At Open Communications we are proud to support the Buy Yorkshire Conference and to be a part of something that is quite frankly epic. A massive #WIN from us. We are already looking forward to next year.