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1284: An Interview with George Oliver

The only issue was that he didn’t exactly know what that business was going to be.

“I had been studying enterprise and business leadership for a couple of years as part of a master’s course at Loughborough University’, he tells Pukaar.

“I knew that I wanted to have a go at running my own company. The only problem was that I had never done it before – and I didn’t exactly know what it was going to do.”

George was Editor of the Mercury and LeicestershireLive for almost four years. It was in that role that a conversation with Morningside Pharmaceuticals chairman Dr Nik Kotecha OBE led to the creation of the LeicestershireLive Innovation Awards.

It launched in 2018 and became an annual celebration of the region’s enterprise network. “Getting interested in that sector, combined with the work I was doing studying leadership strategy at the university, meant that an idea started taking shape,” George continues.

“I decided that 1284 could use my skills and experience to provide strategic communications and PR and that it would have a particular interest in Leicestershire’s innovation sector.

“I applied to join the Loughborough Enterprise Network and am now based on the LUSEP campus in the north of the county.

“It’s perfect for me; it’s at the heart of the county’s startup scene and its regional development strategy.

“But it also means I can do Leicester public relations as well because I can easily get in and out of the city.”

1284 has now been in business as a PR agency for almost a year and is a member of both the East Midlands Chamber of Commerce and the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR).

George is a qualified marketer and also has a diploma in senior management. This is coupled with his media and communication experience from 15 years as a journalist – the last four of which were spent working with partners across the East Midlands.

“I know a bit about running large print and digital publications from my time at the Gazette on Teesside and then at the Mercury,” he said.

“I’ve started a specialist CIPR diploma in Public Affairs and I’m now writing a three-year business plan of my own.

“I thought 12 months ago that I’d give it a try and see what happened next.

“It’s worked out well so far and I love going to work. My clients share my values and have been really supportive. What I want now is to better support them to achieve their business goals – and to grow 1284 further.”

1284 works with founder-led SMEs and public organisations. It also provides pro bono strategic communications support for selected graduate startups in Leicestershire.