In our Headliners series of conversations, we get under the skin of PR and communications leaders around the world who have made PRovoke Media headlines recently, uncovering what they see as the greatest challenges and opportunities for the industry, where they find inspiration (and how they switch off), what they’ve learned about themselves, as well as the creative campaigns they love and the work they are most proud of.

In this week's Q&A, we speak to Oliver Foster, the CEO of UK strategic communications firm Pagefield, which has been acquired by US public affairs group PPHC

What are the greatest challenges and opportunities for the PR and communications industry over the next 12 months?

It’s a big year of elections around the world and so, whatever the results, a lot of disruption is already happening – politically, socially and economically. But change is also an opportunity – for new connections and trying new approaches to campaigning.

What’s the best PR campaign you’ve seen recently and why?

It has to be the Post Office sub-postmasters, and that’s not just recently but ever since they began their campaigning. Lord Arbuthnot was recently recognised in the Pagefield Awards for being the Parliamentary campaigner of the year, following a sustained period which saw the campaign dominate ITV’s schedule in the early part of the year, make front-page news on most of the national newspapers on and off for months, and regularly trend on X.

What work from your team are you most proud of over the past year?

The fightback against the most damaging parts of Michael Gove’s planned leasehold reforms which would have undermined confidence in the UK’s property sector, and cost investors and pensioners very dearly in the process by unfairly taking away their savings. The digital campaign we waged alongside the more traditional lobbying effort and media outreach all combined to ensure that government as a whole had seen sense by the time Rishi Sunak called the General Election.

What have you learned about yourself over the past couple of years?

That sleep isn’t for losers and that I’m far more productive at 6am than I am at 6pm.

How do you switch off and maintain wellness?

For the past five months I’ve been boring anyone who will listen about the life-changing benefits of 16:8 intermittent fasting. Not only did I lose all the weight I wanted to after Christmas, I now wake up almost every day actively wanting to exercise after decades of actively avoiding it. It sounds a bit basic, but walking my dog also provides the most guaranteed form of switching off, with headphones in listening to podcasts or my (generally quite embarrassing) Spotify playlists.

What cultural source (eg book/podcast/movie/TV show/music artist) has provided creative inspiration for you lately?

Reading Jonathan Coe’s Middle England was not only a great escape because of how intuitively observed and comically written it is, it also felt like closure on what had been a tumultuous decade leading up to and immediately after the Brexit referendum – when people on both sides of the divide seemed to completely lose their minds and forget their basic manners.

If I wasn’t working in PR/comms I would be…

Opening up the most luxurious dog hotel in central London, catering for people who head off on business or on holiday and can’t take their dogs with them.