Beyond the brand | Grace Keeling | The world of B2B tech communications is centred on making complex things simpler

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Grace Keeling is the co-founder of award-winning communications agency, Made By Giants. She started her own agency with her co-founder James Beveridge in the middle of the pandemic, working with fintech, martech, enterprise tech and cyber companies, driving growth for the tech giants of tomorrow.

The industry

Why did you pursue a career in public relations and communications?

I’ve been a storyteller from a young age – a book worm, an English literature student and I liked my earlier internships in PR. When I was young, I didn’t connect the dots to PR, but it was something I defined in my university years. 

There is a lot of pressure on young people to define their career early on. Pragmatically, you’re not always going to know what to do with your life straight away, but for me, given my skill set, PR was something I could throw my all at. 

What areas within the industry are you most interested in (currently)?

I work in B2B tech communications, so my big passion is how technology (particularly AI) will impact creativity and creators. 

It’s a fast-moving legal situation, but regardless, it comes back to what cuts through in the communications space – and that’s authenticity. 

The human race thrives on authentic interaction. I believe originators (creatives, artists, writers) and their ideas are the new currency. Technology (and AI) will be a great support in getting to those ideas. There will be a great partnership, as long as the audiences we aim to reach are human!

How has public relations and communications changed since you first started working in the industry?  

Broadly speaking, the industry is a fairer place. There’s more to do, particularly in certain sectors, but there are certain examples now which suggest things are fairer than when I first started. For example, interns are more likely to get paid than work for free. 

The most interesting trend to watch will be generational change, particularly how new generations will impact management teams in agencies. You’ll see millennials operating very differently to what’s gone before, although I’m a millennial so I guess I’m biased! 

What trends are you seeing that pose the biggest opportunity or threat to the industry?

The communication economy is powered by how information is interpreted. In 2024, information is being faked, mis-represented and proliferated falsely at a rapid pace by all sorts of forces – from AI to bad actors. Or bad actors with AI.  

This change challenges communicators to subvert the “mis-communication” economy, which will flourish without our enforcement and ethics. If we get ahead of it, it’s an opportunity to show our real value to humanity. (I like to think big…)  

Leadership and management

What do you believe makes a company a great place to work in? 

Building and nurturing a great company culture takes time and focus. It can’t be picked up and dropped in an ad-hoc way. 

In agency land, a common mis-conception is that a great place to work comes down to working on big client names. I disagree entirely. It’s down to how people feel – day-to-day. That feeling helps to create authentic ambassadors for your agency culture. 

I believe the following is critical: rewarding and praising great work, developing people properly and being clear about their development goals and opportunities (do not leave them in boxes), and bringing in and including diverse talent – all of which should be underpinned by a supportive, happy environment.

Do you work in an office, remotely or have a hybrid model? What is your preference, and why? 

We’re mostly remote, meeting once a week at least. I’m not one to dictate in-person days too much, but I also believe fostering a positive culture is crucial with facetime and social connection.

What is your leadership or management style?

I’d say I give people the freedom to be themselves, while also showing I have their backs and can support them on a daily basis with day-to-day tasks. I like to set the pace and standard – and “model the way”. 

All leaders should realise that no-one is like them, or will do things like them – people do things their own way. But at the same time, you can set an example and advise on how to meet that example, in a way that resonates with different learning styles.

What key skill or characteristic do you look for when hiring new people?

The world of B2B tech communications is centred on making complex things simpler. So the characteristic I look for in someone is a natural curiosity. A curiosity to discover and learn complicated things by asking the right questions.


What is your favourite book or movie?

Tough question. 

If someone said to me: “this is the only thing you can watch/read for the rest of your life”, I’d choose a script that makes you laugh, and that you can learn something from – again and again. With that in mind, I’d choose A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare. 

Would you welcome a digital detox for a week or approach it with caution? 

I’ve never done a digital detox, mainly because there are certain (more addictive) apps that I either don’t engage with – or have limited use of. Instead of an “all or nothing” approach, I think moderating specific apps is a better way of approaching our relationship with our devices. 

Do you prefer sun holidays or city breaks?

Sun holidays – but mostly in the shade. I am ginger after all! 

If you won the lotto what would you do?

Well, I know what I wouldn’t do – and that’s retire. 

I’d take some time off to travel to places I haven’t been before, discover more about myself and what I’m passionate about, and then reflect that discovery back into my agency. 

You should always take the time to learn more about you – as you’re the most influential person in your life. A lotto win will give you the breathing room to do that. 

People think winning the lotto changes your life. But it doesn’t (or shouldn’t) change the most fundamental relationships you have, or your achievements to date. It just gives you more time and resources to focus your passions.