Our philosophy and approach

Right now it seems that everyone in business is obsessed with content.

Marketing teams are increasing their resources behind content, and lengthy conversations are being had across the land on how to improve, maximise and monetise content. Every agency is rebadging its output as content, even though for their entire previous existence they called it something else.

Because everyone is identifying themselves as content producers, we now have more content from more brands than ever before. By producing ‘more content’ rather than ‘content that does more’, the content business has fragmented the attention of its audience. When so much of this content is free, audience time becomes more valuable than ever.

Many have forgotten a simple value equation, something that runs through the heart of our approach: the Content Contract. What’s valuable to us has to be valuable to them.

We believe that when we’re not paying people to see our work, it should be good enough that they would pay to see it. Could you say that your branded content sits as well on a newsstand as Private Eye, Grazia or The Economist? The work we produce for our clients does and we can prove it.

We were making content before content was called content. For nearly a quarter of a century. And we do it with a grounding in hard-edged marketing theory that businesses have been crying out for. And we employ real journalists, whose skill is in talking to customers like a trusted friend. Not PR pundits, or failed copywriters.

We are experts in how to harness the best of everything that is changing in how we communicate today. In a world of emerging technology, a fragmenting media and channel landscape, and the evolution of quantifiable metrics, we know how media, brands and most importantly customer behaviour will respond to this change.

It’s what we do day in, day out for brands like Superdrug, Weight Watchers International, Holland & Barrett, Princess Cruises and Jumeirah Hotels.

Our clients recognise us as masters at the things that will never change – the essence of marketing strategy, and the dynamics of human nature and storytelling.

Are We the Right Agency for You?

We are an accessible, no-bullshit agency. We know what we’re talking about, but we don’t use expertise to be clever – we use it to make work that works.

  • We put the audience first. And last.
  • We believe that all content must be created for a reason.
  • We know what we are experts at. What we don’t know, we’ll find out.
  • We make things as simple as possible, but no simpler.
  • We believe that action beats abstraction – we do it to understand it.
  • We have a lot of fun along the way. But no skateboards or a football table.

We are channel-agnostic and international in reach. From strategy, design and editorial through to creation, production and execution, results and analysis. Use us as your full-service agency or plug and play with our planning and delivery teams on specific projects.

We are proud to support The Katie Piper Foundation

Nicki is a Director & Trustee of The Katie Piper Foundation. The Katie Piper Foundation’s vision is to have a world where scars do not limit a person’s function, social inclusion or sense of wellbeing.

Meet the team
Nicola Murphy
Nicola Murphy
Chief Executive Officer

Founder of The River Group 25 years ago, and with interests in several other businesses and agencies, Nicki is a marketer by trade.

Nicki is passionate about marketing and before founding River had an extensive career in this field, which involved working in magazines, and before that, in marketing for six years at Procter & Gamble.

A regular conference speaker, Nicki is also a proud mum of two children and four stepchildren, three dogs and seven cats.

She is also an active board member of FIPP, a keen supporter of the PPA, a member of the Marketing Society, and a five-year director and trustee of The Katie Piper Foundation.

Jackie Garford
Jackie Garford
Managing Director

Jackie runs River. And when we say ‘runs’ we mean she does all the work while the rest of the board are out for an important business lunch.

Originally a print enthusiast and now a complete digital convert, Jackie says, “my ambition for the content we create for our clients is that it should be easily found, grab the reader’s attention, connect with them and inspire them to act”.

Keith Amess
Keith Amess
Chief Financial Officer

A fellow of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants, Keith spent two years with a startup dotcom communications company and 10 years in the oil industry, including setting up a subsidiary in Singapore.

He is also 6ft 4” and a judo black belt. We have no debtors at River and our creditors only call when absolutely necessary.

Happiness Officer

I’m a dog, which means I get lots of strokes but not as much input in strategic development as I’d like.

Currently doing an Open University course in Human Behaviour. Sorry to the BBC for pooing in your meeting. You are a valued client, honestly. Woof.

Gavin Love
Gavin Love
Finance Director

Gavin worked in a wide range of companies, including travel agents, retail and professional services, before moving into the agency world. Qualifying as an accountant along the way, he has helped deliver financial direction, control and support to businesses in Melbourne and London.

He also has a keen interest in all things hackable, creating and installing his own ad blocker to live under the stairs at home and programming his own talking Google Home-like speaker.

Tiffany Van Der Sande
Tiffany Van Der Sande
Group Client Services Director

Despite sounding like a Dutch princess, Tiffany has her feet firmly on the ground. Which is fortunate as she’s the glue in our client relationships.

Highly strategic in her thinking and very service-driven, Tiffany began her career with Condé Nast and has since built up over 16 years’ account-handling experience at award-winning content marketing agencies – though none as good as River!

Phil Tristram
Phil Tristram
Creative Director

Phil has worked as a designer in magazines and newspapers for over 30 years, and since 1995 he has served as Creative Director for River.

Quite simply, he’s a bit of a legend.

Nigel Mackay
Nigel Mackay
Production Director

Nigel has been River’s Production Director for 16 years and still gets excited by the smell of ink on paper. But only on Tuesday evenings.

He has an in-depth knowledge of printing techniques, producing everything from books and direct mail to magazines and POS, not to mention expertise in paper sourcing and data management, plus astute buying skills.

Joely Carey
Joely Carey
Non-Executive Director (Creative & Editorial)

Joely Carey is an award-winning magazine editor and digital content specialist who has worked for most of the UK’s largest news and magazine publishing organisations during her journalistic career.

Danny Rippon
Danny Rippon
Non Executive Digital Director

Danny is the European Managing Director of Lyons Consulting Group, a Capgemini company, having spent 25+ years in digital businesses, across software, services and agencies. He is an expert in helping companies maximise ROI via digital customer experience in Retail and Consumer Goods.

Danny bought a road bike to get fit but hasn’t used it in 6 months because it was too cold.

Dafina Keys
Dafina Keys
Senior Group Account Director

Dafina has worked in content marketing for over 25 years across both print and digital channels in the UK and internationally. She implements the content strategy for some of River’s key client brands.

Matt Ford
Matt Ford
Creative Director

Matt is a multi-faceted Creative Director with over 10 years experience across digital and print. As the former Art Director of Grazia and BBC Earth, he brings a unique sense of creativity to every medium. From advanced motion-graphic videos to large scale creative shoots his 360 degree approach ensures cohesiveness and unity.

He is also a devout Gooner, and outside of work his time is mainly taken up tending to the shrine he has created in honour of Dennis Bergkamp.

Pares Tailor
Pares Tailor
Director of Digital

It’s lucky for us that Pares is as clever as a man with two heads. Pares’ technical knowledge and nerd-like dedication to digital enables him to translate how content needs to move across multiple platforms. He has enabled many of our clients to transition from print to digital, and helped them to thrive in a screen-led world.

When he’s not doing that he’s usually down the gym, avidly tweeting about the latest tech movements, taking pictures for his Instagram page or undertaking the painful journey of supporting West Ham.

We believe that the era of valuable content is ours to make.

River Group Companies

Fish helps professional, corporate, charity and consumer member organisations to provide effective communications, build revenues and strengthen relationships with members.

River Sounds services companies globally to create and distribute original podcasts to augment their branding and marketing efforts. What are you waiting for?

Impactful PR for brands that do good things.

The River Data Lab is an operation within The River Group working with brands and businesses to help them better understand their audience and marketing efforts using data and insights.

If you’re not ready to talk to us just now (sniff) but would like to receive an occasional, entertaining and useful amount of contact from us, please drop us your details. We’ll stay in contact by sending you examples of our work, white papers, and views on the content world at large.

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