Two decades in PR: “I thought I’d seen it all”

Manifesto celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. The two decades have shown us every facet of being an entrepreneur and running an independent PR agency. We have seen the burst of the bubble, the post-2008 recession, the loss of a client that alone accounted for nearly fifty per cent of our operating margin, and many more such challenges.

As a seasoned entrepreneur, I thought I’d seen it all, but one thing I could not predict was a global virus pandemic. Now we can tick that off the list, too.

But it is not the challenging times that leave the biggest mark: in the twenty years, the positives outweigh the negatives, leaving joyful and happy memories.

We have given jobs to dozens of talented people, we have been numerous students’ first employer in their chosen career, we have had fun while we work, travelled together far and wide, worked with hundreds of fascinating clients including other entrepreneurs, got married, taken out our first mortgages, had children and raised them, and got few wrinkles along the way but hopefully become wiser as well. In other words, all that what makes work and life worthwhile and memorable.

Entrepreneurship is a way of life, a choice that gives and takes. As a business owner, you are free to make your own decisions and realise your vision whichever way you choose. However, it comes at the cost of your peace of mind, because the uncertainty, the heavy responsibility, the duty to carry on and to give people job security never stops. In challenging times such as these, the latter aspects feel particularly real.

But if you cannot live with uncertainty, you are not cut out to be an entrepreneur. You get used to anything, even the burden of responsibility and, in fact, you learn to love it. I wouldn’t change a thing, except maybe a few, in those past twenty years. In the balance of things, I am still winning.

And at the end of the day, the coronavirus will be just another challenge that we overcame.

Entrepreneurs never exist in a bubble and cannot succeed on their own, especially if the goal is healthy growth. Therefore, the big thank you for the past twenty years goes to all employees who have contributed to making Manifesto the success that it is. I also thank our magnificent clients, who have put their trust in our expertise over the years.

I have never walked alone as an entrepreneur, with Mikko Koistinen as my co-entrepreneur. Our journey began in the early 1990s at the Faculty of Social Sciences of the University of Helsinki, and it still continues. Mikko: thank you. I also thank Antti Etelämäki, the third founding partner and member of our community for the first ten years, and partner Jonna Varhama, who has been a driving force of our business for the past ten years.

To mark our anniversary, we will be publishing various 20th-anniversary themed articles. Each Manifesto member from their own perspective. We were planning a huge party for this autumn, but the coronavirus changed those plans, and we decided to postpone the celebrations by one year and mark our 21th anniversary with even a bigger event in 2021.

Finally, I wish everyone a happy and warm summertime!


Harri Kammonen

CEO, Partner

+358 40 500 1120