Archive for May, 2007

The greasy pole; episode 4

May 30, 2007


A PR profile on the PR and Comms network can make or break your career they say… Sophie Hughes, a Senior Account Executive from Fleishman-Hillard tells all about days spent herding the Egyptian cabinet around London and her love for peach and raspberry muffins. 

What made you want to work in PR?

I started in PR – having just finished on Omnicom’s Graduate Scheme – Accelerate. A 15 month rotation programme which let me work in a variety of agencies – understanding how corporate reputation management works in its totality (PR, Investor Relations, Branding, EU Public Affairs, Employer Branding/Relations).I was lucky enough to work with Fleishman-Hillard in London and Brussels and so knew the agency was the right fit for me. I loved the excitement of all the issues based work, especially how what you are doing on a day to day level continually changes with the news agenda.


A bit of an international mongrel – I grew up in the US and have endless foreign family the Aussies, Italians and Austrians descend upon London regularly. After I settled back into London, I decided to head off and study History/History of Art at University at Nottingham and then a postgrad at Edinburgh.

Coolest thing you’ve done so far in PR?

Shepherding around half of the Egyptian cabinet at a big event in the City.

Least favourite part of job?

If your story gets spiked because of a bigger breaking news piece.

When I’m 40 I’d like to be…?

An after dinner speaker, looking back on the days when I was but an SAE.

Top tip for those who want to get into industry?

Really try to develop a full awareness of the British media environment- too many students we interview are only aware of the Guardian and its agenda.

Best piece of advice you’ve been given?

Never mass email journalists – think about what you want you want the story to be and research the journalists who have shown an interest in the topic. It helps save you time, irritated journalists and guarantees hits.

If I wasn’t in PR I’d be….?

Hmm….good question….

What do you find most challenging in PR?

Getting clients to buy in to the strengths and promise of evolving media channels like blogging, podcasts and social networks.

PR hero?

Richard Branson

Is there an area of PR you never want to work in, if so which?

Never say never.

How often do you read blogs? Which social networks?

Um – The Guardian, Three Minds, Navigate Communications, Open House, Micro Persuasion, Gawker, Neville Hobson the list goes on …Social Networks: Facebook and LinkedIn.

Best way to get hold of you? [mobile, landline, email, Facebook, Myspace, text,letter, message in a bottle etc]

All of the above – I am pretty communications dextrous. Although Facebook has become

my latest obsession.

FT or Heat?

FT in the morning, Heat at lunchtime.

Grazia or Country Life?

Grazia – it’s a long way off to countryside retirement.

Running or the gym?

I am terrible cheater left my own devices – it has to be the gym.

G & T or JD & Coke?


Hagen Daz or Ben & Jerry’s?

Ben & Jerry’s Cherry Garcia any day.

Caffe Nero or Starbucks?

I am not that fussy – but Starbucks peach and raspberry muffins have to
swing it.    

GAP or Portobello Rd?

Portobello – dare to be different!

North or South?

Always the south – it’s sunnier.

If I were to have a film star play me in the film of my life, it’d be…?

For comedy value – Eddie Izzard in drag.


PR Week and Facebook

May 30, 2007

So, following our mention in PR Week, we thought it’d be timely to round up the blog comment about the article, and on recent developments on Facebook more generally.

Drew Bwas unimpressed by the article, although possibly underestimates the numbers outside tech PR who would be interested in hearing more about Facebook. He is clearly a fan of the PR potential of ‘The Book’ anyway.

Stephen Davies blogged twice about Facebook recently, once to illustrate his difficulty at keeping up with all of his digital acquintances, and again on the new brand power of Facebook.

Facebook’s announcement of new applications which run inside the network demonstrate the scale of both their ambition, and how total their hold over young [and increasingly older] users’ communications is. Email, instant message, and photo-sharing, all inside one service; what’s not to like, right? Remember though, that power can be harnessed for more than just the ‘I’ll go slightly out of my way to stand on that crunchy looking leaf’ or ‘Wingman’s handbook‘ groups.

Where Facebook succeeds is in the seamless integration between on and off-line networks. There is no distinction between the people we socialise with via Facebook, and those who get together at PR and Comms Network drinks. Likewise it is this which makes it so appealing for brands. The Apple and Ernst and Young groups are a way to bring your physical presence on-line, into a personal space, to an audience who will see little distinction between your physical and online manifestations.

We’re unashamedly keen on Facebook, largely because we’ve seen the way it has changed the way students interacted during our time at university, and even how colleagues interact since it went ‘public’ last September. For PRs it is also worth remembering this is an area you can add significant value to senior colleagues’ awareness and understanding of emerging communications tools. As members of David Miliband’s ‘Facebook Generation’you posess experiences and perceptions which will shape the future.

Greasy Pole 3-Extra

May 26, 2007

The other night after work we interviewed Gareth after work at 77PR, and being the true pros that we are, here is unedited, slightly shaky footage of Gareth expanding on a few of the points raised in the written responses.

Yes, we know you can produce better edited and shot video than this, but it was a spur of the moment decision, filmed on a phone [albeit a very swish new one]. Enjoy!

PR Week

May 25, 2007



Some great coverage for the PR and Communications Network today which was featured in a PR week article about social networking.

The PR and Communications Facebook group is here and the PR week article is here

Enjoy the long weekend!

The greasy pole; episode 3

May 23, 2007


 The next instalment of our tour around the PR industry takes us to 77 and to PR consultant, Gareth Streeter. Looking trim after his 26 mile dash around London, Gareth tells all about life in consumer PR….

What made you want to work in PR?  

  • Good question.  As I was finishing my studies a few people told me they thought it might be something I’d be quite good at.  I didn’t really have a clue what it was but looked into it and thought it sounded good.  After I graduated I ended up doing a short journalism course which I thought was great but put me off journalism a little bit.  We had a little look at PR during the course and once again, I thought it was something I could see myself doing.

Background? [Home, education, exciting activities]  

  • I think I have quite a different background to most people in the industry.  Grew up in
    Plymouth and ended up studying theology in North London with a view to going into full time Church work.  As you can tell, that didn’t quite happen….

Coolest thing you’ve done so far in PR?

  • Probably looking after Jack Osbourne at a climbing event in Manchester, and trying to stop all his climbing buddies from base jumping off tall buildings. 

Least favourite part of job?

  • I think that if you have a positive frame of mind, most things in PR can be quite enjoyable.  Although I love the ‘jack of all trades’ element of the job, I do sometimes find it frustrating that you can’t commit yourself to one thing and run with it.

When I’m 40 I’d like to be…?

  • A lad what lunches.  No idea really…hopefully something cause related.

Top tip for those who want to get into industry?

  • Obsess about the media.  Read all the newspapers and take note of interesting PR ideas.  Write as much as you can and get as many things published as possible – even if it’s just on silly little PR blogs.

 Best piece of advice you’ve been given?

  • In life or PR?  In PR it’s probably ‘keep everything as simples as possible.’  In life, it’s probably ‘keep everything as simple as possible.’

If I wasn’t in PR I’d be….?

  • A campaigner of some sort.

What do you find most challenging in PR?

  • Keeping lots of balls in the air at the same time.

PR hero?

  • I’m not a massive follower of any of the big names.  Probably Isabel Shirley of 77pr

Is there an area of PR you never want to work in, if so which?

  • No, I’ll try anything once.

How often do you read blogs? Which social networks?

  • Massive facebook fan but never got into MySpace.  I don’t 100% buy the ‘power of the social media’ arguments.

Best way to get hold of you? [mobile, landline, email, Facebook, Myspace, text, letter, message in a bottle etc]

  • Mobile I think.

FT or Heat?

  • Heat.

Grazia or Country Life?

  • Grazia

Cameron or Brown?

  • Thatcher.

Running or the gym?

  • Both.

G & T or JD & Coke?

  • JD and coke

Hagen Daz or Ben & Jerry’s?

  • Ben and Jerry’s

Caffe Nero or Starbucks?

  • Still can’t really tell the difference

GAP or Portobello Rd?

  • GAP

North or South?

  • South

If I were to have a film star play me in the film of my life, it’d be…?

  • Jude Law – apparently we look alike!


PR clothing – for Men!

May 21, 2007

You struggle over the tie you haven’t done up since graduation, with the shoes that you bought from Marks and Spencers (because you thought that they made you look more grown up) and you slide on your suit jacket even though it’s the middle of summer and the effort of dressing alone is making you cook like a McCains ready meal. All this effort, only to find that when you arrive at your place of work, you are alone in dressing so formally and you look like a lemon!

That’s right, it’s the first day of your new/first job..Dressing for industries like law, banking and general city work, is straight forward. Unless you look like a corporate type, you aren’t corporate enough. But how does a man conform to the PR norm? What actually is the PR norm? For the first month in my first job I wore a suit and tie until someone told me I ‘looked a bit stiff’, at which point I abandoned the cuff links and rolled up my sleeves…there was still a long way to go! The answer is, there is no answer. On the whole PR chaps don’t turn up to work in jeans and a tee shirt, in much the same way that most of us will never have spend a 4 hour lunch sipping champagne..

Different sectors expect different dress codes, and often different work ethics. Turning up to a consumer agency in a suit more than once would probably seal the envelope of your P45,  whereas turning up to a financial agency in anything less will most likely guarantee you a week of non stop status reports as punishment. It’s been mentioned elsewhere in this blog, but within reason the only real people that really matter for this question are your clients. When I meet my Legal client, I wear a suit and tie, and when I meet my public sector client, a shirt is about as formal as it gets.The biggest question remains though – is it ok to wear shorts on dress down Friday? And if so, is a Hawaiian shirt definitely a no no?

PR and Comms Drinks- Round 3

May 21, 2007

Returning to the place of its birth, PR and Comms headed to Bar Polski in Holborn, but would it be third time lucky? With over 700 members on the Facebook group, and healthy interest in the blog, thanks to our two star PR profiles, (Tom and Miriam) a good turnout was anticipated Rather disappointingly the weather didn’t match our enthusiasm and a dull grey Thursday in May hardly set the scene! Undeterred, however, the industry’s finest grabbed their drinks from the bar and headed for the ‘patio’.

There was a good showing from a number of different agencies and newcomers from Firefly, Burston Marstellar, Spreckley Partners and PWK were joined by seasonsed PR and Comms networkers from Geronimo, Fishburn Hedges, Edelman, Weber Shandwick, 77 and Biss Lancaster. Also new to the drinks were a number of freelancers and a few potential PR’s who had heard about the drinks via Facebook and came to see what all the fuss was about.

With the polite introductions out of the way, it wasn’t long before the buzz of conversation ensued and plans for world domination soon began to flow, aided nicely by the Polish Beer.

A good nights work and a few sore heads the next day – Bring on the next one!

The greasy pole; episode 2

May 16, 2007


So, following on from last week’s debutante to our profiles of young PR types, we are pleased to present Ms Miriam Laverick, star of Grazia magazine and Geronimo AE. So without further delay…

Hey Miriam-what made you want to get into PR?

I started out determined to become a journalist, but, during my Journalism MA, I did PR for the university and a local drama initiative and started to warm to the idea of PR. Public sector, charity and CSR PR seemed a perfect fit for what I wanted to do because you’re raising awareness of issues that could benefit people. You get to work on some influential accounts so I feel like I’m making a bigger difference than I would on a small regional newspaper.

In the immortal words of Cotton Eye-Joe ‘where did you come from…’?


I grew up in Co. Durham and did English and German at Durham University. I worked for a media monitoring company in Newcastle for a year before doing an MA in Journalism. In 2006 I received the NUJ University Journalist of the Year Award and an Academy prize. I’m interested in creative writing and am a qualified aerobics and Pilates instructor.


 Coolest thing you’ve done so far in PR?

Being in Public Sector PR the perks are few and far between. I do own a School Food Trust jumper however, which comes in handy sitting next to the air con. Perhaps one of the coolest things I’ve done to date was a radio day with Dr Raj Persaud for our Every Lesson Counts school attendance campaign. (You might recognise his name if you ever ditched lectures to watch daytime TV) He kept incorporating song titles into his interviews. I did get a bit worried when he started to talk about the Boom Town Rats I don’t like Monday’s in connection to school attendance.

Least favourite part of the job?

 I’m not a fan of having to endlessly follow-up press releases with journalists who clearly don’t appreciate being coaxed into covering stories.

When I’m 40 I’d like to be….?

A rich smug married MD and the author of a book or two

 Top tip for those lookign to get into the industry?

With Public, Charity and Voluntary Sector PR I’d recommend doing some voluntary work with an organisation that matches your interests. Because competition is fierce and everyone in PR is over-qualified you need to demonstrate that you’re self-motivated and act upon your convictions

Best piece of advice you’ve been given?

Be sympathetic to bullies – they actually need it.

 PR hero?

It might sounds sycophantic but it has to be the CEO of Geronimo, Karen Harris. In 1999 she founded Geronimo Communications. It became the UK’s fastest growing PR company by 2002. She sold it to Tribal in 2003 and is now a squillionaire – fab!

Any area of PR you hope never to have to work in?

Financial PR because I’d be rubbish at it. As soon as people mention numbers I glaze over. It’s an involuntary side-effect left over from Secondary School maths lessons.

Blogging & social networking-which ones are for you?

You can tell a lot about the public perception of your campaign by reading the reader comments on newspaper websites. I’m a relative newbie to blogs and online networks but I am Facebook convert – it’s dangerously distracting. Besides the PR and Comms network, obviously, I’m also a member of groups like the ‘excessive consumption of tea society’ and ‘I made a fool of myself in Klute nightclub’.

Best way to get hold of you? [mobile, landline, email, facebook, Myspace, text, letter, message in a bottle etc]

Any of the above, but you would grab my attention particularly well if you sent a message in a bottle or a carrier pigeon.

And now the hot stuff, Miriam Laverick-your life in questions;

FT or Heat?

    • FT or Heat?

The good thing about my job is you get to read both under the umbrella of ‘research’. If there were an FT ‘ring of shame’ I’d read it more readily however.

    • Grazia or Country Life?

Grazia – silly question!

    • Cameron or Brown?

I’d be stoned by irate Geordies the moment I stepped off the train at central Station if I said anything other than Brown.

    • Running or the gym?

Both. It depends what the weather’s like.

    • G & T or JD & Coke?

G & T

    • Hagen Daz or Ben & Jerry’s?

Ben & Jerry’s

Caffe Nero or Starbucks?

This is a contentious issue in our office as grad coffee drinking habits clash.  Starbucks for quantity and choice, Nero for quality as long as you don’t mind waiting a year for your drink

    • GAP or Portobello Rd?


    • North or South?

South for the moment because I’m enjoying London right now and most of my friends are here. When I’m old and bored of life in fast lane (or can’t hack the daily stampede just to get on a bus any more) I’d like to retreat back up north and live the good life somewhere in Northumberland

    • If I were to have a film star play me in the film of my life, it’d be…?
      Audrey Tautou for no other reason than she’s gorgeous


In the game

May 15, 2007

Positive PR?

May 14, 2007

You get off the phone to the journalist, who tells you it is just a really busy news day, and they can’t squeeze in a mention of your brilliant survey. You open the paper and believe the latest tale of big Pharma’s munificence. Isn’t this preferable to accepting it was just a total turkey of a story you spent 4 hours of your life flogging? Or that everything you read has been spun?

It is easy for PR’s to become cynical. In some cases brand, individual’s and institution’s reputations may be deservedly positive, and coverage merely an accurate reflection of their efforts. In others, however, it can appear to be more a case of smoke and mirrors, and these suspicions engender cynicism. Indeed, spend enough time around some ‘old-timers’ and you being to question everything you take for granted, to the extent you begin to doubt even your own birthday.

Should young PR’s try and fend off the advent of this inevitable depression about the nature of modern news and media, or embrace it early on?

Without the benefit of weather-beaten experience is it preferable to give the benefit of the doubt, and allow yourself to enjoy the multitude of delights the lower rungs of the PR ladder have to offer?

On the flip-side, Chris Clarke recently demonstrated the potential dangers of the trusting positivity of youth.

So, I wonder, at what point does the scepticism kicks in? Personally I’m still skipping around with the gauche energy of a spring lamb, but I presume the dark clouds of embitterred experience must yet lie ahead…