PROFILE: Nick Mason Pearson, Ask Jeeves UK - Techno enthusiast wins Ask Jeeves job. Nick Mason Pearson’s reputation as a cyber geek landed him a plum job

’I love all things technological,’ confesses Nick Mason Pearson, certified cyber geek and the new head of PR at web site Ask Jeeves UK.

’I love all things technological,’ confesses Nick Mason Pearson,

certified cyber geek and the new head of PR at web site Ask Jeeves

UK.



’When I was a kid I wanted to have all the latest gadgets. I even

remember forcing my parents to get a video player when they first came

out.’



From young tech-obsessive to professional technophile, Mason Pearson’s

passion and hobby has shaped his career and landed him the top PR

position at Ask Jeeves, one of the country’s most popular internet

services.



With the rapidly expanding cyber world at his feet, and a PR remit to do

what is needed at Ask Jeeves, Mason Pearson feels like a kid in a

sweetshop.



’I share the same vision as everyone at Ask Jeeves,’ he enthuses. ’I’m

so bought into the whole company proposition, brand and job. It’s the

most exciting thing in a long time.’



Tall, confident and totally at ease in the media world, Mason Pearson

looks perfectly suited to PR. But it wasn’t always his ambition, more a

job he stumbled into. For decades, Mason Pearson’s family has made the

connoisseur’s Mason Pearson hair brush - a business handed down through

the generations.



But this Mason Pearson decided to leave the firm to his father and uncle

while he made his fortune in advertising. Except advertising was not, he

found - after a string of jobs including advertising manager for a

timber magazine - the career for him. ’There’s something about the world

of advertising that didn’t suit my personality,’ he said. ’I wanted

something more down to earth.’ Oddly enough, he chose PR.



His break into the industry came when his brother’s wife, Sara Pearson,

offered him a job at The SPA Partnership, now known as The SPA Way, of

which she is managing director. Working on every account from chocolate

producers, to telecoms firms, to Barclays Bank, Mason Pearson soon

became hooked on PR. After four years, he left The SPA Way to travel

around Africa and ’chill out’ for two months, before returning to join

Biss Lancaster as an account manager. Looking after clients such as

Nortel Europe and Telenor, it was not long before Mason Pearson carved a

niche for himself as a telecoms PR expert.



Chairman Graham Lancaster, now a friend of Mason Pearson, remembers the

man they called Mr Telecoms. ’Nick is an enthusiast,’ says

Lancaster.



’He has tremendous energy, which is infectious with his colleagues and

his clients.’



’He likes anything new, which is perhaps why he focuses on the hi-tech,

telecoms and dot.com arenas,’ he adds.



His reputation spread throughout the industry. So much so that Text

100’s associate director Katie King headhunted him for the hi-tech

agency’s then developing telecoms sector.



Mason Pearson says his three years at Text were some of the best in his

career: ’We had a lot of fun and deep respect for each other - and there

were some wild pitches we went on.’ Text’s UK managing director Glen

Goldsmith recalls one of their funniest pitches. ’I’m a Charlton

Athletic supporter and I’d always wanted to wear the club’s shirt in a

pitch,’ says Goldsmith.



’To secure my dream, Nick suggested we mock up a living room and

role-play the pitch as Men Behaving Badly, equipped with TV, sofa and

half-eaten pizza. We even hooked up an indoor washing line, to which a

pair of my boxer shorts were pegged!’



It was Text that introduced Mason Pearson to Ask Jeeves, one of the

agency’s top clients and an account he oversaw since the client win in

May.



What fascinates Mason Pearson about his new role at Ask Jeeves, the

internet service which allows internet browsers to ask simple questions,

is its crusade to put the human touch into the web. ’If I was only

allowed to give one PR message about Ask Jeeves, it would be that we are

humanising the internet - we want to bring some colour into the web and

make it more interactive.’



Currently, Mason Pearson’s role is the only dedicated PR position at Ask

Jeeves UK. Since its launch in February, the business has been growing

at a pace which has seen staff numbers rise from two to nearly 70, but

in-house PR has until now been left to the marketing team. Mason Pearson

is planning to use his position to help spread the word that Ask Jeeves

will revolutionise the web.



And for now, he sees his future firmly in the technology sector.



’Technology is a fundamental part of our lives and unless there’s a huge

social revolution, it always will be.’ This firmly held view even

impacts on his free time. What does he do to relax when not skiing or

entertaining his two daughters? There’s photography, surfing the web,

playing MiniDiscs and organising every aspect of his life on a

state-of-the-art Palm Pilot.



HIGHLIGHTS

1990

Account manager, The SPA Partnership

1994

Account director, Biss Lancaster

1997

Consultant director, Text 100

2000

Director of corporate communications, Text 100



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