'Every story should be a human-interest story' - Creative Q&A

PRWeek grills creative comms figures on how they got where they are, their career highlight, solving creative writer's block, and more. Today we speak to Paul Garbett, associate director – communications, at CSM Sport & Entertainment.

'Every story should be a human-interest story' - Creative Q&A

How did you get where you are now?

My career started as a sports journalist at the Telegraph and in TV, which has helped to define my PR approach and understanding of what makes a good story and why. I first moved into communications at rugby club Saracens before moving brand-side to bookmaker Coral and joined CSM Sport & Entertainment in 2014. I have risen through the ranks as our communications function has expanded, with it becoming an increasingly important part of the agency’s overall offer globally.

What's been your creative career highlight?

As a passionate horse racing fan, it was very special to work on a brief to create the name and positioning for a new female jockey’s championship supporting Cancer Research UK. After lots of brainstorming and research we came up with The Silk Series, with jockeys competing for the Tufnell Trophy, in memory of Meriel Tufnell MBE - the first woman to ride a winner in British racing, who sadly died of cancer. It makes me proud when I see this event take place each year, and that I played my part in celebrating a pioneer who was an unsung hero within the sport.

... and lowlight?

A few years ago I worked on a beautiful short film paying tribute to a very high-profile individual who was being honoured with a lifetime achievement award in sport. Having spent weeks travelling up and down the country filming interviews and sourcing expensive archive, the video crashed on screen at the glitzy ceremony in front of the recipient and a host of VIP guests. It was a gut-wrenching moment for the whole team involved and ruined a fantastic piece of creative work.

What's your favourite campaign of the past three months (not one that you or your organisation were involved in) and why?

I loved the news last month that Ajax will melt down their Dutch league trophy into thousands of metal stars to be awarded to their loyal supporters who have not been able to attend matches during the pandemic. It is a great example of the increasingly creative ways that sports clubs are engaging with their fanbases, something which is going to be even more important for football’s big boys after the reputational damage caused by the European Super League saga.

How do you solve creative writer's block?

I love working in pubs and find them (not just what they sell!) a great source of creativity. The change of setting and the bustle of everyday people can be great antidote to creative problems. The upstairs room at a little pub called The Speaker is one of my favourite brainstorming locations, a short walk from CSM’s offices in Victoria.

How should PR grow its creative prowess?

I think as PR specialists we need to advocate the importance of storytelling and put it at the heart of everything we do. I often tell clients that ultimately the media write about people, not brands, and every story should be a human-interest story. If you are trying to position a product, focus on how it makes consumers’ lives better or the human story that will bring the communications and creative to life. Good stories and creative should always inspire emotion.

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