'Behind the madness was creative genius, and PR gold' – 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 Richard Scott, founder and chief executive of Scott & Co

(Picture credit: Harry Mitchell)
(Picture credit: Harry Mitchell)

How did you get where you are now?

It all started in a grubby student room at university when a friend who had recently graduated was visiting and talking about his new job in PR. I had no idea what PR was but he made it sound extremely glamorous, and my interest was piqued. When I graduated he helped me find an internship, and I’ve been in the industry ever since. I started in hospitality, working as the PR co-ordinator for the once-legendary Met Bar and then handling the Ian Schrager account at Purple, where I learned so much of what I know now; and then I got the art bug and started working with clients like Frieze. I set up Scott & Co nine years ago to work with best-in-class clients across contemporary culture.

What has been your creative career highlight?

A real highlight and privilege has been working with Pamela Joyner, an American patron and art collector who works to increase equity for black artists in museum exhibitions and collections around the world. Pamela’s straight-faced answer to the question we always ask prospective clients about objectives for PR was, simply, ‘I want to rewrite art history’.

After achieving cover stories in The New York Times, FT and numerous major placements, I’m happy to say the mission has become a movement, and that seemingly daunting objective is being met.

... and lowlight?

A film project we worked on involved a proposal to rebuild part of the Berlin Wall! It was one of the most insane, brilliant and, ultimately, disastrous projects I’ve ever been across – an attempt to recreate an experiential kind of Soviet life in Berlin, Paris and London. The Berlin authorities did not take kindly to the Berlin Wall idea so it got nixed, not surprisingly. But it was a huge shame, because behind the madness was creative genius, and PR gold.

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

I loved what fashion house Balenciaga did for its spring/summer show in Paris. After an 18-month hiatus of IRL catwalk shows, and the resultant navel-gazing in the fashion industry and beyond about the future of physical events, Balenciaga staged a physical ‘show’ but turned it on its head. Guests arrived to a swarm of photographers who shot them – interspersed with models – on a giant red carpet. When the guests entered the venue and saw the shoot projected on giant screens it was revealed that the red carpet ‘arrivals’ was the actual show, dissolving the barriers between model and guest, and just having fun. Oh, and then there was a 10-minute Simpsons cartoon with Marge and co wearing Balenciaga.

How do you solve creative writer's block?

Blank sheets of A4 paper. There’s something about the space and possibility that frees up my mind.

How should PR grow its creative prowess?

Taking time out is incredibly helpful to step aside from the day-to-day and allow room for creative thinking. It’s easier said than done, but I’m trying to learn lessons from the past 18 months and to challenge our clients and ourselves to do things differently.

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