Diary: Lewis sweats it out at the dog track

Just how did Lewis Communications turn around its somewhat self-perpetuated reputation as a sweatshop in time to finish 19th in the Financial Times's annual 'Best Workplaces' report this month?

A trip to Walthamstow Dogs last week gave us a good idea. Lewis may be known for its 60-hour working weeks, but we now wonder how much of that is spent in intense training sessions trackside.

The agency, which this week topped PRWeek's tech league tables (page 27), brought in outside help in the rather ample form of Channel 4's racing pundit John McCririck to lead the team through the trappings and complexities of choosing the right dog.

Lewis head of PA and Tory candidate for York Clive Booth, who was on hand to sample Walthamstow's best scampi and chips, told PRWeek in 2002: 'Lewis has got a reputation as a sweatshop - clients love that in a recession. The average working week here is 60 hours.' (PRWeek, 26 April 2002).

He now seems more dedicated to ensuring his charges (the staff, not the dogs) are enjoying their work and broadening their horizons.

Unfortunately, despite a solid four hours of betting madness, PRWeek failed to benefit from any of McCririck's tips, which seemed to be more tailored to the ladies at the agency.

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