OK, as the first copy of PRWeek was rolling off the presses, I wasn't in
PR, but finishing an MA in Fine Art and becoming increasingly dubious
about my ability to take the art world by storm.
Instead, with a daunting family background in advertising and
journalism, I fell into PR as a kind of compromise, being introduced to
the sharp end of consumer PR in a small consultancy off Fleet Street.
Armed with my Pims directory, I hit the phones running but wasn't
inspired by a client roster dominated by Care Bears, so moved on to
advertising agency Holmes Knight Ritchie (soon to be become TBWA/HKR),
which had launched a PR arm.
Advertising in the mid-80s was a lot of fun but, typically, this was not
a relationship of equals. While enfant terrible Trevor Beattie was
having the time of his life upstairs, the PROs were literally working
'below the line' - the water line - at TBWA/HKR's canal-side
By the early 90s I had concluded that PR consultancy was not for me and
became a business journalist. Ironically it was only then, when writing
for magazines such as Business Age and Marketing, that I began to
realise the potential and power of PR.
Perhaps inevitably my path led to PRWeek, where I have gained a more
holistic view of PR and have marvelled at the increasing sophistication
of the PR proposition.
Emerging concepts such as reputation management and corporate
responsibility have placed corporate comms people centre stage on
business strategy. Even the basic working methods have altered
radically. Back in the early-80s there were only four TV channels to
monitor, there was no such thing as the internet and we were still using
typewriters rather than PCs.
But perhaps the biggest shift has been the industry's growing
self-confidence, a result of its increasing contribution to the bottom
I'm ashamed to say that when I was at TBWA/HKR I used sometimes to
neglect to mention at parties that I worked for the PR arm in the
basement. Little did I imagine how Martin Sorrell's acquisition strategy
alone would elevate the status of the business in the marketing mix.
Twenty-one years on, I feel very proud to have been involved in some
small way in this remarkable industry.