Feature: What gets you up in the morning?

As the nights begin to draw in, Steve Smethurst speaks to ten PR professionals about what motivates them and where they find their inspiration

Adam Howorth, European comms director, Napster  I have to admit I find it very difficult to switch off. I joined Napster at the beginning of 2004, in preparation for its UK launch that summer. We wanted to be the first of the big US digital music companies to open for business in the UK, but it demanded incredibly long hours and a disregard for international time differences. This has proven difficult to shake off.

What gets me up is thinking about my work priorities for the day. I like to fire up the laptop first thing and catch up on any news stories that may have broken overnight in the US along with any urgent emails from our colleagues over there. But my multi-tasking lifestyle also forces me up. After two years as a Napster staffer I moved back into consultancy at the start of this year to set up my own music production company. One morning I'm managing a strategic partnership announcement for Napster, the next I'm discussing the artistic merits of beehives and polka dots on a modern girl band.

John Grounds, Director of communications, NSPCC  What gets me up in the mornings? The dog licking my nose usually. On a serious point, I'm coming to the end of our ‘Don't hide it' campaign, which is motivation enough. It is targeted at teenagers and is the first project we've done since Childline became part of NSPCC. It gives teenagers an opportunity to talk about sexual abuse - be it from personal experience, if they know someone who has suffered, or if they just want more information.

We set up a microsite, expecting maybe 100,000 hits. We've now just gone past 500,000. Perhaps not all of them have been abused, but many have because they tell us so in the messages they leave on the site. That's when you realise how important NSPCC is as an organisation.

We have to communicate in the most striking and effective way we can to show how important it is that every­­one takes responsibility for doing something for children. That's both a privilege and a responsibility.

Helen Shaw, Group communications manager, Portman Building Society  I live in Bournemouth, so in the summer the prospect of getting everything done early to spend a couple of hours on the beach in the evening is what gets me up.

Of course, getting up is always a bit of a struggle, particularly if the plan is to be in the gym by 6.30am rather than in the office, but an interesting and wildly varied job and a great team certainly help. Every day is different and no matter how well I plan my time, something usually happens to change that. It can be something as simple as a member complaint to a newspaper (fortunately this is rare), or the chief executive announcing a merger.

The thought that I'm unlikely to have a dull day helps me to leave the comfort of my duvet. 

Keith Lams, Head of external relations, Visa  In my line of work, I try to get up early and then leave early. All the markets in which I work are to the east, and so start their days earlier. The alarm goes off at 6am, I'm on the train by 7am, fiddling with my BlackBerry, and am in work by 8am. This way, I take the hit of missing out on family life in the mornings so I can spend time with my children and read them a story in the evenings.

The reality is that there's so much to do at work, I have to be in early. This week, I'm in South Africa, working on financial literacy. We're doing industrial theatre in the townships - we have a couple of actors role-playing.

They explain how people can manage their money, how ATMs work and the dangers of carrying cash. The plays are tremendously entertaining and fun, as well as highly informative. People are rolling about in the aisles with laughter.

Tom Cartmale, PR manager, Oakley  The summer's so busy for a company like Oakley that there's no chance of a lie-in. I would normally have my week planned out in terms of what I get up for, but lately my routine has been very off-diary. With the recent hot weather I have had a ton of enquiries from journalists on why people should wear sunglasses, and the implications for your eyesight if you don't. I've had to respond with insightful medical opinion on the safety aspects - and be careful we get it right.

Thankfully though, I still have a lot of variety to coax me up from my bed - a day at Newquay for a surf event, then back in London for media appointments, then maybe meeting some BMXers, skaters and wake boarders. Taking journalists to visit the head office in the States is also a ball.

We can take them to bunkers in the Nevada desert where our lenses are developed - it all has a very top-secret air about it. Great fun.

Jon Hibbs, Director of news, Department of Health  Literally, what gets me up in the morning is listening to the first Radio 4 What the papers Say broadcast and comparing it with the 6.30am BBC news. It's not that I'm a news junkie. It's more that I love the diversity in media coverage. Particularly fascinating is the increasing mismatch between the views of my old chums in publications - supposedly summarising yesterday's events and predicting what is important for today - and what is going on in the real world, as disseminated by broadcasters in real time.

In order not to appear outdated by reporting what has already happened, the newspapers have to be more creative. Hyping the prospect of the latest wonder drug or miracle cure is a popular pastime. Some in the trade might call this spin: I call it an opportunity.

It all goes to show just how much there is to play for out there as a PR professional. The possibilities for
positive communications are endless. With that I can't wait to get to work and get stuck in.

Alan Oliver, Head of external affairs, Nationwide Building Society  I wouldn't say I've had sleepless nights recently, but I have just faced a big challenge in promoting our AGM. The numbers voting had gradually reduced over the years to 700,000. It sounds a lot, but we have six million eligible members. To raise awareness of the AGM we worked with charity Disability Sports Events. We set ourselves a target of a million votes and agreed to give 10p per vote to DSE up to a maximum of £100,000.

We came up with a number of opportunities to promote this in the media, and I've just heard we've reached our target. DSE is only a small charity, with two or three permanent staff, so I really feel like I have made a big difference. What this charity does against adversity really is inspiring. Knowing my team can make that kind of impact is what makes me get up for work.

Harry McAdoo, Director of comms, Institute of Chartered Accountants  What gets me up is the Today programme. It has been required listening for so long now and has become part of my morning ritual. Last month, I even bought a waterproof radio so I can listen in the shower. There are other factors that get me up though - the radio normally coincides with the thud of the morning papers. While we all get our cuttings mailed electronically these days there is still something satisfying about opening the Financial Times and seeing that a story or letter placed by our team has played well.

At the moment, financial literacy is high on the agenda. On the walk over London Bridge, I try to focus on the big picture. How are we contributing towards institute strategy this week? The institute recently launched an initiative to help the Financial Services Authority deliver on its financial capability strategy at an event in the Commons. We are working hard to build broad support for the initiative: what motivates me is the thought that reputation is the most important commodity of any organisation, and we are responsible for its management.

Ginny Broad, Head of corporate comms, Alliance & Leicester  Well, this week getting up is easy. I'm on holiday at home - so this morning I got up to water the hanging-baskets in Market Bosworth, the Leicestershire village where I live.

The village is a finalist in the Britain in Bloom competition and I help to do the watering, pulling a little tank on wheels connected to a pump and a very long lance.

At work, there is always a project or issue I want to progress - and this is what motivates me to get out of bed. I'm also lucky that I don't have a horrible commute to put me off.

Mike Blakemore, Media director, Amnesty International  What's getting me up is the noise from my twin babies. Still, at least it means I get to work early and I know that when I get there, I'll be surrounded by people who are not just very talented, but who also have a personal commitment to upholding human rights. It doesn't matter whether they work in the Individuals at Risk team, Campaigns or in Finance. We all have a sense of belonging to a movement.

This came home to me at our recent media awards. I met two journalists from Chechnya - Stanislav Dmit­rievskiy and Oksana Chelysheva of the Russian Chechen Information Agency - who won our special award for journalism under threat. They're not members of Amnesty, just people doing their jobs. They fight against human rights abuses, and face arrest by the authorities and even death threats. It's inspiring to meet people like that. 

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