A couple of hours before Irish potato-headed stand-up O’Briain’s impressively comms-based stand-up routine, the first drips and drabs of the UK PR industry’s great and good were wending their way into Grosvenor House.
Dressed in this, or maybe last season’s, finest , all the wealth furnishing the pockets of a patently booming industry was elegantly on show.
Having been told numerous times to funnel their way downstairs to the tightly-packed awards dinner, the 1,500 guests eventually made it to their tables. It was at this point Westminster City Council head of comms Alex Aiken, who would later pick up an award for Best Public Sector PR Department, was reminded of his last visit to the palatial surroundings.
Dietary requirements: no Polonium 210
‘Last time I had any dealing with the Grosvenor it was because we had to close most of it down after the Litvinenko poisoning…’
Needless to say, table 87 became a little nervous.
‘Polonium is like gum so flecks of it stick to stuff and gets moved around. This place was on the trail,’ he continued. ‘What you definitely don’t want to do is eat any of it.’ Seconds later the ‘pan-fried’ sea bass, which must have been waved vaguely in the direction of a frying pan on its way to the steamer, arrived at the table. Not one person touched theirs until Alex tucked gleefully in.
Crisis talksMeanwhile on the top table the red wine was going down and the volume of conversation up. The Reverend George Pitcher was locked in heated debate with top Tory MP Ed Vaizey about the value of religion, while across the table the chat was more earthy. Outspoken celebrity publicist Gary Farrow was offering insightful comments to O2's Glenn Manoff aboutthe MSC Napoli beaching on Branscombe Beach incident, which picked up Issues and Crisis Management Campaign of the Year for the Government News Network: 'The f***ing thing sunk,' roared Farrow. 'How is that good crisis managment? It f***ing sunk! I'll tell you what crisis management is...it's being on the phone at midnight convincing Rebekah Wade not to run a story on Charlotte Church. That's a f***ing crisis'. And so on...
Dancing feet (and ankles)A little later Dara was in full swing, and the enraptured throng were clapping mostly in the right places. Indeed Diary wondered how many of them kept their energy levels brimming until the wee hours of the morning.
One party-goer, after all the awards had been awarded, bizarrely asked a stunned PRWeek staffer to ‘dance so he could watch her ankles’. An outburst Diary puts down to too much alcohol.
Drinks industry chief in drunken abuse shock
It was certainly one too many Stella Artois which prompted Diageo head of comms Stephen Doherty to send two emails to PRWeek cursing the awards and calling one staffer ‘a clown’. The emails were sent at around 1:45 am, probably from the back of a black cab.
Jump forward six hours and Doherty’s crisis comms expertise lurched into gear , seeing him apologise profusely: ‘For the record, I like your mag a lot and I do not think that you should (or indeed could) perform in a circus as the laugh gatherer.’
Apology accepted, although let’s hope a senior PRO like Doherty does not make a habit of sending late-night abuse to senior journalists…
Hitting the (peroxide) bottleDiary reckons Doherty was not the only PRO sporting a king-sized hangover this morning though.
This journal noted with some glee a short blonde woman in a white dress and glasses who drunkenly shoulder-barged another PRWeek staffer in the corridor twice in the space of ten minutes - sending him flying both times. She was later seen in animated conversation with one of the bouncers being ushered towards the door.
If you know who this woman is, please contact the new PRWeek Crimestoppers hotline. Or maybe just alcoholics anonymous.
Going home empty handed
But the night’s biggest plaudits should go to David Oakley of Markettiers4dc. The agency has strived for years to earn an award, and was cock-a-hoop after picking up the Best Broadcast Campaign gong for its brilliant campaign about pill crushing. So cock-a-hoop in fact, that dunderhead Oakley proceeded to lose the award in the late night disco. If you have spotted it anywhere please call the new PRWeek etc etc…
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