PROFILE: The iron lady of Glasgow

It would take a brave heart to consider crossing swords with Flora Martin

It would take a brave heart to consider crossing swords with Flora

Martin



When Citigate Communications revealed last week it had bought Flora

Martin PR and was going to merge the company with Dunseath Citigate to

form a new Scottish subsidiary, the announcement raised a few eyebrows.



Not that the merits of the deal were doubted. With a healthy fee income,

a long list of clients and a strong position in the Glasgow PR market,

Flora Martin PR seemed the obvious target for a company like Citigate

looking to consolidate its position in Scotland. But observers did

wonder how Flora Martin herself would take to being a director within a

larger group after having run the show on her own for so long.



Friendly and charming though she is, Martin has, on her own admission, a

‘strong personality’. ‘She’s a forthright and forcible woman and has her

own views,’ says one former colleague. ‘People either love her or hate

her.



Martin’s reputation for toughness has served her well in an 18-year PR

career. Her working life began in 1969 as an executive officer at the

MoD in Glasgow. But after nine years she began ‘champing at the bit’ for

a new challenge and was introduced to Tony Meehan of PR consultancy Tony

Meehan Associates.



‘I didn’t know anything about PR,’ Martin confesses. ‘I didn’t know PR

even existed. The profession didn’t have the image then that it has now

and I hadn’t a clue what it was, but it sounded like good fun. Tony and

I had a tacit agreement that if I was rotten or if I hated it then it

would only be a three month appointment.’



Three months stretched to six years, during which Martin got to grips

with most aspects of the PR business. By 1984 she felt confident enough

to move to a larger outfit and joined PR Consultants Scotland - now

Shandwick Scotland - as a senior account executive.



‘I needed to have my perspective broadened and I didn’t have anything to

benchmark myself against,’ she recalls. Two and a half years later she

returned as a director to Tony Meehan, whose agency had revamped itself

as TMA Communications. Her tenure there lasted three years until

differences over the firm’s future direction led her to start her own

consultancy.



‘I know now how difficult it is to allow people to take a big role when

it’s your business and you’ve brought it from nothing, and I must have

been quite difficult to work with at that time,’ she admits. ‘I was very

ambitious and Tony and I decided we would part ways.’



At Flora Martin PR she has built up a staff of nine, eight of whom are

women. Although she rejects the ‘all women agency’ tag as irrelevant,

Martin does think that women can bring advantages to the PR business. ‘I

think women are good at PR because they are good at juggling more than

one job, and in consultancy that’s important,’ she says. ‘In some ways

women are often more team spirited than men. There are less egos

involved.’



She also thinks Scottish PR professionals could teach their English

counterparts a thing or too about the PR business. ‘It’s a different

market,’ she says. ‘They have a hard training up there and I think a lot

of Scottish people that come to London are very successful because

they’ve been in the school of hard knocks. We go all out to get the best

programmes for the client without propping it up with things that I

wouldn’t really consider to be traditional PR disciplines. I think

people expect a lot more for their money and we have to work a lot

harder.’



Martin certainly plays as hard as she works. She and her husband Sandy

are familiar faces on the Glasgow social scene. Until recently the

couple organised an annual golf tournament for friends called the BOG

classic which, by all accounts, provided some memorable moments. ‘I’ve

got fabulous video footage of people trying to play golf which I’ve

often threatened to send to Jeremy Beadle,’ she laughs. And you get the

feeling she probably would.



HIGHLIGHTS



1978 Account execcutive, Tony Meehan Associates

1984 Senior account executive, PR Consultants, Scotland

1986 Director, TMA Communications

1989 Managing director, Flora Martin Public Relations

1996 Director, Citigate Scotland



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