Everything about Brian MacLaurin, on first impression, says
It shouts out from his pin-striped suit, his energy and his
And he has now even bought an agency called Powerhouse.
MacLaurin powers into his West London agency in his Porsche yawningly
early every morning, and now he is putting his foot down to accelerate
the growth of his company.
The MacLaurin brand is now a group - comprising MacLaurin
Communications, events company MCM Events and political relations
company MCM-I. MacLaurin has just opened an office in Edinburgh to
service clients ’with a toe in the Scottish market’.
His new acquisition, Powerhouse, brings ten people and a portfolio of
clients, such as ATOC and the Orange Prize for Fiction, under the
Yet MacLaurin is still steaming up the fast lane and has his eye on
further acquisitions. ’I’ll have to consolidate for a period of time to
make it work, to get integration between the companies and to get
referrals and crossovers,’ he says. ’But I’ve spoken to other PR
companies about possible relationships.’
MacLaurin has travelled a long way since he set up MacLaurin
Communications (then known as MCM) five years ago. Before going it
alone, MacLaurin’s career spanned various media companies north and
south of the border.
He started as a cub reporter with the Gazette series in Scotland in the
mid-1960s, moving on-screen as a presenter in the 1970s and then to
high-powered communications roles with Scottish Television and Crown
Communications in the 1980s and early-1990s.
Despite making headlines with news of the acquisition, MacLaurin claims
he prefers to stay out of the limelight. He says - bizarrely for a PR
man - that those who crave high profiles are like ’tall poppies waiting
to be cut down’.
But he’s had his fair share of personal PR. At the end of 1993,
MacLaurin found himself on the door step of the office making statements
to the amassed press over news that his account executive Sophie
Rhys-Jones was Prince Edward’s girlfriend. Until then, MacLaurin
Communications had been infamous for its work with Noel Edmonds’
ubiquitous Mr Blobby character.
But MacLaurin doesn’t like bringing up the past, preferring to carve a
more heavyweight niche for his agency. He is emphatic that his current
portfolio of high-profile clients - such as Sony, Chrysalis, Safeway and
Millennium Products - shows how far MacLaurin Communications has moved
He refers indignantly, however, to a piece written in a national
newspaper a couple of years ago about MacLaurin Communications which
referred to its founder as ’that brash Scotsman’.
’I’m not brash,’ retorts MacLaurin quickly, but adds: ’although I
suppose it depends on how you use the word. I sit and bark instructions
across the office - but that’s my style.’
He might have objected to being called brash but he certainly doesn’t
mind being tagged a Scotsman.
While admitting that he is ’totally and utterly Anglicised’, MacLaurin
says he is very patriotic, having grown up in the ’heather, mist and
rain of the Highlands’ and is proud of turning up in full Highland dress
MacLaurin does, however, admit to being a manipulator of the media -
especially when it comes to the conspiratorial ’leaking’ of stories.
’You have to release the hare in order to get it in front of the gun,’
MacLaurin’s aggressive approach tends to polarise people - they either
love or hate him. But it convinced Powerhouse’s managing director Vikki
Stace to sign her deal with him. She says: ’I’d much sooner go into
business with a Scot who starts work at the crack of dawn, than a
fat-cat who crawls in at noon.’
Reporter, Greenock Telegraph
Reporter and industrial editor, ATV
Communications director, Scottish Television
Communications director, Crown Communications
Founded MacLaurin Communications