Profile: Brian MacLaurin, MacLaurin Group - Cranking up the PR power/Brian MacLaurin is no timorous beastie when it comes to PR acquisitions

Everything about Brian MacLaurin, on first impression, says ’power’.

Everything about Brian MacLaurin, on first impression, says

’power’.



It shouts out from his pin-striped suit, his energy and his

aftershave.



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

MacLaurin umbrella.



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

ahead.



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

at functions.



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,’

he says.



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.’



HIGHLIGHTS

1967

Reporter, Greenock Telegraph

1974

Reporter and industrial editor, ATV

1979

Communications director, Scottish Television

1989

Communications director, Crown Communications

1992

Founded MacLaurin Communications



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