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Jonathan Lomax

Jonathan Lomax

MD, corporate


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Describe the past year, and make predictions for 2019.

As a Remain-voting, Everton-supporting, centrist dad it has been a difficult few years. Comms people secretly enjoy it when the external environment is febrile, but the current situation has stretched that to breaking point at times. Here’s hoping the country makes it through Brexit year in one piece.

What has been your favourite campaign of the past year?

The centenary of the end of World War I inspired a host of impressive campaigns and events. Most impactful to me was the Danny Boyle-fronted Pages of the Sea, where portraits of soldiers were crafted on 32 beaches across the UK before being washed away by the tide. The result was poignant and moving.

Who handled PR most adeptly in the past year?

As 2018 ended, the Gatwick drone story was vying for the “oddest story of the year” award. Despite that, for doing dozens of superb broadcast interviews over a very difficult 48-hour period, I think Gatwick COO Chris Woodroofe was one of the best senior executive communicators of the year.

…And who most poorly?

It’s hard to beat the Mastercard meals for goals World Cup campaign for sheer, jaw-dropping, “how-did-it-get-out-of-a-brainstorm-and-then-how-on-earth-was-it-approved” madness. At least there was a quick volte face.

What is your biggest professional challenge?

Attracting and retaining the best talent, particularly people early on in their careers. However many people want to work in PR, exceptional new colleagues are always difficult to find, but get it right and everyone wins. The ability of some of the people that have worked in my teams is staggering.

What is PR's biggest challenge to develop as a profession?

Its tendency to navel-gaze and quibble over tiny, often semantic, differences. Whether working for an agency or in-house our job is deceptively simple: to act as the two-way bridge between an organisation and the wider world.

What key practical step can your organisation take to improve staff mental health?

Make it normal to talk about it. There has been some good mental-health awareness training in Publicis recently, but the danger is it remains theoretical if people don’t feel that the environment makes it safe or comfortable to raise their issues.

In which sector(s) are social-media influencers more important than traditional media?

PR has always been about using “influencers” to enhance credibility: journalists, city analysts, politicians, academics. Clearly the importance of a new wave of online influencers has been keenly felt in consumer PR, but the expectation of payment raises dangers the industry must be mindful of.

I unwind from work by…

Being a huge coffee-bore: think Aeropress in the office, a subscription for beans that come from top roasters around the world each month, and dragging my family to “famous” cafés and roasteries when on holiday. Tragic.

My party trick is…

I play the trombone in a band. Not a cool one, sadly.

What would you like as your epitaph?

“Good to work with, great dad.”