Roome With a View

3rd April 2009

I often start my day by reading the blog of my good friend and PR colleague Paul Stallard.  Paul has a winning combination of creativity; energy; tenacity; intelligence and a wicked sense of humour which puts him head and shoulders above his peers.  This means that he’ll have a bright idea, see it right through to the end and have a ball while he’s doing it.

The first example I saw of this was when we were working together at eclat Marketing and Paul was relishing his role as best man by collecting celebrity signatures for the groom. Over the course of a few weeks he amassed dozens of postcards from celebrities with hand written notes wishing the happy couple well. For an autograph collector, this would have taken a lifetime. Paul achieved it in a matter of weeks. He took as much joy from opening his post each morning as the bride and groom must have felt when they opened this incredibly thoughtful and individual memento of their big day.

This same quality has been amply demonstrated in Paul’s most recent blog series, in which he has interviewed the most prominent journalists about their experiences and frustrations with PRs. He has combined this with a really excellent series of interviews with PR buyers, which every PR executive would do well to read. The 2nd April edition featured Ben Roome, Head of Media Relations at Nokia Siemens Networks. This is the best treatise on public relations that I have ever read.  When asked what he looks for in a good PR consultant he lists, "A thirst for passion, native good humour and generally being fun-to-work-with, while being exceedingly bright, creative and resourceful ".

Ben makes a really important point in his interview that a good PR should have a passion for the industry that they represent. I completely agree.  Telecoms journalist, Alun Lewis, often speaks of his belief that there should be a tangible exchange of energy between PR and journalist. He can immediately spot the difference between a PR that is reading off a script over the telephone and one who is engaged and enthusiastic about the information that they are sharing with him.  I couldn’t agree more.

When we contact a journalist on behalf of a client, we’re engaging in a relationship. We can’t just pick up the phone to read off a script. Good media relations requires forethought and research, it takes energy. And it gives a whole lot more.

What I cherish the most about this career is the journalists, clients, analysts and colleagues that I’ve had the privilege to get to know along the way. I’ve met CEOs and entrepreneurs who radiate enthusiasm and energy and it really is infectious. I’ve met journalists that have told me about reporting from war zones and listened to an analyst explain how he became a voice and data expert by working in a call centre and experiencing the pain points first hand. These people provide us with a fresh perspective. They arm us with fresh knowledge.

Being a PR is a privilege. Clients share their time and energy with us and then allow us to go out and tell their story on their behalf. It deserves the energy that it demands. Ben Roome’s post did well to remind us of this.