I want to push the boundaries of the profession in understanding and managing the creative dimension, its use of brands as tools for delivering messages and memes – which are the DNA of communications. Also, I have coined the term ‘personal brandcasting’ to provide a model of how great communicators work.
Which PR sector has provided the most enjoyable work for you?
The next task I will be given, or come across.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve heard in PR?
As a young PR practitioner working in local government, I was frustrated that I worked really hard to get my council great, positive publicity, only to feel my efforts were undermined by councillors going on television and wanting to do things such as ‘ban Punch and Judy’ shows. I was fortunate to meet Warren Newman, who had done some great work in local government PR, and explained my frustration.
He said: “Andrew, all you can do is give them the reputation they deserve.”
So, whether you’re in-house or as a consultant, all you can do is give your clients the option, your best advice on achieving the reputation they deserve. If they fail to listen, contradict in their actions, then it’s their responsibility not yours. So don’t beat yourself up over things you are not 100% in control of.
What has been your proudest career achievement?
I once saved a Leeds-based ice cream company, Treats Ice Cream from closure and saved its 350 workforce from getting sacked in a campaign where I had no budget, no spokespeople for the client, could not be seen to act in public, with very little time to get Unilever to change its mind and succumb to stakeholder and public pressure.
A colleague at the time said: “Do you realize you are taking on Unilver?” To which I replied: “Do they realize who they have taken on!” That might sound big-headed, but I believe in a term I coined ‘Hibris’, where you have absoloute, positive conviction of your own abilities, tempered with humility to know your limitations, be prepared to listen and use information from non-usual sources.
What has been your best learning experience?
Always learn from each and every experience. And heed the Frank Zappa quote: “Just because several million people think you’re wrong doesn’t mean they’re right.”
What are your research interests?
Developing understanding of how we can be better managers of the creative dimension, harness brands and memes, personal brandcasting.
Word of mouth and networking are passions – and are brilliant opportunities for PR professionals to be managers of these tasks within their organization.
I am also interested in developing my model of what I call ‘paramemes’ explained in my book, ‘Effective Personal Communications’ – a tool to help communicators manage the context of their communications.
What is your opinion on the fate of PR in the current economic climate?
I feel the profession is at the crossroads of some magnificent opportunities, to place it in the driving seat of managing corporate and brand communications through extending its ownership of branding, word of mouth, networking, and social and digital media.
Given our track record, such as the tardy way the profession responded to the advent of the Internet and managing this dimension of organization, I am not too optimistic that we will fully realize this potential.
Do you have any personal ambitions or targets to succeed surrounding the recession?
For my part, a I am launching a new venture this year, a new book called ‘The Upturn:my part in its rise’ and plan to do a series of tours around CIPR groups and the wider community to promote the message of how we are living in disruptive times, which is fertile ground for disruptive thinking and for each and every one of us to create, make, and realize new ideas and opportunities.