My first job in PR was for an exhibition organiser in 1975. That followed junior posts in a small and then large London based consultancy. I became an in-house PR Manager for a large industrial group, again based in London, and in 1984 moved “north” from London to Leeds to set up a PR company for a large advertising group. I then ran several PR companies in Leeds and in 1997 went independent as Keenlyside Associates.
What do you see as your area of expertise in PR?
I call myself a genuine all-rounder. After 34 years in the business, there is not much I have not had hands-on experience of. If I had to single out one area, it is B2B media relations.
Which PR sector has provided the most enjoyable work for you?
Back to B2B (business to business). It is largely unsung, but I have always felt that the prosperity of the country depends on a very active B2B sector.
What has been your best learning experience?
Time permitting: I have always been an avid attendee of national and regional PR conferences and general or special interest events, particularly where a new topic is being discussed. Having entered the profession when there was no formal PR education, these have proved a valuable learning opportunity over the years, and an opportunity to bank the experience of fellow professionals.
What has been your proudest career achievement?
A difficult question. I get pride out of composing a really good press release, writing a speech dealing with really difficult issues, providing some honest advice that might not be what my interlocutor (or client) wants to hear, but proves sound in the medium or long term.If I had to name one, it is the success, and personal satisfaction, of making a success of Keenlyside Associates in the “twilight” of my career. Of course becoming a Fellow of the CIPR was a great honour.
What are your research interests?
I still operate in the “university” of life, and most of my working hours are still spent on hands-on PR.I have been fascinated by the transition of communication into a social media process, and read and learn extensively about this subject. However as we become an older population, with more wealth than ever vested in the 55+ sector, I feel I should take more interest in my age group as well!
What is the best piece of advice you’ve heard in PR?
Don’t exaggerate. We have all been tempted to be economical with the truth, but the truth is immutable. If it was difficult enough when we relied on snail mail and telephones, imagine how vulnerable you would be when a statement that you should not really have made is thrust back at you as a text or email record.