Sometimes PR has a bad rep, ironic considering it's an industry obsessed with reputation management. Part of this negative image is that some of us media types are all portrayed as party animals. But I've found quite the opposite -because this industry is all about unstoppable stamina. It's rock and roll to be super fit and able to cope with all the physical demands a life in PR throws at you. I've always kept fit, playing football and walking many miles each day. You just couldn't do the job well or even properly if all you did was party.
In a recent week I've found myself after the usual working day at a movie screening, a book launch and a showcase and gig for US country star Carrie Underwood on two different nights. I like to think we did a thorough job but myself and my great team couldn't do it without high levels of stamina. One of the things people don't realise when they catch a fleeting glimpse of the PR on the glamorous red carpet is that we will have been there from early in the morning scoping out the building, working out who will sit where, nailing all the timings down to the minute - all the things that make or break an event. Good PRs are the first to arrive and the last to leave. At the Pride of Britain Awards that have just happened we arrived early afternoon and left in the early hours. There was lots of great food on offer but we had no time to dine as our job was to talk not eat !
I once had to wait, stood with no chair in a darkened room in west London for Keith Richards to arrive for a meeting to discuss my becoming his band's PR rep. I stood from midnight - the time Keith had ordered me to arrive - until 8am the next morning - when he actually did turn up. That bit of endurance was the final part of a long process that got me the job as the Stones PR in my early 20s. If I had thought, "sod this I'm too tired", I'd have never got the client. Keith would never do an interview before midnight while Mick Jagger wanted to do them first thing in the morning while he was jogging. 18-hour days were the norm and the PR had to be able to work at both times equally well.
You never know when a crisis call is going to come. One night at 11pm the phone rang and it was The Sun saying Michael Jackson had been rushed to hospital and subsequently he passed away. This was clearly a huge, global story so I got out of bed and headed back into the office. I rounded up as many of my team from the various events and dinners they were at and we managed the story throughout the night and into the next day as other countries woke up.
Working with international clients means jetlag becomes a way of life but you have to battle through it and always deliver. Sometimes the client's biggest moments happen at night. I worked on a tour with Puff Daddy and Snoop Dogg where Puffy was promoting his vodka brand Ciroc which entailed hosting a party every night after every gig around Europe. He was the ultimate party giver and they were fantastic, glamorous affairs. But usually after one of those I'd be heading to another European country straight from the party with the media in tow - from club to airport. The stamina needed to handle tour PR is immense. Getting on boats, trains, planes and automobiles, finding newspaper reviews at midnight, getting them translated and then slid under band members doors before they awake - all whilst they dream of yet more gold discs to hang on their walls. Sorting out media tickets for the next day's gig, sitting in on and arranging interviews, being briefed by the group or representatives, going to the show itself and getting a steer on likely flavour of reviews. So you have to pace yourself and sleep and rest whenever you have the chance. Eating well is important too - although I have had periods where my staple diet has been canapés!
When people ask me what it takes to be a successful PR they are always surprised when I respond stamina. But it just isn't a 9 to 5 world. You need to be able to work in different time zones - those of different continents as well as those of different clients! So my advice to aspiring PR's - hit the gym!