Soaring Worldwide’s creative director Adam Baggs discusses his struggles explaining to family members just what it is he actually does at work.
I remember some years ago seeing a viral email with several images suggesting what people think an event manager does compared to their own opinion and most importantly the reality of the role. At the time I recall it being fairly amusing but it got me thinking when last weekend, for the umpteenth time, I tried to explain to a fairly close relative what I actually do.
According to my business card I am a “creative director” which drums up all sorts of wonderful images of a Mad Men style Don Draper officer complete with a comfy sofa to sleep off long lunches and a constant supply of Canadian Club. To make matters more confusing, as Soaring has grown we have expanded from a PR agency with an ability to deliver additional services to a much more rounded comms agency complete with design, development and digital teams (wow that is a lot of use of the letter “d”).
I think we can firmly say I am no Don Draper – thank god as I doubt my liver would have that kind of tolerance. And just to be clear – at the other end of the TV depictions of PR I tend not to model myself on either Patsy or Eddie from Ab-Fab. I love the characters played by John Bird and Stephen Fry in Absolute Power but shudder at the thought of being considered a part of their industry – in fact it is next to impossible to find an accurate TV depiction of what a PR does – particularly those of us going about the day to day business of looking after the reputations of many well known names and brands.
We do not spend all day every day flitting from one lunch or party to another; none of our clients are celebrities looking for us to cover up their latest escapade or source suitable remedies for their various vices; we have little reason to blackmail or otherwise try to corrupt politicians; and to date I have yet to find myself bailing a client out of jail!
The reality is rather less exciting but as it turns out rather more useful to the corporates that make up our client base… we spend an awful lot of time listening to them, understanding their messages, turning them into some form of usable campaign or story and pitching them to the media – most of which is done from behind a desk with the cork firmly in the bottle.
Communications and PR in particular is a much maligned profession. In fact, apart from CJ Craig in West Wing I cannot think of a single press officer role in the media worth looking up to.
And in case you are wondering the reason none of my negative comments about PRs include reference to drinking lots of fizz – it is quite honestly because we topped up the office wine fridge the other day. We do however at least wait until the end of the week before popping the cork… Except those days we win a new client… Or those when it is someone’s birthday… Not forgetting when we land a great piece of editorial… When a website goes live… Or sometimes just because we want to…