At Roxhill’s clever Pub Club, an inaugural, intimate and (blessedly) informal socialising event that I attended last week, there were four handpicked journalists and 40 PRs. Those numbers will tell you that, as per most events, you people far outnumbered us people –- a fact which, as so often, forces an uncomfortable conclusion: you’ve probably got to be bold and a bit pushy.
“Nice guys finish last,” my friend Adrian likes to say, ruefully –- and the sentiment applies in PR. Frequently, while I was talking to someone at the aforementioned event, another PR or two would tap me on the shoulder and simply interrupt. Others, more commonly, would unsubtly hover, keen to be next. (By the way: this is an enormous compliment to me, and the most luxurious problem to have; I’m not complaining, and I am thankful.) Those who were, well, more polite probably enjoyed less success, depressingly. At such events, PR is not a game for the kind and considerate. They finish last.
I understand it all, too. I think that flagrant interrupting is going a bit far (unless the journalist-PR chat has gone on for aaaages – then, it’s kinda fair), but I totally get the hovering, the lurking, the pouncing and so on. You most likely don’t want to resort to those things, but what alternative is there when that bloody Richard Mellor rarely does any meetings and doesn’t show up to any other events, but never puts our flipping clients in any of his flipping Times round-ups?
Honestly, not much. I believe one attendee bought me a pint of Guinness and then we still didn’t talk (if that’s right, I sincerely apologise to her. Burp.). If even plying me with free Irish porter doesn’t work, then this is a desperate situation.
What I did appreciate was that those to whom I spoke were mostly aware that a) we’d be interrupted any second, and b) they were there to share me with other PRs. So we went through a few cherry-picked ideas, or just did some general getting-to-know, and that was that; useful on both sides, hopefully, and not an egregiously long chat.
Conclusions, then. I think, alas, that you must hover and be scarily proactive at such dos. I used to hate doing that when I was a PR — I was scared of it, and also felt like a knob — and I still don’t relish such events as a journalist simply because I sense the pressure on you lot, and wish I could round get to everyone. But we do our best, right? So, if I ever show up at an event again, please do hover (but don’t interrupt). Have a quick, cheery pitch with your counterparts in mind, and feel free to quickly tell me that you don’t thrill at these functions either. Or buy me a pint of Guinness (or Doom Bar) –- but then use it to blackmail me into a chat.
What Richard thinks…
“Top marks to James Treacy who, with his Cox & Kings hat on, was first off the mark in sending a Slovenia story hooked on the Johnsons honeymooning there. I’d be very surprised if this didn’t get him some list mentions somewhere.”