Awards, Overdue Breather & PR Washing

September 20th, 2015

Awards, Overdue Breather & PR Washing

Another amazing week at Catapult Camp … and in the world beyond. That’s not to say it’s not been full-on and reasonably confusing … but that’s why PR is not about being stuck in a rut, or doing the same thing over and over, but full of twists, turns & slightly (no, immensely) stressful moments! Cue the report.

Well, it was the final week in which to enter the Lancashire Tourism Awards, so if you’re a PR, who works in tourism, and sometimes in Lancashire, it follows that you’ll be pretty busy this week. After a really interesting meeting in Morecambe on Monday, to flesh out three award entries and then a very long day spent writing these awards, we have submitted three and are hoping for positive results!

However, we also got the low-down on a very exciting event for January and discussed (briefly) a cook-off that should see another award presented in October … in the culinary world.

It was with enormous delight that we learned that our insurance client has been shortlisted for an Insurance Times Award and that our PR client in Northumberland has been shortlisted for a ‘Living North’ Award … cue more PR action! More work to do on both of these, but I feel success in my waters, as both of these clients respect my advice, listen and act on it.

But do awards matter? Well, after presenting Catapult’s (very swiftly and alongside a brief resumé) at the Gauntlet AR Conference last week, they obviously do! I was inundated with men at the bar (alcoholic, not legal) telling me that they’d never seen a more impressive CV! I definitely used to agree that my experience and awards were paramount, but have, myself, doubted this in recent years. For instance, I no longer enter the local business awards in Lancashire, having been at the Winter Gardens ceremony, back in the day, when West Lancs merged with East Lancs, and it was such an obvious ‘fix’ that a whole heap of us resolved to never enter again – and we never have! Nowadays, clients refer to these awards as a ‘fix’ because they object to the fact that, to be considered, they have to book a table costing £000s, and, if they don’t, they don’t get shortlisted. Isn’t that ‘so Lancashire’? Why can’t people break the mould and the stereotype?

I have to agree with client’s views, but I also have to comment that it’s also a very empty victory for those who win one of these awards they “they” all supposedly “want to win” – when half of the knowing entrepreneurs in Lancashire consider it pretty damn sad that you have to pay for an award/

On the other hand, I’m delighted to see my wonderful client, Langley Castle, shortlisted for a ‘Living North’ award, for Best Hotel. They are really chuffed and there’ s no ‘You must pay £1000 for a table’ involved, so all is good, so far.

It’s also amazing to see my supportive, truly fun client, Gauntlet, shortlisted for an Insurance Times award. I shall be picking up on this later this week, but if any company deserved it, it is Gauntlet. Having gained a very good knack for sorting out the green-washers, con-artists, and ‘let’s pay for this, because it will cover up my business sins and make me appear a good guy in the community’ individuals from those who are genuine, over the last few years, I have to say that I would always back my client to the hilt in the honesty stakes. You somehow just get a really good feeling inside when you are a PR company working for honest, genuine, kind, hard-working and incredibly entertaining clients. That’s how I’ve felt about my boys in Leeds since I walked into their boardroom two years ago, and they’re by no means boring, conventional or straight-laced. As I reminded their MD, last week, my hackles did rise at the comment they made at my first meeting with them,which was: “You’re either a very good bull-shitter on your website, or you’re damned good at your job”. However, last week he laughed out loud, having been reminded of this and having obviously forgotten, which tells me that he’s realised it was the latter!

In advising other clients about an award on the horizon, I was warmed by the fact that I was taken into their confidence about a very difficult situation affecting their business. As this information was offered with the words, “I’m telling you this because you’ve been so good to us”, the ‘bad news’ was tempered with an incredible amount of heart-warming joy. When I spoke to someone I met in conjunction with their business and was told to ring to have a coffee with them, whenever in Manchester, I knew that every scenario has its plus points.

It’s been another great two weeks for new business! There have been 3 new enquiries to deal with this week, even though I haven’t done a thing to elicit any new business. Recent new clients have also kept us busy … but America’s Got Talent has certainly fuelled that. Who knew?

Too much success comes with its downsides, however. It brings fair-weather friends out of their hidey-holes and means an enormous amount of work, all at once, too. We’ve not only added more work to the workload this month, but also expanded existing work, which has, one has to admit, meant a lot of Jane and very little of Gianna – which has to stop, as Gianna has a lot going for her that she needs time to sort out. It’s all going to happen, but finding time has been almost impossible since May.

On that note, for the first time in possibly 16 years, but definitely 12 years, I’m having a complete holiday – no email, no phone calls, not even a laptop to log on to! This is hardcore! It may only be 2 working days technically – or 4 days considering that I never have a weekend off, and never have a weekend off without client enquiries – but one is laying down a new standard in November, having realised that life’s too short, potentially limited, and, if you have people who want to head off with you for 4 days, you have to say ‘yes’ whilst you can. I actually can’t wait. I could cry at how I’ve turned things around with my fellow traveller over the last few months, but I have, and that makes the heart so happy.

But before that, we have the storm before the calm at Catapult Towers, starting tomorrow … oh dear! The work towards the new oasis starts with Ben moving in, which will be followed by further exterior work, and then the arrival of the new cars, then the escape, and then probably new office developments in the early New Year, or a very big crane-lift into the garden! It’s a new dawn, it’s a new day, it’s a new life … for me ….

I learned a few weeks ago, that talk is cheap and long-earned devotion everything. Watch this space, because with new developments about to be fully realised in the next 12 weeks comes a freedom never before experienced and the ability to do virtually anything one wants. If you can’t make people proud at that time, make them proud retrospectively, thanks to the opportunities they’ve given you. If anyone’s read the bluebell story in ‘Rogue Elephants’ they may have an inkling of what I mean, truly know inside and totally believe. 2015’s been all about that. I’m convinced. New Year’s Eve 2014 was the catalyst.

But finally, on the soapbox. … I have never been one who could have ever have succumbed to the ‘King’s New Clothes Scenario’, as I always speak from the heart and can’t be bought by those with no class, no ethics and no talent. On that basis, I am sick to death of insincere PR washing, and particularly sickened by the fawning over what is obviously PR washing, which I think is sadly a very parochial, round-here thing. It’s ironic when someone who has nothing positive to say about their business (because to find anything would be impossible), attempts this. Luckily, I can let this one go. There are consumer watchdogs, regulators, honest individuals, and plenty of people beyond an FY postcode who can’t be bought. Above all, there is the law of the land, who will one day catch up with this ‘washing’ scenario.

Luckily, to counter-balance this, I spent an hour outside my doctor’s surgery talking to someone who’s amazing. Accompanying him to Downing Street and his investiture will be the greatest honour of my life! As I say, when you know someone is honest to the core, you just know and you want to be there with them, every step of the way. He knows that. I know that. The nation will one day find out how that came about, in a hotel reception somewhere between Bradford and Leeds. #MyHero

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