The most important thing I ever learned

As a PR the most valuable  advice I was ever given was  “never assume anything” which beats  “there’s no such thing as off the record” by virtue of applying to both professional and private life.

Both of these lessons were dinned in to me when I was a baby PR  at the BBC, and have served me well ever since.  I’ve been thinking about them recently as I’m interviewing someone on Friday for a magazine feature entitled, natch,  The most important thing I’ve ever learned,  and I’m idly wondering what I’ll say if he turns the tables on me.   I wish my examples were a bit more profound, or more practical – “funny you should ask, Dave, the most important thing I ever learned was how to turn base metals into gold… ”  But no, it’s the simple rules that support the architecture of  a PR’s career.  Turn up on time,  ALWAYS call back,  tell the truth (the biggest row I ever had was when a producer deliberately lied to me about a story, leading me to pass on a lie to a valued contact on the Observer with whom I never had quite such a good relationship again).  Of course this isn’t all there is to it – you have to passionately enthuse about what  you’re doing, be creative about the approaches you take, be constantly open to new ideas and ways of doing things.  But the nuts and bolts of it are frighteningly simple.  I’m assuming, of course, that your lessons are much more impressive…


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