Bland but with gems

Kudos to Jeremy Pepper for securing a blog interview with Lord Chadlington, aka Peter Gummer, the ex-journalist, PR man and brother of John Gummer, British Conservative politician (and minister in John Major’s government in the early 1990s).

Chadlington is a founder of Shandwick, now Weber Shandwick, one of the big PR agencies and part of the Interpublic Group. He is currently CEO of the Huntsworth PR agency group (which is hoping to complete its recent acquisition of the Incepta group, which I commented about last November when a different cast of characters was involved in a deal that eventually fell apart).

So, to the interview.

While Jeremy deserves terrific juice, I found it rather bland overall. Some good questions, but disappointing answers. A bit sound bite-ish, a little like a fluffy press release. It would have been great to have had some real insight on issues (ethics in the profession, for instance) from one of the UK’s legendary and authoritative PR figures.

Nevertheless, there are some gems in Jeremy’s interview.

For instance, Jeremy asks:

Your holding company does not have a blog – what are your views on the blogosphere and pitching blogs? Any short-term or long-term plans for launching a Huntworth PLC blog or blog practice? Is the blog phenomenon more of a US fad, or are you beginning to see blogs in the UK and Europe?


We are not seeing many blogs in the UK and Europe. We are actively pursuing the blogs, but it is not a high priority in our life. But, also until the Incepta deal finalizes, we are relatively small. When that deal closes, we will go from $140M of fee revenue to $325M of fee revenue. When we grow with that deal, we will then start looking at those sorts of things.

That’s a very interesting response. If he really means what he says, then PR agencies who have already made strides into figuring out what the blogosphere is and how to take advantage of it from a revenue-generating point of view – and which agency isn’t doing that? – have little to worry about from a competitive point of view. If Huntsworth PLC waits until their deal closes before even making a start, everyone else and their clients will already have moved onto the Next Big Thing.

Finally, I did very much like Chadlington’s answer to Jeremy’s question on what would he credit as the secret to his success:

No question at all in my mind for the reason of success – never giving up. Everyone in PR gives up way too easily. You have to be resilient, always moving forward, push, push, push. I am a huge believer in never giving up.

It may seem a bit trite, but these are key words of wisdom. They go hand-in-glove with my all-time favourite business mantra, from Esther Dyson – keep making new mistakes.

One thought on “Bland but with gems

  1. Nev
    great post as usual. This mornings RSS reading has put a real spring in my step. OK the sun’s finally out in Cambridge but all the references to ‘real’ and ‘authentic’ have been an antidote to the brand=bland thoughts that I’ve been feeling recently.
    Paul Graham’s latest piece ‘Submarine’ sums it up nicely. ‘PR people fear bloggers for the same reason readers love them.’
    Keep up the good work.

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