NE comms conversation #3 “…’S’cuse me Mr Cantona”I

968full-eric-cantonaToday we welcome Southerner in exile and long suffering QPR fan Christian Cerisola to the North East comms conversation.

This exotically named, urbane chap is a director of GluePR. He answered these questions in true ‘Arry Redknap style through an open car window while driving from his workplace at speed.

But unlike Harry he provides some absolute, solid gold pearls of wisdom on PR and communications, including one of my favourite quotes ever – it’s the tweeting bollocks one (see below) as if you had to ask…….

What single bit of advice would you give graduates just entering the business?
Get as much experience as you possibly can. Listen, learn but never be afraid to challenge if you believe you have a valid argument.

What made you get into the PR/comms business?
The failings of other PR people. As a journalist on a regional newspaper, it staggered me how poorly prepared or informed so many of them were. Little understanding of our location and what was relevant for us. I was sure I could do a better job than that.

How have things changed in the last 5 years?
They’ve changed a lot, but the three main questions I still stick by remain the same. How are we going to tell a compelling story? Who do we want most to hear /see that story? Where are they most likely to hear / see it?

Are you optimistic about the future?
In mine? I have a constant fear that in ten years I’ll be completely irrelevant. I guess that’s what drives me to keep learning new things. In PR? Its ironic, but I think the majority of PR people are reticent to talk about themselves. Advertisers have no such reticence and if we’re not careful, history could repeat itself.

Are disciplines like PR, marketing and advertising becoming the same thing?

What are the key traits people in PR need to succeed?
An inquisitive nature. Ask questions, lots of them, because you never really know where the story might be. I’ve found wonderful tales down the years by repeatedly asking questions.I think its wise to learn how to adopt and adapt the right behaviour across the cultural and social divides too. Entrants into the industry remain shocked that your clients aren’t Burberry or Apple.

Is the industry becoming more or less fragmented?
I think the circle is coming back round again. There was a trend for digital departments and the like, but I think you HAVE to be an all round individual in order to survive. Look at the way our media targets are going. Broadcast reporters are now reporters, cameramen, sound recordists and editors.  Print journalists have to know how to get a 90 second film up onto their newspaper’s website fast.

For you, what’s the real benefit of good PR/comms?
Understanding and education. If you can prove that you’ve helped your clients’ target markets make a fully informed and educated purchasing decision, then you’ve done your job brilliantly.

What advice would you give the younger you?
Don’t undervalue your worth, son. Don’t worry about your upbringing. Stand your ground, because you’re just as good as they are. No, you’re better.

What do you see as the most important issues in PR right now?
Funnily enough, its own PR. The number of times I still have to explain exactly what I do to successful business individuals is staggering.  It comes back to that education and understanding.

What worries you about the industry?
See above. That and the number of individuals who undertake this profession to ‘pass the time’.

I completely understand how skilled interior designers feel when they hear of another labelling themselves as such because they can pick a cushion out in John Lewis.  Tweeting bollocks 20 times a day does not a good PR professional make.

What ‘s the best thing about living/working in the North East?
The people. Amazing.

What do you see as the next big thing?
Ross Wigham’s monthly pay cheque (ed- This is outrageous!)

Who will play you when they get round to making the biopic of your life?
I’ll take you back to a petrol station in Leeds in 1994. I’d just come from football training in winter. Tracksuit zipped over the chin, hoodie, warm hat, a few days growth, big nose. I walked in to pay for my petrol: ’S’cuse me Mr Cantona, can I have your autograph please?’ He’d left Leeds to join Man Utd a year or two before.  It’d have to be Eric.

What’s your favourite film?
Not sure I have a favourite, but the Wolf of Wall Street sticks in my mind as the most recent one that I happily sat through twice in the space of about two weeks. A jolly romp of a film. Stand By Me always takes me back to being that age and gets me a little bit emotional every time.

What keeps you up at night?
The spiralling cost of the house renovations.

You can catch Christian @ChristianCeriso

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