NE Comms conversation #5 “We worry we’ll get it right because we care”


Some say PR and media stalwart, others say Mr Northumberland.

Either way when Gordon Arnott talks, people listen.

A former journalist and senior communicator at One North East Gordon is also a multiple CIPR North East Pride award winner. He’s taken some time out to offer some words of wisdom on the state of the sector in the North East and it makes some fascinating reading…

What are the key traits people in PR need to succeed?
An interest in life, enthusiasm, the ability to write and to listen.

What made you get into the PR/comms business?
I stumbled into it following redundancy from a weekly newspaper at 22-years-old – an opportunity arose to be a press officer for Northumbria Police which sounded exciting and off I went.
How have things changed in the last 5 years?
The web and social media tools now mean traditional command and control-style public relations is increasingly being replaced by direct conversations between organisations and their tech savvy audiences/customers.
Are you optimistic about the future?
Yes, all professions evolve and change and public relations is no different.

What single bit of advice would you give graduates just entering the business?
Never assume anything is correct – if you are unsure, ask.

Is the industry becoming more or less fragmented?
More fragmented, niche audiences can be reached in a way they couldn’t before thanks to social media and the web.
For you, what’s the real benefit of good PR/comms?
Building trust and understanding.

What advice would you give the younger you?
Learn a language at school – it will open doors to a whole new world of opportunities.

What do you see as the most important issues in PR right now?
Credibility – an on-going issue. Having a seat at the top table of businesses and organisations is essential for PR and forward-thinking employers in a world where every decision can be seen and commented upon instantly.
What worries you about the industry?
PR is still perceived by many business leaders as a luxury add-on, not an essential part of a successful business or organisation, there only to mop up a mess or pump out meaningless corporate mantras.
What ‘s the best thing about living/working in the North East?
The people, their sense of humour and the strong sense of identity being from the North East brings.
Who will play you when they get round to making the biopic of your life?
Don’t know if there’d be a stampede to the casting couch, but an A-lister like Christian Bale would be great. He seems to immerse himself in difficult roles!
What’s your favourite film?
Star Wars – went to see it as a boy at The Odeon in Newcastle in 1977 and still remember what it felt like to watch it on the big screen.

What keeps you up at night?
Work sometimes, like most people I know in PR, we worry that we’ll get it right because we care.

Gordon Arnott is on Twitter @coyknorth

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