What do you currently do?
I am the chairman of the PR company PHA Media that builds the corporate reputations of companies in the UK and those who wish to break into the UK market. We perform a similar role for individuals and business leaders too. It is also our job to keep stories out of the newspapers when appropriate. These days some of the media are disproportionate in their attacks on companies when a mistake is made. Our role is to ensure this does not run out of control and impact on the long term future of the company.
What is your inspiration in business?
Self-made businessmen and women. This country needs to celebrate the profit makers of the UK, not scorn them. They are the people who will create our jobs and save the country from collapse. I would like to see more successful business people running our control. They have real experience at the coal face and they know best when it comes to galvanising business.
Who do you admire?
People who are prepared to take a risk to achieve something really substantial. John Caudwell, the billionaire, mortgaged his home and borrowed from anyone he could to launch his mobile phone business. He is an inspiration. Jacqueline Gold took a male dominated industry and turned it into an iconic high street brand (Anne Summers) Duncan Bannatyne turned an ice cream van business into a hotel and leisure chain.
Looking back are there things you would have done differently?
I would have started a PR firm far earlier in my career and quit newspapers sooner. It is an exhilarating world and you can really make a difference for companies and business leaders. More importantly you can protect them from media attack and that can be the difference between life and death for a company.
What defines your way of doing business?
Integrity is so important. It is really easy to make money advising clients and agreeing with everything they say, but what value is there in that? Our role is to offer an alternative strategy, to challenge the firm or individual and to bring our expertise to the table even if it is at odds with the client. That said we are not confrontational, but we do try to affect change in behaviour for the good of all our clients.
What advice would you give to someone just starting out?
Work harder than your competitor, listen to your customers and never be afraid of change. Most of all love what you are doing – customers can always tell if you are not passionate about them and your business.