Jamie Brookes, managing director of MHP Communications, on getting a kick out of his part in the world’s biggest financial services merger, why US customs ‘found’ 20 wigs in his luggage and the joy of no two days in PR ever being the same.
What is the first thing you do as soon as you arrive at work?
I grab a black coffee and follow up on the news that I didn’t read on my mobile on the train in, then I look across the media for news on clients and the financial services industry (I also check the BBC Sport gossip column to see whether Manchester United are pulling their finger out and getting Sir Alex back…)
Which media outlet can’t you start your day without?
The email alerts from the FT and The Guardian.
What three qualities do you ask from your colleagues?
Honesty, integrity and passion – we work together for more than 70% of our waking week, so we can’t waste time on individuals who don’t buy into the mantra that pulling together as a team is better than acting alone.
What is your favourite thing about working in comms?
We work in an industry that has been challenged and celebrated, in equal amounts, over the last two decades. An industry with bright, dedicated people and with a media that works hard to deliver engaging content. No two days are the same, and the fun never stops. What’s not to like?!
What piece of coverage from your career are you most proud of?
When BNY and Mellon merged, there was a lot of teasing about BoNY M – Global Investor ran a cover story with our then-CEO, Bob Kelly, and the strapline ‘Daddy Cool?’. As I recall it may have been just he and I that liked that, but it was a moment of humour around a story that became the world’s biggest ever financial services merger, and I was very proud to be a part of that.
On a serious note, I am immensely proud of the work I have done repositioning Newton following a period of change in 2001, as well as positioning BNY Mellon Investment Management as a global leader, and over the last five years partnering with the media on behalf of the 30% Club – something which has culminated in real change within industry as a whole. At MHP, the team has generated some fantastic coverage for clients and each week I see something else to celebrate – the work we did as a firm for NHS Blood and Transplant – ‘Missing Type’ – for example was just outstanding.
What’s the strangest thing you’ve done in the name of PR?
Was searched taking 20 curly black wigs and hula skirts through US customs for an ‘event’.
If you could change one thing about the industry, what would that be?
One thing I would change across the industry is ensuring that different disciplines and skillsets worked together more seamlessly and effectively. That’s what we work hard to do at MHP, bringing together sector expertise with skills across consumer PR, public affairs, corporate comms and financial and investor relations. Proper collaboration brings powerful and impactful results for clients, as MHP’s recent success in client wins and industry awards attests.
What is the most common misconception your friends make about your job?
The Thick Of It and Absolutely Fabulous did a lot for the industry!
If you weren’t in PR, what would you be doing?
Probably a train driver or an astronaut.
What is a typical weekend for you?
Long runs and time with my wife, and three under 5s. Not necessarily all at the same time.
What book would you take to a desert island?
I would push to take my Kindle, which is full of Frederick Forsyth and Jack Reacher books. If I had to take just one book, probably The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand, easily the best book I’ve ever read. Then I’d try and sneak in the Guinness Book of Records.
What are the weirdest questions you have to field from your peers about your job in comms? Get the chance to ‘set your friends right’ in a ’60 seconds’ piece by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org