Behind the Headlines with LEWIS’ Ranj George

Ranj George, head of consumer at LEWIS UK, on why agencies need to get better at valuing their staff, the need to love, live and breathe PR to succeed, and how he dreams of running a pick’n’mix shop in Shoreditch.

Before I reach the office in the morning, I’ve already…
Watched BBC Breakfast and Good Morning Britain, skimmed through two newspapers, checked my emails – replied where possible – and checked my calendar schedule for the day. It’s amazing what you can get done while getting ready, and on the journey to work, although to be fair it takes me about an hour to get ready in the morning – I need to make sure I’m looking good!

You’ll mostly find emails about…in my inbox.
A real mix of things. As head of consumer there’s a lot of variety – meetings galore, staffing, new business related emails, but also client and team stuff. Going through Gorkana updates is a priority too, obviously!

I know I’ve had a good day if…
The day has flown by, my team and clients are happy, and especially if I get news of a new business win. We’ve grown the Consumer arm of LEWIS from five clients to 15 clients over the last ten months, across everything from retail, fashion, automotive and travel, to FMCG, sport and consumer technology.

My first job was…
A law related job which I’m qualified in. My first PR job was working for a company where I was doing the PR for paper cups and plates, as well as hot dogs (with only 50% meat content) sold in cinemas. Even thinking about it makes me shiver. It was horrendous, but if you can sell in and be enthusiastic about paper cups, then you can do anything, so I guess it was good grounding.

I can tell a campaign is succeeding when…
The atmosphere is electric and there’s a kind of kinetic energy – everyone believes in the idea they’re pitching in or the event/stunt they’re attending. I love hearing someone on the team shouting, “The Sun loves the story, covering it tomorrow,” or “We’ve smashed our media attendee target.”

I eat….when nobody is watching.
I don’t care who’s watching nowadays. I eat crisps in the morning and after lunch I love having some sweets, like Haribo Starmix. People sometimes comment on my diet but it goes over my head (and not just because I’m short!).

The first time I pitched to a journalist…
I was so nervous. I thought how the heck am I going to pitch paper cups to an actual journalist? I did my research, had my pitch in front of me and just pretended I was talking to a friend – which actually worked.

The worst thing anyone has said to me is…
“I’m not sure you’re cut out for PR.” Words from my PR work experience mentor, when I had just given up a career in law to do PR. To be fair, my lacklustre attitude, which clearly showed, stemmed from boredom on what I was working on – spray mounting coverage until I suffocated. There will always be elements you don’t fully enjoy in any job, but in PR you have to (for the most part) love, live and breathe what you do. That’s when your passion translates into great results. If you don’t have that, it will come across in your work.

The last book I read was…
The Princess Bride by William Goldman. If you haven’t read it, get a copy. It won’t disappoint. I’ve also read Sofia the First (over and over again until I feel sick) to my daughter. It’s a must read…if you’re four-years-old.

I’ve never really understood why…
PR is such a fast moving industry, people-wise. My experience at previous agencies is that staff tend to move every two to three years. I’m the kind of person who likes to stay in one place for a while, establish and build on something. We need to get better at valuing staff and making them feel engaged, keeping them interested, and providing a variety of work. It’s the same with clients who move from agency to agency. The key is to keep things fresh!

If I could go back and talk to my 10-year-old self, I’d say…
Write down what I say EXACTLY…The lottery winning numbers for the next five years are…

This time next year, I’ll be…
Here at LEWIS, with more clients, more staff, and the consumer division will have continued to grow. As part of this, we will have produced even more fantastic insight-led ideas and campaigns. Either that or I’ll be running a pick’n’mix shop in Shoreditch – watch this space.

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