Behind the Headlines with NPR founder Nathan Rous

Nathan Rous, director of NPR, talks about cutting his teeth in local media, why PR is one of the most “incredible” sectors to work in and once bearing a striking resemblance to former Olympic long-distance runner Zola Budd.


Nathan Rous

Before I reach the office in the morning, I’ve already…
Made the most hideous smoothie known to man and tried to force-feed it to the kids. Think moringa, baobab, wheatgrass and kale. I’m not popular at 7am.

You’ll mostly find emails about…in my inbox.
Other than Gorkana requests you mean? I wade through a myriad updates from trade publications (Retail Week is particularly good) and clients in the US, whose emails land at three and four am, but you’ll also find plenty of failed attempts to organise a round of golf. A year since I last ruined a good walk.

I know I’ve had a good day if…
I can’t put the phone down in the evening.

My first job was…
A Saturday job aged 12, making/ruining sandwiches, but my first real job was as a cub reporter at the Brighouse Echo and Halifax Evening Courier, starting the day after I left my NCTJ course in Darlington. I had a heady starting salary of £7,500.

I can tell a campaign is succeeding when…
The client rings to say “I know we’ve been on ITN, BBC and Sky, and we’re in the Daily Mail and The Times today, but is anything happening tomorrow?” I love that there’s no let up as it reminds me of working in newspapers.

I eat….when nobody is watching.
My youngest is 21-months-old so I do my best to ensure she doesn’t eat any sugar. I feel I’m taking one for the team by hoovering up the chocolate buttons and Milky Bars brought over by her grannies.

The first time I pitched to a journalist…
I’d been a journalist for 15 years before setting up NPR so I already knew stacks of people in the media. I was pitching a style piece on Charles Tyrwhitt to The Telegraph and relied on Old Faithful (the freebie) to lure the journalist to its Jermyn St flagship. Job done.

The worst thing anyone has said to me is…
“Can you help this little girl find the toilet paper please?” My mum had sent me into the supermarket, aged 11, and I raced up to a shop assistant for help. She was too busy so asked the supervisor to assist with this immortal utterance. I was horrified and ran out. In truth, I had an uncanny resemblance to Zola Budd.

The last book I read was…
I’m an annoying foodie so I have a stack of cookery books by my bed. There’s nothing better than drifting off over a marbled steak or a meticulous Nigel Slater lemon curd tart.

I’ve never really understood why…
I have to apologise for the PR industry every time I see a new client. There’s a lot of mistrust out there and plenty of poor practise, but in the main it’s an incredible sector to work in and I wouldn’t want to do anything else.

If I could go back and talk to my 10-year-old self, I’d say…
Maybe Hammy isn’t dead? I’m convinced my brother and I buried our hamster without proper checks. The claw marks on the inside of the shoebox we dug up months later could be seen as evidence.

This time next year, I’ll be…
Enjoying my last holiday (possibly ever) before the builders move in.

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