Steven Flanagan, Account Manager
How long have you been at Weber Shandwick and what do you do?
I’ve been here for just over two years now and work as an account manager in the public relations team.
How did you end up working at Weber Shandwick?
I worked in journalism for 13 years, working my way all over Scotland in various shapes and guises. My first professional taste of media was in the BBC’s press office though. It was an experience I really enjoyed, so I always knew I wanted to come back into PR at some stage in my career.
What do you enjoy most about working at Weber Shandwick?
It’s a fantastic place to work for a whole host of reasons. As a journalist, I really valued variety and being able to find out more about a whole host of different subjects. I’ve still got that variety, working with clients across energy, education, tourism and consumer advice – and even a touch of space!
Of course, there’s also the team. We’re a really good group and get on really well, although some might say my gags leave a lot to be desired…
What would you say has been your career highlight?
That’s difficult to say; being asked to drive more than a million pounds worth of cars (three cars) on a single day was a nice benefit of being a journalist; becoming the youngest person to edit my local paper in its 195-year history was amazing too. As some might know though, I’m quite competitive, so achieving blanket coverage for Big Energy Saving Week two years in a row is definitely a highlight for me.
What would you say is the most enjoyable aspect of working in public relations/communications in Scotland?
It’s a toss-up between the variety and that element of competition. I don’t think there’s anything quite like seeing a campaign do really well, or seeing your client’s reaction when they see the result of our work.
Away from work, what do you like to do in your spare time?
I love photography and getting out and about in Scotland and across the UK; a big element of that is walking, but the drive can be brilliant too.
Away from that, live music is a passion, films, football, reading and squash. A whisky or glass of wine every now and again doesn’t go amiss.
Who is the one person (in this industry or outside) you admire the most for how they communicate?
It’s perhaps obvious, but Barack Obama is an incredible communicator. His language is measured, refuses to be inflammatory and yet he engages people. He has a real natural flair for speaking and can transcend very easily between being funny and statesmanlike. There’s very few people who can do that with such skill and apparent ease.
Tell us something not many people know about you?
I was Pudsey the Bear once. And I took the head off in front of triplets after a photoshoot. There might have been tears.
What do you consider to be your guilty pleasure(s)?
You shouldn’t be guilty about what you enjoy! But if I had to choose one… Red wine.
Who is your must read columnist / publication?
Ooft. I read so many things on a day to day basis – my favourite has passed away though. Terry Pratchett was an exceptional observer of people and habits. Otherwise, Mark Kermode. He’s a talented writer and doesn’t get bogged down in trying to sound intelligent; he’s just passionate and it really comes through
Who is your must follow on social media?
Rob Manuel is good value for those who like a giggle or splash of internet madness.
What was the last book you read and last film/boxset watched?
Last book was a re-read of The Truth, Terry Pratchett. Incredibly accurate. Last boxset was The Walking Dead. Fantastic.
What was the last live event you attended?
Dave Arcari – great alt bluesman.
What would be your advice to someone entering the industry?
Be enthusiastic, learn as much as you can and absorb yourself in your client’s needs. It makes a huge difference.
And finally, if you could improve one thing about PR in Scotland, what would it be?
It’s in a pretty good place – I think we do incredible work as an industry. One thing I would change is perception of PR. PR doesn’t mean Press Release – that’s a common misconception and just a small part of what we provide. We bring so much more to our clients than that.