MEET THE TEAM: THOM WATT

Monday 30 May, 2016
Thom Watt

Thom Watt, Digital Account Manager

How long have you been at Weber Shandwick and what do you do?

I joined Weber Shandwick almost exactly a year ago and I’m in charge of digital for Scotland. So if you want anything to do with the internet, social media or video, call on me.

How did you end up working at Weber Shandwick?

I took the long way round.

After university I got involved in a start-up digital/mobile company, called Texperts. We grew that to a reasonable size, won some awards, and sold it to 118118.

Texperts

After that I took a bit of a left turn, and ended up in journalism with STV, mainly working on digital and social media projects for Scotland Tonight and Sport. I did a *lot* on football statistics.

In between I worked on a few projects with the EU digital government and a digital language start-up called SwiftKey.

What do you enjoy most about working at Weber Shandwick?

If you don’t mind the massive, raging cliché, it’s the team. I’m lucky enough to work across the whole of Scotland, so I get to work with the teams in Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Glasgow. Everyone comes from a different background, whether it’s in journalism, PR or banking. We all bring something different.

What would you say has been your career highlight?

Texperts. When we started it was three of us in our bedrooms working on version one broadband, pulling all-nighters, communicating via MSN and doing every bit we could. When we sold it, we had a Mad Men office and launched a US version of the service at Super Bowl XLIII. Super Bowl TV ad. Springsteen. Florida. Not bad.

What would you say is the most enjoyable aspect of working in public relations/communications in Scotland?

In digital, the pace of change is incredibly exciting. New applications, features and products are being launched every single day. It’s almost too easy to take for granted just how mind-blowing some of this stuff is.

We might not have the flying cars from Back to the Future II, but we’ve got the 3D holograms, the hands-free games, multi-screen TVs, wearables, video calls and self lacing shoes, and portable personal computers.

Away from work, what do you like to do in your spare time?

I play the guitar a lot, and used to play in a few bands, one of which put out a single. That’s my main distraction. I love films and books, and I spend far too much time on Twitter.

Other than that? Sport, especially football.

Who is the one person (in this industry or outside) you admire the most for how they communicate?

I’m going to cheat and have three.

Firstly, Stewart Lee. It’s one thing to be able to speak and hold the room, it’s another to deliberately antagonise them into disliking you so you can try and win them back over, and all for your own amusement. Not only is he a great comedian, his political writing and music reviews are eloquent and incredibly measured.

Saul Williams. Poet, musician, political activist, actor, author and the greatest lyricist on the planet at the moment.

Finally, Douglas Adams. “The ships hung in the sky in much the same way as bricks don’t.”

Tell us something not many people know about you

I have a gold medal in beach volleyball. Which I won in Fife.

What do you consider to be your guilty pleasure(s)?

Occasional disappearances down a Football Manager shaped hole. I’ve been two years clean.

And whisky.

Who is your must read columnist / publication?

I love Nate Silver and the FiveThirtyEight stuff. Whether it’s predictions on the economy, sports betting, or who will be the next President of the USA, he’s got an incredibly clear way of writing about statistics and probabilities. He’s rarely far wrong.

Who is your must follow on social media?

There’s far too many to list, but I’d strongly recommend David Squires (football), Dr Aleks Krotoski (digital) and Joan Cornella (if you’re not easily offended).

What was the last book you read and last film/boxset watched?

The last book I read was Carrie Brownstein’s Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl. Not only is a great record of the Riot Grrrl years and alternative culture in the late 00s, but she’s funny, self-deprecating and has encyclopedic music knowledge.

Thom Watt

The last film I watched was X-Men: Apocalypse, which I thoroughly enjoyed. As far as TV goes, I’m working my way through Daredevil series two, and have the same Game of Thrones bug as everyone else. Yes, I’ve read the books.

What was the last live event you attended?

I went to see The Cure and the Twilight Sad in Austin, Texas last month. The former were one of the bands on My Bucket List.

Favourite gif?

What would be your advice to someone entering the industry?

Keep a good contact book. You’ll bump into lots of people, and you’ll never know when that person you met briefly at some event or other might become a hugely useful contact.

And finally, if you could improve one thing about PR in Scotland, what would it be?

We’re not very good at selling ourselves in Scotland, and tend to get overawed by work being done elsewhere. We’re every bit as good here as anywhere else, a bit less hard-bitten modesty would go a long way.

Twitter: @thomalexwatt

LinkedIn: Thom Alexander Watt