Maja Pawinska Sims 22 Sep 2023 // 9:04AM GMT
In our Headliners series of conversations, we get under the skin of PR and communications leaders around the world who have made PRovoke Media headlines recently, uncovering what they see as the greatest challenges and opportunities for the industry, where they find inspiration (and how they switch off), what they’ve learned about themselves, as well as the creative campaigns they love and the work they are most proud of.
In this week's Q&A, we talk toTom Berry, former co-owner and chair of technology specialist agency Chameleon, who has joined MikeWorldWide as its new general manager in London.
What are the greatest challenges and opportunities for the PR and communications industry over the next 12 months?
Lots of people in PR seem quite ‘doom and gloom’ at the moment. I’d rather we all focused on the things that make us happy. Positivity is infectious, and I reckon it is the single biggest reason why some agencies thrive and others decline. I know that makes me sound a bit like one of those wellness gobshites on the socials, but it’s always been what I believe.
What is the best PR campaign you’ve seen recently and why?
Well, it's not really a campaign, but it might become one... the thing I’m most interested in is the Daniel Khalife story. Here’s a guy who definitely escaped from prison pleading not guilty to escaping from prison. WTAF?! The comms job his defence counsel must now do is going to have to be remarkable.
What work from your team are you most proud of over the past year?
I’ve just come back into PR after a while as a teacher, so I’m a bit out of the loop. However, the job the MikeWorldWide London team just did on The Sunday Times Good University Guide was outstanding. I also want to mention Izzy, one of our UK account executives; on her first visit to the baseball in New York, she caught a ball thrown into the crowd. This is something our global CEO hasn’t managed to do in hundreds of visits. I love moments like that.
What have you learned about yourself over the past couple of years?
I’ve learned that I’m an OK teacher, but absolutely rubbish at rules. I never gave a detention nor handed out a single reward point in four years. I also didn’t strictly follow the syllabus, but the results we got were always decent. The senior leadership team just let me get on with it in the end, but it must have been frustrating for them. Sorry about that.
How do you switch off and maintain wellness?
Soraya, my wife, is the source of all wellness. She stops me being the worst version of me. We have both started to work four days a week, so we can have Fridays off together. It means we don’t earn as much as we could, but we love it.
What cultural source (eg book/podcast/movie/TV show/music artist) has provided creative inspiration for you lately?
I’m currently listening to a lot of Agatha Christie audio books. Her writing is simple, but her plotting is wonderful. I’ve tried to adapt the way I write to match her style. I’ll get there eventually.
If I weren’t working in PR/comms I would be…
Teaching. I encourage everyone to give it a go; it’s a brilliant job. You don’t get paid enough, you work long hours, you have to deal with unhappy people, but you can positively affect the way they think. It’s sort of like PR.