Alan Edwards: My Life In Media
'Simon Le Bon sent me back a press release, marked out of 10, because there were so many mistakes in it!'
Monday 22 August 2005
What inspired you to start a career in the media?
I originally wanted to be a footballer and got offered a trial with Brighton but I wasn't really up to standard. Music was an obsession so I started writing to Chris Welch at Melody Maker from under the desk lid in school, asking for a job. I never received a reply.
When you were 15, which newspaper did your family get, and did you read it?
My parents were very middle England in their reading habits, oscillating between the Daily Express and Daily Telegraph. Apart from a whole raft of national papers I was reading the NME cover to cover plus underground publications.
What were your favourite TV and radio programmes?
I used to listen to Radio Luxembourg fading in and out, some pirate stations and Tony Blackburn especially when he had the Radio 1 breakfast slot. I watched Monty Python, Till Death Us Do Part. Otherwise it was documentaries and football matches - and lest I forget The Old Grey Whistle Test.
Describe your job
In a nutshell I guess it is trying to control a client's image with the media to their best advantage. It's trying to manage a flow of publicity and media coverage so that it ties in with a product or promotion.
What media do you turn to first thing in the morning?
Read the tabloids about 6am most mornings, unless I'm anticipating a specific story, in which case I'm likely to have gone out and got the first editions the night before. I listen to Today on Radio 4 or catch up on general news on Sky and get through the rest of the papers. I read a whole host of trade publications from Press Gazette to PR Week to Billboard and Music Week.
Do you consult any media sources during the day?
During the day Sky is on in the background, and being connected with the music business means that a lot of email news gets electronically "pushed" at me - which is great. I regularly consult a range of sites from music to media gossip to news to sports.
What's the best thing about your job?
No two days are ever the same, and I can honestly say that since I came into this world (aged 17ish) I've hardly had a dull day. I love the creative aspect of the job and sitting down working out campaigns or strategies can be very fulfilling.
And the worst?
Not having enough hours in the day, and the feeling that I'm racing against the clock all the time.
How do you feel you influence the media?
As a conduit of information between clients and media I present that information quickly, efficiently, accurately and hopefully with a bit of flair so that it's interesting. A fair amount of time is spent negotiating between the media demands and the client's wants.
What's your most embarrassing moment?
There have been a few. Having Simon Le Bon send back a press release marked out of 10 like a school essay because there were so many typing mistakes in it.
At home, what do you tune in to?
A bit of Sky, Match of the Day, check out pop programmes like T4, old movies.
What is your Sunday paper and do you have a favourite magazine?
I read the tabloids but have usually gone through the News of the World and Sunday Mirror the night before to ensure I'm up to speed with any breaking news about clients with farmyard animals or whatever. Always read The Sunday Times. I read The Independent on Sunday particularly when they focus on a subject that grabs my attention.
Name one career ambition you want to realise before you retire
I'm happy to keep on developing Outside. Maybe when I get time to archive all the press articles, backstage passes, photographs etc that I have accumulated over the years I might put them in a rock exhibition or something.
If you didn't work in the media what would you do?
I would have always gravitated towards the entertainment industry or media. Not sure where else I would have fitted in - sports might have been a possibility or even politics.
Who in the media do you admire and why?
I started a list and quickly came up with 27 names -a motley collection of editors, journalists, TV presenters and PRs and would have made a feature in itself.
1973 Freelances for music papers Sounds and Record Mirror, where he works alongside Barbara Charone, Garry Bushell and Paul Gambaccini.
1977 Sets up own company in a squat in Covent Garden with school friend Ian Grant. Edwards forms Modern Publicity, with a roster that includes the Buzzcocks, the Stranglers and Blondie.
1990 With A&M record company press officer Chris Poole forms Poole Edwards, with clients including Prince, The Cure and David Bowie, whom Edwards took on in the early 80s. Poole Edwards morphs into the Outside Organisation. The company is quickly taken on by the Spice Girls, All Saints and Boyzone.
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