Brian MacLaurin: My Life In Media

Brian MacLaurin, 55, is the managing director of Brian MacLaurin Associates, the PR company through which he built his own name into a brand. When he's not creating spin around the likes of Sony PlayStation and Chris Tarrant, you can find him skiing, playing golf in Spain or shooting clay pigeons
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The Independent Online

What inspired you to start a career in the media?

My grandfather was the deputy editor of the News Chronicle and my mother was a sub-editor working for women's magazines in London in the 1940s, so journalism was in the family. However, the real catalyst was a chance meeting with a man called Archie Freidman. He was the formidable editor of the Scottish Daily Express. After school I was drifting on a career choice, and he gave me a job as a copy boy.

When you were 15 years old, what was the family newspaper and did you read it?

Newspapers played a big part in our household. I remember them thumping on to the doormat every morning and no one being allowed to touch them until my father had read them. I was always next in the queue. The first paper he absorbed was the Glasgow Herald, the bible for every West of Scotland businessman.

What were your favourite TV and radio programmes?

One or two programmes made an impression such as Dixon of Dock Green and Sunday Night at the London Palladium, but generally we were not a goggle-eyed family. For me it was Radio Luxembourg and Radio Caroline, succeeded by Radio 1 that kept me entertained. However, the thrill of the latest 45s on the turntable was also an option!

What media do you turn to first thing in the morning?

I am an early riser, and drive into London at 6am each day. I feel I have missed something unless I hear the very start of the Today programme. That's followed by all the papers as I sit in my office consuming two cups of coffee. This sets up my day.

Do you consult any media sources during the day?

I log on to the Media Guardian site so many times each day it is embarrassing! Other than that I watch the news bulletins, and monitor Sky News.

What's the best thing about your job?

I have a passion for what I do. I wake every morning excited about what the day will offer me, often pondering nagging problems in the shaving mirror. The people I work with inside the company, among my clients and people I meet give me variety, new challenges and people to talk to and laugh with every single day.

And the worst?

Paperwork - which is why I employ people to do that bit.

What is the proudest achievement in your working life?

When I started MacLaurin Communications in 1992, I had no idea it would grow to the size of business it became or be able to attract the breadth of clients it did. Establishing this company from scratch, and then building it into a business employing 77 people and turning over nearly £6m a year is something I could never have dreamed of.

And your most embarrassing moment?

There have been many, particularly from when I was on TV in the 1970s. In fact, one of those faux pas made it on to Denis Norden's It'll Be Alright on the Night. Nevertheless, I suspect the worst was the embarrassment I felt when I walked in to the office of the new owner of my PR business and gave him my resignation, exactly 12 months to the day after I had sold it. Which, by the way, was just six hours after their cheque had cleared in my account.

What is your Sunday paper and do you have a favourite magazine?

Actually, I see them all. I start with The Sunday Times, The Mail on Sunday and News of the World and work through the rest. Like most people in this business I have fortunately developed a skill for skimming. We get all the magazines in the office during the course of the week, and these are also must-reads, but I don't miss Broadcast, even on holiday.

At home, what do you tune in to?

My wife, son and daughter dominate the TV control at different times of the day. Fortunately sport features heavily on my son's agenda, and my wife now has me hooked on a variety of reality TV shows from Extreme Makeovers to Big Brother.

Name the one career ambition you want to realise before you retire.

Unlike most people, I find I am entirely satisfied doing what I do, and just hope it goes on for ever.

If you didn't work in the media, what would you do?

I can't imagine that ever happening, so I guess "buried in a box" is the answer to that one.

Who in the media do you most admire and why?

There are many to mention. To name one would be insulting to the rest.

The cv

1967 Begins news career at local Scottish papers before reporting and presenting for Scottish TV, ATV Midlands and ITN

1980 Moves into PR for Scottish TV, climbing the ladder to head its PR operation

1989 Appointed director of Crown Communications

1992 Goes solo with MacLaurin Communications, for which he won the contract to launch Sony PlayStation in the UK in 1994

2001 Sells out to venture capitalists only to re-join the PR game with Brian MacLaurin Associates in 2003

2005 Ends a five-year relationship with Express Newspapers owner Richard Desmond and appointed non-executive director of showbiz PR firm The Outside Agency, whose clients include Jamie Oliver