CV; JULIA HOBSBAWM Co-founder, Hobsbawm Macauley Communications

I QUIT MY DEGREE FOR A SMALL JOB IN PUBLISHING ... BUT ONE DAY I OVERHEARD THE PUBLISHER'S WIFE TRYING TO INTEREST A JOURNALIST IN A BOOK SHE REALLY BELIEVED IN ... AND I KNEW WHAT I WANTED

I didn't pursue much by way of further education. I went to what was then the Polytechnic of Central London to study modern languages, but took an elected sabbatical at the students' union to become publications officer for a year, in 1982.

I decided not to go back to my degree course, and took a temporary assistant's job with a small medical publishing company. I typed invoices and did filing, but I did have opportunities to be more pro-active in the publishing process, and they asked me to prepare publicity material for the Frankfurt Book Fair. Then an author came over from America, and they needed help putting together a publicity schedule.

But the real turning point was when I heard the wife of the publisher on the phone to a journalist on a national newspaper, trying to persuade the women's page editor of the value of the book she was promoting. I thought that was tremendously exciting - having a project that you believe in, and trying to communicate that to the public through the media.

I applied for a job at Penguin, where I became a publicity assistant, working on both fiction and non-fiction titles. Then Virago approached me to become their publicity manager, where I immediately began working on campaigns for Maya Angelou. That was another milestone, for it was working for authors like Maya that made me realise that any work - and PR in particular - is at its best when you believe in who or what you're promoting.

But I did begin to feel a little jaded about the constraints of book PR, because I felt it was all rather repetitive. I wanted to spread my wings, and was prized away from Virago by a television producer called John Tagholm, who was working at Thames Television. I went to work on a late-night books programme there called Books By My Bedside, which was the perfect way for me to move from book publishing into the media at large. I then went from Thames to Terry Wogan's show on BBC1, and had a wonderful seven months working with him, but I did realise I didn't want to make my career in television.

When BSB was set up, I was invited to run the forward-planning desk for two daily entertainment shows, but when BSB merged with Sky in 1990, I was made redundant. I managed to get out of TV just at the right time, and I got a short period of freelance work at Harpers and Queen. But during my time at BSB I had met Ken Follett, and we had struck up a friendship and talked about our enthusiasm for the Labour Party. He was about to start up the 1000 Club - for people who gave pounds 1,000 or more a year to Labour, which I later ran - and knew they were looking for a fund-raising consultant at Walworth Road.

I was offered the job on a freelance basis. I happened to be spending quite a lot of time in America, and I was aware of what the Democratic Party was doing with their fund-raising, and I wanted to try and import some of their techniques, like their gala dinners. But I missed the media relations side of the job, and began to realise there was nothing to stop me setting up on my own.

So, after the 1992 election, I set up a small trading company called Julia Hobsbawm Associates in my living room, and the Labour Party retained me to carry on running the 1000 Club. The first new client we got was the "Save Face" campaign, when Jason Donovan sued The Face for libel, and that gave me the confidence that I could find other business out there. Within about six months, things had gone slightly crazy, and I knew it was time to get a proper office when I had five people working in the flat and found one of them using my bed as a desk.

I teamed up with Sarah Macaulay, who had been involved in my company right from the start, in 1993, to form Hobsbawm Macaulay. Our clients now include Vanity Fair, New Statesman, Christie's and Forward Publishing, and we represent the Runnymede Trust and do one-off projects and consultancy work. There are now 12 of us: nine in London, two in Edinburgh, and one person in our office in New York. I've become very passionate about this business - I'm on the council of the Institute of Public Relations - and I think if you work with good people, and you're honest in your dealings, there isn't any better working lifen

Interview by Scott Hughes

Julia Hobsbawm is co-author of the `Cosmopolitan' `Get Ahead Guide to PR and Advertising', published by Penguin Books.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Guru Careers: PR Account Manager / AM

£20-30K(DOE) + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a PR Account M...

Guru Careers: Account Manager / Account Executive

Competitive (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: One of the UK’s largest and most s...

Guru Careers: Marketing and Communications Manager

£Competitive (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Marketing and Co...

Guru Careers: Digital Designer / Interactive Designer

£ Highly Competitive (DOE): Guru Careers: A Digital Designer / Interactive Des...

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence