My Life In Media: James Herring

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The Independent Online

James Herring, 35 is joint MD of PR consultancy Taylor Herring. His clients include the BBC, Robbie Williams, Endemol, The Apprentice and Richard & Judy. In the past two years the agency, which he co-runs with his wife Cath Taylor, has risen 48 places in the PR Week Top 150 league tables and is the fastest growing agency in its sector.

James Herring, 35 is joint MD of PR consultancy Taylor Herring. His clients include the BBC, Robbie Williams, Endemol, The Apprentice and Richard & Judy. In the past two years the agency, which he co-runs with his wife Cath Taylor, has risen 48 places in the PR Week Top 150 league tables and is the fastest growing agency in its sector.

What inspired you to embark on a career in the media?

MTV - when I was a student I spent my weekends making DIY pop promos.

When you were 15, which newspaper did your family get, and did you read it?

My dad was (and still is) a Times reader but the only newspapers I was into at 15 were the NME and Melody Maker.

What were your favourite TV and radio programmes?

Top of the Pops, Miami Vice, The Fall Guy, Magnum PI and The Dukes of Hazzard. Like many 15-year-olds I would always tape the Radio 1 Top 40, pausing out the DJ commentary so it was just interrupted music, and then listen to it obsessively all week.

Describe your job

Our job is to create positive media hype about our clients but we have a dual role to protect and promote.

Which media sources do you consult during the working day?

I make a point of listening to a different radio breakfast show every day for a week then move on. I check in to the Media Guardian website at least five times a day. I get the C21 Media news feed on international TV deals sent to my inbox. Lexis Nexis automatically mails me electronic articles when our clients get mentioned in print. I'm a fan of Popbitch, Holy Moly and B3ta.com.

What is the best thing about your job?

We get paid to work with the most exciting names in TV, music and media and no two days are ever the same - it doesn't get better than that.

And the worst?

Trying to explain PR to old-school advertising execs that don't get it.

What's the proudest achievement in your working life?

I'm struggling to choose between the day I met Bill Clinton, the fact that we represent Richard and Judy, or that 10-day PR tour of Europe with Hugh Hefner - but right now I'll settle for seeing Living TV win the 2005 Broadcast Channel of the Year.

And what's your most embarrassing moment?

Six years ago I was launching a football video for a client - we were going to fly 40 journalists on a private jet to Rome to watch a crucial England vs Italy World Cup qualifier. At the airport we discovered that half the match tickets that our booking agent had supplied were counterfeit. I had to tell 20 journalists that they weren't coming with us.

How do you feel you influence the media?

On an average day, we will place 10 to 15 stories, features or interviews, either in the national press, on radio or TV. Even after 13 years in the business I still get a terrific buzz from seeing the daily results of our hard work.

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

In our line of work I have to read every single paper, every day of the week. I can speed read the whole lot in about an hour. I subscribe to GQ and Private Eye. For indulgent escapism Condé Nast Traveller does the business.

What do you tune in to?

I rarely watch live scheduled TV - I sit down with The Sunday Times Culture and series link talked-about shows into Sky Plus. I watch a lot of E4.

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

Helping The Poke, a brilliant comedy writers' collective, get their own TV series.

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

I find the wine trade fascinating and am a big fan of musical theatre - but for cheap thrills I've always thought it would be great fun to run an upmarket fireworks display company.

Who in the media do you most admire and why?

My wife and business partner, Cath Taylor. She pushed me to quit my previous job and launch the agency with her. It was the best decision I ever made.

the cv

1992: Joins Avalon Management Group as live booking agent, handling tours for Frank Skinner, Newman and Baddiel and Harry Hill.

1995: Promoted to head of press and marketing.

1997: Promoted to MD of Avalon Publicity Ltd, where he handles the launch of FilmFour and Big Brother.

2001: Launches Taylor Herring Public Relations.

2001: Launches new consultancy Taylor Herring Brand Communications.

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