My Mentor: Ian Monk on David English & Brian Maclaurin

'You had to be first, you had to be best, and you had to walk tall in Fleet Street'
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The Independent Online

Like anyone else at the Daily Mail, I was hugely influenced by the then editor, David English. When I joined in 1978, aged 24, he held lunches for young reporters, where he'd take four or five of us out to The Savoy and dispense his wit, wisdom and fantastic bitchiness. The idea was to tell you that being a Mail man was a unique badge of rank and you should be proud of it; that the Mail would make the most unreasonable demands on you - and that you should consider yourself jolly lucky that it did!

Like anyone else at the Daily Mail, I was hugely influenced by the then editor, David English. When I joined in 1978, aged 24, he held lunches for young reporters, where he'd take four or five of us out to The Savoy and dispense his wit, wisdom and fantastic bitchiness. The idea was to tell you that being a Mail man was a unique badge of rank and you should be proud of it; that the Mail would make the most unreasonable demands on you - and that you should consider yourself jolly lucky that it did!

You had to be first, you had to be best, you had to get the story, and you had to walk tall in Fleet Street. You had to entertain, inform, delight. You were competing with every other newspaper in Fleet Street and with every other reporter in that newsroom. It was all about creative tension, reigns of terror, manipulation of people's ambitions and emotions, and pushing people as far as you could without breaking them. It produced the most brilliant newspapers, brilliant journalists and a few nervous breakdowns.

I learnt from him the ruthlessness you need in newspapers and most successful businesses, an ability to select the right people and get the best out of them, and the necessity of giving young talent a chance.

When I moved to PR in 1997 my mentor was Brian MacLaurin. He taught me to ignore traditional PR bullshit: it was about straight talking, so that there are clear channels of communication between client and the media.

Brian crucially taught me that PR - unlike newspapers - wasn't always about pushing people to the limits. Sometimes it is about sitting back, listening, and even - occasionally - being charming!

Ian Monk is founder of PR company Ian Monk Associates

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