The summer term is traditionally the quietest of the three at university, but on Tuesday 5th May, our PRfutures guest speaker series at the London College of Communication continues to pack a fair punch by attracting two of the most high profile PR practitioners, going head-to-head to discuss issues around fame, celebrity and public relations.
The role of celebrity in PR campaigns is a controversial enough subject in lectures, delivered on the course around such topics as the role of opinion-formers, source-credibility and popular culture – and that’s without having the presence of Max Clifford in the room. It should be an interesting evening. Anyone interested in joining us on the night should email me to see if there are any spaces still available.
Before signing off, I must pay my respects to Sir Clement Freud, who died this week. I have been energetically pointing at TV screens as news channels have been playing out his obituary, only to be met by blank stares by anyone aged under 35 whose company I’ve had the good fortune to have had at the time.
As a teenager in the 1980s, Clement was a bit of an idol for me. Watch the obituary to hear the roll call of trainee chef, food writer, restauranteur, celebrity cook, Liberal MP (and in the best idiosyncratic tradition as they were when they could all fit into a phone box back then), dog food advertiser, broadcaster – even at one point, a nightclub owner. At the time, my career of choice was to be a chef. The highlight of my week was watching the BBC’s Question Time on a black and white portable television in my bedroom with my pet Jack Russell dog, Sophie. Radio was fast becoming my obsession. As you you can see, even before you start exploring his lugubrious manner, we had something going on! For me, Clement Freud is what celebrity should be about. It was talent, and panache – and in the words of the old Radio 2 strapline, “different every time”.
He is also a reassuring role model for anyone who is restlessness enough (or just happens to be supremely talented enough) to move from one career to another, and then to another, and then another – and maybe another. As if that wasn’t enough, his daughter Emma presented two of the shows on Matthew Bannister‘s revolutions at GLR, and more noticeably Radio 1 that I thought were ‘mighty fine’, yet, as is the way with my tastes, passed by without any real critical trumpeting in the press. And as if that weren’t enough, his son is one of the barons of my chosen trade of PR, Matthew Freud, and his grandfather, Sigmund Freud gave birth to an area of analysis that PR, in its academic pursuit, at least in part, seeks to appropriate.
RIP Sir Clement Freud (1924-2009).