Getting Ahead…Chris Cartwright


 Name: Chris Cartwright

Company: Burson Marsteller

Job title: Managing Director and Chair, Corporate, Issues & Technology

What made you want to get into PR?

I wanted to do something that was creative but also commercial – that allowed me to write but also indulged my desire to make money (for myself and the company!) This ruled out journalism – which I flirted with after a stint on my student newspaper – and left advertising and PR.

How did you get into the industry (including relevant qualifications and professional training)?

I worked briefly at an ad agency in Leeds – and I hated it. I naively assumed all advertising people were creatives and sat around writing witty ads – but the closest I got to creativity was checking British Rail timetable posters for typos. So I gave it up, and after 6 months in the Alps as a ski guide, I applied for a ‘proper job’ in PR, responding to an ad in the Guardian, and landed a grad trainee position at technology PR agency, GBC.

What was good and bad about your first job

I loved the relationship building side – getting to know journalists and what they needed, and selling them a good story. I was also the only bloke in the office. That was good. Bad? Well in those days you literally had to cut and paste clippings with scissors and glue – and presentations were all done on acetates, which melted in the photocopier!

List your jobs to date

Grant Butler Coomber, trainee Account Executive
Account Director, Firefly PR
Account Director, then Director and head of b2b, Bite PR
Board Director, Brands2Life
Managing Director, Harvard PR

What were the best and worst, and why

I loved Bite for the sheer amount of fun we had, the fantastic people I worked with, and the feeling that no matter who we pitched for, we’d win.

Who has been your biggest inspiration?
My dad – because he has great integrity, great drive, and great charm and wit

Who in the industry do you most admire? 

Kevin Murray, chairman of Bell Pottinger – calm, wise and insightful

What is your biggest achievement to date?

Winning the Cisco business three times in three different agencies has to be up there – but I was quite proud of doubling the billings in Bite’s corporate division with wins like Sun, Cisco, Siebel, DHL, BBC Worldwide and Deutsche Post.

On what do you base your success so far?

Being inquisitive about what makes people and businesses tick, wanting to learn, wanting to be stretched intellectually.

What are your ambitions?

To paraphrase a Jools Holland song I think it’s important to “enjoy yourself (it’s later than you think)”

Change one thing about your job:

I have literally just started at Burson Marsteller, but one ‘resolution’ I have for my new role is to increase the time I spend on client work (as opposed to agency management). It’s sometimes easy to forget that everything in agency life begins and ends with the client.

Change one thing about your industry:

The PR industry needs be much more focused on real measurability – PR’s ability to affect outcomes and behaviours rather than generating kilos of clippings.

Change one thing about the world:

Bring back courtesy and good spelling.

What is your favourite brand?

What is the next big brand in your view?

Jawbone – amazing bluetooth headsets

List your “media diet:

· BBC Breakfast News
· Radio 4 Today programme
· Sunday Times
· FT or Metro on the Tube
· Fortune
· Management Today
· PR Week/Marketing Week

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