Lawrence Francis, from PRmoment’s 2017 large agency of the year Premier, describes how he may not have made it as a stand-up, but he’s laughing now as client strategy director. In our quick, ten-minute catch-up, he discusses how he doesn’t miss the stage, but wishes there were more hours in the day…
What did you want to be when you were a teenager?
As a teenager, who loved to be the centre of attention, I had two dream jobs, to be a rock star or to be a stand-up comic. In my 20s I gave both of these careers a bit of a go, but in both cases found that global superstardom was a little bit harder to achieve than it looked. My comedy career came to an abrupt end following a particularly brutal review of my Edinburgh Fringe show (“Worse than awful – one star”) and despite still getting the guitar out from time to time, my band’s unique brand of practically unlistenable ska-infused-rap-metal has proven somewhat less than popular with the record buying public!
Would your teenage self be pleased with the way things have turned out?
I think so. Notwithstanding the lack of a headline spot at Glastonbury, things have turned out pretty well.
How did you get your first break?
On graduating with a pretty-much useless degree in continental philosophy, I made my way to London and found my first job as a regional salesman for an IT company selling postcode database software. Having learnt enough about cold-calling techniques, service stations and regional postcode variations to last a lifetime, I decided it was time for a change. I was lucky enough to have picked up enough about selling to talk my way into a commission-based trial job for a tiny independent production company based in East London. The owners took a chance on me, and the next few years we had a great time, taking the company from making local corporate videos to creating branded content for global blue-chip clients and even landing our first TV commissions.
What is the best career decision you have made?
Taking a risky step into the unknown and leaving the world of postcodes.
Any career regrets?
For the last few years I have been fortunate enough to go to the Cannes Film Festival, where Premier runs various events and campaigns including the BFI’s UK Film Pavilion. I can certainly think of a few 7am breakfast meetings that I have regretted scheduling when not long before I looked at my watch to find it was 4am!
Premier is a fantastic place to work. The diversity of projects, colleagues and clients going on across the agency really is mindboggling at times, and no two days are ever the same. There is a real sense of creativity and excitement across the agency, and there is always something unexpected and exciting going on. From PR stunts, to film premieres, experiential campaigns to filming in our in-house studio, life at Premier is never dull.
What are the greatest challenges of your present role
I think the biggest challenge is finding enough hours in the day to get everything done. My laptop on the train and personal wifi hotspot is a true lifesaver at times.
What advice can you give to others in the communications industry?
Be passionate and care about what you do. In my experience, clients and colleagues know if you are not interested in the work you are doing, and that never ends well.
Be proactive. You can never rely on the work you want coming to find you, so don’t be afraid to go and look for it. The work is out there, you just have to be bold enough to go and ask for it.
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