How smoking helped my PR career says Hacked Off Flack

How many times have I tried to give up smoking? Too many. And don’t tell me to get an e-cigarette, I have my dignity!

Although I have managed to cut right down, it would be career suicide to give up completely, as I would miss all the gossip. Let’s face it, to get on in PR you have to be unhealthy.

Here’s why:

Smokers are more candid

The other day I was in a client meeting presenting some work which seemed to go down well. No changes were put forward.

In the boardroom that is.

Standing outside the building later, having a cigarette and a less formal chat, I found out what the client really thought and so I was able to make some valuable changes. That one cigarette saved us a whole load of wasted time pursuing a creative route that would have been rejected later.

Journalists are only honest outdoors

Don’t ask me why it is, but I only get the juicy stuff out of my journalist contacts when we are freezing our butts off outside of pubs and restaurants and filling our lungs with filth (that’s London pollution for you).

Drinking helps you to bond

There may be some PROs out there who manage to get on without smoking, but without drinking? I don’t think so! Living in this alcoholic culture, if you don’t spend time knocking back the booze, then you are considered rather strange. Plus, clients don’t like to drink on their own.

Business doesn’t get done in gyms

If only clients wanted to meet up with me and talk as we pounded the treadmill, followed by a nice, healthy juice. But no. The expected way to do deals is over artery-clogging food accompanied by expensive plonk. And then there’s that post-prandial cigarette outside (or cigar even, if things are going really well.)

Creative Moment Awards 2021