This week, in the latest of our life stories podcast, I’m interviewing Neil Henderson, group director of global media and financial communications at Zurich Insurance Group.
Neil is based in Switzerland.
Previously, he has was head of media, content and partnerships at Which?, director of communications at Mastercard, executive director at Golin and head of media and broadcast at Red.
Before this, he was a journalist with Sky, ITN and the BBC.
[00:01:03] How Neil has managed his career so that he has been able to work in a broad range of sectors rather than specialise in one.
[00:01:58] How for Neil, as a journalist turned PR guy, his career has always been "a bit like working a newsroom".
[00:07:01] Why Neil wishes he'd stayed at Red and Golin longer than he did.
[00:08:17] Whether PR people still under-prioritise the broadcast media.
[00:12:38] How one of Neil's clients wanted him to get a urinal story on the Today programme.
[00:13:08] Why do PR people not tell clients who have ridiculous requests to piss off?
[00:16:59] Why it was Neil's time at Red that made him into a PR guy.
[00:19:06] Why Neil believes that journalists continue to think that PR people are stupid.
[00:20:35] Why it doesn't work out for 50% of the journalists that move into PR.
[00:20:50] How media relations is only about 40% of most PR jobs these days.
[00:21:47] Why you can learn more at a lunch with someone than at any other time.
[00:22:20] How Neil is amazed that some agencies continue to open an Excel spreadsheet send a press release to 130 people.
[00:23:28] Why senior journos calling out young PROs on Facebook for poor practice isn't a good look.
[00:27:02] Why Neil’s time at Which? was his dream job.
[00:29:42] Having made the move in-house - does Neil believe he'll ever move back agency side?
[00:29:49] Why working in-house means that you basically have a variety of clients in the form of internal stakeholders.
[00:32:46] How has it been for Neil moving his family to Switzerland?
[00:34:09] How German and Swiss journalists allow PR people to make changes to the copy.
[00:35:50] How as a Brit working in Switzerland it's embarrassing for Neil to talk about how badly Brexit is going to his German and Swiss friends.
[00:39:04] Why Neil believes that even if there were a second referendum and the UK stayed in Europe, to a large extend the damage has been done.
[00:40:37] When Neil is buying PR - what does he look for?
[00:42:28] How sometimes you could put pitch documents together in a row on a table from seven agencies who pitched and if you took the names away you probably couldn't tell the difference between between some of the ideas.
[00:43:23] Why Neil believes PR people even now have an obsession with print.
[00:44:18] Why Neil believes agencies are still missing a trick with radio.
[00:45:40] Why Neil believes PR in London is in such a good place.
[00:46:58] Why Neil thinks some of the big PR shops are still overpriced: He says "Some of the bills I get are eye-watering for what what we get."
[00:50:13] Whether the PR sector is more susceptible to mental health issues than some other sectors.
[00:52:03] Why PR businesses don't say no enough.
[00:52:08] Why PR firms don't challenge nasty clients enough.