The Sharpe end of PR. 26 July 2012 So. Here's the thing. The thing is. Right. What we're going to do is. This.

Why Twenty Twelve's "Head of Brand" might be closer to home than you think. 

Ryan blogged here not too long ago about the reassuring presence in The Archers of a sensible PR professional, giving useful advice.

That’s great. The Archers doing what The Archers should – reminding us that most people are mostly good, most of the time.

But in more masochistic frames of mind, we PRs also like to see ourselves mirrored in Siobhan Sharpe, Head of Brand in the BBC’s mock-doc about the Olympic Deliverance [sic] Committee, Twenty Twelve. (pictured, played by Jessica Hynes)

We get a painful thrill in seeing Siobhan’s team of Ideas Architects come up with suggestions for the right celebrity to front a campaign, only to end up having to enthusiastically promote the joke candidate once all the others have said no.

The inability to keep one’s mouth shut when things have gone wrong – to jargon oneself around a tight spot until an escape route presents itself – is not unfamiliar to any PR who has found themselves desperately trying to keep a conversation going even though both parties are painfully aware of the nonsense being spoken.

Take that last sentence, for example – the thought could have been expressed in half as many words and a much simpler sentence. Even now, I’m not going to go back and change it, because I quite like it, and I’m pretentious like that.

And this is why the character of Siobhan Sharpe is so beautiful to watch – she’s a caricature compiled of truths.

In Yes, Prime Minister, Sir Humphrey Appleby rarely says anything you would not expect a mandarin to come out with from time to time - the comedy comes from telescoping them all into a short period of time.

Every one of Siobhan Sharpe’s lines, I’m sad to say, could probably have come from the mouths of a Corner Shop employee.

In fact, hang it all, I’m not sad to say that. Sometimes, like everyone, we talk total bollocks, but, like the fellow in The Archers, most of us, most of the time, talk sense. Mostly.

Of course, the presence of a PR professional in a top sitcom makes us all here feel incredibly important. As Oscar Wilde’s PR man would have said, there’s only one thing worse than being satirized in a popular TV show.

I no longer envy those who work in marketing, who can pretend they are Don Draper if they ever get a little down-hearted.

And, most importantly, this whole thing has given me a reason to write four hundred words about me and my job. What could be more PR than using a character who mocks the self-centredness of PRs as an excuse to blog about PR (exceeding my word limit in the process)?

So thank God, and the BBC, and the people behind Twenty Twelve, for putting PR where it belongs - centre stage, directly over the trapdoor.

Stephen Pidcock 


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