Jim Dowling chats with us about PR, his dream job, and the importance of listening
Role: Managing Director Organisation: Havas Sports and Entertainment / Cake Twitter: @jimdowling Jim Dowling was featured in the 2015 PR Week Global Power Book. As part of our #PRProSeries, Janie Emmerson, MD of Communications at Hanson Search, interviewed Jim to find out how he made it in the industry. Why did you get into communications? I had romantic ideas from about the age of twelve that I could be a journalist or a radio presenter, or work somewhere in the media. Jeremy Paxman meets David Gower – that’s how I figured it out. So I got the work experience and went to university. But within about six months of leaving university I realised I’d be rubbish. I worked in the news room of the South Wales Echo for a couple of weeks and I was useless. I thought ‘Well, I need to do something else, then’. My dad worked in the retail side of business and he pointed me towards PR. I didn’t know what he was talking about or what it stood for, but I gave it a shot. I realised I liked it, and that I fancied my chances in it too. What personal attribute has most helped you succeed in your career? I’m neither Stephen Hawking nor George Patton – so I’ve cobbled together a few basics to get me by. I listen, I try to be patient, and then I speak or write clearly. It can take you a long way. If you keep your mouth shut, you learn more, and sound more intelligent when you finally open it. Then people trust you – they either trust you with their money, or they work hard for you. What would you say has been the biggest challenge that you’ve overcome? There’s a few horror stories. Pitching a tourism campaign to the Japanese finance minister via an interpreter, or being a guest presenter on Good Morning Sri Lanka weren’t easy. The toughest is any time I personally make a proper mistake. I think of the ones I made early in my career through inexperience, or being too nervous to ask for help – those were the tough ones. You know you’ve cost someone money, or let a team down. Getting your chin back up isn’t easy, but it’s essential. Who would you say has been the most inspiring person you’ve worked with? Mike Mathieson who founded Cake – for sheer cojones. What is the best piece of career advice you’ve been given? Watching a lot of sport has allowed me to soak up clichés - “You’re only as good as your last game,” being the best. In ten years’ time, what do you think will be the biggest change in the global communications industry? Well, people will still need to write, think and talk. The tools and the language will continue to evolve. Advertising and consumer/brand PR will have merged. They are already compromising around the term ‘comms’ to describe the discipline, and ‘content’ to describe the output. I expect that to be complete by 2026. What would you say are the three words that best describe you as a communicator? To the point. Apart from your current role, what would be your dream role within communications? I’ve said for a long time… I shouldn’t be here, I should be the main anchor for Sky Sports cricket coverage.