A fledgling account executive’s guide to booze
Remember the first time in your PR career that you embarrassed yourself by drinking just a little too much?
I recall a college lecturer in the mists of time who, told I wanted to forge a career as a journalist, said: “He may have the talent, but can he take the drink?”
Well little did he know that if journalists were partial to the odd tipple once deadline had passed, PR events – particularly in the UK – were in a whole different league. Free booze all night at many events tends to be the exception rather than the rule. In fact, coming into PR from the media I was at something of an advantage, whereas I’ve since seen legions of people come into the PR world from university or other studies and come a little unstuck reputationally when plied with complimentary booze at events and on company nights out.
I am not in any way advocating the excessive consumption of alcoholic beverages here. And these days, quality rather than quantity is definitely the way forward for me. But why is it we still allow new recruits to learn by their mistakes, only to then tell them “don’t worry, I made a complete t*t of myself too when I first started in the job”?
So this post is long overdue. Here is the account executive’s guide to booze-handling in the world of public relations (at least in the UK):
- Always stay one drink behind your client (if you possibly can)
- Always stay two drinks behind the journalists (sounds tough, not necessarily so, most can put it away handsomely)
- In order to achieve the above, go really slowly with your first two drinks
- Sip champagne so you can savour it. Free champers may seem like a dream at first but don’t chuck it down your neck as if it’s water as you’ll get tipsy quickly and ruin a good drink too
- If you don’t actually want to drink, then don’t. Clients and journalists are more likely to appreciate someone strong-willed and assertive than a dribbling, slurring fool (just a hunch)
- If you come into work the next day with a stinking hangover, it’s completely your fault and you’re just going to have to man up and deal with it. Do it a few times and you’ll soon get the picture
- Do. Not. Do. Jagerbombs.
- You’re the newbie. The account managers and account directors may be expecting you to humiliate yourself. Go easy and you’ll both gain the moral high-ground and stand a chance of them looking silly rather than you
- If you’re not capable of making statements coherently on a client’s behalf in the event that an utter disaster should strike right there and then, you should shut up, make an excuse and leave
- If you’re ever challenged to a tequila-drinking competition in front of your whole company after an off-site dinner near Windsor Great Park in a conservatory separated from the main building by pristine glass doors, think twice