In the words of Max Bygraves...
“I wanna tell you a story…”
It’s a bit of a long one but stick with it, there’s something decent at the end. Maybe grab a coffee first though.
Last year, in late October, I sat in the bar at The Dorchester sipping whisky sours and munching my way through the rather spectacular free nibbles. Of course “free” is a relative term in this context, as the whisky sours were costing me £11.64 each. Odd price that. Why not make it a round £12? Or drop down to a less round but possibly more acceptable £11.50? Sounds like a price devised on an accountant’s spreadsheet to me. Cost of material, plus cost of bartender’s time, plus cost of free nibbles…multiplied by five point three.
The price of the drink didn’t matter, because not only is the bar at The Dorchester officially a Nice Place To Be, Nigel Havers was there and we actually acknowledged each other as I took my place at the bar. Soon afterwards, he left. Soon after that, a delightful couple from North America arrived and we got chatting. It turned out that they visited London for a week each year for shopping and dining. Were they staying at The Dorchester? Hell no! They kept an apartment in Chelsea. They just thought that the bar at The Dorchester was the best place to drink in London. I found myself in violent agreement.
I asked them what they'd been up to, and they told me that every time they visited London, they went to the latest “must eat at” restaurant that’d launched in the previous year. However, in 2006, there hadn’t been a standout and they decided to visit a classic: Gordon Ramsay’s place on Hospital Road.
My new buddy (I apologise for forgetting his name, but I was on my third whisky sour by this time…) told me that, “it was - by quite way - the most expensive meal I’ve ever paid for, and I’ve eaten in some of the best restaurants in the world.
“But you know what,” he continued, “I don’t regret a red cent of it…it was also – by a very long way – the best meal I’ve ever eaten.”
I was really pleased. It’s a place that I’ve always wanted to visit and it was nice to hear that it had lived up to its reputation.
Did he mind my asking, I ventured, how much it had cost?
He didn’t. Turns out that dinner for two plus a nice bottle of wine had come in at a shade under £500. Pricey, sure, but for the best meal you’ve ever eaten? Maybe decent value.
My new buddy’s lovely wife then asked me where I was off to, all dressed up as I was…
I should explain at this point that I was, indeed, all dressed up. Well, at a superficial level at least…I was wearing a decade-old dinner suit and no bow tie. Raffish, in a couldn’t be arsed sort of way.
I explained that I was killing an hour before wandering up Park Lane to perhaps London’s most passé venue, The Grosvenor, where I was about to gatecrash the PRWeak Awards ceremony.
Why was I gatecrashing?
Because, rather ironically I remember thinking, for the price of a ticket to the PRWeak Awards – and all the mass catering and dodgy disco that it entails - I could have enjoyed the best meal of my life (and wine) in Gordon Ramsay’s top restaurant. And I wasn’t prepared to pay it.
Ultimately, however, my ploy wasn’t as cost-effective as imagined. I arrived at The Grosvenor after dinner (as planned) and immediately spent more than £100 on two bottles of bubbly! Added to that, it wasn’t very much fun.
I don’t want to dismiss the PRWeak Awards out of hand, but Christ, they’re expensive to enter and attend. This year’s awards will cost you – at the very least – nearly £250 a head and, if you’re late in booking (who isn’t?) and want a decent table (who doesn’t?), it’ll be nearly £450 per person. To enter it’s £135 and, if you’re a week late entering (again, who isn’t?) it’ll cost you another £55. Per entry.
They’re one of the most profitable activities that PRWeak undertakes every year, which means that they’re more expensive than is absolutely necessary. But PRWeak can still fill the room, so it’s hardly going to cut prices, is it?
The worst part of the awards for me, however, is that they force agencies to make tough, unfair choices. We all know that a campaign shortlisted for a PRWeak Award will have taken the mental and physical energies of numerous people…so it’s almost impossible for anyone but the very largest and richest agencies to take all those involved along.
Which means that the Awards drive elitism within agencies, with agency heads and senior people feeling “obliged” to attend, even when their only interest in the client has been its impact on the P&L. How many hard-working AEs and AMs have sat disappointed as agency heads have wandered around the office in their glad rags prior to jumping in a taxi bound for the Great Room..? Or equally hard-working in-house teams watching the boss leave early to jump on the train up to town? I know I have.
So, this is an extremely round the houses way of telling you that this year, on October 23rd (uncoincidentally the day before the PRWeak Awards) there’ll be another awards ceremony in town…at least for the tech PR crowd (though everyone’s welcome, of course).
Yes, The World’s Leading…alongside top man Peter Kirwan of the excellent Fullrun…is chuffed to say that we’ll be holding our own little gathering this year; a chance for the unsung (or, indeed, sung) heroes of tech PR to celebrate some of the best (and possibly worst) work that’s taken place over the past year or so.
It’ll be a rather more down to earth event than the alternative; it won’t take place in a flash hotel, it won’t feature a sit-down meal and you won’t need to get yourself down to Moss Bros a couple of days before. But we can guarantee that there will be some grub, plenty of booze, entertainment and a bit of a laugh…and it won’t soak up a month’s disposable income. Think the Brats not the Brits…
Over the next few weeks we’ll be announcing the different awards categories and our esteemed panel of judges. We’ll also let you know where exactly it’ll be taking place (London somewhere) and how much a ticket will set you back (it’ll be about £50, with a chunk going to charity).
It’s likely to be a touch smaller than PRWeak’s effort…probably 300 rather than 1,500…so when we do announce the details, don’t hang about. In fact, if you want to guarantee yourself the chance to buy a ticket, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Christ, what else are you going to do on a rainy Tuesday night in October..?