Confessions of a PR | James Rae

“Son, there’s no such thing as an easy job,” my father once told me, “if there was then every fecker alive would be doing it.” A useful gem of advice given to me in my darkest and laziest hour, and one which has stayed with me, like a bad smell, in my epic pursuit of employment that can cater for my dislike and fear of hard graft, but necessity for hard cash.

Like so many others out there, my life has been one large conveyor belt of employment, various drudgery and dogsbody tasks I have engaged in, job after job, megalomaniac boss after megalomaniac boss, and one gross negligence lawsuit after the other – I’ve had em’ all. In my twenty-first year on this earth and my second in Glasgow I had given up all hope of finding my paragon of employment, my lazy man’s monetary Mecca, until late one sunny, spring evening I came across a vacancy sign requesting ‘P.R staff’.

For those of you not in the know, P.R stands for ‘Public Relations’, a fancy title for the less than glamorous task of informing the average man on the street of drinks promotions, special offers and general incentives of whatever pub or club employ you. For this job you need good banter, tick, a good sense of humour, tick, a friendly and approachable appearance, tick (I think) and a love for the outdoors, Tick! Three and a half ticks in my minds imaginary job questionnaire, forced me into said venue and, after a lightning quick interview, I was hired!

I was now part of the strange and honourable profession of Public Relations, a profession that would lead me deep into the city’s bizarre underbelly, and bring me tantalisingly close to finding my perfect job.

In Glasgow you are most likely to see P.R staff on the bedlam stretch of Sauchiehall Street every night of the week, marching in pairs, a healthy wedge of fliers gripped tight in their hands and sometimes even a smile on their face. Our job is to wander this street, amongst the drunks, bouncers and beggars and sell our place of employment like a cheap degraded door-to-door salesman. We must dazzle and hypnotise the drunker and more easily led punters with promotions and free passes before leaving them utterly convinced their faltering night out on the town has been rescued. Of course, this is not the reality.

The reality is P.Rs mostly suffer verbal (and sometimes mildly physical) abuse when they approach strangers on the street with no more proof they are in the Public Relations game than a flimsy bit of paper with drink prices on it. Most P.Rs hate the general public because of this, and choose not to bother them. As a result your nightly shift is spent mainly walking and talking with your P.R partner, upon whom your sanity depends, developing a deep and unspoken understanding of each other in your battle against the inebriated masses.

Like most jobs it does have its perks, well one to be precise. As a P.R worker you are truly at the bottom of the publican pecking order, a disposable and easily replaced member of the workforce, and therefore sent out onto the street totally unsupervised and unloved. As a result of this you spend a lot of your shift in a far away and well-hidden pub, spending your hourly wage on pint after pint, smiling manically at the fact your finally being paid to sit in the pub.

In my time as a P.R I’ve seen the strange and exotic things Glasgow nightlife has to offer. Grown men urinating on their own cars singing chumbawumba, homeless men using a chip box as a pillow, hookers, lovers, fights and brawls, all just part of the job. The scariest day for any P.R is when they realize they’ve become immune to it all, when the extremes of a Saturday night are not only common place, but expected.

Forever branded in my mind will be the image of a middle aged Welshmen in detailed full body sheep costume vomiting violently on the city pavement and into a roadside grate as the remaining members of his stag party applaud him almost regally, in what appeared to be some form of twisted Welsh initiation into marriage.

The picture was quite beautiful as various factions of P.Rs joined together in applause of the mighty sheep-man; a celebration of the obscene circus we call our everyday.

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