(Over) Crowded London – Bite Communications

About a year before this travel blog started, I lived in London, while working for a Communications Agency in Hammersmith. Ravenscourt Park to be exact and it was with Bite Communications. It is so true that there are millions of people living in London and that the city is overcrowded, but my time living and working there gave me a lot of inspiration, some great moments and many amazing memories that will never leave me. So how did I cope with life in a big city? (Of course I’d lived and worked in Belfast before, but this was London…and this was before I ever ended up in Hong Kong or Sydney).

I moved in June 2006 to Wood Lane, very close to the BBC Offices. I shared a place there with many random people including a Lebanese chef and a geezer who smoked dope incessantly. It was only temporary accommodation for me while I settled into my new job. I lived close to the pink Shepi B station, White City and the red Shepi B station. Anyone who slags off the London Underground for being slow or shite is talking bollocks. It is one of the best underground, if not train system in the world. Yes, you get the odd delay, but stop moaning and hop on a different line or read a book or a newspaper till the train you want comes along. Having seen so many train systems around the globe, London kicks ass. I love the tubes in London. Excellent service. Mind the gaps though.

I worked for the excellent company Bite Communications in their offices at Ravi C P (Ravenscourt Park, near Hammersmith) in a building appropriately called ‘The Character Building’. I was hired on personality rather than qualifications and other such bull excrement, by working in a building called ‘The Character Building’ gave me that extra push on to make it and utilise my strengths and that little bit of creative juice that probably deserted me in the banal life of a Hotel Barman or an Ice Cream Vendor.

Settling into my house and the busy-ness of London was easy. Bars on every corner if I got too stressed, trains all the time, mates in different parts of the city. I did settle in rather well, despite getting pissed off not having a shower (baths every day) or a washing machine (10 minute walks to the launderette twice a week!). Still I couldn’t complain could I?

As I see it, working in Public Relations is all about image and branding. It is about promoting the brands and images you have in the best possible light to your consumers and publics. This was mainly the media and I was working at Bite, which is an agency. Bite prides itself on individualism and bright ideas. As the motto suggests “With a mission to deliver fearless and boundless communications campaigns to its range of B2B and B2C clients.” Nice challenge for a culturely and historically educated Ulsterman!

Settling in at Bite was at first rather different and strange for me. The only office I had worked in before was The Halifax (At Ormeau Road in Belfast) and that only lasted six months and was mainly answering the phone. To be honest The Halifax bored the sunshine out of me. Most jobs I had before (bar, shop, butchers) were face to face with the customers who wanted goods or services (a pint or a lamb shank) Suddenly I was working with Apple Inc. (Massive US technology brand) famous for the iPod, iTunes and the Mac range. Like some kind of 80s abacus freak, my grasp of new technologies are always years behind. Originally I didn’t know what an iPod was, but soon I would own one and see what the fuss was all about. Working on Apple gave me pleasurable stress, once in a lifetime opportunities, brand satisfaction, media contacts and invites to numerous pish ups. Always liked a beer myself. Events I attended while working on Apple included Apple’s ‘Christmas in August’, September 12th’s mega iPod and Apple TV announcements and iTunes Live From London gigs. I worked with young Sally Plant, Jonathan Hopkins, Andrea Christopherson, Jigna Patel, Susannah Hardy, Karen Hardinge and Graham Day spending endless hours phoning journalists telling them how good Apple products were. A lot of it was fake promotional bull dung, but even DickMonalds and Ratsbux do that.

I also enjoyed working on Sonos, an excellent US brand at the core of technology and a forerunner in digital music. Days in the office I spent familiarising myself with the products and then promoting them. I worked alongside Katy Cook, Jonny Rosemont, Susannah Hardy and Graham Day. These beautiful people will always have a place in my heart and time for a drink with, as they improved my confidence and over time succumbed to my indecent humour with unforced smiles. I fondly recall getting media coverage for Sonos in the FT, Daily Mail, Sunday Times, London Lite and loads of popular magazines, newspapers, blogs, websites, radio stations and tv shows. It was an inspirational time working on Sonos Digital Music Systems. Not only would I recommend the product to anyone, but the brand and the idea is something we could all do with in our houses. Here’s their UK website for you buffs: http://www.sonos.com/index.htm

Other brands I worked on included Tiger Beer, Iomega, Saba and CPP. It was a rewarding time and very enjoyable looking back. I do not have regrets in life, there is simply no point in looking back and changing things, but I certainly wish I had been myself more in my early days at Bite. I took time to settle, perhaps not wanting to act like an eejit in such a professional organisation, as they might find me an odd chap. I reckon I am an odd chap though. Who else writes 19 magazines pretending Northern Ireland have a decent football team? (Here We Go…Again the fanzine 1997-2004) Who else strips naked in a sex museum in front of a French lass? Who else goes all the way to Bobruisk to watch a ladies football match? Therefore at Bite, I think I used the sensible approach to settle in slowly. However on my final day I think the proper Jonny Blair personality was clear for all to see, as I danced stupidly round the office, got my bum out in a meeting, wrote a song for the company and downed a tin of Fosters (convenient) wearing only a towel on a Friday afternoon with everyone working hard and staring at me.

I cannot thank everyone for my time at Bite as there were so many people there, though I particularly liked the pretty Sally Plant (who I thought actually hated me at the start, I was only trying my best!), the over enthusiastic Susannah Hardy, the random and cheeky Graham Day, Katy Cook (who would give advice and shout when things were wrong and say well done when things were fab) drinking buddy Steve Jones and bubbly Andrea Christopherson, who has since changed names through marriage. As I said on my final day working for Bite Communications “there are some bloody cool people in this building.” Bite also does PR for Facebook, which is a phenomenem on the internet at present (I know this from travelling, as nearly every English-speaking person I met asked me if I was ‘on facebook’). It’s a nice wee place to work. You can enter and leave with a smile, even if you’ve worked a hard day (which I often did). I worked there for a year (3 months I lived in London, 9 months I commuted from Dartford in Kent) and loved that time.

Bite nights out were also excellent. The ‘Thirsty Thursdays’ were an opportunity to “not talk work” to my fellow PR Bite Friends. I could mingle easier and tell people stories about me. We also loved to dress up, I was a tennage turtle, a frog and a cowboy during parties we had at Bite. I daresay there is a video tape of me singing Parklife by Blur in the office somewhere…

So I felt proud to work for Bite Communications. If you’re into enjoying life, it wouldn’t be a bad thing to drop them a line: http://www.bitepr.com/

My fond farewells to some sexy people – Biters! Do stay in touch!

Here is the song I wrote and sang to the tune of The Red Hot Chili Peppers song ‘Californication’

Red Hot Media Sellers – Bite Communications(lyrics Jonny Scott Blair 2007)

Moving up to London to the world of Public Relations
Journalists from papers will want your best quotations
But if you want your brand in print its Bite Communications

Its the market of consumer tech it excels in innovations
The journalist from the BBC will want to hear your statement
If you’ve got a lot to say its Bite Communications

Looking for your coverage it’s a world of constant scanning
Once you’ve done your brand report you’ll need some forward planning
Front page in The Sun
Feature in The Guardian
You work in Bite Communications
You work in Bite Communications

Selling in an old product with no new information
You can get a front page if you use your imagination
You’re getting off at Ravenscourt Park for Bite Communications

Journalists to briefings – youve a target you’re not making
It’s time to prove you’re good enough – the client would be raging
You’re fearless and you’re boundless – you’re in Bite Communications

More dead lines than Belfast news
It’s high on expectation
Once you’ve worked your ass off
You can have your celebration

Front cover of FHM
You’re on the News at Ten
You work in Bite Communications
You work in Bite Communications

Now you’ve got a client call and you’re still on probation
Pretend you’ve got them in your heart in every conversation
These are not designs for life – they’re Bite Communications
I think you’ll find you’re the one to solve someone else’s equation
This is why you’re working at Bite Communications

Front page in The Sun
Feature in The Guardian
You work in Bite Communications
You work in Bite Communications
I work in Bite Communications
I work in Bite Communications

(It is not available on iTunes)

Beers Tried – Tiger Beer from Singapore

Bars Visited – The Hampshire, The Thatched House, The Salutation, The Raven, The White Hart, Lloyds, The Ravenscourt Arms, The Ship.

Where I Lived – Wood Lane (near White City and Shepi B pink line) and then Slade Green (near Dartford in Kent)

Nationalities Met – English, Welsh, Scottish, Canadian, American, Indian, New Zealanders, Australians, Republic of Irish, Spanish, Guernseyers, Hong Kongers.

Strange Currencies – The British Pound

Moving Moment – I was once nominated for ‘Employee Star of The Month’!

Favourite Thing About Working at Bite – The people. It’s always the people.

Key Song – Enrique Iglesias – Escape (remember this being played very loudly in the office!)

FACT – Bite Communications Ltd is a dynamic and fast growing global broad technology Public Relations agency with offices based in West London, Hong Kong, New York, San Francisco and Stockholm. With 180+ employees the agency’s growth rate means we are set to become 250+ strong globally by 2008.

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