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Arnie, Mandela and Grant Law

Grant Law

Grant Law is an independent Public Relations consultant with more than 20 years’ of local and international experience. He established Grant Law Public Relations in March 2016 and has a stable of clients in technology, law, sport, education, automotive, property and construction, consumer goods and child development.

What was your motivation for establishing Grant Law Public Relations?
It wasn’t something I had been planning for any length of time. I had been contemplating a move into corporate role but there aren’t all that many opportunities in SA so I decided to go out on my own. The more I thought about it, the more excited I got about it. It’s a liberating experience to go out and win client business based entirely on your own ideas and execution. My logo, the lion’s head with the crown, is taken from the crest of my Scottish clan, MacLaren.

Tell us a bit about your time in South Africa for 15 years, in agencies like Weber Shandwick, Edelman and Ogilvy PR.
Johannesburg is a big city – akin to Sydney or Melbourne in terms of the PR scene – and all of the big global agencies have an office there.  As well as large national brands, I serviced large multinational accounts like Dow (a Forbes 40 company) British Telecom, Microsoft (across all of Africa) and General Motors (all six vehicle brands including SAAB, Cadillac and HUMMER.)

One of the highlights of my career in South Africa
was when I managed publicity for Arnold Schwarzenegger

I started my career with Edelman’s affiliate Baird’s Communication.  After a stint in the corporate sector, I joined Weber Shandwick’s affiliate Gillian Gamsy International (GGi) as Business Director before being head-hunted for the same role at Ogilvy PR. What happened was that South Africa’s equivalent of Santos put its business out to pitch and it eventually came down to the agency I was working for and Ogilvy PR. After the final round of presentations from the two agencies, the client advised Ogilvy PR that they would be awarded the very lucrative account but only on the condition that they hired me from GGi to be the account lead!  It’s a more cutthroat industry over there.

One of the highlights of my career in South Africa was when I managed publicity for Arnold Schwarzenegger who was on a tour of the country to promote Special Olympics.  On one of the legs of the tour, I found myself standing in Nelson Mandela’s Robben Island prison cell with Nelson Mandela himself, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Arnold Schwarzenegger. I had been shepherding in TV news crews from the likes of the BBC, CNN and CBC to take footage for their broadcasts and it only really dawned on me much later that I would have a story to tell for life.

What drew you to Adelaide?
South Africa has its problems and having a wife and young child, I was desperate to escape to a safe and socially stable country. We came here in 2008 on holiday for a look around and loved it. After arriving at the airport, we drove to our hotel on Melbourne Street, North Adelaide. Being a stubborn male, I thought I could find my way without a map and, of course, got hopelessly lost. The good thing is that we ended up seeing most of Greater Adelaide that night and by the time we got to our accommodation two hours later, we were in love with the place.  We thought it was the cleanest, most beautiful city we had ever been to. We still feel the same way.

Grant LawI was eventually offered a role with Ball PR and we arrived on Australia Day, 2011. I worked under Rob Ball for five years and am forever grateful to him for giving me the opportunity to live in Australia. Rob is a highly respected PR practitioner and I learned a lot from him.

Tell us about your role with the Committee For Adelaide. Is it important for PR practitioners to take on roles like this?
The Committee For Adelaide is a collective of individuals representing some of the biggest companies and organisations in SA. It has a goal to drive capital investment and community growth in South Australia. I chair the Committee’s Population and Migration sub-committee, which seeks to facilitate much-needed population growth.  My colleagues represent organisations like the LGA, Adelaide City Council, Thomas Foods, Oz Minerals, Deloitte, Renewal SA and more. I am involved with the Committee For Adelaide because I want to make a positive contribution to SA.

Networking is obviously important in Adelaide and as it is such a social city, it’s not hard to grow your network. It dawned on me recently that of my 1000+ connections on LinkedIn, at least 80% of them are South Australians despite me having spent most my career overseas!

I am Chair of the Scottish Business Network in SA (I was born in Scotland) and am a member of the South African Business Network, which is recognised by the State Government.

Can you tell us about a campaign you’ve enjoyed working on?
There have been many, but one that I have really enjoyed is Hans Ehmann’s development plans for Port Adelaide. Hans is putting $200m of development capital into the Port that will see 750 people living in the Queen’s Wharf area. It is going to turn the Port into a buzzing metropolis and one of the most desirable locales in the State. His plan is simplistic but genius at the same time. I have really enjoyed working with Hans and believe this is history in the making. It feels great to be playing a small part in this project as it will turn Port Adelaide around. I love being a part of something as positive and meaningful as this.

I must spend at least 4 hours a day reading news stories

How do you keep up with media outlets and opportunities – tell us about your media consumption habits.
I must spend at least 4 hours a day reading news stories. I start my day by checking media monitoring, my Google Alerts and then the online version of the Advertiser. I then read the print version from cover to cover for any mentions of my clients or things they should know. As some of my clients are in specialist industries like medical technology, I subscribe to various industry news portals to keep abreast of all the issues. Sometimes, new business opportunities will present themselves in the media, but it’s more about keeping up with news and developments.  If I am expecting a big (positive) story in the media involving one of my clients, I battle to sleep the night before. I’ve always been like this but I have had several front page or magazine cover stories since I started my business and it’s an even bigger thrill now.

What advice would you give a third-year university student who’s keen to work in PR?
Even if you would prefer a corporate role, try to get a few years’ experience in a PR agency to launch your career. There is no better place to learn the ropes. In Adelaide, politics is important too. Get into the habit of reading The Advertiser every day and following the topical political issues.

Time for a fun question: you work with Adelaide’s premier basketball teams. What’s it like posing for photos with them? In decent shoes, I’m around 6ft tall but standing next to those guys and *boom* I turn into Verne Troyer!

We’re always looking for communications practitioners to feature. Email hello[at]publicity.net.au to nominate somebody you know. It could be you!