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Saint To succeed in PR you have to be flexible, versatile and creative, qualities needed in abundance by Maggie White in Mimi Thebo's excellent 2002 novel, The Saint Who Loved Me.

Maggie needs some to employ some fairly sophisticated PR skills for her day job, working on a £1.4m tampon launch, but that's a doddle compared with the brief outlined by a freelance client, Saint Peter who wants her to come up with a repositioning campaign for his boss, Jesus.

Daytimes involve trying to rein in creatives who don't understand the subtleties of sanpro communications, night-times revolve around rather earthy descriptions of the less than honest propaganda tricks employed by Jesus and his gang. Oh, and while she is working all hours against the biological clock her wine business husband Simon is having an affair with this secretary.

Saint is a better book than a sketch of the plot might suggest, and Thebo uses a reasonable amount of insider knowledge to create a realistic and well-realised working environment. Maggie's agency, Blues, feels real and her PR work is rather more than the usual loose vehicle for suggesting glamour, vivacity and a decent income.

I am deep in a meeting with Creative… We are an intergrated agency which means that the PR and the advertising are under one roof. Usually the direction of a campaign is led by advertising and I am more or less told how to approach a product. With this one it is the other way around, and I can tell that they are uneasy about it.

 
Advertising have a problem with the tight parameters of the brief. I am trying to explain that it is the target market which is closed, not the client.
 
You can't break out a big splashy television campaign because you are aiming at people who are squeamish. And so I am spending this part of my life, really, making some poor sad women who are obviously completely repressed a little less sad by saving their dignity and their panties.
She decides on a softly-softly approach, discreet mailouts, advertorials, and one-ones at a Claridge's launch party…
…it'll just be me and Celia behind the teapot and sandwich trays. She'll be serving and I'll be smiling and showing slides on the highpower laptop all day… I'll see fifty people, maybe fifty-five. I will have taken the important people aside earlier. It's softly-softly with impact… meant to get the concept of discretion into the heads of journalists…
 
There's so much to hammer home into (their) gerbil-like skulls 

   

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