In the Harvard Hotseat: Pete Marcus

Jo Jamieson

09 Jul 2014

Inspired by MicroScope and CRN’s regular Q&As, we thought it was about time we introduced you to some of the new (and somewhat older) faces at Harvard Towers. First in the Harvard Hotseat is Pete Marcus, director, frustrated photographer and sponge. 

Tell us about your role.

I’m part of Harvard’s management team and lead the consumer tech practice. That means working on clients like Sky and Sennheiser, as well as having input on helping run the agency, making sure we hit our targets, and setting the culture.

When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

My first plan was to be a journalist or a writer of some kind. I guess that came from my interest in news as well as writing, so PR ended up being a perfect fit because it had a breadth of opportunity as well as a sense of creativity about it.

What was your first job?

My first job out of university was at a publishing company, where I helped sub-edit legal books. Not very exciting and not much opportunity for development, so I left after nine months. But it taught me a lot about office life and it means I can now proofread any document to within an inch of its life.

What gets you up in the morning now?

Working with a great group of people doing interesting things for interesting clients.

What does the next three years hold for the PR industry?

The future of the industry is something I feel passionately about. I think there will be a lot of change. We have an umbilical relationship with the media and when you look at how that industry is changing – fragmenting and evolving – it’s inevitable that we’ll have to change radically too. We’ll need to rethink a lot of old habits and redefine what our purpose is.

What advice would you give to someone starting out in PR today?

Get as much exposure as possible to senior people working on big clients. Be like a sponge: learn as much from them as possible. And always remember that PR must have a business purpose, otherwise it’s useless – the worst thing new people to the industry believe is that we’re doing PR just for the sake of it without tangibly benefiting our clients.

What’s the best thing about working for Harvard and the Good Relations Group?

One of the things I love most about my job is having the chance to think deeply about client problems and what the future should look like for us an agency to respond to those challenges. We’re an agency that is really open to thinking differently and broadly, which not every agency is. It’s very refreshing.

What’s the worst film you’ve ever watched?

I think “The Cooler”, starring William H. Macy, takes some beating. Terrible script, wooden performances, completely contrived plot. It was so awful my friend and I were reduced to hysterical tears of laughter.

What are you reading at the moment?

Just about to start “The Hard Thing About Hard Things” – all about lessons from setting up your own business.

What would be on your Desert Island Discs list?

Stevie Wonder, Beatles, Dylan, Radiohead, Springsteen, Bowie. Not that I’ve daydreamed about actually going on Desert Island Discs or anything.

PR is all about boozy lunches, isn’t it? What’s your tipple?

Vodka and tonic if the weather’s warm; otherwise, red wine.

Tell us about your first computer (or mobile phone).

A black-and-white Commodore 64 on which my brother and I played Football Manager (via a cassette tape, obviously).

What gadget couldn’t you live without?

My iPhone is basically surgically attached to me.

Facebook, Instagram or WhatsApp?

Instagram definitely, as I’m a bit of a frustrated photographer. My colleagues look out for my daily snaps with bated breath (so they tell me).

Where would like to go before you die?

So many places – South America, India, New Zealand, South Africa…