Monday, 22 October 2012

Meirion Jones

Meirion Jones must be one of very few men combining a career in fine art with legal marketing.  When he visited me in Covent Garden to chat about a client we have in common, he had just come from a meeting with publishers to discuss progress on a comic book he is bringing out next year.  He showed me some sample pages and they took my breath away.  He studied graphic design, illustration and art history at Central Saint Martins, part of the University of the Arts London, in the 1980s so I needn't have been so surprised.  But these images are both technically brilliant and packed with dramatic impact.  Take a look here.

Fine art being such a notoriously precarious career, after graduation and with a young family to support Meirion put his creative talents to use in the world of corporate communications and business development.  He began at communications agency Grayling and then moved on to a number of the firms most famous for leading the way in the early days of professional services marketing: Coopers & LybrandPinsent Curtis (where he worked with Kysen's very own Clare Turnbull in the mid-90s, in fact he hired her into the firm), Edge EllisonAllen & Overy and Lovells.  He set up his own marketing and business development company Client Critical in 2009.  His passion for art has remained alongside the day job throughout the years and he has continued to develop story lines and illustrations for his comic book ideas - and next year we can all look forward to the best of these finally seeing the light of day.  

Meirion has also found ways to bring the arts into his marketing training programmes, his innovative approach to business development training for partners winning him high praise from the judges at the FT Innovative Lawyer Awards.

"I tell partners that when pitching for business they have four different roles to play: detective, project manager, also poet and actor.  The role of detective is key at the start of the pitch process, making sure to dig deep and find out as much as you can about what the prospective client really needs and wants - not just in terms of the technical brief, but the commercial context surrounding their need for legal advice also and, crucially, what they really want from the business relationship with their lawyers.  So cultural points and soft issues need close attention as well.  Next, having learned all this and decided how you would approach the work in a way that meets the prospect's needs in all its aspects, project management skills are required to pull the work of the pitch team together - the people working behind the scenes as well as those presenting.   Next, the role of the poet: reducing down everything that you want to get across in your presentation into the most succinct form - not just words, but careful use of imagery perhaps, also an appreciation of how the vocabulary you choose conveys additional layers of meaning which can either help or hinder what you are saying overtly.  The role of the actor of course comes as you face your audience, presenting your proposed solution to the target client face-to-face in the most convincing way you can."

Lawyers as poets and actors. I like it. No wonder he has such a reputation for capturing the imagination of clients and colleagues alike.
The Jimmy Savile horror show continues to fester, with seemingly ever-more-shocking details revealed almost daily.  Amongst the reams of commentary on the story, I particularly appreciated Daniel Finkelstein's opinion in The Times this week. He points out the irony that the two biggest media scandals this year have been caused first by the tabloids taking an over-zealous interest in celebrities (the phone hacking saga); and second by the tabloids FAILING to take an over-zealous interest in celebrities (well, one in particular - Savile).  He suggests Savile's behaviour hints at what might be lost if tabloid newspapers are restrained from so-called sceptical reporting of the behaviour of the famous.
And finally, we really did enjoy the wonderfully creative stunt from QualitySolicitors, campaigning against the rise of the Faceless Solicitor in the post-Legal-Services-Act world.  Word reached me in the City on the morning they set up camp in Covent Garden last week, so I made sure to pay them a visit on my way back to the office.  On reaching the corner of Drury Lane I was greeted by a number of "faceless solicitors" dressed in pin-stripe suits, each sporting either a spring onion, tyre or pile of coins for a head to make the point that legal advice is in danger of becoming increasingly faceless as new types of legal business models emerge in the newly deregulated environment.  

The pop-up QualitySolicitors office was manned by lawyers altogether more personable, who spoke in passionate tones about their Keep Solicitors Local campaign ("Be Vocal - Keep Solicitors Local") linked to their insistence that the personal touch in legal advice is important and should not be lost. The stunt moves to Birmingham this weekend, then on to Manchester and Leeds they tell me. 

Great street campaign.  Nicely done.  But unfortunately they have now come a little unstuck with the accompanying Twitter campaign. Their decision to send cheeky messages to solicitors unsolicited seems to have backfired and Twitter has now suspended their @FacelessSol account.  What a shame!  The campaign started so well!  A bit of Face-Saving required now methinks ...

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