Launching the VirginMegastore’s new uber-stellar space in Manchester on Wednesday, I was overwhelmed by Richard Branson. I have long been a big fan of his flair as a publicist and I scribbled a feature in Campaign some time ago eulogising his brio.
Watching him at close quarters, tirelessly working his butt off, never showing any signs of flagging, I wondered how many chairmen of corporations would have met their responsibilities with the same amount of good humour and vigour.
I watched him spend his day giving interviews and charming the pants off some rather cynical business hacks. It’s never easy repeating the same things,yet somehow RB has an inbuilt skill in giving the same sound-bite a fresh edge.
Equally impressive was the real connection he had had with his staff. Branson turned up to the “after-show” party for his employees and spent hours mingling with them, playing computer games and engaging with their banter. Incidentally he seems to be huge fan of the new Wii (pronounced as the pronoun “we”, IPA: /wiː/) Nintendo’s seventh-generation video game console. However is doing the PR I have the photographic evidence. It was clear that he genuinely enjoys their company.
I got a real sense of his passion for his business in all its forms. His success is not only due to his skill at putting the art of publicity at the core of his brand – it’s backed up by his authenticity. And that gives the Virgin empire a heart and a soul.