After being in public relations for around 25 years, and most of that time working with clients in the lifestyle sector, I've certainly been exposed to a few work-related events that are glamorous and exciting. They are usually few and far between, but every once in awhile, I feel a bit like Samantha from Sex & the City, just minus the sexy wardrobe. I have friends currently or previously in luxury hotel, music and film publicity, and they have a regular dose of glitz, glam and famous faces. Those jobs generally come with a sizable amount of crazy pressure to boot.
The first "wow" experience I vividly recall was a business trip to Paris for the opening of the Hard Rock Cafe in the City of Lights (I'm told this was by popular demand - not so sure myself). This was back in 1991, I believe, and although not my first trip to Paris, it was my first -- and the grandest to date -- company-paid trans-Atlantic adventure. And, as construction setbacks are prone to happen, the opening was pushed back, so we had no real "work" to do. It would have been more expensive and still a gamble as far as construction to re-book, so we had a few meetings, then took in as much of the city as we could.
Another great Hard Rock Cafe perk was attending a Grammy party in NYC - around the same early 90s time frame. I flew to from Washington, DC (where I had just begun a new PR job, pre-opening) to NYC to get a feel for how a real Hard Rock party was done. I recall sitting near Lou Reed, seeing Debbie Harry, a few of the MTV VJ's (only known via Sirius satellite these days), Boy George - all the while keeping my 25ish-year-old excitement in check.
There was a familiarization trip to the Relais & Chateaux property, The White Barn Inn in Kennebunkport (Peter Jennings was a few tables away); observing the masters at work in the kitchen at the 4-star L'Espalier in Boston; accompanying a media rep to NYC for an event at the oh-so-glamorous AIA Awards Gala at Cipriani. This is the Academy Awards for the creative genius's of architecture, and a group that truly humbled me more so than any film or music celebrity gathering I've attended. This same trip was paired with a reception for the French architect Jean-Paul Viguier at the French Consulate on 5th Avenue. Rarefied air, to be sure, although Mr. Viguier and his wife were incredibly warm and accessible.
It's a solid list of impressive adventures in PR, yet for awhile there, I thought my work-related "wow" trips and events were safely in the scrapbook. I've been very fortunate and, at this point in my career, I'm a bit more jaded, so it takes a lot to make me giddy anyway. However, sometimes you get lucky, OR, as I prefer to think, you work hard and God says, "go have some fun!" That time is around the corner as I prepare for a work-related trip to Monaco for the annual F1 Grand Prix in late May.
Yes, folks, playground of the rich and richer, Monte Carlo, ideal weather, yachts in the harbor, heavenly blue Mediterranean, Grand Casino, James Bond, super cars, royalty... it's enough to make you say, "GET REAL!" And, I haven't even been there yet. The work part is a meeting and experiential outing with seasonal client, My Yacht Group, producer of glamazon events worldwide, most involving yachts.
My girlfriend and I will be able to watch the race from a yacht, party on a yacht - the same night as the Prince and Princess of Monaco, no less - wine, dine and explore this gorgeous principality for a few days. My PR work here in Austin also connected me to the international super car time share club, ecurie25 (the Austin launch in Sept., 2012) who will also have a hospitality yacht right next to my client-friends at My Yacht Group. Talk about small world!
The bags are nearly packed. It's been a long time since I've been so concerned with what to wear. Part of me is determined to don something from Target or Charming Charlie's in the midst of this uber-affluent designer-clad crowd. Being a class-act has nothing to do with size of bank account or blue blood lineage -- part of me wonders if "they" feel the same.
I'm going to have a blast observing and taking it all in. I hear there will be a solid contingent of Austinites at the Grand Prix. Presumably those, like me, who were taken in by the sheer power and exotic appeal of the race and its culture. I also presume they may not feel quite as lucky as me to be walking the streets or aboard the yachts in the harbor. I look forward to finding out.
And if I don't have time to post a follow-up blog on my rarefied adventure, I urge you to check in on our Facebook page. Whether it's luck or part of the master plan, I'm so very grateful for the opportunity. And yes, dear staff, the souvenirs should be pretty cool.