A Career in Ten Songs: Peter Kane, MD, Lucid

PETER Kane set up his own PR agency in 2003 after 13 years working in corporate communications in London, then Inverness where he has also lectured in communications.

The agency attracted investment and grew further in 2011, widening his focus to include public affairs and digital platforms.

He has a strong interest in politics and also provides media advice to politicians.

This is his career in ten songs…

1. Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark – Electricity – I was looking forward to starting my first career job with GEC/Plessey – in corporate communications, based in London. In those days (the ‘very stylish’ 1980s), virtually all graduates headed south for jobs.

It would have been very easy to have suggested ‘London Calling’ by The Clash here, but I never really liked that song! However, I was lucky enough to get to New York on holiday and saw one of my favourite bands, Orchestral Maneuvres in the Dark (OMD), performing ‘Electricity’ in a club.

I even met the band afterwards and founder/member, Paul Humphreys, autographed my passport, which I have to this day.

2. The Psychedelic Furs – Dumb Waiters – GEC/Plessey had a telecommunications partnership which was at the forefront of fibre optic cable manufacture. At that time, they were also still heavy manufacturers of copper cable for telecoms – incredible to think how technology has moved all of that on.

Whilst working there I saw a lot of ‘action’, ranging from dealing with the PR fallout of a strike and a shop convener attacking a member of staff; through to the assault of a colleague in Brazil and having him flown back to the UK.

It was not all violence, of course! I got to do a review of the excellent Psychedelic Furs at Brixton Academy which is perfect for gigs.

Back then at least, it had a black, non-slip slanted floor, so you got almost a football terracing effect and a great view of the band.

This was not long before they got big in America with Pretty in Pink.

3. Runrig – Every River – My experience is that two types of Scots go to London to work: those who never want to come back and those who want to come back as soon as possible.

London was an interesting place and I was writing speeches for senior staff, making my first forays into desk-top publishing with a new corporate magazine, and working with designers on new branding.

It was a great grounding and the experience was highly valuable.

Eventually, it enabled me to come back to Scotland in the ’90s, where I joined the press team of the Highlands and Islands Development Board just before it became Highlands and Islands Enterprise – the economic development agency for the region.

I became the editor of internal and external magazines there, which happily won a range of awards.

I saw Runrig at the Ice Rink in Inverness and ‘Every River’ chimed with my happiness at being ‘home’.

4. The Undertones – Teenage Kicks – is one of my all-time favourites and it was a song that even Radio 1’s John Peel put above most others.

This summed up a really carefree time where I felt able to make a career switch.

I had always wanted to try teaching and became a lecturer in Media and Communications at the University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI) Inverness College.

I spent three years teaching teenagers, and some older students, about writing, magazines, video and the media.

I found, alas, that it wasn’t for me. There was a pervasive lack of curiosity or love of learning and my hat goes off to lecturers and teachers; I know for sure just how stressful their lot is!

5. Joy Division – Love Will Tear Us Apart – I was lured (with very little difficulty) back into the private sector, working for a news agency before being made an associate partner in a full-service design and PR agency, bringing me to the year 2000 (no Pulp tunes, here).

This classic from my number one favourite band came to mind a lot at the time as I started writing for Pride of Scottish Football which brought me flashbacks of writing for my student magazine.

I interviewed Bertie Vogts who was Scotland manager, who was really kind but clearly under pressure. I also interviewed Celtic’s Paul Lambert before their European final against Porto in Seville, and he couldn’t have been more helpful.

This was all much better, for me at least, than teaching.

6. Van Morrison – Brown Eyed Girl – This is more a favourite of my wife’s, but since my next career move was to start our own agency together – in 2003 – it seems very apt.

Especially as we went on to win the PR contract for the HebCeltFest, which is internationally famous.

It runs in Stornoway every summer (13th-16th July this year) and Van Morrison has headlined twice there, so of course it led my hearing him perform Brown Eyed Girl – flawlessly.

7. Niteworks – SubDisco – a number of my career songs come from HebCelt, not least SubDisco by Niteworks, a band from Skye who bring together Gaelic and techno in an incredibly heady mix.

To see them bring down the house at the HebCelt Festival Club at 3am in the morning is to see and hear something special.

Around this time, my company was growing and diversified, changing from Kane Communication to Lucid, our current name.

Music has a great way of giving you energy and this track is a favourite for when I need to get the blood flowing!

8. Oojami – Shake Your Belly – Now we all have career moments that would be best not to have happened.

However, one of the duties at HebCelt is to be backstage when artists are performing, capturing pics, tweeting, showing journalists around, positioning guest photographers and meeting with sponsors.

Oojami is a Turkish/London band merging Turkish rhythms with techno music, Sufi and belly dancers!

The lead singer had a spot in their set when the back curtains are opened and he throws his arms out to welcome their belly dancer. Unfortunately, when the curtains opened, it was me standing there in front of 4,000 people and I was elbowed out of the way by the actual belly dancer as she tried to get onstage.

I can confirm that there are indeed occasions in life when time actually stands still.

9. Nick Lowe – The Beast In Me – The company has progressed, taking me into areas such IT, food and drink, golf, aquaculture and much more.

We deliver for clients in Norway, Australia, Chile, the USA, Holland and of course, the UK.

The American connection led to a client who is a huge fan of The Sopranos, that tremendous television show. He constantly urged me to give it a watch and when I did, I became hooked – especially on this song from its soundtrack. The Sopranos always reminds me of how my career has stretched out – and I didn’t get whacked along the way.

10. Julie Fowlis – Into the Open Air – Highlights for me this year will include working with Castle Stuart, this year’s venue for the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open, and the European Tour.

We are now advising on contracts and communications in Europe, Middle East, Asia, South America and the USA.

It has been an interesting road from those early days with copper cable in London.

I’ll finish with a track by the lovely Julie Fowlis who is just very kind and easy to work with.

She will be performing at this year’s HebCelt and is famous for many things, including singing on the soundtrack to Disney/Pixar’s movie, ‘Brave’.

The more famous track is ‘Touch the Sky’ perhaps but I really love ‘Into the Open Air’ – which running your own agency often feels like.