Miranda Leslau PR

PR in Black and White

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Miranda Leslau PR - PR in Black and White

Miranda Leslau’s ‘Life in Black and White’ (with a splash of colour)

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When I was creating the miranda leslau pr strapline, ‘PR IN BLACK AND WHITE’, these words were chosen not only to reflect me as a business person, ie quite cut and dry, but also me in life. Sort it out, sharpish – you either want this or you don’t and never waste my precious time. Not only do I love a mono fashion combo (it keeps packing and wardrobe arrangement simple and yes, I do store my clothes as per the colours of the rainbow), it was also homage to my favourite era of Hollywood, when women knew how to conduct themselves and men were ‘real’ men.

This week was an absolute reflection of my brand: black and white, to a tee. I spent the last five days solid rushing around London, meeting with clients old and new as well as charities and retailers. It was really full on, all in the name of great PR and, hopefully, positive working relationships.

It was a week of real ups and downs though; darkness and light, with a few individuals showing their true (rather dark and unpleasant) colours and others being generous of spirit, professional and kind. It reinforced my ‘LIFE IN BLACK AND WHITE’ theory. But there was a difference this week. Me. I was the difference.

Having had Cancer last year, part of me has gone forever, just like the hour that we will lose as of next Saturday night, when the clocks go forward. I now realise that what other people say, do or think actually has nothing to do with me. How I react to them does. If someone treats me badly it says more about them than it does about me. Before, I would always react, albeit internally and revert to the little abandoned four year old girl.

So when the darkness reared its ugly head this week, I didn’t react. I remained calm and didn’t take it personally. I impressed myself, actually. Probably, the little girl part of me wanted to punch certain individuals in the face. In reality, I realised it doesn’t really matter. No-one died and the hands of the clock keep moving, regardless. Their moment will come (I also know this!).

As my dad used to say “for every action there is a reaction…” where there is dark, the light also shone through for me this week. I gave a talk to a group of international students at The University of Buckingham, where I used to lecture in PR. The course was a BSc in Enterprise and focused on entrepreneurship. My talk was about ‘Entrepreneurs, Life and Living’.

These inspired young people loved my talk. They said it was one of the best of the term. And this, for me, made my week. It made all the other crap worthwhile simply because I had impacted upon these creative young people’s existence. My life motto will always be that “I want to make a difference” and hopefully these engaged entrepreneurial minds will go out and make things happen in their lives. I shared my life story with them (albeit abridged) and gave from the heart.

As I type, the dark rain clouds are clearing, making way for the light, once again. Ever present in nature (and in the Orange ads), the future is bright and a rainbow always follows a storm. And this is when I readily embrace a spectrum of colours, as well as within my wardrobe arrangement, of course.

The Full Term – An Ode To Mothers This Mother’s Day

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My late mother, June Leslau (and I…)

I’m sitting here after my boxing workout wearing just a towel and socks, feeling compelled to blog about Mother’s Day, taking place this Sunday 15th March. It’s a look that might just catch on, dear IG.

My mum died when I was 30. She was my world. As I sat in Blues restaurant in Camp’s Bay, Cape Town, South Africa, almost 15 years ago, eating some of the finest chicken livers on the planet, I had a vision she was in hospital with pneumonia. She was. I had just made a decision to move to Cape Town (in my head) and my mum had begged to come with on that holiday. Within two weeks, we watched her flat line, having been in the ICU for a week or so.

It happens, I know. Lots of people in my life lost their mums at a young age or never knew or remember their mums. It affects you, at any age. It affects how you relate to people. Whether you like it or not. You just have to put one step in front of the other and learn to walk again.

I myself can never bear a child. I had a hysterectomy a few months ago but even with my womb within me, I never could have carried full term. My darling niece Rebekah is expecting her second child this year, reiterating the circle of life and how it so beautifully crafts its arc. As you can see, the overall theme of motherhood is quite poignant right now. My two rescue dogs are getting a whole load of cuddles.

So what I decided to do is write an ode to MUMS, the ones we know and knew and for the ones yet to come. I hope you like it…

The Full Term

For the nine month term you feel us inside

Til the big day arrives and you spread yourself wide

Our new life ahead, you pledge with your sweat

A selfless commitment, for we can’t talk yet

Every milestone and ache, you stand by our side

Tenacious and strong, like a lioness with her pride

Whatever the weather on the barometer of life

From Cornwall to Calcutta and Fontainebleau to Fife

You are there for the full term.

 

As time passes and ’term’ becomes school

You continue to stand by your unforgiving rule

The path you have walked, the role you uphold

Even if we are rude and with a need to scold

You are there, always there, just as night becomes day

The one we run to when life gets in the way

So for Mums the world over, both of present and past

May I take this bow with my own at half mast

You were there for the full term (for me, my first and my last)

Happy Mother’s Day!

In the words of C. S. Lewis…

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A famous C. S Lewis quote reminds us that “We read to know we are not alone”. Whilst I certainly believe this to be true in respect of books, this mantra also works for me in relation to cinema-going. The film I saw this evening, exceptional in its theme and creation, reiterates the theme of feeling alone, like the tears of a clown.

When I was a 21 year old University student working in Paris back in 1991/2, I lived in a former Prison that was converted into lodgings for about 1,000 girls (only). In France, such styles of shared living where you have your own room, shared bathrooms and a group dining room, are quite commonplace for young single workers. My employers paid for my accommodation so it gave me more money to spend on clothes, a fancy gym membership, travelling and cinema outings.

Like any big City, Paris can be a terribly lonely place to live. At weekends, when many of the girls would go and visit their families, I felt like I was actually incarcerated (when I wasn’t with my boyfriend, friends or family) so I spent a lot of time in the cinema as well as at the gym. At the time I was writing a thesis on French Cinema’s lauded ‘Nouvelle Vague’ movement and many of these films were showing in theatres throughout Central Paris.

I was obsessed with the world of Beineix (Betty Blue, 37.2 Le Matin); Besson (Le Dernier Combat, Le Grand Bleu and DIVA) and Carax (Les Amants du Pont Neuf) - so much so that I hunted Beineix down and interviewed him about my favourite film of all time, Betty Blue. I also visited where Betty Blue was filmed and considered buying and living in one of the ‘baraques’ where Zorg and Betty lived. It never happened. Fortunately, I didn’t poke my eye out like Betty did!

The cinematic experience has always allowed me to drift off into a world of my own, as if I was having a Mr Benn moment, launching my designer boots into the screen and actually feeling, touching and tasting the actors’ temporary reality. I was desperate to get an MA place at The British Film Institute (BFI) where eight places are awarded, annually. Whilst they said my written skills were up to scratch, most of the applicants had years of experience as Directors or Producers. This didn’t happen either. I was gutted for weeks.

Almost 25 years later, I still love the cinema and it is actually a weekly outing for me. I like to go on my own, ironically; I can’t digest the film properly if I am talking to other people. But I never feel alone during a film, or lonely. I feel safe sitting in an awkwardly familiar fake-velour chair, in complete darkness, wrapped up in my pashmina. As I read this back, it makes me sound like such a sad bastard, but actually I am quite happy with my own Mr Benn-style existence. Mr Benn also has excellent taste in hats.

The reason I refer to loneliness or feeling alone though is because of the film I saw this evening: American Sniper with Bradley Cooper and Sienna Miller, directed by the legendary Clint Eastwood. To his fellow Navy SEALS and Snipers, Chris Kyle was a true legend. He felt he belonged within his Unit. He felt he had a life purpose. Yet every time he returned to his wife and family (and Sienna is beautifully cast, as a brunette and somewhat bulked up (the chemistry between them is great) he felt alone and couldn’t connect with the outside world. And this is not an experience only felt by veterans.

So many people suffer in their own perimeters, whether it be from depression, loneliness, illness, fear and also in the increasingly solitary existence that we lead… “Metro, boulot, dodo” (“Tube, work, bed”) as the French so aptly say. We spend time actually talking to ourselves on social media and are constantly attached to our phones, Ipads and Kindles. We are all Lone Wolf Packs, to quote another, quite different type of film, The Hangover. Remote feeling and experiencing will get worse as we progress to the 2020′s and 30′s I believe, but films and books can always comfort us, wherever we are.

I spend a lot of time on my own. I rarely feel lonely per se. I feel alone but not lonely, if that makes sense. I can actually feel more lonely in a crowded room than on my own. I also know what it feels like to be in a relationship and to be alone. When your partner is with you in body but not in person. This is a very lonely place to be and one that Sienna Miller portrays so wonderfully on screen.

So what is the point of my blog? Well apart from the fact that leaving the cinema always inspires me to write, I think what I am trying to express is that feeling isolated, without connection or alone comes in many guises. Just look at the tragedy of Robin Williams… a smile can mask a thousand demons. I enjoy being on my own – possibly too much (which is partly why I am not married) but I know many people who can’t stand the silence or bear to be on their own for a few hours let alone a weekend or longer.

So for my part I am indebted to the hundreds or even thousands of book authors and film directors and producers that have made me feel connected with their world, whilst still keeping me in the realms of my own happy kind of Lone Wolf Pack. From Ian Fleming, Agatha Christie and Daphne du Maurier to Lord Archer and John Green… to Malcolm Gladwell and Dr Wayne Dyer to Lesley Kenton and Roald Dahl – all these authors (and many more) have illuminated my Yellow Brick Road. And to the directors and producers too – many of whom are fellow loners who use their solace to help share the insides of their minds with the outside world. And for all of this we should all be eternally grateful. If C. S. Lewis were alive today, I am sure he might amend his famous quote to “We read and watch films to know we are not alone”. Amen.