The Age’s
Melbourne Magazine had yet another profile on the paper’s former editor turned PR man Mike Smith this month, focusing on his role advising Steve Vizard and various other colourful clients over the years.

The glossy photo featured Smith in front of several framed newspaper articles, so we asked the spinner just how many frames he’s got spread around the office and what’s in them:

I have about 30 frames in my office. They range from a few inexpensive prints of my favourite artist (Monet) and some old shots of Melbourne streetscapes….to front pages of big stories in my time at The Age (The Age tapes, police raid on The Age, the fall of the Berlin Wall etc) to stories about some of my clients (some of which I have helped generate, some not)….and a few certificates of appreciation from charities I have helped.

And what about the idea that Smith is the most profiled spin doctor in recent Australian history. Just how many have there been?

Profiles in The Age? I can remember a couple of others in the past 10 years, but they were principally about the company I used to work for, rather than purely a personal profile. I remember a piece in The Australian Media Section a few years ago. I remember a personal profile in an independent Melbourne magazine when I became editor of The Age. I don’t seek them, but I don’t run away from them either.

The most interesting comment from Smith in this latest piece of wonderful publicity for his work was the line he drew in terms of clients he wouldn’t act for: “I wouldn’t take on a murderer or a violent criminal or the tobacco industry.”

Gee, so the tobacco industry is worse than Mexican fugitive Carlos Cabal, Japanese whalers, Brian Quinn and Steve Vizard. To Smith’s credit, some of his more unsavoury clients came when he was working for the global Webber Shandwick empire and had budgets to meet. These days he can be more discerning running his own firm but he could hardly reject Vizard when he is close friend and indirect shareholder in his Inside Public Relations business. This wasn’t pointed out in the profile.

Similarly, Lucinda Schmidt’s piece revealed that Smith interviewed Douglas Wood for the Channel Ten special, but not that the firm which handled Wood, Profile Talent Management, is part of the sprawling Communicate Group empire put together by Vizard and his great mate Shaun Levin.

No wonder Smith said Vizard has got “a terrific story to tell at some stage” – he’s still tied up in the former funny man’s corporate interests.