She’s only a policeman’s daughter, but she made an arresting sight

Aileen Cowden

Aileen Cowden

Fledgling flack Aileen Cowden is well on her way to PR superstardom just a year after joining NHS Lothian’s communications team.

At last week’s CIPR awards young Cowders became the first ever public sector PR person in Scotland to lift the sought after Young Communicator award.
Congratulations to Aileen – especially since I can lay claim to helping her along the way. Her first job in the media was with Deadline Press & Picture Agency, where she started as trainee reporter. Indeed she was carving a tidy little niche as a features writer when she was poached by NHS Lothian.
Between Deadline and Holyrood PR we seem to be establishing a decent pedigree in the Young Communicator Category in recent times. Our old mucker David Connor was still with Holyrood PR when he bagged the title in 2006. This year one of the other shortlisted candidates alongside Aileen was current Holyrood starlet, Suzanne Mackie, who  I’m sure she’ll be featuring again in future years.

But enough crowing. Policeman’s daughter Aileen was well worth her victory and no doubt she has worked just as hard at NHS Lothian as she did while earning her spurs at Deadline. She’s an impressive young woman – bright, modest and very, very cool under pressure.

All of which came through on the video interview with Aileen which was shown on giant screens for the delectation of the 400-odd PR and media types attending the awards bash at Edinburgh’s Sheraton Grand last Thursday. 

I could hardly contain a chuckle when Aileen – in 15ft high, flat screen technicolour – earnestly claimed: “What I love about this job is the variety. One minute I can be dealing with the Scottish Government, the next a reporter from The Sun and the next a producer from Songs of Praise.”

Songs of Praise? When I fronted her later about this she insisted it was true, even if she was a tad vague about what exactly the hymn singer’s favourite Sunday TV show  wanted from the NHS Lothian press office.

But better was to come. After Aileen was announced as the winner, the room was treated to a further video interview with her. And it was gold.

After making all the usual noises about how pleased she was, Aileen then got right down to business – by announcing that while the public sector was all right, what she really fancies is a job with one of the private sector big players in the PR sector.

In what basically amounted to a video CV, Aileen then proceeded to send out a very blunt “come and get me” message to the assembled bigwigs from Scottish PR. Judging by the stunned silence (punctuated only be the sound of jaws hitting the floor), most of them had never seen anything quite so bold.

For my money it was a PR masterstroke. Not only did she prove her determination to get across her key messages (in this case, gizza joab) to her target audience (PR bigwigs) she also totally silenced the venue. Which was something even compere Grant Stott couldn’t manage throughout the entire evening.

I don’t know why I was so surprised by this example of unabashed self-promotion from the normally reserved Aileen. After all I already knew she had hidden depths thansk to the occasion when she agreed to pose up for a Deadline photograph to go with a story about adulterous couples enjoying trysts in city centre hotels.

It wasn’t so much the subject matter, more the fact that the always immaculately turned out Ms Cowden insisted on changing her footwear for the photoshoot -then produced from the boot of her car a pair of spiky-heeled, garishly pink, FM shoes.

I’d alwaysd presume they were left over from some fancy dress party, thought coy Aileen never offered any other  explanation.

Now that I’ve seen her video job pitch the the penny has finally dropped:  the fuschia footwear with five inch stiletto heel must be the uber-bold Ms Cowden’s interview shoes.

Aileen's Killer Interview Heels

Aileen

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