‘I am woman, hear me roar,’ sang Helen Reddy in 1971 and let us never forget the power of that anthem. Yes, it was a WOMAN who was the first Australian to write a Grammy Award winning song. And yes, Reddy made waves with her Best Female Performance acceptance speech, thanking ‘God, because She makes everything possible.’ A true legend.
It was a case of WOMAN POWER in abundance at Crown yesterday, where General Manager of Public Relations, Ann Peacock, hosted the 14th annual Women In Media Christmas Lunch. Men have had their boys’ clubs and coteries for centuries and I ‘Thank God‘ that Ann came up with this concept to recognise and bring together the biggest power players in our communication industries for an annual event. We’re talking about our best known journalists, PR powerhouses, media managers, TV and radio personalities and yes, even a couple of bloggers. (My, the stories I heard… )
The lunch was held at Crown’s Breezes restaurant, with champagne served outside on the patio under the sun to kick-start the day.
Of course, it’s not Christmas without Santa… Re-living our childhood, I was delighted to test the strength of Santa’s knees along with my oldest and dearest buddy, Brigitte Duclos, (GOLD FM Breakfast radio host) who has been a close friend since we met in kindergarten, many moons ago…
And while there were lots of laughs to be had, with many keen to jump Santa, (including the delightful Dee Dee Dunleavy who I’m thrilled has found another radio gig – this time with 3AW on Sundays, along with her loyal cohort Grubby) there were also plenty of serious discussions about the state of the media industry, and what the future holds for those who’ve taken redundancies and chosen a different path. Questions abounded about traditional media versus new media and how to make the two work together. Others talked about the battle of juggling work and motherhood. And the old chestnut reared it’s ugly head – you know, sexism in the workplace and how it impacts on women.
As the chatter grew, I snuck inside the marquee to check out the table setting which I’d glimpsed through the plastic. Wow – what a picture! A cacophony of pink florals and Christmas trinkets scattered strategically down the centre of the table, perfectly accented by old-worlde wooden school chairs, painted in pastel hues. It almost seemed a shame that guests would soon be ushered inside to upset such perfection.
The attention to detail was meticulous. Each guest had their spot marked with a delicate glass Christmas ornament encasing a silver bird, with attached personalised name tag.
Then in one big rush, the hordes swooped and amid a clattering of chairs and clinking of glasses, it was ‘game on’! But the crescendo of noise subsided when Ann Peacock took to the podium and began to speak, recognising that one of the fold was missing from the table. A hush fell as Ann paid tribute to the late, legendary publicist Suzie Howie, who recently passed after a long battle with cancer.
Ann quoted Suzie’s famous words that she penned herself when she knew she wouldn’t be with us much longer. ‘I have had a terrific life and am so grateful for the fun, the excitement and the wonderful people who have been a part of it.’
Remembering Suzie, Ann spoke of her incredible work ethic and how she continued to work right up to the end. Ann met Suzie when she was just 17 years old, and counted her as an important role model and inspiration. ‘Time and time again, she displayed her tireless motivation and attention to detail that she paid her clients. I miss her laugh, but she has left us with so many happy memories. Suzie was a true leading lady and those memories will live on.’ Happy memories yes, but those of us who knew Suzie were still reaching for our tissues. I also knew Suzie for more than 20 years and was particularly grateful for her support and kindness after I left Channel Ten.
Ann also acknowledged every guest at the table and recognised the hard work done during the year, but said now was a time for celebration – a chance to kick back and have fun. But she also reminded us all, ‘What goes on in the room, stays in the room!’ Standard.
In ending, she encouraged everyone to take to heart a final message from Suzie, to stay positive.’Enjoy life. I have,’ she quoted, from the inimitable Ms Howie.
And enjoy ourselves we did! After main course, James Reyne inspired many to sing along as he performed several of his greatest hits, including Reckless.
Judging by the photos of everyone, I think we all took Suzie’s message on board. Here’s a collection of shots from the wonderful Women In Media Lunch. And I must say I very much enjoyed taking pictures of some of the print media girls for a change, who are usually on the other side of the camera. Although Suzanne Carbone and Mik Grigg from The Age declined being snapped, preferring to stay out of the spotlight. Which is fine, although somewhat curious…
Ann had warned us during her speech that we’d face a challenge carrying our Goodie Bags home. I didn’t register the PLURAL attached to the word BAGS at the time,but check this out…
Yep, not one, but FOUR Goodie Bags were given to each guest at the function.
I mentioned earlier that thing about attention to detail, didn’t I? Here’s another one. Crown even provided helpers to carry our bags to our cars… I know, I know. I was damn lucky to crack an invite. Thanks Ann! And I bet you’re all dying to know what’s actually IN the Goodie Bags, right? I will let you know, but enough for now. That can wait for the next blog, coming soon. I’m all for girl power, but seriously, I’m too exhausted now from just carrying the darn things through the door.