Amusing Gorkana snippet

June 8, 2009

From today’s twitterati update in their daily email:

The specialist legal IT newsletter Legal Technology Insider and its companion blog, The Orange Rag, has closed its Twitter feed, owing to the fact that they were getting a high number of irrelevant tweets.

What were the tweets?! We demand to know…

Alex Pearmain interview – Flawless Buzz

March 28, 2009

I’ve always liked Adam Lewis’ Flawless Buzz blog chronicling his quest for his first job in PR. Today’s post has to be his best ever, though. (Ahem- self-promotion over-drive).

In between the bad banter hopefully some points of passing interest for students/people looking for jobs in the industry, based upon my experiences when I was starting out.

This is why you’re fat

March 22, 2009

Is required reading from me these days. I have a morbid fascination, even as I feel my lunch rise at the very sight.

Wouldn’t it have been great if one of the health food companies had set this up? Or a diet company. I’m sure you’ll say they don’t want to hector people about their indulgences, but there would be few examples of such complelling and viral content to ram their point home.

I often look hard at it before deciding if I really do want random unhealthy food for dinner…


Believe me…?

March 21, 2009

There’s been a whole lot of media on the new Brian Clough film ‘Damned Utd’. Or maybe there isn’t lots, and it is just very well targeted at Brian Clough fans like myself.

Either way, it got me thinking about why his well known quips were taken as justified confidence (albeit slipping into arrogance on occasion). Put briefly- when he said he was the best manager, people believed him.

Conviction counts.

Clearly that matters for anyone in the media spotlight. But is it soemthing you can coach? After al, in sport you have ‘confidence’ players. Is there such a thing as a ‘conviction’ spokesperson, who becomes more or less credible? (Clearly politicians are something of an exception).

This is moe of a thought than a statement. Interested in anyone else’s views.

Taste the start-up rainbow

March 10, 2009

I really do like a good bag of Skittles. I’m also a fan of other people telling me about brands, not brands themselves.

So I’ve liked Skittles recent efforts. (In case you missed it, they’re rotating thier homepage around various social media properties. Currently they’re on thier wikipedia entry). Thing is, it’s a really good stunt on their part, and rightly they’ve picked up the digital column inches. It’d be really brave for a start-up to do though. Get your early customers to shape your story. Literally. After all, if you’re going to be a success, they’ll be your biggest advocates. True, the white spaces could get frightening at first, but they’ll fill. And evolve in the process.


February 10, 2009

Doesn’t quite have the same ring about it as ‘Mad Men’, does it?

For those who haven’t had the privilege of either seeing my new favourite ever TV show (TM) or hearing me bore them abou the wonder that is, it’s basically a drama set in an early 1960’s New York (hence the Madison bit) ad agency.

It’s impeccably accurately stylish, sexist, anti-semitic, hierarchical and socially and sexually charged. A hugely rewarding expereince whether you watch it as someone who works in the media, someone interested in cultural history, or just Joe Bloggs who likes good TV.

I’d missed it first time, largely because it was on BBC Four, but devoured the box set. Genuine excitement descended on my portion of the sofa this evening, and this is heightened by being able to interact with the characters on twitter (originally created by fans, the profiles are now partly run by the production company.

I predict surges in applications to ad agencies of the back of the show. Fast forward a few years and witness the disappointment of realisation; “What? I don’t get my own pliant secretary, private office, and never-ending supply of whisky?”

Other than making me wish I could wear suits that well-cut to work every day, the show also made me think whether it would be possible to make such a glamorous show about life in a PR agency? Without resorting to the spn doctor or celeb agent stereotypes, could you make life look as irresistibly chaotic yet elegant, intoxicating yet structured? Where would you generate the tension; account director and AE? Frisson between big-name client procurement manager and agency head? Tension over the outcome of the well-trodden features list and new product announcement? Nah, didn’t think so.

It just doesn’t feel quite the same somehow, does it?

You can even learn something whilst watching (other than life was better in the sixties). Check this out for a pitching masterclass…


For a PR to blog, or not to blog?

February 1, 2009

It’s a tricky one. I’m sure, as readers of this blg, you’re all superstars of the industry. As such you’re working with awesome brands and organisations, and have no doubt you could be called upon by any other awesome brand, at any point in the short-to-medium future.

Great. Let’s look at the other side of the equation. As a PR you know that for a blog to work you need compelling, personal and regular content. You also knwo that 15% of all conversations are about brands (made up stat based on somethig I recently read). So, 15% of all your posts will be about brands, good or bad.

So does this possibility of imminent work with any given brand mean you shouldn’t blog about brands full stop? Yes, I know the theory “they’d respect your well-thought out criticism and appreciate they were buying indpendent advice”. But in practice the world doesn’t work that way.

So, do we need to change the way we think about how, as PRs, we express our thoughts on brands? Does it need to become a matter of conscience that you can freely express opinion, in the same way as political views are held separate to your ability or suitability as a professional? After all, holding strong (personal) Tory or Labour views wouldn’t affect your ability, and it wouldn’t be deemed appropriate to object to them.

Or should we just accept it’s tough to blog when you work in PR, and handle the need to watch your step?

Why I’m in PR*

January 8, 2009

Mr C Reed Esq tagged me into the meme Adam Lewis began.  Advice and thoughts for those looking to get into the PR industry. So I’ll spill my (much enlarged post-Christmas) gut(s)…

1) What is the one piece of advice you would give someone entering the world of PR?

Join the PR and Comms Network and get involved…

But, ‘words of wisdom’ rather than practical tip, I’d say make sure you actually enjoy either communicating yourself, or the concept and world of media itself. Because if you don’t it can be pretty grim. After all, the pay won’t be as good as the big money careers, the hours will be long, and you’ll find the core tasks dull.

Ask yourself if you genuinely enjoy sharing things with people etc? This is the real value having an extensive online presence has; it demonstrates you are already voluntarily doing what you would do in the day job. You don’t have to be the gregarious type, however. A real interest in media itself will shine through- I read newspapers religiously from the age of 13, have always devoured magazines, read books heavily, followed news sites in more niche areas of my interest like rowing… You get the idea. Reading the Independent’s media section used to genuinely interest me long before I was even thinking about what job to get.

2) The favourite part of your job?

This is both incredibly easy and fantastically hard to answer. It’s the fact I literally never do the same thing day on day, week on week, month on month. (OK, status reporting etc aside).  If I can be cheeky and add a second, it’d be the opportunity to be both creatively and commercially minded. very few careers offer that.

3) Why did you decide to go into PR?

I was struggling to decide whether to continue in academia or earn a crust. As much as I (genuinely) would love to have become the world expert on the mid-15th Century Earls of Northumberland, I wasn’t sure I could handle years in the library with every chance of having to get a job in ‘the real world’ at the end of it.

I also really wanted to work in communications. How normal people of the period connected in their social structures would have been the aspect of North East Medieval life I tackled, and communications seemed like an opportunity to put all the conceptual stuff I thought about so much into practice. Obviously there was a bit of a difference, with 15th Century peasants not being all that literate and so on…

I was probably initially very sceptical about PR. I had connotations (as many do) that smart people worked in planning, and fluffy blond bunnies worked in PR. Certainly not intellectually heavyweight self-important people like me. To be honest there are plenty of agencies or in-house roles which would still fail this test for me. i want to shape communications, not just do press releases. Thankfully the Fishburn Hedges grad scheme blurb in the Inde media section made me think “these people seem to think about communications like I do”. The talk about behaviour change through media, stakeholders etc really struck a chord with me. The idea that you didn’t just cover the newspapers with your story and assume that would make people do or buy what you wanted meant you needed to apply the thinking about channels for people to connect in the same ways I did for my precious illiterate and oppressed historic Northerners. I came to meet some Fishburn people for interviews etc, and never looked back. I was going to get paid to combine the things I was passionate about; studying how people interact, consuming media, and mooching around online. If only I could go rowing on company time, my life would officially be complete.

I’ve always vividly remembered a piece I read (Sunday Times I think) when doing a paper round aged 13/14 about Matthew Freud. His job sounded amazing, his life pretty cool, and I thought “that’s what I want; a huge national paper doing a huge feature on me and my company, all because I understood how people behave and interact through the media.”. What I thought then probably hasn’t changed much, as modest as I like to appear…

Anyway, this turned into a rather lengthy ramble, so I’ll shut up and tag some people to continue it.


Jaz Cummins (especially now she’s got an interesting sounding new role).

Dom W (although I did recently get him to do one, and he has been tweeting his grumpiness lately anyway, so will understand if he doesn’t fancy it).

James (to write his thoughts here too. This is also a not-so-subtle attempt to get him to pull his finger out and fill up this blog too).



*Don’t really go in for all that “I’m a strategic mixed-channel communicator facilitating engaging conversations between multi-faceted inanimate and animate objects of social cohesion and disjuncture, optioning totally transparent networked relationship structures, in the post-modern and neo-liberal model”. PR will do as a catch-all term, even if I’d like to think most of us do more than the narrow traditional definition.

Fishburn Hedges 2009 grad scheme opens

January 2, 2009

I don’t normally plug stuff from my own agency, but as this one is hopefully helpful to some grads out there who are probably feeling pretty nervous about the job market at the moment, here goes…

The Fishburn Hedges grad scheme 2009 is now open for applications, with two intakes in April and September. Applications for the first intake to be in by the end of this month. You can read all the details about the scheme and the agency on our site, but I guess the best thing I can say about the scheme is that it made me the consultant I am today. (I hope that is taken in the positive sense intended!). It is a different experience to what’s on offer at most agencies and you can tell how much we rate it by the fact so many of us ex-trainees are still knocking around here. Check out the video below to see most of us, for a bit more info, and for David’s chronic dancing at the end.

Feel free to drop me a line with any questions (, although the contacts on the trainee page should be your contacts for anything specific.

Sticking it to Tesco

December 16, 2008

Picture the scene; I’m innocently sitting at my desk, thinking high level strategic thoughts as usual, when something interesting prevents me making the Campbell-like intellectual comms leap I was undoubtedly about to make.

It is twitter. More precisely it is a tweet from @stickitotesco, suggesting something might be up my street. Curious. Interest piqued I check out the profile. It is followed by clues which include the unveiling of an image of an appeal and an apple pie. Everything branded to look like Tesco value.

A few other ‘tweeps’ also interested. We’re promised a 2pm unveil amongst some good banter.  (I was suspicious this was something pie-related and an unkind but not unjustified comment on the impact of the Christmas party season and a few too many hours at my desk).

When it comes ’tis indeed good. A campaign from ActionAid for better pay for workers overseas producing UK supermarket goods. The apple bit uses a neat attention grabbing hook encouraging us to push Tesco to pay 5p a kilo extra to South African apple pickers to lift them out of poverty.

Now I’m not well-enough versed in the intricacies of these issues to make any moral comment beyond that it is always good to spread the wealth to those less fortunate. I’m pragmatic enough to know we don’t get cheap supermarket prices by magic. I also have no axe to grind against Tesco per se (beyond their abysmal online shopping service, which I’ve bemoaned and abandoned before).Either way ActionAid got me discussing a issue I certainly otherwise wouldn’t (remember I was on the verge of re-defining strategic comms thinking before they rudely interrupted).

The point is more a great PR execution, picking an attention-grabbing hook, using some good ol’ fashioned teaser principles, utilising an effective online channel, culminating in an appealing mini-site. My only real suggested improvement would be a longer teaser lead-in process to allow the follower numbers to grow.

Interesting stuff. Check it out.