Archive for January, 2008

How to [nearly] ‘PR’ your event

January 29, 2008

Maybe you read/saw/heard the buzz yesterday about QTrax, the revolutionary music download service offering free legal music, funded by adverts with every track.

Twitterwent crazy. My office almost got excited. And how had they done it? They realised that Cannes, in the midst of one of the regular media love-ins, was the place to hit all the journos and influencers that matter in their field.

 So, blanket coverage achieved, buzz created…the sky was the limit, and the PR had massively over-delivered on ROI.

But just hours later it began to unravel. Actually, those music label majors hadn’tsigned up. So those 20m+ tracks we could listen to? Erm, let’s try 20k tracks, if that. Did the website work? No, it was off-line when I tried to access. Those glowing endorsements on their literature? Out-of-date and context apparently.

 Result this morning? Acres of negative coverage, and a reputation [possibly] irrevocably damaged.

Moral? Align product with PR first. Second, just like shares, reputations can go down, as well as up.



January 27, 2008

I don’t like clubs. I don’t like going to gigs. I couldn’t tell you where a single cool shop is. I’ve never been to Brixton, Hoxton, or anywhere else that might be considered ‘cool’

Instead I like ‘proper’ pubs, watching sport, going rowing. I live In Barnes, and eulogise about Northumberland.

On no grounds could I be considered cool. Thankfully, my agency are sensible enough never to call on me to be a barometer of cool, due to being younger. Yet in many agencies, when they want to know ‘what’s cool’, it’s the younger staff they look to.

But teenage culture is evolving faster, as well as achieving more autonomy than ever before known.  There’s a great piece in today’s Sunday Times on the new series of Skins [which I love], underlining this very point.

Or this post by Ian Green recently, about his son, underlining how the average teenager uses the internet to, share, create and absorb a culture which can be entirely distinct from that of people just a few years older.

But one of the biggest differences between current teenagers and people even of the ripe old age, of oh say 23/4 [like myself] won’t become apparent for a few years yet.Wired recently had a top piece about ‘microcelebrity’, or the process by which those of us who live extensively online, are in effect, celebrities to a few people. Although some people already in the workplace are used to the need to manage your personal reputation like you’re being PR-ed, most are not. But the generation who will soon be with us view at as de rigeur. You’re broadcasting, conversing in public, in an accessible fashion 24/7. Even more frighteningly [or empoweringly] your conversations will last if not forever, at least as long as Google want them too.

So, if you want to know what the cool kids are into, don’t ask your AE or AMs; they don’t know. And neither do I. But you probably know a kid who does.

Calling all powerbrokers

January 23, 2008

PR Week is in the process of putting together its Power List for 2008 – I know because a friend of mine has mentioned nothing else for the past two weeks.  Giddy with excitement, she has been telling everyone who will listen to her the answers she intends to give to the questions posed. I couldn’t possibly give away any of the answers on this site and betray her trust in me, but believe me, they are gold – do make sure you take a look once it comes out. So it got me thinking, what makes a successful PR (especially at the junior level) and how did that differ from what I thought made a good PR before I entered the industry. Before my professional life: 

  • Excellent written skills
  • Exceptional presentation abilities
  • Polite telephone manner
  • In-depth knowledge of the media
  • A silky tongue
  • The ability to lie – convincingly

 What I think now: 

  • Diligent note taking skills
  • Expert management of expectations
  • Perfect coffee/tea brewing capabilities
  • Scanning proficiency
  • An insane eye for detail
  • A great big brown nose

 Well, not really, but a good combination of both lists will get you far in this world.   Notable example – A friend of mine (an Account Manager) told me a few weeks back about a client meeting he had.  The client in question is a very, very small plastics firm based up North somewhere which had come to him with the groundbreaking news that they were planning on moving their entire workforce to another facility.  Great, mildly interesting from a logistics point of view, surely their core trade would be interested.  Oh no, they wanted national coverage.  To deal with their rather excessive demand he said the following: The potential merit of this story depends on a number of factors.  Obviously XXXX has XX number of employees and is a major employer in XXXX but the current trend in the print media is to cover international shifting of manufacturing bases rather than focus on fluctuations in production at a national level. XXXX (his colleague – not present) has a great relationship with XXXX and we can certainly talk to the right people to see if there is interest.   Can I ask where exactly are you moving too?” The response: XXXX Street.” After a slight pause: “That’s the street a mile away from your current location, isn’t it?” “Yes.” He went away, wrote a faultless contact report and press release, met with them before the release went out (making a cracking brew along the way) and got coverage in the trade press. In his coverage report he wrote: “The story has not been picked up by the national media, but the release gave us the opportunity to speak to the right people about your company’s most important asset – its people.  We were able to highlight how important they are for XXXX and the next time we do a similar release we should be able to call upon those relationships to penetrate national level coverage.” The client was uber happy and commended the efforts he had made. He hasn’t been asked to feature in PR Week’s Power Book.  Yet.

Trusting youth

January 22, 2008

 So, did you manage to avoid reading about the Edelman trust barometer this morning? Avoided the FT, blogs, Twitter and Qik videos? I certainly didn’t, and it’s much to their credit that they covered an interesting topic, in detail, via a number of channels, new and old.

Taken from David Brain’s summary of the findings, here’s the points which especially grabbed my attention:

A youthful optimism in France, Germany, Russia and UK:

  • Europe is traditionally a skeptical audience when it comes to business earning trust, yet the rising 25-34 influencer generation in France and UK show a youthful optimism in trust in business compared to their more jaundiced 35-64 year old counterparts.
    • In France, Germany and the UK, trust in business is significantly higher among the younger cohort (47% vs. 36%)
    • In France the business trust gap is a full 22 points (25-34 52%, 35-64 30%)
      • Younger French also are more trusting of NGOs.

Younger elites embracing social media and web-based communications:

  • Younger opinion elites France, Germany and the UK show higher usage of company’s own website and online message boards.
  • They engage in significantly more online activities, including sending instant messaging, reading blogs, playing online games, posting pictures/videos, and participating in live discussions.
  • They are more likely than their older counterparts to share opinions and experiences of companies on the web – with respect to both trusted and distrusted companies.

What attracted me here as the causality between greater trust in business and greater engagement with brand’s online presence amongst younger people. Speaking personally, I expect to ‘understand’ a company, and my immediate point of reference is both online word of mouth perceptions and the company site itself. But what’s the link here? Do younger people make more effort to get to know brands, and hence have greater trust? Or have companies looking to speak to younger consumers made the effort to move into the online space so actively engaged with by this demographic, and so are simply taking their message to consumers better?

Or, finally, is it just that we’re naive?

Punch Drunk PR

January 20, 2008

With Alan Hansen signed up at Morrison’s, Jamie Oliver representing chicken giants Sainsbury’s, and ‘food porn’ in the shape of M&S advertising, high street supermarkets are busy fighting for consumer footfall. PR’s role in all this is interesting; just like a high profile interview with a CEO from a big corporate, PRs can also impress journalists with access to tomorrow’s ‘must have’ items before they hit the shelves. This week I encountered one High Street supermarket who in PR = ROI terms, are making expensive mistakes.

In the February edition of Decanter magazine, M&S were awarded three gold stars for a wine from the Pomerol region of Bordeaux, produced by Châteaux Moulinet. This is no small feat and the wine (priced reasonably at £18) is surrounded by expensive wines stocked by famous wine merchants. That a high street supermarket can compete with the quality of Corney and Barrow etc on the pages of specialist wine magazine, is a real coup.

Imagine my disappointment then when taking a copy of my trusty magazine I headed to the M&S on Oxford Street only to find the wine missing from their shelves. An enquiry to a sales assistant was met with a blank start and I soon had the M&S wine ordering sheet in front of me and was told to look for it myself. Still no luck. “ok”, I said to myself, “ this is the February edition and we are still in January, I’ll ring the head office.”

M&S head office claimed never to have heard of the wine, and also hadn’t seen Decanter magazine (despite the fact it’s been out for half a month). They tried to sell me a case of Champagne before telling me that I should try my local store.

Exasperated, I give up.

What is the point of your PR team building a relationship with a key consumer magazine, if your sales team and CRM system isn’t sophisticated enough able to capitalise and close the sale?

All in all, a wasted opportunity.