Archive for the 'General' Category

PR sex stories

December 3, 2008

There must be something in the PR air the last few weeks. The industry has gone sex-mad.

Sunday saw Bradley University, Illnois revealing the UK is “on top” in the casual sex league. (great punning from the S Times)

Monday saw Ocado reporting condom sales up 60%, and Terence Higgins trust with a report claiming sex is at the top of our leiasure time activity list. Interestingly the effectiveness of Ocado’s story in providing ROI is debatable; only a small uplift in search traffic for them, which is an important consideration as an online retailer.

Today sees Durex also claiming sales are up 10%.

Everyone is attributing it to the credit crunch leading to more nights in for couples. Personally I’m putting it down to the fact a) sex sells newspapers, and b) it is a great opportunity for journalists to use perenennial classic phrase “sexpert XXX said…”

Perhaps we’ll start ‘PR sex-watch’ on the blog. Or maybe not. I might be washing my hair instead.


How to kill the English language

July 14, 2008

Jargon, yep, jargon. It has been addressed on this site before and the BBC did a good piece on it last month:

However, I just can’t resist having another bite at the cherry (boom, boom).


In our industry we are constantly up against deadlines, time is perhaps one of our most precious commodities and in theory anything we can do to save on time is a good thing, right?


Well yes and no. Being able to use macros in word is a good thing. Knowing which journalists write what and for who is a good thing. Having nimble hands to do binding is a good thing. Butchering the English language to get a point across quicker is a bad thing.


If time is one of our most vital commodities, then surely language is our most precious. Through constant use of management speak and jargon, I have seen people put together entire sentences with nothing but a series of catchphrases, acronyms and buzz words. It takes some doing, but here is an example which I have taken from a conversation I had with a ‘friend’ in a bar a few weeks back:


“So, I touched base with her and flicked across the WIP before COP – we were going uphill against the wind with this one. She came back to me and asked me to action a PR calendar which we could take forward in order to facilitate meeting our KPIs.”


After hearing that I took a swig of my beer to make sure it was actually beer and not some mind-bending petrol!


I realise that people fall into the habit of talking in jargon and I am one of the guiltiest parties in my office – so I have put together a list of 10 words, phrases and clichés’ which I am trying to eliminate from my day-to-day life. Each time I use one of them, 10p goes into the Beer Money jar.


1.      And such – I don’t really know what this means, it just happens to end sentences where I’ve been listing something and run out of things to say

2.      Let’s touch base – The classic. No idea what it really means – shall we meet? Let’s talk about this? Do you want to play baseball? No idea

3.      Blue sky thinking – It would be beautiful if it wasn’t so cringe worthy

4.      Action it – grammatically I’m not even sure if this is correct. Can you action this for me? No, but I can do it for you if you like

5.       COP – PR is just not cricket, so there is no need for this phrase to be used

6.      I have capacity – When did I start talking like a robot? Yes, I have the time to do it for you

7.      Ya – The dreaded yuppie ‘ya’ has crept into my vocabulary with disturbing ease. I realise as soon as I’ve said it that I am a shell of a human being

8.      Flag-up – Probably the one I use most…….annoyingly

9.      Media matrix – I don’t actually use this, but it does always amuse. How exactly is a media matrix different from a media list

10.  Can we sit-down? – Is it really so difficult to say: “can we have a meeting?”


I have been on my jargon watch for two weeks now and I am about £23 poorer, but a much richer human being.

PR blog-tastic

November 15, 2007

Thought I’d flag a couple of interesting posts from the last few weeks:

Ed Lee [a guy who has done some fun stuff already in his career, and followed David Brain’s advice] with interesting thoughts on salary, a topic close to everyone’s heart. As with the classic ‘jam today/jam tomorrow’ situation, sensible advice to look beyond the immeadiate pay packet, and assess development opportunities.

The term diginative is cropping up more and more. Worth considering what it actually means, especially as, if like me, you constitute one, you’re unlikely to think of what you have always instinctively done as anything out of the ordinary.

A portrait of a charming PR…

November 6, 2007

Fancy yourself as something of a charmer when it comes to getting your topic onto the schedules for broadcast? Or maybe you just fancy yourself as a bit of a charmer, which has less relevance for this blog, but hey…

PRs spend plenty of time trying to convince producers of the relative merits of their pitch, the magnificent interview value of their client, and the stellar and ever so tiemly interest value to the listeners. But is this soon to be moribund? Are your smooth words to become redundant?

Jeff Jarvis blogged last week [article] about the introduction of schedules incorporating feedback from the audience, before they’re even broadcast. Newsnight is one example, Radio 4 iPM show another. ‘The people’ seem to have got very firmly behind this, which is even more alarming for the eager PR.

When the wisdom of crowds [a concept not without its oxymoronic value] is applied to media schedules, the bold assertions you make to the producer in your pitch ring more hollow.

Is this the future? Probably not. It relies on programmes with a sufficiently motivated and time-rich audience to feedback. Newsnight and Radio 4 have this. MTV probably would too. Gardner’s World would seem a natural candidate targeting the silver surfer. Not every programme has access to this, and the time demands are not inconsequential.

How do you tackle it as a PR? Ensure you’re telling your brand/corporate story clearly, and let the masses act as your advocate. Open up and reach out. After all, it is they, the people, who are deciding the schedule.

Boozy lunch?

October 26, 2007

I feel badly betrayed.

By PR.

Well, 99% of the time that’s not true, but when it comes to the vision of a boozy Friday lunch, I feel aggrieved. Really, ask the average man in the street what a PR does ona  Friday, and they’ll tell you it’s a long lunch leading into a long Friday evening.

 But no-one I know gets to do this. Instead friday afternoon means coverage and status reports. It means preparing for the coming week. it means reading the new PR Week. It never means beer, wine, or lingering banter. After all, that doesn’t service clients.

Is this reputation actually some invention of the old timers? Similar to the golden age the Daily Mail harks back to? When people left their doors unlocked, children were safe playing several streets away, and presumably PRs went on the Friday lash? Do let me know if anyone has ever experienced this vision of past glories.

Love PR

October 16, 2007

Sometimes you get to spend a whole day putting into practice the fundamental point of your job. Today was one of those special days. I had a major sell-in to national business press, combined with getting another client on BBC News 24 giving comment on a topical story of the day.  Non-stop, relentless phone calls and action.

Love it.

Fit, or not too fit?

October 4, 2007

Ever had a journo ask ‘is the case study/profile photogenic?’

Ever felt like you’re a bit under-dressed/not quite cool enough next to your colleague?

If you answered no to both of these you must be a] deeply fashionable, and b] not work in PR,

We all know image matters, and if you don’t, perhaps it is time to re-consider your career propects?! This research discussed on FT Alphaville highlights the link between earnings and physical attractiveness. Does this stand up for PR too? [I’m thinking more corporate/consumer than fashion/beauty, where the answer is less straightforward. ]

The game isn’t up for the aesthetically challenged amongst us, however. Grooming can help bring in the bigger bonuses too. Which reminds me to try and remember where the iron is some time soon…

Apple PR

October 1, 2007

A slightly old one here, but hopefully fresh to some nonetheless.

Advertising Age [US] queried
whether working for Apple’s PR operation is the easiest job going? [largely on the basis of not having to return calls or ever confirm or deny anything!].

That may be true, but is probably a whole lot less fun when things aren’t going your way. After all, if journalists feel annoyed enough to write articles about your unresponsiveness, it is safe to say your good rep musy stem from evangelical fans.

But even that goodwill can turn, as seen by the following skits on the legendary ‘think different’ Apple ads.

This sort of subversio of brands is always likely to be the result of any iconic user-led reputation. Doubtless Apple will be hopeing for a smoother landing for the UK iPhone in November. Perhaps based on more harmonious journo relations, at least as a backup against disaffected customers?

PR and the McCann family

September 24, 2007

Like most people in this country I’ve loosely followed the Madeline McCann story and although I can’t claim to be an expert (unlike much of the British media), I feel I am relatively well informed of the ‘facts’ of the case. 

I was surprised to read the Matthew Parris column in the Saturday Times this week, blaming PR and ‘marketing positioning’ for the backlash against the McCann parents. The article drew an inflated analogy to that of the ‘Find Maddie’ campaign and the subsequent opinion of the McCann Parents with David Cameron’s use of PR and his recent drop in the polls. According to Parris, people are now suspicious of ‘Market positioning. As a nation we’re learning how to spot it; and we don’t like it.’ 

The article suggests that the British public have turned on the McCann parents because ‘Where we would have expected to see parents distracted and disorganised by grief, we have seen a professionally run campaign to find out what the media want, and give it to them’.  

This really is an inaccuracy. 

If in the direct aftermath of the ‘kidnapping’ the wide scale media campaign had resulted in a positive sighting of the ‘abducted’ girl the media would be praising the McCanns for their professionalism in the brink of a tragedy. Instead, retrospectively, they are criticised for organising a communications campaign that reached around the world and put the issue in every major newspaper in Europe.

The reason the McCanns have been turned into such pariahs (third world policing aside) is that columnists like Parris think that now Madeline McCann is almost certainly dead, her parents are fair game to criticise, type cast and even accuse.

As one contributor to the Times Online comments section below the offending article commented: The Parris article is ‘Superficial rubbish. Why do the McCanns feature in a political opinion piece?’

 It isn’t the first time Parris has attacked the ‘spinners’ but accusing the McCann parents of being ‘too organised’ is as far fetched as it is insensitive.

Social media PR survey

August 15, 2007

Here’s our public service announcement/ good deed of the week.

Mithu Mukherjee is studying for a CIPR Diploma [very conscientious and commited]. Rather than spending too much time on Youtube [we don’t know anyone who does that…ahem], she’s looking for PR bods to contribute to her social media survey.

So, if you’re feeling cheerful about summer, and want to spread the love, help out here.

Right, where’s that video of the man being sat on by the elephant again….