Archive for the 'PR' Category

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?


Media relations dream? Box ticked.

October 25, 2008

The hands get sweaty, the heart beats faster, you check the armpits for visible perspiration. Take a swig of coffee. Recite your opening line under your breath for the hundredth time. And then…

We’ve all been there. No- not asking girls out- but selling in a story to that one media outlet you’ve always dreamt of.

For some it’s the FT. And yeah, it’s kind of cool when you engage the brainiest journos around (the pink just edges out the Economist for cool points, if not difficulty). Others might pick the Daily Mail; barometer of Britain ‘n’ all that. Maybe you’re all Google generation and actually your thrill is hitting the front page of Digg after pitching an ‘a lister’. (Although the immediacy of the thrill is less than trad media relations IMHO).

Well for me, a dream was realised this week, when I pitched Blue Peter. Yep, 50 years to the good, kids classic, staple of the British media landscape, birthplace of careers, and shaper of what little artistic and gardening talent I possess. It wasn’t just me that was excited either. Colleagues nearby sat listening in breathless anticipation. For those minutes I was like Ronaldo at Old Trafford, Nadal at Wimbeldon, Schumacher at Magny Cours, Armstrong at Alpe D’Huez… Well, anyway you get the general idea and level of hysteria I felt (even if I may be exaggerating my colleague’s animation).

God, just imagine what I’ll be like when (fingers crossed etc) the item airs. Knowing you contributed to the shape of even a minute of Blue Peter and did the day job helping clients? That’s BIG. At least for me (TM Media Geek ’08).

Feel free to share your ‘I can’t believe I got to sell in to….’ type stories.

Should PR (and Politics) be more regional?

April 4, 2008

With my Yellow Rosette pinned to my coat lapel, my clipboard stuffed with fresh sheets of paper and an earnest, trustworthy and caring expression, I left my house and headed for the mean streets of Cambridge. I haven’t become a door to door salesman, but a council candidate for the upcoming local elections.

If truth be told, Cambridge isn’t a very ‘mean’ place to canvass at all, in fact there are a probably few easier places one could start their political career than the middle class utopia of this famous University town, but still, signatures don’t write themselves (unless you live in a safe Labour seat in Birmingham) and I had doors to knock.

My first observation from my two nights campaigning is that people are a lot friendlier than you expect them to be. One family were so delighted that ‘someone’ from their party was standing that they gathered the whole family together to sign my nomination form and heartily wished me the best of luck (in case you were wondering, I need lottery-esque luck to win the seat). There were of course those people who spied you with suspicion (one woman told me she had the flu and that I should leave immediately unless I didn’t want to get ‘very’ ill) but they were a minority.

I didn’t meet the wave of apathy that I had been expecting, instead confusion reigned.

“are you from the same party as Boris Johnson”

“I think Labour do a good job in this area” (both council and MP have been Lib for the last few years)

“I was against the War in Iraq so I am sorry I just can’t support you”

Does PR (and as part of that, Politics) speak to regional areas in a way we think it does? Not so long ago I worked on a public sector campaign and before we actually had any stats at all, we wrote the press release and left gaps where we later inserted ‘regional’ variation. Does the blind determination to tell the local story contrary to any evidence for that story really help you or the client?

My argument is clearly no.

I think we’ve become accustomed to a London way of thinking in the last few years that is beginning to blight Politics and the news agenda as a whole. As an example of this, consider the way in which the 2012 Olympic debate has been fought and lost. One local campaigner told me the other day that they wanted Cambridge to be an Olympic free zone… What an utter disaster that our biggest opportunity to challenge child obesity and under performance has been turned into a negative thing because the country as a whole has been let down by miscounting and bad PR.

A question then. Are PR agencies that are only based in London equipped to tell the local angle that a story so often needs to cut through the apathy?

The Breakfast Meeting

March 27, 2008

I have long been an evangelist for the breakfast meeting and this week’s FT article about the subject, hit the spot. Breakfast is the new lunch and no amount of midday posh nosh is going to make me change my mind.

Breakfast is one of those meals that most of us spent most of our teens and early University years feeling guilty about,  we were either too hung over or too asleep to partake. I was at University at Exeter and spent my first year in a catered hall where I had at most, 5 breakfasts for my entire time there. Even then, one of those because the fire alarm went off at 7.30 and going back to bed was too much like hard work.

How often did we hear maternal musings lecturing us that breakfast was the ‘most important’ meal of the day and yet how many of us actually took a blind bit of notice?  I certainly didn’t.

My damascan conversion happened in my first year in PR when it became too hard to find a free lunch spot in friend’s diaries and too many evenings were spent working late. Breakfast afforded a good hour’s chat as well as a shot of caffeine and a bit of food.

For the blackberry generation it also meant you could send emails at 6.30am and look very keen!

So where should you go for breakfast?

If it’s a client you are dining with, try here, here or here. Warning – Ordering ten deadly sins at Simpsons tends to slow you down for the first few hours of your day!

If it’s a mate you are breakfasting with, then go for Costa who do the best croissants by far! Balans in Soho is a favourite of mine for a fuller start to the day and the Scandinavian Kitchen do great hot chocolates if you’re already caffeined out!

Maybe the PR and Comms Network should arrange a breakfast networking session? Anyone keen?

Catholicism, Politics and PR.

March 22, 2008

The various Catholic Leaders who are putting pressure on Catholic MP’s to vote a certain way should be publically censured for an outrageous abuse of PR.

It’s Easter, a time in which Christians celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, a time remembered for the meddling of ‘High Priests’ and Politiciansk, yet the Archbishop of Cardiff (and others) has attempted to manipulate public opinion against Catholic Members of Parliament.

The archbishop told BBC Radio 4: “Those MPs who have approached me over recent weeks have said: ‘Look, I don’t think this is right. I accept the teachings of the Church, yet I am a Government minister, or I am a Labour MP. Can I discuss with you the moral dilemma I have got?”

Religion is and should always be a private matter for an individual and the Catholic leaders who have effectively tried to blackmail Catholic MP’s into voting against the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill, should be publically reprimanded by Catholic MP’s.

In a world in which we are trying to build religious tolerance and understand why certain groups are driven to extremism, it seems odd that our Religious leaders still think that MP’s are to be used as religious pawns as there were in the 18th Century.

In PR terms I feel that the Catholic Church and those MP’s who admit to be practising Catholics have been damaged by a very awkwardly executed media campaign. The campaign should have been solely focused on the need for a free vote on this issue and not suggested that Catholic MP’s are undertaking some conspiracy that will see them all voting against the bill.

We should be free to vote for Politicians who will represent constituencies and constituents without being clouded by religious sentiment.