Archive for the 'Uncategorized' Category

I heard it through the grapevine

December 2, 2008

I had the opportunity to be Gorkana’s guinea pig on Wednesday as they played host to the first ever Gorkana Grapevine event. Gorkana hope that these nights, where PRs and journalists rub shoulders and talk all things newsworthy, will be regular events and plan on holding the next one sometime in January.

 

Also in attendance were journos from Sky News, the FT and The Times, and PRs from Maitland, Weber Shandwick and Lexis – in all, about 100 people were squeezed into the very ‘snug’ Long Acre bar.

 

A good night was spoiled however as the pub quiz team I was on was robbed of the star prize as we incorrectly answered this question:

 

“Which internet phenomenon takes its name from a Hawaiian word?”

 

Answers on the back of a postcard please.

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iPhone, therefore I am?

September 14, 2008

About a year or so ago the iPhone was launched with great fanfare – we were told that this would be the invention to finally topple sliced bread as man’s greatest accomplishment. Weeks and months passed and I didn’t see anyone using them and Apple had to admit that the launch was a complete flop.

Now, with a revised price scheme, technical faults ironed out and a high profile court case, the iPhone has been reinvigorated and there is suddenly a distinct lack of BlackBerries on Britain’s trains, tubes and buses.

I don’t have an iPhone, but did have a BlackBerry which I loved to bits. Given its branding and thus the loyalty it has with its users, are BlackBerries in an unassailable position as a PR’s number one gadget or does the iPhone really represent a threat?

Were you to ask 10 random PRs 6 months ago what they had, a BlackBerry or an iPhone, I would guess that 9 would say a BlackBerry. I wonder, if I were to take that poll now, would the results be the same?

A successful marketing, advertising and PR campaign, or is it a case that the iPhone is suddenly living up to its pedigree?

James G

W-to the-W-to the W

September 2, 2008

OK, I’m a day and a half behind the rest of the UK PR blogosphere with this one (which eqautes to at least a month in real terms), but congrats to Stephen Davies on the launch of 3WPR.

It’s online comms, and what I like best is he’s taking the big picture approach- not just banging the ‘social media is the be all and it’s gonna change the world’ approach. Online is about a lot more then that, and looks like he’ll be telling people that. Which is grand. As is being based in Newcastle; lucky chap!

Look forward to hearing more on it.

Arsenal: A Club Wrestling With Itself

August 25, 2008

If anyone doubts the importance of watching your tongue and sticking to approved messaging when talking to the press, then the below example should change those thoughts. The man in question is a man who has been in his job for over ten years, has unparalleled success in terms of his product and balancing the books. His peers and rivals are all in agreement that he is one of the best in the industry. However, after a series of poorly considered quotes, this man is in danger of losing his post. This man is the until recently untouchable Arsene Wenger.

I realise this topic is a little out of leftfield and more than a bit of it has been inspired by my personal rage, but there is a good Comms story behind it.

For those who are not football experts, Arsenal is one of the biggest clubs in the world and have moved to a new 60,000 stadium within the past 3 years. In preparation for the big move, Arsenal fans were given quotes like these from Wenger in the lead up to the move:  “The stadium will allow us to compete (in the transfer market) in time.”

Importantly Wenger caveated the quote with the words “in time.” Fine, the fans were well conditioned for a bumpy few years ahead and indeed they have not been a barrel of laughs!

This summer however, Wenger changed his messaging and came out with some pretty strong words which got me, half of North London and Arsenal fans everywhere very excited. Here are just a few of the gems Wenger has been saying this summer:

“We will bring in only super, super quality”

“I have come to Euro 2008 with my chequebook”

“We have money to compete for any player”

“I will sign a quality player by the return leg (in two days time)”

After a stumbling performance against a mediocre Fulham team, the messaging suddenly and very worryingly changed: “When you lose a game the solution is not always to buy.”

Now, this legend, this man who appeared to have a job for life at Arsenal, is suddenly very much under pressure.

Fans are fickle at the best of times, but after four years without a success and a summer where they feel they have been lied to, the pressure has been ratcheted up.

Had Wenger stuck to his normal messaging, stating he would only spend the club’s money at the right time for the club, he would be under a lot less scrutiny. By suddenly and very noticeably changing his position, only to change it back, it has left him a figure which looks confused, weak and destined to fail – much like his current team.

PR typology- which are you?

July 23, 2008

Clearing through some RSS feeds, I just stumbled across this beauty of a post by Almost a lady, charting some of the commonnly found types of people in PR. Some of these are laugh out loud funny and worryingly accurate. Everyone has come across ‘the tech guru’, for example:

The Tech Guru
Telecommicus notoriosus
Knows their sector inside out; likely to understand the client’s business better than the client themselves. Chic or smart exterior inevitably hides party monster: approach on the dance floor at your own risk.

A thoroughly recommended post. Out yourself if you feel you fit any of these categories.

That’s Rich

July 16, 2008

Absolutely compelling reading for anyone working on large-cap companies.

 

http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune/global500/2008/snapshots/2255.html

 

You won’t find the phrase ‘credit crunch’ in this list.

Child of our (The) Times

June 19, 2008

I have made no secret that The Times is my paper of choice. Were I not working for a PR agency and actually had to pay for a paper, then my pennies would go to The Times. Good home news, strong business section, the best world news section and sports pages which make the tabs look pitifully shallow – The Game being arguably the best pull-out section of them all.

However, recently, I have been thumbing through my beloved paper and find something very different. Colour coded pages, a daily universal registry page and a noticeable increase in advertising. The content is still superb and the quality of reporting is excellent, but my eye can’t help but be tracked by the funny green, yellow, mauve and so on colours at the top of the page. With a new editor in place it is natural to see so many changes occur, all you need to do is look at the weekend FT for an example of a new editor stamping their own, and forgive the pun, print on a paper.

Some will point to the Murdoch influence in these changes but the real reason, surely, is the ever competitive paper market. Not only does The Times compete with the Mail, Mirror and Express for casual readers, but the amount being digested online is also a huge factor. Recognising the threat, a few years ago, the ‘quality’ press took the bold step of downsizing in format – with a couple of noticeable exceptions – but clearly this has not been enough. The floating casual reader is still not picking up the Indy, Guardian or Times.

On a personal level, I have no problems with a paper trying to become more commercially appealing, as long as the changes don’t come at the expense of the reason why I bought the paper in the first place – the quality. Will this be the beginning of a rash of rebrandings? What new features will be introduced? How much has the new FT Weekend influenced the movers and shakers? I don’t know the latest circulation figures for the FT Weekend, but I get the feeling, having talked and listened to those close to the paper, that it has been something of a success.

So, whilst some traditionalists will be throwing their arms up and screaming the new Times is the worst thing since the death of Mudlark, I will be sitting back, getting used to the new format and hoping that any efforts made by the quality press to increase circulation figures is a huge success.

That said, I will be continuing my silent campaign for the reintroduction of Mudlark

SOS Twitter

June 6, 2008

Loads of PR people are getting stuck into Twitter these days (Check out some of the poeple I follow if you want to pick up a few www.twitter.com/alexpearmain ), but it’s well, how do I put this, a little bit unstable. Too often it isn’t working. Rather than whinge, someone (well, Chris), decided to do soemthing about it.

So, if you love Twitter, check out http://www.twitterfund.com/ and donate a few pounds to try and help Twitter get better.

Whilst I’m banging on about Twitter, an interesting aspect of this recent Business Week article about social media was the prominence of Amanda Mooney ( www.twitter.com/amandamooney ). We’ve been following each other on Twitter for a while, and she’s just started wiht Edelamn NY. I’d say using Twitter to get yourself into a major publication’s article on social media is pretty good creds at the outset of your career.

In-house, out-house, dog-house?

May 26, 2008

For a few weeks now I’ve been thinking to myself: “At what point does an agency PR go in-house?” Like most of my articles, I found my inspiration whilst relaxing in a very nice little boozer. I was talking to a chap over a few halves when he revealed to me that he had been working in-house for ten years. That means his first job fresh out of university was to go straight into an in-house role.

 

It got me thinking, why didn’t I think about working in-house when I first started? I’ve always thought that in-house roles were for those who had had enough of the often frenetic agency environment, settled with kids and generally wanted a quieter life. Of course this is not true, in-house comms teams face just as much turbulence as their agency counterparts and, for some companies, it can be a daily battle to protect reputations. I also failed to consider the fact that junior jobs (like the ones I do for my agency) need to be done in-house too, so someone must be doing them.

 

So, over the last few weeks, I’ve been casting my mind back two years and thinking if I could choose a different route and go in-house, where would I go?

Firstly, I considered whether the company would be interesting enough to lose myself in, would it be a constantly shifting challenge and would it consistently have a high media profile. The list narrowed quite considerably. But anyway, here they are:

 

·         Arsenal Football Club – I’m a big fan, so no explanation needed

·         BBC – Arguably Britain’s most successful brand and one which would be a never-ending challenge

·         MOD – With some of my clients, past and present, I have seen a fraction of the technology the MOD is developing and to think about what might be going on behind closed doors, it would certainly get me up in the morning

·         The Mayor’s Office – Come on, any explanation needed? I wrote my dissertation on the devolved body and like to think I know it inside out. After nine years of quiet but steady consolidation, exciting times surely lay ahead.

And really, that is about it. With such a small list, I would really like to hear from people who have gone in-house at a junior level, why they did, what they like about it and if they would ever consider trading it all in and going to an agency.

 

I think there is a tendency from agency PRs to think in-house is the place to go once they’ve exhausted themselves, so now is your chance to prove them wrong!

 

The floor is open:

Housekeeping

May 18, 2008

Few bits of tidying up going on. Some new blogs added to the blogroll on the right. We link to people because either a] we like them, b] they link to us and are relevant, or [and hopefully this covers nearly all], c] they’re both top relevant blogs AND we like them a lot. If you link to us, think we should link to you because you’re PR gold, or just have sugestions for other blogs we should read, lave a comment, or drop us a line.

You’ll doubtless have seen plenty about the Burmese situation, but wanted to share the below vid. Tim Whirledge keen to hear more from PRs with ideas on spreading awareness.

Finally, I’ve already booked my tickets, have you? innocent’s Village fete event is back again. Apart from my love of smoothie, also sharing because it’s yet another example of innocent operating across platforms to raise awareness, [at last count facebook, blog, twitter and youtube]. They essentially deploy at a business level the philosophy I’ve always believed lay behind our efforts with the PR and Comms Network; it’s about using social media tools to make real world interaction easier and more fun. They have the benefit of making money, however, and have a fair bit greater audience…and they just won an award for exactly that.