A seasonal PR letter to Santa

December 14, 2008

Dear PR Santa,

I’ve been really good this year. I’ve worked lots of hours, I’ve got lots of coverage, I’ve socialised with my colleagues (but too much), and my desk has been (sort of) tidy.

So, I thought you might like to know what I’d like for PR Christmas?

Well, it goes without saying I’d like a prosperous 2009 with job for all my friends in the industry. But that isn’t very jolly, so I’ll move quickly onto the others.

So, I’d like to see an end to the snottiness that says mainstream PR practitioners “don’t get” online, and vice versa. it’s dull, and it isn’t true, and it doesn’t encourage either to learn best practice from t’other.

What else? Evaluation people actually want, understand, and is cost-effective. Not measuring for measuring’s sake, not ignoring it because it is too difficult, and not stuff that takes a month to compile. So if you could just drop that new evaluation tool off with me, that’d be great, OK?

If it isn’t too greedy or self-indulgent, I’d also like to fulfil a dream and get some coverage on Countryfile. Especially once it moves to the new Sunday night slot. I can hear your elves sniggerring, but it has a great demographic, and filming would be a riot. Go on…

Oh and Chinos to make a appearance in Sunday Times Style. It’d make my working life easier if someone would vindicate me that they DO look good. And to learn to write like Giles Coren. And to be better at proofing my own work. I’m great at spotting faults in others, why not my own?

I’ll stop now. I realise there’s only so much I can ask for. So, how about it Santa?

Yours,

A festive PR Consultant.

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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.


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.


Guinness is good for you (especially if you are a shareholder)

December 2, 2008

It’s been a while (and even this post is recycled) – more to come soon.

 

I’ve been saying it for years and finally, people are listening to me. A report out today by Management Today has named Diageo as the most admired company in the land. They do say good things come to those who wait.

 

At the other end of the spectrum, the second 20 per cent sale can’t come quick enough for M&S as they plummeted from 1st to 29th in the rankings. Could be a difficult Christmas in the Rose household this Chrimbo.


Giles Coren is always right

November 22, 2008

Well that might be going a bit far, and will have some of you spitting comments filled with columnist-induced venom, but today’s offering more than merits it.

I’m not normally a fan of just linking to articles, but Mr Coren’s take on why we don’t need to hear about ‘the r-word’ (recession, just don’t say it loudly, the kids might hear) in every piece of journalism, and why reality TV really does represent the biggest waste of our time and colective hope. Amongt other things in something of a journalistic tour-de-force.

Bravo. Should firmly be part of every PR blog to celebrate good journalism, not just complain about the (sometime) difficulty of dealing with them.


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.


What’s in your PR bag?

October 5, 2008

Last week a client was surprised at how little ‘stuff’ I had with me for couple of days spent with them. They were (pleasantly) surprised I could work and survive with so little clutter.

It got me thinking, what do you actually need as a PR? I had a small satchel (OK, a ‘man bag’) with change of shirt etc, basic wash stuff, notepad, pens, a copy of the Economist, a book, a Blackberry, an IPhone, wallet and various swipe cards. And a worrying amount of chewing gum (maybe someone is trying to tell me something and is slipping it into my bag?).

As long as you have access to a computer every so often to write longer docs/presentations, I reckon you could survive like this for a pretty decent stretch.

So, what is essential to your day as a PR? What would you feel naked without (other than clothes)?

Tagging Stephen, Chris, Dom, and Jed to share their ‘what’s in your PR bag’ confessions. Those without blogs please do share in comments…


CIPR Awards 2008

September 17, 2008

Monday night saw me fortunate enough to have a jolly at the CIPR awards, where we were shortlisted for agency of the year. (Blue Rubicon won the category).

It was pretty good fun, and there were a lot of people from right across the industry there. Great, I thought, there’s probably loads of people here whose views on the winners and night itself I’ll be able to catch up with online. Tuesday came and went, and nothing really appeared. Maybe it is the hangovers I thought, I’ll have another look Wednesday night. Yet still there’s next to nothing.

Why? (I appreciate I’m only just blogging about it now, but I’m pretty convinced we’re not all involved in some giant social media stand-off). Does it reflect a lack of interest in the CIPR awards generally, or just a lack of relevance for the more digital-minded section of the PR community who are likely to be blogging? If it’s the latter, then the CIPR awards are at least gamely trying to engage us with social media campaign of the year etc.

I’m never quite sure how I feel about the CIPR generally. I’m not a member, but have been to events there etc, and do feel it is important for us to have a coherent voice as an industry. I’m also acutely aware that you can’t stand on the sidelines, not getting involved, and complain about how things proceed. So I don’t.


PR or digital marketing?

September 14, 2008

Let me tell you a story which reflects something I’ve been mulling over recently

(This is me looking mournful, BTW)

(This is me looking mournful, BTW)

A friend of mine from university has been considering getting into PR over the last year. I was pleased; she’s bright, outgoing and self-aware enough to know what she was getting into (which you can’t always say for Oxbridge grads, where we’re largely tailored to think just of careers in banking, management consultancy, or law). Just the sort of person I want in my industry.

I gave her the benefit of my (limited) wisdom, gave her a few pointers on agencies and approach to interviews etc, and crossed my fingers for her. Recently she sent me an email. She’d accepted an offer. Great, I thought, and entirely unsurprising- if I was interviewing for grads I’d take her on.

Here’s the twist though. It’s not in PR. She’s taken a job with an established and well-known digital marketing agency. Not because she ddn’t like PR. But because she liked social media, and wanted to help clients communicate in that medium.

I’m not territorial or possessive about such things; I don’t really think it matters how you define yourselves  long as you do good work for clients in any medium. But it did make me sad that she’d seen the opportunity to achieve her goal, but it didn’t lie within a PR agency. She’s the sort who will end up at the top of her chosen profession, and she’s the sort we need working in PR. You know, the type of person who dispels the image of PRs as fluffy un-intellectual types flogging FMCG crap, and instead combines a decent academic mind with some human empathy and creativity.

It probably doesn’t matter in the long run, we could both easily find ourselves working in the same agency on the same campaigns as barriers between media disciplines become ever more fuzzy, but for the sake of PR agencies as they stand, I hope we don’t miss out on too many more of her ilk.

Alex


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