Archive for September, 2008

Tory Conf – The Banana Image

Tuesday, September 30th, 2008 by Mark Hanson

bananas.jpg

I seem to be giving thumbs up to the Tories all the time lately. Got to mention this because a good stunt or image is one that caricatures its subject in a way that appeals to its intended audience but still has a ring of truth.

Well done to the Tory strategist who thought this one up, quite quickly, for this week’s conference.

hat tip – Kevin Maguire’s mobile

The diagonal diagnosis

Monday, September 29th, 2008 by Jon Clements

Do you think straight ahead, from side to side or from one corner to the opposite corner?

Well, you can now find out, care of a new online self-assessment made available by the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA).

The point is, an ideal candidate for the creative, communication industries should have – as opposed to just logical linear thinking or solely creative lateral thinking – what’s known as diagonal thinking, a winning blend of the two.

The Guardian’s weekend feature on the concept included our own group’s Tim Lindsay, president of TBWA\UK & Ireland who, according to the IPA’s test results so far, is the “most diagonal thinker in the world”, though he modestly claims to be not much good at thinking either linearly or laterally. 

All you can do is take the test and be prepared to re-think your geometry.

About Jon Clements

Jon Clements is a Chartered PR consultant specialising in B2B PR, corporate and marketing communications and is the founder of Metamorphic PR. Connect at: JonClements ''

Journalism at its best

Monday, September 29th, 2008 by Jon Clements

Despite the abuse hurled at the trade of journalism for some of its less appealing practices, there are times to be thoroughly proud of it.

The drug, Thalidomide, put onto the market in the late 1950s to help pregnant women tackle morning sickness and insomnia, caused appalling birth defects in thousands of children.  The drug company had failed to carry out adequate testing before releasing it and then offered paltry compensation to the Thalidomide children who survived.

The Sunday Times, under the editorship of Harold Evans (see pic) and the paper’s investigative Insight team,  took on the company in the early 70s and helped to secure a new compensation agreement, while losing advertising revenue and paying legal bills. As an article in this week’s Sunday Times supplement claims, the thalidomiders have an “almost holy reverence” for the newspaper team which fought their cause.

The 50-year anniversary of Thalidomide’s release in the UK is marked by an exhibition of portraits in London in October. And the work of Evans and The Sunday Times remains one of journalism’s finest hours.

About Jon Clements

Jon Clements is a Chartered PR consultant specialising in B2B PR, corporate and marketing communications and is the founder of Metamorphic PR. Connect at: JonClements ''

It’s What the Papers Say

Friday, September 26th, 2008 by Rob Brown

Wall Street Crash! Art Print

‘Stand by for Black Monday’ screamed the front page of tonight’s London Evening Standard.  Then it hit me.  My mental image of the Wall Street Crash of 1929 is a newspaper front page.   

The market has been in need of a correction, of that there is no doubt.  Long term demand for oil is also a significant underlying factor.  But, the maelstrom in which we are enveloped is a massive over correction and one fuelled by fear and drained confidence.  We need to think about how the plug was pulled.   The ‘Credit Crunch’ is a newspaper headline; squeezing a profusion of complex economic causes and effects into a two word bawling banner.  

More than likely by the time you read this we will know if the markets have ignored the doom prophets or if we are in free-fall once again and the US Senate sees that the Paulson plan is the best worst option.  And what of this plan?  The media have called it a ‘$700 billion bail out’, more headlines, but it is really an attempt to put confidence back into the markets and underwrite the ‘toxic debt’, oh there goes another one.  This isn’t putting taxpayers cash into bank bonuses it is a plan for putting the confidence back into the system from someone that understands the financial markets as well as anyone can.   If it works it won’t cost the US taxpayer a dime, some commentators have even suggested the treasury could profit from the swap. 

If we have hit the bottom, and let’s hope we have,  it is time we put aside the big font fear forecasts in favour of cautious and considered copy.

About Rob Brown

Rob Brown has worked in PR for over 20 years and for over fifteen years held senior PR positions within three major global advertising networks; Euro RSCG, McCann and TBWA. He launched his own business ‘Rule 5’ in MediaCityUK, Manchester in November 2012. Rob is the author of ‘Public Relations and the Social Web’ (2009), blogs for The Huffington Post and is joint editor of 'Share This Too' (2013).

Co-op Launches New Social Media Initiative

Friday, September 26th, 2008 by Mark Hanson


Fashion company helped by microfinance from CFS on Vimeo.

 

This is a great example of a brand using social media properly. It reflects the Co-op brand perfectly in a way that’s totally believable rather than feeling like its been cobbled together to capture some ‘buzz’. The way they use ‘real’ people is powerful and can’t be faked. It is also the kind of thing their customers would genuinely find useful, as opposed to ‘build it and they will come’.

They’ve created a special $50m fund to aid development of small businesses in some of the world’s poorest countries. One of their employees, Belma Granankic, is a Bosnian refugee and she’s been given the mission of going back to Bosnia to see whether the initiative is making any difference. Around this they’ve created a video blog to follow Belma. There may be debate around the quality of the video but it serves the purpose and feels like it was somebody who went to Bosnia to observe on progress and then used new technology to help you see it too, as opposed to a film crew putting on a show.

For more on use of video in social media check this out on Freshnetworks

 …great way to build engagement between the brand and the community – letting them see inside an organisation; video can break down the barriers between brand and customer. It’s an effective way of conveying content as it often encourages more personal and more efficient presentation of ideas. Finally, video can be easily shared and so has a great viral effect.

Policy Exchange – It Was The PR’s Fault

Friday, September 26th, 2008 by Mark Hanson

A former boss of mine used to joke that top City finance houses would have an in-house press team and they would need to hire a PR agency so they could always have someone to blame whenever anything went wrong! I’ve been reminded of that many times in recent weeks when all the clever bankers seem to be running round in a mad panic as the financial system slowly melts around their ears.

It also jumped out at me this morning when I read an interview with the outgoing and incoming directors of trendy thinktank Policy Exchange in today’s Guardian. They’ve done some really interesting work over the last couple of years and have enjoyed a dizzy rise to prominence.

Full disclosure – I’ve done some work with Jesse Norman, senior fellow of the Policy Exchange over the last couple of years. I’ve also observed how the rise in popularity of the Cameron project and the revolving door between Policy Ex people and Tory HQ has boosted their media cache´.

But I think they were badly caught out by their release of a report last month that suggested entire swathes of the North of England should be closed down and the population moved to the home counties. A media package more toxic than the average sub-prime hedge fund.

It seems they were genuinely caught out by the media coverage being largely negative. They seemed shocked that the coverage was pretty selective and didn’t dig too deep into the fine detail?! Erm, yes, welcome to the British media:)

Even the Guardian and the Telegraph are writing for Mr and Mrs Average and need to pick a headline point with two supporting points. Add in two quotes, the more colourful the better and try and remember that your average middle englander neither wants to be forced out of York, Warrington or the Wirral or have bus loads of Mackems and Scousers arriving into newly built trailer parks in their back yards. So the press did what it does best – it frightened its readers!

Policy Ex also caught out here – forgetting that with prominence comes scrutiny.

Policy Ex are blaming it on the PR agency. They use InHouse PR , just like Boris ( a lot of Policy Ex’s people also went to work for Boris).  If their agency didn’t voice its concerns strongly enough then it has learnt a powerful lesson in when to be brave in their client advice. But come on, this study was a ticking timebomb and everyone involved should have known the message, the product, was plain wrong. 

Observers who attended the last Policy Ex Chrsitmas party remarked on how different it was to the year before. More corporates and hangers on, cheque books being flashed seductively and champagne flowing.  May be they got a bit too giddy…….Labourhome is less charitable…..

Blogging means business

Friday, September 26th, 2008 by Jon Clements

 

The world of blogging, or should I say the Blogosphere, has had a thorough sifting and analysis thanks to leading blog search engine, Technorati. And some of the conclusions should add something to marketing departments’ “to do” lists.

The graph below shows the impact that blogging has had on professional and corporate bloggers, with the main benefit to businesses being a higher industry profile.

 

A good example of corporate blogging well done has to be that of Sun Microsystems’ CEO, Jonathan Schwartz, who manages to have a respectable blog “authority level” – that is the number of other blogs linking to your blog – without compromising the company’s image.

Social media expert, Chris Brogan, is one commentator who has lauded Schwartz’s blog for making the company appear human and having that extra, indefinable sheen that goes beyond pounds and pence.

About Jon Clements

Jon Clements is a Chartered PR consultant specialising in B2B PR, corporate and marketing communications and is the founder of Metamorphic PR. Connect at: JonClements ''

PR Week – Tories Blog Plot

Thursday, September 25th, 2008 by Mark Hanson

Interesting story on the front of today’s PR Week about rival Labour and Tory plans to dominate the blogosphere. More on the Labour/Draper story at a later date but the Tory plan caught my eye. Apparently they’ve been working with Screen West Midlands to gather together a group of local bloggers and give them ‘VIP access’.

There will be access to politicians although I think Rishi Saha, Tory head of new media, is struggling to guarantee specific shadow ministers. This is a small but positive move and reflects the approach in the US, where for example the McCain campaign has daily conference calls with bloggers, including UK Tory bloggers! Loic le Meur also used this on the Sarkozy campaign.

What’s fascinating here is that they have chosen non-political blogs to take part in this. The guests are blogging in the arts, culture and entertainment spheres. The aim is to build a groundswell of support amongst general opinion formers who may be persuaded to engage and debate Tory policies as opposed to rabidly backing or attacking.

It’s a laudable aim but if it’s going to work the Tories need to show genuine long term commitment to this and make senior people regularly available in person, phone, email between now and the election. The danger is that the bemused bloggers are hurded into a backroom in Birmingham for tea and buscuits, have an awkward Q&A with a bemused shadow cabinet member and then having ticked a box forget all about it.

Its also interesting that the Tories have used Screen West Midlands to get these bloggers together. I guess they must be local leaders in new media as opposed to Tory supporters. It’s important to find a local group such as this you need to convene a group of the local blogerati.

10 out of 10 for effort, would love to get reaction from the Brummie bloggers as to what actually happens. Those taking part will include Dave Harte, Podnosh and CreatedinBirmingham.com.

Bluffers’ guide to journalism?

Thursday, September 25th, 2008 by Jon Clements

Budding journalists and people writing for journalists (that’s you, PR people) could do worse than read the Guardian’s writing guide to journalism out today.

The introduction by columnist and former Times editor, Simon Jenkins, is a must-read for anyone tasked with communicating news via the written word.

He recalls a “ferocious sub editor” at The Times who would – after a reading a draft report – pose the million dollar question: “What is it you are really trying to tell me?”. Exactly what PR people should be thinking before they lay a hand on a keyboard.

Great tips for crafting a great story include:

– make every paragraph a single idea.

– Make nouns and verbs the workhorses of each sentence.

– Delete all adjectives and adverbs unless absolutely essential.

– Never use sloppy words, such as “interesting”.

– Begin every story with who, what, when and where.

But excellent writing – a skill which Jenkins sees as deplorably absent in today’s society – is the lesser part of the journalist’s armoury; the signs of the natural reporter are curiosity, the desire to communicate experiences, cunning and the gift to narrate. As he says, there is “no substitute for the person who saw it happen”, which opens the door for what we now know as citizen journalists.

When I hear colleagues talking about “the press release” or even truncated to “the release”, I shudder. A press release is merely a tool, a medium for the really important element: the story – that is what journalists are looking for.

Maybe that’s pedantic. Maybe I should’ve been a sub editor.

About Jon Clements

Jon Clements is a Chartered PR consultant specialising in B2B PR, corporate and marketing communications and is the founder of Metamorphic PR. Connect at: JonClements ''

Is The Inde Still Independent?

Wednesday, September 24th, 2008 by Mark Hanson

 

Is it me or do newspaper revamps seem to come round more regularly these days? I do like a good redesign, it means freshness even if regular readers bombard the letters pages with complaints about not being able to find the Obituaries column.

The Independent relaunched this week and Roy Greenslade, the doyen of reviewing these things, critiques here

The editorial penned by new editor, Roger Alton, on page 2 of yesterday’s launch edition made much of the new colour presses that will churn out the Inde from now on. There’s also reference to the use of photography to make stories come alive.

Could this be the same Roger Alton who has told one of his section editors that he can no longer commission photography because the paper can’t afford it? This particular journalist is now reduced to begging product providers to embellish stories with images in return for favours in the section.

So despite all the fanfare is the Inde still Independent?