Archive for March, 2010

The Independent Sold for Just £1

Thursday, March 25th, 2010 by Rob Brown

This blog has charted decline of newspapers for the last two years but the sale today of The Independent for just £1 is proof if any were needed that the value has gone out of print.  Less than ten years after the New York Times paid over a billion dollars for a city paper (the Boston Globe), a UK national title changes hands for small change.

The Independent has been bought by the Russian billionaire Alexander Lebedev, who acquired the London Evening Standard last year, and has been in the market to secure for the Independent for some months.  The deal includes the Independent on Sunday and follows a year in which the Independent titles lost £12.4m.

Even though the titles have been snapped up for close to nothing there must remain a question mark as to whether the ex KGB man has actually got a good deal.  Earlier today at the AGM of the North West Creative & Media Industries, Sara Wilde-McKeowan the Regional Managing Director of Trinity Mirror who acquired the Manchester Evening News a few weeks ago decribed being in the newspaper business as “like skiing downhill unsure as to whether there will be a soft landing”.

It’s an odd and sobering thought to think that for the price you paid for a single copy of the Independent at your local newsagents this morning you could have bought the whole shebang. 
 

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).

China, Google, Censorship and the Web

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010 by Rob Brown

 

Google has made global headlines today with the revelation that it is redirecting users in mainland China to its unrestricted Hong Kong site in order to avoid complying with the Chinese laws that direct the search engine to censor results.  Chinese firewalls however mean that results for searches such as ‘Tiananmen Square’ still come back censored.

For those who want to delve behind the headlines you can replicate the experience of one of the half a billion Chinese internet users.  Internet browser Firefox has a plug-in that simulates the great firewall of China.  Users who add the Firefox China Channel to their browser can experience what it is like to surf the internet from inside the republic. 

You may have heard the factoid that if Facebook were a country it would be the world’s third largest behind China and India.  The web is seen as the borderless, global and free but it isn’t.  States like China filter and block content that they don’t want citizens to access. The so-called Golden Shield Project is policed in China by an estimated 30,000 strong task force who deny access to politically sensitive or regime critical content.  

The battle between Google and the Chinese government is symbolic of the rise of web communities and the decline of the power of the nation state.  Challenging censorship is an honourable aim but before we celebrate the rise of the web community too much we should spare a thought for the fact that the leaders at Google aren’t elected either.

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).

Social media gives Nestle a bad break

Friday, March 19th, 2010 by Jon Clements

 

Update: social specialist, Jeremiah Owyang, has provided some useful tips for brands venturing into social media, based on the Nestle example.

At approximately 3pm today, the Nestlé Facebook page status update read: “Social media: as you can see we’re learning as we go.”

This was, perhaps, the most profound show of humility that the company had mustered on a day – I’m sure – the guardians of the Nestlé brand would hope ends very soon indeed.

In short, whoever is responsible for managing the company’s communications on its Facebook page was simply not able to deal appropriately with the grass roots invasion by users changing their profile pictures to either Orang Utans or the “Killer” logo Greenpeace has twisted Kit-Kat into. 

Not only has today been a masterclass in mishandling a social media disaster, it’s managed to bring the central issue – the company’s connection to deforestation in Indonesia and its effect on indigenous people and Orang Utans – to more eyeballs than even Greenpeace could have imagined.

And the virtual worlds of Twitterville and the blogosphere like nothing more than spreading the word about some eye-wateringly bad online behaviour by a brand in a state of apoplexy.

Barefoot Media’s blog describes the handling of the crisis like “David Brent in a paper merchants” while Intelligence in Social Media points out: “It’s not every day that a brand turns its most loyal followers into angry protesters”.

And just follow the literal torrent of Tweets via Twitterfall.

So, what’s a brand to do? Strikes me the principles are clear whether on or offline:

1. Recognise that – whether through sabotage by activists or not – allegations against you and the way you respond to them within your social media back yard is visible to all your followers. Rudeness and sarcasm are inexcusable, however tight a corner you’ve been painted into.

2. History is littered with humiliation and vilification for those who try to censor and ban the views of others in a democracy. And, unless you live in China, the internet is a democracy.

3. Don’t believe your own spin and if your organisation has a skeleton in the cupboard, don’t just ignore it. You’re going to need a plausible answer when someone pulls it out and rattles its bones.

4. Show some humility. And quickly. In the case of social media, if you can convince your fans – and even some of your detractors – that you are human and recognise their right to protest and be upset with you, you stand a better chance of being defended by the community, even if you don’t deserve it.

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 ''

Fowl! Marco Pierre White’s Turkey Tie-Up

Friday, March 19th, 2010 by Rob Brown

You’ll find this hard to swallow but former young turk of British cuisine is set to sign a deal with the architect of the turkey twizzler, Bernard Matthews.  Given that we are just 12 days away from April Fools it feels like an excitable PR executive has forgotten to put the April 1st embargo on their spoof press release. 

But, no. “Ever since I was a young boy I’ve been an admirer of turkey and particularly Bernard Matthews, because he is without question one of the great farmers of the last five decades” effuses the bad-boy chef.  

I can understand that both Delia and Heston feel that an association with the Waitrose brand won’t dent their image and we are well used to Jamie’s deal with Sainsbury’s but is Marco really the man to put the boot in ‘bootiful’?   The benefit to Bernard is easy to see but what amount of cash could make this a good deal for Pierre White?  His brand equity is unlikely ever to recover.  Move over Michelin, make way for MarcoDonalds.  

  

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).

Party Leaders On Women’s Media Trail

Thursday, March 11th, 2010 by Jo Rosenberg

 

No doubt there are many out there who would scoff at the fact that today’s politicians, in the run up to the general election, are making a beeline for women’s mags and daytime TV.

Ok, so being questioned by Kate Garraway might not be quite the same as being grilled by Paxman but, argues Mike Girling, Nick Clegg’s press officer: “Those interviews can be quite tough in their own way.” And Martin Frizell, former editor of GMTV, agrees that being asked left-field questions about X Factor or what they’re doing for their wives on Valentine’s Day can be “shit scary”.

It’s strange to think that a “comfort zone” could include the likes of Paxman or Frost, but for steely politicians, an interview about emotions, mainstream culture and even favourite biscuits, as recently demonstrated by Gordon Brown, can be way more harrowing than being quizzed on the state of Iraq.

Women’s glossy magazine, Red, is currently gearing up for an election special for its May edition featuring interviews with Brown, Cameron and Clegg. According to research carried out by the magazine, nine out of 10 of Red’s 225,000 readers will vote in the general election yet 48% say they haven’t decided who they’ll be supporting.

And it’s not just the party leaders who are being advised to focus on women’s media. Sarah Brown guest edited Fabulous, the News of the World’s female-focused supplement, last year but reviews were mixed.

MediaGuardian deputy editor Vicky Frost, commented that there was too much of Wellbeing for Women, of which Brown is patron, and too little of Brown’s life:

“I’m not saying she needed to star in the fashion shoot – although that really would have been fabulous – but what about a one-pager about life with her own kids, or healthy dinners she cooks,” Frost said.

Perhaps Brown and Cameron should sit tight in their comfort zones and let their wives spill some election winning gossip. With neither Sarah Brown or Samantha Cameron having ever given an interview, they could well clinch it for their steely loved ones…

Guerilla Marketing

Wednesday, March 3rd, 2010 by Rob Brown

In the brave new world of social media we are told that content is king and if the content is good enough it will find an audience.  We don’t often use this blog to talk about projects that Staniforth is involved in but this Nissan campaign is an exception – incidentally the creative work here was delivered by another agency.

Advertising is changing and this is a great example of how and why.   What we have here is an innovative three dimensional installation (I won’t spoil the ending of the clip by saying any more).  We also have a really engaging short film that takes the installation out to a whole new audience, it also tells a story with a twist (quite literally) in the tail .   Car manufacturers are not always known for breaking the mould, but this is a great example of how to do things differently.  Fasten your seatbelts.  

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).