Archive for October, 2010

The Apprentice’s language lesson

Thursday, October 28th, 2010 by Jon Clements

What happens when, instead of using the right words, your brain puts them into a giant, H.G. Wells, vocabularly mincing machine?

Just ask the latest casualty of BBC 1’s The Apprentice, Melissa Cohen.

Anyone simultaneously following Twitter would’ve seen that fans of the show were frantically waving P45s in Cohen’s direction well before her descent into the hilariously nightmarish world of Mrs Malaprop.

But even beyond her general obnoxious qualities on the programme, it was her mangling of the English language that really got the Twitterati going.

Newly-forged words, such as “manoeuvrement”, “analysation” and “retributed” spilled onto the screen, leaving bewilderment in their wake.

But, does any of this matter in business and communication?

While listening has to be top of the list of communications skills, the ability to express oneself clearly and succinctly is vital to being understood. Having a good vocabulary – or at least a vocabulary that doesn’t take your tongue hostage and make you sound like an idiot – is part of this. This article goes as far to say that “having a poor vocabulary can close doors” and recommends reading to improve your vocabulary to improve your word power and sentence structure.

That old staple of mass market education, The Reader’s Digest, used to proclaim that “It Pays to Increase Your Word Power” with a vocabulary quiz in each edition, which has now morphed into a Word Power game online.

But, let’s face it, we’re all busy and vocabulary building may not be top of our “to-do” list.

So, when facing situations where you need to get across a clear message:

– Be well prepared and, preferably, rehearse what you are going to say in front of someone who’ll give you constructive feedback and not collapse laughing if your tongue slips.

– Outline a small number of key points you absolutely want, or need, to convey and keep them simple.

– Avoid the jargon that’s a natural part of your job and think: would the “guy in the pub” understand this?

And when the deal is secured, the audience wowed or the media impressed with your message, just think how fantasticised you’ll feel.

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 ''

Rooney Stays Scoop – Old and New Media United

Friday, October 22nd, 2010 by Rob Brown

The news that Rooney stays at Manchester United broke at lunchtime today.  The way the story broke shows how old and new media are becoming indistinguishable from each other.  It was evident two years ago that twitter was going to revolutionise how stories break but what’s increasingly clear is that the role of journalists, with unrivalled access and the skills and contacts to tell a story, remains at the core of news delivery.

Unless someone can prove otherwise I’m confident that the story about Rooney first surfaced on twitter at 12:31 ahead of any news channel.  The first person to break the story was the Daily Telegraph’s Northern football correspondent Mark Ogden, closely followed just 30 seconds later by Guardian football correspondent Daniel Taylor, twitter handle @DTGuardian.   His 16,000+ followers were only too eager to propel the story.  The radio in the office got in on the act a few minutes later. 

'Rooney Stays United' - Twitscoop trend 13.25 UTC+1

It barely needs saying but twitter isn’t a news medium in its own right, it does however offer an efficient platform from which to build an audience and break a story.  Perhaps that’s why the New York Times has just become the first mainstream newspaper to have more followers on twitter than its daily print circulation.

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).

Hyperlocal? – interview with InsideTheM60

Thursday, October 14th, 2010 by Jon Clements

m60-logo.png 

Update: 26 October 2010

At the request of InsidetheM60 and the MEN, we have deleted certain posts on the comments thread – focused on an exchange between representatives of the two media – that were deemed to be inaccurate. 

Whatever you do, don’t call InsidetheM60 a “hyperlocal” news site!

PR Media Blog discovered this very early on in an interview with Nigel Barlow, the Manchester-based co-founder of what he prefers to call an “independent local media” site, launched earlier this year.

Despite the question marks hanging over the viability of this new departure in news distribution, Barlow is optimistic about the future of entrepreneurial journalism and determined to make InsidetheM60 a major player in the market for local news.

Listen to him here:

Listen!

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 ''

Making social media networking work

Wednesday, October 6th, 2010 by Jon Clements

social-networking-image.jpg

How effective is social media for building your essential network?

Sceptics would probably say that there’s no substitute for “pressing the flesh” and clinking the wine glass. But how often do you manage to get – physically – in front of the people you really want to talk to and build a connection with?

At last night’s meeting of Social Media Cafe Manchester (#smc_mcr for hash tag followers) PR Media Blog spoke to Justine Potter, ex-BBC drama producer and now narrative content producer and CEO of Savvy Productions, about how social media has helped her do exactly that – and with a direct benefit to her business.

Listen!

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 ''

Russell Brand values hit Newsnight

Sunday, October 3rd, 2010 by Jon Clements


Two years ago, the trajectory of comedian Russell Brand’s star at the BBC fell quicker than a sky diver with an unopened parachute.

Today, he’s considered significantly newsworthy to be the main interview on Newsnight, the BBC’s “flagship news and current affairs programme, noted for its in-depth analysis and often robust cross-examination of senior politicians.”

Exhibit one: what exactly was Russell Brand doing on Newsnight being interviewed by Jeremy Paxman? Yes, he’s got a new book out; yes, he was in a recent airport punch-up with a Paparrazzo, defending his pop star girlfriend, Katy Perry’s dignity. But surely this shouldn’t trouble the media beyond the showbiz correspondents?

In her intro to the item, Newsnight presenter, Emily Maitlis, flashed back to the Brand/Ross/Sachs saga as “an extraordinary piece of media history”. Well, histrionic, maybe, but Frost/Nixon it wasn’t.

In fact, the most notable legacy left by Brand is a compliance document drafted by the BBC for programme makers  aimed at preventing any further broadcasting falls from grace.

In placing Brand centre stage where you’d normally expect to find senior politicians, is this the BBC trying to reel in a new audience cruising channels on a Friday night or simply plug the gap left by the demise of the celebrity-driven Jonathan Ross show, leaving several million viewers wondering what to watch?

It’s certainly an interesting move by Newsnight to go after a younger audience and, potentially, shepherd them into other late night BBC2 viewing rather than flicking over to crime drama, stand-up comedy or Family Guy.

Though quite what they’d make of The Review Show, with – for instance – playwright Bonnie Greer dissecting the technical intricacies of the latest great American novel by Jonathan Franzen is another matter.

Television viewing feels more and more akin to the online experience, where consumption tastes are “channel agnostic” or “channel neutral” as argued here and people will follow the content they want, regardless of where it might be found.

In that case, Brand/Paxman is the BBC2 equivalent of “link bait”; luring fans of the comedian’s inane, if endearing, ramblings into “television of real substance”, or at least until they notice it’s Lee Evans live on ITV1.

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 ''

Social Media is Strictly’s New Dance Partner

Friday, October 1st, 2010 by Rob Brown

 Episode image for Launch Show

Strictly Come Dancing is set to strut back on to Saturday night screens and the social media marketing machine is sashaying into action.  We were talking about social media and TV on this blog almost two years ago when companies were taking their their first hesitant steps.  Now social media and event television go hand in hand with ever increasing numbers of viewers tweeting comments and opinions throughout live broadcasts prime time shows.

Strictly tweets appear on the BBC programme’s homepage and there is a designated hashtag for viewers #scd for viewers to follow the comments of others.  The programme’s Facebook page has 27,000 fans and the twitter account set up last year has around 16,000 followers and I’d expect both of those numbers to more than double during the current series.

According to the programme makers “we will be posting videos and news stories on the main BBC Strictly website and on Facebook. We’ll be blogging on all the need-to-know things that go on behind the scenes in TV Centre, and you’ll be able to comment on all the latest issues. The BBC Strictly Twitter will focus on providing immediate, behind-the-scenes images, video and commentary”.

The BBC and other broadcasters are aware that in the quest for TV ratings it’s not just about what you watch but when you watch it and by priming the virtual water-cooler they give the audience more reasons to watch the live transmission.

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).

Catalogues are back in fashion

Friday, October 1st, 2010 by Julie Wilson

john-lewis.jpg 

Leading retailer, John Lewis, announced earlier this week it is to launch its first-ever dedicated fashion catalogue.

The catalogue, published by John Brown and to be distributed through stores and direct mail, is being introduced by the retailer in a drive to establish itself as a fashion destination.

Fronting the high-end, glossy publication, which will feature designer collections by Mulberry and Richard James, is the publisher’s editor-in-chief and former Marie Claire editor, Marie O’Riordan.

The launch marks a rising trend for brand-owned publications, which in recent years has seen New Look, ASOS and H&M all introduce customer magazines to their customer communications tools.

It’s an interesting turnaround for the humble catalogue, which just five years ago looked to become a thing of the past as homeshopping brands ditched the paper format in favour of e-commerce.

A report conducted by Retail Week at the time of the industry shift, highlighted the importance of the catalogue in the customer shopping experience and urged retailers to think twice before eradicating the seasonal brand directories from their communications strategies.

In February of this year, a poll commissioned by Royal Mail further championed the role of the catalogue in the consumer purchase process and revealed almost two-thirds of consumers now consult a catalogue before buying products or services – an increase of nine per cent on the previous year.

Speaking on the results of the Home Shopper Tracking study, Antony Miller, Head of Media Development at Royal Mail, said: “Despite the growth of online retail, the print catalogue still plays a key role for many home shoppers who use them to buy and browse as well as seeking inspiration for new ideas.

“It is also clear that multichannel shopping is becoming the preferred method for most home shoppers as they research the best deals and consider the convenience of buying remotely.”

He added: “Catalogues and the internet offer a powerful combination of information, showing the importance of using the two channels together in the marketing mix.”

With retailers continuing to invest heavily in the development of transactional websites and social media platforms, it is inevitable e-commerce will continue to be the main driving force behind the changing face of retail.

It is clear however, that when it comes to influencing the consumer purchase process, in with the new communications tool does not always mean out with the old.

If only for now, it’s nice to see that catalogues are back in fashion.