Archive for January, 2011

The ‘dark forces’ around Keys and Gray

Friday, January 28th, 2011 by Mark Perry


Could there indeed be ‘dark forces’ at work in Sky as Richard Keys, the now former Sky presented suggested this week, after the maelstrom which resulted in his sexist comments with co-commentator, Andy Gray, last weekend?

I have to admit when I read in media – before this erupted – that Andy Gray was considering suing the News of the World over possible phone hacking did make me wonder how good an idea that was, considering the News Corp link with Sky. While in no way condoning what was said, the remakrs were not made on air and must have been leaked from somewhere.

After the initial ‘leak’, there followed further revelations about similar sexist behaviour taken from rehearsal tapes which appeared on YourTube. You do have to ask how these recordings found their way out of Sky HQ. Remember that it was a Sky recording that exposed Gordon Brown’s comments about Gillian Duffy’s alleged bigotry on the campaign trail in Rochdale.

To put his case it was interesting that Kays chose talkSPORT – a station with the tagline “for men who like to talkSPORT”. This was a great PR coup which helped the station’s profile, even making a video of the interview available to other news channels. At the start of the interview, Keys said he was stopped from apologising earlier which begs the question: did Sky want to keep control?

So, where do Keys and Gray go from here? Could they be lined up – after a short break – for a return to the airwaves with talkSPORT? Sky also has a big hole to fill as Keys and Gray are so closely linked to its football coverage. Interesting times at Sky Towers.

The irony of this week’s events is that Andy Gray made his name in English football playing for Wolverhampton Wanderers. When he signed for them in 1980, he was reported saying “I want to end my career at Molineux”. Now, where was the game last Saturday played?

About Mark Perry

Mark has more than 25 years’ experience in PR and corporate communications. He is a founding director of B2B consultancy Melville PR.

Pope gives social media his blessing

Wednesday, January 26th, 2011 by Patrick Chester


Well, that’s a relief.

Demonstrating once again that the Catholic Church has its finger firmly on the pulse of modern life, the pope has issued his guidelines for using social networking. Social media is going to be the next big thing, apparently.   

The pope is described as having “little direct personal experience with the internet”, which makes the internet sound like a complicated and obscure mechanical tool, rather than something which is instantly accessible through almost any desktop computer in the world.

I understand he’s 83 years old, but keep in mind that the oldest Facebook user is 103 years old (and she updates from an iPad!). The Daily Mail calls her “iGran”.

Despite obvious misgivings, it’s actually not half bad advice for social media enthusiasts to take on board.

In easy-to-digest points, here are the highlights:

1) Be aware of the one-sidedness of online interaction. The pontiff said there is a “tendency to communicate only some parts of one’s interior world” and a “risk of constructing a false image of oneself, which can become a form of self-indulgence.”

2) Don’t use social networking too much. The pope said it is negative to “enclose oneself in a sort of parallel existence, or have excessive exposure to the virtual world”.

3) Don’t create dodgy online profiles. Pope: “In the search for sharing, for ‘friends,’ there is the challenge to be authentic and faithful and not give in to the illusion of constructing an artificial public profile for oneself.”

4) Be polite throughout any interactions with people in the digital world. The pope said online communication needs to be “honest and open, responsible and respectful of others.”

No more angry YouTube comments, then.

5) Don’t try and pander to popularity. “We must be aware that the truth which we long to share does not derive its worth from its ‘popularity’ or from the amount of attention it receives.”

Replace “truth” in this line with “video of the cat doing the funny thing”, and it becomes real-world applicable.

Please visit the pope’s official website at and click on the “Digital Christmas Video” if you would like to see a witty re-imagining of the Story of the Nativity, complete with Google Mail and Twitter.

Mary even checks into Foursquare to see if there is any room at the local Bethlehem inns.

About Patrick Chester

Patrick is an account executive at Staniforth. He also runs a book review site at

Do banks need a shower in social media?

Wednesday, January 12th, 2011 by Jon Clements

Week 2 of 2011 and already UK bankers are back on the ropes in reputation terms.

Barclays boss, Bob Diamond’s appearance in front of the Treasury Select Committe yesterday is described by the Mirror’s Ros Wynne Jones as a “despicable performance”; the Telegraph’s report on Diamond’s roughing up by MPs quotes Tory, Andrea Leadsom, who trounced the banker’s claim to high levels of customer satisfaction and support for SMEs saying “the evidence doesn’t stack up”.

Elsewhere in the banking firmament this week, RBS has been fined £2.8m for what the Sun calls “shocking customer service”. And late last year, the British Social Attitudes survey showed that the public’s trust in banks as well run and managed has plummeted from 90% of people in 1983 to 19% today – a lower trust level than for the media and trade unions.

So, what are the banks to do?

Niall Harbison at The Next Web reckons that using social media provides “A great opportunity for them [banks] to chip away at their negative reputations”, citing Citibank’s launch of a Twitter feed to field customer complaints and training 100 staff to handle this new customer engagement channel.

As Harbison recognises, a general banking embrace of social media may be slow in coming, as being open is “not in their DNA”. But can banks afford to ignore the social media movement if customers are demanding better customer service and resolution of complaints?

Closer to home, one bank that has taken social media seriously is First Direct. It’s social media strategy first came to PR Media Blog’s attention in November 2009 and since then it’s embarked on open dialogue with customers in its “Talking Point” online forum and maintains a regular Twitter presence – though it appears to be a more promotional than customer engagement tool. Then again, if that’s what the customer wants, so be it.

Just a thought, but maybe reinvesting a smidgen of a banker’s bonus in genuine customer interaction via social media may lay the seeds for a resurgence in public trust and satisfaction for the banks.

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 ''