Archive for May, 2011

Blatter scores an own goal for Fifa

Tuesday, May 31st, 2011 by Mark Perry

“Crisis what crisis?” was Fifa President’s reaction to a journalist’s question at a press conference called by the football’s governing body yesterday.

There is little doubt that, to those outside the organisation, it’s in crisis. For years there have been claims of mismanagement and even corruption which has reached new levels in the last week with leading members of FIFA’s governing committees turning on themselves.

Yesterday, appearing to react to the growing press clamour for answers, Blatter called a press conference.

As it turned out the conference should be shown to any CEO who might have to face the media as an example of how to appear out of touch and in denial.

He patronised the journalists, stopping at one point – when a murmur went around  the room as he avoided actually answering the questions – to tell the room to show him more respect.

His whole approach was adversarial and showed contempt for the journalists who dared to ask any difficult questions. He certainly was not trying to show any contrition or win any media battle. The premise was this: he was right; they were wrong.

He had the perfect opportunity to draw a line under the accusations by calling a wide, independent inquiry which would at least have bought him more time. Looking at the media reaction today the whole event has left him, and the organisation, more damaged.

Blatter is going to need a better crisis management plan and attitude towards the media if he is ultimately going to survive this one.

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.

The end of unpaid internships?

Friday, May 27th, 2011 by Jenny Mason


This week, Keri Hudson won the right to be recognised as a paid worker by her employer, My Village, after resigning from a six-week unpaid internship at the online review site.

The decision has been welcomed by the likes of Intern Aware – a group focusing on promoting fair access to the internship system – and the NUJ’s Cashback for Interns campaign.

The immorality or otherwise of unpaid internships has become a hot topic of debate in recent months, especially amongst those working in the PR and media industries where competition for graduate jobs is particularly intense.

Employers are under mounting pressure to ensure that interns are paid the minimum wage if doing real work rather than just being trained. More than 3,300 people have joined the “Interns Must be Paid the Minimum Wage” Facebook group and Nick Clegg has vowed to widen access to internships as part of the Government’s new social mobility strategy.

However, as the backlash surrounding Clegg’s own use of unpaid interns highlights, to see the argument as struggling graduate vs. greedy employer is an oversimplification.

There is no doubt that those with financial support from parents have a massive advantage and there are countless tales of interns being asked to complete tedious tasks with no financial or educational recompense.

The line between exploitation and helping graduates to learn through real work-based tasks is fine, yet there are companies that are willing to invest time in helping inexperienced graduates get on the career ladder.

As the graduate job market gets increasingly competitive, those leaving university need experience to boost their CVs and many are prepared to work for free to get ahead.

A recent poll by social enterprise Internocracy found that almost 20% of managers have admitted to taking on interns to reduce staffing costs.

This figure is shamefully high, but it does mean that the majority of employers have more honourable intentions. Will the threat of legal action – and demands to pay thousands of pounds to previous interns – alienate these companies and lead to a reduction in the number of internships that are available?

Trade bodies such as the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) have produced guidelines for those offering internships and, if expectations are agreed in advance, placements can be a positive experience for both employer and intern.

With some students using forums to call for more internships opportunities, it seems that to ban unpaid internships altogether may be a step too far.

About Jenny Mason

Jenny joined Staniforth in August 2007 and is now an Account Manager in the B2B team.

Privacy in social media – can it exist?

Thursday, May 26th, 2011 by Ghida Basma


Social Media has completely changed our views on privacy, as we embrace new thoughts about what we should and shouldn’t share with others.

Since the digital revolution, social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook have taken all over our lives at an extremely fast pace, redefining the importance of privacy and our relationships with each other.  Today, we want people to follow us, add us, embrace our views and look at our pictures and posts. In the past, it was the complete opposite.

We are hooked to our computers or mobile phones and spend countless hours checking Facebook pages or updating our Twitter feeds. We have this growing urge to stream our daily activities and thoughts for the viewing pleasure of others. A few years back, such a thing would have been regarded dangerous and unacceptable.

Social media platforms have become an alternative channel for direct social interaction between individuals, making it possible to know other people’s news, simply by reading their newsfeeds or status updates. A social media account has become part of who we are, it defines us and affects how people relate to us. Even companies rely on them to identify potential job candidates.

Indeed, an increasing amount of our personal lives is not necessarily private any more, though privacy can still be protected through personal choice. If we don’t want to expose our experiences, thoughts, or personalities, we have the option to not open a social media account.

The key question, however, is whether we can really afford not to!?



Getting the right focus on newspaper campaigns

Thursday, May 26th, 2011 by Mark Perry

Forget the media campaigns about the rights and wrongs of injunctions, the Hull Daily Mail has shown that a focused campaign can make a real difference.

The newspaper has taken up a cause that matters to the community it serves and led a change by helping create a skilled workforce.

The Mail’s Apprenticeship Challenge aimed to get 100 apprenticeships in 100 days – in fact it helped 157 young people find training. The newspaper joined with local colleges and agencies and has succeeded in widening opportunities and encouraged companies, who don’t already have schemes, to look at helping get the young into work.

As assistant editor Jamie Macaskill said: “Together with our partners we have made a real impact on the future of scores of young people.”

Just a fortnight on from Local Newspaper week, this campaign has shown how important local newspapers are to their communities. With circulations are under pressure, from a PR perspective newspapers should look carefully at campaigns newspapers they could support or even initiate.

It could help them to re-engage with their communities particularly among the younger age groups who have less affiliation with newspapers and can provide the future live blood.

 The Hull Daily Mail is a great example of what a local newspaper can acheive.

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.

Twitter, the law and the silent fat lady.

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011 by Rob Brown

It’s all over for privacy and the courts can’t legislate under the weight of social comment.  So scream the headlines in the wake of the latest failure of the injunction process.   It may not however be quite so simple.

The influence of social media on privacy and the law has been evident for some time.  I wrote about it in April shortly before the current media storm blew.   The Trafigura debacle more than 18 months ago highlighted the significant changes brought about by the dynamics of mainstream media access.

One of the central plinths of the current debate is that Twitter, amongst other social networks, is not a publisher and therefore can not be mediated.  That’s true but to to say that Twitter has zero influence on its output is also inaccurate. Look for ‘Giggs’ as a trending topic this morning and it simply wasn’t there.  Twitter presumably throttled the API output using the same technique it used to remove Justin Bieber from the trending lists when most users became bored with his omnipresence.

To say there were too many twitterers to pursue in the Giggs or any other case also ignores the fact that every tweet is time coded so it is a simple job to find the first to breach the court order.  Schillings and Carter Ruck are staffed by some pretty smart people.  The world has changed but it won’t be very long before the courts begin to adapt to the new order.  We have some way to go before the diva warms her vocal chords for the final act.

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).

PR measurement – Barcelona style…

Monday, May 23rd, 2011 by Jon Clements

The Barcelona Principles of PR measurement – launched nearly a year ago – made a bonfire of a long-cherished method of proving the value of PR activity: Advertising Value Equivalent (AVE).

That the principles sanctioned other (seven, in fact) approaches to measurement was overshadowed by the curt dismissal of AVE and the collective shudder that (I assume) rippled across many parts of the PR industry:

Principle Five states: “They (AVEs) measure the cost of media space and are rejected as a concept to value public relations”. And as for the mystical “multiplier” – used to demonstrate how much more valuable editorial was against advertising – the “butchers of Barcelona” said: “Multipliers intended to reflect a greater media cost for earned versus paid media should never be applied unless proven to exist in the specific case.” Well, good luck with that one.

Fronted by AMEC (The International Association for the Measurement and Evaluation of Communication), the Barcelona Principles led to the more practical Valid Metrics guidelines and a useful matrix outlining the plethora of measurement metrics. Naturally, AVE was not welcome at the new metrics party.

But, it wasn’t long before the topic was raised: “AVE is dead. But what will replace it.” It even became the title of a CIPR seminar, at which Dr Jon White – FCIPR and CIPR approved trainer –  questioned whether the Barcelona Principles had taken the debate on AVE forward at all.

Ahead of the 3rd European Summit on Measurement, that kicks off in Lisbon in a fortnight, PR Media Blog asked David Rockland, a Director of AMEC and partner at Ketchum and CEO of Ketchum Pleon Change:

1. Following the Barcelona Principles and the valid metrics guidelines, what more needs to be done to make PR measurement and evaluation completely robust in the eyes of the industry and its clients?

At this point it is about further adoption, such as inculcation in all industry awards programs and academic curricula, as well as getting much more specific about a number of areas, many of which will be covered in Lisbon.

2. Has AMEC tried to measure or evaluate the response by the industry to both the above (in other words, practicing what it preaches)?

To a degree we have in terms tracking changes in awards programs, adoption by various PR professional organizations around the world, as well as the extent that the Barcelona Principles have become ingrained in the lexicon of our industry.

3. Dr Jon White recently said at a CIPR seminar on the death of AVE that the Barcelona Principles hadn’t really progressed the debate on measurement. Is that fair to say?

As for Jon’s comments, I think you can view them in two ways. First, that the Principles codified what had never been really stated and broadly adopted before. So, you could say it wasn’t about the debate on measurement, but about setting baseline standards and approaches that no one in academia, professional organizations, etc. had done in such a broad fashion. When it comes to AVEs, I would fundamentally disagree – nowhere had the industry collectively said “no, AVEs are not the value of public relations.” However, where Barcelona alone fell short is the answer the question – “if no AVEs, then what?” That answer came out in the valid metrics work after Barcelona and presented at an AMEC/CIPR/PRCA conference in November, 2010 where those better approaches were demonstrated. But in truth, AVEs are and were broadly used because they are simple and cheap, even if they are wrong. Replacing them with a single silver bullet to demonstrate the value of PR, no matter what the program, is unrealistic. The challenge now is to create a mindset shift in terms of really doing thorough analysis and measurement, as most other marketing disciplines have been doing for decades.

One of the laudable – and long overdue – goals on the agenda for Lisbon is to “prove the value of communications to CEO’s and Finance Directors and help them put a proper value on their PR spend”.

While we await the conclusion, some of Dr Jon White’s hypotheses make sense now, namely:

– There needs to be greater clarity between communicators and clients about what a campaign needs to achieve.

– Challenge the brief: the actual problems facing the client are not always those that end up in the communications brief.

– Setting precise objectives mean the issues of measurement and evaluation tend to fade away.

– Methods for measuring the outcome of PR campaigns already exist and doing some post-campaign research is better than doing none at all.

A campaign launched 12 years ago by what was then the IPR, the PRCA and PR Week produced a handy tool kit and a set of principles. It even spoke of “weaning both practitioners and clients away from AVEs”. But – as suggested by this blog post from UK PR firm, Hopwood – AVEs are not going to go quietly.

UPDATE: As well as including a link to an excellent PR Week piece on the AVE debate, I’ve just recalled a phrase that -once upon a time – I’d heard used with clients when explaining the likely success of PR activity, which went something like: “With advertising, you pay; with PR, you pray.”

Not sure how convinced a marketing director or CEO would be when the PR consultant blamed a lacklustre campaign on the “absence of divine intervention”.

UPDATE #2: You can make your views on measurement heard at the Lisbon summit next month – complete the survey here.

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 ''

Ken Clarke – in need of a new PR team?

Friday, May 20th, 2011 by Claire Beesley

An apple’s an apple. A spade’s a spade. And let’s agree that rape is rape shall we? No? It’s not? Well then, Justice Minister, Kenneth Clarke, you have confused me indeed; but not due to your statement, but why you would make it to begin with.

Whatever your stance on the comments Clarke recently made regarding rape sentences, which have seen the media up in arms and anti-rape campaigners demanding a meeting with the Prime Minister, I am sure we can all agree that Justice Minister Clarke should never have said what he did.

Playing devil’s advocate, one can understand the point Clarke was trying to make – and which he has since clarified to the media – that the circumstances of each case are different and so the lengths of sentences then depend on the individual case and the judge hearing it. However, misunderstanding or not, the fact remains that Clarke is a seasoned politician and should know better than to make a statement that was always going to create widespread controversy.

Having been in Parliament for over 40-years, Clarke would have given hundreds, if not thousands, of interviews, probably been media trained and been the recipient of constant PR counsel for over four decades. Why then did this undoubtedly adept politico make such a rookie mistake?

No doubt Clarke would be armed with a string of prepared and PR approved answers for tough questions on the most controversial topics, so did he just forget his composure and set answers? Or is Clarke getting complacent in his long-held role as one of the country’s best known politicians? Just like celebrities and footballers who admit infidelity and expect the public and their wives to still love them, do politicians suffer complacency after long holding office? If so perhaps Ed Miliband and the others calling for Clarke’s resignation are right.

However, if it was a genuine misunderstanding, should the public accept Clarke’s subsequent apology and give him another chance – after all, we all say dumb things but it wouldn’t necessarily cost Joe Blogs his job.

Or, perhaps Clarke just needs a new PR team or refresher course in how not to cause a media and public furore.

Whatever the reason for his comment, the media frenzy continues and it will be interesting to see if Clarke will be the latest in a long line to fall from a few small words.

The voice of PR in the media?

Thursday, May 19th, 2011 by Jenny Mason


The recent Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) Future Leaders Forum – held in Manchester – questioned the role of the CIPR.

The remit of the Future Leaders Forum, established in 2010, is to ensure that young PR practitioners have a say in the future of the profession, with discussions at the event focused on the role the CIPR can play in both supporting the work of its members and giving the industry a voice in wider debates.

Phil Morgan, Director of Policy and Communication at the CIPR, outlined the Institute’s agenda for the year and Russ Brady, Head of Group Public Relations at The Co-Operative Group, gave an insight into the role the CIPR had played in his career development.

The past couple of years has seen a clear effort to raise the profile of the CIPR, with the publication of a number of best practice guides on key topics such as social media and the correct use of statistics. These will play an important role in making the Institute more relevant to its members, as well as improving the reputation of the PR industry.

Phil Morgan’s overview of the 2011/2012 policy agenda was well received at last week’s event, but wider questions were raised. Should the CIPR’s role in supporting its members’ professional interests be taken as a given, and should the Institute instead be asserting itself into broader debates more forcefully?

The CIPR claims to be “the advocate and voice of the public relations profession, a champion of our professional interests, a respected partner to the broader communications community and a body that works in the public interest.”

This is an ambitious statement, but with even its main trade publication seeking comment from other sources on hot topics such as the threat social media poses to the effectiveness of court injunctions, the CIPR has some way to go in living up to this claim.

For now, the likes of Max Clifford and Mark Borkowski remain the media’s first point of call for comment on key issues. Some in the industry may not be happy with this, but can the CIPR muster enough support from its members to change the situation?

Injunctions get tabloids all of a twitter

Wednesday, May 18th, 2011 by Mark Perry


Under all the debate about the role injunctions are having in stopping the press talking about celebrities indiscretions there in an interesting sub-text about  what place the media – in particular the ‘red tops’ – have in the era of social media.

It seems as if the combination of the growth of social media like Twitter and the use of injunctions may just have taken away one of the key platforms for the tabloids – gossip.  Take away that and with it goes a reason to buy the chosen newspaper.  

This week it was interesting to hear that actor Hugh Grant on Richard Bacon’s Radio 5 Live programme – both no strangers to tabloid revelations –  call for all tabloids to be put out of business – “We don’t want them, we don’t need them and the sooner they go out of business the better…. as they rely on stealing people’s privacy.”

It is that privacy so many celebrities are now keen to maintained through injunctions while, as events of the last few weeks have shown, their names have come in to the public domain through Twitter. Indeed, such is the desire to uncover these names that Twitter has seen a 14% increase in traffic on the day names had been revealed.

There is no doubt that some of the names have not always been accurate. Indeed Jemima Khan had to deny her involvement in an injunction after she was named on Twitter.

Reflecting that the celebrities with their injunctions may be opening a long-term problem for themselves. If a newspaper does publish something that is later proved to be inaccurate it can be sued. At present it is almost impossible to take action against a claim which appears on Twitter and can do just as much damage in the long term. As the saying goes “be careful what you wish for”.

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.

Consumer benefit – the key to campaign success

Tuesday, May 17th, 2011 by Julie Wilson


It’s an obvious statement to make, but I’m a strong believer that for a consumer engagement campaign to be truly effective, it must offer real consumer benefit.

The following campaign by Coca-Cola is a prime example of one that does just that.

Stunningly simple, the brand turned the headache of a grid-locked journey home into a live and entertaining brand experience.

Engaging all of the senses with a cinematic experience amplified through drivers’ in-car stereo systems, the drive through or perhaps more accurately put, traffic stand still, movie experience provided frustrated drivers with a welcome distraction.  What’s more it provided the perfect platform from which to sample the brand’s new Coke Minis to an engaged and appreciative audience.

A great campaign, which put the product into the hands of target consumers when they needed it most.  A fitting promotion for the brand which strives to “spread happiness.”