Archive for May, 2011

Twitter and football – a beautiful game?

Monday, May 16th, 2011 by Ghida Basma

Recent years have seen football transform into a multimillion dollar business and footballers become multimillionaires and celebrities in their own right. One of the main consequences of this modern dynamic of the sport has been a breakdown in relationships between football fans and players. The common perception among fans is that footballers are wannabe superstars who are not worthy of their salaries and have been so overshadowed by stardom that they have lost their real identity.

Interestingly, Twitter, is helping bridge these gaps as an increasing number of footballers embrace the social media phenomenon. The micro-blogging site is allowing footballers to voice their opinions and communicate with the public on a more personal level.

Rio Ferdinand (@rioferdy5), for example, recently reached the landmark of one million followers on the social network, making him the most followed footballer in Britain and a major source of sports news. The player has managed to cement himself as one of the social website’s most celebrated athletes and has smartly utilized the power of Twitter to promote his own brand and reach his fans…and many footballers are following suit.

Among those recently joining the site is Wayne Rooney (@WayneRooney) who managed to get over 300,000 followers in less than a week. However, not all footballers enjoyed a positive reception from “Tweeps”. Another Manchester United player, Darron Gibson, was forced to close his account just two hours after he opened it, following a series of attacks and abuse from fans for his poor performances on the pitch.

Regardless, the relationship between Twitter and football is growing, and Twitter is proving to be crucial in reviving the lost relationship between fans and football players. It is increasingly seen as a reliable source of news and fans are rejoicing the fact they can tell footballers exactly what they think of them.


Burson and Facebook’s reputation lesson

Friday, May 13th, 2011 by Jon Clements


Update: Now, Burston-Marsteller is outed for deleting negative comments on its Facebook page…

When the news broke yesterday about PR firm Burson-Marsteller’s covert campaign to rubbish Google on behalf of Facebook, I had to check the date. Had we, somehow, returned to April Fool’s Day; was this an elaborate hoax.

Alas, for BM, Facebook, the reputation of both (and the PR industry generally), it was 12 May.

If you haven’t yet heard, Facebook hired the PR company to place stories in high profile media such as the Washington and Huffington Post attacking arch rival Google’s privacy policies in relation to its social networking feature, Google Social Circle.

The plot was outed when journalists challenged BM about their “unnamed client” and the anti-Google campaign, and Facebook eventually came clean. The PR company later released its own statement on the debacle, saying: “This was not at all standard operating procedure and is against our policies, and the assignment on those terms should have been declined.”

It added, by way of justification, that “any information brought to media attention raised fair questions, was in the public domain, and was in any event for the media to verify through independent sources.”

Well, all of the above may be so. But it begs the questions: who thought that launching a smear campaign on behalf of a mystery “other” was a good PR strategy that would skip along unquestioned and unchallenged before being, ultimately, exposed? Did no-one involved in communications on either client or agency side raise a hand to say ‘I know this is the way you want to go, but this could go horribly, horribly wrong’?

Rather than having to concoct damage limitation statements about “public domain” information – insinuating that there was some casual, benign purpose in Facebook/BM’s story – wouldn’t it have been better for PR professionals to bury this campaign at birth? Surely, with BM’s “double-digit revenue growth” last year, it doesn’t need the money that badly to engage in dubious client projects.

At the discussion stage of this campaign – regardless of what column inches the client may have been salivating about with this story – good client counsel should have been focused on the more important element of reputation. Not least because Facebook’s own record on privacy issues has been under fire.

Not one for grandiose statements, the Guardian’s technology editor, Charles Arthur, described it as “an epochal moment”.

Neither Facebook nor Burson-Marsteller has come out of this well. And thinking, selfishly, from a purely PR industry position, we’re all the poorer for 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 ''

Record radio ratings – still a relevant medium

Thursday, May 12th, 2011 by Mark Perry


As Queen’s song Radio Ga Ga said in 1984 “You had your time, you had the power you’ve yet to have your finest hour”, and it seems as if that might be true.

The publication of the latest Rajars  show that some stations are growing strongly with record audiences. This growth is not confined to any one genre with big gains in speech  at Talksport and Radio 4 as well as music including, Radio 3 and Classic FM.

Digital only stations are also doing well with records being set by BBC 6 Music and Radio 7, now rebranded as Radio 4 Extra, and  1 Xtra. Smooth seems to have gained from becoming a national station with some ‘headline signings’.

So while the choice of media continues to grow it seems that radio still maintains a special place and maybe video hasn’t killed the radio star after all.


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.

Sliding newspaper circulation? Not in India

Thursday, May 12th, 2011 by Mark Perry


Who said newspaper circulations are falling? Well, not in India they’re not.

Circulations on the sub-continent have seen a solid growth over the last year according to the recent Indian Readership Survey.

The growth is put down to rising literacy rates, increasing population and low cover prices – some as low as 3p.

Some of the circulation figures are mind-boggling compared with what we are used to in the UK. The Hindi daily Dainik Jagran gained an extra 120,000 readers in the last quarter of 2010 and now has an average issue readership of 16.07 million.

Despite having 29 regional languages, the English language newspapers such as the Times of India, with an average readership 7.42 million, are seeing a surge in sales. This is helped by English speakers wanting to improve their use of the language –  seen as vital to being successful in the business world.

The circulation boost may not yet be threatened by electronic versions as the internet penetration is still relatively low on the sub-continent 8.5% in 2010 compared with 82.5% in the UK.

There is some way to go before the internet is widely available which means that the Indian newspaper circulation growth could continue along with the forecast 100 million population rise by 2020.


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.

Get behind a royally great social media campaign

Wednesday, May 11th, 2011 by Claire Beesley


Few can argue the continued power of social media and the symbiotic relationship between this worldwide phenomenon and the communications industry. As companies and brands the world over strive to get befriended, liked and followed, communication experts are forever looking forward for creative new ways to break into the psyche of the common consumer and capture the ever-important social media audience. However, it would now seem that the answer has been behind us all along…

The recent nuptials of Prince William and his commoner bride was undoubtedly a royal success. However, it was the unlikely underdog of the new Duchess of Cambridge’s little sister, or more to the point – the Duchess of Cambridge’s little sister’s derrière, that has prevailed as the event’s biggest star.

Within just hours of walking down the aisle wearing that now famous Alexander McQueen bridesmaid dress, Pippa Middleton had became a global sex symbol and her shapely rear-end a social media icon. By the time commoner Kate officially became the Duchess of Cambridge, Pippa’s booty had over 30,000 ‘likes’ on the newly created Facebook fan page – Pippa Middleton Ass Appreciation Society – which now boasts more than 214,600 admirers.

Just days after the wedding, her behind continued to dominate the social media portal with hundreds of other Facebook groups, pages and mentions popping up in P-Middy’s (as some media sources have now dubbed her) honour. However, the craze did not stop there. Pippa’s behind quickly had its own website that already displays advertising – a clear indication of the site’s reach. Her tush also went viral on Twitter, with over 1,680 people now following @pippasass, and gained momentum on YouTube, with mash-up videos and clips of her buns at the wedding generating views in the hundreds of thousands.

One needs only to have picked up a paper or woman’s magazine recently to see how this social media movement dedicated to her bottom has perpetuated the Pippa Middleton craze sweeping the nation and the world, with Pippa dominating magazine covers and news since the big day. So powerful was the social media campaign that it even became news in its own right, with numerous UK and international articles reporting the Facebook page’s immediate success.

With everything from a love affair with Prince Harry to a potential porn film role offer being reported, Pippa is no doubt a hot news topic and the new people’s choice pin-up. All kinds of reasons besides her attractive rump could be cited for this; namely that now Kate is no longer a commoner like the rest of us, Pippa is far more attainable.

However, whatever the reasons for Pippa’s popularity, it is undeniable that her ass’s social media dominance presents us with a perfectly rounded case study how news can be created and perpetuated by a successful social media campaign.

Needless to say, it’s not long before YouTube video mash-up makers get in on the act.

Local news lives on with Newspaper Week

Tuesday, May 10th, 2011 by Jenny Mason


This week is Local Newspaper Week (9-15 May) – the Newspaper Society’s annual celebration of the strength of regional and local press in the UK.

Editors across the country will be taking the opportunity to remind their readers of the important role that newspapers play in their local area.

For years, local newspapers have acted as the champion of their communities – putting council decisions under the spotlight, giving perspective on arguments around controversial developments and sharing their readers’ stories.

Local newspapers remain the first media that 60% of people turn to if they want to raise awareness of a local issue or problem. But, with the second half of last year seeing a year-on-year fall in circulation for the vast majority of paid-for weekly local and regional papers in the UK, is their role changing?

The latest ABCes make far more comfortable reading for local newspaper editors, with 90% of publishers growing the unique user figures on their regional websites last year.

Titles such as the Lancashire Telegraph and Liverpool Echo succeeded in growing the number of daily unique visitors to their websites dramatically – by 59% and 44% respectively.

Guardian News & Media’s recent decision not to progress its Guardian Local experiment raises questions as to the ongoing role of local journalism in a digital age.

But, with thirty four million unique users continuing to rely on their local newspaper websites every month, could this be indicative of a reluctance of communities to abandon the brands that they have seen as championing their needs for generations?

About Jenny Mason

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

Corporate reputation – a priceless thing

Monday, May 9th, 2011 by Jon Clements


Who says a hit to your corporate reputation doesn’t cost money?

Sony, in the wake of the hacking attack on its Playstation Network and potential exposure of customer credit card and personal details, has seen its share price drop and new insurance cover instigated for 100m users, covering each for up to $1m against cyber attacks.

Its worldwide gaming service remains closed as of today and could be back on line only by the end of the month. And, at that point, how much trust will be restored among customers to return? As Dan Goodin, writing in the Register says in response to Sony’s customer advice to change passwords” : “Of course, that suggestion assumes users continue to trust Sony to safeguard their information and stand behind assurances that the PlayStation Network is secure.”

Since the crisis first arose last month, Sony has been in the firing line for its speed of response – both in alerting customers to the possible data breach and the apology from CEO, Sir Howard Stringer, which came two weeks after the event.

Clearly, having systems that are sufficiently robust to protect against hackers is at the root of protecting corporate reputation.

But how an organisation communicates at a time of crisis is an essential part of the process of reassuring and retaining its customers’ trust and loyalty once the crisis is over.

At a recent Management Today round table discussion – entitled Managing reputations after the age of spin –  communications professionals and business leaders shared their wisdom on the power and value of PR in the face of reputation meltdown:

Simon Baugh, Airport communication director, Heathrow: “The age of spin is dead really…you have no choice but to be authentic and transparent.”

Andrew Gowers, former head of media relations, BP and former co-head of corporate communications, Lehman Brothers: “Take…Lehman Brothers. [the management] didn’t reveal to anybody what they were really thinking. Communications were blank which led to a hailstorm of rumours. There was no communication strategy because there was no survival strategy for the firm. Therefore, the end was very swift.”

Nick Smith, global managing director – marketing transformation, Accenture: “Reputational management should be aimed at all audiences…your role isn’t just about managing damage limitation, it’s about pro-actively building trust in that enterprise.”

MT editor, Matthew Gwyther, in his leader article notes that “Most bosses with any sense how realise that corporate reputation is a priceless thing” and even acknowledges that times have changed from when PR was “the bastard child of propaganda”.

However, putting things in perspective, it’s not the communications director or media relations manager alone that dictates the rise or fall of a company’s reputation: as Simon Baugh says, “The reputation of a company is going to be based on a hell of a lot more that what that individual does.”

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 ''