Archive for August, 2011

End of the road for the music festival?

Monday, August 22nd, 2011 by Gemma Ellis

As the festival season draws to a stuttering close, the media is quick to sound the death knell for this once much-loved British institution.

In a year that’s been marred by cancellations, postponements and slow ticket sales, the format is certainly looking a bit sickly. Even Glastonbury founder Michael Eavis has pronounced the festival “on the way out,” citing an over-crowded market as the cause of decline – claims which have been reiterated by his competitors.

Industry commentators have attributed the dip in demand to the same stale line-ups being marched out at various festivals across the summer. But, while there is a feeling that people have seen it all before, I find Isle of Wight organiser, John Giddings argument that “the UK music industry isn’t making new stars” a little thin on the ground.

It’s short-sighted to speak of a dearth of new talent when festivals awash with breakthrough acts thrive.  End Of The Road, running from 2 to 4 September, being an excellent case in point.

The family-friendly festival boasts the exclusive UK appearances of both Midlake and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, as well as an eclectic array of genre-spanning performers. Needless to say, tickets sold out well in advance.

Too many of the big events continue to rely on established names, thinking they’re a sure-fire hit, while festival-goers become weary of watching the same old acts perform the same old sets.

My advice to music lovers would be to get out there, try something new and untap into some of the fantastic bands yet to break into the mainstream. Who knows, you might actually enjoy it.


Low take up of magazines’ digital editions

Monday, August 22nd, 2011 by Mark Perry

Hidden away in the latest ABC issued last week were interesting facts relating to digital editions of magazines.

With the growth, in particular of tablets and e-readers, you would have expected it to be a strong market.

It seems that where they are available the digital versions represent about 1% of total sales accroding the Press Gazette. The top sellers are Men’s Health (1,746), Hello (1,165) and Stuff (981).

Magazines such as House & Garden, Autocar and Cosmopolitan sell around 300 copies each and Vogue just 185.

While these are just optimised versions of the established print editions, there are magazines launching, such as Football Espana, which are solely as electronic versions having the look and feel of a traditional magazine. It will be interesting to see how well they do without the legacy of having had a print edition.

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.

Big Brother is back

Thursday, August 18th, 2011 by Jo Rosenberg

Celebrity Big Brother returns to our screens tonight, this time on a new and somewhat circumspect home, Channel 5.

Richard Desmond, who owns the channel along with Express Newspapers, will be desperate for the show to succeed before the real Big Brother kicks off later in the month.

The line-up includes X Factor’s Jedward, Kerry Katona, Pamela Anderson and the Speaker’s wife Sally Bercow.

Channel 5 appear to have kept relatively tight lipped about the format, although it’s expected to have received only minor tweaks to the C4 show that we all know, and some love.

But what will viewers make of having to switch to Channel 5? If we cast our minds back to 2008 when Aussie soap Neighbours left the BBC and moved to Channel 5, it’s said to have lost a staggering 300,000 viewers in the process.

And following the Shilpa Shetty race row in 2007, which severely tarnished Big Brother, Channel 5 is already handling damaged goods.

Then there’s the concern over media coverage. In the good old days, the red tops ran pages and pages of BB gossip but as Desmond’s empire includes rival titles the Daily Express, Daily Star and OK!, it’s unclear as to how much the Sun, Daily Mirror and other gossip and celeb mags will actually embrace the show.

What will be interesting is how much the show will utilise social networks, bearing in mind its young audience. The live internet feed is said to be a thing of the past.

On the plus side, Channel 5 is known for being more commercially minded than C4 and certainly more risqué, therefore is likely to stop at very little. We already know that a double shower and a sauna for two await contestants, if that doesn’t make for steamy viewing, what will?



Social Media – Pro or Con In The Riots?

Thursday, August 18th, 2011 by Hannah Newbould


During last week’s horrific rioting it has become clear that social media was criticised as playing a major part in organising these terrible events. With gangs tweeting about meeting spots and bragging about looting family owned businesses, it is no wonder that people are pointing the finger at social media.

However, it is becoming increasingly clear that Blackberry Messenger has actually been a key player in the organisation of these events. In fact, if anything, social media has played a positive role in the riots.

The Guardian reported that the most up to date rallying in the London riots took place not on Twitter or Facebook but “on a more covert social network, Blackberry Messenger.”

In Twitter / Facebook’s defence, it is great to see that there was such a vast amount of people using social media to rectify the problem.  People of many generations are taking to the streets of Manchester, London and all the other affected cities to clear up the scenes of destruction.

Hashtagged as #riotcleanup people have travelled to arranged spots with a broom in hand and with all the passion in the world to clear up what these rioters have created.

Over 1000 people turned up to last week’s clean-up in Manchester’s Piccadilly Gardens armed with brooms and bin bags alone.

It’s encouraging to see that there was such a great number of people wanting to clear up the mess and they came together via social media channels to arrange this.

The Metropolitan Police have also created a Flickr album named ‘London Disorder – Operation Withern’ in order to showcase rioters in the hope of catching them through the social networking channel.

Stephen Fry also backed the campaign tweeting earlier in the week “I do hope that if I was in London now, I’d be as good & brave & kind as all those who are agreeing to meet & help clean up.”

Ex-Big Brother contestant, Sam Pepper,  also created an anti-riot operation himself by creating a Facebook event page named Operation Cup of Tea which has trended on Twitter all day last Wednesday. ‘Make Tea Not War’ and urging people to stay at home and enjoy a cup of tea and post a picture of themselves at 8.30 pm last night – designed for those who would sooner stay in and drink a cup of tea.

The social media world of football

Tuesday, August 9th, 2011 by Jo Rosenberg


90% of football fans have decided who their favourite football club is by the age of 10.

No question then that football fans are fiercely loyal and, unlike the average consumer in most other walks of life, they want to know everything about the club’s supply chain and voice opinions about decisions, whether it’s an on or off the pitch matter.

Yet despite the fact that social media provides a global forum in which a club can engage with every single fan and as a result, improve and develop club fan relationships, it is still, in many cases, practised with caution, and rightly so.

Fans don’t want to be talked at via social media channels, or fed useless, second hand information. They want exclusives, they want debate and interaction with the club and its players and if there’s an opportunity to win money-can’t-buy, club-related prizes then all the better.

To design and host an effective social media platform requires time and effort; yet once a resource is in place and a strategy agreed, the benefits to both the fans and the club can be considerable.

Content is king, relevance is critical and the tone must be friendly and engaging and appear to be opening the door of the club to its fans. It must also provide a two-way conversation, hence a designated role should be created to ensure the content is well-managed and well-timed.

Like many industries, the use of social media in football goes way beyond being simply a communication vehicle; it can also provide revenue driving opportunities. Big sponsorship deals can only be justified if the club reaches a bigger audience and this means international markets which are not easily reached by traditional media.

And when social media is well established, there are potential opportunities via affiliate marketing by adding value to sponsorship deals, cross promotional activity with sponsors, or through direct sales of official kit or unsold tickets.

And let’s not forget how instrumental social media can be in a crisis situation by providing the club with the opportunity to set the record straight.  It might be a player scandal or a controversial boardroom decision. Either way it’s an instantaneous channel to fans which can’t be obscured by journalists.

Manchester City FC is one of the most proactive clubs when it comes to social networking, utilising the obvious Facebook and Twitter networks along with Flickr, in which they encourage fans to share photography, which the club admits has helped inspire new PR and retail campaigns.

But a football club can’t just dip in and out of social media. Fans will feel cheated and will quickly retort. A key and critical point to including social media within a marcomms strategy is to build virtual relationships with fans which must then be maintained. New fans must feel welcome and existing fans must feel valued.



The truth is out there

Monday, August 8th, 2011 by Gemma Ellis

In the wake of allegations of plagiarism and phone hacking, the good reputation of the British media suffered a further blow last week when it emerged that a story featured in several of the major news outlets – including the BBC, Daily Mail and The Telegraph – was an elaborate hoax.

The article in question stemmed from phoney psychometric consulting company, AptiQuant, which claimed that Internet Explorer (IE) users possessed significantly lower intelligence than those using other browsers. As well as being highly offensive, the report was flagged up by readers of the BBC website as completely and utterly untrue.

As shocking as this incident is, the IE IQ fabrication isn’t the only dubious tale to feature in the press of late. The recent case of Thornton v The Telegraph also brought issues of culpability to the fore, in which journalist Sarah Thornton successfully sued acclaimed author Lynn Barber for libel. Barber was found to have made a slew of untrue claims in her review of Thornton’s non-fiction narrative, Seven Days in the Art World; effectively, she was judged guilty of lying for calling Thornton a liar.

While I don’t wish to get into a debate on the wider issues surrounding the Barber review and the fine line between subjective criticism and categorical falsity, what this story and the IE IQ hoax signify is a greater need for accountability in the media.

I am not advocating that journalists move to a system of stringent referencing complete with academic Cliff notes, but they certainly need to stop these incidents happening. If, as the marketing bods so often like to tell us, content is king, then getting the facts right should surely play an important part of this reign.


Cosmo for Guys Launches with Ipad Head Girl

Monday, August 1st, 2011 by Rob Brown

The relentless march of the digital magazine continued with today’s launch of an iPad male version of Cosmopolitan called CFG: Cosmo For Guys. To herald the launch an imaginative bit of film called Ipad Head Girl dropped on Youtube.  The link to the magazine is clear if you stick with the video passed the minute mark.

The content of the new iPad magazine is 21+ and holds to the maxim that sex sells.  With monthly issues available as in-app purchases, priced at $1.99 (or yearly for $19.99) it makes more sense that the pay-wall model championed by several News corp. titles.


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).