Archive for October, 2011

Marketers need to stretch into the future

Thursday, October 20th, 2011 by Jon Clements

Attention marketers – if you want to be a chief marketing officer (or marketing director on this side of the Pond), then be warned: “the market is moving faster than the function”.

So says Jon Iwata, IBM’s senior VP of marketing and communications, who shared his thoughts in Harvard Business Review’s recent “Changing role of the CMO” webcast.

Based on the findings of an IBM Global CMO Study, he was joined by his counterparts at Yahoo – Elisa Steele – and at Schneider Electric – Aaron Davies – to examine how the most senior marketing role has changed and what the future holds.

And the kick-off point was the CMO’s job to “close the gap between [a company’s] desired corporate character and reality”. Iwata quoted no less a figure than Abraham Lincoln to make the point that “Reputation is the shadow, character is the tree.” In other words, how  a business is perceived externally is only as strong as the truth underpinning what that company actually does rather that what it claims to do.

Steele highlighted that we’re living in the “age of accountability” in which the volume of conversations about brand and customer experience hit CMOs where it hurts! But the availability of data and analytics means marketers who are not exploring the “science bit” are unable to support company growth in the way they should. As Davies metaphorises, “customer data is a gift, if you unwrap it correctly”. Perhaps masochistically, he also suggests that – for the marketer – “failure is a gift as well”.

Coming, inevitably, to social media and the CMO, Iwata describes IBM’s approach as empowering people to be good and responsible with it – especially as the collective number of IBMers on LinkedIn (300,000, apparently) and their 1st order contacts constitutes a larger community than visits every day. The combination of people and the content they create is a real opportunity, says Iwata, while Steele describes the social media-induced “collapse of the marketing funnel”. And despite the fact that social media ROI remains hazy, Steele feels that, intuitively, it’s the right thing to be doing.

Iwata acknowledges the obstacles at policy level in companies when it comes to social media, with finance heads fearing leakage or disclosure and HR balking at any online criticism of management. But, he says, “you can’t just use it [social media] for listening and co-creation but turn it off when people are criticising or saying things that make you uncomfortable”. Conversely, he sees social media as an investment that pales (in cost terms) compared to traditional marketing approaches.

But the effectiveness of using social media has “not been fully cracked”, according to Iwata, adding that “Web 2.0 is still in the mode of sending messages to individuals”.

However, traditional marketing still has its place, according to these leading marketers: Davies, despite calling digital “the wallpaper in many organisations now”, says there is “a place for everything still”, citing his experience of a 50/50 split of online and traditional marketing in China right now.

Leaving the final word to Jon Iwata, his advice for those aspiring to be future CMOs is “stretch yourself into new spaces”. After all, it’s the character of your company that’s at stake.




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 ''

The Stone Roses – Guardian Readers Bite Back

Wednesday, October 19th, 2011 by Rob Brown

A function of the social web is that journalism, is fast becoming an interactive form.  Most of us of a certain age spotted that The Stone Roses had announced at a press conference they were reforming and our reactions were mainly good, some bad, others indifferent.

Step forward one  Sam Wolfson a journalist who writes mostly about music for the Guardian, NME and a slew of popular culture mags and sites.  In The Guardian Music blog he wrote today a piece entitled “The Stone Roses didn’t soundtrack my generation – please shut up about them”.  He went on to say that he wasn’t even born when the Stone Roses released their debut album in 1989 and bemoaned having the music and legend “rammed down my throat”.   My beef wasn’t that he didn’t like the Roses  (one truly great record, not so much live) but rather his sloppy journalism.  He described New Order who formed in 1980 from the ashes of Joy Division (we all know that, right?) as being the offspring of the Stone Roses…who formed in 1983.  He starts a paragraph with ‘but’.

Well, I wasn’t the only one vexed.   In just eight hours the post has attracted 120 comments – some longer than the original article and most more entertaining or better informed.  Have a read.


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).

Food Fight – Is this a Price Cut War?

Wednesday, October 12th, 2011 by Hannah Newbould


Tesco, Sainsbury’s, ASDA? That is the question on so many consumers’ minds at the moment.  Where will customers get the most out of their money and which shop offers the cheapest deals?

Competition for shoppers’ cash has become increasingly aggressive as economic uncertainty, wage freezes and high inflation have squeezed consumer income.

A couple of weeks ago we saw that following the announcement of slow growth from the UK’s largest supermarket chain Tesco, the company would launch an aggressive £500million ‘Price Drop’ campaign meaning 3,000 price cuts on its products, including milk, vegetables, fruit and bread.

Soon followed ASDA with a knee-jerk marketing campaign, pushing its continuous promise to be 10 per cent cheaper than any other supermarket, and now Sainsbury’s. Tomorrow we will see the launch of their ‘Brand Match’ campaign, a technology Sainsbury’s has invested in allowing customers to compare prices of their branded products in their baskets to the same products in Tesco and ASDA.  From this Wednesday, Sainsbury’s will issue customers with coupons to the value of the difference between its branded goods and those of its rivals. This has been launched exactly two weeks after Tesco’s campaign.

“The launch of Brand Match across the UK represents a revolution in retail and is fantastic news for hard-pressed shoppers,” said Sainsbury’s commercial director Mike Coupe.

In saying all of this, it has been announced today that ‘cheaper’ supermarket, ALDI, has seen a growth of 25% share over the 12 weeks leading up to October, the complete opposite of Tesco, which is seeing slow growth. Morrisons is currently the best performing supermarket out of the ‘big four’.

It will be interesting to see which of these campaigns will really lure consumers into spending at each of the supermarkets and if we will see a bigger growth in the cheaper supermarkets such as  ALDI, LIDL and Iceland.


Wünderful Stuff from Müller

Friday, October 7th, 2011 by Rob Brown

We don’t often embed ads at PR Media Blog but this is wünderful. From Müller and our friends at TBWA.

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).

Knox verdict right for the media

Thursday, October 6th, 2011 by Mark Perry


It feels as if Amanda Knox’s acquittal this week is the climax of a four year long ‘PR campaign’.

In the build up to the decision by the court in Perugia, the world’s media descended on the town. We also heard from the family of Meredith Kercher who felt justly that their daughter and sister had been forgotten in the media’s focus on Knox.

As events built to Monday’s appeal decision it felt that even the timing of the verdict at almost 9pm was ideal for the American networks’ early evening news programmes.

Within 24 hours Knox was back in her town in Seattle speaking to the gathered news pack. It does however feels as if the ‘PR campaign’ has missed one important thing and something that is a key ingredient to handling a crisis situation.

At no time did she acknowledge her friend Meredith or use the opportunity to reflect on their friendship. Instead it was left to her lawyer to say that “Meredith was Amanda’s friend. Amanda and the family want you to remember Meredith and keep the Kercher family in your prayers.”

Max Clifford has been used as guide as to what she does next. His suggestion was for her to go on a TV show which has international exposure to set the record straight. There is no doubt that when she does decide to come out and tell her story that she will be well rewarded and is no doubt already agreed.

Let us not forget behind the story that Knox has to tell about her experiences in Italy and in an Italian prison that the Kercher family is still looking for closure.


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.

Facebook befriends Spotify

Tuesday, October 4th, 2011 by Gemma Ellis

Another week, and another Facebook update that’s caused a racket in the media. This time it’s the social network’s partnership with digital music service Spotify that’s got punters in a spin.

Facebook will now offer free music streaming through Spotify whereby users can share their listening habits with friends, get personal recommendations and see what’s trending. To complete the union, it will also be compulsory for new Spotify customers to sign up with a Facebook account.

So, thumbs up from the social media giant in terms of user engagement – Facebook has access to a whole new audience who are being engaged on the site for longer and in more diverse activities.

But – surprise, surprise – privacy is once again an issue.

Subscribers are up in arms that their music choices should be made public while many feel alienated that Spotify would ‘sell out’ by enforcing Facebook membership on its customers.

I can understand why people are irked but personally I’m excited about having access to an eclectic music library based on what my friends are enjoying, rather than what the critics tell me to. Besides, the option exists to privatise listening activities, so if you do want to hide those guilty pleasure records, you can.


Murphy Knocks Out Sky in TV Pub Brawl

Tuesday, October 4th, 2011 by Rob Brown

Sky Sports Ruling

A ruling on the activities of a tiny pub near Portsmouth looks set to have huge implications for the market in sports rights in the media.   Karen Murphy, the landlady at the Red White and Blue in Southsea used a Greek set-top box to show Premier League matches.  They found out and took her to court, because broadcasters who buys rights from the Premier League have a monopoly in the country for which the bought them.  In the UK that means  Sky and ESPN.

Murphy was found guilty and fined £8,000 but she appealed saying that the ruling was anti-competitive and she’d paid for the service.  This morning in a landmark decision the EU court of justice ruled in her favour says selling broadcasting rights which excludes viewers with foreign decoders breaches European competition law.

Given the potential threat to Sky Sports huge income from Premier League football, this won’t be a happy morning for the beleaguered media monolith News Corp.

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).