Archive for January, 2012

Guardian’s Newsdesk live: exposing the newsroom?

Monday, January 30th, 2012 by Jon Clements

Do the humble consumers of news care how the news comes about? And do they care to contribute to the stories of the day?

The Guardian’s latest online editorial experiment is about to find out with the launch today of Newsdesk Live, combining its already established “open news list” of each day’s selected stories and correspondents with the liveblogging platform and live comment thread. So, for everyone determined to add a tuppence worth to the news process, the Guardian is the place to go.

Run by the ever-industrious Guardian correspondent, Polly Curtis, who is adding this to her Whitehall and Reality Check column responsibilities, Newsdesk Live is forensically dissecting a small number of stories – which today includes Stephen Hester’s bank bonus and the UCAS application figures – while giving space to graphics, multimedia and input from the Twitterverse.

Dan Roberts, the Guardian’s national news editor says, in a reply to a reader: “For those worrying about excessive navel-gazing, it’s a fair point if we get carried away, but mostly what you are seeing is part of the editorial process that goes on any way – just usually behind closed doors. More importantly, I hope the Guardian’s recent record in breaking stories shows that taking an open approach often results in better journalism too.”

And the Newsdesk Live concept is now getting high praise in high places…

Citizens and journalists reporting the news? My first editor – if he were dead – would be turning in his grave!

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 ''

Edelman’s trust barometer under pressure

Monday, January 23rd, 2012 by Jon Clements

Is international PR agency, Edelman’s annual trust barometer to be trusted?

Or, more to the point, can a PR firm that opts to work with News International be trusted on the subject of “trust”? This is the stance that influential MP and Murdoch-mitherer, Tom Watson, asserted on Twitter this morning – on the day Edelman launched its 12th annual trust and credibility survey.

Watson’s challenge to Edelman led to this exchange with its EMEA CEO, Robert Phillips:

Which led to Phillip’s response (large type) and Watson’s accusation (small type), based on Edelman’s News International connection:

And Phillips’ somewhat indignant plea to Watson:

And a final volley from Watson in return:

So, is Watson right? Is handling PR for News International to be treated as a similarly unethical assignment as – say – representing repressive regimes? And does it destroy your credibility as a communications business?

Only Edelman and NI knows how the conversation went when the deal was being struck, but Watson’s suggestion that working for NI is de facto unethical – ergo Edelman is unethical – is too simplistic and no doubt reflects his own visceral feelings towards Murdoch and co.

If a fly on the wall in the Edelman/NI negotiations told us that the job briefed by the client was to “get us off the hook, spin it any way you want to, but don’t tell us how to run our business,” then Edelman would have to ask itself if this was a gig it wanted.

However, if that same fly reported that the client acknowledged the mess it had made, was willing to make amends to the victims and was committed to a thorough overhaul of its business practices and culture for its own survival and the public good, that’s a different story.

Just as most offenders get the chance to rehabilitate themselves, so companies and organisations deserve the opportunity to put the past behind them and build a new, responsible and ethical paradigm. And if a PR firm is part of a genuine and concerted effort on the part of that company to demonstrate its contrition and willingness to change, then why not? After all, creating good will and understanding among its publics are laudable aims for a company and its PR advisers. According to political commentators Watson, himself, is not averse to the use of PR consultancy.

Tom Watson is not alone in being appalled and disgusted by the endemic corruption and wrongdoing we now know existed in News International. But once the punishment has been handed out, is there no room for second chances?



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 ''

Does reputation get a sporting chance?

Friday, January 20th, 2012 by Jon Clements

Does anybody care about having a good reputation in football?

Any casual observer of the so-called “beautiful game” would presume that football or footballers have as much connection with the notion of corporate reputation as an earth worm does.

After years of attempting to kick racism out of the UK game, high profile players for major league clubs are becoming associated with that most repugnant of behaviour. Is it unrealistic to expect respectful on-pitch relations from our footballers, or are they simply too stupid to recognise as acceptable what the bulk of society did long ago?

And, this week, the match between Iberian titans, Madrid and Barcelona – a fixture that’s become predictably ill-tempered – outdid itself for pointless, farcial, reputation shredding bad behaviour.

Spanish sports commentators labelled the performance by Madrid as “treason against their own history”, saying that manager Jose Mourinho “threw away all Madrid’s history and instead insisted on a lamentable match from which he got no benefit for Madrid. It was all bad: the result, the play, the violence.”

What does this matter, in a sport where – despite money and scandal overflowing in equal measure – fans continue to show up and sponsors back the big teams?

Trusty Twitter friends came forward with their own views:  asked whether it mattered if football clubs had a good or bad reputation, veteran communications professional, @NigelSarbutts, opined “To the fans, sort of; to sponsors, more so, but it’s still trumped by pragmatism. Brands queue up to sponsor any Premier League side I’d say. It’s just ad space.”

Corporate communications expert, @domburch, felt reputation fundamental, even in football: “Of course. Attracting new talent (back office as well as players), new fans, sponsorship – all dependent on your reputation.”

Former Staniforth colleague, Ghida Basma – whose Masters degree dissertation focused on reputation in football, says that the reputation of players can’t help but have a correlation on the reputation of the club.

Interestingly, a 10-year-old piece of research suggests that clubs with a reputation for foul play tend to be penalised by referees more, based on a predisposition in the official’s brain that players for a notoriously “dirty” club must be up to their usual tricks. Yorkshire PR man, Anthony Devenish, says: “Leeds takes flack as ‘dirty Leeds’, thanks to the 70’s team. Their rumoured motto? ‘Let’s get blood on our boots’.”

In other fields – business, politics, the military and, more recently, in tabloid journalism – taking a reckless attitude to reputation has a variety of tangible effects, among them imprisonment, loss of trust, collapsing share price, corporate closure and so on.

Surely, the workings of  world’s most popular sport and building and maintaining a good reputation are not mutually exclusive concepts?

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 ''