Archive for the ‘Events’ Category

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.


Coe shows Blatter secrets of crisis management

Wednesday, June 8th, 2011 by Mark Perry

A post on PR Media blog last week looked at the shenanigans at FIFA and the own goal scored by Sepp Blatter in handling the media storm surrounding world football’s governing body.

There was an interesting comparison today when Lord Coe appeared on a number of television and radio programmes to answer the growing discontent about the allocation of tickets for London 2012.

A consummate politician, Coe comes across as being at ease in front of the camera and microphone and puts across his position in a clear concise way. He  appears to be open, honest and transparent in talking about his subject.  He even managed to get away without giving precise numbers of tickets available in the second ballot.

He could quiet easily have ‘ducked’ the whole issue and the 2012 organisers put up someone from the communications team. Instead, he came to the studios to answer the questions while showing that he is still very much the face of the event. He has helped to try and get the 2012 ‘brand’ through the storm untarnished unlike the impact of last week’s events on FIFA.

Coe, 54, has grown up in the media age and, as a sportsman and politician, has seen how the media can either make or break you.  Blatter, 75, comes from another age.

Blatter is attending the 2012 Games in his position as a member of the International Olympic Committee. While he is here maybe he should take time out to discuss with Coe the secrets of  handling the media in a crisis.

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.

Social Media is Strictly’s New Dance Partner

Friday, October 1st, 2010 by Rob Brown

 Episode image for Launch Show

Strictly Come Dancing is set to strut back on to Saturday night screens and the social media marketing machine is sashaying into action.  We were talking about social media and TV on this blog almost two years ago when companies were taking their their first hesitant steps.  Now social media and event television go hand in hand with ever increasing numbers of viewers tweeting comments and opinions throughout live broadcasts prime time shows.

Strictly tweets appear on the BBC programme’s homepage and there is a designated hashtag for viewers #scd for viewers to follow the comments of others.  The programme’s Facebook page has 27,000 fans and the twitter account set up last year has around 16,000 followers and I’d expect both of those numbers to more than double during the current series.

According to the programme makers “we will be posting videos and news stories on the main BBC Strictly website and on Facebook. We’ll be blogging on all the need-to-know things that go on behind the scenes in TV Centre, and you’ll be able to comment on all the latest issues. The BBC Strictly Twitter will focus on providing immediate, behind-the-scenes images, video and commentary”.

The BBC and other broadcasters are aware that in the quest for TV ratings it’s not just about what you watch but when you watch it and by priming the virtual water-cooler they give the audience more reasons to watch the live transmission.

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).

Staniforth Gets 5 Nominations for PRide

Thursday, September 16th, 2010 by Rob Brown

We don’t normally use PR Media Blog to talk about the agency but we’re feeling pretty pleased with this news so we’ve made an exception.

Staniforth has been shortlisted in five categories in the CIPR North West PRide Awards. The agency’s crisis work for Manchester based Chill Factore during the January snow storms is nominated as are campaigns for RAC, Nissan and John Smiths.  The agency also is nominationed for the prestigious Best Use of Media Relations category with a campaign for PZ Cussons Original Source.  Last year the agency picked up a Gold Awards for its work with Kellogg’s.

Staniforth\ MD Rob Brown said “The agency will be out in force and we always enjoy the PRide Awards win or lose.”

The PRide award winners will be announces at a black tie award presentation dinner which will be take place on Wednesday 24 November 2010 at the Hilton Manchester Deansgate Hotel.

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).

Seetickets Puts Fans in a Rage

Thursday, February 18th, 2010 by Chris Bull

Tens of thousands of music fans were left enraged after seetickets, the only website on which fans were able to enter the draw for the free Rage Against the Machine concert, apparently crashed. The error left many fans staring at a loading screen or frantically refreshing the page for the three hours it took for all the tickets to be allocated. 

The free gig in London’s Finsbury Park was announced by the US anti-establishment rap-rock band earlier in the year as a thank you to British fans who helped the band’s expletive-ridden 1992 single, Killing in the Name to reach this year’s Christmas number one slot.  

The band achieved the feat after a social media-driven campaign – urging music fans to shun the latest X-Factor offering -caught the imagination of a large part of the British public. As the campaign’s website proclaims: “You spread the word, you swayed the outcome, you made music history”.

Over the weekend, tens, maybe even hundreds of thousands, went to to pre-register for the draw. Fans were then told to log on to the website at 9:00am on the 17th February to enter the draw for tickets.  

However it appeared that, despite knowing how many people were likely to visit the site, seetickets could simply not handle the numbers. Many have now taken to social media – the very platform which brought the gig into existence – to vent their frustration and lambast seetickets for its poor foresight and lack of preparation. 

From a PR perspective, this was a golden opportunity for seetickets to achieve some money-can’t-buy brand awareness. The only thing most music fans are aware of now, however, is the site’s ineptitude. Do a Twitter search for seetickets and you will struggle to see a positive comment, with many stating they will never use the site again. 

Seetickets? Just seeing the homepage would have been nice.

About Chris Bull

Account Exec for Staniforth PR, based in the TBWA\ Building in Whitfield Street, London. Areas of interest include politics, the car industry and sport.

Art – the new black?

Thursday, September 24th, 2009 by Julie Wilson


There’s been much debate around the value of the contemporary art market over recent months, however despite the unstable economic climate, the demand for art remains at a high.

Launched last year, following the publication of the Taste Buds report, which revealed the market for original art is thriving in the North West with the potential to more than double the number of art sales in the region, Buy Art Fair debuted with impact.

Now entering its second year, the consumer art buying event is commanding increased attention with the launch of The Manchester Contemporary, an exclusive showcase of the UK’s most cutting edge contemporary artists chosen by an independent panel of curators.

To be unveiled later this evening with an exclusive performance by John Strutton’s band, Arthur Brick, at The Urbis, Manchester, there is much anticipation surrounding the new contemporary art platform and the interest this will attract.

Certainly the event has been successful in securing some of the most current and exciting galleries of this time.  There will be thirteen in total, including DOMOBAAL, NETTIE HORN, Limoncello, Works/Projects and Man&Eve, and from closer to home Castlefield Gallery and International 3.  A specially commissioned work by internationally acclaimed artist, Nathaniel Mellors, and curated by Ceri Hand, will be at the heart of the new exhibition and is expected to be a big draw amongst avid art enthusiasts.

But who will be buying at this weekend’s events?  With over 500 guests confirmed for tonight’s invitation only preview, including John Squire, Ben Kelly, Kevin Cummins, Mani (Stone Roses) and former-bassist for Joy Division, Peter Hook, the interest in Buy Art Fair and The Manchester Contemporary is unquestionable.

You’d be wrong, however, to think that the events are only for the big spenders.  Last year’s success was, undoubtedly, down to the event organiser’s desire to break down the boundaries to art and provide something for everyone, in other words, not just those with a spare few thousands under the bed.

This year’s event will see prints available from just £50 and everything in between and up to £35,000 – good news for me.

If you’re in the market for a new piece of art or indeed are just looking for an alternative way to spend your weekend, then Buy Art Fair and The Manchester Contemporary are a must-visit.   And if you need any further persuading let the Guardian’s preview convince you…

Social media’s sweet music for veterans

Thursday, September 24th, 2009 by Mark Perry

You could be led to believe that musicians see the internet as an evil source of file sharing which is causing long-term damage to artist and audience alike.

For some – and even those who have been at the very top of the tree – it also provides a new way of linking directly to the audience without the record company as the gatekeeper.

One artist Daryl Hall, one half of Hall and Oates who are the biggest selling male duo of all time, has grasped the potential to move beyond live performance to communicate directly with the audience.

In what he called ‘one of those light bulb moments’ be decided to launch ‘Live from Daryl’s House’. The concept was simple – he would play music with friends trying new songs, more familiar Hall and Oates tracks with twist and unique performances of his fellow musicians’ songs. He has likened it to Later with Jools Holland.

The formula has worked and there have now been 23 episodes which have featured an eclectic mix of established artists including Smokey Robinson, members of The Doors, K.T. Tunstall, Todd Rundgren as well as recent newcomers including Plain White T’s, Parachute and Canadian techno-rockers Chromeo.

It has given his fans new access to Hall being able to see how he works in what he has described as an “opportunity for me to exhibit what it is I do directly to the public without any pre-judgment.”

As Hall said in a recent interview  when asked the question about how the web has changed his relationship with his fans he said: “The internet has taken away the influence of the gatekeepers, It’s offered a more populist, more direct way of communicating with people and I feel more attuned to the way I think and the way I perceive things.”

For other artists the web has enabled them not only to maintain their careers but also build on a solid fan base. One that has really grasped social media in all its forms is the former front man of the 1980s band The Alarm, Mike Peters.

Since the mid-1990s, without a major record deal, he was an early adopter of the medium by using the web and fans forums to maintain and build interest in his solo work. As the channels has grown so he has used them even using iTunes to send regular video reports of his climb up Everest to raise money for his Love Hope and Strength cancer charity.  

What Peters has done is to use social media to give his fans a real feeling of community which has also moved off line. On past tours, those attending gigs have been able to use email to shape that concerts set list; at each concert Peters takes time to meet the fans during an interval even giving impromptu acoustic performances in the middle of the audience; and every January he holds ‘The Gathering’, next year’s will be the 18th, in his native North Wales where 2000 fans gather for a weekend of acoustic and electric concerts by him concerts as well as other Peters/Alarm related events.

What these two examples show that whatever level artists have reached that social media is a way to talk directly to their audience and build a solid community which can maintain a career outside the mainstream record labels.

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.

Bah Humbug!

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2009 by Jo Rosenberg

With a hefty £60m marketing budget being dangled by Disney like a diamond encrusted carrot, it’s clear why Boris Johnson has taken the unprecedented decision to turn on London’s West End Christmas lights earlier than ever.

Traditionalists, I’m sure, will be up in arms about the early switch on – up to nine days earlier than previous years – but if this means London’s economy gets a much needed boost by playing host to the world premiere of A Christmas Carol, surely Johnson can be excused.

Opinion however, appears to be torn with certain commentators suggesting it’s a rather sad state of affairs when a “venerable city becomes a marketing tool.”

The problem is, the West End lights are famous and have always featured their own distinct theme. This year though, they will follow the theme of A Christmas Carol, boasting Disney’s Scrooge related decorations from Leicester Square to Oxford Street, Regent Street and the city.

From a PR perspective this is an incredible coup; a total dream to dress a city head to toe in branding but this is Disney after all, who apparently gave London little choice as to when they switched the lights on saying: “It has to be the 3rd November as that is when the cast are going to be in London.”

With Jim Carrey and Colin Firth in town, at least this year, London won’t be stumping up public appearance fees for the likes of Kelly Brook.

Strictly and X Factor in ratings dance

Friday, September 18th, 2009 by Mark Perry


Strictly Come Dancing versus X Factor. Brucie versus Simon. Celebrity versus wannabe. All part of the fight for the largest viewing audience on Saturday night.

This weekend sees the return of what has become the traditional autumn battle for the crown of most watched TV programme of the weekend.

X Factor, currently showing the auditions, is already an established part of Saturday viewing more than a month into its latest series. Last weekend more than 12 million viewers tuned in. It seems not only to be pleasing viewers but must make the ITV bosses happy acting as a spur to advertising revenues in these difficult market times.

The BBC’s announcement last week that it was to pit its Saturday flagship caused a flurry in the media with claims that the BBC was being ‘aggressive’ taking on ITV head-to-head. Over the last couple of seasons, when the shows have been complementary, each has reached around 10 million viewers.

It is unlikely that the viewers will be split down the middle as Britain’s households will probably choose to record one while watching the other. Potentially it could be X Factor relegated to the recorder as it has already been announced that its results will now appear on Sunday rather than on Saturday night, with the BBC dropping its Sunday night results show.

The danger for ITV is that with X Factor recorded, viewers are tempted to skip the ad breaks. This must be a concern for advertisers and for ITV.  

There is only one group that will decide this and it is the British public. Next  week I am sure we will have more debate as this has a lot further to run – well until Christmas.

Let battle commence.

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.

Apple Conference Core Strategy

Tuesday, September 8th, 2009 by Rob Brown

A famous global PR company used to give clients three pieces of advice on press conferences…”don’t do them, don’t do them and don’t do them”.  They are hard to get right, open to risk and in the digital age what is the point of a press conference? Well, it is the same as it always was – to fuel the buzz.  I don’t think anyone today does it better than Apple.In fact Apple, which has a conference scheduled for tomorrow, 9 September, has achieved what most companies can only dream of, a flood of coverage before they have announced a thing.  They can do this because they have great products and a charismatic head honcho in Steve Jobs.  They also succeed in creating drama and intrigue.  So what is the buzz about this time?  There is so much speculation that it hurts but here is a quick summary of the hum on the wires:

  • Will Steve Jobs host?  He is recovering from a liver transplant but back at work. Will tech’s greatest showman be hosting the show?
  • Is the much talked about tablet ready to roll? The keyboard free netbook, the love child of the iphone and the macbook is hotly tipped.
  • The Beatles are going on iTunes.  Spotify has seized all the headlines lately and Apple must be keen to get its download service back in the spotlight.
  • Time for a new Touch?  The iPod touch is set for a facelift but it has the capacity to be big news.  If as is rumored there is a microphone on board plus an app for VOIP phone calls the big phone operators might finally start to flinch in the face of web based calls.

Whatever is waiting in the wings one thing is certain; the press conference is a core part of the Apple PR strategy and it will be rewarded with a media deluge.

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).