Archive for the ‘General PR’ Category

Moto 360 – the 1st Mainstream Smart Watch ?

Wednesday, March 19th, 2014 by Rob Brown

Motorola today unveiled a Smart Watch that people actually might wear.  The secret appears to be that it actually looks good.  The Moto 360 will work with all smartphones using Android 4.3 or higher.  Unlike most devices on the market, it’s round, like a real watch. “When you go back through modern civilisation time is represented by a circle” said design chief Jim Wicks design chief. It comes with leather and metal straps too.

During a somewhat delayed Google Hangout (embarrassing when time is literally of the essence) we could see Jim swiping the watch to manage the user interface and if the stills are anything to go by the user experience and the design aesthetic both look good.  The information is contextually relevant so when you are using maps it will help you see where you are going and it has voice activation.  “We are creating a device with mass appeal” said Wicks.

In fact the Moto 360 appears to do most of the things that Google Glass has promised minus obvious drawback of looking like a “glasshole”.  The other plus being that watches are glance-able.  It appears that the technology developers have finally come to the realisation that wearable tech will only be worn if it is well designed and looks right.

There’s no price available as yet or indication of the battery life although a good life and imaginative approach to charging have been hinted at . The Moto 360 will be available in globally in Summer 2014.

Here’s the full interview with Jim Wicks.

 

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 Erickson 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).

Is Zuckerberg a Human Rights Champion?

Wednesday, August 21st, 2013 by Rob Brown

Mark Zuckerberg has just released a white paper announcing a plan to connect 5 billion more people in the developing world to the Internet. It’s called Is Connectivity a Human Right?

Internet.org, is a partnership with six other companies, Ericsson, MediaTek , Nokia, Opera, Qualcomm and Samsung to “develop joint projects, share knowledge, and mobilize industry and governments”. The plan is to get the world online and that means connecting two-thirds of the global population who are not yet connected.

Zuckerberg is well placed to lead such a charge but is he right to claim the mantle of human rights campaigner?  Whilst cogently argued the paper is didactic.  It lapses into the repetitive style more commonly asscociated wth propaganda and the last five paragraphs before the conclusion all begin with the words; “This is good…”.

The Facebook founder may be strong on connectivity but is he credible on human rights? His former colleague Charlie Cheever, who went on to start Quora has said; ”I feel Mark doesn’t believe in privacy that much, or at least believes in privacy as a stepping-stone. Maybe he’s right, maybe he’s wrong.”

Maybe privacy isn’t a right but a privilege.  Either way as Robert Hofs says in Forbes today “I can’t help wondering why these companies feel the need to trot out such idealistic concepts. Ultimately, there’s only one reason all these businesses are involved with this project: money”.

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 Erickson 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).

Social media cafe Manchester – smc_mcr – logging out

Tuesday, July 30th, 2013 by Jon Clements

Social Media Cafe Manchester – or smc-mcr as it morphed into – came along at the right time to meet a ravenous appetite for digital communications.

But now, it’s no more.

I’m grateful to Tom Mason for bringing the news to my attention and for his affectionate “eulogy” to this rather modest and yet highly influential fixture in Manchester’s calendar of digital creativity. For the definitive insight into why smc_mcr is logging out, check out co-founder, Martin Bryant’s post on the smc_mcr website itself.

So, what made it special?

In the digital sector – one that has now become big business for learning seminars, training courses, day-long conferences, etc – smc_mcr offered collective insight from real-life practitioners (often early adopters of digital technologies and communications platforms) at no cost to the participants whatsoever. All those great brains in one room, willing to pass on their knowledge because, well, they were passionate about their subject and the sharing ethos seemed to meld well with the social media milieu.

At times, smc_mcr was unapologetically and hilariously shambolic in its structure and organisation. But that was more than compensated for by the wealth of interesting people and topics you could expect to encounter over a couple of hours on a Tuesday night, once a month.

On a simplistic level, it was networking with people you also had a relationship with online; but it was really so much more than that.

And, it supplied a regular flow of great material for PR Media Blog which, at the time, was itself trying to make sense of the ever-quickening revolution in digital communications.

Normally, an institution coming to an end is a sad affair. But smc_mcr has done its job, if ever it had a “job description”. It wasn’t its style to have some sort of “manifesto”; that would be far too bloody organised.

 

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 ''

Adland Shock at Omnicom Publicis Merger

Sunday, July 28th, 2013 by Rob Brown

Levy and Wren

The scale of incredulity that greeted the news that started to emerge this weekend over the rumours that Omnicom and Publicis were set to merge was summed up in a tweet.   David Jones the CEO of Havas  the 6th largest global advertising and communications network and No. 2 in France behind Publicis posted a tweet on Saturday saying:

Publicis Said to Be in Late-Stage Merger Talks With Omnicom – via @BloombergNowbloom.bg/16k7380 – oh wow just saw a flying pig.

Twenty four hours later the pigs were airborne as Maurice Lévy and John Wren were confirmed as joint CEOs of what is now the world’s largest advertising and communications group.

 

The CEOs said jointly: “For many years, we have had great respect for one another as well as for the companies we each lead. This respect has grown in the past few months as we have worked to make this combination a reality. We look forward to co-leading the combined company and are excited about what our people can achieve together for our clients and our shareholders.”

The announcement also suggests that the new combined company is expected to generate efficiencies or cost savings of $500 million/€377 million.

The surprise in adland is matched by some scepticism. David Jones again: “Obsession with mergers & acquisitions still amazes me…digital & technology have made scale irrelevant.”

Update 10am 29.7.13

As the shock subsides I’m indebted to Mark Pinsent for pointing out that I haven’t provided a point of view on the merger. Well here goes.

There’s no doubt that seismic changes in communications in the last decade have rocked the advertising world. Consolidation was inevitable. Consolidation must be on the cards with £500 million of “efficiencies” promised in the announcement.

Whether this was a good deal, as ever, you have to ask for whom. If the goal was to create the biggest marketing communications group in the world merging the 2nd and 3rd agencies is a hard trick to pull off. For Maurice Lévy and John Wren, and especially the former, this was an amazing deal. However there may well be client fall out, restructuring and potential erosion of value. In the final analysis the creation of the Publicis Omnicom Group may be at best as Martin Sorrell describes it a ‘nil premium merger’.

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 Erickson 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).

Max and My Letter to PR Week

Monday, May 20th, 2013 by Rob Brown

Max Clifford

Two weeks ago PR Week published a blog post praising Max Clifford’s handling of his own PR following his arrest as part of Operation Yewtree. I thought they were wrong to do so and last week they published my letter explaining why. Letters to the magazine are only available in the print edition so I have posted it online here on PR Media Blog.

“For years, those of us that work in PR have lamented the mediocre reputation of our profession.  At the same time we have, it seems, been powerless to prevent the omnipresent Max Clifford acting as a de facto voice of public relations.  The media carries a fair share of the blame, seeking sound bites from a celebrity publicist who cites his secrets of success as “confidence and the ability to lie with conviction”.

I wasn’t alone in being horrified with Ian Monk’s homage to Clifford’s PR skills in the pages PR Week a fortnight ago. It joins a catalogue of misplaced eulogies for Clifford and I don’t think PR Week should have carried it. The subject of Ian Monk’s praise was Clifford’s personal PR in the face of his recent arrest but if you watch it back, his performance is unremarkable and his statement is stilted and self-absorbed.  There is nothing to admire and nothing for the fervent student of PR to learn.

Most PR people agree that Max Clifford is not one of us; he’s a publicist, a self-promoter and self-confessed dissembler. Many of us feel that he has besmirched the reputation of PR for decades.  Quite aside from the fact it’s possible that that he may become unable to carry on speaking on behalf of the public relations industry it is time that we found new voices to represent us.  We have some brilliant minds and some great speakers.  It may be a case cobblers shoes, but now is time for PR to manage its own reputation.”

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 Erickson 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).

Vote Wadds – A New Voice for PR

Tuesday, May 7th, 2013 by Rob Brown

Wadds CIPR ii

There has been much talk of late about about how the PR industry represents itself to the outside world.  One area in which we have failed consistently is providing credible voices that will represent our industry in the media.   There are many reasons why Stephen Waddington is ideally suited to be the next president of the CIPR, I also believe he could transform the reputation of PR as its leading commentator. Here are ten reasons why:

  1. 1. He’s a very charismatic individual. People like him with good reason, he is a genuinely good guy.
  2. 2. He understands the breadth of the industry and range of work we do in PR.
  3. 3. Wadds is a unifier.  In particular he has a good relationship with the PRCA as well as high standing in the CIPR.
  4. 4. The camera likes him – perhaps not the most critical factor but important nevertheless.
  5. 5. He has been at the forefront of facing the important changes that continue to challenge the industry. He understands the huge changes that are taking place in the media. He is an acknowledged expert in the field and an acclaimed author.
  6. 6. He’s thorough and takes time to get to grips with issues, so will always speak with authority.
  7. 7. He lives in London during the week but is a northerner whose home is in Northumberland.
  8. 8. His day job for as European digital and social media director for Ketchum give him an international perspective.
  9. 9. He is both a former journalist and moderniser.  He understands the past, present and the future of PR.
  10. 10. Wadds makes things happen.  Lot’s of people in PR are excellent at talking, Stephen does the walking too.  I recently handed over the chair of the CIPR Social Media Panel to Wadds not least because I know he will expand and grow the work of the panel, in which he has already played a central role.

Voting is now open in the CIPR presidential election.  If you have a vote use it now.  Vote for Stephen Waddington.  Make him our president and the voice of the industry and take the first step in building a more vibrant reputation for the Public Relations profession.

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 Erickson 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).

Ferguson delivers media masterclass

Friday, March 8th, 2013 by Mark Perry

 

The wily old Sir Alex Ferguson has today shown that he knows how to play the media and at the same time stop the media frenzy of rumour and speculation about the future of striker Wayne Rooney.

Since Rooney’s omission from the team to play Real Madrid this week, the media and twitter has seen this as an indication that Ferguson’s relationship with him is broken and that he would be leaving the club in the summer.

This morning football journalists speculated on twitter about the weekly press conference and who would ask the first question.  Ferguson’s reputation for being taciturn and banning journalists for asking difficult questions is legendary.  Indeed it transpired that he has imposed a ban on two newspapers – the Mail and Independent – because of the speculation this week.

Ferguson has shown how to take back the agenda from the media. He started the press conference by putting his points across before any questions were asked.

“The Wayne Rooney nonsense first? Or do you want to talk sense? The issue you’re all going on about is absolute rubbish. There is absolutely no issue between Wayne and I. Rooney will be here next season you have my word. To suggest we don’t talk to each other on the training ground is absolute nonsense.”

Having done that he was able to put across the positive messages about where the club goes from here.

Some of the sceptical football journalists who have seen it all with Ferguson even acknowledge a solid performance. The Sunday Times’ Jonathan Northcroft tweeted:  “SAF in prime form, all in all. Joking, grabbing back the agenda.”

Ferguson’s performance has shown that in the whirl of a media storm that addressing the issues up front and being prepared to stand by your convictions enables you to put your side of the story across in a much more strident way than responding to questions.

With Rooney however, only time will tell if his omission was the beginning of the end of this time at Manchester United as Ferguson is known for, sometimes, giving the media the wrong steer. But for now for him it is mission accomplished.

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.

Silence isn’t golden: Crisis management through social media

Monday, February 25th, 2013 by David Silverman

Outpost Outsight Report image - credit Eva Rinaldi (640x427)

Social media is now an incredibly important tool for communication both when things are going well and when crisis hits. Twitter and Facebook will often be the first port of call for both the public and the media seeking updates on incidents. If those updates aren’t there, they’ll draw their own conclusions or find them elsewhere.

When things go wrong, a festival can face hundreds of tweets about issues such as over-crowding, a shutdown, or a slow evacuation. On many occasions, however, none comes from the official Twitter feed.

If a festival says nothing, a stream of misunderstandings, unverified updates, and untruths spread through tweets from people both on and offsite. A journalist at the event can became a key source of information, despite only being there as a festivalgoer and having no more access to official updates than anybody else.

Large scale events are also a slave to the weather and knock-on effects such as traffic jams can create havoc.

In these situations, any statements and advice issued via Twitter can be pushed down the feed by regular updates extolling what a great time is being had by all who have managed to get on site. For those still stuck and looking to Twitter for official information, this can serve largely to antagonise them. A situation then develops where those people then tweet themselves and speak about their complaints.

Often, the problem can be that the wrong people are operating events’ social media accounts. In many cases, the ‘social media strategy’ is simply telling interns to go out and keep people updated on how much fun they’re having. But an intern is not qualified to deal with logistical queries or complaints – which may come at any point during an event – nor manage information flow when major problems arise.

All events have plans and systems in place for when the unexpected happens, but social media is not always considered within this. If the public and the press can’t see that something is being done, the fast pace of information online means opinion of an event can quickly turn.

Here are five top tips for crisis management through social media:

1. Designate a social media manager

The moment something goes wrong, someone with the authority to speak for you should be able to take over or direct social media updates.

2. Provide clear information promptly

Make it clear that you know that something is wrong and that you are dealing with it as soon as possible, even if it is not immediately possible to go into details. Removing any content from your website that might no longer be suitable is something to consider.

3. Ensure that important updates aren’t lost

When you need to relay important information, ensure that it’s at the top of your social media feeds for as long as possible. This could mean pinning it to the top of your Facebook feed or ceasing all other updates completely.

4. Know when to stop being positive

A continuation of point three, but it’s important to know when positive updates about what’s happening at your event should stop, even if only temporarily.

5. Address rumours quickly

Rumours will spread fast at a festival, especially if people don’t have up to date information from its organisers. Monitor the spread of rumours both on and off site and address them promptly. Without an official message early on, rumours can be picked up by official news sources and become a lot more difficult to address further down the line.

 

This was a guest blog post from David Silverman. Photo courtesy of Eva Rinaldi.

About David Silverman

David Silverman is managing director of Outpost, a PR company based in east London.

Corporate reputation begets consumer behaviour – Harris Interactive

Monday, February 18th, 2013 by Jon Clements

Another week, and yet another piece of research about the state of corporate reputation at the larger end of the business world.

But Harris Interactive’s latest – and, in fact 14th – Annual Harris Poll RQ Study tells us something both interesting and sobering for the guardians of corporate reputation in organisations worldwide.

The study, conducted with a suitably robust sample size of 19,000 Americans, has found this year that:

  • More than 60 percent of consumers now “pro-actively try to learn more about how a company conducts itself” before they are willing to consider that company’s products or services.

  • [They] proactively engage in conversations with others about what they find out about a company.

  • In 60 percent of cases, decide NOT to do business with a company because of something they learn about that company.

  • Actively try to influence friends and family on whether to do business or not with a company based upon what they have learned about that company’s conduct.

Though buried at the very bottom of Harris Interactive’s press release based on its survey – where the main headline was the relatively unsurprising news that Amazon, Apple, Google and Disney grace the top five of US companies with the best reputations – the consumer trend that Harris has identified is the most startling element.

Harris’ interpretation of the influence of corporate reputation on the consumer continues: “Companies need to evaluate and understand the increasing importance that playing a valuable social role has on reputation, purchase consideration, advocacy and positive word of mouth. This is about a business having a purpose, not just checking the box on social responsibility or sustainability.”

If right, this is the story of not a passive, but active – or, dare it be said, “activist” – consumer; a consumer that is applying Timothy Leary’s 1960s mantra of “Turn on, tune in, drop out” to its consumption habits (though without the need for added psychedelics). In other words, the consumer is listening, watching and taking action in response to the behaviour of business.

Yet, if the consumer has become the righteous crusader that Harris claims, it remains curious why the corporation tax travails of some of the top businesses named above, and the issues Apple faced with its flawed mapping software, has not had a bigger impact on these companies’ reputations.

Nevertheless, companies would be wise to not dismiss the influence their actions – both in their wider relationship with the world as well as their core products and services – have on the attitude of the consumer.

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 ''

Tarantino’s challenger brand lesson for brand leaders

Sunday, January 20th, 2013 by Jon Clements

How far does a company need to deviate from its established brand identity to achieve “cut-through” or “stand-out”?

It’s understandable that mature brands feel they have a lot to lose by taking risks with their customers’ expectations and this can result, with brands becoming inherently conservative in their marketing communications; in a competitive B2B or B2C market, brands can begin to look increasingly homogenous.

The challenger or upstart brand, conversely, isn’t inhibited by such mundane considerations.

Take “Brand Quentin Tarantino”…

This weekend his latest film, the violent Western and slavery drama, Django Unchained, opened in the UK, after three weeks in which it became the director’s highest grossing film in the US market ever. And despite high profile criticism from African Americans such as fellow film director, Spike Lee, it appears a large proportion of the US black population is unperturbed by accusations of disrespect for its ancestors, with 30% of the audience coming from that community.

However, 25 years after his first film, Reservoir Dogs, was released – establishing Tarantino as the new “enfant terrible” of independent cinema – the director is no longer the upstart brand, with “Django” placed fourth in the US box office top 10, ahead of blockbusters including Les Miserables and Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln.

I was fortunate enough, in 1993 – as arts reporter for the Nottingham Evening Post – to interview Tarantino as part of the UK premiere of Reservoir Dogs at the city’s Broadway Cinema. The young writer-director was a highly-engaging study in obsessive and infectious enthusiasm for film, and his inaugural piece of work made me walk out of the cinema, mid-film, in disgust. Not that I was afraid of challenging films, but the violence – particularly the infamous ear-slicing scene sound-tracked by the Steeler’s Wheel song, “Stuck in the Middle with You” – seemed like cinematic shock for shock’s sake and neither clever nor innovative.

But Tarantino wasn’t making films typical of the time – Home Alone 3, The Bodyguard or Wayne’s World, for example – and he didn’t need to care about big film studio box office. Of course, my myopic viewpoint on Reservoir Dogs was wrong and Tarantino’s work changed not just independent cinema, but all cinema thereafter.

And while the blood-drenched, Tarantino-esque violence remains an integral part of his cinematic “brand”, his films have clearly extended their appeal to a more mainstream audience since 1993.

But what he’s done to make each successive film continually stand out – while simultaneously broadening his mass appeal and becoming a mature fixture in cinema – is by taking familiar, well-trodden celluloid territory and giving it a fresh and unexpected feel. His Jackie Brown added another shade to crime film noir, the Kill Bills put new kick into the Kung Fu genre and, now, Django Unchained is a brilliant homage to the radically diverse Westerns of John Ford, Sergio Leone and Sam Peckinpah. With each new film, the audience isn’t alienated, but reassured, that it’s being led into a world it knows, but then thrilled with Tarantino’s daring take on that world.

And so, a well-established brand needn’t be afraid of taking a previously unheard-of risk in its marketing communications, if the customer or other audience has already a high degree of trust and regard for the quality of what it provides. In fact, taking a calculated risk might be the only way to really stand out during a period of competitive consideration by the customer.

Risk is a relative concept, and only you know how far you need, or should, go to stand out in your business or industry. But Tarantino, 25 years on, is still taking daring risks in his work and attracting flak from some quarters while, at the same time, clowning around as a guest on Graham Norton’s late night light entertainment TV show. You can’t get much cuddlier than that, can you?

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 ''