Archive for the ‘PR agencies’ Category

Manchester B2B PR consultancy Metamorphic PR launches

Friday, February 1st, 2013 by Jon Clements


Jon Clements - Chartered PR practitioner

Metamorphic PR – a Manchester-based B2B, corporate and marketing communications consultancy has been launched.

In a rare interruption to PR Media Blog’s normal blogging business – and for that I appreciate your patient indulgence – I invite you to visit the brand spanking new website where you’ll find the story behind the launch of Metamorphic PR.

And, keep your eyes peeled from Monday for the first in a special launch series of five, daily blog posts, each tackling a relevant area of activity that could have a bearing on a business’ PR and communications activity.

The first one – going live on Monday morning – tackles the benefits of blogging.

And – just in case you were wondering – PR Media Blog won’t be going away…!

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 ''

Suitable skills for PR’s new world

Tuesday, December 11th, 2012 by Sophie Mackintosh

Guest blogger, Sophie Mackintosh, explores how the range of jobs she did post-university provided unexpectedly useful skills for when she finally entered the world of agency public relations

My route into PR wasn’t simple. Like most graduates nowadays, I suffered through unpaid internships supplemented by working in a coffee shop, working freelance at night, and temping as a PA. While this was frustrating at the time, now that I’m in my dream job I’m realising that without these experiences I might not have been prepared for the PR world at all.

From what I’ve heard from wiser (older) colleagues and others in the industry, PR is changing enormously. Gone are the days when the main skill required was being able to blag your way through a press release for a technical product you didn’t fully understand, or write shining copy in fifteen minutes flat. Nowadays, in such a huge and rapidly-growing industry, the most valuable skills you can have are flexibility and confidence. With journalists being bombarded with pitches on all sides, making them believe that your client is the one they should be writing about is a daunting task.

The fairly recent addition of social media to the B2B PR landscape means that the traditional PR role now includes coming up with Facebook page content, blog posts, and maybe even infographics to share on Pinterest. It’s a strange mix of the sophisticated and casual; increasingly scientific theories and formulas about ROI and influence sit side by side with contacting journalists through Twitter because they won’t answer your emails. As a result, the industry is becoming more integrated as agencies realise they have to move with the times and come up with more innovative solutions for clients. For some that means incorporating SEO, for others it’s specialising in social media or offering production services. And that means that those working in the industry have to quickly adapt to follow these developments. A PR professional’s role no longer fits into one pigeonhole.

This is where my patchwork, post-graduation career comes in handy. While my English degree is enormously valuable to me – writing is still crucial to PR, especially given that we now find ourselves writing copy for a widening variety of mediums – the commercial world is very different to university. A degree alone wouldn’t have prepared me for the realities of PR, but dealing with stroppy customers and organising the schedules of high-flying bosses became a crash-course in the essential people skills that I eventually used as my PR launch pad. Doing all the jobs I did taught me tenacity, how to turn my hand to anything and, of course, how to take a deep breath and make very important phone calls without dissolving into jelly.

The PR industry is evolving in step with the media and getting increasingly complicated. As such there is no one specific skill that will carry you through – or one specific trajectory to get you where you want to be. But for me, and for a lot of graduates, this can be a bonus. Suddenly all the jobs I’d been doing made sense. They gave me writing and editing experience, flawless organisational skills, and the capacity to placate customers distressed by the foam on their wet lattes, all without breaking a sweat. Whoever thought those skills would come in just as useful – if not more so – than my first-class degree and array of marketing internships?

Sophie Mackintosh works at B2B PR firm TopLine Communications, and you can find her on Twitter on @sophmackintosh

A Manchester agency “biz dev” makeover

Wednesday, November 28th, 2012 by Jon Clements

Finding and winning business is the ever-present elephant in the room for those working in the creative agency world. And it comes with no small amount of teeth-gnashing, as agency business development people try to get through closed doors and make an impressive first impression while prising open tightly-knotted purse strings.

But help is at hand, as Manchester creative agencies – PR, advertising and digital – were treated to a business development makeover with the help of The Art of New Business initiative last night.

Deftly delivered in two halves, the event split into client-side managers sharing their views on the good, bad and ugly of agency new business approaches, alongside agency-side practitioners showing what had the made the difference in growing their businesses.

On the client-side panel, we had:

And their advice to agencies about how to stand out from the crowd was direct and no-nonsense:


  1. Ask more questions!
  2. Tell us what you know about us.
  3. Give examples of  how you can help.
  4. Discover – find out what’s important to us.
  5. Learn about our business – make yourself credible
  6. Come with a relevant opinion about us – we’ll be more likely to listen.
  7. Network and build relationships that can last a lifetime.
  8. Target managers lower down the chain – get in on ground level.
  9. Ask your clients who they can refer you to.
  10. Don’t forget, clients are looking at the market too – what will they find out about you?

And when it came to the topic of agency credentials, Tony Spong grabbed the microphone with the frenzy of a man who would clearly opt for Chinese water torture rather than listen to another mind numbing creds presentation. Dispense with the predictable and focus, is his advice, on “what’s your story?”; be brave, be clear and come quickly to talking about what agency and client can do together.

From the agency side, Adrian Lomas of digital agency, Blueleaf, spoke of having a “clear map and compass” that guides your business and helps inform the right decisions. In Blueleaf’s case, its mantra is “What would the best digital agency in the world do right now?” Chris Marsh of Melbourne Server Hosting showed how building a family culture with staff – and a stimulating working environment – rubbed off onto client relationships, giving them complete peace of mind about the commitment of their supplier. The “creative entrepreneurs” approach taken by Simon Calderbank of Studio North is more about finding the right clients and rejecting the wrong clients than taking on business at any price and finding companies that can relate to the agency’s “DNA, values and aspirations”. Former McCann boss, Brian Child, put it simply: “You will lose every account”; hence the “obsession” anyone running an agency needs to have about new business development.

As Sarah Bradley from event organisers and new business consultancy, Acquire, said:  “With marketing your business, there is no magic bullet – you have to do everything!”

STOP PRESS: Digital Marketing consultant, Mark Kelly, has blogged even more great tips for business development from The Art of New Business event and a Manchester digital event.


Jon Clements is an independent Chartered PR consultant based in Manchester




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 ''

Where do SEO and PR meet?

Friday, November 4th, 2011 by Jon Clements

SEO, according to marketers questioned for the above research, has the biggest impact on lead generation. But what does that SEO actually constitute and is it made up, either partly or mostly, of PR activity?

It’s not a question that’s ever answered in Webmarketing123’s State of Digital Marketing Report. More of that later. In the meantime, what else does the research tell us?

Clearly, the metrics of success are firmly focused on tangible returns: for marketers across B2B and B2C, it’s far more about generating leads and making sales than anything else. Taking the B2B marketer in particular, the lesser objectives include building brand awareness (15%), generating site traffic (11%) or building online communities (5%). Curiously, the latter is even less important for the B2C community (2.8%). What was once considered a desirable digital outcome, certainly of social media, seems to be have been relegated to an uncommercial own goal.

But when identifying what these marketers consider the most important measure for digital marketing – i.e. sales – our B2B and B2C cousins are surprisingly close (62% and 68% respectively). Bearing in mind the comparatively more protracted and complex journey for B2B buyers, it’s a revelation that those selling B2B are looking for such high sales conversions via digital alone.  While I can see it as a vital part of building reputation, understanding and consideration along the B2B procurement pathway, I’m sceptical about its ability to close the deal.

Which brings me back to SEO and impact.

Achieving a high, organic search engine ranking takes more than one technique – some delivered better by SEO specialists, others by professional generators of compelling and insightful textual content. Yes, I’m talking about PR people. But PR doesn’t get a mention in the report. Does that mean PR has become a subset of SEO and, if so, are SEO specialists qualified to advise clients about and generate material hitherto done by PR people?

The lines are blurred and, what seems increasingly apparent, is the need that SEO and PR people have to collaborate; after all, if gaining a high search engine ranking has the biggest impact on a client’s lead generation, the tools to do it are not necessarily the province of one discipline alone.

Update: since posting the above, I found this excellent post by Lance Concannon on the SEO/PR dilemma and how it needs to be worked out for everyone’s benefit.

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 voice of PR in the media?

Thursday, May 19th, 2011 by Jenny Mason


The recent Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) Future Leaders Forum – held in Manchester – questioned the role of the CIPR.

The remit of the Future Leaders Forum, established in 2010, is to ensure that young PR practitioners have a say in the future of the profession, with discussions at the event focused on the role the CIPR can play in both supporting the work of its members and giving the industry a voice in wider debates.

Phil Morgan, Director of Policy and Communication at the CIPR, outlined the Institute’s agenda for the year and Russ Brady, Head of Group Public Relations at The Co-Operative Group, gave an insight into the role the CIPR had played in his career development.

The past couple of years has seen a clear effort to raise the profile of the CIPR, with the publication of a number of best practice guides on key topics such as social media and the correct use of statistics. These will play an important role in making the Institute more relevant to its members, as well as improving the reputation of the PR industry.

Phil Morgan’s overview of the 2011/2012 policy agenda was well received at last week’s event, but wider questions were raised. Should the CIPR’s role in supporting its members’ professional interests be taken as a given, and should the Institute instead be asserting itself into broader debates more forcefully?

The CIPR claims to be “the advocate and voice of the public relations profession, a champion of our professional interests, a respected partner to the broader communications community and a body that works in the public interest.”

This is an ambitious statement, but with even its main trade publication seeking comment from other sources on hot topics such as the threat social media poses to the effectiveness of court injunctions, the CIPR has some way to go in living up to this claim.

For now, the likes of Max Clifford and Mark Borkowski remain the media’s first point of call for comment on key issues. Some in the industry may not be happy with this, but can the CIPR muster enough support from its members to change the situation?

Burson and Facebook’s reputation lesson

Friday, May 13th, 2011 by Jon Clements


Update: Now, Burston-Marsteller is outed for deleting negative comments on its Facebook page…

When the news broke yesterday about PR firm Burson-Marsteller’s covert campaign to rubbish Google on behalf of Facebook, I had to check the date. Had we, somehow, returned to April Fool’s Day; was this an elaborate hoax.

Alas, for BM, Facebook, the reputation of both (and the PR industry generally), it was 12 May.

If you haven’t yet heard, Facebook hired the PR company to place stories in high profile media such as the Washington and Huffington Post attacking arch rival Google’s privacy policies in relation to its social networking feature, Google Social Circle.

The plot was outed when journalists challenged BM about their “unnamed client” and the anti-Google campaign, and Facebook eventually came clean. The PR company later released its own statement on the debacle, saying: “This was not at all standard operating procedure and is against our policies, and the assignment on those terms should have been declined.”

It added, by way of justification, that “any information brought to media attention raised fair questions, was in the public domain, and was in any event for the media to verify through independent sources.”

Well, all of the above may be so. But it begs the questions: who thought that launching a smear campaign on behalf of a mystery “other” was a good PR strategy that would skip along unquestioned and unchallenged before being, ultimately, exposed? Did no-one involved in communications on either client or agency side raise a hand to say ‘I know this is the way you want to go, but this could go horribly, horribly wrong’?

Rather than having to concoct damage limitation statements about “public domain” information – insinuating that there was some casual, benign purpose in Facebook/BM’s story – wouldn’t it have been better for PR professionals to bury this campaign at birth? Surely, with BM’s “double-digit revenue growth” last year, it doesn’t need the money that badly to engage in dubious client projects.

At the discussion stage of this campaign – regardless of what column inches the client may have been salivating about with this story – good client counsel should have been focused on the more important element of reputation. Not least because Facebook’s own record on privacy issues has been under fire.

Not one for grandiose statements, the Guardian’s technology editor, Charles Arthur, described it as “an epochal moment”.

Neither Facebook nor Burson-Marsteller has come out of this well. And thinking, selfishly, from a purely PR industry position, we’re all the poorer for it.

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 ''

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).

Publish and be socially damned?

Thursday, May 13th, 2010 by Jon Clements


Does PR have a role to play in social media?

Sorry, was that a chorus of PR agencies and professionals I heard screaming in unison “Duh, of course it does!”?

Well, people, you might be right. But – more often than not – it’s good to stop and think.

That’s what I was asking a group of nominated company spokespeople to do during media training this week. For while engaging with the media is an opportunity, it’s also a risk. And whether you’re a CEO, engineer or on the shop floor, opening your mouth on the company’s behalf means you are entering new territory; you’re now in the business of public relations and reputation management.

Which is why media training shouldn’t be about soundbites or spin, but taking a carefully considered and methodical approach to the impact of what you say in a public domain.

Which brings us neatly back to social media.

Blogging technology has torn down the barriers to publishing and this is a good thing for both PR agencies and their clients, so long beholden to the media’s permission for their story to be heard. The turnout at a CIPR social media learning event in Preston last night suggests there’s an insatiable appetite for PR consultants to get involved in the brave new(ish) world online.

But as anyone who’s been through journalistic training will tell you, the privilege of publishing also comes with a high degree of responsibility. Get it wrong and you could end up in court facing the full force of the law. British defamation law may leave something to be desired, but for now it remains the law. Which is why the checks and balances of an editorial hierarchy are essential.

PR agencies and their clients are neither professional publishers nor editors. And yet the button marked “publish” on the blogging software enables them to be so. Which takes us back to “stop and think”.

One of the lazy, get-out clauses of making an editorial mistake in the bygone days of print-only publishing was that today’s newspaper is tomorrow’s fish and chip wrapper. But this is not so online. Not only does your online content or comment not end up wrapping fast food, it is potentially one click away from Google’s homepage.

Knowing how to respond in the event of a client’s potential reputation meltdown should be the meat and drink for PR practitioners. But even better is working to ensure it doesn’t happen at all.

That’s why the passion to publish online needs, sometimes, to take a cold shower first.

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 ''

Picture perfect win for Staniforth

Friday, November 20th, 2009 by Jon Clements


It’s not usual for PR Media Blog to “big up” its benificent parent, Staniforth , but if you would indulge us for a moment…

This week, at the North West CIPR Pride Awards, the agency scooped the Best Use of Photography awards for its work supporting the launch of the Fibre Foundation.

In short, we persuaded cricketer and Strictly Come Dancing alumnus, Mark Ramprakash, not only to undress but be anatomically decorated to show the vital organs that benefit from a fibre-rich diet.

As with any good picture, it tells a thousand words; and this went down well with the national media.

The CIPR judges said: “This campaign was built on outstanding use of photography to communicate messages about public health. The use of cricket player, Mark Ramprakash, added celebrity endorsement, but the creative genius was to use body paint in a way to create very striking visual images. The campaign is memorable and reaches the client’s core target publics.”

Now you can get on with eating your Bran Flakes.

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 ''