Archive for the ‘Press’ Category

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.

North West has good neighbours in the BBC

Friday, June 1st, 2012 by Gemma Ellis

In 2011 the BBC relocated all of its staff from Oxford Road in Manchester and a significant chunk of its workforce at White City in London to Media City, Salford Quays.

One year on, Staniforth was invited to see how its neighbours were settling in.

The fanfare of publicity surrounding the move – both good and bad – could not be easily ignored, so we were keen to see if the scaremongers had any ground in their criticisms. We’re pleased to report that the corporation is functioning very well at its new location in the North West, thank you.

News editor, Fiona Steggles led Staniforth on a tour of the BBC’s impressive premises and was able to shed light into how the set-up at Media City better suits the news process. Being a public service broadcaster, the BBC continually looks to provide the best possible programmes to consumers and this is evident at Media City.

The purpose-built studios mean that newsrooms, production suites and recording studios sit neatly together, making for a more efficient operation, while cross skills training and easy availability of state-of-the-art equipment means many reporters can and do self-shoot, present and edit their own bulletins.

The newsroom itself is designed to be a hub of creativity. An expansive floor plan allows easy integration between flagship programmes BBC Breakfast, North West Tonight and The Politics Show, as well as sports and Radio 5 Live. News sharing is fluid and this ensures that a story is placed where it fits best.

BBC Breakfast has really made itself at home since its first broadcast from Salford Quays in April and has not, as detractors cried, suffered from a dearth of high calibre guests in relocating, having played host to Young Musician of 2012 Laura van der Heijden, actor Will Smith and gold medallists Darren Campbell and Ellie Simmonds in recent weeks.

For PROs, opportunities for spokespeople who are locally based, flexible and able to provide relevant and impartial commentary do exist and this can be a good platform to help with interview guests. In the past the BBC has drawn on the expertise of academics from Manchester University and some of the country’s leading law firms, doctors and politicians who have their base in the North West.

As a national broadcaster, it’s important that the BBC represents the whole of the UK, its regions and diverse communities and the move northwards is certainly allowing them to do this.

The truth is out there

Monday, August 8th, 2011 by Gemma Ellis

In the wake of allegations of plagiarism and phone hacking, the good reputation of the British media suffered a further blow last week when it emerged that a story featured in several of the major news outlets – including the BBC, Daily Mail and The Telegraph – was an elaborate hoax.

The article in question stemmed from phoney psychometric consulting company, AptiQuant, which claimed that Internet Explorer (IE) users possessed significantly lower intelligence than those using other browsers. As well as being highly offensive, the report was flagged up by readers of the BBC website as completely and utterly untrue.

As shocking as this incident is, the IE IQ fabrication isn’t the only dubious tale to feature in the press of late. The recent case of Thornton v The Telegraph also brought issues of culpability to the fore, in which journalist Sarah Thornton successfully sued acclaimed author Lynn Barber for libel. Barber was found to have made a slew of untrue claims in her review of Thornton’s non-fiction narrative, Seven Days in the Art World; effectively, she was judged guilty of lying for calling Thornton a liar.

While I don’t wish to get into a debate on the wider issues surrounding the Barber review and the fine line between subjective criticism and categorical falsity, what this story and the IE IQ hoax signify is a greater need for accountability in the media.

I am not advocating that journalists move to a system of stringent referencing complete with academic Cliff notes, but they certainly need to stop these incidents happening. If, as the marketing bods so often like to tell us, content is king, then getting the facts right should surely play an important part of this reign.


Did the Sundays miss a trick?

Wednesday, July 20th, 2011 by Jo Rosenberg

With 2.7 million people now without their regular Sunday newspaper you would think that the surviving few would do everything possible to reel in all those extra readers.

Not so. Granted, from a marketing perspective they pulled out all the stops with price cuts (Mail on Sunday was on sale for £1 as opposed to its usual £1.50) and TV advertising; yes Saturday night TV was littered with ads from all the major players, yet the editorial content remained the same celebrity fuelled nonsense.

Perhaps I’m naïve to assume that lessons should have been learnt and that the Sundays would evolve following the appalling sequence of events at NOTW but from this weekend’s evidence, it appears not.

Front pages were littered with intrusive celebrity and royal tittle-tattle about the usual suspects, Cheryl and Ashley (“Ashley’s Rat It Again”), Katie Price (“speaking Spanglish”) and Kate Middleton (“Too Thin To Get Pregnant”).

It’s almost disrespectful that despite the closure of NOTW, the Mirror, People and Daily Star are still dredging up intrusive and mindless celebrity gossip.

If there was ever an opportunity to bridge the gap between the red tops and the middle market Mail on Sunday, then this should be it. UK newspapers owe it to us to deliver more balanced content.

It was refreshing in some respects to see that despite millions of NOTW readers looking for a replacement newspaper, The Mail on Sunday didn’t try to fill the void and didn’t overload the celebrity content.

That said, looking at early sales figures based on a sample of 250 retailers, the big winner last Sunday was the Daily Star Sunday, up more than 110% but that’s from a starting point of just 306,000 last month. The People improved by more than 50% and the Sunday Mirror was up by 40%. The Mail on Sunday added just 13% but this was enough to take it beyond its 2m circulation. The Sunday Times was reported to have lost just over 1% of its normal sales.

We wait to see what the Sunday Sun will bring to the party…


Newspapers with a ‘hyper local’ future

Monday, July 18th, 2011 by Mark Perry

Local newspapers have a future if you listen to Sir Ray Tindle, owner of regional newspaper group, the Tindle Group which publishes 27 newspapers.

In a message last week to his staff he advocated launching more titles as a way to combat the downturn – and this in a year which has seen his group’s revenues half.

At the end of June Tindle launched the Chingford News and earlier this month the Pembroke and Pembroke Dock Observer in West Wales joined the stable.

Interestingly he sees the key to this being ‘hyper-local content’ focusing on ‘names, faces and places – but strictly local names, faces and places.

This puts him in direct competition with one of the key attributes of social media which can deliver content directly relevant to the user.

Is the offer great enough to encourage people to start buying a newspaper again? His response to this is: “Make it a really good paper and you’ll find people will pay for it. Forget going free.”

Time will tell if his hunch is right.

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.

Why Kelner was ousted at The Independent

Friday, July 1st, 2011 by Rob Brown

There will be those that speculate that Simon Kelner’s ill advised defence of Johann Hari’s questionable journalistic style was behind his demise at the paper he has edited for a dozen years.  They’d be wrong.  In fact its more likely that Kelner already knew he was leaving when the #interviewbyhari meme struck and by defending Hari he was actually  defending his own legacy as editor.

An interview with proprietor Alexander Lebedev in The Guardian published over a week ago made it clear that Kelner’s days were numbered.   “I get a lot of compliments in the city about the Standard. I don’t get them about the Indy…the Daily Mail is more entertaining.”  If that wasn’t crushing enough he added “if you want to change the paper, you have to change the person”.  Lebedev even went as far as to line Simon Kelner up for another job as boss of a foundation for investigative journalism that he plans to set up later this year.

So when Kelner stuck his neck out for Hari he probably already knew he was leaving but also that he had a job to go to. Johann will hoping that new editor Chris Blackhurst will take the view that Harigate didn’t happen on his watch, so can be quietly put to bed.

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).

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.

Sliding newspaper circulation? Not in India

Thursday, May 12th, 2011 by Mark Perry


Who said newspaper circulations are falling? Well, not in India they’re not.

Circulations on the sub-continent have seen a solid growth over the last year according to the recent Indian Readership Survey.

The growth is put down to rising literacy rates, increasing population and low cover prices – some as low as 3p.

Some of the circulation figures are mind-boggling compared with what we are used to in the UK. The Hindi daily Dainik Jagran gained an extra 120,000 readers in the last quarter of 2010 and now has an average issue readership of 16.07 million.

Despite having 29 regional languages, the English language newspapers such as the Times of India, with an average readership 7.42 million, are seeing a surge in sales. This is helped by English speakers wanting to improve their use of the language –  seen as vital to being successful in the business world.

The circulation boost may not yet be threatened by electronic versions as the internet penetration is still relatively low on the sub-continent 8.5% in 2010 compared with 82.5% in the UK.

There is some way to go before the internet is widely available which means that the Indian newspaper circulation growth could continue along with the forecast 100 million population rise by 2020.


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.

Local news lives on with Newspaper Week

Tuesday, May 10th, 2011 by Jenny Mason


This week is Local Newspaper Week (9-15 May) – the Newspaper Society’s annual celebration of the strength of regional and local press in the UK.

Editors across the country will be taking the opportunity to remind their readers of the important role that newspapers play in their local area.

For years, local newspapers have acted as the champion of their communities – putting council decisions under the spotlight, giving perspective on arguments around controversial developments and sharing their readers’ stories.

Local newspapers remain the first media that 60% of people turn to if they want to raise awareness of a local issue or problem. But, with the second half of last year seeing a year-on-year fall in circulation for the vast majority of paid-for weekly local and regional papers in the UK, is their role changing?

The latest ABCes make far more comfortable reading for local newspaper editors, with 90% of publishers growing the unique user figures on their regional websites last year.

Titles such as the Lancashire Telegraph and Liverpool Echo succeeded in growing the number of daily unique visitors to their websites dramatically – by 59% and 44% respectively.

Guardian News & Media’s recent decision not to progress its Guardian Local experiment raises questions as to the ongoing role of local journalism in a digital age.

But, with thirty four million unique users continuing to rely on their local newspaper websites every month, could this be indicative of a reluctance of communities to abandon the brands that they have seen as championing their needs for generations?

About Jenny Mason

Jenny joined Staniforth in August 2007 and is now an Account Manager in the B2B team.

Broadcasters’ respond to Haiti earthquake

Tuesday, January 26th, 2010 by Mark Perry


With 24 hour news channels we have instant access to the latest information when incidents like the Haiti earthquake happen. Within hours broadcasters have teams reporting from the front line.

But what we don’t often think about is how many people broadcasters like the BBC, Sky and others are committing to the story and how they are able to sustain themselves while all around there appears to be hardship and suffering. 

This was the subject tackled on Newswatch, a 15 minute weekly segment on News 24, where the public get to ask questions about the BBC’s news coverage.

It was interesting to learn from John Williams, BBC World news editor, that a team of 20 people including reporters, engineers and cameramen were providing coverage across the BBC news outlets. ITV News has 22 and Channel 4 News 14 while the figure from Sky is unknown. That is just from the UK and other news organisations from around the world are also on the ground in Haiti. 

Is there really a need for 56 people from different organisations to provide the UK with news about the earthquake and its aftermath?

You just wonder if in unprecedented circumstances like this if the news organisations should not have an agreement where they can pool resources, much as they do in conflict zones. I am sure there would still be opportunities for them to get their own ‘take’ on the story.  

What John Williams also revealed was that the supplies they need in terms of water and ration packs are brought in so not as burden the emergency aid. They had also been able to locate a hotel which was still standing after the earthquake to use as their base.

It cannot be denied, however, that their pictures have played a key part in driving public donations to the charity appeals.

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.