22 December 2006

Heroes beats Celebrations...

For the past few days I've been running a head-to-head review programme between Heroes and Celebrations. It's no contest! Heroes wins every time. There isn't a single duff one in the tin. OK, so I can take or leave the white chocolate Dream, and there's no real need to stick a nut in a Caramel, but look at the competition. Topic? Galaxy Truffle? Bounty?! Too many left at the bottom of the tin. It's no contest.

So, before I go and throw up, all that's left is to wish all our loyal listeners a very merry Christmas indeed.

And as someone on Not the Nine O'Clock News once said (I think), "Remember this old Korean proverb this festive season. A dog is not just for Christmas. With a bit of luck, there'll be some left over on Boxing Day."

Get stuck in.

19 December 2006

Don't try this at home...

Cheers to El Reg for brightening up my morning with this little video.

It looks like a bunch of people keeping themselves amused while waiting to be rescued after being trapped in a building. The managing director decides to try some ill-advised gymnastics.

Stick with it until about a minute and a half in...it's worth it.

It seems like Edelman’s got over the fake Wal-Mart blog stutter and is happily ploughing on with it social media ambitions. A week or two ago, the company announced its StoryCrafter social media news release format. There’s been a lot written about that already, some of it claiming that Edelman has merely stuck its own name on other people’s work. But then last night, I read this headline:

Edelman and NewsGator Team to Offer Conversational Ads

It struck me as a bit odd, because I thought Edelman was a public relations company…so what’s it doing offering ads of any kind (conversational or otherwise)?

This is the deal: “The NewsGator-powered product tracks media relating to pre-specified subjects, extracting nuggets from blog posts, mainstream media, and video and photo sites. The PR firm will pluck the highest quality content from those sources based on criteria set by its clients; the choice bits will then feed dynamically into the chosen advertiser-branded units.”

“Units” in this context means things like banner ads. So, basically, there might be a banner ad from, say, BMW on the Auto Trader website containing lots of positive comments from blogs and other media about BMWs; comments that Edelman has selected from the stuff pushed to it by NewsGator.

Excuse me for asking, but what on earth has that got to do with public relations? Edelman doesn’t create any of the content; it merely sifts through and chooses content (“based on criteria set by its clients”, remember) which has been created by other people. Edelman doesn’t then place any of that content in the media itself; it just floods it into banner ads (presumably designed and planned by the client’s ad agency).

I’m really struggling here. Have I got this wrong, or has Edelman made a significant strategic shift in the focus of its business?

18 December 2006

H&K Christmas party craziness...

Only just picked this up from James Barbour's blog.

So, last week H&K had its Christmas party...a suitably flash affair for one of the world's wealthiest PR companies. Clearly they decided that some home-grown...umm..."entertainment" was in order, part of which consisted of a number of the 2006 graduate intake doing a little routine to Madonna's "Hung Up."

Hung up? The fella being Madonna for the evening should be strung up. Can we have a name please James? And an invitation to the next party, of course...

You can watch it here.

17 December 2006

Is it annoying? Yes, it is….

It is no secret that marketing directors, media spokespeople and their ilk within technology companies enrol on the same distance learning courses.

How else do they all believe that two marketing dollars is divisible by five PR campaigns? Where else do they get the impression that 5pm is an acceptable time to issue a ‘by the end of play’ request?

The latest incarnation of the postgraduate marketing course in fuckwittedry has left a particularly unsavoury scar across the tech-marketing landscape. It is a self-serving twist on the rhetorical question, whose main appeal is that it allows the self-obsessed orator to pose a journalist a question and then plough on regardless, without having to wait for – or more importantly acknowledge - a response.

For larger companies it has the added benefit of admitting that one isn’t perfect, without opening the debate as to why. Or simply put, it facilitates the consumption of humble pie without the mastication.

“Our aim is to produce the finest [insert application] software in the world. Are we there yet? No. Will we get there?Yes.”

The Orwellian mastery of language is clear for all to see. It sounds so much more comforting than its spin-free equivalent: “What we make isn’t all that really, but hopefully it’ll be better at an unspecified time in the future.”

In its cutting-edge day, it may have been enough to justify wars, but thankfully it’s on a sharp decline towards the patronising “we’re on a journey,” and the woeful “validates our market.” A short twelve months from now it’ll be among the pitiful clichés epitomised by the classic “here’s an opportunity,” that’s so eagerly tripped out by aging account directors as they glance at the clock and grab the nearest account exec....
No graffiti, no comment….

Proving that no one is above cashing in, graffiti artist Banksy has a book out this Christmas. It’s a collection of some of the best work from the notorious “art terrorist,” (The Daily Telegraph’s one line descriptor, not ours).

Producing ‘graffiti art’ on a wide range of public spaces has won Banksy no favours with law enforcement officials, which led to a gorgeous piece of PR-related wit. Eschewing the usual sycophantic book cover quote, Banksy (or his publisher, at least) evidently decided it would be funny to ring the Metropolitan Police and ask for a quote for the cover of the book.

A ham-fisted plod Met press officer, straying from the usual “no comment” realms, underlined how unlikely it was that the Met would play ball with Banksy. And so on the back cover of Banksy’s book is a single endorsement quote:

"There's no way you're going to get a quote from us to use on your book cover" Metropolitan Police spokesperson

Banksy has a lovely, if somewhat small, website. Some of our favourites are here, here and here.

15 December 2006

Second place is the first loser...

...which in this case might not be a bad thing.

This week saw the annoucnement of the second annual "Worst EU Lobby Awards" in, appropriately, Brussels (appropriate for Christmas that is!). In first place came ExxonMobil, for "continuing to fund virulent climate-change skeptics wielding non-scientific arguments despite vehement criticism of its behavior in the United States and Europe." Naughty people.

In second place, you'll be delighted to hear, was dear old Weber Shandwick, for "setting up a front group to advance the interests of pharmaceutical giant Roche while pretending to work for better access for cancer care" which, personally, I think should've won hands-down.

Amusingly, Weber's UK homepage carries the following quote from its worldwide Chief Reputation Strategist Leslie Gaines-Ross:

"The last decade has seen many of the world’s most admired companies descend from their once lofty positions. They were in a class by themselves – corporate reputation royalty whose invincibility was universally accepted by business executives around the globe. No one could have predicted that these companies would ever part with their crowns..."

...and then they started working with Weber Shandwick!

Better luck next year, eh?

14 December 2006

Anyone need £100 this badly..?

Another Response Source request caught my eye:

PUBLICATION: Daily Express
JOURNALIST: Sadie Nicholas (freelancer)
DEADLINE: 14-December-2006 at 19:00

£100 payment for phone interview and pics - I'm looking for men who either hid their spending or saving habits from their wife or girlfriend (current or ex, doesn't matter) for a long time only for it to cause problems in the relationship when she discovered the extent of the spending or debt.

Now, I know of one particular washed-up tech hack who fits the bill...but I'm not about to put a hundred notes in his back pocket.

13 December 2006

TWL pubcast...

So, Steve's done the business with the recordings from last week's TWL Christmas party and mashed them up for the FIR podcast from Neville Hobson and Shel Holtz.

It's hilarious...and a fair reflection of the evening, starting quite well with a considered chat with Justin Hayward of MS&L (who tells us that "Second Life just isn't stable enough...") and gradually deteriorating as the Indigo Red bar tab gets consumed. James Barbour of H&K explains that, "if you can see the bandwagon, it's too late to jump onto it" (though probably trickier, I'd have thought, if you can't see it) and a particularly good bit is when Sarah from PRWeak attempts to disguise a complete lack of knowledge about everything with a journalistic policy of non-disclosure. Wonderful.

You can download it here. It would be ungracious of me to suggest that Nev and Shel's chat should be skipped over, but we start at 51 mins 40 seconds into the recording.

Nev sounds rather bemused during his introduction...but afterwards Shel (bless him) says that he wished they'd played it earlier in the podcast...

12 December 2006

Stockings full to bursting...

Have you been down to Edelman's offices recently? They've got a beautiful big Christmas tree...real as well. I think Stuart Smith, CEO had something to do with it...lovely glittering balls, smashing fairy. He's certainly been spending more time on that than he has blogging, that's for sure.

He looks happy though. Could it be this huge pile of Microsoft Xbox consoles hidden underneath..?

Now why would Edelman have all of those..?
The world’s most feared…

Do you receive journo enquiries from Response Source? You do? Then you might have noticed one that came winging in this morning from Peter Crush at PRWeak. This is what is said:

“PRWeek is wanting to do a 'top 5 blogs' clients and agency PROs fear the most - in terms of their potential influence, power to disrupt – or at least monitor the most (which is sort of the same thing), i.e. the ones that are highest on their radar.

“We want as many of you to give us your most feared blogs to your sector as possible. The more we see the same ones mentioned, the higher up our list they will go. It would be great if you could also provide reasons why the ones you've chosen are so important for you to monitor.”

Now far be it from us to encourage our loyal and fantastically attractive readers to email Peter (peter.crush@haymarket.com) suggesting that dear old TWL is the UK’s most feared blog…that would be tantamount to BBC Sports Personality of the Year-like vote rigging (you want to see the next quarter’s phone bill down at Buck House…).

No the point of this post is to highlight the description Peter gives PRWeak at the top of his Response Source enquiry. It’s this:


Well, it is Christmas, after all.

11 December 2006

Christmas party pics...

If I've done it correctly, you should be able to find the photos that Steve very kindly took at our Christmas party last week somewhere around here.

Handy memory jog for those that made it along...
‘tis the season to be lazy…

Last week’s hugely enjoyable TWL Christmas Party was the first thought I’d really put into this year’s festive season. There’s been loads going on…busy, busy, busy…and I haven’t had a moment to think about Christmas preparations. Still, plenty of time to get all that sorted. I’m certainly not thinking about shutting up shop for the festivities just yet. I mean, what sort of lazy sod would you be to finish your year’s work just a week into December?

The sort of lazy sod that works for PRWeak, that’s who you’d be. Last week’s issue was the final one to be published before Christmas…and the next one won’t be on your doormat until the 12th January! So that’s like four whole weeks off. Is anyone else in the industry enjoying such luxury? Not many, I’d wager.

We’ve all got presents to buy, turkeys to stuff, booze to drink, TV to watch, chocolate to eat and tethers to reach the end of, but most of us can do it in the week allowed…10 days at the outside.

The lazy, lazy, probably run out of ad revenue, sods.

07 December 2006

Indigo Redeye...

Slightly fragile this morning.

Just to say, a huge vote of thanks to everyone that made the not insubstantial leap of faith last night to turn up at a bar clutching Christmas baubles for a party that, well, none of us were that confident was actually going to happen.

But it did happen! And TWL had a thoroughly good time meeting some new faces and catching up with some old ones. Obviously we're particularly indebted to that absolute gent Steve Mallison-Jones from Indigo Red for dipping his hand in his pocket and buying everyone beer and wine...special thanks also to Jenny Ellis from Spark who volunteered to get to the bar early and bag a table or two.

Steve has sent us the photos from last night...we'll work out what the hell to do with them soon. He's also volunteered to fund the booze at the next party. Top man.

I'm off to find some Nurofen.

06 December 2006

Who’s who? How the..?

Media Guardian has just published “Who’s who in the media: the definitive guide to the most powerful movers and shakers in the industry.” It’s a whopping £19.99, but will no doubt be filling the Christmas stockings of the friends and family of a number of those that are in it.

Flicking through its pages as I did before being told that “this is a bookshop, not a library” I glimpsed many of the names you’d expect…Grade, Dyke, Paxman, Dimbleby, Humphries. Each individual was clearly invited to complete an entry form with lots of personal and professional information. What’s interesting is that many of the big name entries simply stick to the basic information…they’re clearly too important to bother about letting us know what they get up to in their spare time.

No, the longest entries come from those people who were obviously thrilled to have been invited…who will, no doubt, be the ones buying multiple copies from Amazon (because it’s only £13.19 there) to pass on to their friends.

One of the longest entries comes from some bloke called Mark Westaby of the Portfolio Group. His name rings a bell with us…can’t think why.

Among the gems of insight into the private world of Westaby is this…

"I'm really a frustrated academic (I was offered various PhDs) but there's not enough money in university research!"

..and this…

"My main interests are academic books on psychology, neuroscience, econometrics, statistics and mathematical modelling (I know, I'm a sad case!)"

…you said it, not us…

Mark lists other interests as watching Midsomer Murders, listening to very loud dance music alone in his car, and "pottering" around his 17th century Yorkshire holiday cottage (thatched, of course). He loves being with his family, "but I'm not sure it counts as relaxing"…funny that, they said the same thing.

Have we underestimated Mr Westaby? Or has Media Guardian overestimated him

04 December 2006

The World's Leading Christmas party venue...

Well, we've chosen the venue for our Christmas party this coming Wednesday (you remember, the one that's been sponsored by Indigo Red). Of course, if you've emailed us to let us know that you'll be coming then you'll already know that. If you haven't, you won't. But there's still time - theworldsleading@yahoo.co.uk.

Come and join the mob party fun. There's a bottle of pop in it for you...
And the rising sun means it's morning…

Earned Media Coverage More Effective than Paid Coverage

Not my words, dear friends. But where could such a statement of the bleeding obvious have come from? The nursery school guide to public relations? The idiot bluffer’s guide to all things marketing? The CIPR’s homepage?

Of course not. As you’ll have realised by now, those words were penned by someone – or at least an organisation – that really should have edged just a little way further along the PR learning curve by now. They’re from Edelman…more specifically, they’re from Edelman in Japan.

OK, so I’m no expert on the Japanese PR market, but I’ve a feeling that even in the land of the rising sun they probably already know that “earned media coverage using a PR agency is more effective than paid media coverage using an advertising agency” to quote the press release.

Of course, it’s a press release based on some research - the the 2006 Edelman Japan Stakeholder Study, no less. The survey “polled a total of 140 Japanese opinion-leaders from seven stakeholder groups: senior business executives, institutional investors, government, media, NGOs, up-scale consumers, and employees.” All those groups and only 140 respondents? One from each, was it? "Up-scale consumers"? What, big ones?

Other “striking” (or rather, not) statistics reveal that “engagement” in blogging is on the increase…and by “engagement” Edelman Japan means either writing or reading…and the fact that CSR is regarded as a “sincere business shift” by 49% of respondents. That’s nice…until you realise that another 46% of respondents thought that CSR is just a “way to improve image in the marketplace.”

I’m not sure what upsets me most about this. That Edelman feels the need to explain that earned media coverage is better than paid media coverage, or that it believes that a survey of 140 people is statistically sound. This respondent thinks they’re both a bit suspect…

28 November 2006

More Red faces...

So, you've soaked yourself to the skin getting to the Post Office to pay for a piece of crappy post that some idiot has forgotten to put a stamp on and, just when you think it couldn't get any worse, you arrive late at work only to find that some divvies from the very same PR company representing the very same client have camped outside your office to create a bloody awful racket.

Read all about it here.
Is this funny, or is it just me..?

I don't know about you, but I've been seeing headlines like these all day, and every time they've made me laugh:

Pope embarks on controversial Turkey visit
Massive security for Pope's Turkey visit
Thousands Protest Pope's Turkey Visit
Catholic World News - Confirmed: Pope to visit Turkey in November

What's he doing? Apologising for Christmas?
Red faces...

This morning, a journo found a slip on his doormat from the Royal Mail telling him that there was an item waiting for him with unpaid postage on it. What can you do? I mean, it might be something important...secret plans for poisoning people leaked from the FSB...Michael Grade's new contract...a Christmas hamper from Fortnums. So you trudge off down to the sorting office in the pissing rain to pay the postage and pick it up.

And what happens..? You pay £1.23 for a cruddy little invitation to the Nokia party next Wednesday because some numpty at Red forgot to put a stamp on the bloody envelope.

A one off? Not according to the Post Office clerk...he said there'd been loads of them this morning. Uh-oh.

That'll teach them for clashing with our very own Christmas Party...

27 November 2006

Is that American Englich..?

So, Text 100 ("leading global PR agency") and some bunch called Squiz (I'm sorry, I've been through the website and I still haven't a clue...) have produced a "co-authored whitepaper" called "Communications 2.0: Beta is Better", all about Web 2.0 and "how it can help you improve your communications strategy."

There are people far better placed than I to comment on the content of the whitepaper. What I do know, however, is that when the sub-heading of the press release tells me that the whitepaper "provides best practise advise on how to exploit new web technologies!" the whole venture is devalued to the point of my not bothering to read it.

Though I can't be bothered with the whitepaper itself, the rest of the press release is an entertaining read, if only for the sublime use of meaningless cliché by a Squiz Director (which sounds vaguely disgusting to me...I can direct my own Squiz, thank you very much). He says, in one memorable sentence, "The good news is that it's not rocket science and it shouldn't cost and arm and a leg."

We're over the moon about that.
Me..? With my reputation..? Tally ho…

“Reputation” is a funny old word, isn’t it? Look it up in the dictionary, and it’ll say something along the lines of: “the estimation in which a person or thing is held by the community or the public generally”…which makes you think that, yes, as public relations professionals, we should be right there in the middle of the reputation game.

So why then, when I visit Harvard PR’s website and read this on its homepage…

“Reputations. Designed, built, managed.”

…does it really get my goat?

I’ll tell you. I don’t think that anyone should be able to claim that they can “design” a reputation. You might be able to design what you’d like your reputation to be, but whether it becomes that or not depends on how you act and, crucially, what people think about your behaviour (and products, and services).

In many ways, your reputation is out of your hands…particularly in today’s world of social media. So, for instance, Sony’s reputation as a creator of high-quality consumer electronics is taking a bit of a battering at the moment…however much “design and build” it might have done around its reputation isn’t worth a great deal now, is it? And you might even take issue with its ability to “manage” that reputation, however quickly it replaces laptop batteries or digital cameras.

No, reputation goes much deeper than public relations. Reputation is about product design, manufacturing, service, ethics…reputation is impacted by every aspect of your business and, right now, PR people don’t influence every aspect of business (and may the Lord help us if ever they do…).

What Harvard is talking about is image. Image is what you want to say about yourself, what you want people to think and believe…whether it’s true or not. In fact, when you get into the “People” section of the Harvard site, it uses the phrase “’perception altering’ outcomes”…which I think is getting closer to the mark. And before anyone says, “ahh, yes, but perception is reality…” that’s bullshit, I’m afraid. Experience is reality.

The problem is, “Images. Designed, built, managed” doesn’t sound nearly as good, does it? It doesn’t sound real enough…it even sounds a little bit underhand…in fact it sounds like what many people believe public relations to be.

Interesting…many think that the public relations industry has a poor reputation. Shall we design a new one? I mean, if we can't, who in the world can?
Sell Sony, buy FedEx...

I'm in something of a quandary, and I thought you might be able to help me out.

Looking around my house this weekend, I noticed how much Sony kit I've got. TV, VCR, DVD player...there's an old stereo, a very old discman and I've even got a Sony MP3 player.

I'm presuming that it will all have to go back at some point, so my question is this:

Do I get one big box now to send everything back together, or lots of smaller boxes and do it bit by bit?


23 November 2006

Over to our sister agency, Miserable…

Interesting story filed by John Oates over at El Reg this afternoon about goings on at business networking site Ecademy…the one whose “cause is to build the world’s premier Trusted Network.”

Oates tells the story of how “seventeen members of Ecademy…have had their accounts suspended following a row on the company's messageboard. One member was banned for using the word "shit" while others were banned for posting messages in a thread which questioned the original decision. One member was even banned for making rude remarks on a different website.”

There’s some back and forth between Ecademy management and Ecademy members... accusations, denials…the usual.

Now, Ecademy boasts that profiles appear high in Google rankings and members are encouraged to use profiles to advertise their businesses. Consequently several of the banned members - including a number of successful business people - responded with threats of legal action for defamation of character and libel when their accounts were blocked without warning and they were accused of using false identities.

Ecademy issued a series of retractions - claiming that members' accounts were merely 'suspended' and that members had not been 'banned'…although the message "This member has been banned" appeared prominently on the website in place of their profiles for some time.

Ecademy management were recently reported in the Telegraph to be looking to sell their company for up to £20m. Ex-members suspect that in the light of this article, Ecademy management were seeking to remove anybody likely to criticise either their policies or their claims regarding membership numbers. The management unsurprisingly denies this.

According to The Register, management have appointed a "psychosexual therapist" as a mediator, but he's busy until December 1st. Oddly - or not - those banned were less than chuffed that they would have to wait more than three weeks for a resolution. In the meantime, they continue to pay Ecademy for membership.

Interestingly, Ecademy does have a PR representative in Jenny Rose…who is no doubt dusting off her bluffer’s guide to crisis management. Still, she seems an optimistic sort...her company’s called Happy PR.

Time for a rebrand?
A rose amongst thorns…

Now, normally, we don’t have a great deal of time for recruitment consultants. They just seem to pass people from job to job, agency to agency…taking a nice fee each time until they’ve run out of options. But we’ve recently come across one company that seems to be the exception.

Ever heard of Indigo Red? Of course you have. It’s such a brilliantly distinctive name. They’ve got a top bunch of people down there helping great candidates find the most rewarding roles and helping inspirational companies fill wonderfully fulfilling positions. We really think you should check them out.

There are also a number of blogs linked to Indigo Red. There’s one from the boss Steve Mallison-Jones, one from his lovely wife (and Indigo Red co-founder) Lydia and one from consultant Sarah Hayman. All well worth a read.

It is probably at this point that I should disclose that it is Steve - and the wonderful, best recruitment team in the PR industry at Indigo Red - who has agreed to be the headline sponsor for the forthcoming TWL Christmas Party! Yep, he’s dipped his hand into the corporate coffers and come up with a few hundred quid to go behind the bar at the soon-to-be-confirmed-for-those-that-have-emailed-us-(theworldsleading@yahoo.co.uk) venue. Though this fact clearly had no influence over our hearty endorsement of Indigo Red above.

It’s all coming together party people…if you’re a little concerned about appropriate behaviour, the lovely Amanda Chapel has some top tips.

22 November 2006

Tripe for brekkie...

This morning, Lewis held its Industry Forum 2006, where big hitters came together over breakfast to thrash out the issues of the day. Jon Silk of Lewis is blogging away, offering up gems like this:

"This is no longer a 24/7 world - the world we're living in is 25/8. In other words, constant."

For more, ummm, "insight", visit the Lewis 360 blog...
Hand wash only (don't spin)...

It's funny, if you stick "Firefly public relations t-shirt" into Google (well, I don't know, you might) you get this:

Of course, this has nothing to do with the Firefly public relations we know and...well, we know.

Firefly's t-shirts look like this:

20 November 2006

Don’t worry, everything happens for a reason…

…like, you weren’t right for PR in any case.

Andrew B. Smith over at Object Towers alights like a butterfly to a rose on a subject we too have touched on before; whether we will see PR grunt work outsourced to India or, indeed, any other country where labour costs are a fraction of the UK.

I think we will…but which bits? The immediate reaction is, “oh, no, no, no…you need to be able to develop relationships to do my job…with the client, with the media…you can’t outsource that.” But there are parts of the job that don’t require the relationship, just a bit of knowledge and ability.

Here’s an example from another profession (nicked, if I remember it rightly, from Thomas L. Friedman’s “The World is Flat”). It is now common practice for doctors in the US to email to doctors in India scans of their patients’ x-rays for overnight analysis and diagnosis. Now there’s a profession if ever there was one that demands a relationship between client and professional, but obviously some aspects of it don’t. The client is none the wiser, and the service is better (i.e. faster results).

There are aspects of the PR job that could be outsourced. Reporting, for one (do I hear anyone complaining about that?). I could also see some aspects of financial PR being outsourced…the process-driven, regulatory announcement-type activity. Indeed, couldn’t the whole top-and-tailing of US press releases for international distribution be very easily undertaken at a central location, rather than in each country?

It’s definitely on its way. And you know what? I’m kinda looking forward to it.

17 November 2006

Chrimbo party...the date is set...

Meetings have been held, diaries consulted, negotiations commenced, research undertaken. We've brainstormed strategised and planned.

We have an objective:

"Have a Christmas Party"

We have a strategy:

"Generate interest and secure funding through the awesome power of social media"

We have tactics:

"Get on with it"

We also have a date:

Wednesday, 6th December 2006

So stick that it your diaries and remember it.

If you've been keeping up with the comments on the original post, you'll notice that Stephen "Wad" Waddington has pledged some cash for drinkies and, between you and I, we've also received a formal offer of sponsorship from a proper company! So it's all systems go.

If you want to come, make sure that you drop us an email (theworldsleading@yahoo.co.uk) because it's the only way you'll find out where it's all taking place (that's the next thing on the TWL To Do list, by the way).

Thanks to those who have been in touch already. We're excited.

Boys and their analogies....

If you’ve tired of counting the amount of breast glances a marketing manager steals during a meeting and you never found bullshit bingo very interesting in the first place, why not try analogy analysis?

It’s a simple game based around the only analogy that’s ever used in the wonderful world of tech. Cars. And also, at a push, roads.

The greatest Hackneyed Carriage of them all, of course, is the information super highway. Like Ford Fiestas, examples are cheap and plenty. Speaking slowly and loudly to its old and disabled customers, BT splutters a laboured analogy with the reckless abandon of a pensioner on a Sunday afternoon drive..."You can think of broadband as a massive motorway which brings all kinds of information very quickly straight to your home. The motorway is never closed. "

But can you get a dodgy coffee and a Ginsters every 40 miles?

Cheap Broadband Providers, meantime, gives a souped-up chavesque opening line for its description. New Zealand’s TVNZ recently trotted out this horrific pile-up of a quote from Ernie Newman of The Telecommunications Users Association:

"If you expand the access ramps onto a motorway, you can get a lot more traffic onto the motorway. But that doesn't mean that when you get on there you're not going to slow to a crawl."

Operating Systems is another favourite area where the dear old car is used in place of any truly rational explanaion, especially in comments and forums where it’s used in wonderful pub-logic arguments:

On Microsoft and Novell patent cross licensing deal

On upgrades

And on services packs

When tired of using home security analogies, IT security people find their next inspiration in the garage with trite rhetorical questions such as:

“I have always enjoyed the analogy of the guy who owns an expensive car like a Porsche, yet keeps it secure in a garage with a door lock that's barely worth $100. If the threat of the lock being broken so the car gets towed away in the middle of the night is high enough, how much should he spend on a lock? A thousand dollars? Ten thousand?”

"Enjoyed the analogy"? I've always taken pleasure in the odd analogy, but to be honest it's metaphors that really give me a hard-on.

However, in pole position with car analogies must be AMD which is about to launch its 4x4 chip architecture and, separately inspired just about the most tortured car analogy ever.

So let's ditch the car anlogies once and for all; send them to the scrapheap. If you hear one in a meeting, put the brakes on...flash red lights everywhere.

We know you can do it. We are, after all, the industry that brought you SMART objectives.

16 November 2006

What do you want for Christmas...

...apart, that is, from an invitation the The World's Leading Christmas Party?

Maybe a Microsoft Xbox? Maybe...but if you're MS&L, Edelman/JCPR or Weber Shandwick, you're more interested in the Xbox PR account...and they're all pitching for it in the next week or two. To be honest, though, one of the three is probably feeling a tad more confident that the other two.

MS&L is the incumbent agency, having run the Xbox account for the past six years - a decent stretch in anyone's book. You'll remember, however, that only a few weeks ago PRWeek reported that Dave Bennett, MS&L's "Xbox supremo" had left the agency for Edelman, leading to speculation that Microsoft might take the opportunity to review the account.

You'll also remember that about a month ago, PRWeek also reported that JCPR had split with Sony Computer Entertainment, just a few months before the launch of PlayStation 3. So that left a neat games console-sized hole at Edelman/JCPR, and presumably a highly-skilled team twiddling its thumbs (waiting for Bennett to appear, no doubt). Oh, and since August, Edelman has also handled Xbox PR across Europe.

Let's just say that if Edelman doesn't pick up the business, there'll be a load of head-scratching going on down Haymarket way...

And what about poor old Weber? It really looks like it's making up the numbers, doesn't it? But it'll still be ploughing loads of time, resources, expense and creative energy into the pitch, I'm sure (as will MS&L, which can't be overly confident of its chances either).

Let's see what happens. But I'm not expecting a surprise in my Christmas stocking.

Big up to Stephen Davies...it would seem that Borkowski has been stupid, again...

15 November 2006

Shiny balls and a huge sack...

It cannot have escaped your notice that Christmas is fast approaching. It certainly hasn't escaped the attention of one loyal TWL viewer, as a simply genius idea dropped down the chimney of our inbox this afternoon:

"Dear TWL. Why don't you have a Christmas party?"

Of course we should! So we're going to.

In true cloak-and-dagger, secret-squirrel, Daniel Craig-inspired covertness, joining us in the festivities will be no simple matter. If you'd like to come (and to give us some idea of whether we'll need a small booth at the Crown and Two or start negotiations with the London Arena) you need to drop us an email: theworldsleading@yahoo.co.uk. As and when we firm up any of the details, we'll let you know. We've already created a new folder called "Christmas Party People."

Oh, and due to the fact that we're not Stephen Waddington, we'd welcome any proposals for, um, "refreshment sponsorship" or you'll be buying your own drinks. Suitable subsequent endorsement will ensue.

Party on!
Where’s Aedhmar..?

Anyone seen Text 100 CEO Aedhmar Hynes? At least, has anyone seen her near a computer keyboard?

As far as I can tell, one of the golden rules of effective blogging is to do it regularly. I think that helps people come back time after time to see what you’ve got to say. Or something.

When Aedhmar Hynes set up her blog back in February, I thought she did quite a smart thing. She called it Monday Morning (not that smart in itself, I admit) but in her first post she explained that its name stemmed from the fact that she was going to blog just once a week, on Monday morning. This is what she said:

“As an avid reader of both 'traditional' and 'new' media, my blog will be a weekly reflection on how these diaglogues affect the public relations industry and the companies we support. The weekend is a great time to catch up on my reading, so Monday Morning will be a reflection of the writing that intrigued me the most.”

And before anyone corrects me, she really did write “diaglogues.”

Maybe she’s stopped reading? Or perhaps her Monday morning musings weren't as interesting as she thought, "Mowed the lawn, cleaned the car...husband fell asleep in front of the TV after roast beef and yorkies, kids ran riot. Didn't want to come to work."

Whatever, she’s been very quiet for a good while now. Her most recent post was on September 8th. In fact, by my reckoning, there have been 39 Monday mornings since Aedhmar’s first foray into the blogosphere, but only 20 posts on her blog. As some of her American colleagues would surely say (before being slapped by a Brit), “you do the math.”

She set the expectations and has failed to deliver. Presumably not a reflection of Text 100’s work as a whole?
Pull your socks up, hack…

One of the wonderful things about the new, all pervasive “I’ll never read a magazine again” world of social media that we haven’t really talked too much about is the ability to comment directly on the quality of a journalist’s writing…or lack of it. In the dark and gloomy bad old word of ink on paper, if a hack wrote a shoddy article we’d merely grumble into our pints and possibly consider a letter to the editor. But now – praise be – with more and more editorial appearing online in the form of blogs, we can comment with abandon.

A case in point has arrived in our inbox from our old buddy Mr BadHack. As some of you will know, BadHack was a blog set up to highlight less than exemplary behaviour of the journalistic community. Surprising to us all, however, a lack of content seems to have done for Mr BH and he’s been quiet for a long, long while. So it was nice to hear from him.

He points us to this extremely superficial review of Microsoft’s new Media Player on eWeek’s Microsoft Watch site. Previously, such a shoddy piece of journalism would’ve passed and been forgotten, but not in the new age. Now people can comment…and boy, have they?! Stuff like this:

“I could write a more extensive (and USEFUL) from the time my cheeks hit the porcelain to the time my hand hits the two-ply.”

“Get some info, not vapid spin.”

“Seriously, they call this journalism?”

“You call this a "review"! .... pure drivel....”

“I used to get F's for this type of thing in high school”

Nothing like a bit of feedback, eh? No response, as yet, from the journalist Jim Rapoza.

It’s great though, isn’t it, to think that hacks across the industry are sitting at their desks, fingers trembling over the keyboard, nervously considering whether to his the “publish post” button, wondering whether their piece really is good enough to stand up to critical scrutiny and the response that might be delivered instantly?

Aren’t they?

Iain’T staying….

A not particularly well kept secret is now officially out in the open. Iain Thomson, who recently left IT Pro, is headed back to Broadwick Street, this time as managing editor of VNUnet.

Boomerang Thomson, as he’ll be known forthwith, is not the first to yo-yo back to VNU and probably won’t be the last. “I liked working with Chris [Green] and the rest of the Dennis crew but decided I could do more of the stuff I really enjoy in this job,” said Boomerang.

Though not a direct replacement for Thomson, Rene Millman has joined IT Pro which has perked up the IT Pro offices no end.

When Rene walks through the door he’s met with a cheery ‘Allo from Chris, and an ‘Allo from Maggie ‘Yvette’ Holland. “Bonjour,” replies Rene, and pointing at Chris says: “It’s ze fallen Madonna with zee big boobies.”

The ensuing merriment is broken by a Dennis accountant: “It is you, a Clerk,” chuckles Chris Vert. “Leesen verrry carefully, I weel zay zis only once,” says Michelle from accounts. “Vee need more readeeers and more advertisiiing, ozerwise ve weel go ze vaay of all 1980s BBC zeetcoms.”

14 November 2006

A slippery slope for the guru...

We notice this morning that Stuart Bruce has changed the header on his blog. He's followed a growing number (including fellow "big name" UK social media in PR specialist...now there's a niche...James Warren) down the landscape route. But whereas Warren's shows the bright sun heralding a new day over lush and grassy parkland, Bruce's is a dark picture of some dangerous-looking and rather misty mountains.

What does this tell us? That Warren's an optimist and Bruce has darker thoughts about the future? Or that Bruce can help you navigate your way through this strange and murky environment? Not sure...get us an amateur psychologist, somebody.

Of more significance in Bruce's new look header, however, are the words. Not only have they shrunk, they've changed. That's right...gone is the PR Guru! Bruce now says he is merely a "PR guy" (though a little too late for November 5th). Guru to guy can only be regarded as some sort of serious demotion, can't it? What's next...genome?

Luckily, Bruce still tells us that he's been blogging since 2003 which is a bit like me saying that I've been walking since 11 months. At the time it seemed important, but now it's a bit irrelevant...everyone's at it (and some are even better than I am...).

10 November 2006

Bite bum biting…

We’ve only been floating around the blogosphere for a short while – like tourist astronauts taking their first spacewalk - but one thing we have noticed is that it seems de rigeur to disclose any commercial interests you might have in relation to something that you’re posting about (obviously, as an annoying anonymous blog, it doesn’t really apply to TWL…).

So, when you read this on the blog of Bite Communications

“David Pogue from the NYT reviews Microsoft's Zune set to be released next week and from the looks of it, it doesn't seem like Apple should be too worried about the newest iPod challenger.”

…you might expect the next line to be “But of course Bite does Apple’s PR so we’re not about to say anything too nice about its competitors, are we?”

But it doesn’t! There’s nothing…it’s just left hanging there. Bite might say that its poster (one Kristin Maverick…maverick by name, etc etc…) is simply highlighting an interesting piece of national press coverage, but it’s funny the ones that get chosen, isn’t it?

It’s only a little thing, of course, but I don’t want to have to keep running off and checking an agency’s client list each time I read a post about this company or that product.

Having said that, I am looking forward to next week’s feature on how Sun Microsystems’ servers have helped improve Bite CEO Clive Armitage’s sex life…should be a cracker.

09 November 2006

Lovely weather we’re having…

It’s November 9th today and I had my lunch sitting on a park bench in gloriously warm sunshine. Global warming, eh? And everyone’s going on about how they want us to stop it; about how we all should be aiming for carbon neutrality to save the planet.

This week’s PRWeek highlights the story…and some of the inherent contradictions. Danny Rogers, in his opinion piece, points out how the PR industry is jumping on the green bandwagon faster than it has jumped on any previously passing one – and it’s never been shy to adopt a fad. Agencies going carbon neutral, others establishing ‘green’ practice groups (I’m sure that forcing employees to wear sandals and grow beards isn’t allowed)…even if some think as an industry that we talk more than we walk.

Before the industry settled on the hype of green, the forerunning fashion was, of course, Corporate Social Responsibility, whereby normally pathological organisations did nice things so that everyone liked them (or at the very least, ignored the nasty stuff they were doing somewhere else). “Yes, I realise that they’re driving indigenous populations from their traditional homelands in the Amazonian basin, but at least they’ve planted some new trees down the rec…”

But, as PRWeek also points out, while in principle we’d like organisations to be doing more CSR-type goody goodiness, we don’t really care one way or the other (only 10% of respondents to a Vodafone survey said they were “very interested” in hearing about a firms CSR efforts).

Think about the last expensive item you bought…iPod, TV, handbag, tube ticket. You saw it, you wanted it, you bought it. At which stage did you check out the producer’s environmental credentials? Were they carbon neutral? What were working conditions in the factory like? Did you check it? Did you bollocks.

I think it was Lord Browne of BP that once said something along the lines of: “I’m more than happy for us to undertake CSR activities, along as it makes people buy more petrol from us.” Well, it looks like it doesn’t, so how long before CSR and related green initiatives are sunk like a disused oil rig?

08 November 2006

If you’re not in dictators and drugs, you’re not in…

Get with the times, will you? If you’re new business efforts are focused on finding reputable commercial organisations from which to extract a humble retainer on a monthly basis for some positive coverage and a bunch of reports, then you’re living in the past, man. The place to be now, it seems, is helping wayward regimes, disobedient dictators and naughty nations.

Soon after the furore around H&K’s highly-paid assistance for President Gayoom of the Maldives, the Independent points the finger at another big name PR agency helping out a less-than-reputable cause.

The story focuses on remarks made by comedian Mark Thomas who has written a book on toture and the arms trade (which doesn’t sound very funny to us) and “fumes” that Weber Shandwick has agreed to help the Colombian government – which has been condemned for tacit collaboration in paramilitary massacres – improve its PR. Thomas is quoted as saying:

"Colombia is the most dangerous place in the world to be a trade unionist. The government is found wanting. So for someone to come along and say, 'We'll show you how to do good PR' is disgraceful. Where will people draw the line? Would Weber Shandwick want to see the swastikas before deciding not to work with someone?"

Weber Shandwick replies that it has "been hired by the democratically elected Colombian government to advise on a range of issues" - "mainly... [seeking] to promote dialogue, ideas and experience of how best to combat cocaine production, trafficking and abuse.”

The guys at Getting Ink recently asked “Gosh, who can we trust these days?” If Weber Shandwick hadn’t already been mentioned in relation to some other allegedly dodgy dealings, we’d suggest perhaps adding it to the list.

07 November 2006

Our survey said…

The results of the sixth annual 2006 PRWeek/Burson-Marsteller CEO Survey are in (funny…I can’t recall the previous five, but no matter) and you can probably hear the distant groaning of statistics being stretched to their limit. In fact, when the sub-heading of the press release is “New Survey Notes CEOs Frequently Revise Strategies In Light of Emerging Issues” you wonder why they don’t just call it the sixth annual “Go Figure” CEO Survey.

However, in light of our recent debate about the amount of time PR professionals spend meeting their clients’ ever more demanding reporting requirements, the headline finding is interesting; that the majority (62%) of CEOs “indicate that gut feelings are highly influential in guiding their business strategies, while only four in 10 cite internal metrics and financial information.”

So, the CEO is much more likely to read the paper, watch TV, browse the odd glossy, maybe do a bit of online and listen to customers to work out whether PR is delivering value for money. The impetus for reports and measurement doesn’t come from the top (but we knew that already, didn’t we?).

The survey also tells us that the top priorities for CEOs in terms of the outcomes of their actions (and presumably the actions of their employees and any companies they might employ to work on their behalf) are customer reactions, long-term financial performance and corporate reputation.

So it’s fairly safe to assume that CEOs would prefer their company’s money was spent doing things that had a positive impact on those priorities, rather than producing increasingly detailed reports to cover the arse and justify the job of some middle-ranking in-house PR manager.

We’re often told that the demand for more reporting comes from above; that “we need these reports to feed into management reports higher up the food chain.” Bollocks. Listen up: “THE CEO DOESN’T CARE ABOUT YOUR CRAPPY LITTLE REPORTS!”

OK, so you might say that in helping secure the job of the in-house PR manager an agency is also helping secure its own role, but given the choice I reckon that most agency heads would rather take their chances in spending their time generating great results and being smart about making sure their work gets noticed in the boardroom (or on the golf course, at the rugby, in their club).

I remember a few years back PR Week ran an on-going campaign called Proof (I think) which aimed to ensure that every campaign had 10% of its budget devoted to measurement and evaluation of results. Surely we can lump reporting into campaign measurement and evaluation these days and, if so, wouldn’t it be a dream if you could ensure that only 10% of the fee was spent on those activities? It’d be far less than most spend on it at the moment. I suspect, however, that the PR Week campaign was focused on diverting 10% of your fee into third-party coverage evaluation services like Metrica…which only makes the time spent reporting even more of a squeeze on your margins.

Reporting demands are sucking the lifeblood from creative PR execs…I see it all the time. All those shiny new grads from last week’s PR Week walking into top agencies, dreaming of days filled with brainstorms, creative juices spilling over the desks, clients simply gagging for the next great idea…how long before the daily grind of admin drives them into other careers? Crikey, you might as well be making more money being as bored somewhere else, right?

06 November 2006

Penny for the Guy..?

Guy Kewney's posted a comment over on Tim Dyson's blog. He's actually telling Dyson off for a schoolboy spelling mistake. Quite right too...Dyson's used "there" instead of "their" - and in actual fact shouldn't have been trying to use "their" in any case, he should've been using "its" (companies always being singular).

Anyway, Kewney then launches into a completely unrelated moan about The "blasted" Red Consultancy's new (I think) Flash website, ending his comment by imploring Dyson to "teach them something about PR."

Brilliant stuff. I'm really interested to see Dyson's reply.
Great names of our time...

I guess that any questions raised in the post below will be answered this coming Thursday, as Hotwire PR is holding a seminar called "Harnessing the Power of Blogs". It will feature someone from Hotwire (obviously), someone from Ipsos MORI (who did a survey, of course) and the ubiquitous Charles Arthur (I'm sure that there's more than one of him).

I say that the seminar will no doubt answer all the questions...Hotwire says that it'll answer these ones:

What is the impact of user generated content on blogs on my business now and in the future?
How can blogs be influenced positively?
How can I manage my brand image and reputation in this new world with limited controls?
How can I measure the results and impact of blogs in a PR campaign?

Which is all you really need to know, isn't it?

The main point of this post, however, is not the event itself but the rather lovely name of one of the Hotwire people involved. The seminar, you see, will also be held in Frankfurt, Munich, Düsseldorf, Paris, Milan and Madrid. If you'd like information on any of those, you'll need to contact one Celine Puff.

The perfect PR name, surely? Unless she's a magic dragon. Or grows her own.
Come the revolution…

Strumpette’s guest columnist is worth a read for all you PR execs wondering where your job fits into the world of Web 2.0 and social media…if indeed it does. It’s from Rohit Bhargava of Ogilvy Public Relations, and concerns the ‘the adoption of corporate blogging and intersection of the enterprise and individual personalities’.

Essentially, the argument goes that corporate blogs are attaching individual personalities to large - and previously faceless – organisations. Consumers engage more readily with individuals, particularly when they share interests and passions, and a good corporate blog can foster brand empathy and loyalty. As Rohit so rightly points out, “The power of the individual voice within enterprises is finding its place.”

Of course, when all the excitement about the potential of blogging first kicked off, many in the PR industry saw it as a huge opportunity: if all these big businesses were going to be blogging, then surely they’d need legions of PR execs to help them create the content, right? Wrong. Very, very wrong.

As everyone is now coming to realise, what matters in blogging is total transparency, absolute honesty and complete authenticity. Not exactly three concepts that sit right at the centre of PR practice (come on, be completely honest with yourselves. For once). And, as we’ve seen over recent weeks, even those PR agencies that seemed to all of us to “get it” more than most can’t seem to do it right, so what hope the rest of us?

I heard a story recently in which a social media guru advised a large corporate to fire all its marketing and PR people and invest the money in its products. “Get your products right,” he said, “and the internet will do the rest for you.” That might sound like pie in the sky to you, but how far away do you really think it is? Organisations don’t own their own brands anymore…they’re deconstructed on the internet and re-presented to the world as they truly are.

So what role does PR play in this new world if we’re not the ones controlling the blogs (event the corporate ones, let alone the rest)? Rohit again:

“…the filter that a PR team may have applied to enterprise communications is starting to dissolve. As individuals (most outside the PR department) start to develop relationships with customers - it is their voice that has a dialogue. Doing a press release is often not as effective as having a company's most prolific blogger "announce" something on his/her blog - and then point people to it. People trust others more than they trust institutions.”

The worrying part being that most in PR represent institutions, not individuals.

Here’s an idea for you. Pick up a press release you’ve written recently…or maybe an opinion article. Read it. Does that sound authentic to you? If you read that one a blog, verbatim, would you believe it? Maybe you’re the exception…but read through a few of the releases on Sourcewire today and you’ll see what I mean. Is the PR industry good enough to write believable content? Really?

Another idea. The next time you’re asked to write a press release for your client, write it as if you were blogging it, as if you were an employee blogger. Be as honest as you need to be for it to work online; for it not to be pilloried as spam or propaganda. Give it some personality. Believe me, you’ll find it refreshing. It’ll take some guts to ping it over to the client, but explain to them why you’ve written it like that. Explain why press releases don’t work anymore.

Should we be worried? You bet we should. When we see stories about the threat of social media to traditional media we need to recognise the implicit and related threat to PR.

Many of the best blogs are written by professional journalists, so they’ve still got a role to play. Have we?

05 November 2006

Bono of contention...

While on the subject of U2, Martin Veitch got a tetchy email from a U2 employee asking him to refrain from criticising the band in his Inquirer pieces (examples of the light-hearted frippery are here, here and here).

U2 may well have a wide fan-base within IT departments, but just how petty can people be?

04 November 2006

We're here all week...

We've heard that U2's PR agency never gets paid.

Its work is always pro Bono.

Sorry 'bout that.

02 November 2006

4.6% of time spent analysing time breakdowns….

We’ve been alerted to a surprisingly interesting feature in PR Week (not that you can see it without a subscription) by The New View From Object Towers from the very lovely Andrew B Smith of Object Marketing.

Robert Gray’s colourful article (see what we did there?) looks at how a ‘typical’ 50 person PR agency spends its time. The great and the good happily gave their view of the findings.

As usual some comments were a tad self-serving (Kate Pooley of Lewis blathering about a pilot scheme that uses podcasts to report results in order to save time) and some were a little more honest, such as Mark ‘Firefly’ Mellor and his classic “existing clients come first in theory, but this can be tested to the limits if a couple of interviews clash with a new business pitch worth £100,000.”

The big news, of course, was the shocking revelation that a projected 45% of time went on account management with a further 18% on reporting. Almost two-thirds of time on managing expectations and egos. Media relations rolled in at 12% followed by a bunch of other stuff leaving only 1% of time dedicated to features tracking (that’ll be the AE then).

Is it all really that shocking? To the hand-wringers that get all academic about it, probably. Yet it is the hand-wringers that caused all this in the first place. Back in the day, it was “come up with a good story, sell the idea into your journo mates and we’ll all get to the pub on time.”

Then the shiny suit brigade decides that PR should be a chartered profession, and we must plan, measure, evaluate, plan, measure, evaluate our way into a sterile accountancy environment.

Account management – the endless status calls, the booking of taxis for a senior executive that can’t hail his or her own cab, the whimsical ‘strategic’ chat that wonders off into the PR manager bemoaning the attitude of their employer – and reporting go hand-in-hand.

The weekly, monthly, quarterly, bi-annual and annual reports and reviews add up. The strategic bigwigs that dreamt this crap up don’t, of course, actually do the reporting so the AMs and AEs have to do it leaving precious little time to do ‘traditional’ PR.

Clients start to go crazy when reports are late, or if a cutting isn’t straight. Due at a fixed point, these things are above the parapet waiting to be shot at. An unscheduled piece of coverage that, as it turns out, never did appear, doesn’t get missed. So what do you focus on?

Reporting is a drug. They like the report. But they want a bigger hit. Can you do a coverage board…Can you create a montage of coverage in PowerPoint….Just the best quotes, and make sure it looks pretty….With each piece coming in on a separate click…. Yes do scan the coverage in because we still don’t get our cuttings electronically….

The professionalisation of PR means the product is now the presentation of results rather than the results themselves. How often has a client lamented that “we didn’t sell that coverage back into the organisation (his/her boss) sufficiently.”

And besides, how long does it take to ring a couple of journalists and create some sort of a story with them? That’s the easy bit. Trouble is, it's too easy. Competing on that basis means ever-declining margin. That’s why agencies these days win and lose according to how they manage clients and package the ever-declining results they get.

On a positive note, cracking piece of coverage for TimeAct Solutions. Bet its agency spends less than 45% of its time on account management….

31 October 2006

Big man banter...

Seen this? It's a month or so old now, but has someone got a problem with the jolly Green giant?

30 October 2006

I'm blogging...

Judging by the amount of times we've received this, if you haven't sent it in you're just not getting it.

If you haven't seen it, well, chances are you're not reading this blog anyway....
Sick as a parrot…

In the old days tech PR was a simple affair, such as simply demystifying the complexities of uninterrupted power supplies or explaining the benefits of fibre over category 5 copper.

But these days it’s everywhere and covers everything. Even the Luddite world of football has caught on. While over-paid work-shy 20-somethings pack their broadband connections with gambling sites and porn, managers crunch their laptops with specialist analysis software such as ProZone, the high profile programme that England manager Steve McClaren favours.

ProZone has been happily gaining plenty of coverage in the sports pages over the past couple of years. This is presumably attributable to it being a good quality product that has an impressive market share. It certainly isn’t because it has a good website, and tracking down its PR company is harder than a Robbie Savage tackle. If fact it’s even harder than liking Robbie Savage.

So congratulations to Football Manager 2007’s PR folk who used good old smoke and mirrors to convince The Times to use “a computer simulation” to assess Alan Pardew’s best West Ham side for beating Blackburn. Football Manager 2007 is a football simulation game that costs around £35. Which at a guess is rather less than ProZone costs.

More to the point, within the virtual world of Football Manager 2005, I’ve won the triple (the one that includes the Champions League as opposed to the Carling Cup) with Burton Albion in just six seasons. In short, it’s about as accurate as Emile Heskey on a bad day.

With grown-up software like ProZone on the bench, back-bedroom saddo software Football Manager 2007 came up with the most formidable West Ham team it could. In the real world, West Ham beat Blackburn convincingly with a very different line-up including a defender making his debut and a 40 year old striker. Guess Alan Pardew is more of a ProZone man.

To any Americans that are still with us:
a) Well done for sticking it out this far but, let’s face it, it’s not the first time you’ve spent this long on something you don’t understand
b) This is football, the world game, as opposed to something that fat men trussed up in pillows do
c) We don’t think Benny Hill is funny

26 October 2006

At least it's in the UK...

Here's an interesting little post on the PR Studies blog of Richard Bailey from Leeds University (though the blog clearly just represents his personal views).

Blogging sweatshops? Really? How long until that's offshore?

25 October 2006

Shampagne charlies...

So, as we mentioned, TWL attended the PR Week Awards last night. Turns out that cooking duck for 1,500 braying PR professionals isn't very easy. Who'd have thought it?

You can read through all the winners on the PR Week website (there are photos too...oh dear) but the biggest award of the night - the very last lump of chrome and plastic to be given away - is the Gold Award for Campaign of the Year.

Now, the campaign of the year is picked from the winners of all the separate campaign awards, so we knew the candidates already...and there were some very worthy ones. There was a campaign to improve numeracy skills amongst men, there was one from the Alzheimer's Society, one highlighting the critical need for kidney donations, a campaign to improve the quality of food labelling, one from the team who managed the impact of the London bombings on British tourism and one from Cancer Research UK...amongst others.

And (drum roll please) you'll be delighted to hear that the winner of the 2006 PR Week Award for Campaign of the Year was...umm...Cake Group, for its launch of the Nintendogs game for the Nintendo DS.

Yep, that's right. The great and the good of the UK PR industry (or at least those on the judging panel) decided that the pinnacle of PR execution over the past year was the launch of a video game about dogs.

Opportunity missed? You decide. Didn't make me feel great (but that might've been the duck).
Made me laugh, but then I'm in a childlike state...

TWL's feeling a little worse for wear today...because we went to the PR Week Awards last night (but more of that little luvvie love-in later).

This made me feel better though. Not the content specifically (calls to throw Edelman out of the Word of Mouth Marketing Association...which, umm, wouldn't look good) but rather the picture used to illustrate it.

24 October 2006

Wadds of cash...

If you see Stephen Waddington - MD of Rainier PR in the UK - at the PR Week Awards tonight, get him to buy you a drink - PR Week reports that the company's been snapped up by Loewy for £5m, so he's rolling in it.

Or maybe not. I remember that when Stephen Schuster, Rainier PR founder, was in the UK in the late 90s looking for the team to set up the agency's UK sub he refused to consider giving away any equity in the venture. I'm sure Wadds put him straight there though. Nothing on his blog yet - he's probably down the pub.
Are there sharks in Second Life..?

Because I think one’s just been jumped.

Some of the “big names” in the social media world (I think) have come together to create a new company called crayon. It’s launching – in Second Life, of course – this Thursday.

Now, for those of you who, like me, grew up chewing on multi-coloured wax pencils, you’re immediate assumption will be that this is where the inspiration for the name came from (or perhaps evidence of what happens to your brain should you scoff too many) but, looking at the logo, I don’t think that’s the case. It looks to me like "cray on" (as in an ‘on’ switch). So, like a couple of decades ago when someone in the office wanted to do some computing they might say, “is the Cray on?”

Anyway, you’ll be desperate to hear what the new company is going to be up to. So this is what one of the founders Neville Hobson, is saying on his blog:

“The teasing is done and it’s time to get specific about the new company I’m now part of…”

Goody gum-drops…crack on Nev!

Crayon will “launch from Crayonville Island, our headquarters in Second Life that’s been under construction during the past few months. So the first thing to tell you is that crayon is a both a real and a virtual company.”

OK, got you. Real and virtual. Virtually real? Really virtual? I’m sure it’ll become clear.

“We’re real, in the sense that all of us involved are physical, real human beings based in real locations, on the US east and west coasts plus me here in Europe. We’re virtual, in the sense that our primary presence as a company is the three-dimensional online digital world of Second Life where we will conduct our business, our presentations, our brainstorms and our pitches. And by the way, when we launch on Thursday, we will be the first company to be launched in Second Life.”

Hurrah! I’d been looking forward to that. So what is it you do?

“We’re not an agency nor a consulting practice as is traditionally defined. What we are is whatever you want or need us to be.”

You don’t know, do you?

“I like to think of us as a true mash-up that combines the best in traditional and new thinking about marketing, advertising and PR.”

You’re really not sure, are you?

“We’re a solution provider. We’re an extension of your team. Consider us a new breed of partner – one that keeps everyone honest and on the right path. Our client is not the consumer: our client is the truth.”

You haven’t got any clients have you?

“Looking forward to helping you get to your future first.”

I’m fairly sure that I’ll be able to get to my future first without your help, Nev.

“If you’d like to blog or podcast about crayon, I’d be thrilled if you would!”

We have, Nev, we have. I hope it helps. But this whole “real and virtual” bit has got us confused (Nicholas Carr too). Maybe one of the other founders can help clear it up for us? Over to Shel Holtz:

“…we’re a company outside of SL in addition to inside. An in-world company launching in-world is one thing, a company that will do business outside of SL — business that has no relationship to SL at all — is quite another! Perhaps we should have said “non-in-world company.”"

Oh! A “non-in-world” company. Is that the same as not-on-this-planet”?

Best of luck.

23 October 2006

Old-school journalist hates TWL…so?

Friends, we’re under attack. The following excerpts come from a single comment on a post from a couple of weeks back, sent in by a self-professed “old-school journalist”. Avid readers that you are you might just have missed it, hidden as it was at comment number 41…

“…this is a very poor blog. There's nothing clever about it, you see. Just do a bit of looking around and then criticise anonymously. Very poor.”

Very poor...yes...

"I think you could do worse than mail all of your contacts…pointing out what a cr*p blog this is.”

Cr*p blog...right...

"I don't actually care if this blog stays or not. It would not be missed. But remember that journalists have long memories. Upset a journalist and they tend not to forget...”

Tend not to forget...except the odd interview...

We’re distraught. How could anyone not adore TWL with the whole of their heart? How could they not rejoice in our regular delivery of PR ridicule…of our highlighting the contradictions, the half-truths, the oxys and the morons?

Have they lost their sense of humour?

Boo bloody hoo.

16 October 2006

Shiny new site...

I've just noticed that Weber Shandwick has got a new UK website.

Looks alright actually. No blog though...guess they're relying on James Warren's personal effort. He's entertaining, but infrequent. Nice to put a face to a name though.

Speaking of which, don't spend to long staring at the picture of Brendan May, Weber Shandwick's Head of CSR. I swear he's trying to hypnotise me.

Lots of stuff is being written about the fake Wal-Mart blog devised (it is said) by its PR company Edelman. Fingers pointing all over the place - with Edelman being seen as one of the thought-leaders in all things related to blogging and PR - and not least at Steve Rubel, long-time blogging guru and now Edelman employee.

Someone like him should know better, shouldn't he?

Perhaps he does. Check out this post from February 2005, in which Rubel wonders who might be the first to fake a fake blog.

Perhaps this is a way out for Edelman? It could claim that someone else faked the fake blog in an effort to besmirch the good names of Edelman and Wal-Mart. There's been no response to the Wal-Mart debacle as yet from the mighty Edelman bloggers...I'm sure they're thinking hard.

15 October 2006

Minivan out of control..?

Crikey, we're getting a hard time for giving people some stick...it's nothing to what Minivan News - the independent news site for the Maldives - is dishing out to H&K.

Check out its latest salvo...might just be a dig too far, we reckon.

12 October 2006

Shrinking portfolio…

The name Mark Westaby has been bandied around here on TWL of late. Avid comment readers will remember Mark as the fella who told us that we should stop mucking around, read his mate’s book and learn something about PR, or words to that effect.

Thing is, I didn’t really know who Mark was, or what he did. I do now though. He’s a board director of Portfolio, part of the group that also owns Metrica, the media evaluation people.

Highlighted on Portfolio’s homepage is the press release regarding Portfolio’s leap up the 2005 PR Week 150 league tables to number 14…fee income up 18% year on year to a shade under £4.5m, all the usual guff.

Odd though, I thought, to just have the 2005 league tables highlighted, as I’m sure the 2006 leagues tables were published back in April, and surely Portfolio would want to once again highlight its meteoric rise up the rankings?

Umm, probably not, seeing as it dropped down to number 44 and, to use PR Week’s own words, “was the only agency in the Top 50 to post a double digit decline”. Not even a press release written by the great Peter Bartram could spin that one.

I’m not sure whether this means Mark should spend less time reading books about PR, or more?
Hot & Knot...

Remember the website Hot or Not?

Does this remind you of anything?

11 October 2006

Business angel needed...

The latest news from Lewis PR about its big name global client win (we'll spare you the details...no doubt you'll be reading about it in PR Week soon) has sparked an idea for a new online business.

Basically, it's a virtual world where you're young, fit, slim and good looking and your life is filled with sports cars, homes in exotic locations, nights on the town and, best of all, you're accompanied by a foxy girl 20 years your junior. I'm calling it Second Wife (TM).

What do you think? It's a winner, right?
The Maldivians are mad...

A couple of days ago we posted about Hill & Knowlton's efforts to address some of the, umm, "image" challenges faced by President Gayoom of the Maldives (some say "brutal dictator", others say "just a bit grumpy").

Much attention has centred on Tim Fallon, H&K London's man in the Maldives. Well, last Friday Fallon decided to respond with a post on hig blog...and the Maldivians have come out fighting...check the comments...these just from the first few:

"No, Mr.Fallon! Your first and only priority in supporting a brutal and dictatorial regime is profit making. Period. When your company is getting paid thousands of pounds when there are several Maldivian people who do not have 3 square meals a day, you are definitely hiding something!"

"You are basically supporting a regime that has perpertrated inexcusable and horrendous human rights abuses against its own people."

"Mr Fallon. You are not helping my country to democratize. On the contrary you are doing nothing but drain our resources."

"Mr. Fallon, simply put, you are an opportunist."

"You have helped prolong civil unrest, political repression and torture in the Maldives."

"Mr. Fallon, Do you realise that you too have smeared yourself with the blood of the victims of the cruel dictator."

"Mr Fallon, shame on people like you who try to sanitize President Gayoom's regime which has been responsible for the torture of thousands of Maldivians and several foreign."

Blimey...and there are literally hundreds of comments. But then, four days after Fallon's original post and all the negative comments, they start to change (funny that). Stuff like this pops up:

"The PR work you have undertaken for our democratically elected government is very important and requires due credit."

"Your work is fantastic Mr Fallon and I wish there were more persons that would tell the world the truth about Maldivians."

"Mr. Fallon, you're an educated good person. and i appresiate what u are doing for the poor people of Maldives. thank you very much, sir."

"Tim, keep up the good work! You've done well, despite the 'barking dogs' barking day and night. As you've said yourself above, most of those comments are "the protestation of a small and fragmented group of opponents"...you've put it nicely, too kindly. personally i think these are ravings of mad dogs. "

"Excellent work, Tim and keep the fight up - it is only when people like you speak the truth and spread it to the international community that the message will eventually sink in - that Maldives has developed in leaps and bounds under our beloved President Gayoom's leadership, guidance and courage over the past 3 decades."

As yet, Tim has declined to respond to the comments. He's probably tucked up in bed in a very dark room.
Bullshit level alert: maintained...

We're dizzy with the power we wield. Today - a mere 24 hours from out original post - the jargon-ridden recruitment ad from WaggEd has disappeared. Position filled? Doubt it.

Worry not, however, as we have been alerted to another PR company's efforts to define yet more audience sectors to target. Burson-Marstellar has come up with e-fluentials, tech-fluentials and - get this - mom-fluentials (they're "powerful information brokers" don't you know). There are even nice little avatars to explain more.


10 October 2006

Highest level of bullshit alert...

This morning, dear viewers, the TWL security forces have taken the unprecedented step of raising the tech PR industry's bullshit alert setting to "double red with bells on". The reason? This recruitment ad from Waggener Edstrom.

Now we know the PR industry is prone to the odd bit of, umm, creative language in its recruitment advertising...we've posted about it before. But this...well, words almost fail us.

But not quite. For a start, the ad's over 1,000 words long which, given it's for an account executive position, is probably more than the successful candidate is going to know. Crikey, we're not even sure we understand some of it ourselves. Check this bit out, which comes under "Preferred Experience":

Managed a complex, information-rich “relationship of persuasion” over time towards an overarching, non-transaction-oriented business goal


And in true tech industry fashion, they've come up with a couple of new acronyms. The position advertised is within a newly-formed account team in WaggEd's London office called MEG...this stands for Market Expansion Group, which has "the goal to define a strategy for expanding new and existing markets with technology". Which I think means winning some business.

The next acronym is my favourite though...it defines the key target audience for the position. They're called ITANTIs.

Read that and tell me what you think it might be. Perhaps it means the group within society that is not in favour of information technology. Interesting...turn all those "antis" into "pros" and the market's much, much bigger...in fact the Market has Expanded! It all makes sense...very smart.

Oh, no...it's not. ITANTI in fact stands for (you'll like this) IT industry Analysts and Non-Traditional Influentials. As if "Influentials" wasn't bad enough on its own, they've gone and stuck it in an acronym.

Utter tripe. If you were an AE looking for a new job you'd run a mile from this one.

09 October 2006

Mutton dressed as lamb...

If you wanted to find out something about what we like to call "social media", where would you go? You might read Antony Mayfield's "What is Social Media?" e-book...but of course you'd need to know about it to find it. If you type "what is social media?" into Google, there's no mention of Mayfield's book, but a few search returns down you'll find trusty old Wikipedia's entry on social media, so that would probably be a good place to start.

It's not a huge entry at the moment, but there's a broad description, some of the key terms and some examples of campaigns that have used social media. Then there's a list of three social media strategy/consulting firms...there's Big in Japan (yep, social media plastered all over its home page), Spannerworks (of course!) and, umm, this other bunch called Lewis PR.

You might be tempted to have a butcher's at the Lewis website for some more information on its social media strategy/consulting work...though you'll be hard pressed to find any. No mention of social media in "About us"...nor in "Services"...maybe it's under "Media relations"? Nope, nothing there either...there isn't even a Social Media division.

That's odd, isn't it? As Lewis is listed in Wikipedia as a social media/strategy firm, you'd have expected there to me some reference to social media on its website, wouldn't you? I know I would.

I wonder who included them in the entry? Well, given one of the items listed in the Wikipedia entry's "References" section is Drew B's Social Media Report, I have my suspicions...