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...

06 October 2006

H&K...poor value for dictators..?

There's an online publication called Minivan News. You might be surprised to hear, however, that it's not where you'd go to pick up all the latest on the smaller end of the four-wheeled load carrier market, but where you'd go to get independent news on the Maldives. Odd that.

Anyway, it comes to my attention for its rather critical look at the work Hill & Knowlton's London office has been doing for President Gayoom, leader (some say brutal dictator) of the island paradise and honeymoon destination of millions.

Apparently, "after two years of service to the government, they [H&K] are yet to garner any positive press coverage for Gayoom, who is still derided in the British media as a tin-pot autocrat." Maybe, sometimes, you just can't polish a turd.

What's funny though is not that the article questions whether H&K, ethically, should be involved with such a regime, but "whether President Gayoom is getting good value for money from his PR firm" (H&K are taking, the article claims, a "whopping" £13,000 a month of Maldavian taxpayers' money).

Strikes me that when you're dealing with a brutal dictator like Gayoom, a less than positive campaign review might have slightly more serious consequences than you're used to. Tim Fallon Practice Head for Corporate Affairs at H&K London (and specialist in "working with commercial and international organisations on national and global reputation issues") is pictured looking suitably nervous...

05 October 2006

Like advertising but free, right..?

And they say Americans don't do irony. This from PRWeek's US edition:

NEW YORK: The American Association of Advertising Agencies (4As) has hired GolinHarris to provide PR support for the advertising industry.

Kipp Cheng, VP and director of public affairs for the 4As, said Golin was brought on not to promote the organization specifically, but the advertising industry and its members at large.

"There are great agencies out there, trends, an undiscovered guru everybody within the industry knows about," but the general public might not, Cheng explained.

I can only presume that Golin is planning on doing a really, really bad job.
From the ridiculous to the sublime...

Hot on the heels of Peter Bartram's epic three volume tome on organising a press lunch - sorry, 168-page book on writing a press release - comes news of another new publication. The excellent Fullrun (you'll need a subscription - so get one!) tells us that UK tech blog Godfather Antony Mayfield (you know, the one that worked at Harvard and then "did a Scoble") has published a book called "What is Social Media?"

"Crikey me", I hear you cry, "if Bartram needs that much paper to cover press releases - and even then having forgotten more than anyone else knows about the subject, according to Mark Westaby - old Mayfield must be clearing a couple of rain forests to get through social media..."

Umm, no, not really. He's done the lot in just 33 pages.

That's the spirit. Or is it just a really small font? See for yourself - download it here.

03 October 2006

PR Week welches…

Anyone remember this little exchange from our comments a few weeks back?

PRWeek said...
Never a magazine to let its most avid and committed readers down we’d love to invite the mysterious World’s Leading… blogger to the world’s leading PR awards in the UK. A couple of questions – to whom do we address the invitation? And how will we recognise you when you turn up?
Also, do you have any allergies?

2:55 PM

....the world's leading.... said...
How very kind of you...don't worry about posting it - just leave it marked to The World's Leading behind reception down there at Haymarket Publishing and we'll have someone pick it up...let us know when is convenient.

We'll be wearing a dinner suit...or pehaps a frock. It's so difficult to decide.

No special dietary requirements.

3:33 PM

Well, it’s taken us a few weeks, but this morning we sent our trusty messenger down to 174 Hammersmith Road…into the reception of Haymarket Publishing…and guess what? Nothing. Nada. Zip. Absolutely bugger all in the way of small packages for The World’s Leading.

How very disappointing.

Anything to say, PR Week?
Old tricks for news dogs…

I always thought that one of the golden rules of press release writing was brevity. How then can a book called “How to write the perfect press release” run to 168 pages?

But it does. It’s written by Peter Bartram and is yours for the measly sum of £12.95. Something of a bargain, I’m sure you’ll agree, for discovering the secrets of this (increasingly irrelevant) art form. Rather like paying a tenner to find out how to make a telephone out of two old baked bean cans and a piece of string.

As Peter tells us in his email pitching the book, he’s surveyed a whole 89 journalists about their attitude to press releases. He says “You’d be staggered to learn how many press releases the 89 receive each week – 1,000? 5,000? 10,000? The answer’s in the book…”

The answer’s in the first chapter which you can read free on the website.

And what is the staggering number? Umm…215, on average.
Have a gander...

As regular listeners will know, we’re not in the habit of plugging PR companies…but so outraged were we at the underhand behaviour of that nasty piece of work from Borkowski that when we receive yet more endorsements of the great work of the team at Golden Goose PR, we feel the need to pass them on (plus, it sounds like like they organise some great parties, and we might get invited if we’re nice…).

This came from Louise Hannah at the Mail on Sunday:

Emily Maddick (the showbiz reporter for the Mail on Sunday) and I both went along together last night and spoke this morning about what a great time we had. In fact we bumped into Esther from the Standard and Andy from GQ for the first time in ages in the foyer where we had a drink and a catch up.

I think there are a few of us in this email who wouldn't have come along to the Supperclub last night had it not been organised by the Geese. It can sometimes be hard to persuade diary/showbiz journos to attend a late event on a Thursday night at the end of the week, but loyalty to Miki, Laura, Laura Lou and Cleo probably persuaded us otherwise. Tamsin, I had a fabulous time last night and look forward to a long term relationship with you and securing you some great coverage in the column.

Crumbs, that’s nice. And then her colleague Emily Maddick, Showbusiness Reporter at The Mail On Sunday:

I am glad my lovely colleague Louise mentioned me in her email to everybody. As she said, I too was at the Supper Club at Cafe De Paris last night. As my message in the visitor book from last night says, I was bowled over by the fantastic job the Golden Geese did for the evening. As ever their extraordinary combination of limitless energy, fantastic contacts and shrewd PR sense provided a not only enjoyable, but successful evening in my opinion.

As the Showbusiness News Reporter for The Mail on Sunday, it is very rare that PR companies like me to come along to their events(!) as I am limited in returning favours with plugs. However I can honestly say that Golden Goose PR never fail to help me out and continue to invite me to all their impeccably organised parties. They even once organised for the entire News Room at The Mail On Sunday to come to an event, so I think their contacts are pretty good...

It saddens me to think that people could be so ungenerous in their opinions when it is clear to everybody I meet that Laura, Miki, Laura Lou and Cleo do a fantastic job and work tirelessly to achieve fantastic results – why else would they be nominated as PR company of the year?

I am glad that all my other peers in the Press share my opinion....

Goodness me…and Esther Walker who write the Londoner’s Diary for the Evening Standard…

I agree with every word said here in Golden Goose's favour - they are truly a wonderful company and lovely girls individually.

It only remains for me to say that if only more PR companies operated the way that the Geese do, my life would be much easier.

It certainly sounds to us like the Golden Goose team has got more than half a decent chance of picking up the PR Week gong for best new consultancy…even if self-proclaimed PR Guru Stuart Bruce doesn’t seem to know who they are…or appreciate what they do.

Perhaps he’s got a clue now…but I wouldn’t guarantee it.