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 clich├ęs 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…