13 August 2007

Change of address...

We've moved. This is where you need to be now:


We'd outgrown the old place and, well, we wanted to be near some decent schools.

Come on over and have a look. Excuse the mess. You know what it's like when you've just moved in.

10 August 2007

Where everybody knows your name….

Way back when, TWL happily chuntered away, moaning about general fuck-wittery in the tech PR industry. Over time some like minded old codgers and a few bright young sparks joined the ramblings, and we all hung out together in the lower rungs of humour such as sarcasm, irony and innuendo.

Doubtless some pedant will argue the toss, but it was more of a community than a blog and everything felt very special.

The stat counter crept steadily upwards and, suddenly, TWL hit a tipping point. In bell-end curve terms, the early adopters were joined by the early majority. Or, if you’d prefer, the clock struck 11:00pm on a Saturday night and the nice people sat chatting in a decent curry house were suddenly joined by a bunch of gobby pissheads desperate to be heard but with nothing of any value to say.

We think it started with the RSS feed. Think about RSS. Doesn’t it seem a bit Jabba the Hut? Some fat lazy bastard who simply sets up their PC to suck information into their consume-everything lifestyle. Forget a meander down to the local pub for a chat with some old friends. Give me drip-feed Slug & Lettuce, All Bar One, Rat & Parrot, O’Neill’s and carte blanche to argue. Why have 4% bitter when you can have 6% super lager? Why have a conversation when you can have automated opportunities to spout opinion? Why use subtlety when you can shout?

All too often, in a very English way, we simply find a different local. But this is our pub and we’re going to make a stand.

So don’t be surprised if the RSS feed goes. It seems to have the same effect as bouncers; repelling intelligent people while attracting sink estate vermin donning black slip-on shoes and gelled hair. We’re thinking fuck RSS, fuck Technorati and fuck all those two-bob ‘influence surveys.’ We'd lose points for not having RSS, but perhaps we’ll lose the undesirables too?

To date TWL has only rejected a handful of comments. From now on, in an effort to rid TWL of the Sovereign ring brigade, future comments will be moderated not only for anything approaching libel, but for stupidity and any clear lack of humour. TWL takes up enough time as it is, without having to point out to idiots that they just aren't getting it. It's quicker to hit the 'reject comment' button.

We may end up with a smaller audience, but, it’ll be one with which we're happy to have a conversation...

08 August 2007

This could be handy...

...if it gets populated.

Journoparties...like a calendar. Of press parties. And other events.

You'll be able to avoid clashes or, even better, see what everyone one else is up to.
Global...in a most American way...

So weve all seen the feisty comment from Rachel Bremer in PRWeak, right? She's the head of San Francisco tech agency Spark PR's new office in London. Appears that she's less than impressed with the quality of tech PR over here:

"It seems like there is a need for good PR firms with really solid tech experience in London"

Not that Spark PR's ambitions stop at London. Oh no. Despite the fact that Bremer is currently the company's only employee outside San Francisco, the London office marks the establishment of "European operations".

No, wait. That's not all. Bremer's one-way San Fran to London business class ticket actually represents global expansion. Or so the press release tells me. And Spark PR's home page.

Spark Public Relations...announced it is expanding its global footprint by establishing European operations in London....the new office will be closely linked with the agency’s headquarters in San Francisco and provide clients with highly integrated global public relations services.

“With our European office now in place, we are able to provide superior global service and have a front row seat to the technical innovation coming out of Europe,” said Rachel Bremer.

Thing is, there's already a company in London doing PR for tech clients that calls itself Spark...the lovely people at Spark Communications who kindly helped out with the logistics for our Christmas drinks last year (by 'logistics' I mean getting to the bar early and bagging a load of seats...)

Surely some scope for confusion? I asked Lauren Richards, md at Spark Communications:

"We may get calls from journalists about their clients and we are a bit concerned about them trading on our reputation, but to be fair to them they have considered this and are calling themselves SPR Europe. We just hope this continues and they don’t start calling themselves Spark as this would cause confusion.

"It is generally tough for the smaller US-led PR firms to start up in the UK as the market is quite different, which is why they generally acquire. For example, the Neva Group (which got bought by Weber Shandwick) never managed to grow above two people in the UK and that was when the technology market was booming in the late 90s. However, we’re sure SPR have researched the market thoroughly, and obviously many US firms have succeeded in Europe."

Yes, it is true that Spark PR in Europe is calling itself SPR Europe...that should help.

I hadn't heard about the Neva Group before. Mind you, with a name like that it couldn't have been a huge surprise things didn't work out. Strapline: "Neva say Neva" perhaps..?

Anyway, TWL welcomes Spark PR to London...whatever it's called...and we're looking forward to seeing how this tech PR lark should really be done.

07 August 2007

Sturgeon, fuckwit...updated...

Will Sturgeon...hack turned Lewis flack...now blogging. Here.

(NB: the 'fuckwit' in the headline does not refer to Will, it refers to my picture editor. As in, "I said Sturgeon, fuckwit, not surgeon..." Still, grabs the attention, doesn't it?)
Not much use in the tech media...


I noticed 'THHB' pop up in our comments earlier. "Who's that?" I thought.

Ladies and gents, I give you, The Hot Hack Blog!

The comment wasn't, oddly, in relation to our post about the ZDNet team. It was on the one about Nick Booth.

I'm saying nothing.
Just stick the PowerPoint on the SatNav...

Lovely idea from Nick Booth hidden in a Response Source request for ComputerWeekly.com:

"Does anyone want to give me a car briefing? That's where you pick me up at 8am from my house, and give me a briefing as we drive from Kingston to Sutton. The return journey is also available. It's mobile working in its truest sense. And there may be a story in it. Terms and conditions apply."

Let us know if you take him up on his, um, kind offer...
Community help….

Whilst racking their brains on new ways of making cash, ZDNet has decided to push its ZDNet Community. A forum for IT people where they can debate things with their peers is a cracking idea and, doubtless, a good money-spinner if they get it right.

Which is doubtful, given the flyer we’ve just seen.

As anyone that has tried to get a time-pressed IT director to do a case study will know, these guys don’t really like or trust ‘the press.’ So using a forum attached to a big publishing house is a big ask, especially one that’s notorious for hysterical click-friendly headlines.

Expecting these IT guys to happily chat with journos about their issues is an even bigger assumption. Inviting them to turn up at ZDNet’s online pub, the White Hart, to join Rupert Goodwins, Tom Espiner, Peter Judge and Charles McLellan for a virtual drink is the height of optimism.

We’re not sure of the conversation in the picture, but it looks to us as if Goodwins is making a bold claim about his appendage. The look on Judge’s face suggests he might be wondering if that’s really the table leg he’s wrapped his foot round. Meanwhile Barry from EastEnders is intent on flogging an old Cortina to McLellan.

We're also not sure if anyone other than white males are invited to the White Hart. What we do know is that the four of them are eeking out the last dregs of their drinks waiting for a PR to turn up.

The back of the flyer is no better.

Give it three weeks before you see:

billynomates: bueller?
billynomates: bueller?
billynomates: bueller?

06 August 2007

Cash for questions...cash for answers...

...cash for simply turning up.

Apparently, in China, it's normal practive for hacks to receive cash payments - known as 'transport money' - from PR companies for attending press events.

I read that the practice has been criticised as it "skews coverage in an increasingly competitive news market". It also seems, however, to enjoy official endorsement as the payments - also know as 'hongbao' by hacks (or 'red envelopes') - are based on rates agreed with China's Public Relations Association.

I think it's a great idea. Hacks get to supplement their pitiful incomes, PRs can guarantee a nice piece of coverage. There's no downside.

There is..? Editorial intewhat? Don't know what you're talking about.

02 August 2007

When two and two makes 3...

I've just seen the PRWeak story about Guy Middleton - managing editor of Mobile magazine - being appointed as head of corporate communications at 3. As the story succinctly puts it:

"He has worked in tech and business journalism for ten years, but has no PR or ­comms experience."

I've got more than a decade's technology PR experience...what do you reckon the chances are of my being appointed managing editor of, say, Computing?

Slim, I reckon.

Does that devalue the job of PR? Or should we be proud that the industry has attracted a senior journalist to its ranks?

31 July 2007

No cake? No comment...

If you're a tech PR and you didn't get one of these today you might as well pack up your devices and find another profession. It's a first birthday cake, courtesy of ITPro.

It's a generous gift too. Given the weight of the delicious jam sponge, our scales tell us that each would have cost £1.45 to send.

Picture Chris Green in the postroom last night. "One for a tech PR, one for me. One for a tech PR, one for me. One for a tech PR..."

Happy birthday ITPro..!
A day in whose life..?

A while a go we published a post about a typical day in the life of a tech PR exec. It obviously banged the bell of truth for many people...comments flooded in, other blogs pointed to it gleefully. Hell, there was even a call to add TWL to the reading list of PR degree courses...

Well, there's another Day in the Life in town. Compare and contrast...
Brace yourself Figgis…

...because this post is about Edelman.

And to ensure we don’t fall foul of the self-righteous transparency brigade, let me state the bleedin’ obvious – this post is part of Edelman’s ‘editorial sponsorship’ to drive awareness of its ‘PR brain of Britain’ competition.

Doubtless this is another ‘unpleasant surprise’ for some readers. If you don’t like it, look away now. Or imagine you’re watching telly and the adverts come on. Pop out to the kitchen and make a cuppa. Or pretend it’s Sunday evening and Heartbeat has just started. Go upstairs, log on, and start delegating Monday’s To-Do list.

And if you’re worried that Edelman may take your most insightful 600 words and ‘resell’ them in some VAR type way to the highest paying client, either don’t participate or just be thankful that, finally, someone listened - albeit while mugging you in broad daylight.

With the caveats out of the way, here’s the update. Remember the overly-complex sliding scale of reward associated with the competition? Well it turns out that the top end prizes are seats at Edelman’s 2.0 Weekend Summit in Berlin.

Some of Edelman’s biggest hitters will be there, and a host of special guests that in a Glastonbury type way are yet to be announced (persuaded/bribed/blackmailed). Although it could be a jolly clever drip-feed PR strategy. But probably not.

There’s a case study on Wal-Mart, which should be fun for 2.0 fans, a ‘hands-on' session that involves 'execution' and some crisis simulation which presumably involves overturned chairs and broken tables. Or maybe that’s the Wal-Mart case study. Oh, who knows? Suffice to say, it should be a pretty useful weekend for anyone wanting to bamboozle their colleagues and clients with a whole load of new buzzwords.

The weekend will doubtless be eased along with copious amounts of alcohol during which surely everyone will wonder whether they should joke with Corneila Kunze about her unfortunate surname.

If you need a refresher on the perfectly opaque entry criteria, click here. For those that enter but don’t get selected to attend, delegates are staying at the Intercontinental in Berlin. In true World Cup fashion, feel free to turn up outside the hotel in the middle of the night with the loudest oompah band money can buy…

29 July 2007

Great 2.0 bores of our time….

“It’s such a brilliant time to be in PR…..I mean, the whole social networking thing is completely revolutionising the way people interact….it’s rewriting the rules of engagement……and PR is at the forefront of it…..just look at the success of MySpace, although of course it’s Facebook that’s really hot at the moment….he’s only 23 you know….a friend of mine knows him….the social media dynamic is seeing small groups of people that have a similar interest coming together…..it’s really quite earnest…..and for companies to engage effectively they must be really transparent…..there’s a two-way dialogue that advertisers really don’t understand…..they are stuck in broadcast mode, not engagement….PR really is overtaking advertising…….have you seen my Facebook profile….need to apply the Long Tail principle…..how lots of people still buy David Bowie’s back catalogue…..there is a lot of money to be made by selling just two or three copies of something every month….you must really keep your own blog before advising others on running one….but of course it’s more than just blogs…..RSS……Flickr, Facebook and….um….mobile applications….yes it’s more than just kids using IM….it’s about citizen journalism….when you watch the news now, have you noticed how even the BBC will use video content shot by witnesses…just normal members of the public…everyone is a potential journalist….and comment, of course, that’s what the blogosphere excels in…it’s the democratisation of opinion…..it’s such a great moment to be in PR….”

26 July 2007

At least they're not colour blind...

Did you see Chris Green's little rant yesterday?

He thinks that some people should be banned from using technology. These include people that shout at their mobile phones on the train, colleagues who print their emails to read, his sister who breaks everything she touches and, of course, Text 100:

"In this job, I never cease to be amazed at how badly some people, who have no excuse, use technology.

"For example, I’ve just received a press release from an agency called Text 100, that addressed me as “Dear Green” – thus ensuring that said press release will be deleted without ever being read, let alone turned into a news story.

"Clearly that PR agency could do with sending some of its staff on a basic course on how to do a mail merge properly."

25 July 2007

Big agency big hitter in big action...

It's not often that we get the opportunity to show you one of the UK's top tech PR pros in action...but today we can. Here's Mark Jackson - most recent of our Q&A subjects - doing what the top men and women in agency do best...spouting off in front of PowerPoint.

Jackson's presenting the findings of Hill & Knowlton's research into what influences IT decision-makers. Watch it and learn. Or perhaps don't.

Or, like me, simply wonder whether there's actually anyone in the room with him. I mean, there's no applause at the end or anything...

24 July 2007

There is no try...

I see that Bruce has started a new PR agency. Just look at his little face at the champagne launch!

I can't imagine where the inspiration for the name and logo came from...

Good luck Bruce...and may the Force be with you.

23 July 2007

New blog, new blog..!

Even more bloody reading to do.

I've just spotted a new blog. It's called Under Strict Embargo and is written by Daljit who's just left Hotwire to "take some time out, re-familiarise himself with Jeremy Kyle and start his own blog..."

Seems quite drastic.

Take a look, post a comment.
Anyone fancy a beer...?

For those that missed the original post or aren't friends of ours on Facebook (and why not?) and therefore didn't receive an event invitation or, frankly, have just forgotten, we're off out for a beer this Thursday evening...and the first one (which for me at least will be the size of the one in this picture) is on Matthew Ravden, PR man, author, blah, blah, blah...

We'll be upstairs in the Crown and Two Chairman pub on Dean Street, Soho, from about 7.00pm. In the event that the upstairs is closed, or there's a private party on (I haven't checked, obviously) we'll be downstairs.

Look out for this man....

(It's Ravden, not some dodgy bloke who frequents the Crown and Two...)

20 July 2007

You wait all day for a bus…

…and then two come along at once.

It’s a cliché, and an old one at that (but then I suppose they all are). It’s not one of my favourites. It’s usually delivered by some old curmudgeon and almost always headlined with the pessimist’s favourite one-word sentence: “Typical” (fragment, consider revising…please).

I hate “typical” more than I hate the cliché, truth be told. “Typical” is the word used by those old (or old before their time) who believe that the world is full of shit and that most of it falls on them. “Typical” means that something else has come along to reinforce their view that nothing good will ever come of it (“it” being everything). I wish some old crooner would release a cover version of Alanis Morissette’s “Ironic” but replace every “ironic” with a “typical”.

“A free ride when you’ve already paid?”


The thing about clichés, however, is that every now and then they turn out to be accurate. Though (and I realise now that I’m digressing from my original digression, which is new ground even for me) the PR team for Transport for London might actually tell you that they’ve done some research to disprove the cliché and that, in reality, you wait 16.8 minutes for a bus and then an average of 1.34 turn up at once.

Anyway, you’d no doubt been waiting months for one of the outstanding TWL Q&As with a power-broker from the UK PR industry and, guess what? Two have come along at once. Well, within a week or so of each other.

Yes, that’s right. After our “chat” with the boys from GolinHarris, we’ve had another one with big-wig Mark Jackson, head of Hill and Knowlton’s tech practice in the UK. We say big-wig but, of course, if you read Jackson’s new blog that we pointed out the other week, you’ll know that he’s a man in no need of any sort of toupée. In fact, it sounds like he's got more hair than he wants...

Jackson’s been part of the UK tech PR scene for years, having had stints of varying lengths at a selection of tech outfits before landing at monster Hill & Knowlton. As usual, we emailed him a bunch of questions and he answered them. Here’s the chat. It's quite long but, hell, it's a Friday...

TWL: Just how big a penis do you need to run the UK corporate technologies practice at H&K?
MJ: Apparently it’s not just about size; it seems experience is quite important too. Which is where I think I can add some value given I’ve been doing technology PR for coming up 16 years. That makes me a reasonably old hand and also means that there’s not much I haven’t seen, from the boom years of the dotcom bubble to the trauma that followed.

TWL: And just how much does the UK corporate technologies practice have to practice? Surely you’ve mastered it by now?
MJ: The global technology practice is the largest single practice in H&K. It represents a huge part of our business so, to some extent, we must have done something right. However, as readers of your esteemed pages will acknowledge, we have to continue to learn or risk being stuck in the time warp that disciplines such as direct mail (or even, arguably, advertising) face. One such area is social media. I don’t mind admitting that I’ve been a cynic of using blogs in a business to business context because until recently I hadn’t seen any evidence to suggest they had the slightest impact on clients’ businesses. However, we recently carried out a study of what really influences technology purchasers and it shows that 38% of those we surveyed in the US, 40% in Canada, 48% in China and 22% in the UK think that blogs are a credible source of information about which products or services to buy. While the UK is the lowest by a long way, I was still surprised at the extent to which business people are relying on blogs.

TWL: Who are you team’s major clients?
MJ: The list currently includes HP, Sony, Verizon, Samsung, HCL, NASSCOM, GN, GSMA, Yahoo!, Business Objects, Fox Mobile, TomTom Work, Mamut, Factiva and a couple we’re not allowed to mention.

TWL: Which client causes the most needless stress?
MJ: It would be indelicate to name names but there is little doubt that clients whose expectations are vastly in excess of what is achievable or in excess of the available resources (it’s not just about budgets) cause untold stress. They are the clients who never say thank you; never acknowledge progress; do not stop to consider the impact their actions and words have on the team; and who move their accounts continually as they burn out one team after another in the UK IT PR industry.

TWL: Your intro page on the website says “A fresh and optimistic tech sector is finding its feet after the turmoil of the dot.com and telecoms crashes.” Yet we’re expecting another significant tech slowdown in the next 12 months. Are we wrong or does your website need an update?
MJ: There is little doubt that we’re in the middle of another boom period for our industry but the part of me that witnessed the carnage of the dotcom implosion is a half empty glass, rather than half full. For example, news from the US last week on its sub-prime housing market shows that the economy is slowing rapidly. If that spills over into high-street spending, then it will not take long before retailers (which are some of the largest firms in the US) start to limit strategic spending on items such as technology. That has a direct impact on our clients and then we start to face the challenges we experienced in 2001.

But yes, you’re right. The website does need updating and you should see something by the turn of the year. Assuming the market hasn’t crashed!

TWL: You do Satyam and Nasscom – cosy. Which came first, and did the second come because of it?
MJ: NASSCOM has been a client for many years. As a consequence of our work with the organisation – including a good deal of success – some of its members wanted to draw on our experience, knowledge and skills.

TWL: Given that the PR Weak league tables are of only marginal more use than a fireguard crafted from Swiss chocolate, where do you feel H&K corporate technologies comes (in revenue terms) in the true rankings of UK tech PR outfits?
MJ: To be honest, we pay as much attention to them as TWL. That’s partly because we can’t enter because of SOX restrictions but also because I’ve witnessed a lot of massaging in the past to ensure numbers appeared higher than they might otherwise have been.

All in all, I don’t think they’re a good indicator of the health of a business but do seem to pander to the egos of CEOs who frame the tables and place them garishly around their receptions.

TWL: And is that higher or lower than when you joined?
MJ: Of course I’d say higher but in reality I’m not sure where we would have come two years ago so it’s difficult to say that with any accuracy. I can say we’ve got more clients from a broader range of sectors so something seems to have gone reasonably well over the last two years. And frankly, that seems a more accurate measure of how a business is doing than a league table.

TWL: I always get you and Mark Hampton mixed up. Which one are you?
MJ: I’m not surprised. We’re both called Mark, work in IT PR and been known to like a pie or two. The main difference is that I have a London accent while Mark’s is more akin to Lloyd Grossman, he having spent some time in San Francisco.

TWL: Blogs are wank. Discuss.
MJ: When it comes to business blogs, I would have been the first to agree. After all, who on earth is going to believe what the CEO of ‘HardAsNails, the world’s leading server security provider for the knitting industry’ writes in a blog?

Personal blogs are a slightly different issue. If you want to tell the world about your personal foibles then feel free. After all, who in their right mind would want to write about body hair, for example?

TWL: What’s your advice to a new graduate moving into tech PR in the UK?
MJ: I got into PR almost by chance in 1991. However, it’s been the best thing that happened to me because, almost without fail, I look forward to going to work everyday and I can’t really imagine doing anything else. Sad? Probably. But it does mean that when people ask, I always say that it’s a good career. The one piece of advice I’d give, though, is that people should feel happy learning about technology. You really do need at least a working knowledge or else you’ll struggle to convince clients you know what you’re talking about or journalists that they should write about your clients’ products or services.

You don’t have to have a technical background but a propensity and desire to understand how things work is really important.

TWL: Who are your work-related heroes and villains?
MJ: Villains: Journalists that slag off PR and then use the stories anyway; journalists that spend their entire careers slagging off PR people and then take jobs in agencies; ‘publicists’ who claim to be PR people but only bring shame and disrepute on our industry; PR people who only got into PR because they didn’t make it as a journalist

Heroes: PR people prepared to stand up and be proud of what they do; people who have successful careers in PR and manage to have happy families

TWL: What’s the biggest mistake you’ve made in your career?
MJ: Forgetting about timezones and sending out an earnings release at 8.00am GMT instead of 8.00am EST. It’s the kind of thing you only do once and it wasn’t pretty…

TWL: And what’s been your biggest success?
MJ: Managing to stay sane in an industry which chews people up and spits then out with alarming regularity. I guess that’s partly because I really do love my job but it’s also helped by having a bit of a balance in life (learned because of the previous question). I try never to work at the weekends now and have built up an unhealthy obsession for rugby which takes up a lot of time these days.

19 July 2007

Jonny, give Steve a couple of extra points...

...'cause he always buys the doughnuts when he comes into the office.

Surely someone's got to take the piss, at least a little bit?

Oh, that'll be us then...

Yesterday afternoon I noticed a Facebook status update from David Brain at Edleman which said, "David Brain is writing a blog post that will get him flamed..."

Interesting, I thought (well, a bit).

Then I saw the blog post itself...and there was a story in PRWeak about it today too. It was about Edelman's Social Media Index, essentially a league table of the Top 30 most influential bloggers, but factoring in their broader use of social media than simply their blog (so things like Facebook and Twatter).

Guess what? Steve Rubel...who happens to work for Edelman...came out at number 1! How extraordinary.

OK, OK...so in his blog post, Brain did say that Rubel topping the table was "vaguely embarrassing" and he did try to counter the fact by stating that "I think he needs to do some client work some time" (ho, ho) but really..?

What I found particularly amusing about Brain's post was that, in time-honoured O-level exam style, Edelman showed its working out...and rather brilliantly...in the first league table (the one without Edelman's fancy homebrew weighting) Rubel only came in at number five!

Quite right Brain. Throw that one back in Bentwood's face and send him back to his desk until he's got it right...

18 July 2007

Peter’s got a nice gaff….

As if Chris Green hadn’t already served a warning, Peter Judge alerted burglars all over London to his “lovely house,” where his lodger’s room is “really big.”

A 'lovely house' full of 'really big hi-tech kit' no doubt. To give the burglars a helping hand, London Lite (prize to anyone that can find the article online) even published a picture of Peter’s house on Brixton Hill.

Peter has had to take a lodger in “as there has been a bit of a downturn in technology journalism,” which is a bit odd given his regular gig with Techworld, owned by IDG, which just launched Computerworld, which is vying with recently launched IT Pro, which is battling with freshly purchased Computing and revamped IT Week, which are competing with a refreshed Computer Weekly, a redesigned CBR, a stalwart Info Age, and a suite of CNET publications that have just moved to plush new offices, and The Register at its new place in trendy ‘Noho’. Tough times indeed.

Sounding just a little bit like the beginning of a new Hollyoaks storyline Peter says he “registered with two websites and spent half an hour every day scanning pictures of women looking for rooms to rent.” Freaky.

Anyway, next time you see Peter, get him to buy you a drink – he’s up £400 a month these days. The only real downer is that there’s a bit of a queue for the bathroom in the morning. No surprise given his Germanic lodger’s penchant for “playing period instruments” might mean some of Peter’s extra tax-free cash being spent replacing the bathroom rug….

17 July 2007

The power of the press release headline...

When scanning your eye down the headlines of press releases on Sourcewire, which of these two are you more likely to click on?

New white paper on leachate pump selection and operation


World's first nude, figurative and erotic art boutique opens online

Something to think about when you're next sticking a release on Sourcewire, eh?

Having said that, I reckon the pictures attached to each could probably work for either...

"Help, my house is flooded..."

"Don't worry sweetheart, I'll have you dry in a jiffy..."
UK PR bloggers giving up the ghost..?

I've had a funny gut feeling recently. To be honest, I should probably stop with the cabbage, broccoli and mixed bean baps.

No, no...a proper gut feeling. And it's one that is shared by Collister and some bloke called Rob. It's the feeling that, in recent months, the number of blog posts being produced by UK PR bloggers has been falling steadily.

Happy as I usually am to rely on gut feelings, this time I thought I'd do a bit of analysis to see if my intuition holds true. And I'm happy to say that...confirming my confidence in my inherent top-class perceptive skills...it does!

I counted up the number of posts made by nine of the higher profile UK blogs over the last 12 months (took me bloody ages, to be honest...). These were the blogs from Benvie, Pullin, Bruce, Waddington, Collister, Davies, Smith, Dyson and Lewis 360. OK, so Dyson isn't a UK blogger, but I figure that quite a few UK-based PRs read his thoughts. Links for all these blogs can be found on our blogroll, apoart from Lewis 360.

Here's a graph (I know you love a graph) with all the blog posts added up, month by month:

See what I mean? Sure, it looks like a decent March weekend in Val d'Isere, but the trend is obvious.

Now, I'm not saying this is a bad thing. Over the past year, any number of new UK PR blogs have popped up and with their posts and even with a declining number of posts from established bloggers, there's still plenty of rubbish to read. But do you think it might end in a heap at the bottom?

I've got another graph for you too. It's a bit messy...though I quite like it...and shows the number of posts from each of the blogs I looked at (and I've thrown TWL into this one as well, because we come out looking quite good...). You can see that some bloggers (e.g. Wadds, Lewis, us) have maintained a relatively steady level over the past year, others have been in decline (e.g. Bruce, Benvie, Smith) and a couple (Collister, Davies) appear to have lifted their game in recent months.

However, the big question, of course, is: "Have I got too much time on my hands..?"

And I think we all know the answer to that one.

16 July 2007

Interesting headline...

"LewisPR killed Second Life"

Let's hope so, eh..?

15 July 2007

Dreaming of Adland…

I don’t know about you, but often when I get hold of a client brief, the first creative ideas that pop into my head take the form of advertisements. It happened to me again last week, and I was musing on why that might be.

I think it’s because - in the world of advertising - you control the message entirely (as long as you’re not making any entirely outlandish claims); there’s no editorial filter. The only filters, in fact, are the agency’s account lead and the client. And judging by the number of atrocious ads around, it isn’t much of one. It’s also why people don’t believe advertisements.

But when you’re thinking in advertisement form, you can basically present the client’s message as blatantly as you like…which is what often happens when you start thinking about a client’s PR brief. Then, of course, you need to put what the client would like to say in the context of something that’s believable, so that it’s got half a chance of finding its way through the editorial filter.

It’s because of this that, while many people would point to the advertising industry as being the more creative, it’s actually PR where you need to apply your creative energies more to what the client wants to say.

I’ll admit it though. Before I landed my first job, I’d have probably taken a job in advertising over PR and I reckon many of my peers would have too (given that many of us simply fell into PR as a career). I think that’s changed significantly in the last decade or so, with more entrants into the industry making a conscious choice to pursue a PR career (though with many of these seeming to leave in a worryingly short space of time).

Advertising still has something of a glamorous image though, doesn’t it? The size of the budgets helps (though much of the tens of million pounds in advertising contracts you hear about is, of course, spent on simply buying media). But there’s still the attractiveness of pretty much being able to do what you like, as long as you can sell it to the client.

One recent(ish) TV ad that I liked was the Sony Bravia one…you know, the one where the tower block spurted loads of colourful paint everywhere. Lovely…but quite what it told me about Sony I’m not so sure, other than it makes colour tellies and impressive ads. I guess it’s just a brand thing.

If you were doing PR for the Sony Bravia, however, you’d have to do something that would appeal to the media. You’d probably do some research. Eight out of 10 northern blokes think that the Sony Bravia’s colours are better than the real life ones they see every day in their dreary, rain-soaked home towns…70% of women in Wales are more likely to have sex on a first date with a bloke with a Sony Bravia in his front room…that sort of thing. You wouldn’t simply pour a load of Dulux off a condemned building and expect someone to write about it. In positive terms, at least.

It’s a fine line between a great ad and a rubbish one though, isn’t it? While the Sony ad is a creative concept that really appeals to me, I can’t stand that Vodafone ad on the telly at the moment with all the bits of watches raining down on people’s heads. For a start it looks painful…for a finish I hate the idea that having email on the go is positioned as being as much fun as kicking your way through autumn leaves or freshly fallen snow.

And I reckon that the Vodafone PR people are gutted, as they have probably recently spent thousands on the same “mobile email saves you bags of time” survey that Blackberry launched the other week.

But imagine if these advertisements happened in real life? Sharp little pieces of metal falling randomly from the sky…all because of Vodafone? It’d be a PR disaster. Just as well they work in Adland, rather than the real world.

But I'd still rather buy a Sony than switch to Vodafone...

10 July 2007

Jump for their love...it's GolinHarris...

Right, chums, here's the latest in our sporadic series of Q&As with the bigwigs of the tech PR world. There's been Dyson of Next Fifteen, Mellor and Walker from Firefly and Syltevik at Hotwire.

As ever our caveat is that the Q&A takes place over email...we send a bunch of questions, the subjects then take a lifetime to ruminate over their answers before sending them back. Then we print them verbatim. We don't have a chance to interrogate...but it's always interesting to see how 'PR' people get with their responses.

GolinHarris is part of Interpublic Group (as is Weber Shandwick and any number of other marketing services companies). For the last few years GH in the UK has been run by a double-act: Jonathan Hughes and Matt Neale. Before the boys took over, rumours were that the UK operation was on its last legs and wasn't far off being wound up. Seems to be in a much healthier position these days (if its company offsites are anything to go by).

Over to the lads...

TWL: I can’t remember how long ago it was that you two took on GH. I’ve heard various stories about why you were handed the reins…from it being a tactic to stop you both leaving to GH being perceived to be going down the pan and you two being given it as a shit or bust move. What’s the truth?

JH/MN: Actually when the job was advertised internally, we asked the CEO if we could take it on together, we’d worked together at Weber Shandwick and liked the idea of being partners but within a global networked company.

TWL: I wouldn’t say that you’re the highest profile agency in the UK . Is that by design or accident?

JH/MN: That’s why this is such an amazing job. GH was quite low profile a couple of years ago and we were given the freedom to do what we wanted. Internationally GH has virtually won every award there is in 2007 culminating in Agency of the Year. It’s our job to do this now in the UK.

TWL: You’ve obviously got big brother Weber Shandwick sitting close by – in the same building no less – what do you see as the advantages and disadvantages of that?

JH/MN: For a start we get fancier digs. We also pool all our training which means that with the two agencies combined – we have the best training in the UK . We basically we have the best of both worlds – it feels like a hot shop but within the environment of a global leader. No crappy office in a Camden terrace.

TWL: I guess some people might perceive that you’re an agency that lives off Weber’s leftovers…or business it can’t take on. I guess you’d refute that..?

JH/MN: We pitch against each other all the time so we are friendly rivals – we send them leads if we’re competed out. GH’s competitive win rate is around 85% and in the last year we’ve won brands like Expedia, Kraft, Samsung , BMC Software and Dow. We’ve beaten the biggest global agencies and specialist shops so I don’t think anyone defines us by our larger brother. Apologies for banging the drum!

TWL: Ages ago (in fact when TWL was a mere three days old) we highlighted the rather odd situation whereby Oracle’s global PR is handled by Weber Shandwick, yet Weber does a fair bit of Microsoft work in the UK…and then one of the Oracle press contacts is listed as Mark Sparrow, but he’s one of your boys, isn’t he? It’s all very confusing…can you clarify? I mean, do you help Weber created a few Chinese walls by loaning then some of your resource now and again?

JH/MN: Oracle uses different agencies in different regions, there is no global agency. For its EMEA work it uses CMG. CMG is a group within Interpublic Group (IPG) that specialises in the areas of public relations, public affairs, sports and entertainment marketing etc. The Oracle team is drawn up from a range of people depending on the skillset needed at the time and this is continually changing.

TWL: Which other PR agencies do you admire, and why?

MN: I really respect what Mike Morgan’s done with Red, David Brain’s reign at Edelman and the way Colin Byrne has turned WS London into such a strong domestic brand.

JH: To those I'd add Inferno, they're extremely solid, the creativity of the Frank team has to be admired and the way Giles and Sarah have built up Brands2Life.

TWL: We all watched the YouTube video of your company offsite to Rome (and the previous year’s one to Palma). It generated quite an astonishing number of comments and received a mixed reaction. Now, we like a bit of that old-school PR excess, but then some people think we’re dinosaurs…people seemed to question a number of things, such as (a) is that sort of thing still needed/relevant and (b) why the hell would you stick the video on YouTube? Your thoughts..?

JH/MN: How many agencies fly the entire company abroad each year for training and to let their hair down? Beats renting a room in Soho House. When the company is doing so well it’s nice to have a bit of fun. One of our guys was a dancer in a former life and it was her idea to create the video, she put it on YouTube.

TWL: Where’s next year’s trip to? And can we come..?

JH/MN: Somewhere sunny again, south of France is in the running. You could blog from the beach…

Sounds fantastic...and we've got it in writing.

NB: If you would like to appear in a TWL Q&A, an offer of foreign travel or £500 in used notes usually does the trick.

09 July 2007

More faces than Mike Yarwood…

‘Singing from the same hymn sheet’ is a cliché that some PRs managed to forge an entire career from, yet it is even more relevant in this crazy multi-channel world.

Interactive TV, digital radio, website presence, blog, Facebook page…keeping a consistent message has never been more of a challenge (how we love the stories of PRs recoiling in horror as their jolly personal Facebook profile gets invited to a client’s rather more sensible page).

Consistent messaging across a range of media is a challenge because of the subtle differences in the way audiences engage with each medium. It’s the type of thing that really allows the PR industry to lead the way with insightful consulting, as getting it right relies on a degree of human judgement and experience. It’s certainly a lot more complicated than, say, a straight forward thing such as consistent pricing.

Back in the old days - when it was just shops, phones and websites – we used to laugh when companies made such stupid cock-ups.

Argos was perhaps the most lampooned when in 1999 it began selling TVs for just £3.00 from its website, after a couple of Saturday assistants got a bit confused with all that Hypertext Transfer Protocol stuff. “Ah, bless those morons,” we used to say. “They just don’t get it.”

Eight years on, it seems PR’s industry bible still doesn’t “get it.”

Trying to track down an article in PRWeak the other day, TWL discovered the dog had eaten the A4 piece of paper by the computer that has all the passwords written on it.

With much frustration TWL stared at PRWeak’s stout verbiage to ward off trespassers:

To access this article and other content from the PRWeek.com archive, you must be a paid subscriber to PRWeek magazine. As a subscriber you also gain free access to all PRWeek's international titles and online services.

Goodness, scary.

The search function on the PRWeak website works without logging in, so you can get the headline of any article you want. But as soon as you want to read the whole thing, you hit the subscribers only brick wall.

Wonder if I can get it for free through a Google News search, TWL mused? No, you just get redirected to the PRWeak website. Damn it, they're just too good for TWL.

Then TWL had a cunning idea. What about putting the headline into the search engine of the marketing/comms portal thing, mad.co.uk?

Shag it, that doesn’t work either. Oh, hold on, that’s Centaur. What’s the Haymarket one?

Um, er, um…..cup of tea, bowl of muesli, couple of calls into a few mates…. Brand Republic! Yes, what happens if I cut and paste the headline into Brand Republic. Will that work?

No, bugger, they are good. All bases covered it would seem.

Mind you, that would be stupid wouldn't it? Having a story only available to subscribers on one website but available to all and sundry on another. I mean, that would be like that ridiculous thing that Argos did with those TVs, selling things at different prices through different media. Only more stupid because it would be two different prices on the same medium.

Yes, what was I thinking, too stupid for words.

I wonder what happens if I put the headline in quote marks, like when using Google?


Subscription only PRWeak articles available for free on Brand Republic.

Gosh, that is stupid….

*NB: Mike Yarwood was a popular impressionist in the 1970s, when the alternative to watching TV was counting the amount of dead people in the streets that hadn’t been buried because everyone was on strike.

The headline was chosen as it suggests that by not presenting a consistent face to the public a company would have ‘more faces’ than an impressionist. It is ironic because, of course, Mike Yarwood only had one impression; a poor imitation of Prince Charles.
Another new UK PR blog...

I notice that Paul Wooding of Weber Shandwick has set up a blog. It's called "note to editors..." (a phrase that often, of course, comes just a few words before...the world's leading... We'll take that as a compliment). There's just the one introductory post at the mo' but it's nicely written.

I've met Paul and he's a funny bloke (as a "wannabe stand up comedian" should be, really).

One to keep an eye on...
Surveywatch..with me, Nick Ross...

Now he's delivered his last "don't have nightmares" to millions of petrified pensioners up and down the country, I was thinking that Nick Ross might be interested in a new gig here at TWL. It's called Surveywatch...and it's an effort to stop crimes against intelligence.

We've been having a dig recently at various pieces of spurious research delivered by creatively-challenged PR types. There was the Weber Shandwick thing of course (and which still rumbles on in the comments), that Carphone Warehouse survey telling us that people like almost anything else you can think of more than they like their mobile phone, and there was that ultimate piggyback piece which explained how virtually everyone (or nobody) was likely (or not) to consider (or reject) the possible idea of one day buying (or stealing) an iPhone (or other mobile device).

Today I've alighted upon a press release on PR Newswire which describes the findings of a "new survey" (because, presumably, the findings of the old one weren't very interesting). It's not technology-related, but I'm sure you'll excuse me that, particularly when you find out that the aim of the survey was to establish who we'd all like to have as our neighbour. It'd certainly been playing on my mind.

The answer, you might be surprised to find, is the Queen. Or maybe it isn't a surprise, given that having the Queen as a neighbour would mean that you were living in a highly desirable part of London. Or Windsor. Or some godforsaken part of Scotland (perhaps the bit that Edelman has just vacated?) Damn, I've just mentioned them again, haven't I? Old Figgis will be along in a minute to have a moan...

The release includes almost every possible survey cliché. There's the battle of the sexes...94% of the people who wanted 'eye candy' Sean Connery next door were women (Connery can't still be eye candy, shurely? "Just let me hang up the coloshtomy bag, my schweet, and I'll be with you...") while men preferred a 'good converser' like David Attenborough.

I can see it now: "What do you think I should do with these bloody moles, David..?"

"Watch them closely, see how they interact with each other...study how the family unit bonds through barely audible grunts and..."

"Bugger that. I was thinking a gallon of unleaded and a match."

And of course there's the "great North/South divide," with "43% of patriotic Southerners opting for the Queen, whilst a quarter of chatty Northerners most wanted to live next door to TV legend Michael Parkinson."

A spokesman said: "The results show that people are more concerned about the quality of their neighbours, hence why the Queen beat Joanna Lumley."

Poor old Joanna. You don't have to be posh to be patronised.

The company behind the survey is developer Prestigious Retirement Villages. Which means, sadly, that whoever you'd like as your neighbour, you're probably going to get a moany old bastard who smells of piss.

08 July 2007

Brainy? In PR? We’ll be the judge of that…

We are delighted to announce a competition here at TWL for the brightest talent in the UK PR industry…The PR Brain of Britain…brought to you in association with Edelman Public Relations.

Did you get that? The competition is being sponsored by Edelman Public Relations. That’s right; Edelman is paying us money to have its name attached to the competition (and one or two other associated benefits, as will become obvious). Hopefully we've made that completely clear (transparent, even).

Competition entry requirements could not be simpler. We’re after essays of up to 600 words on the future of the UK PR industry and, specifically, the role that PR will play in the world of social networks, user-generated content and all things online.

Take as wide or as narrow a view as you’d like; sector-specific or general; conservative or entirely outlandish; serious or, umm, not so. There are two categories: one for those of you aged 27 or under and one for everyone else. The only other rule is that you must be working in PR (agency, in-house or freelance) or a student of PR. That’s it.

Well, almost. The deadline for your entries is August 31st 2007. The judging panel will consist of a number of Edelman’s own directors, TWL and other assorted PR gurus. Who knows, Richard himself might even take a look...

There will be prizes for the 10 best entries based on some sort of overly-complex sliding scale. We’re not at liberty just yet to give full prize details, but start thinking foreign travel, plush hotel, all the food and drink you can consume…right down to a piece of coal and a stick for 10th place (no, no, really…even the 10th best one will get something decent).

The small print: competition entrants must be happy that their name and email address will be passed on to Edelman (who might well, at some stage, drop you a note) and we will also reserve the right to publish any startling insights from the essays here on TWL.

Get scribbling and send your entries and any questions to theworldsleading@yahoo.co.uk

Best of luck..!

06 July 2007

PR Commandment No.6...

Thou shalt absolutely covet your neighbour's account executives.

News reaches us from Surrey that a small billboard has appeared outside Surbiton railway station ("one of those pyramidal things you see outside pubs advertising the day's specials," our source tells us...)

Nothing unusual in that, you might think. Except that this billboard is advertising employment opportunities at tech PR shop Livewire Public Relations. Seems like a rather narrow piece of targeted advertising, don't you think?

Indeed, until you realise that tech PR executive footfall through Surbiton might well be increased by employees of Livewire's near neighbour, tech PR shop Wildfire Public Relations...

A poaching exercise? Our source isn't so sure:

"They're very different tribes. If you've got Wildfire and Livewire bunnies in the pub, at the same time, you know there's going to be trouble. So the police try to contain the violence, by marshalling them into different turfs."
Book signing, beer buying...it's a date...

Avid readers of the comments here at The World's Leading... (and let's face it, who isn't? That's where the action happens...) will know that following our recent plug of senior PR man and published novelist Matthew Ravden's book, BlokeMiles, he said this:

"Aw, TWL what can I say? I will do a book signing in a pub of your choice...and buy the first pint for all."

Well, we've taken him up on his kind offer. On the evening of July 26th from about 7.00pm, you'll find Matthew upstairs in The Crown and Two Chairman, 31 Dean Street, Soho, pen in one hand, wallet in the other. We'll be there too.

Obviously, if you want a book signing you'll have to buy one and Matthew has asked us (virtually begged, to be honest) to say that if you do, could you please buy it in a proper bookshop rather than one of those new-fangled online ones?

If you don't want a book signing then that's OK...we'll be in a pub! You can just come along for a beer, and we can all have a good old gossip.

04 July 2007

Are they called omnibus surveys...

...because you only have to survey as many people as can get on a bus? Single-decker as well.

We've mentioned in the past that TWL is a blog more than happy to get pitched to. We can't promise to post about every one (so sorry to the fella from Mister Wong), but we've just received an email that is worth printing in full. It came from the email address webershandwick@hotmail.co.uk, which I can only assume is genuine...

Hello TWL

How are you?

I thought I'd drop you a quick note about the incredible piece of research from Weber Shandwick on advocacy. I am sure you'll agree that an online survey of 583 adults across 9 countries makes this a most robust piece of work into this important area for the industry. And we have certainly made this look like an important study with our lovely insert in last week's PR Week. I do tend to think the design might have cost a little bit more than the study though...and that's without the production or buying the insert space...

Anyway, with as many as 65 people interviewed in each country we are in a great position to roll out this piece of global research. We shall of course be advising our client base from now on that for a global piece of research across 9 countries, you only need 600-odd people to get something that is extremely robust for both media and prospects alike.

I'm sure you'll agree from this all our findings really stand up to being used in charts and graphs. In fact we are especially proud we managed to get odd number percentages with this amount of people.

Thanks for looking at this robust piece of work TWL.


Mr Webby Shandy

Think global, act local? You can read more about Weber Shandwick's survey here. Not much more we can add.

03 July 2007

She's picked her ring...

...I just hope she's washed her hands.

Latest in our very infrequent Hitched, Engaged, Arrived and Deceased series is one Abi Lovell...currently in-house PR at Symantec, previously of Weber Shandwick, Fleishman-Hillard and Noiseworks.

See girls? Abi moved jobs four times before she found a husband. A bit of persistence and application and you could get hitched too.

All we know is that she's getting married this weekend to "some guy called Billy" (we're not quoting Abi there, by the way...).

Yeah, that's right...Billy's got a mate now hasn't he?
"PR is truly the mongrel of the professions..."

Not my words: Mike Willard's. Ever heard of him? Neither had I until this morning. And guess what? He runs a PR company!

I found out about him through reading the online version of The Ukrainian Observer ("A knowledge based magazine"...umm, as opposed to..?)

I know, I know...bit of an odd choice of reading material. But I'd noticed a headline which touched a subject close to my heart: "Billing by the hour is dumb" which topped a story written by Willard.

Still doesn't really make sense though, does it? A story about how PR companies bill clients in a magazine about Ukraine?

Well, it turns out that in addition to running PR companies in Russia, Turkey and Ukraine, Willard's company - The Willard Group - publishes The Ukrainian Observer. Which I guess gives him carte blanche to write about whatever he likes.

Willard's article discusses the old chestnut related to traditional hourly billing versus billing based on the value of results. He uses a couple of nice examples so if you're new to the argument it's worth a read.

Willard's "PR is truly the mongrel of the professions" actually features in a different article in the Observer (like I said, carte blanche...) under the headline of "Public Relations and common sense."

Willard's argument is thet PR is largely the "strategic application of common sense" - something I'd largely agree with - but that this simple definition has become clouded through spin and the control and shaping of image. "Image making," Willard contests, "is to say that a glistening new coat of paint is all that is needed for the termite-infested fence."

He also shares some of our views regarding formal PR qualifications:

"We also should not smother the profession in academia. A certain foundation, perhaps, can be established through a public relations education, but I believe those basics can be taught in a few months in a classroom or, alternatively, a fortnight in the real world....I have never suggested a higher degree in public relations, though a master's in common sense might not be out of the question. The crux of the matter is that PR is a way of thinking - and this is generally experience taught rather than classroom osmosis."

Again, it's worth a read.
Here's the news...there is no news...

I've got a sure fire way to generate some coverage...do nothing.

Such is the hysteria surrounding Apple's iPhone, that even not launching creates stories in the media. Yesterday, technology news site Tech.co.uk carried a story under the stunning headline...

"No UK iPhone launch today"

...with the sub-heading "Apple spokesman denies all knowledge."

A further 230 words were then used to discuss the non-launch..."Apple's UK PR company Bite Communications said it had no knowledge of an iPhone launch today - and seemed to regard the subject with some amusement."

The best thing is, of course, is that Apple isn't launching the iPhone again today, so roll the presses..!
New blog...hirsute...

Mark Jackson runs Hill & Knowlton's technology practice in the UK. He's started a blog...but it's not about PR (good for him). It's Jackson's thoughts as he counts down to turning 40. Mostly, so far, it seems to be about hair.

358 more days of that could be tough going...

29 June 2007

Suspicious? I should coco...

Just seen this on the BBC website.

London's Haymarket is completely closed this morning after police carried out a controlled explosion in the early hours of this morning after reports of a "suspicious vehicle."

I've just checked and, funnily enough, the closure means that nobody at Edelman can get into work today.

Anything for a long weekend, eh..?

28 June 2007

Moonlighting 3….

First we spotted Firefly at it, launching a range of healthy drinks.

Then Weber, with barbeques.

Now it’s Rainier, and its own variety of cherries….
87% of our online readers are somewhat likely not to be readers by before the end of the second paragraph….

'Piss poor news release of the day' award goes to Harris Interactive for this utterly tedious load of old crap about who may or may not buy an iPhone.

The whole thing is reproduced below as, despite trying, we couldn’t distinguish the worst bits from the rest of it.

There are 57 words in the second sentence – and that’s only the third longest, way behind the whopping 73 words afforded to the longest one.

The entire release has 2,472 words. TWL is giving away a prize to the first person to tell us how much it would cost to send this across PR Newswire’s European Hi-Tech wire….


Fifteen Percent of Online Americans Ages 13 To 64 Say They Are At Least Somewhat Likely To Buy iPhone

Ninety-Six Percent of Those At Least Somewhat Likely to Buy Will Wait Before Buying

ROCHESTER, N.Y. – June 27, 2007 – The iPhone™ from Apple® launches this week with a level of anticipation rarely witnessed in the consumer electronics industry. While fifteen percent of online Americans between the ages of 13 and 64 say they are at least somewhat likely to buy the iPhone and one percent are absolutely certain they will, only four percent of those at least somewhat likely to buy the iPhone say they plan on getting it as soon as it becomes available. More than half (55%) of those who are somewhat likely to buy say they will wait for a price drop and 49 percent say they will wait to find out how good it really is.

These are some of the results of research conducted online by Harris Interactive® among 10,410 online consumers ages 13 to 64 between May 8 and 23, 2007.

At the time of this survey, 38 percent of online 13 to 64 year olds said that they were at least somewhat interested in getting the iPhone. After being presented with a full description of the iPhone that included the price tag on the respective 4GB and 8GB models and mention of iPhone’s exclusive relationship with AT&T as its carrier, 15 percent of respondents overall indicated that they are at least somewhat likely to buy iPhone, with one percent saying they are absolutely certain to get it. Fifty-five percent of those at least somewhat likely to buy the iPhone say they will wait for the price to drop before buying, 49 percent say they will wait to see how good the iPhone is, and 20 percent will wait until their current cell phone contract runs out.

“This kind of drop-off between ‘interest in getting the iPhone’ to ‘likelihood of buying one’ is not all that unusual for products like this in this price range,” says Aongus Burke, Senior Research Manager of Harris Interactive’s Media and Entertainment Practice. “Similarly, the fact that most people who might buy the iPhone won’t do so right away shouldn’t be seen as surprising or troubling for Apple given the amount of interest Apple has generated for this product – a lot of people are going to be paying attention to how it performs while keeping an eye out for those price drops – as well as being mindful of the expiration date on their current cell contracts.”

So, Just Who Is Going To Buy the iPhone?
For those accustomed to research on early adopters of new technology, some of the findings on who will buy the iPhone will not come as a surprise. Seventeen percent of online males say they are at least somewhat likely to buy the iPhone, compared to 13 percent of online females. Twenty percent of online adults 18-64 with annual household incomes of $200K or higher say they are at least somewhat likely to buy the iPhone, compared to 15 percent of those with lower household incomes. One finding that may surprise some, however, is how many teenagers intend to buy the iPhone. More than one-quarter (27%) of online males ages 13 to 17 years and one-fifth (20%) of online females ages 13 to 17 years say they are at least somewhat likely to buy the iPhone, compared to 14 percent of all online 18 to 64 year olds.

Beyond demographics, those most likely to buy the iPhone are significantly more likely to own many other portable devices, including the BlackBerry® and Apple’s own video iPod®. Of those very likely or absolutely certain to buy the iPhone, eight percent already own a BlackBerry, compared to two percent of all study respondents; 22 percent already own a video iPod, compared to seven percent of all respondents. Burke adds, “Enthusiasm for new technology is such a powerful force for some people; they always just have to have their hands on the latest device.”

What Features Are Buyers After?
Among those online who are at least somewhat likely to buy the iPhone:

· Many say they would use it to make calls (71%), to play music (66%), for emailing and texting (56%), to take pictures (55%), to browse the Internet (49%) and to play videos (43%).
· More than half (54%) say they will get the device to have one device that does what they currently use several devices to do.

Among those online who are very likely or absolutely certain to get the iPhone, more than half (58%) say web browsing is a feature they are looking for. This compares with 48 percent of those likely or somewhat likely to buy the iPhone citing this feature as a reason they will get it.

Burke commented, “Web browsing is an area where virtually portable devices could do better in consumers’ minds, but iPhone ads certainly sell this feature in a breathtaking way. Whether the iPhone can really deliver on this attribute, one which so many others have not remains to be seen.”

The Reasons for Not Purchasing iPhone
Among those online who are not at all likely to get the iPhone (85%), almost half (49%) say the device is too expensive. Another 42 percent say they do not want or need another device, while 40 percent say they do not need all the extra capabilities iPhone has. Additionally, 40 percent of them say they are happy with their current cell phones.

“Obviously this device is not going to be suited for everyone’s needs,” says Burke. “At the same time, just because 85 percent of people in Mid-May said they weren’t going to buy the iPhone doesn’t mean some of them won’t change their minds at some point. For all the excitement there is right now about how many people will buy the iPhone when it launches, it’s what happens next that will matter most, as those first buyers experience what iPhone really has to offer and start letting everyone around them know about it.”

“Apple iPhone is an iTunes-compatible handheld device that combines a cellular phone, a music and video player, a digital camera and an Internet communications device into one product. Had you heard of iPhone before taking this survey?”

Base: All Online Americans Ages 13 to 64

Total %
Yes 56
No 44

“How interested are you in getting the iPhone?”

Base: All Online Americans Ages 13 to 64

Not at all interested 62
At least somewhat interested (NET) 38
Somewhat interested 23
Interested 8
Very interested 4
Extremely interested 3

“iPhone will be available sometime around June 2007. A model with a storage capacity of 4GB will sell for $499. Another model with a storage capacity of 8GB will sell for $599. iPhone will be exclusively available through Cingular/AT&T – you would have to use or switch to that service to use the iPhone. Knowing this, how likely are you to buy either model of the iPhone?”

Base: All Online Americans Ages 13 to 64

[TWL deleted the table - formatting issues]

“iPhone will be available sometime around June 2007. A model with a storage capacity of 4GB will sell for $499. Another model with a storage capacity of 8GB will sell for $599. iPhone will be exclusively available through Cingular/AT&T – you would have to use or switch to that service to use the iPhone. Knowing this, how likely are you to buy either model of the iPhone?”

Base: All Online Americans Ages 13 to 64

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“When will you get the iPhone? You may select more than one option.”

Base: Those at least somewhat likely to buy

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For which of the following reasons will you get the iPhone? Please select all that apply.”

Base: Those at least somewhat likely to buy

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“Which of the following portable devices do you personally use? Please select all that apply.”

Base: All Online Americans Ages 13 to 64

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“Why are you unlikely to get iPhone? Please select all that apply”

Base: Those not at all interested or not at all likely to buy iPhone

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This survey was conducted online within the United States between May 8 and 23, 2007 among 10,410 individuals between the ages of 13 and 64 years who are online. Results were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the online population on key variables including age by sex, race, region, Internet connection type, and Internet usage. Those ages 18 to 64 were additionally weighted on education, household income, and online shopping behavior. Those ages 13 to 17 were additionally weighted on parents' education and school location.

All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, Harris Interactive avoids the words “margin of error” as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Interactive surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the total U.S. online population of those ages 13 to 64 as stated above. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in the Harris Interactive panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

About Harris Interactive
Harris Interactive is the 12th largest and fastest-growing market research firm in the world. The company provides innovative research, insights and strategic advice to help its clients make more confident decisions which lead to measurable and enduring improvements in performance. Harris Interactive is widely known for The Harris Poll, one of the longest running, independent opinion polls and for pioneering online market research methods. The company has built what it believes to be the world’s largest panel of survey respondents, the Harris Poll Online. Harris Interactive serves clients worldwide through its United States , Europe and Asia offices, its wholly-owned subsidiaries Novatris in France and MediaTransfer AG in Germany , and through a global network of independent market research firms. More information about Harris Interactive may be obtained at www.harrisinteractive.com. To become a member of the Harris Poll Online and be invited to participate in online surveys, register at www.harrispollonline.com.

Press Contact:
Tracey McNerney
Harris Interactive
Harris Interactive Inc. 06/07
It must be true...

...'twas in the paper.

Oh dear. It seems the chaps at Johnson King have been believing what they read in the newspapers again...and more than that, believing what they read in The People.

After high-quality tabloid The People ran a story last weekend about how a laptop containing jug-eared royal Prince Charles's bank account details had been stolen from a Moorepay accountant's car, Johnson King couldn't wait to jump all over it on behalf of data security client PGP.

According to Mike Simons at ComputerworldUK, Johnson King's press release re-hashed the story, stating that...

“A laptop containing the Prince's private bank details - including account number, sort code and national insurance number - was earlier this month stolen from the car of an employee of Mooreplay, the payroll company that handles wages for the Prince's Duchy of Cornwall estate.”

Problem being, of course, that the Johnson King team had missed those tell-tale phrases in The People's story, such as, "it was feared last night" and "believed to have been" and "apparent security blunder" all of which point to a potential economy with the truth.

And so it proved to be, when Moorepay quickly issued a statement saying that Prince Charles was not a client of the company and therefore his bank account details were presumably safely tucked up somewhere else...but not before, Simons claims: "At least one IT publication ran the story before hastily pulling it down."

There's no sign of the offending press release on the PGP website now...so perhaps it was just a bad dream..? A nightmare indeed.

27 June 2007

WARNING: Promotional post...kind of...

I can't quite believe I'm doing this...but I'm afraid that if I don't the guy will never leave me alone.

It's Matthew Ravden. The name might ring a bell as we've mentioned him a couple of times...the most recent being when he played keyboard for a band made up of ageing PR pros. Ravden was in the Text 100 team in the early 90s and one of the founding team of Bite. He's still involved in the Next Fifteen group somehow...we're not sure what he does exactly.

Whatever it is, it's given him enough time to write a book. He's banging on about it at the moment because the paperback version will be on the shelves of your local discount bookshop by September, given it'll be available in proper bookshops on the 5th of July.

It's called BlokeMiles. Westcott blogged about it recently so have a look at his post for a brief outline of the plot, or the Amazon description for a fuller synopsis. It's a work of fiction...though anyone who knows Ravden (and his other half) will claim that it's actually autobiographical. A fact which makes the blow job passage rather uncomfortable reading...

It's available for £6.99 (or £5.59 on Amazon) and Ravden would love you all to buy a copy. We're not sure why though...according to its last annual report, Ravden owns 3,839,294 shares in the Next Fifteen group (OK, so his wife owns 116,126 of those). At today's closing price of 85.250 pence that represents a handy little nest egg of £3,272,998.

Well we'd all have time to write a fucking book with three million quid's worth of shares hanging around, wouldn't we..?

So if you're off for a bit of summer sun and need an easy read for the beach then it might be worth picking up. But only as the third one in a 3 for 2.

Richard and Judy, eat your hearts out...