26 February 2007

Personality PR...where to stop...

It's always a quandary. Your company has an enigmatic CEO...charismatic, great personality, brushes up nicely...so the obvious thing is to indulge in some personality PR. Profiles in the trades - maybe even a national - put a human face on the company. But what happens when a better offer comes along and she clears off? You're a bit stuck then. It's a tough one.

The other question, of course, is where do you draw the line? The CEO's an obvious choice...head tech guy too possibly...CFO? Perhaps. UK Press Advisor..? Umm, probably not. Unless you're BitDefender, that is.

A UK tech hack's been in touch. He received an email today with the title: "News from BitDefender - appointment of UK press advisor" and he's less than impressed. Not least because this was the first line of the email:

"BitDefender, an award winning provider of antivirurs software and data security solutions, has set up a UK press centre"

Spot the deliberate mistake...

The new UK press advisor is called Mike Ottewell, an "experienced PR consultant, specialising in IT and business management technologies."

We have to say that we have some sympathy with BitDefender. We've been there...you've got a new PR person on board, a new contact for the press, and you're keen to let them know he's around. But our hack isn't sure it's the best approach. Over to him:

"This email was sent out by none other than experienced PR consultant Mike Ottewell himself, who is clearly so good at his job he thinks such self-publicity will be well received on newsdesks the length and breadth of the country.

"In fact he was clearly so busy blowing his own trumpet he didn't stop to proof read his own email - spot the glaring typo in the very first sentence he ever wrote for his new client. Still, "antivirus" is a tricky word and it's not like he's going to have to write it much... working for an antivirus company and all.

"For somebody who is such an "experienced PR consultant" it seems incredible it didn't dawn on Ottewell that journalists really don't give a rat's ass when a company announces a new press spokesperson (with the utmost respect). It certainly isn't news, which is how this non-story was billed. If he was just updating our contact lists fair enough, but he billed this as "news" - thus setting himself a very low bar in terms of what passes as news for BitDefender (there's nothing like managing your client's expectations).

"But the truth is, as long as a press contact is good at their job (and the above already puts a question mark over Ottewell) and are able to communicate with the press well, that's all that matters to us simple journalists. For the same reason nobody was writing stories about the valets at the Oscars or the woman who buys the tit-tape at London fashion week, good PR people are not the story."

Right then. We'll bear that in mind.


Anonymous said...

I'd disagree on the usefulness of press contact releases. Sure, they'll get zero coverage but it's a handy way of updating contact books.

Ben said...

sorry but thats a bloody silly comment.

If you want to update your contact details then send a quick email, with contact details and possibly a brief pitch (i.e. Clients include X and they can comment on Y). You certainly don't send a load of old guff about being 'an expert' or it being a 'press centre'.

I'd love to hear the sort of advice you give to your clients (assuming you are in the industry)
..."oh, yes, i think 'leading solution' is totally appropriate here and i'd recommend we set up a briefing with the FT regarding the latest firmware upgrade".

Words fail me..

Anonymous said...

Absolutely - but would you really bill it as 'news' and write it up with the hard sell? A name, telephone number and email address is all that's required possibly teed up with a 'Hello, I'm writing to let you know I'm/we're now looking after PR for Company X, any questions just shout.' Don't fluff up your feathers and give it the big 'un, because you sound like an idiot.

Anonymous said...

Grumpy tech hack with nothing better to do. Ok, so the typo is not excusable, but unless I'm mistaken, I don't think there has been any loss of life here as a result..?

figgis said...

> I'd disagree on the usefulness of press contact releases. Sure, they'll get zero coverage but it's a handy way of updating contact books <

Would an email saying something like "Hello, I'm the new press contact at Company X" not achieve the same thing, without appearing so utterly ridiculous?

nickd said...

If its sole purpose was to update contact books, then a simple 2 liner would have done the job. If he stuck to that he might have even had time to run a spell check...

....the world's leading.... said...

Thanks for all the unput...I think we have successfully created an industry standard for announcing yourself to press contacts.

And people say TWL's useless...

Anonymous said...

I worked with Ottewell for years - he's a good guy and a true professional. I think the client may have been pushing for some puffery here...

Mike O said...

Well pass the dunce’s cap – I hold my hands up. This Internet world is certainly not forgiving of any puffery, carelessness or neglect. And that’s how it should be.

Mike Ottewell

....the world's leading.... said...

Fair play to you Mike...thanks for popping by.


Mike O said...

As final word - a little ditty about spell checkers.


Eye have a spelling chequer,
It came with my Pea Sea.
It plane lee marques for my revue
Miss takes eye can knot sea.
I have run this poem threw it,
Eye am shore your plea's to no.
Its letter perfect in its weigh,
My chequer told me sew