31 March 2007

Dreaming of being the world's leading...

TWL has been accused, in the past, of being nothing but a picker of the lowest-hanging fruit. Fair enough, I say. Why make life hard for yourself..? If there's low-hanging fruit to be picked, pick it. I've fallen off a ladder before picking high-hanging fruit and it hurt...I don't want to do it again.

It's also difficult when people make it so very easy for us...when they quite literally dangle their low-hanging plums right in front of our noses (sorry...not "literally"..."metaphorically"). Take this, for instance...there's that much low-hanging fruit here I'm considering opening a greengrocer's.

It's a press release from a company called Pure. Pure is chuffed to bits to have been recognised in some new media industry awards. That's fine - I'm sure Pure is very good at whatever it does - but would you really stick a press release out to announce that you've been highlighted as the country's 11th fastest growing new media company? Surely there are at least 10 other companies more worthy of coverage..?

I do sense that Pure might've been a little uncertain about the newsworthiness of the announcement, so it understandably chose to engage the services of a PR agency to impart some much-needed spin. This it did...the second paragraph started with the following six words:

"Pure reached the coveted top 12..."

Excuse me? Since when has the top 12 of anything been coveted? Unless, of course, you're a chicken attempting to get your best egg into the box. Still, Darren Fell, Pure's founder, was "absolutely thrilled to have reached number 11"...a phrase not heard since Lisa Scott-Lee released her last solo single (and even then it started with "I would have been...").

Pure's PR agency is called flannel. I kid you not. The web address is www.no-flannel.com but it's called flannel. You might as well have called it Spin, Puff, Smoke and Mirrors. It was established by an ex-hack, though, so it's probably spot on. And having a name like flannel does allow for some brilliantly misreadable quotes in its own press releases, such as this one when flannel was appointed by Sponge (yes, really):

"We've got some exciting developments and client campaigns happening over the coming months," said Douglas McDonald, Client Services Director at Sponge. "flannel will help us to effectively reach our target press audience with this news."

Yep, Doug, I'm sure it will.

And this, when flannel won new client Bazaarvoice:

"We're extremely excited about our roll-out into Europe, and flannel is helping us become known to the retail, business and marketing press in the UK," said Bazaarvoice VP of Marketing and Products Sam Decker.

Just don't forget a dash of waffle, Sam, and a sprinkling of bullshit.

Still, it's memorable, I guess..?


Anonymous said...

Quite simply the best and most elaborate 'April fool' gag I have ever read. Even better than the old Panorama 'spaghetti tree' hoax. Superb.

Umm, it is a joke, isn't it..??

Claire Armitt said...

Good morning, blog poster and Mr/Mrs Anonymous,

I'd like to bring context to your comments, if I may. As you are no doubt aware there are 50 companies named in Media Momentum's ‘fastest growing new media companies’ list. So you see, Pure taking eleventh place is something to be proud of – and worth talking about.

The name flannel takes a light-hearted look at the pr industry, and causes a titter among the savvy, who realise that a lot of pr is crap. As an ex-journalist I offer my clients a skillset not enjoyed by most pr professionals, and as a result, flannel (snigger) and its clients are doing very well.



Anonymous said...

come off it Claire - from one ex-journo to another - are you seriously telling me that you would have run that press release yourself...??

Anonymous said...

Oh my god - this is hilarious! Other absolutely crap names for PR firms? - come on!

Anonymous said...

"As an ex-journalist I offer my clients a skillset not enjoyed by most pr professionals" - you were a hack, love, get over yourself!

Anonymous said...

"realise that a lot of PR is crap" - no kidding! In all seriousness, I refer you to the previous question; I would argue not a huge headline grabber. Or perhaps we're being churlish?

Claire Armitt said...

Hello again,

That press release was used for brand awareness purposes - it had already gone personally to all journalists who have written about the company but are interested in being kept 'in the loop', as it were. So to answer your question - no, I would not have run that press release but the purpose of writing it was not to get coverage.

So there!

Anonymous said...

You cannot seriously call a PR agency "flannel" and expect to get away with it by dint of disarming honesty. (Gerald Ratner, anyone ... ?)

It's like Volvo rebranding themselves Boxybutgood.

I have been involved in coming up with names for 3 new PR agencies in the past, and admittedly almost every appropriate word in the English language has been used by someone somewhere in the world to name a PR agency, but I have to admit it never occurred to me to check the word "flannel". Or for that matter "hot air" or "spin". Oh hang on ... I may be talking myself out of this debate ...

Anonymous said...

I'm sure Claire's client will be delighted to hear that the main purpose of the press release they paid £1000 or so for was not to get coverage.

On another note, would it not have been better to pitch them as the fastest-growing email marketing company? I guess not, as that would have made it a bit more likely to pick up coverage. Silly me

Anonymous said...

... oops, messed up link above, should be:


Claire Armitt said...

Ok you lot, this is becoming rather boring; I suggest you now get back to whatever you're paid to do. Oh, and I also love the fact that no-one is willing to identify themselves - what a bunch of cowards! Doesn't anyone ever have anything good to say on these pages? What a shame people with nothing better to do are so willing to write 'hilarious' blogs rubbishing something they know absolutely nothing about. Behind a veil of secrecy, of course. How sad - are your lives really that empty?

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

Oh dear Claire...oh dear, oh dear. I thought you started off quite well...your initial response was fairly reasonable...but now you've gone all nasty and a bit bitter.

Anonymous said...

Claire - I suspect a lot of people remain anonymous on this blog specifically to avoid being in your current situation - which, incidentally, you seem to have brought on yourself.

Speaking personally, my own identity is not relevant here, and makes my opinions no more or less valid.

Anonymous said...

Speaking as a journalist - we just love those press releases not intended to get coverage (eg. which have something so mind-numbingly news-shy as some no-name company stealing 11th place in some bobbins awards!).

The stuff which a lot of PRs claim is 'news' is often pretty lame - but if they admit up front 'this is just an FYI' then you know it's going to be indescribably weak. ('If this press release was a horse the vet would be calling for the shotgun!')

However, I suspect Claire Armitt is simply backtracking - having made this claim *after* the abuse started rolling in - and originally thought this announcement may spark some interest. And let's face it if she admitted that was the case it would be no worse than claiming Flannel waste journalists' time and their clients money with pointless FYIs. What next? Where the MD went on holiday? What the CFO had for lunch? Whether the receptionist hasn't been as regular with her movements this week as she'd like? Where does the FYI end? (Or more to the point where is the real 'I' in some of this stuff?)

All that said, it was a rubbish press release about a nothing company but it won't be the first or the last I see today, so I don't think Flannel deserve to be singled out too much. They certainly woefully failed to manage their client's expectations, or lacked the experience or knowledge to know when to push back and assert some authority, rather than sinking into the notion that as PRs they are just their to churn out emails for their client. (Why don't clients just employ a work experience kid to hit 'send' if that's all they want or all they're getting?)

Anonymous said...

PR company names... why are so many named after fiery things? Hotwire, Spark, Fuse, Firefly, Inferno to name but a few...

I get the idea that things igniting is analogous with 'bright ideas' but when everybody has had the same bright idea and they're still only at the naming stage it doesn't seem so clever.

So I can sort of appreciate what Flannel has done - it's different. It's memorable and it's honest, especially in light of the above.

max said...

The worst PR name I've seen has been Naked PR. I only found out that the company existed after a opened up my spam box and saw some press releases from them.

Given that journalists treat a lot of press releases as spam anyway, why give yourself a name that guarantees you're treated as spam?

Chris Edwards said...

"What next? Where the MD went on holiday?"

I have seen one of these, although it was quite a few years ago. It was the UK branch of a company called Square D, which made programmable logic controllers (don't ask, you don't want to know) and it churned out releases something like once a week. And, one time, one came in about the MD's holiday. I can't remember where he went but I believed he enjoyed it very much.

One thing I can guarantee is that regular FYI releases will get you name recognition from hacks. Think about it: 15 years on I still remember that name. I think only one thing and it's not a good thing.

Anonymous said...

blimey - is that Chris Edwards of 'Micro Technology' fame...???

Chris Edwards said...

I'm not sure you can use Micro Technology and fame in the same sentence.