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

[TWL deleted the table - formatting issues]

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

Base: Those at least somewhat likely to buy

[TWL deleted the table - formatting issues]

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

Base: Those at least somewhat likely to buy

[TWL deleted the table - formatting issues]

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

Base: All Online Americans Ages 13 to 64

[TWL deleted the table - formatting issues]

“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

[TWL deleted the table - formatting issues]

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...
We’re very green, as in, naïve….

Imagine. You’re an IT company pushing the green benefits of your new super-duper carbon footprint friendly data centres. You have a particularly cool example, in Nice.

As you’ve run out of strategically shaved monkeys, you bring in H&K to work out how to ‘leverage’ this amazing opportunity.

The PR alchemy process concludes:

Target environmentally conscious IT journalists
Invite them to view the data centre first hand
And offer a face-to-face interview with a senior (US based) HP executive

That’s a lot of plane trips to celebrate something that’s billed as eco-friendly. An irony that more than one journo picked up on.

Would love to be a fly on the wall during the "how do we build awareness around HP video conferencing technology" brainstorm….
A little bit of Sheffield in Hammersmith….

News reaches us that Text 100’s London office is flooded and employees have been sent home.

Seeing how a tech PR agency copes with enforced ‘flexible working’ and ‘disaster recovery’ should prove to be an interesting “cobblers’ kids” case study.

Must have been a bloody big flood. Surely most PR agencies have more than enough hot air to evaporate a few gallons of water….

26 June 2007

Client agency relationship....

Very much enjoyed this cartoon from today's Times.

Strangely, it also worked for me as an illustration of the client/agency relationship (a strange quirk of timing, given the previous post).

I've held umbrellas over clients while I get wet. I've queued for coffee, while my client has been sat down all comfortable.

I've taken clients out for a bloody expensive meal with lashings of top quality wine, to not even be offered a cup of coffee when visiting their office the next day.

I've flown with clients, with me in economy and them - on the same plane - in business class. And arrived to find they are in a five star hotel on the seafront, while I'm in a hostel without hot water.

And I've had some lovely clients too. Ones that have sent birthday presents. Ones that have sent members of the agency team notes of congratulation when they've been promoted. Ones that have suggested I fly out on a Friday for a Monday meeting, so I can enjoy some sightseeing.

I work harder for those clients. I care more about the results. I'd suggest doing a 'Sunday for Monday' for those clients; I use up personal favours with journos for them. The same goes for the rest of the agency team.

To the anonymous comment in the previous post, yes, it is a business transaction and you do get a pay cheque. That is what counter-balances the crap clients.

The good clients - the ones that demand great results, but also listen to advice, the ones that are fair, the ones that are nice, civil human beings - they get better service.

In just about any knowledge-based job there is a need for positive working relationships. Good agencies thrive as a result of good leadership. Likewise, an agency-side team will always perform better with the client taking on a positive leadership role.

Agencies are very into 360 feedback. It wouldn't hurt if in-house PRs were appraised the same way....
Who's important in the beauty parade..?

I met a bloke the other day from a company pitching its PR account (as a fair few are right now). Having been through the pitch process...and as a man who's worked with PR agencies previously...he was musing about the member of the pitch team upon which you should focus most attention.

Oddly, it's not the one with the biggest knockers. And he certainly didn't think it should be the cocky board director arriving hot-foot it from the last pitch...nor the associate director given the job of talking through the strategic approach. He didn't even think it was the account director. He reckoned that the best bet was to test the mettle of the account manager. If the account manager was decent, the client would be able to whip the executives along and pick and choose the more senior resource he needed, if any.

I don't think it's quite that simplistic. I do agree that in a pitch situation you can generally ignore the input of a board director (likely to be fairly generic in any case) and, if there's one in the room, the associate director too. The likelihood of seeing either after the pitch is slim and, if you do, they'll be that expensive that you won't want to see them again...

For me, the key thing to test is the tightness of the AD/AM/AE team, rather than any one individual within it. Do they have a good dynamic..? Do they seem to like each other...is there some chemistry? Is it obvious that they've worked together for a while and complement each other..?

In my experience, a team with these attributes is much more likely to work for each other...and working for each other comes before working for the client. If the client then does its job...being inclusive, tough but fair, celebrating success, saying 'thanks' once in a while...then it'll find itself a team that will give it all the attention it wants and which is also likely to stay together as a unit longer than the average. Controversial as it might be to say (but it's human nature...) agency teams work harder for clients that they like.

Remember people, there's no 'i' in team. But there is a 'me'...and 'tea' and 'meat'.

I think we can all learn something from that.

25 June 2007

Surely, they cannot be serious..?

Wimbledon starts today. I see Andrew Murray's done the sensible thing and ruled himself out before it even kicks off.

No doubt they'll be shipping in all the strawberries and cream and gallons of bubbly to keep all those corporate hospitality guests full to bursting. Have any of you got clients taking people along? A few hacks maybe?

We've heard that IBM traditionally has a gathering at the All England Club...hosting a smattering of hand-picked luminaries from the world of tech media. Well, it would, wouldn't it, as sponsor of the official website?

Not this year though. Well, not for all of the press at least.

One hack tells us that...whether it's budget cutbacks, the crap weather we're having or simply that tennis is very, very dull these days...Big Blue has decided that an event in its "hideous grey bunker on South Bank" would be a better idea than one in SW19.

It's not a complete loss though. There will, our contact thinks, be a "Wimbledon theme" along with a presentation by some fella from IBM.

Game, set and match then.

22 June 2007

Meaningless tripe...

I was reading the Economist last night. I don't normally give the advertisements more than a cursory glance, but one for Unisys caught my eye. It was very orange. It didn't contain a lot of copy so I'm going to reproduce it all for you here:


Even outsourcing's benefits have benefits. The best way to realize them is to unlearn your misconceptions about outsourcing. Unisys Outsourcing Solutions offer the proven processes, unique methodologies, and the innovation you need to manage risk, adapt to change and accelerate the benefits of your best-case transformation scenario. Our Solutions for Secure Business Operations can optimize your business performance and your competitive advantage. For maximizing your full business potential, outsourcing is a win-win scenario. Unlearning is just the beginning.

What?! It's like they put all the tech industry bullshit in a bag, threw it on the table and copied it verbatim.

"Upgrade your best-case scenario, processes, methodologies, innovation, manage risk, adapt to change, transformation, win-win" ...and surely having to "unlearn your misconceptions" is some sort of double negative?

What I'd love is for a copywriter to come over here - maybe The Friendly Ghost or Matthew Stibbe - and explain where there's any merit in that piece of copy whatsoever.

21 June 2007

"Mobiles not very important"...says Carphone Warehouse...

...sort of.

I've just been reading this story on The Reg...the headline of "Teenagers prefer mobiles to sex" attracted my attention.

It's about the Carphone Warehouse's Mobile Life survey, announced today. The full press release can be seen here.

If I'm reading it right, while The Reg's headline is kind of accurate - in that in the 16-24 year old age group (so not entirely made up of teenagers), the majority of respondents stated that they'd least like to give up their mobiles over sex, chocolate, alcohol or tea and coffee - it doesn't quite tell the whole story.

In fact, much to the disappointment of the Carphone Warehouse, I'm sure, in every other age group surveyed (up to the age of 64, 'cause people older than that can't use mobiles of course...) respondents said they would rather give up their mobile phone than any other the other items! Well, that's not strictly true, as 25-34 year olds said that they'd sooner give up alcohol than their mobile...by 1%. Everything else was more important though.

So, for the vast majority of the UK population, tea, coffee, alcohol, sex and chocolate are more important than their mobile phones.

Nice job, Carphone Warehouse! I wonder how much that cost..?
A Eureka moment….

Having studied various academic tomes, it is a pleasure to at last reveal the difficulties faced by a typical PR person.

The red circle represents ‘time available,’ or what is otherwise known by senior management as ‘fee.’

The blue box represents ‘work to be done,’ or what is otherwise known by the client as ‘stuff that I’m paying for to get done.’

The image below represents how these two values relate to each other.

In this diagram, the blue area also represents what the typical PR person used to know as ‘evenings and weekends....’

Tits or face(book)..?

Sorry about the headline here, it's just I've been reading "Inside Little Britain" (very interesting, by the way, even if you're not a big fan of the show itself).

There's a brilliant passage towards the end when Matt Lucas and David Walliams are laughing about the fact that they've just heard that David's sister had to explain the concept of a pearl necklace to David's mum (it having been mentioned in their live show and David's mum not understanding the reference).

The two of them are trying to imagine the conversation that took place...

"Well, Mum," says Matt, embarking upon an impersonation of a slightly proper, middle-class woman in an attempt to sound roughly like David's sister, "you know when...er..."

"...when Dad spunks up..." says David, picking up the impression and running with it, "and says "face or tits" and he sort of misses both...well, it ends up on your neck, doesn't it?"

"And you sort of slightly enjoy that sense of humiliation and degredation confirming your role as the woman and his as the man..." says Matt. "Well...That. Is. A. Pearl. Necklace!" Matt is guffawing now, almost uncontrollably. And David is laughing with him.

And you wonder where these two get their characters from?

Crikey, this is a roundabout way of telling you all that we're on Facebook. Slightly behind the curve, granted, but we've never been the types to leap over the chasm. You can see our profile here and become our friend. If you want.

20 June 2007

The Flackenhack Awards 2007...brand unveiled...

You'll be interested to hear that the Flackenhack Awards 2007 now benefits from a stylish logo. Here it is.

I think you'll agree that it reflects a desire to establish a forward-looking vision for the future of all PR - indeed all business - awards programmes moving forwards from today. It strikes a delicate - though robust - balance between a genuine respect for the history and integrity of our industry, while signposting the bright, though winding, road that lies ahead of us all in the future from tomorrow.

Either that or it looks a bit like a knob. You decide.

And don't forget to get those entries in! We've had some crackers so far...but need more if we're going to give our esteemed (and soon to be announced) judging panel some difficult decisions to make. Categories are here...it ain't a lot of work.

19 June 2007

Lewis meltdown...updated...

So you'll have all read in last week's PRWeak that Lewis is having a bit of a meltdown at the moment, with four 'senior' staff leaving (OK, three senior and one account director from Octane which they threw in there to beef things up a bit).

You'll have also noticed this little line at the bottom of the story...

"At the same time Lewis is on the verge of hiring two associate directors (one leading sector journalist and a corporate specialist from a rival agency)."

We understand that the hack in question is Will Sturgeon, editor-at-large of silicon.com.

Can anyone confirm?

UPDATE: Indeed they can...Will himself has posted a comment giving the details.
Look at this pair of cobbler's shoes...rubbish, aren't they..?

I've just seen my favourite press release of the month so far...and the beauty is that it's a release about a PR agency.

It caught my eye as the subject is Judy Wilks, one of the founding team of Bite and, for the past few years, a member of Bite's senior management team in the US. She's joining Atomic Public Relations as senior president of vice (or something).

Check out the headline:

Atomic Public Relations Announces Strategic Decision to Do More of What It Has Been Doing

The first line of the release reiterates the point:

"Atomic Public Relations, an alternative PR energy source for technology-related companies, today announced plans to carry on doing exactly what it has been doing – only more of it."

Oh my good Lord. It continues...

"As part of its ongoing commitment, Atomic will continue to apply science to the communications process in order to sharpen strategy, enhance creative thinking and deliver better results. It will also continue to push the boundaries of PR and challenge accepted wisdom."

There's really nothing to say here, is there?

According to David Allen Ibsen, "founder and principal of marketing consultancy 5 Meetings Before Lunch, and Webby Award-winning marketing blogger," Wilks will be:

“a great horizontal addition to Atomic’s senior executive team."

"Horizontal"? Sounds a bit dodgy to us. Judy herself says:

"There’s a fair bit of mystique around Atomic Public Relations...I was immediately attracted by the agency’s mix of strategic-ness, clever creative instincts and real IT smarts, not to mention its uncompromising pursuit of ‘better.’”

"Strategic-ness"? "Uncompromising pursuit of 'better'"?

Andy Getsey, co-founder and managing director of Atomic Public Relations, sums it up for us:

“Atomic is an agency unusually devoted to change, but only change for the better. Judy’s a kindred spirit [and will help] maintain our own particular cultural mojo."

Far out.

14 June 2007

Join me….

Aren’t social networks popular? Decide on something that you have in common with people, start a group and wait for them to join.

In a moment of rose-tinted nostalgia, Charles Welsh created a social network for all those folk that fondly remember their days at Novell.

See how many ex-Novell people you know….


13 June 2007

A year's a long time in telecoms...

2006 at the World Communication Awards:

"BT was delighted to win 2006 Best New Service award for BT Fusion. BT Fusion is the world's first truly converged service that offers customers a host of new benefits and great value calls. But what's even more important is that consumers and the industry are also starting to realise the benefits fixed mobile convergence can bring," said Steve Andrews, Chief of Mobility and Convergence, BT Group

2007 in The Times:

BT conceded yesterday that it had made mistakes with a flagship mobile service, as it emerged that the product has amassed just 40,000 customers in two years.

BT Fusion – a combined fixed and mobile phone – was supposed to reinvigorate BT’s mobile offering and contribute to BT’s growth. However, just 40,000 people have signed up.

Steve Andrews, head of BT Mobility, admitted that take-up of the product, which uses wi-fi technology, had been set back by the timing of the launch.

“There was a lack of wi-fi devices as early as we would have liked them,” he said.

The advertising for the product could also have been clearer, Mr Andews added. Overall, Mr Andrews insisted that he was “happy” with the 40,000 take-up.

Analysts said that the figure was weak. James Barford, of Enders Analysis, said: “This is clearly not a large number in the context of a UK mobile market which has around 70 million mobile subscribers.”

From gong, to going, going, gone...
Where’s the challenge in Burberry..?

If anyone thinks that Leslie Dance faces a challenge in turning around the perception of Burberry in Wales, it is child’s play compared with what Donna Black has to do.

Donna is the PR person for Visit Scotland. For the three days a year when it’s sunny, Scotland can be quite a nice place to go for a long weekend (the rural bits, obviously, not the towns).

Other than that, Scotland only really finds itself in the news when there are rankings of some kind. Invariably, it seems, Scotland is at the bottom.

A couple of days ago Scotland won the not-at-all coveted title of ‘worst small country.’ It’s all the funnier that the research was commissioned by the Scottish arm of the Federation of Small Business. Surely the PR person’s counsel should have been “burn it” as opposed to “send it to the BBC”?

And before TWL is accused of simplistic Jock-bashing, pop ‘Scotland’ and ‘worst’ into Google and see the results. Here are some of our favourites:

Worst for life expectancy
Worst for asthma
Worst for sexual health
Worst for attacks on police
Worst teeth
Worst for post office closures

Crikey, the country even produced a fella called William Topaz McGonagall, revered as 'The World's Worst Poet...'

Find out why Scotland is so horribly bad, by downloading the official report

PS - In the interests of balance, we did put 'England' and 'worst' into Google...inevitably the top result was a book about England's worst footballers. I say 'book'...rather more a sixteen volume encyclopedia, I suspect...

12 June 2007

Anonymous bloggers...tsk...

Couple of new(ish) blogs have come to my attention of late - both anonymous...naughty people - and they look quite promising.

Well, I say that. The Friendly Ghost was looking good until he published an entirely flawed league table of PR blogs that only sees TWL languishing down in 39th position..!

Have a look at your stats, my spooky buddy, and tell me that TWL's only the 39th best blog in the PR world. Go on, go on.

That load of old tosh aside, I'm quite liking the blog.

The other one is called The Spud Gun (with the lovely strapline..."It's a gun that fires spuds")and I'm liking it 'cause it's mentioned us a few times. Nice work.

Given this mention...

"…The World’s Leading… has provided a fine service to all of us in tech PR in the UK over the years - in fact TWL has been there all the while that I’ve been in UK PR - and looks set to move up a gear or two in the not too distant…"

...it's obviously written by someone new to the industry. Equally obviously, they've got a decent brain in that pretty little head of theirs (I'm making an assumption).

Welcome one and all. Don't fuck up.

11 June 2007

Come on, it’s only 200 miles from Britain…

Is it just me, or is the comms team down at Burberry failing to spot the 900lb football hooligan in the room?

The fashion house has hired Leslie Dance, formerly of Motorola, to counteract the negative publicity the company is receiving following its decision to close down a factory in Wales (and the associated job losses).

Sure, in an ideal world, I wouldn’t want Burberry to close down its Welsh factory…more Taffs on the streets with time on their hands is bad news for everyone…but I understand the pressures placed on business these days. In an ever more competitive global market, the drive to reduce production costs to the minimum is inexorable. Inevitably, Burberry plans to move its production to China, where it’ll cost, like, 95% less than it does in Wales (probably).

The factory closure, while clearly tough for those involved, is unlikely (in my view) to have huge consequences in terms of lost sales. Far more significant, surely, is that Burberry as a brand has become synonymous with football thugs and chavs? I’m no more likely than you (I’m assuming) to buy something that features the hugely distinctive beige check.

But maybe I’m missing the point? I’m sure that in pure commercial terms, Burberry has done very well out of its products becoming popular amongst a much wider public, sales must be far greater today than a decade ago. So perhaps it doesn’t care that I’m no longer part of the target market? It’s a bit like Bentley. OK, so in going a bit downmarket, it might have lost a few old school(tie) Bentley customers…and let’s face it, they’d have been dead soon anyway…but it’s more than made up for them with any number of footballers and their wives.

To be honest though, I reckon a bunch of chavs are going to be even less bothered (sorry, "bovvered") about some Welsh people losing their jobs than I am.

To quote Ali G once again, “when you hear the world Wales, you probably think about the fish with the biggest dick in the ocean. But it is also the name of a country that is only about 200 miles from Britain.”

Here's a picture of the actor Michael French alongside one of PRWeak editor Danny Rogers.

Can you tell the difference?

Here's a clue...one has played a central role in a long-running but largely depressing London-based soap opera.

The other one was David Wicks in Eastenders.
Make mine a large stiff one...

Seen the new Heineken television ad yet? No, neither have I. I don't think it's out...at least I've been searching on YouTube and it hasn't appeared, so I'm assuming that it's not yet on the telly. I'm interested though, as the Media Guardian tells me that it features a woman, in the bath, using a lobster "inappropriately".

Now, it strikes me that unless you've turned your tub into an aquarium, any use of a lobster in it could be deemed inappropriate. She might be using it to scrape a load of matted hair and gunk out of the plughole.

However, given the strapline for the ad is, "get the head right and the rest will follow..." I think we all know the sort of inappropriate crustacean use to which Heineken is alluding.

Such is the beauty of advertising. Can you imagine pitching up to your client and proposing a PR campaign based around suggestions of masturbation with marine animals? Or suggestions of masturbation full stop?

Perhaps there is an associated PR campaign. I have images in my mind of earnest AEs selling "Top Ten wanking widgets" boxouts into the lifestyles...celebs being approached to discuss their favourite self-love stories...websites carrying surveys..."if you were to use a sea-based creature for a touch of self-gratification, which one would it be?" (dolphin for me, in case you're interested. Or you're a dolphin).

I imagine they'd also need to do something around drinking responsibly. Perhaps your designated driver could be encouraged to ask for a Heineken hand shandy from the busty barmaid at the Dog & Duck?

No doubt the advertising agency is furiously thinking about the next ad in the series (or, as I suspect, lining up another 20 minute brainstorm in the local boozer).

I have an idea...maybe the next ad should be one for the ladies? It could feature a hunky chap in his local supermarket getting over-friendly with a watermelon that he's drawn a girl's face on with a marker pen and cut a suitably sized hold in...

He could even pick up a six-pack on his way out.

07 June 2007

The job satisfaction imbalance…

Long one this, I’m afraid…a bit serious too. Sorry about that. But hey, it's Friday morning...what else are you going to do?

It’s also rather London-centric, so apologies in advance to those of you in the regions (though you’ll be on in a minute to tell us all how fresh the air is, I imagine).

It seems that recruitment issues have been at the top of the agenda this week. The blog post from Wadds highlighting Grant Currie’s efforts to entice some of the Rainier crew over to Inferno, and Currie’s decent response on his agency’s new blog (and well done Warren for digging out the URL) were neat examples of an increasingly severe problem that I’m hearing from agency heads, in-house PR directors and recruiters right now: good people are almost impossible to find.

David Brain produced a short but spot-on post regarding the news that Stephen “PR Blogger” Davies is once again packing up his laptop and moving on. It’s a largely financially-driven decision…as Davies himself puts it: “As much as I enjoy working in London, I simply can’t afford to stay here at this moment in my life.”

Brain is “very worried on this score” (so worried, in fact, that he threw an extra “r” into “worried”) and rightly so.

Understandably, a commenter on Brain’s blog highlights how more severe the same issue is for the likes of nurses, but we’ve still got to take note of the trend and its potential consequences for the PR industry.

Bear with me here, as I’m off on a ramble…but it’ll sort itself out at the end.

I’ve often thought of job satisfaction being rather like a graphic equaliser. Most of you from Generation i(Pod) probably won’t know what a graphic equaliser is…so there’s a picture of one above. It used to form part of your stereo system...and you’d tweak each little lever until you found the best sound quality.

There are lots of little levers that can be tweaked to increase (or decrease) job satisfaction. There’s salary, obviously, but there’s also colleagues, clients, office location, quality of coffee, culture, eye candy, flexi-working…and a hundred other factors that line up to make a job enjoyable or not. You might be as happy as a pig in shite…and then your best mate leaves and things aren’t quite as rosy. Or the company decides that it can’t afford a Christmas party…or free drinks…or your client changes…or the company moves offices. Any of these will have an effect on your job satisfaction (sometimes up, sometimes down).

The issue that Davies and Brain highlight is, I think, having some serious consequences on job satisfaction. London’s becoming more and more expensive and, therefore, people need to locate themselves further away from its centre (or wave goodbye to a greater proportion of their disposable income in rent or mortgage repayments). A long commute makes the working day less enjoyable in itself, but it also has an effect on the culture of organsiations.

When I started out in PR, my working life and my social life were almost one and the same – at least they both featured the same group of people, generally speaking. Work and play did blur, and it was easier because most people lived a reasonably short distance from the office. It also meant that it was feasible to get together (and get together, if you receive my meaning) over weekends. This had a hugely positive effect on the company’s culture.

I had a beer (or three) last night with the MD of a UK PR agency, and he confirmed that this had also been true for him when he started out, “I used to work my arse off…I’d get in at 7.00am and leave at 10.00pm…but I also used to spend a lot of my working day pissing around and having a laugh. It was great fun, and I didn’t resent the hours because it didn’t feel like it was just my workplace. I spend quite a lot of my time these days encouraging a bit of pissing around in my agency, but it feels forced; like we’ve got to somehow timetable playtime…”

Now, some might say that our industry has grown up; that we’ve needed to and have become more serious. Problem is, with London’s success as a global financial centre, the cost of living in or near the city has outstripped the PR industry’s ability to increase the salaries of its people. And even where salary inflation has grown, it has resulted in agencies having to demand that their people work harder (to maintain margins), leaving less time for fun and, understandably, a desire to get out of the office and away from work as soon as is realistic every day (compounded by the longer commute).

I’m with Brain…economic factors are having a serious effect on ability of the PR industry to offer people a rewarding, fun career. Which brings me onto my next point (I did say this was a long one…)

There’s a shortage of good people. I hear it all the time. Yet we’re also told that PR is consistently one of the top career choices for people entering the workplace, and the growing number of PR degrees (often oversubscribed) would point to more and more people entering the industry. So where do they all go? Or is it that even with this growth, there still aren’t enough?

I suspect that we lose a lot of people early in their PR careers. Perhaps PR graduates – having spent three years dissecting the grand PR strategies of the world’s biggest brands – find the reality of life on the bottom rung of the PR career ladder disillusioning? Added to the fact that they’re saddled with student debt and then find that it’s impossible to sustain a job in London and live within their means…well, it’s not a great surprise that many reconsider.

I’m not sure what the answers are. Brain calls for more affordable housing. I think that would be great, but clearly the likes of public-service workers such as nurses will (and should) get first dibs.

Maybe more agencies (like Edelman) should consider establishing satellite offices outside London…where people could live more affordably and come into town as and when necessary?

What I do know for sure is that things are less fun than they used to be. And - for me at least – the “fun” lever on the PR job satisfaction graphic equaliser was always one of the most important.
Collective hara-kiri..?

Or shall we do it individually?

When a national journalist and blogger starts a headline to a post with "Die, PR, die..." then it's probably one we should all take a look at.

Indefensible stuff.
Back to earth with a bump...

Friends, family and Edelman colleagues are, I'm sure, delighted that Justin Westcott has returned safely from his risky trip up the little slopy bits right at the bottom of Mount Everest. No, no...I'm being unfair. He went quite high up. But he's back now and that's great.

Or is it?

I remain concerned. You see, Westcott's been blogging for a while but I have to say that I've always found his blog quite a taxing read. He doesn't seem to have...how shall I put this?...the greatest eye for detail with regard to grammar and spelling. And, as you know, we're a bit of a stickler for that.

When Justin landed over east, however, he told us all that blogging directly was nigh on impossible and, as a result, he would have to send his musings to his colleague Jonny Bentwood who would stick them on Westcott's blog.

What a transformation! Bentwood's clearly a fella after our own heart...his sub-editing resulted in nicely written, compelling pieces of prose...it was lovely stuff.

Now Westcott's back and he's doing his own writing again. Indeed, his first blog post upon his return to a decent internet connection started with this: "So i’m back in Nepal"

What's up? No shift key on the keyboard?

Justin, I implore you...retain Bentwood's sub-editing services, whatever the cost...
PR Weak: The world's leading weekly PR publication....

Kid you not; the esteemed organ claims it here.

Why the 'weekly' caveat?

Answers in a cellophane wrapper with a flyer for a training course....

06 June 2007

Fight, fight, fight, fight….

If TWL has been a bit light of late, it’s Sally Whittle’s fault.

In a post that had a faint whiff of mountains being made from molehills for the sake of new content, Sally accused the TWL and Fullrun of playground bullying with the Flackenhacks.

The original roasting left TWL feeling as though it had been savaged by a deep sheep (which, incidentally, is preferable to being ravaged by one).

The post is worth a read, but it’s the vicious string of comments that provides the fun. First up is:

“I agree. Shameless and cowardly bullying. It would be like someone using her blog to attack people and make snide and petty comments but not having the guts to name the people shes [sic] sniping at.”

From there on in, Sally does battle with all-comers in a manner that wouldn’t be out of place in Pirates of the Caribbean.

There are some impressive highlights including a hack who has posted his photo and profile on a swinger's website, TWL being called not just “petty, personal and vindictive,” but also “despicable, shallow and pathetic,” and a troll called PJ who reckons Sally suffers from “flip-flopism” (which is neither a shoe fetish or brewer’s droop). And it all ends up with a funny joke about Santa. Magic….

04 June 2007

Ex-Moto blog fest...

It appears that the first thing you have to do when leaving Motorola's PR operation...as many seem to be doing...is set up a blog.

Most recent leaver Mark Durrant regales us with any number of humourous insights and witty anecdotes about his forthcoming move to Helsinki (where he's soon to start a new job for Nokia) in his blog Finn Mark...but his former colleague Chris Bignell is currently positioning himself as leader in the ex-Moto-PR-team-king-of-content-in-new-blogs niche.

Bignell sets expectations with his month-old blog, AWEEKISALONGTIME (yes, all one word and all upper case, please) as he only posts once a week and, so far, has managed to keep to his word (unlike some). And boy, does he make the most of that one post each week..? Oh yes.

Here are some of the highlights:

"I decided to clean out the barbecue with the garden vacuum…"

"Does anyone know how to stop a cat from “poo-ing” in the garden?"

"I can hear you saying “life is too short” but it is always the little things huh?"

"I was going to blog about allergies and the benefits of a wheat and dairy free diet but that will have to wait till next week"

"Redbush tea...I cannot get enough of this stuff at the moment. There must be something very soothing in it because it is really doing it for me."

"Co-codamol: Ok I found these yesterday, left over from when I was really ill after having my wisdom teeth out but I have never known a pain killer like these – 10 minutes after using them I was feeling good."

"I have a bucket outside my back door that had weeds in it from last weekend when we spent some time sorting out the garden. On Saturday it had weeds and nothing else in it. As I write this on Monday evening, it now has six inches of rain in it too. This was a very visual reminder to me of exactly how much it had persistently rained in the UK over this Bank Holiday weekend."

I don't know Bignell, but I'm building a picture of a man who works himself into a frenzy of barbecue cleaning and cat worrying...brings himself down with some herbal team and powerful painkillers...only to slip into a vegetative state of gazing at weed-filled buckets.

Still, his new business should give him something to focus on. It's a PR company called XL Comunications. It's not terribly easy to find online as there's already an XL Communications...oh, and another...and another.

Best of luck with that, Chris. And those pesky cats.
The Flackenhack Awards 2007...categories announced..!

Get yourself over here to see the 12 categories in this year's inaugural tech PR and media Flackenhack Awards.

Entry couldn't be easier or, indeed, cheaper.

Go on...it'll be fun.

03 June 2007

How very, very modern...

You remember a while back I started that new TWL feature HEAD..?

You know...it's our version of marriages, birth and deaths and stands for Hitched, Engaged, Arrived and Departed.

Well this is the sort of thing we're after...

01 June 2007

They're a forgiving bunch...

...but ring them on deadline and they crucify you.

From The Scotsman:

"PR SPINMEISTERS at Weber Shandwick Scotland are celebrating a remarkable coup: managing to "sell in" a story to the Pope. Vatican Radio was one of the takers for the company's promotion of NetIDme, an online service aimed at improving internet chat security for children. Less spiritual outlets such as ITN, ABC radio..."

You'll need a subscription to ead the rest..."from as little as £29.95 a year."

Like a Jock's going to stump up for that..!