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?

Hello!

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.

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

er... is that it?

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

Yeah, sorry...I got a bit excited about it.

I've always found it frustrating that PRWeak demands that its website users subscribe to the mag (at £114 a year), so finding a way around it was, well, nice.

I'll get my coat.

Anonymous said...

It's outrageous to suggest Mike Yarwood could only "do" Prince Charles.

He did a fair Harold Wilson and a very good Ted Heath, as I recall.

And his Eric Morecambe wasn't bad.

Guilty as charged on Ken Dodd and Tommy Cooper, however.

figgis said...

I think you need a hobby TWL

Anonymous said...

>>He did a fair Harold Wilson and a very good Ted Heath, as I recall.<<

His Jim Callaghan was also top notch, but his 'Maggie Thatcher' never really caught on. So we can blame the tories for putting him out of business.....

SpiderJ said...

For someone who spends half their blog telling us not to bother with PR Weak, why are you working so hard to read the bloody thing?

The only reason I look at the web site is to check out the jobs anyway...

The Jiveman said...

Good post, TWL. There are cleverer ways to make money from online content (like advertising maybe??) than to demand subscribers type in a load of hard to remember details (which just result in spam anyway). Thus you have every right to relish your victory against a trade tile so poor it makes the Transport For London freesheets that sometimes infect my postbox seem a must-read. BTW, I'm sure you know but for those that don't it is worth checking out bugmenot.com for some of those pesky logins. Especially when tracking for coverage on some ratbag trade website that demands to know your blood type and salary before letting you in....

Matt said...

Are you on speed or something, and at a loss for something to do at 4am? Honestly, get a life TWL! All this effort to track down a PR Weak article ... and you never actually mentioned if it was worth it when you got there? Presumably not. And what did that have to do with consistent messaging?

Lost me that time. Not that that's particularly difficult.

Caroline said...

Get out more. Which reminds me...when's the next TWL drinks?

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

July 26th - the Matthew Ravden book signing/beer buying evening. Upstairs at the Crown and Two Chairmen, Soho, from about 7.00pm.

Spud said...

One of the best paragraphs I've read in ages, and one of the best you've written TWL..!!!

"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."