27 April 2007

BCS story competition....

A while back we started an chain letter story to enter into the BCS story competition. The story has to be 2000 words long and be submitted by 29 June.

We've amalgamated the first lot of contributions and added a bit to create the story below.

It's just under 1,200 words. So, we reckon another 4-6 contributions of around 150 words would do it.

Thanks for the contributions so far - all will be credited.....

The story so far....

Leia lay back, sated. She flicked her Double Penetronic 350X to stand-by…hang the fucking expense, she thought, I’ve just had three hours of rough sex with a machine and I’m not worrying about saving the planet now. We’re all fucked anyway. Ha, ha, funny. She was fucked (literally) and we were all fucked (figuratively).

Never mind what Uber-President Gore said; the carbon footprint had well and truly stamped all over the human race. All we could do now…at least those that could afford it…was indulge in life’s hedonistic pleasures and try not to bring any more sorry little blighters into this screwed-up world.

This is one of the many reasons why the Double Penetronic 350X was such a huge success. Well, that, Leia reflected, and the fact that she’d been running its PR campaign for the past three years.

The softly hissing, dripping machine now reclined in the corner of her studio pod was one of the perks of the job…sure, it was an ex-review machine but Leia didn’t give a shit where it had been before, as long as it worked when she wanted. Rolling over, she commanded her retina display to pull up The World’s Leading… the only thing worth reading these fucking days…

What she saw made her freeze. It had finally happened. The result of years of gossip, stories, thoughts, comments and insight, and now the truth was finally revealed. Five years ago something extraordinary happened. Those behind TWL had created a phenomenon that felt like a living, breathing entity; a massive mouthpiece in global technology; a hugely influential source of information and insight; something that Governments and major business was acutely aware of. And now it was writing itself...

She watched as the self sentient blog quickly fired words up on her display "enjoy your dual Leia?" - damn predictive text, didn't work that well even in 2023.

Not shocked in the slightest that her display seemed to be talking to her, these were after all the days of the more personalised 419 gang, she typed back: "If you have hacked my cameras again Rory you are going to the slammer. I told you they have a special place for pretty account executives like yourself where they like to Beta test new sexual manoeuvres"

"Not Rory," TWL spat out. "We have been watching and tasting you (the Double Penetronic had a world leading secretion reservoir for the ultimate online experience) we think that we may have finally found the one we have been looking for. Please go to your printer......

Meanwhile, across town, Stan climbed out of the shower. He turned the water off. He took the Tesco bag off his head. Yes, that was the phone he could hear, filtering up from downstairs. It never bloody stops, he thought. There's no escape, even when I'm screaming myself hoarse in a terrifying near death experience.

Perhaps it's a good thing, he mused. Simulated drowning is probably a poor substitute for the real thing. Even if the CIA does use it as a form of torture. Even though it inevitably will be adopted in the UK, by the usual creeps who copy anything and everything that comes from America. Even if he could prove to himself he'd resist a brutal interrogation.

He wasn't seeing Object Marketing for another week. And the stories of Andrew Smith's brutal job interview techniques had to be exaggerations. Didn't they?

"Good afternoon sir, I hope I wasn't disturbing you," said the man from the call centre."Well, actually, I was just torturing myself. I was running the shower, with a Tesco bag on my head. Screaming the house down. Which is probably why I didn't hear you."

A moment of stunned silence followed, after which Stan continued. "You know, simulated drowning? I wanted to see how I'd survive under intense questioning," said Stan.

With that, Call Centre Man was gone. Stan pitied him. Fancy calling someone in the UK, without even trying to understand their culture. This industry is full of amateurs.

There was a knock at Stan’s front door. “For fuck’s sake, if this is some bastard trying to flog me a £3.50 J-cloth I’m going to Taser the gypsy piece of shit,” muttered Stan. He opened the door slightly, his pasty white face and squinting eyes peering through the gap. “TWL sent me here,” said Leia, repulsed by the thick mucus just visible in Stan’s left nostril.

Stan had no fucking clue who this chick was, but she was the hottest thing he'd seen since the fireball that had ripped through the hydro-powered server farm he used to manage. “Oh, hello, do come in,” he said, nonchalantly, opening the door.

Once inside she saw Stan and pulled a face like Simon Weston playing the harmonica. The fireball that had just flashed through Stan’s mind evidently took much longer to cross the left hand side of his body. Still naked from his shower, Leia could see every horrific scar that lacerated his torso and the melted stump of an elbow to which his forearm was no longer attached. His left testical was gone and the heat must have shriveled his cock.

“No, it’s always been like that,” mumbled Stan, noticing where her distain had rested.

Shaking her head ruefully, Leia asked: “I guess you know why I’ve tracked you down?” Weighing up Leia’s perfect body and flawless complexion, Stan was pretty confident of his assumption: “Yeah, I spoke to Abel & Cole earlier. You’ve got my organic baby box.”

“Stan, we’ve got government-sponsored splaying, female circumcision and mandatory vasectomies. And you think I’m some kind of high class hooker and surrogate mother hybrid? What the fuck makes you think that, and why did want such a service? One look at you tells me your libido is drooping like tulips after their sell-by-date.”

It took Stan dressing, several hours and two packets of state-subsidised Khat for Leia to explain things. He was somewhat sceptical, but, he figured, given a choice between a lonesome social life of simulated drowning and Football Manager 2023, or hanging out with this hot red-head, might as well go along with her crazy theory.

Apparently TWL was started by humans, was enjoyed by technology, and, over time, had become self-conscious, self-hating, artificial intelligence. Using its immense computing power, it had found a way of reversing hideously destructive climate change and, with that, breaking technology’s power over the human race. James Cameron, with Terminator, hadn’t got it quite right (especially with Terminator III, according to Halliwell’s), but the machines – technology – had taken over. It was all-powerful, and enslaving humans to serve its own repulsive interests.

With Stan’s help, Leia had to find Paulo Thornburg. Paulo was a technology analyst, but years of abusing Class A drugs had clouded his business acumen and social interaction skills to the point of destitution. He held the answer, but they had to get the jakey old cunt to concentrate long enough to talk sense without being abusive and arrogant. But Leia knew nothing about him, other than what TWL had delivered to her printer: Find Paulo Thornburg, KnowBest....

26 April 2007

The curse of the PR Weak Power Book....

It's only been a few weeks since the PR Weak Power Book came out (with a £5 cover price, thanks) but it's already looking like an Agatha Christie novel.

First, at least to our knowledge, it was Colonel Abrahams who left Waggener Edstrom because he felt, we guess, trapped, and so confused (subscription required).

Then this week, Stuart Smith.

Who's next?

Bruce? Please. Let it be Bruce....

25 April 2007

Day in the life....

Finally the mid-tier IT company that you’ve been battling with all year gives you some good news - the CEO is coming to the UK in three weeks. “He’s got some news, not sure what it is yet. Word is, it’s a European acquisition. You’ve got a half day for media stuff, the rest of his time here is dedicated to customer meetings.”

As half page articles in The Economist and Financial Times - and even a CBR front cover - race through your mind, you imagine the reflected glory and look forward to ringing some well placed journalists with something they’ll actually find interesting.

And you know the UK marketing manager is going to love the results. There’s a definite buzz. She’s asked you to check the cost of PR Newswire: “For distribution in every country across Europe; if this announcement goes ahead, I want it everywhere.”

OK, so The Economist didn’t return your email, and FT Digital Business is looking more likely than the FT proper, but all is well. CBR is up for it too – should be a nice tour.

Then she calls. The CEO isn’t coming after all. But not to worry, the global head of sales and marketing is coming over instead. “He’s the company’s fourth-most-important exec, so we’ll still get some really good interest.” You’re not so sure. You ask if you can tweak his job title. You can’t. His agenda isn’t fixed yet, but you’ve got his PA’s details and she can fill you in.

It’s been four phones calls, three emails and two days. His PA seems pretty shit. UK marketing manager wants to know who you’ve got lined up. It’s the FT Digital Business freelancer, and CBR. Computer Weekly has said yes, though not who yet. Would prefer to do it by phone. Or in Sutton. Should get an online too, but you’ll wait before you call them – they don’t plan ahead too much. Fuck me, PR Newswire is expensive.

Two weeks to go. His PA must be good in bed, because she’s shit with emails and phones. You explain it’s a little tricky to confirm the interviews, as we’re not sure which day it is that he has reserved for media.

“Should be fine though, even if one of the possibles is already booked for whatever day it is, we should be able to get someone else…..Well, no, not really, it’s a bit early for the briefing document. We need to confirm the journalists and without knowing his diary….”

Ah, finally, Anne J Glockensteiner has sent an email. It’s the 12th. A Monday. Not good. Can’t be changed, the customers are all lined up. And you’ve only got him until 2pm as he has a meeting at 4pm (cool, still works well for Computer Weekly). They can’t confirm the content yet.

Well, you reason, fair enough. Stock price sensitive. Shit, what is their stock price? Wow, the IR part of their website is rubbish. Why do documents with lots of financial detail always use that same typeface? Hummm, that’s weird, doesn’t that mean we’re in a quiet period? Fuck it, it’s an acquisition, different rules I guess.

It’s been tricky, but breakfast with FT Digital Business freelancer is set up. Diamond geezer that bloke, thank goodness you’ve got a decent enough relationship with him that he trusts your word it’ll be worth it. Waiting on the rest.

“Well, yeah, I can send you through the background on the FT freelancer but it’s still a bit early to do the rest of the briefing doc yet I’m afraid. Well, no, can’t really do the messaging either. We don’t know the news. His PA is sending the materials.”

Six working days to go. UK marketing manager calls. She’s a bit annoyed.

“There’s no news. And he won’t talk numbers. We’re in a quiet period.”

“Ah, that makes things more difficult.” (Fuck, I can’t believe it).

“And the timings have changed. He’s only got three slots.”

“Oh, OK” (Thank fuck)

“08:30, 11:45 (but only until 12:00) and 17:30.”

“Right. That doesn’t give us much leeway.” (You bitch)

“And it’s the 14th. So you’ve got an extra two days to get it lined up.”

“That’ll probably mean that Computer Weekly can’t make it.” (I hate this job)

“I was thinking, we could probably tweak his job title to head of strategy.”

Well, FT freelancer was remarkedly cool about it. Breakfast briefings! They love ’em. Shame Jason Stamper is at band practice (thought that was normally Thursdays?) but Information Age seems keen.

Jesus Christ, how many more times is she going to call? Humm, there’s a desperation in her voice.

“There’s no customer meetings set up. Bloody Darren, the sales director. Still, it means you’ve now got any time slot available, which should help you secure six journalists. Ideally seven. I want him to be worked so hard, that he’ll be gasping for air by the end of the day. Anything on the 13th would be helpful too.”

You suggest an analyst might help fill the day. You’re hailed a genius. You bite your lip, knowing that’s even less likely than getting a journo. Right, who owes you a favour? Who likes lunch? Who did you give that media training job to eight months ago? Maybe there’s a blogger you could call.

“Oh, and it has to be at our office.”

“Your London office?” (That piece of shit Regus office)

“He’s not going into London. Terrorist threat.”

“Oh. The Slough office then?” (Slough)

Right FT freelancer on 13th. STP Magazine first thing, Computer Weekly phone call, RedMonk, What to buy for business, freelancer for IT Pro, Windows on Finance and CRN. Bloody Information Age said no.

Jesus that was painful. Wasted Sunday doing the briefing doc. Still, should get some nice pieces.

“You’ll never guess what? He’s not coming. I don’t know, makes you laugh doesn’t it? Should be over in September though, so we can do it then. Thanks for sending the briefing doc. It’s got the old logo on it, why’s that? Oh, and did you chase FST on the SOA feature? We really should be in that….”
Taste of medicine....

Octane, a division of Lewis, was holding a "BT Experience" today in Covent Garden.

A notable journalist said he'd go but, at the last minute, something came up, and he couldn’t attend.

BT waited in for him, until lunch time, but he didn't turn up. Now a new appointment is being arranged.

Maybe it was Octane that got the BT Experience….
Sounds good to me...oh no, sorry, it doesn't...

Seen PR Darlings? A couple of people have brought it to our attention...one who said:

"Flyers were being given out at some talk that I was at the other day by a 9ft tall man who whispered conspiratorially to me ‘you in PR?’ then passed me the flyer like it was a fake passport in a POW camp."

Sounds like our sort of thing. But then on visiting the site it very much sounds not like our kind of thing. Here's the spiel:

"PR Darlings is where business meets pleasure. It isn’t about career networking. There are loads of places online and offline where you can do that. It’s about being able to socialise with people with whom you already have much in common. People in public relations are known to be creative, intelligent, on the pulse, attractive and most of all, fun.

"Why wouldn’t you want to hang out with them?

"PR Darlings is about making new friends, learning about people’s lives outside of work, going for a kick about, not taking your job so seriously, telling funny stories, laughing, banter and expanding your circle."

Not exactly sure I like the sound of expanding my circle...reminds me of my time doing porridge. I could have misunderstood, of course, but the next line makes me think otherwise:

"PR Darlings encourages you to put tongues in cheeks – yours, and if you fancy, someone else’s."

Honestly, that's what it says.

I dunno, might be just what the industry is looking for. You check it out and make your own minds up...and let us know, won't you?
Party girl, party boy and serial non-joiners...

...which one are you?

We're all of them...and proud of it.

But who came up with these odd little descriptions for various members of the PR industry? Only Colin Farrington, Director General of the CIPR. He did it in a speech he gave a few days ago at a PR conference in Vilnius, Lithuania (because, my friends, foreigners can join the CIPR...oh yes, their money's as good as yours). You can read the full speech here and it's worth it...for reasons that I'll come onto.

Farrington's irritated. I know the feeling. He's particularly cross about what he calls the "serial non-joiners" - the people who simply refuse to sign up to his little organisation and fail to add hundreds of pounds a year to his coffers. Well, you can understand it can't you? Trips to Vilnius don't pay for themselves. This is actually what he said:

"I have to confess such people irritate me. Some are just mavericks. Others however are in a position of influence and are role models for the young. They should know better. They should recognise the key role professional societies have in developing our profession and hence their business."

Naughty non-joiners.

He didn't stop there though...there are more people that clearly get his goat:

"At the other end of the spectrum are those who are basically publicists or party girls and boys who work in press release factories who do describe themselves as ‘PR people’ but with whom we would want no relationship – other than to educate them to know better."

Oh I see...the CIPR doesn't want anything to do with you...though if you'd like to sign-up to one of its pricey education workshops or seminars, it'll gladly take your money. He then attempts to close the sale by using an analogy about, well, closing a sale:

"...time is running out on those who believe they can construct a career in public relations without formal qualifications and training. To use the auctioneer’s language before he brings the gavel down one last time: ‘take note; due warning; last chance’. Get qualifications, get CIPR membership – or within 10 to 15 years you will struggle to hold down a good PR job, still less a PR career."

So get your hand in your pockets or you'll never work in this industry again (or ever...).

Farrington's whole speech is a great example of the self-serving nature of the CIPR and, let's face it, most business organisations. Of course, the party line is that the more members the CIPR has, the more credible it becomes and therefore the more credible the PR industry becomes...it's the same with the CIPR diplomas, workshops and seminars. We've all got our views on whether the CIPR does move the industry forward...you know ours; I'm happy to accept that people have a different opinion.

You can also have a read of the CIPR's annual accounts on its website. The 2006 accounts were due on the 11th April but haven't appeared as yet so the 2005 ones are the latest you can look at. They're worth a look...I particularly like the stuff from page 14-16, basically showing where the CIPR's income comes from and where the money gets spent. You can clearly see the most profitable activities for the CIPR. For instance, the cost of its awards in 2005 was a touch more than £92,000, but the income the awards generated was £245,000. Makes tickets for the dinner seem a shade pricey, doesn't it..? Other activities have similarly impressive margins.

Standout comparison for me, though, was income from membership subscriptions in comparison to the CIPR's salary costs. They're almost identical...almost. In 2005, the CIPR generated £1,008,722 from membership subscriptions. Its own wages, salaries and national insurance contributions cost it £60,000 more than that, at £1,066,581. Nice to know where your money's going though, isn't it….
Phillips: “Let’s make things better”

Three years after Edelman purchased JCPR, the inevitable CEO jousting match came to its conclusion yesterday as Stuart Smith’s reign as CEO at Edelman UK came to a swift end.

After a gradual coming together of the two organisations, it was decided that the “two separate P&Ls created an arbitrary division” and it was Stuart that was pushed onto his pen. In his place Robert Phillips, JCPR’s co-founder, takes over as CEO of the consolidated P&L.

It’s a move that would draw sympathy from Jose Mourinho (and David Brain, president & CEO, Edelman Europe). Over the last three years, under Smith, Edelman has almost doubled in size. Only Weightwatchers’ “Slimmer of the Year” could expect a similar fate for such growth.

Over the same time period JCPR has grown by 40 per cent, which is far from shabby, but you can’t help but to feel sorry for Smith – at least until you consider his doubtlessly large golden handshake and a track record that’ll see him straight into another top job.

With both businesses moving into one building within the next 12 months, perhaps it was felt that Phillips is best qualified to make sure that JCPR’s sparkle isn’t diminished by Edelman’s larger and far more sober B2B focus.

We don’t think for a second that Robert Phillips actually said “let’s make things better,” because – clearly – matching similar growth figures is going to be bloody difficult. We also don’t think he said it because quoting an old advertising strapline from a Dutch conglomerate with a similar sounding name to your own surname would be a little bit frivolous.

As for what this means in tech PR world, well, you’d imagine that Edelman/JCPR will probably get a few more consumer tech accounts to sit alongside X-Box, Creative, Motorola and the like....

23 April 2007

I liked their first album, but they sold out….

News reaches us that Millets has sold out of Eurohike rucksacks, which can mean only one thing.

Those with pallid complexion and rising inflection are off on a well-earned 12 month round-the-world trip to recover from three years of burning a hole in their parents’ savings. A 2:2 from a second rate former-Polytechnic doesn’t come cheap these days, even when you can only drink a half pint of weak cider before puking.

But the poor unfortunates that didn’t have to surgically remove a silver spoon from their mouth before smoking their first joint, on the other hand, will have to forgo the pleasure of irritating the locals in Indonesian. Debts, and a wardrobe that would feel at home in Sue Ryder, means they will have to get a job and it’ll probably be a rude awakening.

Aside from having to be somewhere by 9:00 in the morning, the biggest shock is likely to be the horrible realisation that their degree is little more than an unconfident tap at the door of employment. Being widely regarded as a pain in the arse that’s going to need training is usually a bit of a surprise as well.

Although TWL is as utterly ambivalent towards fresh graduates as anyone else, it is quite an intimidating transition from the left-leaning Thespian environment of tertiary education to the high-pressured for-profit-only mindset of office life. So, for those that are considering a career in PR, TWL offers a couple of pointers:

1. PR is long-hours, hard work and very pressurised
2. With that in mind, salaries feel lower than they should be
3. But it’s a challenging, fun, young industry and rewarding in many different ways

Without a bit of nepotism, fresh graduates are likely to start their PR career in an agency.
Those early years scar you for life, so keep your fingers crossed you end up somewhere at least half-reasonable.

The big agencies break you in gently, provide a more structured environment and some decent training. There are also lots of other PR people to learn from, so at least some of them should be good (they will be the really busy ones that still make time for you - those that are just really busy are bullshiters, and those that spend lots of time with you because they have nothing else to do simply aren’t very good). The large agencies are better at the strategy side of PR and have clients you’ve heard of. But if they talk too much about client relationships, the agency probably isn’t very good at getting results.

Big agencies also molly-coddle their clients, so don’t expect to do anything too important for a while. And be careful about getting pigeon-holed as a general office junior, otherwise you’ll still be on £20K in three years.

If you like a sink or swim environment, small agencies (5-15 people) will give you fantastic levels of responsibilities and – if it’s a good one – put lots of effort into on-the-job training. You’ll be sharper at selling-in stories and media relations, but you’ll rarely get a chance to do any proper strategy or planning and you’ll have a jumble of two-bit clients that expect the Earth for their £7.40 a month retainer.

Mid-size agencies, as you might guess, are a mix of the two. Try to make sure you join one that has the best of both worlds (good strategy, strong media relations and decent clients), as a mis-mash of all the worst bits will have you changing career before Christmas.

Ultimately, of course, you probably won’t have a choice. Just getting a job is tricky enough so don’t be too precious. You’re only in your early 20s, you won’t get to retire until you’re 70. You’ve got plenty of time to carve out a career. Truth is, it’s only work and it’s not really that exciting. In fact, are you sure you can’t scrape together some cash and go round the world for a year….

20 April 2007

An open letter 2.0...

The PR leprechaun himself, Tom Murphy, urges us all to read an open letter from US PR agency owner Geri Denterlein (a name which sounds to us like some sort of oral hygeine product) to her clients, past, present and future. Murphy's request comes at the end of a little (and entirely justified) rant about how so-called PR blogs are nothing of the sort...they're blog blogs, full of rubbish about the newest Web 2.0 widget. It's rather like picking up a copy of your favourite PR magazine (should you have one) and finding an article about the latest printing technology...or how best to attach address labels to thin sellophane wrappers. Not very interesting.

Anyway, back to Denterlein's letter. Murphy's right, it should be read. Thing is, it'll be read by the wrong people. Clients won't see it...instead, it'll be read by PR people who'll nod so violently that another £300 pair of sunglasses will crash to the floor.

The only thing you can do is take your balls in the one hand and email a link to your clients with the other. But that won't work either. Because it's too long. It stretches to two whole pages online and nobody's going to read that.

So, ever helpful as we are, TWL has prepared a version designed for these attention deficit disorder driven days. We feel that we've captured the essence of Denterlein's letter in a time-saving format. Here you go - feel free to distribute widely:

Dear clients,

I know my stuff. I know why you want to do PR. What you need to understand is that we’re unlikely to generate you any coverage because you’re unlikely to have anything newsworthy to say, or have the bollocks to say it. On the off-chance we do manage to convince a journalist to write a small piece about your sad little company, you need to go crazy and shower us with platitudes and money. It’s worth more than any piece of advertising you can buy. And because we’re unlikely to generate any coverage, why don’t you pay us to do some other stuff too?


Like it? What's that..? Still too long..?

Stick this in your Twitter and smoke it:

Let’s not make each other’s lives more shit than they already are. I’ll do my best, fail gallantly and fall on my sword to make you look good. Don’t break my balls too much.
Something we said..?

You'll have noticed PRWeak's efforts to drag itself into the 21st Century, particularly on its website. It's doing little videos now in addition to its podcasts, though it does feel a bit like your granny buying an iPod...OK, so the technology's up to date, but it's still full of rubbish music.

It also has a featured blog each and every week. The first one (I think) was David Brain from Edelman. That's fair enough...he's a big important bloke. More recently (and rather more oddly) it featured Leeds Met Uni student Rajiv Harjai's effort. I suppose PRWeak is keen to show the full spectrum of PR blogs out there.

Without wishing to get above ourselves, we have been wondering why little old TWL hasn't yet been featured...given that PRWeak itself has previously named us as the most influential PR blog in the world (well, nearly...). Do you think we've upset them in some way?

We're not bitter though. Well we are, obviously, but not specifically about that.

This week's featured blog is from the professional PR career ladder jumper Davies. This is how PRWeak describes its choice:

"We chose this blog because it backs up the argument: to be successful in PR you need to be educated in PR and then trained in the fine art of spin by the masters of spin.

"Furthermore, it points the finger towards the online prowess shown by the likes of Edelman, a PR outfit who is pioneering the online space with their global network of online specialists, and Frank PR, who are dedicated to the art of effective and insightful online communication."

Christ, who writes this stuff? Did he do it himself? It's not marked as an advertorial, so I'm a bit confused.

And I'm sure you're as proud as I am to be a participant in "the fine art of spin". Have you seen a "master of spin" anywhere? Is he that little green fella with the sticky-out ears and comb-over wearing a dressing gown muttering, "try? there is no try...there is either do, or do not"?

Or is that Davies himself?

I dunno...it's all gone a bit mental. I mean, reading his blog, I see that young Davies has been invited to speak at a crisis communications conference. The boy's only been working in PR for nine months..! The biggest crisis he has to deal with is working out the controls on the coffee machine in whichever PR company he's starting at this week.

To be fair though, he does say in his blog post, "No clues to what I’ll be talking about"...though I do think he could drop the "s" of "clues" and it'd make a little more sense...

17 April 2007

Bugger the PR degree, blog your way to the top...

The recent furore over whether having a PR degree is any use whatsoever (here, here, here, here...) is obviously a complete distraction from the truly modern way to climb the PR career ladder (or rather the PR career "one of those little round stools the shop asisstants use to reach the top shelves in Superdrug"). Nowadays you've got to blog to make it big in this game.

The latest of the UK PR bloggers to use his position as a member of the recognised A-list (hey? list) to secure himself a huge payrise and a seat behind a desk in Britain's leading city, is newly-hitched Simon Collister, moving, as he is, to self-positioned authority on all things 2.0, Edelman Public Relations.

Presumably this move was part of a pre-nup agreement that Collister arranged with his new wife..."OK love, I'll make an honest woman of you but only if we can move out of this godforsaken backwater..."

So Edelman has filled the chasm...OK, we might be stretching things there...left in its Interactive Solutions team by the recently-departed Stephen Davies, self-proclaimed PR Blogger and another clever young thing who used his online mutterings to secure a route out of the north...from university to Edelman and onto Frank PR inside a year (it must almost be time for another move, hey Stephen..?)

Collister and Davies are both following the trail blazed by the daddy of all blogger careerists, Mayfield, but who's next, we wonder..? Bruce made his bid for freedom at the start of the year...though it has come to n'owt, we presume...and the likes of Byrne, Waddington and Smith are clearly comfortable where they are. Millington, perhaps? Westcott? Hopkins..?

Shall we start a book..?

16 April 2007

Share offer...closed..!

If you haven't already emailed us to register your interest in the TWL share offer, you're too late.

TWL competition: The art of the doodle...

In the post-industrial revolution professional working environment, has there ever been an activity better designed to encourage workplace doodle artists than the conference call? I can't think of one.

You're tied to your desk, pen in hand, clean sheet of paper in front of you and, essentially, a whole hour free with little more to say or do than tap in a participant's pin number, mention your name and press the # sign a couple of times. Aside from "Conference call, April 16th" your notebook is unlikey to carry any further words, leaving acres of space for doodling while you half listen to some VP of Communications droning on.

Doodles truly are the art of the office. Are you geometric or floral..? Lines and arrows or circles and twirls..? I'm something of a mixture, as you can see here...but what does it all mean..? OK, so I'm no Hugh Macleod...though to be honest, given his recent moves, that might simply be because it doesn't contain the phrase, "Microsoft...wow, we really are the best. Fuck you."

Anyway, next time you execute a particularly striking effort, scan it in and email it to us. The best one will receive some sort of prize. Maybe a Spirograph.

We might even do an exhibition. Probably in Second Life...(joke).

13 April 2007

The story starts...over to you...

So, as someone suggested in the comments on our BCS short story competition post below, we really should do a chain story and TWL should kick it off...and here it is! We've done just over 200 words here so we only need another nine people to do the same, come up with a suitable nom-de-plume, enter, win and then work out how to split £250-worth of computer equipment between us...

We think it fits the bill. It's got technology in it, at least...suggest how things should develop in the comments, if you will...

South-West-West Kensington, London

Leia lay back, sated. She flicked her Double Penetronic 350X to stand-by…hang the fucking expense, she thought, I’ve just had three hours of rough sex with a machine and I’m not worrying about saving the planet now. We’re all fucked anyway. Ha, ha, funny. She was fucked (literally) and we were all fucked (figuratively). Never mind what Uber-President Gore said; the carbon footprint had well and truly stamped all over the human race. All we could do now…at least those that could afford it…was indulge in life’s hedonistic pleasures and try not to bring any more sorry little blighters into this screwed-up world. Which is one of the many reasons why the Double Penetronic 350X was such a huge success. Well, that, Leia reflected, and the fact that she’d been running its PR campaign for the past three years. The softly hissing, dripping machine now reclined in the corner of her studio pod was one of the perks of the job…sure, it was an ex-review machine but Leia didn’t give a shit where it had been before, as long as it worked when she wanted. Rolling over, she commanded her retina display to pull up The World’s Leading… the only thing worth reading these fucking days…

12 April 2007

The story what I wrote….

You leave university determined to write an iconic novel, adapt it for the big screen and direct the quirky British hit film. But you need some cash to live off during its creation and, 10 years later, you’re in your third agency and there’s more than 20 years left until you pay off your two-bed flat in Clapham.

Thankfully, help is at hand. Forget the novel, literary fame can be yours for just 2000 words by entering the British Computer Society’s short-story competition to celebrate its 50th anniversary. No, really.

Before you rush off to create your masterpiece, there are some criteria. Of particular note:

1. The story must “have a plot involving information technology,” which means you’ll have to resist the temptation to plug your clients.

2. “Authors must not be professional writers, ie not have earned money from their work in the past two years.” Which means you’ll be competing against the majority of the UK’s freelance technology journalists.

3. Your efforts are restricted to “one entry only per author.” Although “nom-de-plumes” are accepted, so you’re limited to as many names as you can think of.

In the news release David Clarke, BCS chief executive, explains the hardest part of all. "The stories must have a plot involving information technology, either in the past, present or in years to come.”

So, stories set in a fourth paradigm of time of which we are as yet unaware are not allowed. Phew, good job he pointed that out.

The judging panel includes Jasper Fforde (sci-fi writer), Chris Green (wi-fi writer), Brian Runciman (paperback writer) and Claire Davenport (cucumber raita). Deadline is 29th June 2007.

Whilst we wouldn’t even contemplate attending the BCS annual dinner, there is something that really appeals to us about this competition.

Tech PRs are meant to know technology. Tech PRs are meant to be creative. TWL may enter. Perhaps you should too.

Or maybe 20 of us should write 100 words each….
Yeah? You wanna piece of us..? Come on then...

You might have noticed that it's been a bit quiet round here of late. There's a good reason. We've been working on what's become known round these parts as ...The TWL Business Plan...

Without giving too much away, ...The TWL Business Plan... is essentially this: More! Bigger! Better!

Without boring you with the minutiae of big business, expansion is on the cards, dear friends...and expansion needs funding. Which is why we're inviting you to register your interest in the inaugural TWL share offering. Yes, thats right, we're offering you the opportunity of purchasing a share of little old TWL. Honest.

We know how much money we're after to do the things we want, and we know how many shareholders we want to have...so doing the sums means that if you fancy it, you'll be in for about £50. It won't buy you much of TWL, granted, but you'll be in early doors...

If you're interested, all we need is an email address to which we can send the offer when it's firmed up. You don't even have to give us a name (and if that means that one smartarse sets up 300 Hotmail addresses and ends up buying a big chunk, then so be it). Send your email to theworldsleading@yahoo.co.uk - we give you our word that we'll only use the email in relation to the share offer.

Buy, buy, buy...bye bye.
Big pie finger….

Perhaps one of the most irrelevant news release headlines ever came out this week from CBL Data Recovery:


Distributed in the UK by The Message Machine (can’t find a website, even tried Ask), the news release then goes on to make no further reference to 11 O’CLOCK. What's the relevance..? Is it that at 10.45 you're feeling relaxed about your sensitive data..? Don't you give a shit by 11.30..?

We’re not even sure if it’s an 11:00am cup-of-tea-and-a-biscuit “where’s my sensitive data” muse or an 11:00pm just-downing-an-eighth-Stella “where’s my sensitive data, it called me a fucking poof...but I love it, I really do, it's my best data” slur.

Answers on a shredded postcard….

11 April 2007

Look at my wad….

As much as we love technology PR, the main reason for working is to get paid. After all, Cath Kidston lampshades don’t buy themselves.

Now, of course, everyone is eager to make sure they are paid the going rate. Indeed some particularly unappealing types like to ensure they get paid more than they are actually worth.

The PR Weak Salary Survey has always provided the green-eyed with a salary benchmark. Worthy as it is, it has always been a bit generic as it doesn’t allow for the pay differentials within specific sectors of PR.

For the record, technology PR is generally regarded as the third best paid sector – behind financial and healthcare (especially ethical), but above corporate and B2B (including public affairs, CSR etc). Consumer and charity PR are the least well paid (the differential being made up by seeing the occasional D-list celebrity).

So, without much fanfare at all, welcome to the launch of the TWL Tech PR Salary Survey.

Saving the fuss and bother of questionnaires, TWL asked two reputable recruitment companies (yes, there are some) for their view of technology PR salary rates. Many thanks to Indigo Red (who paid for TWL’s drinks bash last year) and PRJS. Both companies do a lot of tech PR recruitment, so know what they are talking about. We averaged the two sets of figures and, behold, have created what is probably the most accurate UK tech PR salary index.

The salary bands are quite wide as the same job titles span from the smallest to the largest PR companies. Generally the larger agencies demand more experience and pay a higher salary, but there are always exceptions (particularly if a small agency is highly specialised). The salaries are based on London wages, so if you live in the North, knock about 68% off and talk about your short commute.

That’s enough caveats, check your worth and demand a meeting with your line manager if you think you might be able to wangle an extra couple of grand.

Junior account executive
Experience: Little to none
Salary: £16-21K
Most likely to: Create coverage boards and reports

Account executive
Experience: 6-18 months
Salary: £20-24K
Most likely to: Do ring rounds

Senior account executive
Experience: 18 months-2.5 years
Salary: £24-28K
Most likely to: Moan a lot

Account manager
Experience: 2-4.5 years
Salary: £27-38K
Most likely to: Struggle to delegate

Senior account manager
Experience: 4-5 years
Salary: £34-43K
Most likely to: Learn how to use PowerPoint

Account director
Experience: 4.5-7 years
Salary: £39-53K
Most likely to: Say ‘leverage’

Associate director
Experience: 7-10 years
Salary: £50-73K
Most likely to: Not know any journalists

Board director (generic)
Experience: 10+ years
Salary: £65-90K
Most likely to: Be a complete cock

Board director (top 10 agency)
Experience: 10+ years
Salary: £75-150K
Most likely to: Work from home

Managing director
Experience: 13+ years
Salary: £95-170K
Most likely to: Be loved or hated

And finally, remember that any tech journos reading this now know what you’re paid….

05 April 2007

Don't Ask the question, you might not like the answer...

A couple of times recently my eye has been caught by ads for the Information Revolution. You may have seen them...they're designed as guerilla-style posters for a campaign or movement...you know, all black marker pen raised fists and loud hailers...but clearly being positioned on proper poster sites immediately makes them stand out as having commercial backing. One of the posters I saw called for an end to the information monopoly, the other (more obviously hinting at their source) highlighted the fact that the vast majority of people use just one search engine to find stuff on the internet.

I managed to remember the URL from the poster (which is unusual for me) and visited the site earlier today. I figured that I'd be able to dig around and somewhere find out who was behind the campaign...but actually it was very easy, as the Ask logo is featured on the homepage. It kinda struck me that they've bottled it a bit...I actually do think that it's a decent enough issue to raise in people's minds...but Ask was obviously a bit worried about the criticism that might come its way if it tried to hide its identity too much, and therefore made its involvement very obvious.

The problem is, of course, that by doing that the campaign loses its effectiveness. When you realise that the site is being driven by another search engine, then you question the motives (or, more likely, understand the true motives). After all, Ask's commercial objective, presumably, is to steal lots of search share from Google...in fact, it'd love to have the information monopoly itself.

For me, though, the campaign truly shoots itself in the foot with the main feature on the homepage; the opportunity to test four of the most-used search engines. I decided to do just that and, oddly enough, chose "the world's leading blog" as my search term.

So, how did they all get one? Well, on Google we came up as the first and second results...which I'll take any day of the week, thanks very much. On Yahoo! we were second - which is OK too - but on both Ask and MSN (sorry, Live Search) we didn't pop up on the first page...or the second...and, frankly, I didn't bother going any further than that because nobody else will.

So unfortunately, Ask's no doubt expensive advertising campaign has simply demonstated that there are at least two search engines that I'd use before Ask...and, to be honest, I only need one.

04 April 2007

Hot Cross Bunnies….

TWL’s in-box bulged with thorny emails highlighting the Somerfield/Brando fiasco.

Great to see PRs are still able to cock-up horrendously without having to get all 2.0 about it. The toe-curling embarrassment is all the worse as the poor Easter bunny concerned, Hayley Booth, was frozen in the media headlights.

A devoted disciple tried to avert Hayley’s crucifixion by racing onto The Times comment section and claiming the controversy was all a jolly clever PR jape designed to maximise coverage.

TWL is agnostic on this, unless Somerfield’s brief ran along the lines of: “Make us – and the agency – look incompetent and foolish.”

Rather than popping to the toilets for a quick Pilate-esque washing of his hands, Somerfield PR Pete Williams bravely stepped up to the plate and told the BBC: “It's a mistake. We hold up our hands to that." And then presumably kicked himself for not saying: “Hayley’s not the account lead, she's a very naughty girl.”

Funny enough the news release (any version of it) doesn’t appear on either the Somerfield or Brando websites. Nor is it one of the ‘live case studies’ on the Brando site. To be fair, it’s probably been a long day.

When the story was sent out yesterday it only created a small amount of average. Today the amount of coverage went up considerably. On the third day, we reckon it’ll rise again….

03 April 2007

The TWL Files….

Need to garner some information on Computer Weekly’s new editor?

James Garner was born on April 7, 1928, in Norman, Oklahoma. A Purple Heart recipient for being wounded in action during the Korea War, Garner began his show business career with a non-speaking role in the Broadway play The Caine Mutiny Court Martial (1954).

After costarring in several films in 1956, Garner landed the role of Bret Maverick on the popular TV Western series Maverick (1957), where he remained until 1960. Through the 1960s, Garner made several successful films, including The Thrill of it All (1963), Move Over, Darling (1963), The Americanization of Emily (1964), and Grand Prix (1966), before returning to television with the series Nichols in 1971.

In 1974, Garner played private investigator Jim Rockford on the successful television drama The Rockford Files, for which he was nominated for the Outstanding Lead Actor Emmy in 1976 and won in 1977. In a failed attempt to re-establish his film career, Garner starred in a number of forgettable films, including Health (1979) and Tank (1983). However, his effervescent performance opposite Sally Field in Murphy's Romance (1985) earned Garner a Best Actor Oscar nomination.

During the late 1980s and early 1990s, Garner offered commendable performances in the powerful TV movies Promise (1986); My Name is Bill W (1989), which documented the founding of Alcoholics Anonymous; and Barbarians at the Gate (1993). In 1994, Garner reprised the role of Jim Rockford for a series of highly acclaimed television features. Later that same year he played Zane Cooper in the modern day film version of Maverick, which starred Mel Gibson in the title role.

Garner voiced the character of God in the short-lived NBC animated series God, the Devil and Bob and played a recurring role on the CBS medical drama Chicago Hope. He also returned to film in 2002 with the role of a loving, if co-dependent, father and husband in the box-office hit Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood.

Most recently, James was managing editor of Caterer and Hotelkeeper. In a surprise career change, James Garner joined Computer Weekly as editor in April 2007.....
I'm not even sure they've got IPRA correct...

To continue our PR industry association bashing, we've just discovered that if you Google IPRA this is what you get:

"IPRA is the Internatiopnal Public Relatins Association - a membership organisation for PR professionals."

Porfessionals?! Pah..!
But it's OK, 'cause I've got a PhD in piss-taking...

If you're a regular viewer, you'll already know that TWL has a less-than-favourable view of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (see here and here, for example). We're not entirely sure why...it just seems like a bit of a stuffy old institution that is struggling to remain relevant.

This week's fuel to our fire is a letter in PRWeak from Mark Ramsdale, head of education policy at the CIPR. From what we can ascertain, the CIPR's education policy seems to be: "If you haven't got a degree in PR, you shouldn't be in the industry."

Under the headline, "PR degrees should be a recruitment must" which, admittedly, we don't know whether was penned by Ramsdale or PRWeak's editorial staff, he writes: "PR is a strategic business function and requires a skills set that non-PR degrees simply do not provide."

Not only do I think that this entirely ignores the excellent training and skills programmes in place at many of the UK's PR consultancies, I also don't think it's true! For me, qualities that are vital in succeeding in PR include a decent level of intelligence, a willingness to learn, an ability to write, a proactive approach, a dash of confidence and some half-decent presentation skills...all of which can be gained in degrees covering many different subjects and, indeed, through experience outside higher educational establishments...like it can for other important roles.

For instance, some might say that being a CEO is a fairly "strategic business function" but I don't see the Chartered Institute of Chief Executives calling for a policy of degrees in Chief Executing being essential for new recruits...

Ramsdale goes on to state that, "The CIPR approves degree courses based on their ability to equip students with the necessary training to operate as effective PR professionals." That's fine - I have no problem with PR degrees per se - but to say that only those people that have been through a CIPR approved degree should find employment in the industry is elitist and arrogant.

How many superb PR practitioners would have been lost to the industry had such a policy become entrenched decades ago? Indeed, the only reason that UK universities have been able to create PR degrees (and to have them full to bursting and generating lots of lovely tuition fees) is because people without PR degrees built an industry! And now we're told that those very same people haven't got the requisite skills...(as you might have guessed, I lack a degree in PR...)

I ask you, I really do.