Observer Closure Just The Start

4 08 2009

We should have seen the writing on the wall when the fish and chip shops started to close and more still when they abandoned yesterday’s paper in favour of plain wrapping.   Yesterday the Guardian Media Group (GMG) admitted that it might close The Observer in an attempt to reduce debts, which are approaching £90 million.

The review of the Guardian’s products is being by led by editor in chief Alan Rusbridger with a decison planned to be taken by the autumn.  It is difficult to see how the paper can continue when much of the editorial team has already been integrated with the Guardian and management have already intimated that it may go.

The existence of Trusts (GMG is owned by the Scott Trust) and proprietors that are prepared to shore up losses mean that a rationalisation of the UKs national newspapers is well overdue.  We have seen the process start with pressure on regional titles and with the big circulation city titles in the States.   I always believed that the Sunday People would be the first to go and that no-one would really notice.  Whilst we have seen short lived nationals like Today and The European close The Observer has been around since 1791 and its demise would be unprecedented.  It looks now like it may be the first major national newspaper to close.  It won’t be the last.

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This Week’s Best of the Blogs #2

19 06 2009

1. PR MEDIA BLOG – Will Twitter Do the Business?

Upfront PRMB is the Staniforth blog, where I work, but this is a guest post from Phil Jones, the Sales and Marketing Director at Brother (not a client).  It is a really excellent take on the benefits of microblogging to businesses.  It is the first of a two-parter, with the second published today.

2. GODDAMIT I’M MAD – Becoming a Man

Sister Wolf has been mad for a long time…and she’s getting madder.  This is a piece prompted by Chastity Bono’s plan to have a sex change.  The web can be a weird and wonderful place.

3. TED BLOG – Q&A with Clay Shirky on Twitter and Iran

TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design. It began as a conference in 1984 and the brand has grown to cover a range of activities. The NYU professor Clay Shirky reveals how mobiles, the social web, Facebook and Twitter have changed the rules of the game in Iran.

4. ReadWriteWeb – Twitter Censoring Trending Topics

When the crowd decides to talk dirty it seems that twitter doesn’t want us to know.

5 Guardian.co.uk – Investigate Your MPs Expenses

Another piece of crowd sourcing. with the sheer volume of paperwork the Guardian has opened up the 700,000 documents of MPs’ expenses so the the public can identify individual claims, or expenses they think merit further investigation. You can even work through your own MP’s claims for the past four years.





It’s April Fool You Twit(ter)

1 04 2009

poisson1April Fools Day has always provided a license to the media to print and broadcast outlandish and far fetched tales.  This year more than ever social media has followed in the footsteps of its conventional cousin. Heres are some of the best. Please use the comments section to add your own and if you are wondering about the fish …ask the French.

Youtube’s ‘Country Filter’ has resulted in UK viewers getting Australian settings all videos they view, resulting in inversion of clips and text.

GMail has introduced an autoresponder that reads and responds to your e-mail so you don’t have to.  The problems kick in when two parties both turn it on “two Gmail accounts can happily converse with each other for up to three messages each. Beyond that, our experiments have shown a significant decline in the quality ranking of Autopilot’s responses.”

 @shengri_la: i changed my birthday on FB to april 1st just to mess with people. and also to see who actually knows my bday.

Labour MP Tom Harris backs a blogging counter terrorism bill “from April 2010, every British blogger will have to submit each post for official approval”.

The Guardian will publish its content exclusively on twitter consigning the print editions to the footnotes of history.   The Guardian and Twitter will also launch Gutter, a service designed to “filter noteworthy liberal opinion from the cacophony of Twitter updates”. 

….Oh and the entire internet is being rebooted.

Press F13 on your keyboard to access a complete list of today’s social web April Fools pranks.





Advice to Hacks from a Flack

6 02 2009

Ever wondered why PR people are sometimes called flacks?  No, me neither but come to think of it I’ve dodged some in my time as a PR person and too often from journalists.  

This post was inspired partly by a really interesting piece from the Guardian’s technology editor Charles Arthur and partly as a result of a dare from fellow PR person Megan Codling  (some of us can be quite wary of the press….seriously).  Charles’s post was the first time I have ever seen a  journalist acknowledge the fact that we are advocates for our clients and paymasters.  We are in thrall to the media too but the relationship should be mutually beneficial.  So, swallowing hard, here are a few tips for the fourth estate: 

  • Don’t let fly when you get a call from a PR person about a story you are not interested in.  Politely and firmly let them know.  They may well be lacking in experience and sometimes even judgement but they have summoned up the courage to call you and they’ve probably been polite.
  • When you get something you don’t want by e-mail (or DM) click delete and chill.  Don’t get annoyed because there is an attachment or the story isn’t up your street.  We strive to send you what you want but we don’t always get it right and often we are under pressure too. 
  • Resist the urge to take us down a peg or three.  Most PR people have a great deal of respect for who you are and what you do (and sometimes a well developed sense of inferiority).  It tends to evaporate when you turn up the heat.
  • Believe it or not we counsel clients on what they should release to the media.  We have to develop a keen news sense and we work hard to dissuade clients from issuing non-news
  • Work with us, we can be a very useful resource, we will endeavour to respond swifly with words,  images or a good interviewee.  We really don’t expect you to use what we give you verbatim.  We know the value of your endorsement and we strive for it but we don’t expect it.

Let me know what you think, whichever side of the fence that you sit on.  Let’s have a heated debate.








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