BBC Radio 4 The Media Show – Rentokil

17 03 2010

I’ll be appearing on The Media Show today at 1.30pm on BBC Radio 4.  It’s a discussion involving Ben Goldacre who has condemned Rentokil’s PR in the light of a story about bugs and public transport that they put out last week. 

I will be defending the PR industry in general and talking about how social media is making the world a better and more transparent place and how PR people will need to sharpen their game. 

I will also point the finger at certain sectors of the media, the journalists who have an unholy alliance with the likes of Max Clifford and who are complicit in reporting inaccurate stories.





All the Buzz of a Google Press Launch

9 02 2010

The press conference has changing.  It has become a form of ‘event marketing’ and it is no longer restricted to selected journalists (and bloggers).  They have to be invited of course otherwise it wouldn’t be a press conference but they are no longer the exclusive channel for the launch message.  We can all attend the launch.

This change has already taken place in the technology sector with two major examples in the past week.  Apple, who have mastered the craft of the press conference event, launched the iPad, and today Google launched its new killer social networking application Google Buzz.

For me what was extraordinary about the launch of Buzz was that this morning I didn’t know it was about to happen.  I picked up the buzz around ‘Buzz’ on twitter.  I saw that the press conference was going to be channelled live on YouTube so I joined Jeremiah Owyang and the select few who were actually there and tuned in.  I realised immediately that Buzz would be big so I ‘live blogged’ over at PR Media Blog whilst the conference was still on, screen grabbed an image from the YouTube feed and posted my take a couple of minutes before the conference ended.

I subsequently discovered via @scobliezer that meant I had broken the embargo that the journalists attending had signed up to.  Surely, they broke their own embargo?





The Sun Won’t Win it

30 09 2009

File:It's The Sun Wot Won It.jpgThe Murdoch owned tabloid came out last night in favour of the Cameron led Conservative party.  It did so whilst trumpeting the claim that it always picks the winner in the UK general election.

There was more than a nod to the headline “It’s The Sun Wot Won It” printed after the 1992 vote when they backed John Major. In the confident proclamations of George Pascoe-Watson, the paper’s political editor, do we detect the hint of a suggestion that Britain’s biggest daily dose of dead wood and ink actually decides the outcome of the poll?

There is no question that Gordon Brown’s popularity is at the lowest of ebbs but there is plenty of evidence around the social networks that the Sun’s decision has actually brought people out in support of Gordon.  National papers simply do not carry the same political influence when the ordinary voter can cry ‘foul’ and then publish their own views.  With the opinion polls so solidly predicting a Conservative coup, Murdoch and his red top flagship might even be accused of bandwagon jumping.

We also now live in an era where the people talk back and are far less likely than ever before to be told by the media how to vote.  Labour’s chances don’t look good but The Sun may have given the divided activists something to rally around.  Former prime minister Harold Wilson said “a week is a long time in politics” and there are still quite a few weeks to go.





Trusting the Telegraph

9 09 2009

TelegraphThere is a lot of debate about ‘old media’ versus new.  I prefer to think of conventional media as ‘trusted media’ rather than old media.  It doesn’t however help the case for the trusted media when they get their facts so spectacularly wrong that it questions the whole notion of journalistic enquiry.  The waters are made even more murky when the story is about new media technology.

A piece appeared on the Telegraph website yesterday that announced that “Debenhams has become the first retailer in Britain to use Twitter, the social networking website.”  What were they thinking? Did they entirely miss the Habitat scandal when they used trending topics (like Iraq elections) to try to sell lampshades? It  goes on, this “is a significant change for Twitter as its primary use until now has simply been as a source of gossip and blogging”.  What twaddle.

I am a proponent of PR but what comes next is pure puffery “Rather than finding out the latest celebrity tittle-tattle we’re going to use Twitter to provide customers with instant customer service, ” said Debenhams spokesman Ed Watson. “Our Megaday sale on Wednesday (September 9) is one of the busiest times, so using Twitter in this way will be the equivalent of having a dedicated shop assistant with you for the entire time you are in our store”.  This is baffling beyond belief and it shows a basic misunderstanding of how twitter works and what proportion of the public are actively using it.

It wouldn’t have been hard for the Telegraph to check its facts as there are quite a few retailers in the UK using twitter many of them very well; Asda, The Conran Shop, Dixons, Littlewoods, Tie Warehouse, Waterstones, need I go on?





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.





North West Media and Marketing

10 07 2009

‘How Do’ serves the media industry in the North West of England, offering news, opinion and resources for those working in all aspects of media in the region.  This week they asked me to be the guest editor for their weekly news round up the How Do Weekly Wrap.  Click here if you’d like a look.





Politics and the Social Web

26 05 2009

In the words of Dan Rather the US veteran TV news anchor “Candidates do hate, genuinely hate, audience participation, because they like to control the environment,” When faced with the idea that voters will ask them questions via a YouTube video, he says, and “they get the shivers.”

 The long-term effects of using generated content and other aspects of the social web on our political systems will be fascinating to observe.  There is no walk of life where messages have been more tightly controlled than in the political arena.  As brands and corporate bodies begin to learn that they are operating in world where the customer talks back, politicians will come to learn that they need to do far more than pay lip service to their promises of listening to and respecting the opinions of their electorate.   

 The level of scrutiny that they will face will continue to increase and there will be greater availability of physical records in terms of audio visual recordings of what they do and what they say.  These records will be searchable and will exist for very long time making politicians ever more accountable for their promises.








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