Kutcher to Play Steve Jobs in Biopic

2 04 2012

If you are casting a biopic and you can find a high profile actor that looks  remarkably like the subject of the film then you have a great PR story from the off.  It’s even better when the subject of the film is perhaps the most iconic figure in a generation.

I had never considered it before but the resemblance between actor Ashton Kutcher and Apple founder Steve Jobs is really quite uncanny.  Kutcher at 34 is only three years older than Jobs was at the career defining moment when he was ousted from Apple for the first time.

Two films about Jobs are in planning, and this one needs a boost as the other is based on based on Walter Isaacson’s bestselling biography of the Apple founder, backed by Sony with Aaron Sorkin (The West Wing and The Social Network) rumoured to be the screenwriter.  Not much is known about this version other than it will follow Jobs  from “wayward hippie” to Apple co-founder “where he became one of the most revered creative entrepreneurs of our time”.  It will have a  screenplay by Matt Whiteley and is slated to shoot from May.

One obvious challenge will be maintaining the likeness as Jobs ages and succumbs to ill health, which prompted a dramatic weight loss over the last few years of his life.  That said, many actors, including Tom Hanks, Matt Damon, Christian Bale, Natalie Portman and 50 Cent have lost substantial amounts of weight where the screen role has demanded it.

Prime the Pump or it Tends to Run Dry

30 03 2012

old petrol pump

The current UK public panic at the petrol pumps started me thinking about the certain similarities with social media.  Before you decide that’s a stretch  bear with me

Some years ago when I took my first look at analytics I was shocked to discover there was no ‘long tail’ when it came to traffic stats.  When you  post on a blog or add something to a social network site the impact usually last for a very short time, it’s quite normal for 90% of hits to be in the first 24 hours.   That basically means that if you want to engage through social media you need to do it regularly and preferably on a daily basis.  Pioneer PR blogger Richard Edelman knew it with his daily ‘6AM’ blog.  The founders of BEBO knew it (Blog Early Blog Often).

There are some exceptions, traffic from search tends to increase over time, but it’s no substitute for new content, and without new content your page rank will decline.  Social networks, where the content is ephemeral, are on course to drive more traffic than search: for a few days if February Facebook drove more visits to The Guardian than Google did.

The message is simple – if you wanted to fuel traffic you have to make sure that sure that you are providing new content all the time, if you don’t your visitors will fill up somewhere else.

Is Jonathan Franzen a PR Genius?

16 02 2012

I’m a relative latecomer to Jonathan Franzen, but something has struck me about the latest incumbent of the office of ‘great American novelist’.  Either by instinct or design he knows how to grab a headline.

In 2001, his novel ‘The Corrections’ was chosen for Oprah Winfrey’s book club. Franzen initially agreed.  Then came a volte face when on national radio he said he believed the Oprah logo on the cover would dissuade men from reading the book. Franzen’s invitation to appear on Oprah’s show was withdrawn and major media attention ensued.  ‘The Corrections’   became one of the decade’s best-selling works.

When the author’s next major work appeared almost a decade later the novel ‘Freedom’ was subject to highly unusual “recall” in the UK.  An earlier draft, to which Franzen had made over 200 …er ‘corrections’, had been published by mistake.  Thousands of books were pulped and thousands of column inches written.

Recently when Franzen appeared at the Hay Festival in Cartegena he condemned the e-book reader, prompting another avalanche of press copy.   Jonathan Franken is without doubt a brilliant writer.  He’s also a brilliant publicist.



Daily Mail and Sky News Fail

3 10 2011

One of the promises of the social web was that we would get news as it happens, live from the scene of the action. Anyone with a phone and a twitter account can break news. The fact that non-journalists might screw up on the facts is balanced by trusted news brands; news organisations with a heritage in conventional media, who might be later to the punch, but will get the facts straight.

Sadly it isn’t turning out quite like that. With a really big news story, like the outcome of the Amanda Knox appeal, the critical factor is to be first. Why? Because Google likes it. I have first hand experience because as a lowly blogger I posted about Stephen Fry getting stuck in a lift, whilst he was still stuck (I saw him tweet about it). More than two years on my post is No.2 on Google for “Stephen Fry Lift” just behind the Telegraph and ahead of the Mail.

Tonight it looks suspiciously like both Sky News and the Mail in order to get out there first published the news before it actually happened. Both organisations were so sure what the outcome of the Knox appeal would be, that they pressed publish before they had confirmation.  It’s a risky play.  The audience won’t stay trusting for ever.

Abercombie and their PR Situation

18 08 2011

A clothing brand pays a celebrity NOT to wear their clothes.  It made the New York Times.  Surely that’s PR genius.

Abercrombie & Fitch Chief Executive Mike Jeffries set the story ablaze during a conference call with financial analysts when he asked “is no one going to ask about The Situation?”.  Thus prompted to pose the question, the analysts were told “last Friday … someone came up and said, ‘Mike, I have terrible, terrible news.  Last night on ‘Jersey Shore’ The Situation had A&F product on.”

For the uninitiated ‘The Situation’ is a “star” (in a Warhol sense) of faux reality US TV ratings phenomenon ‘Jersey Shore’.

A&F decided to pay the cast not to wear their product, Jeffries said.  We can deduce that the cast are not A&F’s target demographic.  “We’re having a lot of fun with it” Jeffries added.  He may as well have just said “it’s a stunt”.  What on the face of it is generating a lot of media mileage maybe be bad for the brand.

In the first instance generally most customers don’t like having the wool pulled.  Secondly what A&F has actually done is created a powerful association between their brand and ‘Jersey Shore’.  The 9% drop in the company’s share price may be as much to do with the CEO saying in the same briefing “into 2012, it is clear that we are entering a period of greater uncertainty”.  It could equally that what seemed to be a clever PR ploy was actually his Ratner moment.



Murdoch and the News agenda

7 07 2011

The shock closure of the ‘News of the World’ might be seen as a major PR offensive designed to bring the debate on the phone hacking scandal to a close but it could well be an opportunity for Murdoch junior to kill several birds with a single stone.

Those that think that twitter is one of the birds in question would be guilty of an oversimplification.

The closure certainly seizes the news agenda at least for a time.  It changes the direction of the media storm and perhaps is intended to give Rebekah Brooks some breathing space but dig a little deeper and there’s another angle.

It was reported well before the latest storm broke that the were management mergers at the top of the Times and the Sunday Times but also at The Sun and the News of the World.  Rebekah Brooks was on record saying “We will take a comprehensive look at where there is common ground across our titles …where there is common ground we will find ways of implementing efficiencies to editorial systems and processes and, where appropriate, we will find ways of introducing seven day working.”

Tellingly the web addresses sunonsunday.co.uk and .com were both registered two days ago by a UK individual using the name Mediaspring and who opted to have their address omitted from the registration.  Would it be too cynical to imagine that Murdoch has used the situation to cut costs at Wapping and retain an integrated Sunday red top tabloid using the Sun brand?

Longest ReTweet Gap Hits 5 Years

21 03 2011

The longest gap between a tweet being tweeted and then retweeted will shortly pass the five year mark, when someone sometime after 9.50pm PST will RT the first ever tweet from Jack Dorsey, or @jack,  Twitter Chairman and author of “just setting up my twttr”.  You saw right; in its early iteration twitter lacked vowels, and also sported a very natty logo IMHO. Most of the first tweets all said the same thing as they were automated tweets issued as the launch team all got their accounts up and running.

The very observant will note that the URL for the tweet is http://twitter.com/#!/jack/status/20 suggesting that there were 19 earlier tweets but as it appear that the @jack account was the first it’s more likely the URLs were used in testing.  The first real human generated tweet also from @Jack was “inviting coworkers”.

The first person to swear on Twitter was Head of Operations Jeremy LaTrasse who about 15 minutes after the first tweet was posted added “Oh shit I just twittered a little”.

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