Exposed here, as reported in the Guardian and surrounding the decision of Neal’s Yard Remedies’ (NYR) PR team not to engage in an online discussion and debate, having previously committed to it.

PRs doing U-turns? Nightmare.

As a business contact of mine once said…If you’re doing what you say you will, when you say you will do it, and on the agreed budget, you’re already doing better than 80% of businesses in the UK…how those words ring true around this U-turn today.

After all, if NYR are claiming their green credentials as a major selling point, the PRs there should answer questions from consumers around these claims. Excellent points were made on the subject by both Max Clifford and Mark Borkowski.

It is always easier to defend a strong, solid position than attempt to re-negotiate a stumbling, lost point with the Press.

Funny how it works.

There’s me, having a few conversations over recent weeks with the owner of my local curry house about the power of getting online and gaining increased exposure through social media tools such as blogging, facebook, twitter ad infinitum.

Having popped in tonight for a weekly treat, as I order the culinary delights found at Bristol’s very finest Mango Tree, I spy the owner’s laptop underneath the counter…and he’s setting up a group on Facebook. Result!

Looks like he’s ditching the traditional and expensive routes of regional newspaper and magazine advertising, too, in favour of a more digitally-based approach – which, given the fact that the excellent indian restaurant gains much of its growing trade via word-of-mouth – only adds to the benefits his business will undoubtedly gain by utilising social media techniques in coming weeks.

Maybe I should pitch for a free weekly Balti, too?!

Look to this day…

May 25, 2009

I posted this at the start of 2009, as we were entering the uncertainty of global recession and economic depression. A friend had emailed it to me over the Christmas holidays.

Having reviewed it, I thought it would be relevant to re-visit the words. It ties in with PR, as I think all truly effective PR is in the moment, calling upon the very best responses to the News agendas of the day. Observation and reportage without spin. Perfect.

Is your PR as pure and undiluted as this?

‘Look to this day,

For it is life,

The very life of life.

In its brief course lies all

The realities and verities of existence,

The bliss of growth,

The splendour of action,

The glory of power –

For yesterday is but a dream,

And tomorrow is only a vision,

But today, well lived,

Makes every yesterday a dream

of happiness

And every tomorrow a vision of hope.

Look well, therefore, to this day.’

– Kalidasa, Indian poet & playwright, Fourth century A.D.

…at least, according to this comment.

A thought-provoking post from Adam Tinworth on his excellent blog which highlights the old-school thinking of some journalists who may believe they are entitled to an audience, by right of their position of relative editorial power in the media maze.

Not so, of course, and with the advent of social media and citizen journalism, combined with a significant cut in the numbers of trained journalists conducting newsgathering activities, it has fallen upon contemporary audiences to take their news where they can find it. That and the fact that news consumers want information more rapidly now, and in a way which suits them, not the out-dated production and distribution models favoured by the larger newspaper and magazine publishers.

Good PRs also know that the way they deliver their client news to the Press has to change – and rapidly. What’s next?

Even with the depressed state of the Nation, we still need, want and demand News. And the Media still needs to be supplied with excellent content and images to feed their readerships. So how can you guarantee you’re hitting the headlines? Try these tips:

1. Get inside your business and uncover newsworthy stories. Don’t make stuff up, or create spin. Uncover the people news.

2. Make sure you get your content professionally written and supplied to the Media with professional images taken by a professional photographer – note the word ‘professional’ in there? that’s because you need to give a professional representation of your business to the Press. saving money and cutting corners sends out the wrong messages to your target Press.

3. Research your target newspapers, magazines and online sites throughly – you need to know who is writing what, where and when before you try to sell them your PR. Anything less is nothing short of media relations suicide.

4. Be persistent – you may well need to contact, re-contact and re-re-contact before you get the result you’re after.

5. Respect deadlines – always, always, always ask a journalist if they are on deadline BEFORE you launch into a pitch.

6. Give them whay they want, and within the hour. Trust is built with the Press by delivering the goods on deadline.

Even if you maintain the above Tips only, you’ll go a long way to building great media relationships. Try it!

It appears that the upturn in the economy has not been noted by the PR team which produced this clanger, as pointed out by the excellent Guardian’s Media Monkey this week. Another poorly-constructed, unimaginative spin on the recession angle. Yawn.

Is your PR as lazy as this? If you’re still riding the economic downturn wave, it is likely that you’re going to have switched off the Press before you even click ‘send’ so do yourself – and the Media – a favour, and get creative with your press releases…

Nothing irritates editors more than a lazy, dubious piece of PR spin, such as a ‘survey’ which highlights nothing more than the lack of editorial talent in a PR team’s weekly brainstorming session.

Coming from a newsroom background, I was always of the understanding that a good PR creates and delivers new angles, exclusive information, and real value to my readerships – not dross. Ok, so this is a rant, but a recession-angled ‘Britons turn to curry to beat the economic blues’ is just so wrong!

Please, please, please make sure you create imaginative, exciting and original press releases for your target Media.

Many PR Agencies have been advocating blogging to their clients over the last 18 months – since they realised it was something they had to propose, whilst not necessarily understanding the real deal with setting up a blog – and although it is encouraging to see members of the UK PR community seeming to embrace the blogosphere, take note!

Before you embark upon setting up a blog, or are advised by your hip, trendy and oh sooo tweeting PR Agency to set up a corporate blog to drive traffic to you online and increase sales, consider these Top 10 Questions:

1. Do you have a blogging strategy in place, and does it align itself with your overall Comms plan for the year?

2. Who will update the blog content weekly?

3. Who will monitor the stats, trackbacks and site reports?

4. Are you comfortable with being challenged by other bloggers?

5. Do you actually have something to say, on an ongoing basis?

6. Does blogging align itself with the services and products you offer?

7. Have you checked out competitors’ blogs and researched?

8. Why do you want to blog – is there a specific set of reasons, other than you think you should?

9. Are you able to integrate blogging with other activities such as e-shots, tweeting and database PR?

10. Which platform are you using and who will organise the technical elements for you?

If you can answer the above with clarity, confidence and consistency, it’s likely that blogging will probably be an excellent addition to your Comms and PR mix. If you’re shaky on more than 3 of these questions, seek professional assistance today!

According to this report from the Guardian, its happened and we can thank Queensland Tourism Board for it.

It’s a great stunt, and generating more than – allegedly – $50 million in publicity is undeniably impressive. But, to be fair, those figures came from the PRs delivering the stunt.

More importantly, what sales will the stunt deliver? Clients demand more than like-for-like ROI these days…maybe I am just a cynical Hack at heart, but my journalistic training fails to let me be impressed with the various claims of many PR Agencies.

Products selling out from effective PR, that’s what makes the majority of Clients buzz in my experience. Well, mostly…

Reading this story today regarding the rise and rise of Apple, largely through their iPhone sales, got me thinking about the power of differentiators and innovation as drivers for effective PR, irrespective of the economic climate.

Think about what you do, sell, offer or whatever, which is different to your competitors. Do you provide anything, via services, products or consultancy,  which is different, unique, exciting? Yes? Good, harness it and promote it ruthlessly.

Look at the results for Apple: 3.79 million iPhones sold to date across 81 countries. Customers love the experience of using an iPhone. It is unique, fun, different, exciting and rewarding.

Do you offer this experience? If you don’t, why not? It all comes back to people buying into the experience.

Ask yourself this potentially-difficult question: how would you define the experience of doing business with you? Can you define it? Are you happy with it? Do you provide added-value, uniquely over-and-above that of your competitors?

Testimonials count! Look at these examples: they talk about the experience of doing business, not just the positive results also gained. The message here? Before you PR your business, discover the ‘iPhone differentiator’ and use it.