Diary section (back of PR Week)

Thought you all may appreciate this from the back page of PR Week (October 1, 2004):

PR fails to impress, finds CHA research

Workplace communicatons agency CHA has commissioned research in to how proud Brits are of their workplace and their employers. Unfortunately, the results were a bit too revealing.

Out of 1,158 respondents, only two said that they would be proud to work in PR. A shocking result that PR Week, of course, immediately assumed must be a mistake.

But according tho CHA account executive Gregor Ridley it all makes perfect sense: ‘There is obviously a strong disconnection with the people who want to get into PR and the general impression people have of the industry. ‘

But what to do, eh?

UPDATE: The report in question can be found here as a PDF file.

Round the Houses

Charles Arthur, whose tale of TalkNowt featured earlier in the month is back with another PR story featuring my former agency Edelman. Some of my former colleagues are tasked with working on the 1 million GBP plus Microsoft affliction.

Amongst their tasks is to spread the following forms of disinformation:

  • LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP) bad, Windows good

  • Microsoft innovates (no seriously it does, here’s a link to its research dept)

  • Drink more Microsoft

  • Bill Gates is Blair’s friend

Anyway, Charles in his blog details how Edelman have altered a meeting with some Microsoft Borg member, a pet industry analyst and the media from a roundtable to one-on-one briefings. Edelman made two pretty big mistakes from a PR point of view:

  • Never recommend a course of action to a client without having a contingency plan

  • Never invite a neutral-to-hostile journalist. Charles is a well known user of Apple computers and writes for a left leaning, free thinking newspaper so would not necessarily be sympathetic to a monopolistic global software titan that speaks with a forked tongue

One-on-one briefings

Yes one-on-ones may agitate journalists, but their opinion will have more weight when they start paying PR people for information about clients. Bottom line is the first thing an agency PR person needs to look after is the revenue to pay their rent/mortgage and the rest of expenses to actually have a life outside work; clients and journalists are very important but still a secondary consideration.

When to use them:

  • With clients that don’t have the big draw appeal of Apple, Microsoft, IBM, BT, Oracle. Why? With smaller clients if some of your journalists don’t turn up, the spaces around the table with look like the missing teeth in a hags mouth. You never remember the teeth she had, only the gaps that were missing. If one or two drop out of one-on-one interviews it isn’t perceived as being as bad by the client. Journalists may not come for a work-related reason, may have forgotten or they may not be ar5ed as a PR person its your job to cover yourself against this eventuality

  • Some journalists think bizarrely that their questions are so special that they are likely to get a scoop that no one else would have thought of. I can tell an amusing tale of a former VNU journalist who fits into this category.

  • When you don’t have a subject that would benefit from detailed analysis; put it out as a white paper, op eds, letters to editor. Don’t compromise your client, if their ego demands that they do media outreach, do one-on-ones as corporate profile stuff or get them in front of business journalists for the more businessy aspects of your story so in this case it may be angles such as – Microsoft embracing safe open source with new Wiki tool, the issue of having ‘your innovations’ stolen by the open source community is similar to the problems that the film industry suffers from Bit Torrent users and P2P networks

Thanks to Dave Ingle for pointing this one out.

Vodafone scooped in local rag

Luton on Sunday columnist, John Ball – a self styled voice of reason and wit scooped a new Vodafone ad campaign this week. Ball wrote about seeing Tony Blackburn and a film crew shooting outside the Vodafone shop in Luton’s Arndale Centre. You can delight in Ball’s copy here.Blackburn is an old national radio DJ and national treasure in the UK. He is liked despite his naffness and has been parodied by Harry Enfield.

Oprah Product Placement Par Excellence

Pontiac teamed up with Oprah Winfrey, to give 276 people (the whole studio audience of her show) a new car in a deal worth some 7 million USD. Full details in the Chicago Tribune. Pontiac got more than its moneys worth in coverage and Oprah further enhanced her image as every American’s favourite celebrity.

Talk Nowt

Good to see that standards are as high as ever at my former employers Edelman. The Orange team there were forced to send out the following correction after a defective press release:Further to the Orange release that was sent out this morning, we wish to point out that the header for some of you read as ‘TALK NOWT’, when it should have read ‘TALK NOW’.

The extra ‘T’ appeared due to the trademark ™ sign, not being able to appear in it’s true form when using applications such as Lotus notes.


Rule one of sending out email communications to the media is doing it plain text. This reduces the size of the journalist’s email box, which is good netiquette and makes the email universally readable. Hell, I check my home email account on my Nokia phone when I am on the move.


Its a good job that this mistake was not done on the one million GBP plus Microsoft account that Edelman currently holds. The bit I cannot believe is that after they messed up, they had the gall to blame the whole lot on the journalists email application; rather than being an adult about it. I guess its the same lame logic that has Microsoft calling viruses such as Blaster that affect only the Windows platform ‘internet’ viruses.

It makes me wonder who are the ‘specialists’ heading up the technology practice and where have the smarts gone?


Incidentially browsing the Edelman website on my Mac using both Safari and Mozilla Firefox brings up the following warning:


“This site has been optimized for all browsers and platforms other than Netscape 6.x on Mac OS. For the best user experience please use Netscape Navigator 4.x or 7.x or Microsoft Internet Explorer 4.0 or later.”


Maximum kudos to Independent technology scribe Charles Arthur (you can read his blog entry here).