Wise Words For PROs


I have abridged Lord Chadlington’s recent speech (June 15, 2004) to the Guild of Public Relations Practioners. In his speech Chadlington outlined the following rules:

– Everything is possible. Everything good and everything bad! Most things are uncontrollable – particularly in our business. Events will always upset the best – laid plans. In that context, rule one, is to be positive. That does not mean you have to be a joke-cracking comic when the world is collapsing around you. Nor do you have to be Polyanna! It means that you must face bad news, full frontal: face reality as it is. Do not hide. The solution to problems is not pretending they are not there. The answer often lies in the analysis of the problem itself. Dissect it. Do not shy away. Be positive. Above all else, be positive by grasping and taking responsibility. Do not allow yourself to be sidelined. Make yourself and your skills the driver that makes things happen by being accountable and responsible

– Never give up. Ours is a very difficult profession. We tend to be – despite the public image – remarkably sensitive, creative people. And were it not so – then we would be no good at our jobs! The result is that we are more hurt by the unpredictability of events, by the buffeting of clients and journalists, than we care to admit. Being resilient, robust, bouncing back – these are all the essentials of success

– Read. Yes read – and I do not mean the papers! For an industry that wishes to be regarded with esteem, our practitioners often seem very ill informed. If we aspire to be more than what we are, then we must stay ahead of what is going on in the world, in industry, in the arts, in politics, in literature. An evening reading Trollope is certainly a more constructive way of advancing your understanding of human nature than almost anything else

– Think. Reading and thinking go together. I have never met a PR professional who thinks too much! Learning to think is the most difficult part of education. Clients do not want the same solutions you gave to the last client – except the name has been changed. They want you to solve their particular problems. Think. Close the door for a few hours and think. Blackberries, emails, mobile phones and the like are the enemies of this process. What did Russell say? “ When all others options have failed, man is thrown back to the painful necessity of thought”

– Be much more questioning.Very often we are so keen to hear the good news: so encouraged that our client has good financial results to put out: so delighted by the client relationship we are developing – that we just do not want to upset the apple cart. Interrogate the clients. Argue with them. Make sure that they are running businesses in a way that enhance your reputations as advocates. What is the Washington quote? “Associate yourself with men of good quality if you esteem your own reputation, for ‘tis better to be alone than in bad company”.

– Never mix business and pleasure. It is much more difficult to be objective, ask difficult questions, be independent, if your clients step over that line into friendship. Neither can you judge the performance of a colleague if that line between civility and friendship is crossed – and it is even more difficult if your families know each other socially as well! I agree with most of the rules, his never do business with friends statement I think needs to be more flexible, some of my best friends are former colleagues and they are the kind of people that I would trust with my PR programme. I would modify it to be cognisant of the effect your friendship may have on business and be professional about it.

– Pay well. Get the best people on board. Have clients pay well too. If your clients pay you top dollar then you can give them the best people you have and you have the time to think about their problems. The best work I have ever done is where the client has been generous in his fees. I have made money and the client has either saved it – or made it – many times over!

– Honesty is vital. Not just about the big things but the little things too. Best practice is so important. Every tiny deviation from being whiter than white undermines your credibility – not because you are found out – but because you are more likely to bend the rules next time

– Always manage expectations. Exceeding expectations by the tiniest margin is viewed as a great success. Failing by the tiniest smidgeon is always – what it is – failure! What is Maurice Saatchi’s famous equation? Satisfaction = performance – expectation.

– It is the small things that matter: the research you do for a meeting, the care you take, even the way you dress – all these things build up a cumulative effect and determine how your client or your boss view your performance.

I would add the following:

– Banish the word never, absolute blinkered thinking doesn’t have any place in PR. Keep things in prospective

– Contingency plan – at least think about what ifs and try to reduce risk of catastrophic failure

– Never leave home without business cards, every social or business meeting is a prospect

– Make like a union – get organised. Most people have a circle of contacts including work of about 150 people. With PR its is much wider (I’m up to 3,500+), together with juggling diaries, keeping track of prospects, doing client work and managing a multi-client work balance thing. My mentor Kirsty swore by lists and Excel spreadsheet workplans. I am a great believer in the Palm PDA, iCalender, iSync, critical path analysis and the use of project managment software (I recommend Intellisync Project Desktop). Archive business cards as they are a great visual cue to jog the memory even when you have gone electronic

– If you have more bad days than good days in a three month period, fix the situation, if you can’t change the people around you, change the people around you by resigning and go to a better role

Don’t Call Us We’ll Call You


New regulations come into effect on the 25th June 2004 in the UK that will allow businesses to opt out of receiving unsolicited sales calls by registering with the Telephone Preference Service (TPS).

– Registration takes 28 days to take effect. From the 25th June it will be an offence to make an unsolicited cold call to any number on the TPS list.

– In the case of sub-contracted cold calling, the legal liability for ensuring no calls are made to numbers listed lies with the Client.

– Another legal requirement under the legislation is that all businesses must hold a “do not call” list of telephone numbers of people who have contacted you directly and asked that you do not cold call them, even though they may not have registered with the TPS. They are legally required to hold this list and we will need a copy of this “do not call” list.

– At present, approximately 20 per cent of the companies called do not put sales calls through, either blocking calls or routing to voicemail.

– DMA press release (Word document)

– TPS website

Lollabamboozled


US music festival Lollapalooza has a similar standing in the UK to Glastonbury or the Mean Fiddler events. It is best known to UK audiences for appearing in at least one Simpsons episode (where Cypress Hill jam with a symphony orchestra). Due the reaganomic policies of the Bush administration it will not be going ahead this year.

The organisers wrote on their website “A MESSAGE FROM PERRY

To all my Fellow Artisans, Activists, and Feverish Supporters,

It is with heart gripped despair that I inform you of Lollapalooza’s disbandment for the summer of 2004. To say that you terribly miss something that never was born is somewhat odd, yet in this case, it is quite accurate.

I hope you can accept my apologies for not providing you with the summer that you had your hearts set on. I tried very hard to keep us on course; heading straight into the most ferocious musical storm in history. We were not able to continue; we were taking on huge financial losses.

And still, I want you to know that I fought for our lives into the final hour.

Please know that I value your talents and look forward to meeting you again – a little later on to re-discover ourselves as friends. If it makes you feel any better, I am in the same boat as most of you; “Only loaded with talent.” But with talent like ours, they can’t hold us down for long.

Upon reflection, I conclude there is a story here. It is the story of a musical community under the influence. No, silly, it’s not drugs. This is an influence far more damaging and threatening, as in: “They are threatening to sue us for damages.” My prayer is that we live to fight another day and walk together at the victory parade.

We hoped for comfort but we’ve never felt too safe. And in these hard times, we’ve had to navigate through. Unexhausted; is our virtue,

Peretz

PS. I am still looking for a shining moment or two for us this summer. I hope you will receive me when I call.

LOLLAPALOOZA, 2004 CANCELS ALL DATES

“You can imagine the dismay I share at this moment with the artists and musicians who were looking forward to the tour. Lollapalooza could no longer see fit to continue this year. Our plight is a true indication of the general health of the touring industry and it is across musical genres. Unexhausted is our virtue. We are taking Lollapalooza back and plan on rebuilding and recreating the festival in surroundings more conducive to the cultural experience we’ve become known for.”

– Perry Farrell”

Moore Film Dials 911


A posting on Interesting-People.org. US adverts for Moore’s movie Fahrenheit 9/11 could be stopped from July 30 if the Federal Election Commission (FEC) accepts the legal advice of its lawyers.

At the same time, a Republican-allied 527 soft-money group is preparing to file a complaint against Moores film with the FEC for violating campaign-finance law.

The FEC’s have been advised that political documentary filmmakers may not air television or radio ads referring to federal candidates within 30 days of a primary election or 60 days of a general election.

The opinion is generated under the new McCain-Feingold campaign-finance law, which prohibits corporate-funded ads that identify a federal candidate before a primary or general election.

This could also affect promotion of a number of other upcoming political documentaries and films, such as Uncovered: The Whole Truth About the Iraq War, which opens in August, The Corporation, about democratic institutions being subsumed by the corporate agenda, or

Silver City, a recently finished film by John Sayles that criticizes the Bush administration, The Hunting of the President, which investigates whether Bill Clinton was the victim of a vast conspiracy, could be subject to regulations if it mentions Bush or members of Congress in its ads.

Since the FEC considers the Republican presidential convention scheduled to begin Aug. 30 a national political primary in which Bush is a candidate, Moore and other politically oriented filmmakers could not air any ad mentioning Bush after July 30.

Big Issue Orbital Obituary


I picked up the latest issue of the Big Issue and they have an interview with Orbital on their last ever album and gig. Its funny, its amusing, its also the passing of an era. However, the brothers have indicated that they will be working on different projects in the future.

There is also a review of The Return , which I saw last night courtesy of a free ticket from the nice people at Popbitch good rite-of-passage movie for the art house brigade.

And finally, a rare interview with Joel Coen of the Coen Brothers film making dynasty about The Ladykillers.

Njoi! :-)

Tech Sector Not Coming Out To Play


We now have a generation who are happy to type their own business letters, manage their own diary, develop their own scenario planning and accept IT as an essential part of a business as electricity, heating and stationery.

IT no longer matters, its a utility.

Value isn’t being driven into the business by automation and business process engineering like 20 years previously, projects are still failing 70 per cent of the time and for most companies IT is not providing a competitive edge vis-a-vis their competitors. So companies are looking to cut their bills in line with standard procurement procedures:

– buy only what you need

– at the cheapest price (there are many ways to define this such as total cost of ownership)

– get it done overseas if its cheaper

Because of this enterprise IT companies are struggling to achieve high organic growth figures and they’re rejecting the old ways of doing things. One of the old ways to bite the dust is the Comdex ‘Fall’ exhibition in Las Vegas. For a week Vegas became the IT mecca.

Expect a downturn in the sectors involved in trade show give-aways such as mousemats,

t-shirt printing and coffee mugs.

Glass Shards


I was loaned a DVD copy of Shattered Glass by my workmate Jonny last week. This film tells the story of Stephen Glass a disgraced journalist who wrote at the New Republic magazine. Glass managed to have over two dozen made up or badly researched articles appear in one of America’s most reputable magazines despite a rigorous editorial policy.

The story got me thinking about how dishonesty would play out in blogging, given its rise as a grass roots way to publication.

I posted on this at AlwaysOn (registration required). As an aside the increasing power of blogs as a media has been recognised in political circles with bloggers been given press credentials for the forthcoming Democrat Party Convention, more details here.

Oh yeah, the film is good and features Chloe Sevigny who had previous appeared in the uber-preppie American Psycho.

More Meet For the Social Networking Grinder


I received an email today from the development director of a new social and business networking site called Co-unite based in Altrincham, a town in the Cheshire ‘stockbroker’ belt between Chester and Stockport. They had apparently culled my name from existing sites that I has subscribed to.

In the mail I was offered “We will provide you with a free 12-month subscription and would just ask for you to visit the site on a regular basis after the launch, invite some of your business or social contacts along and provide us with some monthly feedback on the site performance. We can ensure you that you will be impressed with the features and functionality, and will greatly benefit from this membership.”

Little bit perturbed by the free 12-month subscription statement that implies it may get expensive afterwards unlike LinkedIn, Orkut or AlwaysOn Ziabatsu.

Some of their own words about Co-unite “This exciting new site takes a global approach to networking using a complex contact management application that identifies your connection to other Networkers. We believe it will be the most comprehensive networking site ever launched with the industry’s most advanced communication tools including Voice over IP.” So the project is buzzword compliant for any vulture capitalist with some pennies burning a hole in their pocket.

The sites launch follows the demise of some of the UK’s first generation of networking sites: BuddyNetwork and Pollen, so we’ll see how they go.

Police Not Relying On British Summer To Deter Ravers


An old clubbing pal of mine from Birkenhead Si forwarded on this interesting article in the Western Morning News. According to the article police are preparing to use the wide ranging powers of the Anti Social Behaviour Act 2003 to clamp down on unauthorised open-air gatherings, in conjunction with provisions already made by sections 63 – 67 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994. With its definition of music as an emission of a succession of repetitive beats, thus allowing unscheduled opera performances but not young peoples music.

While I can understand people’s concerns over noise I am more concerned about the right to associate, freedom of expression (by speech, music or visual media) and the two standards allowed in the law making ‘ravers’ second-class citizens.

And politicians wonder why so many voters are apathetic?

May it have something to do with:

– the persistent erosion of voters rights?

– a lack of clear differentiation between many of the social policies of both major political parties?

– legislation that no longer represents the social mores of much of the electorate?

– a collectively small amount of life experience amongst professional politicians, the significant majority of which are trained lawyers?

– a cynical political process that means that politicians go after softer targets rather than dealing with the big policing issues in the UK, such as organised crime, rise in violent crime, white collar and corporate crime?

Si also generously included a link to lots of information on free parties here, just remember its free as in speech; the parties do cost money to put on.

RAVE ON!

Counterculture Boutique


I’ve had a number of links sent to me that were too good not to share with you all. A veritable boutique of counterculture:

– Donkey Bong

JoeCartoon clogged up many networks in the late 90’s with his un-PC and puerile flash animations, creating characters like the Cheech & Chong ‘Stoned Fly’ and Gerbill. The most memorable animations like the frog in the blender and gerbil in the microwave allowed office workers to unleash the passive sadism that lies beneath us all and put the phrase Who’s ya Daddy? into popular English usage. His work has defined what a viral campaign is. He is back with another dollop of surreal weirdness and ultraviolence. More on it here.

– Graff Jewelry

No not Graffthe most fabulous jewels in the world, but graffiti enabled by the reverse setting on a diamond ring by Tobias Wong. Get caught making use of your ring to make your mark on the world by tagging car and train windows, luscious pearlescent paint work on a TVR or your boss’ computer screen. You can see Tobias’ diamond project here.

– American Public Money Spent on Vanity Corporate Film On Adult Entertainment industry

OK, we are currently pitching for a UK-based adult entertainment orientated television channel and web site, this this website designed to complement a PBS Frontline documentary on the adult entertainment industry was useful for research into the business . Seriously though, looking at this, there are some scary people out there, interesting facts – a starlet in the industry has an average career lifespan of just 12 months. Sombre, disturbing and yet compelling reading here. Glamourous like Boogie Nights it ain’t.

– Jump Up & Get Down Massive Scene!

Email text from Supercharged Records: “Click on the link below to hear an exclusive preview of all the tracks from the forthcoming Freestylers ‘Raw As F**k’ album!

Turn audio off on the front page and click on ‘album info’ and then ‘preview album’

 

http://www.thefreestylers.com/

We would also like to take this opportunity to say thank you to all of you how have purchased Push Up. Thank you!

The album is out in the UK on the 5th July, contact you local record store to pre-order a copy!”

Hudson Institute Economic Update


This was originally posted to the email list for interesting-people.org.

IRWIN M. STELZER 21 June 2004

When markets talk, politicians would do well to listen. The oil markets are doing more than mere talking — they are shouting for the attention of policymakers who seem determined not to listen.

First, we have the recent run-up in crude oil prices, which fluctuate around $40 per barrel. That rise was in part due to the fabulous growth of the U.S. and Chinese economies, which sent demand for oil soaring. But a further driver is OPEC’s manipulation of the market, creating a situation in which rising demand cannot elicit the increased supplies that would flow in a competitive market.

Lesson number one for policymakers: it is no longer prudent to ignore the OPEC cartel, or to rely on it for mercy. Trust busters have had time to worry about less important price conspiracies — the commissions charged for selling old master paintings is less likely to affect the economy than is a conspiracy to fix oil prices — but have shied away from attacking the OPEC cartel. Now would seem to be the time for the voice of the Antitrust Division to be heard above that of the State Department, ever-eager to avoid a diplomatic row with the house of Saud.

The markets are also saying something about the state of the gasoline market. The margin between crude oil prices and gasoline prices has doubled in the United States, driving refining profits up several hundred percent. Yet, refining capacity has not increased. Oil industry executives with whom I have spoken say that environmental and other permitting restrictions make it virtually impossible to build new refineries. Lesson number two for policymakers: restrictions that were appropriate when crude oil was selling for $10 per barrel and gasoline for $1 per gallon are not economically sensible at current price levels. Revise them to allow more refineries to be built.

These are important messages from the market. But not as important as the persistence of the so-called risk premium of between $5 and $10 per barrel that seems to be built into crude oil prices. Part of that premium is a response to the continued disruption of supplies from important producers. Terrorists in Iraq periodically sabotage that nation’s pipelines. Unrest and violence in Nigeria, Africa’s largest producer, make that country an unreliable source of oil. Islamic terrorism casts doubt about the reliability of supplies from Kazakhstan.

Add self-inflicted wounds by important producers. Russia, which rivals Saudi Arabia as the world’s largest producer, Vladimir Putin and his old KGB buddies have frightened foreign investors by jailing the country’s richest oil baron, Mikhail Khodorkovsky. Venezuela’s Castro-loving president, Hugo Chávez, has replaced the nation’s skilled oil industry managers with political appointees, causing a loss of 500,000 barrels per day of production from that important supplier of the low-sulfur oil most suitable for use in U.S. refineries. Iran’s mullahs have stifled the foreign investment that Iran’s oil industry so desperately needs.

But even these multiple threats to a steady flow of oil pale by comparison with developments in Saudi Arabia. The Kingdom sits on 25% of the world’s known reserves, but that figure understates its importance. The Saudis can tap their reserves for over 80 years without slowing output. And it is well known that the Saudis haven’t really attempted to explore for new reservoirs because they already know precisely where some 260 billion barrels are located. “You don’t plant potatoes when you have a cellar full of spuds,” a grizzled denizen of America’s “oil patch” once told me. Not only are the Saudis sitting on the largest known reserves, and on the cheapest, most easily discovered as-yet “unknown reserves,” they are also the only country in a position to increase production quickly should some other supplier be knocked out of action.

But Saudi Arabia is no longer the stable rock in a turbulent Middle East sea. The terrorists funded by the Saudis have turned on their benefactors, and are killing foreigners to cause a flight of oil-industry and other trained personnel. They are winning because they seem immune to capture, because many top Saudis insist that it is the Zionists, rather than Al Qaeda, that are causing the mayhem, and because hundreds of thousands of unemployed youths see no future for them so long as the royal family siphons off the nation’s wealth to support its opulent lifestyle.

Whatever the reason, it is far from certain that the corrupt geriatrics who run the country will be able to head off the threat to the Saudi industry’s ability to produce a steady flow of oil. True, the production facilities are well protected, but by troops of uncertain loyalty. And pipelines are difficult to protect, as are port facilities.

Final lesson for policymakers: prepare for the day when bin Laden and associates are in a position to topple the Saudi regime and withhold supplies of oil, causing a major economic trauma in industrialized countries and a humanitarian catastrophe in the undeveloped world. That means continuing to build strategic reserves, but much more. Alternative sources of energy for transportation uses cannot be available in the relevant time frame, if ever; places such as Alaska take a long while to develop, and anyhow don’t have enough oil to matter; renewables such as solar and wind power are not replacements for gasoline; conservation can be useful when prices rise gradually, giving consumers time to adjust to higher prices, but not when there is a price explosion.

I was asked many years ago at a gathering of government and industry experts to lay out an energy policy for America, to cope with a supply interruption. Two words: “aircraft carriers.” That remains true today. Iraq is not a war for oil. The next U.S. intervention in the Middle East may well be.

A version of this Update appeared in The Sunday Times (London)

Irwin Stelzer is a Senior Fellow and Director of Economic Policy Studies for Hudson Institute. He is also the U.S. economist and political columnist for The Sunday Times (London) and The Courier Mail (Australia), a columnist for The New York Post, and an honorary fellow of the Centre for Socio-Legal Studies for Wolfson College at Oxford University. He is the founder and former president of National Economic Research Associates and a consultant to several U.S. and United Kingdom industries on a variety of commercial and policy issues. He has a doctorate in economics from Cornell University and has taught at institutions such as Cornell, the University of Connecticut, New York University, and Nuffield College, Oxford.

George W Bush Election Campaign Site


Not….

Unskilled and Unaware of It?


Bob Cringely’s column for PBS.org, the online version of America’s undervalued public broadcasting service usually provides an unusually clear window into tech industry issues that affect us all.

This week Cringely is talking about a court case between Microsoft and Burst Networks about alleged sharp practice and intellectual property theft by Microsoft (glass houses and stones seem to spring to mind).

What was of more interest however was a link to an American Psychological Association publication: Journal of Personality and Social PsychologyUnskilled and Unaware of It: How Difficulties in Recognizing One’s Own Incompetence Lead to Inflated Self-Assessments by Justin Kruger and David Dunning Department of Psychology at Cornell University

For some strange reason reminded me of someone I knew and worked alongside, that had previously worked at Brodeur A Plus and in house at Cisco Systems, Inc.. ;-)

Oh Sh!t


Interesting article from last Friday’s Reuters tells itself as a story really. This combined with a squeeze in the oil market is not good.