What's in a byline?

Ahhhhh! My son, Frank, has got his first byline. He's doing his work experience at the moment - if you don't live in the UK, it's a bit like US interns or slavery. But he's really enjoying it as he want to be a journalist. He's 15 and I have tried to persuade him that journalism might not be the best profession (I did it for 15 years and loved it and then I had a family to feed) but he is determined and in the time-honoured tradition he believes his Dad is an idiot - thank God. He's a good judge of character. By the way, he's working at Spong.

French politics gets in the groove

Care of the Guardian comes this:
In his youth, he played air guitar to the Johnny Hallyday but the once square Nicolas Sarkozy, remember Les Web?, has reinvented himself as a moon-walking, jive-talking disco fiend courtesy of a popular website, discosarko.
The site, which was launched in December, has attracted about 4,000 hits a day as people click on options such as KC and the Sunshine Band's Shake Your Booty to laugh as a computer-generated Sarkozy delivers a performance somewhere between John Travolta and Mr Bean.
But the mocking site is in fact part of an effort by Mr Sarkozy's marketeers to make him seem in touch with the times. It is also a tool for collecting the contact details of potential supporters.
Arnaud Dassier, whose company manages part of Mr Sarkozy's cyber campaign, said the candidate himself gave the green light for his disco alter ego, after asking his wife Cecilia what she thought of it.
A spokeswoman from Mr Sarkozy's office said although the site was run by young "sarkonautes" who supported the candidate, it was "not at all being run by Mr Sarkozy's campaign headquarters".
Now call me an old cynic – but will David Cameron start doing this too? Or Tony Blair? Please nominate your candidates now…


Our verdict on the CIPR social media code

Below you can find GREEN's response to the lacklustre social media consultation produced by the CIPRFor those of you involved with the CIPR, the document has also been adopted as the official response by the Yorkshire and Lincolnshire Regional Group.
The big quesitons now are: who has contributed to the consultatio (we have only seen one other PR blogger post his thoughts) and what will the CIPR do with these responses? I wait with baited breath!

GREEN Communication's response to the CIPR's social media guidelines consultation.

Before addressing the specific questions raised by the Social Media guidelines GREEN would like to give its views on the document as a whole.
GREEN believes that the document adds little to the needs of UK PR practitioners currently using or planning to use social media tools.
Firstly, the document addresses social media practices almost solely in relation to the CIPR's existing member Code of Conduct. This risks implying that social media ought to be considered separately from traditional media relations when in reality it is simply another tactic available to practitioners.
Secondly, the document attempts to reconcile social media, a rapidly growing and ground-breaking set of tools, with traditional roles and organisational cultures. Rather it would be better to educate practitioners about the way social media is changing the media and PR landscape.
If the document is to be valid beyond the next six months the CIPR must embrace the changes in society and societal values being brought about by social media and not attempt to contain them within its traditional comfort zone.
However, this point of view is understandable given that the majority of the CIPR's membership represents practitioners who are probably not using social media regularly.GREEN's response to specific consultation questions:

Question 1: Do you agree that this Formal Advisory (as and when amended) is a sufficient statement or should there be more far-reaching changes to the CIPR Code of Conduct itself to reflect the emergence of social media?
GREEN believes that this Formal Advisory is insufficient in that it aims to be a static documentation of how social media impinges on the CIPR's Code of Conduct rather than address the way social media and the internet are changing the society and its values and in turn the way PR practitioners engage with society.Accepting this sea-change in societal values and behaviour may well result in a review of the CIPR's Code of Conduct to reflect the emergence of social media.

Question 2: Do you believe this guidance for employers goes far enough, or should the CIPR issue more detailed advice?
The CIPR's advice for employers is basically sound but not comprehensive enough. Again, however, it seems to be implying that social media needs to be considered as separate from – rather than part of - other PR tactics. For instance, the issues suggested for use in a company social media policy equally apply to other areas of public relations.

Question 3: Do you believe employers should be producing a social media policy as standard?
Employers should not need a separate social media policy for the reasons explained above.
Employers must take account of the ways in which social media is affecting or has the potential to affect their brand, reputation and operations. Given the growth of social media and social networks it is imperative the CIPR can provide comprehensive guidance to members on devising social media policies. As already outlined the guidelines contained in the CIPR’s proposed Social Media Guidelines Consultation are basic but need to be more comprehensive.

Question 4: Do you agree with this advice or do you believe that employees should be prohibited from making any mention of their employer in personal blogs?
This question above all demonstrates exactly how little the CIPR understands social media. This is a preposterous idea and entirely unenforceable. As its name suggests, social media is a range of online media tools that are used by society. Likewise, social media content is created by individuals; it is essentially a series of networks 'owned' and used by society. Controversially it is fragmenting 'established' traditional media outlets both off and online. As a result, the following questions need to be addressed by the CIPR:
1. How exactly would the CIPR propose "prohibiting" employees from making mention of their employer?
2. If the CIPR decided to lobby Government to prohibit employees from mentioning their employer does it think this would be viewed favourably?
3. Does the CIPR understand the idea that linking personal blog content with professional blog or website content - intentionally or otherwise – represents the sea-change that underpins the need for a review of the CIPR's Code of Conduct to adopt to a shift in societal values?

The correct response to that fact that this linking can, and does, happen is not to stop it happening, but for organisations to adopt to the new media and its impact.

Question 5: Do you believe that astroturfing is contrary to the Code's requirement of integrity?
As stated earlier the proposed Social Media Guidelines wrongly seeks to duplicate the CIPR's existing Code of Conduct for what is essentially a specific PR tactic. Astroturfing is not an activity unique to social media. All off and online astroturfing breaches the integrity of a PR practitioner and therefore breaches the current CIPR Code of Conduct.

Question 6: Do you believe the principles of the Code of Conduct cover astrotrufing already, or is more detailed advice necessary?
As astroturfing is not a new phenomenon, the CIPR Code of Conduct should already deal with the problem adequately. If more detail is required then the question should be opened up to all members.

Question 7: Do you agree that such pitches require up-front disclosure of the initiator's role and the nature of the pitch?
From a best practice perspective all practitioners pitching to bloggers should disclose their role and nature of the pitch – as all practitioners pitching to traditional forms of media should.
Where blogging differs from traditional media is that many of the world's 60m bloggers are individuals that blog for personal satisfaction. These people are not media institutions and may not wish to be contacted by PR practitioners. The CIPR should place emphasis on this situation and encourage UK practitioners to check carefully before contacting, as they would with journalists.

Question 8: Should such ghosting be prohibited?
Ethically, ghosting should be prohibited for social media as well as traditional media. This would ensure that all PR material, from blog posts through to CEO press release quotations are fully transparent. Again the question is: prohibited by whom?

Question 9: Where such ghosting occurs, should this be made clear on the blog?
GREEN would always advise clients that having a clear policy is a prerequisite for any blog. This would detail any relevant disclosures including the possibility of ghosting, although GREEN would recommend that if clients are to blog successfully they must communicate in an authentic voice and avoid corporate platitudes.

Question 10: Is there any fundamental difference between ghosting print articles and ghosting online material?
There is no fundamental difference at all.

Question 11: Is it ethical for PR practitioners to be contributing to wikis in a professional capacity?
Yes. As long as PR practitioners contribute to wikis in a way that does not compromise guidelines governing either their professional behaviour or wiki contributors. Examples of these guidelines include the CIPR Code of Conduct or Wikipedia’s policy on editing entries which, as this social media paper reminds us, "emphasises that entries must be neutral in tone, factual and verifiable." Is it not more ethical that PR practitioners contribute in a professional manner where they must adhere to set guidelines as opposed to contributing in a non-professional manner – ie. off-the-record?

Question 12: If it is ethical, should there be detailed guidance for doing so, and should such guidance be produced by the CIPR or by the online community itself?
There is already guidance in place as demonstrated in the previous answer. The CIPR has sound guidance on the professional behaviour of PR practitioners and eg. Wikipedia has guidance on how contributors should behave. As the internet is – for the most part – an extremely open and self-regulating environment PR practitioners who wilfully disregard available guidance are likely to damage their reputation or the reputation of their client significantly among the communities they are specifically trying to target.

Question 13: Do you believe this document covers the issues highlighted in sufficient depth?
No, we don’t think it does. But this is primarily because of the CIPR's attempt to create a document that aims to capture in time a rapidly shifting set of values. One of the defining attributes of online and social media is the idea of a constantly evolving drive for new technology. It is a medium defined by a state of perpetual development or 'beta'. It is a social medium based around networked communities that are continuously evolving.
Approaching the medium from a traditional PR perspective will not work. Social networks are made up of fragmented, highly active users, rather than passive, mass media audiences.As mentioned in the introduction to this response, if this document is to be valid beyond the next six months – or at all - the CIPR must embrace the changes and not attempt to contain or constrain them within its traditional comfort zone.

Question 14: Do you believe there are other important issues which should be addressed (and if so, what are they)?
Hopefully the way in which the internet and social media is changing the way business, law, public policy, politics, culture, in fact everything which is influenced by society, functions has been demonstrated above. The impact of social media cannot be understated or underestimated.
The PR industry has at its core reputation management. This management is undertaken through the effective building and management of mutually beneficial relationships. These attributes – relationships and mutual understanding – are central to social media. The CIPR must take serious and open-minded steps to ensure it stays in touch with society and its shift in values, behaviour and expectations.


Outside the box? It must be Pandora

I’ve been hanging out at Pandora Internet Radio, pretty much every time I go online for the past six months. I’ve marked my life out in songs and music and Pandora is a nice antedote to becoming too closeted in one’s tastes as, once you set up an account you have access to so much stuff.
So when I set up an Ali Farka Toure radio station I suddenly had access to a wider range of African musicians I hadn’t come across before.
Pandora is the brainchild of the Music Genome Project – which they claim is the most comprehensive analysis of music ever undertaken. MGP says: “Together our team of 50 musician-analysts have been listening to music, one song at a time, studying and collecting literally hundreds of musical details on every song.
“It takes 20-30 minutes per song to capture all of the little details that give each recording its magical sound - melody, harmony, instrumentation, rhythm, vocals, lyrics ... and more - close to 400 attributes!
“We continue this work every day to keep up with the incredible flow of great new music coming from studios, stadiums and garages around the country.”
Which all sounds a bit too gushing and wanky for my taste but I do like the service. Basically it’s a musical aggregator and allows you to discover new music based on you existing interests – so I have several feeds from Ali Farka Toure to The Ramones to Bob Dylan to The Tower of Power (remember them – 1970s funksters?). Right now its playing And There You Go by Vin Rogue (never heard of them) but they are a bit like a prog-rock Gojan Project.
What I don’t get is how they are bypassing all the copyright stuff?

YouTubers are in the money

Social media can now make you money as YouTube have announced that users who upload their films to the video-sharing website will soon get a share of the ad revenue.

YouTube founder Chad Hurley has told the BBC that his team was working on a revenue-sharing mechanism that would "reward creativity". The system would be rolled out in a couple of months and use a mixture of adverts, including short clips shown ahead of the actual film.
YouTube has more than 70 million users a month and was recently bought by Google but it will be interesting to see how the YouTube community reacts – you know what bloggers are like, they kinda hate big business and this might be a step too far. What do you think?
The offer applies only for people who own the full copyright of the videos that they are uploading to the YouTube website. It will be interesting to see how they do the maths on allocating revenue to each video.
According to recent reports YouTube is working on "audio fingerprinting" technologies to identify copyrighted material. This was revealed by Hurley in a session on social networking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Davos is probably something else the bloggers hate – particularly so given the chairman of Shell’s comments denying global warning on the BBC’s Radio 4 Today Programme.
Other video sharing sites such as Revver already share advertising revenues with users uploading original content, but only YouTube has managed to attract an audience measuring in the tens of millions – which means big bucks.
My view? I always thought that this would be the natural extension of UGC – collectives would become quasi-income generating sites where everyone would share a shekel from the traffic generated. Google get a share and I get a share – if I could ever be bothered to upload a video. A problem as I don’t even have a camera.

Bloggies nominations are out

They’ve just published the Bloggies 2007 nominations and quite a few are from the UK – Hugh MacLeod’s Gaping Void is included.
What has impressed me is the astonishing amount of talent out their and the wide range of issues people are addressing – from sex through to making the perfect meal.
And all the writing is excellent! Check them out now.


Social media becomes the brand

User generated websites and social media have finally hit the big time I notice following an announcement by the brandchannel that YouTube and Wikipedia have entered the top five.
Google rmains in the number one spot ahead of Apple but it says a lot about how far social media has come when YouTube and Wikipedia can be ranked ahead of Starbucks. Some might challenge brandchannel’s findings as the annual survey polls 3,625 branding professionals and students who are asked: "Which brand had the most impact on our lives in 2006?."
Google, which has moved into online advertising, mail and blogging, seized the top spot for the second consecutive year, ahead of Apple.
The dramatic debut of these is an indication of a larger trend - the growing impact of online brands built on user-generated contents.
Other new brand winners were News Corp's online chat site MySpace, debuting in 15th place in the North America rankings, and Al Jazeera, which advances to 19th place globally having launched its English language channel in November and after its drop from fifth to 25th in 2005.


Blue Monday brings a smile to GREEN

As Blue Monday comes to an end even we have been surprised by the press coverage we have generated on the most depressing day of the year.
This is the second time GREEN has beat the Blue Monday Blues with a one-off campaign in support of the Samaritans. Blue Monday, 'the worst day of the year', was first defined by Dr Cliff Arnall and marks the final full week of January when people experience a series of combined depressive effects.
To help people tackle the blues and stay smiling on Blue Monday we invited people to get involved in a range of activities that are taking place across the UK.
At GREEN's offices in Yorkshire we built our own beach and held a party - complete with Hawiain shirts and music.
In London Samaritans volunteers were on hand at London's Victoria station during rush-hour handing out packets of Yorkshire Tea and advice on de-stressing to commuters.
Meanwhile, Yorkshire Housing Group was handing out Positive Social Behaviour Orders (PoSBOs) rather than ASBOs to young people from across the region to reward them for their efforts to make local communities happier and friendlier.
All great stuff and all taken up by the media including The Guardian, Daily Telegraph, Daily Express, Daily Mail, Independent among others. Loads of coverage too in the big regional titles as well as mentions on Radio 4's Today programme, BBC Radio Leeds and BBC Radio Kent. Indeed, tonight Andy will be interviewed by Colombia Radio.
What has been most interesting for anyone remotely interested in social media has been the reaction of the blogosphere. A quick search on Blue Monday on Google Blog search returns more than 290,000 mentions.
Meanwhile, a similar search on Technorati throws up 269,821 results. Now I accept a lot of these will be spurious - but just shows if you hit on a subject which has legitamcy with a lot of people it can quickly go viral.
Top marks to Andy for coming up with the idea, Simon for implementing it, supported by Lorna Bunnell - who is here on work experience for John Moore's University, Liverpool.
Blue Monday was devised using the following mathematical equation:
[W + (D-d)] x TQ
M x NA
The model was broken down using six immediately identifiable factors: weather (W), debt (d), time since Christmas (T), time since failing our new year's resolutions (Q), low motivational levels (M) and the feeling of a need to take action (Na). The equation calculates that Monday, January 22 is officially the worst day of the year, when the Christmas glow has faded away, New Year's resolutions have been broken, cold winter weather has set in and credit card bills will be landing on doormats across the land - whilst the January pay-cheque is still one week away.



Baby you can drive my car

Shit! My car has just told me it needs a service! It didn't speak obviously - but it did leave a message which repeats every time I turn the ignition.
This is worrying because after years of being in the ignoble position of perpertual second-car ownership (Mini Cooper – good; Mini Metro – shite and accident prone; Ford Escort – good and awful depending on the weather; Peugeot 405 – not bad but ugly; VW Golf – best car ever; Frontera – ridiculous, why oh why?; new BMW Mini Cooper – oh just grow up!; Audi A4 – God I feel old).
However, few things (and remember I once stopped a runaway horse on my own – and impressed my mother no end as it tried to run down Main Street, Menston, West Yorkshire) make me feel less manly than getting my car serviced. On some level, I feel I should be doing that stuff myself, but I struggle to even open the bonnet (the hood for our ex-Colonial friends).
I can point at the tyres and say: “Tyres”. I can even point at the engine and say: “Engine”. But I suspect that will not impress the service engineer (as they are called now) or lowly Grease Monkey (which I much prefer).
The appointment starts thus on the phone:
Me: "I'd like to get my car serviced. It's an A4." (This in the tone of a man who seems to know what he is talking about.)
Grease Monkey: "What year is it?"
Me: "Um... I don't know."
Grease Monkey: "What? You don't know the year your car was made?"
Me: “No. Does anyone? Does it matter?”
Grease Monkey: “Not really but if we need to order parts it’s useful to know.”
Me: “I’ve only had it about year – what can have gone wrong with the parts? The car told me to get in touch with you.”
Grease Monkey can already sense my fear and stupidity and at this point in the telephone conversation, I hope the kids burst in to tell me how well they are doing in Total Combat with their new mate in Moscow and can I come and look at their score. It doesn’t happen.
Now at this point it worries me I am taking advice from my car about when it gets serviced - in the past I only had them serviced when they broke down - but what do I know?
When I take the car in, the people at Audi (Wakefield by the way) are very professional but treat me like a mechanical idiot – which is very good judgment on their side. But they ooze so much automotive testosterone, even the woman, who appears to have watched too much Top Gear and believes that Jeremy Clarkson is some sort of style icon even with that hair cut. As a result I just curl up into the usual foetal position
So, in a service driven economy – I just keep my mouth shut and pay up the £400-odd requested with no idea what I have paid for. But hey! The windscreen wipers don’t make that noise anymore.

Sorry about this but the internal combustion engine pisses me off!

Wikiseek and another new search engine

I love Wikipedia and I suspet I use it every day. Meanwhile, even when I do a Google search the top results generally include a Wikipedia entry. Now there is a new search engine for Wikipedia.
Wikiseek is a new search engine which indexes only results from Wikipedia and sites which are linked to or from Wikipedia.
Wikiseek is the first product from SearchMe, and plans a range of ‘long tail search engines’. The company claims that, because the results are limited to Wikipedia and sites linked to/from it, their search engine is far less susceptible to spam and SEO schemes (in fact, there may well be some duplicate content issues, since it is pulling content from Wikipedia, so SEO if you ask me).
On the plus side, the interface is clean and the tag cloud containing relevant Wikipedia categories is useful in refining your search.
The big problem with this search engine is the relevance of the results because when compared with results from the big three search engines, Wikiseek’s results are far less relevant.
I’m not sure how this fits into the whole 3D search thing that everyone seems to be talking about.


Beat the Blue Monday blues

Watch out for Monday, January 22 – the most depressing day of the year. This year at GREEN we are planning to beat the Blue Monday Blues with a one-off campaign in support of the Samaritans.
Blue Monday, ‘the worst day of the year’, was first defined by Dr Cliff Arnall of Cardiff University and marks the final full week of January when people experience a series of combined depressive effects.
To help people tackle the blues and stay smiling on Blue Monday we are inviting people to get involved in a range of activities that are taking place across the UK. These include:
World’s biggest beach party - Companies across the UK are being encouraged to bring some sunshine to Blue Monday by turning their office into a beach in an attempt to break the record for the world’s biggest beach party. Firm’s taking part are also urged to help raise funds for Samaritans.
De-stress with a cuppa - Samaritans volunteers will be on-hand at London’s Victoria station during rush-hour handing out packets of Yorkshire Tea and advice on de-stressing to commuters.
Single launch – Soul 12-piece This is Seb Clarke will be performing their new single, ‘Just Can’t Carry On’, and talking about beating depression on BBC Radio 2’s Aled Jones show on Sunday 21 January 2007.
Over at GREEN’s we plan to re-brand for the day to BLUE Communications and we will brighten up the day will be turning our ground floor into a beach complete with deckchairs and sand.
One of our clients, Yorkshire Housing Group, will be handing out Positive Social Behaviour Orders (PoSBOs) rather than ASBOs to young people from across the region to reward them for their efforts to make local communities happier and friendlier.
Another client, Greens Health & Fitness in Wakefield will be running fitness classes to help the public feel good on Blue Monday. They will be offering blue health drinks with 50% of the proceeds going to charity and running a prize draw to win two one-month membership passes.
Blue Monday was devised using the following mathematical equation:

[W + (D-d)] x TQ
M x NA

The model was broken down using 6 immediately identifiable factors; weather (W), debt (d), time since Christmas (T), time since failing our new year’s resolutions (Q), low motivational levels (M) and the feeling of a need to take action (Na).
The equation calculates that Monday, January 22 is officially the worst day of the year, when the Christmas glow has faded away, New Year’s resolutions have been broken, cold winter weather has set in and credit card bills will be landing on doormats across the land – whilst the January pay-cheque is still one week away.


Fuelmyblog - new blogging community

I’ve been having a jolly online conversation with Kevin Dixie, the creator of a new British-based blog aggregator fuelmyblog – I am calling it an aggregator not him so apologies to Kevin if I got it wrong. But it's very Web 2.0.
It’s vaguely reminiscent of the highly successful milliondollarhomepage but Kevin is not seeking to make money out of those who post their blogs to the site – which is very blog-friendly but is seeking to make a few shekels out of advertisers.
Fuelmyblog allows people to upload their blog with a small image and description and they are then advertised for free for at least five years. Kevin says: "The idea of the site is to eventually create database of every good blog on the web, after all, only good bloggers will want more people reading their pages."
Wonder what Technorati will have to say about this?
While in its infancy, the site looks promising and already has over 200 hundred blogs advertised on it, around 40 bloggers are adding their blogs daily. "We are very pleased with the number of visitors and bloggers that are talking about it, we expect it to grow substantially now people are returning back to their PC's after the seasonal break" says Kevin, who came up with the idea after writing his own blog for the past few months.
He tells me: “I launched it really as a cheap way of getting a lot of blogs in one space, milliondollar scripts are easy to buy! I wasn't sure whether to charge for adverts or go free. Not charging has had a huge impact! I plan to use the community by broadcasting a radio show and getting everyone involved to talk about each others blogs.
“To further the site I need to get some either income or capital so that is being looked into and yes, I would like it to be an interactive blog community. To make money I will try to either get sponsors or advertisements on the site, I am getting over 500 new unique visits per day so it should prove to be of use to somebody but I also don't want to appear as selling out! So I guess I will need some decent PR from somewhere!”
Fuelmyblog wants this site to be the first place people go to when looking for a blog to read. "I aim to increase the size of the site by re-investing any revenue generated in the future from paying advertisers, right now it is just a hobby. (Having) said that, this hobby is taking over, we got 10,000 new links on Google this morning and a daily Alexa rank of 29,400 three days ago!"
The simple process of advertising will appeal to even the most inexperienced web users argues Kevin and I wish him well.


Vote on the cheesiest chat up lines

Over at Wensleydale Creamery we are getting ready for Valentine's Day with the launch of a special heart-shaped Wensleydale cheese wrapped in red wax - a perfect gift for your cheese-loving lover.
This got us thinking about cheesy chat up lines - and we've heard some howlers in the past - so we have launched a survey to find the cheesiest chat up lines and look forward to your contribution. To take part in the survey simply go to Wensleydale Cheesy Chat Up Lines.
We've used an online survery company called SurveyMonkey and so far it seems to be working really way and is an excellent resource to use with other clients. We'll keep you posted on developments and please do have a look at the survey or add your own worst chat up lines on the comments page at wensleydaleblog.


From the excellent Head Rush. This lady talks a lot of sense.


PR: Crisis what crisis?

My colleague Simon has written an interesting post at Simon Says on the perilous state of the PR industry following the publication of the latest research on the sector by Lighthouse.
The general thrust of the research (mainly American I think) is that PR companies are in a mess financially and many will go bust. Indeed, anecdotally I have heard of two major agencies in the North of England that have gone tits up but gentlemanly honour forbids me from saying which ones – they are both based in Harrogate.
Lighthouse notes: “High-volume PR that weakly reflects brand values is not valued by the board. As a result, PR is disrespected. It holds a trivial position in most organizations.
“PR's inability to produce valuable results is reflected in under-resourcing and under-pricing by agencies. Most agencies' pre-tax margins are a miserable 3.6%. Twenty percent of agencies price below cost. Their sales growth conceals forthcoming ruin. A further 44% of PR companies barely break even. The remaining one-third of agencies deliver real value, but their profitability is also threatened by consultancies that price below cost.”
Over at GREEN this has not been my experience. We’ve just had one of our best years in terms of sales and profitability. And in the first two weeks of January we have four new business prospects that we are pitching for.
The problem is clients – isn’t that always the case – some get it immediately and understand the benefits of robust, honest media relations and reap the benefits (thankfully most of our clients). The doubters tend to treat it as advertising even though advertising failed when it drifted from its scientific roots to become a creative art form (I’ve always thought advertising art directors calling them selves Creatives rather pretentious). Their goal is to make famous adverts, not famous products or business returns.
There is a danger that PR goes the same way. Good PR companies, however, will continue to be successful because they are good at delivering on their client’s bottom line – whether that is selling more cheese (nod to Wensleydale), creating a unique co-creation company (nod to Ladybank Company of Distillers) or encouraging people to adopt a great bread brand (nod to Warburtons). All this involves a lot of damned hard work by dedicated professionals.
I didn’t intend to write this as a paean to my company rather than to point up that maybe some companies deserve to go by the way – because of bad PR and bad financial management. And clients should remember that you get what you pay for…
As Analyst Equity points out: “PR can play a crucial role in bringing the brand to life. However, PR needs real understanding of how customer perceptions are changing in the target markets if it is to align the brand to customers. The reality is that few PR managers even align their campaigns to the corporate marketing plan, let alone aligning their campaigns to customers: in-house PR managers know how few agencies ask for the marketing plan; PR agencies know how few clients offer it. PR can transform brand perceptions, support sale-making push-pull marketing programmes, and integrate PR into the wider business marketing engine.”


New Year, New Ideas

Thank God that’s over – there is only so much time you can spend in the bosom of your family (and much as I love them, my family’s bosom is very ample!), meanwhile the normal human body is not designed to consumer that amount of alcohol, turkey, ham, roasted vegetables, mince pies, Christmas pudding, alcohol, turkey, ham, mince pies, Christmas pudding (repeat).

Just got Burns’ Night to look forward too now. Anyway, I’m back in the saddle and 2007 begins.

So what does 2007 hold? Less of the same I hope but here are my ten predictions for the next 12 months:

  1. Blogging – I don’t believe the blog is dead. What will emerge in 2007 is community blogging and networks bringing together people with shared interests.
  2. The world will get hotter – expect headlines like Phew What a Scorcher but no tabloid explanation.
  3. The arrival of the $100 PC (launch due in July) – opening the door to another universal conversation and the emancipation of Third World individuals looking for a voice.
  4. It will all go tits up in Iraq, Afganistan, Iran, North Korea – fill in gaps as you see fit.
  5. Mashup or move on – the convergence meme will continue and I suspect that this will be a big theme this year.
  6. Pauline Fowler murder trial should take place in East Enders sometime in the mid-year.
  7. Brown booze – ie spirits – will become main stream again. Moreover, I am hopeful that more people we see the benefits of companies, like my client – Ladybank – offering people an opportunity to decide what they want rather than what they get. D'oh
  8. Old Media will continue to be frightened of and attack New Media. What do you know anyway you geek freak! Dead trees is the future and blogs are the past.
  9. TV and online video merge - it seems logical that traditional networks will try first to beat 'em, then realise they must join 'em.
  10. Google will be perceived to be the new News Corporation or Murdoch Lite.

What is for certain is that we will all have to work harder, smarter, longer and for less. I, for one, hope to spread a little more happiness and will be Blogging for a Better World. Join me in the conversation.