Getting the Craic of Dublin

I had a very pleasant day in Dublin yesterday discussing the Pour Your Own Pint concept with the fellas from the Fitzgerald Group which owns a larger number of hotels and pubs in the Emerald Isle. But more interesting for them was how we create and develop a brand in the UK.

They also talked about how we could big-up their media relations in the UK - simple, tell the British Press and media about the great things going on at their venues in Dublin. Such as:

It was a good day all round. Although me and my business partner, Andy, only had two pints of Guinness at The Palace, Fleet Street (Dublin's traditional journalists' pub), with an old pal before heading off to the airport with lot of ideas on how we could deliver a traditional media relations campaign and a social media campaign - now have a go at PourYourOwnPint. I scored 100% - can you beat that?


Are you a digital media expert?

God give me strength. Just been spammed by a “digital media expert” offering a training course on “New Digital Training”. Here it is verbatim:

“As the world of new media continues to explode, I’m writing to introduce you to our new training course: Digital Marketing & PR.
“This in-house course gives a comprehensive overview of the different aspects of new media. It shows delegates how digital techniques can be simply and successfully integrated with more established PR strategies to generate new revenue streams for your agency.
“Who is it for? PR professionals with a basic knowledge of new media, wishing to advance their skills, speak the language with confidence and sell more digital work to their clients.”

Oh Dear. I am not sure that new media is exploding nor do I know what a “digital technique” is – I wish I had one though.
The curious thing is the person who sent the email – obviously blind CC’d to all the unfortunate recipients – has not got a clue about social media. Otherwise, she/he would not have spammed me in this manner. Meanwhile, their online presence is decidedly Web1.0 – no blog, no social networks, no Twitter.
I’m finding that a lot of PR companies which have, up until recently, ignored the possibilities of social media as a medium for communications – and in some cases even derided it – are now putting themselves forward as experts on social media. All this on the strength of a month-old blog and a Twitter account with five followers.
As with traditional media relations, the sloppy agencies which gave the industry a bad name with the media, will tarnish us with same brush with their backward approach to social media.
There are some excellent agencies out there doing some fantastic work through social media – but now that others have spotted the bandwagon they threaten to turn it over as they struggle to get on board.
Chris Norton at Wolfstar neatly sums up the right way to approach social media when he compares two online pitches for the same company. Enough said.


In tough times, get tough

Just bumped into an old friend in the supermarket who runs an adhesives business - don't ask, I'm not sure what he does either.
He runs a great business which has been growing for as long as I have known him. He's one of the few people I know who is a genuine entrepreneur - all self taught and as boot-strapped as they come. However, in the current economic climate, he tells me that his company has gone to a four-day week.
I'm hearing this a lot of this now - in every industry. Earlier this year a very valued client phoned to tell me he was dispensing with the services of GREEN Communications even though he had been impressed with our results - he'd just made 20 people redundant ("We've never made people redundant," he told me), imposed a 10% pay cut across the business and elected to take no salary for the next 12 months.
Indeed, I was at the Open Coffee monthly meeting in Bradford organised by BMedia, where I am a board member, and all the attendees were talking  about tight budgets, extended payments terms (one guy was doing work on 120 day payment terms! Eek)
On the public relations front the news from the industry is pretty grim too, with significant rises in redundancies as clients claw back costs. This is sensible given that budgets are beginning to shrink but it also short-termist and ultimately damaging to the brands that are trying to position themselves for the upturn.
With the advent of social media, which is now largely the remit of the PR professional, cutting back on the communications budget should really not be an option given that most of your customers will be looking at you through the lense of the internet. If you not out there, you're nowhere.
And while I admit things are tough - we monitor our cashflow like hawks at the moment - business still needs to shout about what they are doing and consider the implications of what they are not doing, ie bad news and how they communicate that... a lot of our time is spent dealing with the crisis issues of staff redundancy on behalf of clients.
Curiously, our new business pipe line is very healthy and marketing directors and managers clearly realise they have to have a strategy but they are holding back. One new business contact has taken three months to set up a meeting.
Nevertheless, the more enterprenuerial businesses out there GET IT! And in the past week we have signed up two new clients - budgets are not big - but they clearly understand that PR is their only option at this point. Now we must deliver.

British politics now


G20 Summit protests

One of the banners at the G20 Summit protests in London on April 1, 2009. How very English!