Artisan Marketing Communications offers clients PR and marketing communications advice, practical support and implementation.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Gordon Ramsey

I have a request from a journalist for vegetarians.

Not exciting but they need them for Gordon Ramsey's F Word. Gordon will cook a meal for vegetarians that do not cook.

I would love to meet Gordon. So in exchange for meeting him I will try and get you set-up with a Gordon Ramsey meal.

The meal will be cooked in your kitchen for you and your friends.

Please e-mail me if you are interested. There is no charge so as long as you cannot cook and are a vegetarian you are in with having the f**king a**e round.

Musing on the Blog – a new tool in the marketing armoury

The following article will be published shortly in Creative Times - the paper for Manchester creatives shortly.

(Copies and subscriptions can be made at Creative Industries Development Service. Please check out their website, which is regularly updated and has a wealth of information).

And so to the article:

Blogs are growing at a phenomenal rate, 80,000 new blogs go online worldwide every day according to a worldwide survey by web monitors Technorati. Yet many in the creative industries and indeed marketing do not appreciate their power. Simon Wharton of Internet specialists Virtuaffinity gives an insight into the advantages of the humble blog.

Technology has changed how we market a business markedly in the last 10 years. Where would a comprehensive marketing campaign be without understanding e-mails or websites?
Blogs, like so many innovations in communications, are neither a peripheral activity nor a throw away, but could be integral to your business success.

So what is a blog?

It is a weblog - a diary, a journal. A chronological series of notes about whatever you choose to write or I should say blog about.

So this begs the question, how can this be of any use?

Blogs are democratic in nature and change opinion by inviting comment and exchange of views. They are all about connecting; not being feed information by marketers and the media. That makes it a very powerful tool, especially if used well.

So how can this translate to a business? If you are something of an expert you can regularly tap out a few words every week. There’s a good chance that someone out there is looking for your insight and business intelligence.

Maybe if you provide valuable information they will start looking at your blog regularly. They might tell people about it – a great way of doing viral marketing. And with time they will view you as someone they can trust professionally. And if they do you have potential customers. You are in effect an online networker.

So lets assume that your blog gets read and receives some feedback as well. That’s great news for you but there is better to come. At its most basic, getting ranked in search engine listings is a case of matching the searchers text query with the text on your site. Or, if the words that someone writes in a search engine query match with words on your site, you are in with a good chance of them finding you.

In the process of writing a blog, you are going to intuitively develop text content that is very specific and very niche. This content may well be the answer to an obscure question a potential customer is stumped by. If they then find your blog, see how you do what you do, then the chances are they’re going to give you a chance at their business –all for a little effort?

But does it really work? One local example of how it does is that of Craig McGinty. The South Manchester based journalist runs a number of blogs. Chief amongst these is This French Life. Craig regular insightful updates are drawing 30,000 hits a month, enough to attract advertising and to make it viable as a marketplace.

I have only touched the surface of a trend that all businesses, creative or otherwise, should be recognising or need to recognise if they want to compete for the attention of their market. Information is being shared online. And the word is "shared." Information is being exchanged and sought after. Blogs are just one aspect of the way we are beginning to interact – one that effective businesses cannot afford to ignore.

About the author
Simon Wharton is the managing director of Virtuaffinity, a digital media company based in Manchester. Simon keeps a blog, which can be found by going to

He can be also contacted for comment by older methods of communication at

Thursday, July 06, 2006

NW Enquirer letter

Published in the NW Enquirer 6th July in response to the publication of the NW rich list in the 29th June issue:

I imagine it was quite a coup to publish the first rich list for the North West.

But what does it achieve? What do we learn?

We all know that the region has a more than ample share of the country's business talent. We also know we have some of the most affluent areas in the whole country. And you wouldn't need to be a keen business observer to guess the identities of the considerably richer than yow people. (My apologies to those who though they had forgotten Harry Enfield).

What we learn is that we have and probably always had (despite some sentimental protestations) a society that values materialistic show and skin deep substance highly.

Did we really need to be taught that lesson again?

Does anyone else have this opinion? Is it just another symptom of a celebrity/ money obsessed society or is there a need for a rich list?

Monday, July 03, 2006

Dumber and Dumber – The demise of intelligent news media

Is it me? Am I getting more intelligent or is the news media dumbing down markedly?

Well I think the first accusation would not get as many supporters as I would like outside my immediate family and a few friends. So the second assertion must have more weight.

I am not focussing my wrath, such as it is to be feared, on popular culture: Big Brother, X Factor and the very pinnacle of subjects for dumbing down column inches - the inimitable (thank goodness) Victoria Beckham. I am not interested in the Daily Mail’s constant assertion that our civilisation is coming to an end and standards have slipped. I am not sentimental enough to believe that fear inducing propaganda.

My focus is on newspaper titles rather than our fascination with z-listed personalities. Over the last 20, 25, years newspapers have battled to keep an increasingly disinterested and harder to engage readership. The newspaper fraternity in my area has suffered a loss of readership of about 40% over that time period. A loss that it cannot afford to suffer.

The answer for some newspaper titles has been to water down the standard of writing if not always the subject area.

One example that demonstrates my point is the episode of the Daily Mirror and those Iraqi prisoner abuse images that never were. The campaign against the war, whatever the rights and wrong, was not always primarily argued from an intellectual or moral standpoint. It was opposed by a personalised attack on Tony Blair and sensationalist pictures that were never verified as being genuine.

This approach would have been unthinkable 25 years ago when political thinkers such as Tony Benn and Michael Foot were regular contributors. The readership and emphasis of the paper’s stance was always loyally left wing, but it gave its readers credit for wanting and indeed supplying intelligent debate.

How much of this situation is owing to changes in our culture? Are papers, like marketers, simply supplying what buyers want? How much is it that newspapers and the general media have changed culture and so altered want we desire? And I have not forgotten the advent of new technologies. 25 years ago no paper had to compete with so many information sources: Internet, interactive television, text, e-mail, podcast, Internet TV etc.

Perhaps popular culture permeates our minds far more easily than it once did because it is easier to transmit. Certainly, when we are all pressed for time and can pick up information so quickly we do not have time to do anything but get the gist of the information unless it is of real importance to us.

I must point out that there are exceptions, so I am describing a trend not a wholesale shift.

It has all been a gradual process and the dumbing down slide has gone past us almost unnoticed.

Perhaps I am being sentimental after all. But it is one reason that I am selective in my paper buying and maybe collectively why the efforts to win us over by dumbing down are backfiring.

Rob Baker works for Artisan Marketing Communications. He is very liberal in outlook and welcomes paying clients from all sectors. Rob welcomes intelligent and occasional dumbed down comments.

This piece will feature in PR Business in July

Sunday, July 02, 2006

More recognition for the power of blogs in the Guardian

It has been a little while since I added to my blog.

But I will be rectifying that shortly. One reason is an article that evangelises blogs in the Guardian. So if you are a blogger, like to surf blogs or want to reignite your enthusiam this article should be of interest.

The Guardian - Diary of a somebody

Hard copies were in the Saturday Work section of the Guardian.