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

Friday, September 29, 2006

Let's have a survey about the number of surveys

Stuart Bruce wrote a comment about surveys in a piece some time ago on his blog. The upshot is that many surveys are rubbish justlike many statistics. To paraphrase Vic Reeves: 77.84% of statistics are made up on the spot. The same could be said for surveys by some cynics. But as Stuart points out, journalists complain but they have an insatiable appetite for them.

I have thought about this on three occassions when reading the Manchester Evening News. Each time I have seen at least two surveys feature if not more.

There is a problem though. If PRs supply so many then they will be an overused currency. Indeed, many surveys that the MEN covered just got a small column. If PRs want a quick hit they will have to be more creative or perhaps get back to the press releases.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Is the world of marketing more insecure than publishing?

The old maxim for marketers is: last ones in, first ones out.

I am sure most marketers have been the victims of this truism as soon as a company gets into trouble or a downturn in the economy strikes.

I thought there were few professions as precarious. It seems publishing is worse.

Not only has NW Enquirer gone into administration just as I had, as always, written a fantastic article for them, but also PR Business as well; this time a 600 word piece. I know it sounds selfish - it is - and I know that PR Business going under has been known for a little while, but finding out about two of them in the space of a week was disappointing as both titles had real potential.

The proliferation of some titles in a time when the online media is often free and has some good information sources must mean that this will not be the isolated occurrence we all hope. The issue of free papers comes into the equation although PR Business was free to PRs, so I suspect that there were other reasons.

The proliferation of lifestyle titles in Manchester, for instance, will result in casualties. The publishing world is even harder than the marketing world.

I will publish the PR Business piece shortly on this site.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Free papers pay for themselves

There has been a lot of debate about free newspapers - MEN, Metro - in Manchester and other cities.

How do they make a profit? Are newspapers on the way out?

Surely the demise of the NW Enquirer shows they are.

Well, not quite.

The Independent focuses on these questions and comes up with some interesting answers.

The Manchester Evening News for instance is giving away 60,000 copies daily as opposed to 6,000 sold copies before. As this targets the affluent readership the MEN advertisers want, it surely makes the advertisers more powerful and so more content.

It all adds up, even though at first glance it seems bad maths to us.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

More networking!

Business for Breakfast is holding two open days so non-members can get a feeling for the meetings

Thursday's meeting is in Didsbury at the Britannia Hotel; it is near Friday's nightclub although I am sure nobody will admit to knowing where that is.

Friday's meeting is at the Marriott Hotel in Hale Barns.

Both groups start at 7am and breakfast is provided.

Only one profession can be represented so referrals are not fought over and that there is a great mix of members. Both groups are particularly looking for recruitment professionals, travel agencies, printers (Didsbury only), accountants (Hale Barns only) and marketing specialists.

If you are intersted please contact me on 07957611834 for further details.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

North West Enquirer folds

The North West Enquirer has gone into administration this afternoon.

It is a sad time.

The newspaper market has never been more competitive and it was an audacious move to launch when more established papers are struggling amid falling sales.

We all hope that funding is found to carry on. The Enquirer needed more time to find its feet if it was to succeed, unfortunately it didn't have that chance.

Blogs and the media conference - in Manchester

How is blogging changing the face of the media?

Well, your chance to find out is this Sunday at 4pm at Urbis. A free discussion will be held and will feature some NW blogging luminaries including Kate Feld of The Manchizzle.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Connect Media - informal networking for journalists

Connect Media is returning from the Summer with a round of informal networking for communication professionals and journalists.

Aptly the talk on Wednesday is about how to network more effectively. It will be given by well-known networker Mark Greenwood of networking4business.

Mark has insisted on a practical - there will be speed networking

As usual the chance to network at the bar after the event is very much part of the evening.

The meeting is free and open to everyone. Please come to Obsidian Bar, near the Yang Sing, at about 6.

It should be an interesting and entertaining night.

If you cannot make it - tell your friends and come to the follwing one

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Blogs are commercial - its official

Following on from my recent post that expressed the view that blogs cannot and will not be immune from the intrusion of commerce, I have come across the following article from Scotland's Sunday Herald.

The article concerns this week's Edinburgh conference on using blogs for commercial use.

The upshot of the conference is be honest with your blog and your readers. L'Oreal failed to do this when it made up a fictitious consumer talking about the products. This was soon unmasked by bloggers. But how can you expect anything from a company with the worst ratings by Ethical Consumer for its animal testing? It also has a very dodgy history of decidely pro-Fascist leanings. Still, what are ethics? Ask Anita Roddick who was happy to sell company to them: everyone has a price Anita.

What else did the conference find out?

Make your blog interesting: do not just sell. A blog should be attractive for its content alone.

Is that all common sense? Still worth having a jolly in Edinburgh if your company pays for it.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Out of this world

For those of us that need a little more excitement there is Second Life – a virtual world where you can build a business, party or even have an affair although there are virtual detective businesses on hand if you suspect an amour is going astray.

Second Life has a currency. The Linden dollar fluctuates at around $300. And with Linden dollars members can purchase land, buildings and even islands. The current GDP is over $60 million.

Some members even make a living in this alternative universe selling services and products. So, it might be worth a go if things are tight in the real world.

Click here to start your online career.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Blogs are commercial as well

If anyone is under the illusion that blogging is a purely altruistic pursuit, just as the Internet was 10 years ago, think again. It is commercial although many bloggers blog for the fun of it.

The story of the “lonely girl” blog illustrates the above point. Many followed the video blog – – of Bree, an all-American girl.

The blog has been uncovered as the work of the powerful Creative Artists Agency in Hollywood. After bloggers became suspicious about the quality of the videos, amongst other things, the truth came out.

So blogs aficionados be ware.

To read more, have a look at the Guardian’s recent coverage.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

More on quirky PR for business

My last post dealt with using quirky stories to achieve PR.

I did not think the BBC could better their Magazine Monitor list of real, but slightly worrying media spots, which included Pam Ayres being inspired to write poetry after becoming a Dylan fan.

But they have. They are two goat related stories that made the news front page of the BBC website: a speeding Swiss man in Canada claimed he only was driving fast because there were no goats on the road to slow him down. The second is a Sudanese man being forced to marry a goat after being caught having sex with it; he was also forced to pay a dowry. Click here if you really want to read the details.

Not to be outdone, gnomes have also featured. Devon and Cornwall police have served a notice on a neighbour of a local policeman on the spurious charge of "placing a garden gnome with intent to cause harassment" after the policeman claimed it deterred buyers of his cottage. Click here if you really want to read this.

Businesses do not have to go this far. But it illustrates a point: news is often entertainment. Businesses that conduct PR with the dourness of the chancellor are not going to get coverage. So no more pictures of businessman shaking hands or cutting ribbons or an anniversary press release.

You do not have to invent the wheel but a little originality and creativity will go much further than you think.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Quirky PR is highly effective

The more unusual, odd or downright scary your PR story the more likelihood you will get coverage, and good coverage.

The BBC Magazine Monitor demonstrates the point exactly: Pam Ayres was inspired to write poetry by Bob Dylan (must go under scary at the very least). Other stories to while away your weekend are: chimpanzees are learning to cross the road safely in Africa; there were seven attempts by early man to settle in Britain before they succeeded some 12,000 years ago, and another scary one: the German rail market is 6 times larger than the UK.

Happy reading!

Thursday, September 07, 2006

More networking

A quick note that the first Networking4Business of the Autumn went off well with 150 attendees.

Mark Greenwood has been provisionally booked to speak at Connect Media on the 20th September at Obsidian Bar. Mark will concentrate his talk on how to get the most out of networking and there will be a practical - speed networking.

Everyone is welcome to what will be a fun evening event.

NW Enquirer gets a technical advantage

The NW Enquirer has launched a new double page devoted to the Internet and all things online.

The new feature, entitled Bytes and Sites, is being edited by Chris Horkan, a webophile (sic?)who demonstrates a real passion, understanding and hunger for Internet developments.

The pages will give the Enquirer a new dimension, which will certainly mark it out as being cutting edge: it will also showcase the North West's expertise in web developements.

One small critcism: a page devoted to technology in general would also be welcome.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Networking returns

Networking4Business is returning, after its summer break, with its fortnightly servings of laid back meetings.

The first begins on Thursday at Tiger Tiger and is likely to be sold out. But take a look at the Networking4Business website and place your marker for future events.

Just a note I have not used my spell checker as earnestly as I should have and I am guilty of using a mixed metaphor to open my last entry - quality control measures are being put in place.