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

Monday, April 30, 2007

A real life PR crisis for one of my clients: the Dale Street Fire

I was watching the breakfast news and the story concerning a fire on Dale Street in Manchester.

I tried from the pictures to identify the buildings affected but it was hard to determine the exact location.

I had been talking to Nick Towle at the South Manchester Reporter on Friday about one of my clients Nick Rhind of CTI, a Manchester based software company. I was speaking to him again on Monday morning trying to sell in Nick and CTI, some luck but not everything I wanted.

About half an hour later the mobile went, "Hi it's Nick." Strange I thought you sound different, it took a few seconds to click. The next thing Nick of CTI told me that his offices were in one of the buildings on fire. Plans for Monday had changed.

Nick had taken precautions and backed up his office IT systems at his home: there is a dedicated broadband and a back-up server and laptops aplenty. The disaster plan came into play and Nick estimates that by Wednesday CTI will be running at 100%.

In addition to this good news Nick has already had an offer of an office from a client based in the Northern Quarter. Next week CTI could be running a few doors down from the burnt out buildings.

Unfortunately, of businesses that have suffered a fire 80% are badly affected and it happens to over 3,000 enterprises each year, according to the 2003 Office of the Deputy Prime Minister.

So how is the PR playing out?

The key thing is to let everyone know that CTI Support Network Limited is still able to supply the service to the same standards as before. Most clients were phoning in to check the situation and Nick was on the mobile to reassure them. I will ask Nick to check if there is any client that has not been in contact - this will include leads and past clients - to make sure anyone planning to ask for a quote does not believe that CTI will be unavailable or distracted. It will also help re-engage with potential clients.

The local media has been contacted and Nick has been interviewed at length by the South Manchester Reporter and the Manchester Evening News on Monday.

To reinforce the above messages a press release will go out today to the broadcast media and will be followed by the business magazines.

The message about backing up key data as a priority action will also feature. Nick stresses that this is crucial and this episode demonstrates that Nick and CTI has put his words into action and have displayed the level of competency and responsibility that his clients expect.

I suppose we now have some case study to approach magazines that have forthcoming features on disaster recovery and the importance of back-up plans!

There looks as though there will be no PR crisis whatsoever.

If this is being read by a journalist and you wish to interview Nick please call me on 07957611834 and I will be happy to set-up an interview.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Improving Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) for your blog

PR Blogger has written an informative piece about improving the search engine optimisation for your blog, a subject the author feels is much overlooked.

Much of the advice is straight forward such as writing unique content, other pieces of advice are easy to implement, much underused and do not even occur to seasoned bloggers. One example is making hyperlinks relevant; this includes the anchor text that should be descriptive and relevant rather than using the bland copy that does nothing to being picked up by search engines.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Brazen PR has nothing to worry about

There was some tuts of disgust about Brazen PR being found out about planting a story that did not entirely check out, one which led to a falling out with the Manchester Evening News.

Others stated that business to consumer PR agencies apparently stretching the truth is part of the job.

Well, the episode pales when compared to a story coming from Zhengzhou in China - a cat giving birth to kittens and a puppy.

There has been some controversy as there is some debate over whether the "kitten" is a "dog faced kitten" or really is a cat. It all sounds like that Blackadder episode when they thanked the Lord because he had given the king a boy "without a pinkle" until it was pointed out that a boy without a pinkle is a girl.

Before we mock, 2000 wealthy Japanese women have been fooled into buying lambs disguised as poodles has been recently reported in The Guardian and Metro amongst others.

It appears that the owners of the cat and the local Zhengzhou media are enjoying the benefits of the interest; why let reality spoil anything?

Friday, April 27, 2007

Whatever happened to: Talking Business North Manchester

The sad news that north Manchester business magazine Business Connections had run its last issue means that the number of Manchester focussed business magazines and supplements is becoming depressingly small.

I fear that the trend is continuing. Talking Business North Manchester, which covered Bolton through to Bury, seems to have disappeared. The phone comes up with number not assigned and the website is down and has been for a number of weeks.

Of course new portals, such as How Do might fill the gap, but it is still disappointing news, if confirmed.

If anyone has any more information please let me know.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Should PRs always tell the truth?

Manchester PR agency Brazen has apparently incurred the wrath of the Manchester Evening News by issuing a PR release for a publicity stunt that had a fib.

Brazen, according to creative industries portal How Do, set-up a PR stunt that involved a guy filling a bath full of melted chocolate for his girlfriend. The diary editor of the MEN recognised that "the couple" were not a real life item: one was a Brazen exec and the other the boyfriend of a Brazen director.

I asked an editor recently if a new client I was taking on should publish a story about a major account win they won within 14 days of being formed. It was a great story but I pointed out they were formed a few months ago and I couldn't say they had just won it. His advice was do not to get caught if you do tell a fib. He has a long memory and I suspect other journalists do as well. I decided that opportunity was not viable and not worth the risk however small.

Brazen probably just see this as being creative and the amount of coverage they have had creating such scenarios is worth it all things considered.

I cannot help thinking that this debacle might have been staged by Brazen to get some publicity, create a little viral marketing (debate) and to show that they have some cunning and initiative.

By the end of this entry I really beginning to wonder what the truth of this is and at the same time I am not sure if I care anymore as I suspect many readers will.

Monday, April 23, 2007

PR Week publishes 2007 PR agency survey

PR Week has published its 2007 survey on PR agencies, based on the highest fee income earners.

(Unfortunately PR Week has a subscriber only website so I cannot link through).

London PR agencies dominate as you would expect. North West PR agencies are represented although whether they are well-represented is hard to say. A number of agencies including Mason Williams and Paver Smith declined to supply fee income figures and this must apply to agencies throughout the country. Good on you.

Now, any survey in the PR industry is going to be controversial and the usual round of useful insights and denunciations will follow.

There is no survey that really satisfies the agencies or helps clients choose their supplier, that has to be based on personal rapport, enthusiasm, skill, experience and understanding of the clients' business and aims.

We have to say fee income does not necessarily mean better service. Smaller agencies and freelancers can offer very high levels of service and can often be a better option than larger outfits. Indeed, many smaller clients cannot afford big agency fees or often there is not the "fit" with a bigger supplier.

I came across some interesting comments on the 2006 PR Week survey that claim all is not as rosy in the PR garden as the 2007 income based surveys suggest:

  • 44% of PR agencies just break even.
  • Agencies with the healthiest net worth just have £100,000 i.e. in the bank and so a loss of a few clients could be catastrophic
  • Fee income risers still have poor pre-tax margins

The author of the comments Andrew B Smith states that a league table based on net worth / profitability would be much more useful, but who is going to supply those figures?

Sunday, April 22, 2007

More redundancies at the Manchester Evening News

How Do, the North West creative media portal, has reported that the Manchester Evening News will be making more redundancies. Numbers and departments have not been named.

A sad day for the media once again after the redundancies at the newspaper in 2006 and the demise of the NW Enquirer.

Friday, April 20, 2007

PRs looking to bridge gaps in business knowledge with MBAs

The debate about whether a PR professional needs to have a PR or indeed any degree has resurfaced recently.

The latest exchange of views on the issue was triggered by a letter from an irate PR student, to PR Week, expounding the view that PR graduates should have priority over other graduates.

I think another problem and a more pressing one, as highlighted by The Times, is that many PRs that have gone straight from university to an agency or in-house have a narrow range of experience.

This is where the real problem must lie. Many in the profession have realised this Achillies heel and this is leading to an uptake of business courses, including MBAs.

This can only be good for the PR, the client and the industry.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

NUJ: incredible explanation for the boycott

I wanted to move on from the NUJ debacle over the boycott of Israeli products. Enough has been said. You would have thought that the NUJ might want to put other issues to the fore before the motion inevitably comes up at the next annual delegates meeting.

Jeremy Dear, the general secretary of the NUJ, has been quoted in an e-mail as saying the following:

"The call for the boycott in part related it to the kidnap of Alan Johnston. The Palestinian journalists union has given huge support to the campaign for his release - holding demonstrations and strikes against the Palestinian authority to demand more action from them. We work closely with the Palestinian union through the International Federation of Journalists and the boycott call was a gesture of support for the Palestinian people - notably those suffering in the siege of Gaza, the community Alan Johnston has been so keen to help through his reporting."

I cannot see the link myself. A Palestinian group kidnaps a BBC reporter, local Palestinian journalists protest and the NUJ to show how much they are concerned boycotts Israel!

Dear also claims that,

"The boycott call has nothing to do with reporting. The NUJ is not telling members how to report Israel."

Well, if you boycott a country's products surely you are making a political statement and directing your members.

When I was growing up the unions were broken, vilified by sections of the media and we have all had less job security since as a result. Why create this PR own goal? Why make yourselves a target? This is the time when we need the NUJ fighting for its members.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Survey burn-out

Surveys are an easy option to attain media coverage. A little too easy and the abundance of PRs using surveys is debasing this particular currency.

I came across Diana Cooke's comments in the Manchester Evening News today (page 8) that reflect the lack of originality of this approach.

Diana writes, "Women like Birmingham City boss Karen Brady have the WOW factor, according to another futile survey," before rubbishing its findings. It says a lot when a journalist lets their disdain out.

Surely PRs have got to be a little more ingenuous from time to time. Unless a survey really has something to say it will merit little more than a small paragraph, perhaps a little incredulity and a glance if PRs continue to flood the market.

Kiss of death of Shilpa Shetty PR stunt

Shilpa Shetty, Bollywood actress and darling of reality TV, has caused a stir in India when a rally designed to raise AIDS awareness took an unconventional turn.

Sharing a platform with Richard Gere, the Hollywood actor kissed Shilpa several times, albeit jokingly.

This breaks a cultural taboo in India that sparked off chants of "death to Shilpa" and burning of effigies of Gere across the country; that honour is are usually reserved for the under performing national cricket team.

It all brings memories back of my international marketing module, which highlighted the difficulties that can happen because of cultural and linguist misunderstanding although the illustrations were a bit more lighthearted.

Blog backlash over NUJ Israel boycott has reported that there has been a blogging backlash against the NUJ vote boycotting Israeli products, with the overwhelming majority of blogs being critical of the decision.

I do not want to go on about the actual vote and its implications, my previous entries covered that ground. What I think it clearly demonstrates though is the power of blogging. The debate has been taken online, opinions aired, discussed and either challenged or supported. Nothing new it that, but it did strike me that the same exchange of views is probably not taking place to the same extent anywhere else, with the possible exception of the NUJ offices.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Why the NUJ boycott of Israel is not completely unexpected: the journalism of Robert Fisk

My last entry concerned the NUJ decision to boycott Israel, a subject that has stirred some passionate debate.

The majority of journalists, and members of the NUJ, whose blogs I have seen disagree with the decision on a number of points including:
  • The arbitrary decision to boycott Israel and not apply the same "principles" to other countries of which there are many that are more deserving of a boycott: China, Russia, Sudan, North Korea to name a few.
  • The ineffectual nature of the resolution.
  • The NUJ should concentrate on the key issues, supporting journalists and their concerns and not be deflected from achieving these aims.
  • The democratic nature of the decision; voted by a small number of delegates and not holding a vote of its 40,000 members to truly reflect the union's beliefs on a point where many members would like a say.
Toby Harnden offers a brilliant critique of the vote in the context of recent events in the Israel and Lebanon. His experience of the region gives him a more balanced and objective view, something you would expect from any journalist worth their salt.

However, he states that the language used by the NUJ was, " tendentious and politically-loaded propaganda that would be rightly edited out of any news story written in a newspaper that had any pretensions of fairness."

That is true but there are newspapers such as The Independent that exactly use that type of language. One proponent is Independent journalist Robert Fisk. His coverage of the Israel Lebanon war was, to say it mildly, partisan. On October 28th 2006 he strongly suggested that Israel had used uranium based shells while the UN report was in still in progress. In fact in seemed at a matter of time before it was proven. Fisk's story made the front page of the Independent.

On the 8th November, not even a fortnight later, the UN concluded no uranium was used although I don't think the updated article made the lead somehow.

Robert Fisk is no stranger to controversy and even has his own term named after him; the term fisking, a point by point rebuttal that highlights factual errors and analysis in an article.

Robert Fisk's book on the middle eastern history had such factual errors as getting the birthplace of Jesus wrong to being a couple of years out on the date of the assassination of Anwar Sadat.

What am I trying to prove? If a mainstream daily such as The Independent, which purports to be well independent and fair, is so biased then it is hardly surprising that such boycotts seem perfectly reasonable to so many.

NUJ boycotts Israel

The National Union of Journalists has voted at its annual delegates meeting to boycott Israeli goods. The motion was in response to last summer's events and aimed to “condemn the savage, pre-planned attack on Lebanon” last summer and the “slaughter of civilians in Gaza.”

No mention was made of the Palestinian Government's policy of supporting and organising suicide bombing against Israeli civilians. They also seemed to get their facts wrong about the war; was it not Hizbollah that launched an attack across the border, on Israeli territory, which resulted in the deaths of several soldiers and the capture of two? No mention was made of their whereabouts; are they still alive? The Red Cross nor any government has been able to verify if they are still alive as they have not been allowed access.

I do not want to make this blog political. But harking back to my old English teacher, Rory Delargy, "everything is political." Alan Johnston, government minister, recently asking for YouTube to police content, for example, shows communications and politics are inextricably linked.

Anyway, the actions of the NUJ seem very one sided. We should be looking to apply equally or not at all if the NUJ are going to solve all the world's ills. I suggest the following to start with:

  • Sudan for murdering 400,000 in Darfur since February 2003
  • Iran for oppressive treatment and torture of dissident views as well as threatening genocide
  • China for massive human rights abuses and illegal occupation and suppression of Tibet
  • North Korea for suppression of human rights and experimentation on those viewed as politically unreliable
  • Saudi for human rights abuses and torture
  • Zimbabwe for too many things to list
  • Australia for treatment of the Aborigines
  • USA for Iraq
Much of the world has cases to answer. The NUJ surely has the interests of its members to answer as Craig McGinty points out in his blog.

I think Telegraph journalist Toby Harnden puts things into perspective and has experience in the middle east. Maybe the NUJ should have read this before delegates acted on a proposal that many members probably do not want.

I am getting back to communications, as politics free as possible, tomorrow.

Friday, April 13, 2007

PR round up of the week: the good, the bad and the ugly

The Good: Once again Knut, Berlin Zoo's media star makes it into the feature.

The media savvy bear has attracted 300,000 visitors to the zoo over the Easter weekend, the usual is 30,000. The zoo's shares have also rocketed, doubling in a week owing to the interest the bear has generated and resulting in the zoo registering Knut as a trademark. What the bear's cut of the profits is has not been made public.

The zoo's PR has been clever. Even though Knut will not be interested in going out with lady polar bears until he is 4, the search for a mate has "begun." Or at least it will keep the media interested as he loses a little of his appeal as he becomes a big bear.

A rather different story of how a zoo animal boosted visitor numbers comes from China. A man eating crocodile bit off a vet's arm after he thought it had been anaesthetised. The vet with a regrettable sense of judgment has had his arm sewn back on. The result: curious visitors want to see the crocodile involved. Was it all a staged publicity stunt? What dedication to your employer.

The Bad: James Beresford. He is Britain's highest paid lawyer. He made an incredible £16.8 million profit in one year by processing miners' claims for compensation for chronic respiratory diseases and a disabling hand condition called vibration white finger.

While Mr Beresford was making over £45,000 per day his "clients" had their claims settled for less than £2,000, with some miners receiving less than £200. Some even got less as, against government wishes, Beresford's firm subtracted from the amount awarded. He apparently handed back hundred of thousands of pounds after receiving substantial criticism.

Many claims - Beresford handled 90,000 - were handed to the practise by the Union of Democratic Miners. They are under investigation by the Serious Fraud Office.

The Ugly: Ever thought of organising a party on MYSpace? No? Well, a 17 year old girl in County Durham apparently did. Instead of 50 people turning up 200 arrived, many of whom had traveled hundred of miles to get there according to police.

Her parents house was trashed, money and jewelry stolen. The girl in question is believed to be staying with friends.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Not another one: Business Connections magazine comes to an end

Business Connections, the business magazine for North Manchester, is to stop producing future issues. It is very doubtful if the material gathered for what would have been the February / March issue will be published.

The decision to stop the magazine seems to be strategic, with Roma Publications deciding to focus on its' construction titles.

It looks as though no jobs will be lost editorially, which after recent redundancies at other publications is brilliant.

I would like to thank the editor, Lesley, for her help and for publishing my clients' articles.

With Business Connections gone I cannot think of any publications, except membership magazines and the Manchester Evening News and a Stockport business title, which are dedicated to reporting on Manchester business. Surely there is a gap in the market or perhaps Business Connections being re-launched.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Social networking sites: "democracies" or "dictatorships?" Tila Tequila puts it to the test

Rupert Murdoch paid £296 million for MySpace last year.

Did you think, "he must be able to see something we all don't to pay so much?"

It all seemed a little too reminiscent of the dotcom crash, hence the reservations. Where is the substance?

But what has Rupert seen? You could say members, a captive audience. Or has he? It all depends on whether you can say that the members are a "resource" that will be with you for a long time, a loyal following, a market. Surely that is where the value is.

The power in a social networking site is the members and not the owners of the site.

Well, Tila Tequila (pictured; it is a typical picture and that is why she has so many friends I suppose) is testing Rupert Murdoch's MySpace on this point.

The MySpace devotee with 1.7 million online "friends" has launched an appeal to MySpace owners News Corporation "don't sell on us now" (her words) after she was not allowed to sell her music through her pages on the site.

To be fair to News Corporation the terms of use state that there can be no "unauthorised commercial transactions."

However, the power that a social networking site has is not really in the hands of the owners, other than the owner of the site has the power to work with and influence the members. It cannot order them and keep them unless the offering is really attractive with few alternatives.

If the owner alienates members or the site simply does not hold the attention of the members and users it will stagnate, decline and finish.

News Corporation it seems, as noted by the Guardian, is to use MySpace as a vehicle to sell music. That could spell the demise of MySpace although it might take some time.

Alternative social networking sites such as Last FM are providing the option to buy music online and with apparently better streaming and sound quality.

If bands and music lovers switch and others are turned off by RupertSpace that £296 million is going look like a flashback to the dotcom crash.

Surely the democratic approach is the only approach that works for social media.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

The Apprentice: good PR, lightweight business?

The Apprentice is once more again on our screens.

Does it tell us anything about business and why Sir Alan Sugar is a success?

Well, if you watch it it ain't going to make you wealthy; I doubt if any entrepreneurs are going to credit their success to tips that they picked up on the show.

It is not the point anyway. It is show business. Reality TV. Good free publicity for Sir Alan although I think it can have an adverse affect.

In fact, Sir Alan is philanthropist and a clever man who has worked his way up from nothing. Is the uncouth and dictatorial image real? Does it do him any good? What is he trying to achieve? I think the publicity he gets is bountiful but not as beneficial as he thinks. He is becoming a parody of himself; is that good business?

Anyway, do not waste time on the real thing the parody is more fun.

I think this clip or this one from Jon Culshaw is better viewing.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Blog is 10 years old

The Guardian today brought up the fact that blogging is 10 years old this month -sorry about the dancing bear but it was the best available illustration at hand.

There is a lot of debate if blogging is worthwhile. The article by Bobby Johnson presents both sides of the argument although it doesn't seem to provide a comprehensive answer or enough depth. To be fair a page is probably, (and most of it is images), not enough space to give the subject justice.

It is true that many of the 70 million blogs Technorati estimate that are around are according to Andrew Keen, dotcom entrepreneur and author, are the result of "digital narcissism." He further says he does "see a social benefit."

Nevertheless he concedes that political bloggers have demonstrated bravery and have a role to play as they fight for freedom.

And that is it, when used with care and thought the blog can be powerful and influential. And even if it is not, if it does have a small circle of readers as the piece says it can still bring enjoyment and inform.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

PR the Michael Moore way

You get the feeling Michael Moore hates PR professional and who would blame him based on these two clips.

Michael uses what you could say is guerrilla PR against organisations to achieve results. You might have seen Bowling for Columbine and the way that he got the gigantic retailer, Wal-Mart, to stop selling bullets. Ironically, I am sure Wal Mart did not see it, they banned certain offensive records, books and films as part of their social responsibility and if you wanted to go out and shoot someone because you had seen a horror film from so other store Wal Mart could help.

While one can admire Michael for his effective, and often black humoured way of achieving results, you cannot help but think how some highly paid PRs have made it there.

The first clip concerns BMW. BMW, like most German industry used slave labourers to make massive profits and significantly contribute to the Nazi war economy. Even though BMW's revenues are outstanding (49 billion Euros for 2006) they could not bring themselves to compensate their wartime victims for 50 years. Michael had a go and they agreed to give them compensation although several thousand dollars is not exactly generous.

But it is their PR approach that also amazes. First they send the CEO's driver to talk to the survivor and the "debt collector" stating the CEO was unavailable!

The PR Jack Pitney, currently Vice President, Marketing for BMW US tries to say that both the slaves and BMW were both victims! And historically the PR falsely states that German industry was forced to take slaves. He further says they had received no claims, which he had no time to check out by the look of the film and is also wrong. What got me was the glib statement "there are no winners here."

Still a week later a miserly compensation fund stopped the PR backlash and the generosity must have come from the threat of legal action.

The clip can be seen here.

The second clip is really dark humour and got a great result.

Humana, the health insurers refused to honour a policy because it covered diabetes
but not pancreatic problems. The policy holder a needed a pancreas transplant because of his diabetes. Despite turning over $21.4 billion in 2006 they would not fork out several thousand dollars to save the patients life.

Well, Michael ensured that they did by inviting Humana employees to the policy holder's funeral. If he was going to die why not do it with him there so he could enjoy it before it really happened?

Enjoy the clip here.

And be amazed by the Head of Worldwide Public Relations Greg Donaldson: confrontational, condescending, glib and seemingly unconcerned at times. Michael and the policy holder are just a pain that will go away if you come with some standard phrases.

PR often comes down to a little respect; how these guys got jobs worth, who knows, $100,000, $200,000 or more makes me wonder.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

PR round up of the week: the good, the bad and the ugly

Its a bumper edition this week.

The Good: Iranian bloggers. During the recent crisis Iranian bloggers have been commenting, many against the government line.

It must take a lot of courage and offers an alternative insight into a country that is more divided and broader in outlook than is the impression given by the Iranian and many other governments.

The Bad: Nationwide. Bank charges too much?

Well, banks can only charge for the cost of the administration and not for profit. Tell that to Nationwide.

They managed to send a student a bill for £250 because of a 95p overdraft. Instead of overturning the charge they initially offered to halve the amount if the debt was paid immediately.

One MP later they finally backed down. They even managed to demand he pay up after they got confused when he sent two letters to ask for an explanation.

The Ugly: Westboro Baptist Church. You might think churches are supposed to preach love and understanding. Not this one. They preach hate.

They recently featured on a Louis Theroux documentary, which showed their hatred for Jews, homosexuals and a corrupt America that deserves all it gets. They regularly picket soldiers' funerals and even tried to picket one for the child victims of a shooting in Amish country as evidence the Lord was punishing the US for its sins.

Louis did not get to expose their other prejudices such as anti-Catholism. Perhaps he didn't have time.

Well, the Westboro Baptist Church is now aiming its anger at Swedes. Yes Swedes. Apparently, King Carl XVI Gustaf provoked the protest campaign after a Swedish pastor was convicted for inciting hatred against homosexuals two years ago.

Since then Westboro Baptist Church has attacked Gustaf as "king of sodomite whores" and "king of fags." On the Louis Theorux piece they even were picketing a retail store because it sold Swedish hoovers.

Many church members run a legal practise. How does anyone hire them? If you are not sure have a look at these clips.

Big Chip Awards short list announced

The Big Chip awards short list has been announced today.

The usual multi-selection of Code Computer Love is there. But otherwise there is a very wide mix this year with no agency dominating.

Among the more "unusual" or new candidates are Manchester United and BBC Manchester.

Every competition selection is controversial to some extent and I have got to say I am a bit perplexed by some choices. I have helped with some entries for clients that were chosen and others were not and there seems a loose correlation with what I believe are the stronger entries.

Still, the important thing beside a morale boost has to be the promotion of the industry. If that happens it has to be a good thing.

Congratulations to Virtuaffinity for their short listings.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Artisan Blog one year old today

I must confess I was a little dubious when I got a blog; I really wanted a static website.

Simon Wharton of PushON decided the best thing was for me to have a blog and that was it.

So what's happened over the year?

Well, after a slow acceptance of having a blog, I have been fairly committed to writing entries. Over the year I have posted 172 entries and the frequency is higher than when I started.

The blog has featured in NW Business Insider and South Manchester Reporter.

The US correspondent for The Telegraph, Toby Harnden, has contacted me after finding an entry on the blog concerning a story about him in The Guardian I reported on. An amazing shift in the balance of power when a senior journalist wants to influence an individual.

I have been viewed by readers from a wide range of countries. Most readers are from the UK (around 80%) the rest USA and Canada (about 10%). There are a few Aussies and Kiwis and Indians. The remainder is mainly made up of Europeans. Very few readers from South America or Africa although there is some readers from China. There is the occasional 419 scammer from Liberia or Nigeria.

Weekdays are usually busier than weekends. This is particularly applicable to this year's April Fool's day when no one was up on Sunday morning to read my jape. It fell a little flat.

I have had inquiries for PR although not too many admittedly. However, a recent one led to a meeting with a company that employs 250 people and has quite a brief.

And the second year? I haven't planned anything except to blog regularly and be more proactive promoting it. A website to go with it? We will see.

Thanks to everyone that has visited, left comments or given advice, especially Craig McGinty.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

The deep footprint of the Internet

I looked up an agency today. I was interested to see how effective their online search marketing is and if they used business diaries.

The thing that struck me isn't going to surprise anyone, but you do have to be reminded of the fact constantly. I am talking about the longevity of our Internet footprints.

The agency I looked at had posted stories that were at the time illustrations of success and a rosy future. But things had changed! Partnerships, employees and outlook bear little resemblance to those releases now and that was only 2-3 years ago.

Of course newspapers such as the Manchester Evening News publish their offline content and nationals such as the Times and Guardian are also assiduous in their online activities and developing pre-Internet archives. Yet, many trade journals do not place as much emphasis on their online activities. We have to be aware that a story in hard copy could affect us later if found on the Internet.

With blogs the screw turns some more. I have on my blog over 170 entries; in a year's time that could be 400. Could something I write now be detrimental to me in 5 year or even 10 years? The answer might be yes. If my blog continues for another 5 years, we could be talking about 2-3000 entries. Would I have been the paragon of discretion over all that time? Would my current position be the same?

Online PR must take account of this potential predicament and advise clients accordingly. We must not be over enthusiastic in our predictions and think carefully when we want to release a story.

The Internet does not display chronologically most of the time. Your company could be doing really well and then a story from 5 years ago about closing a division could stubbornly be on the same pages as all the success stories - not the most impressive effect on a potential client.

Of course in business things go wrong, things change and we can only act on what we know now, but be prepared that what you might say now might be brought up in evidence against you at a later stage.

April fool!

April fool!

Well, not the best attempt ever. Unfortunately any April Fool's day that falls on a Sunday morning is not likely to have a big impact.

Still, there is next year.

Artisan to be bought out by business to consumer agency

Artisan is being bought out by a B2C PR agency that wishes to move into the B2B market.

At this stage all that can be reveled is that it is a Manchester agency. Offices and staff will be made available to the B2B side of the business, with a view for the buying enterprise to offer a service to all industry sectors.

More news to follow shortly.