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

Friday, June 29, 2007

Smoking ban: what a PR opportunity

There are many that view the smoking ban as new puritanism.

There are some that agree with that view and have decided to make some capital out of it.

One of those people is Dave West. He has claimed that his erotic club is merely an extension of his home as he lives above "the shop." By that logic it is not a public place and his punters are free to smoke.

Who has he asked to help him with the legal fight? None other than the wife of the man who is responsible for the legislation, Cherie Blair.

Of course Cherie charges, she ain't cheap.

It is an inspired choice as she has apparently charged him £3,500 for a bit of consultation.

The value of the PR for Dave's lap dancing club?

A lot, more than £3,500. Dave has featured in the Daily Telegraph and the Independent amongst others and it is nowhere near court yet.

It doesn't matter if he looses because he wins although I cannot fault him.

For a £200 fine I might have an illegal rolly but only if I can get an environmental health office there to make sure I get caught. From there I refuse to pay in the name of civil liberties and loads of publicity: fighting the power.

I can see my PR campaign now, but only because the smoke has cleared because of the ban.

Using social networking sites for business

The other day I was asked what I thought and know of Facebook, the thinking man's MySpace.

All I really know besides that it is a social networking site is that Prince William might or might not be a member.

The question came from someone looking to use Facebook, the posh My Space, to make business contacts.

I had my doubts.

Last night I was recommend Xing, a business social networking site. I really could not get past the registration to find out more about it.

I have been a member of Soflow and I lost interest in that within in a week or so.

There are others such as Linkedin, which I came across when I was trying to find an ex-colleague although I found his contact details of his new company elsewhere very quickly.
I am sure there are others business social networking sites.

I just find it hard to see, when there is blogging and networking, why a company would put much resource time wise into using a social networking site.

Am I missing out?

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Bullet causes US man’s headache

Was that featured in Viz ? No .

How about The Sun? Possibly.

The BBC website. Yes.

It is the story of a man with a headache so bad he went to hospital to get treatment. The medical staff discovered the offending projectile, removed it and the police arrested his wife for attempted murder. The man was unaware that his wife had shot him. His wife, for the time being before a reasonably priced divorce lawyer is hired, claimed it was an accident.

That was in the most popular stories section.

One story of a man caught having sex with a goat and being forced by his village to marry the goat and provide a dowry to it’s owner also made the top stories, which is the 5 most viewed pieces on the site.

It not only was there, in the most viewed stories, for a few days, it reappeared after it lost its coveted place.

What does it prove?

Well, even the BBC with a reasonably intelligent audience wants the bizarre, unusual, entertaining.

PRs naturally must follow suit although perhaps not to this extent. Clients must also be educated that the media is not a prissy, conservative animal; they too need to go out on a limb to capture and retain attention. That can be a challenge.

By the way the BBC reported that the goat had passed away a few months ago. It has not been reported if the man has remarried but if he has married anything other than a human female I will let you know.

How to use online copy to differentiate your service

I am writing copy for a client's Internet site and quite aptly I came across a very useful article by Dan Wilson, principal of Brand Etc on my regular e-mail newsletter from Wilson Web.

I have been receiving Wilson Web newsletters for quite a long time, but I only scan them, if that, before storing them away.

Luckily I read the current one on differentiating a homepage. Dan advises:

Differentiation in the First Paragraph: The first paragraph of your home page should explain concisely what you do. The next paragraphs should set you apart.

Find Your Differentiators: What do you offer that your competitors don't? What do customers get from you that they can't get anywhere else?

Build Emotional Impact: Now put yourself in your customers' shoes. What motivates them? What solutions do you provide to ease their pains, alleviate their fears, and help them reach their aspirations? What resonates with your target audience? What is your customer's world like without you? How will their world be better with you in the picture?

Chart Your Undiscovered Advantages: Which of your company's best differentiators are hiding in plain sight, waiting to be discovered? Dan mentions a product that only realised it's unique selling point after 10 years in business.

Five Tests of a Strong Message:

  1. Is it important to the customer?
  2. Is it unique to this company, product, or service?
  3. Is this a sustainable competitive advantage?
  4. Is it memorable?
  5. Is this advantage easy to prove?

The complete and unabridged article on differentiating your home page click here.

It is not complicated stuff I agree, but useful reminder and there are some really insightful entries for those that are more Internet minded.

Just click on to Wilson Web to subscribe.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Monitoring reputation online: Joe Duncan of Business for Breakfast

I was speaking to Joe Duncan of Business for Breakfast yesterday about monitoring the web.

It reminded me of an article for an Internet client of mine getting some interest. My client googled the interested party during his research for his new lead and found that under his listing the whole page was full of stories about the subject's financially poor year.

I would also like you to note the subject was a notable player in their field.

Imagine your company name (to use a cliche) proudly displayed at the top of a search (as it should be) and underneath nothing but bad news stories. Would anyone bother to call you (except for Yellow Pages perhaps)?

The company, as is my understanding, had overcome or had been through the worst and were operating normally. They were, however, blissfully unaware (to use another cliche) of their online image and that a powerful tool was acting as their enemy.

Back to Joe (pictured in typical smiling frame of mind).

Joe told me he had been found online by searches specifically looking for him (rather than a generic search for his industry sector) on other peoples' websites. He was unaware that he was mentioned on anyone's website. Luckily, they were kind words.

I am sure a lot of companies have had the above experiences and many do not know the good or harm their online presence has for their business.

The point of this entry is twofold:

I believe it is the job of the PR to work in the online environment. With a new industry the game lines take a while to be drawn and even though a good Internet agency might monitor reputation online, the PR cannot absolve themselves of this responsibility.

Second, Joe and I want to see how easy it is to get my blog found with a search for Joe Duncan - fairly easy I should think.

For the Internet minded this is basic stuff. Yet, I am sure it surprises and will continue to do so how many companies are happily unaware of the business they are winning, but more probably losing, without even the slightest idea owing to online entries and comments from third parties.

Monday, June 25, 2007

An Interview with Robin Hamman of the BBC

I have interviewed Robin Hamman of the BBC for the creative media portal How Do.

Robin is a senior broadcast journalist/producer at the BBC and is responsible for the Manchester BBC Blog.

This is using local bloggers to provide news content and in turn supporting bloggers by driving traffic to their sites when featured. It is all about building community and a two way flow of information of engaging content.

It is a departure form current models of sourcing and distributing information. The whole article can be viewed by clicking on the How Do portal here.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Kate Adie slams blogs

Kate Adie, the veteran BBC reporter, has launched an attack on journalists that blog, as reported on the website.

Kate was reported as saying: "But journalists shouldn't have any time to blog - there are too many stories waiting to be told!”

hat she really objected to was not so much communicating with their peers, "as the idea that journalists should spend their 'precious time' writing about how they obtained their stories."

Newsnight editor Peter Barron disagrees and is quoted on as commenting: ""Nothing better to do than talk to and listen to their audience?"

And let us not forget all those bloggers that are fighting political repression or giving a unique insight into a situation that Kate could hope to emulate, but not better. Some of those bloggers do so at great risk and for no reward.

Perhaps Kate should learn more about blogs first and even get an RSS feed from my site, where I have featured blogging dissidents before making what seems to be uninformed swipes at something she doesn't understand.

Maybe if Kate blogged under fire she might feel more at home - take a look at Spitting Images take.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Dale Street fire company winning new clients

Nick Rhind (pictured with the keys to his new office) of software business CTI Network Support Limited featured on this blog in early May.

Nick's business was affected by the Dale Street fire. Luckily Nick practised what he preached and offered and had a contingency plan in place. All but a day's information was backed up as well.

CTI was able to continue service clients. Of course, even with a contingency plan, there was disruption. However, CTI has come through May with some great account wins.

The PR aimed to get the message to clients and prospective clients via e-mail, the website, print media (Manchester Evening News and South Manchester Reporter; the coverage can be viewed by clicking on the links) and broadcast media (unfortunately we could not take up BBC Manchester radio for an interview because Nick had an hour to go back into his office to recover all his equipment at the same time as the time slot for the interview).

We also used the blog and many fellow bloggers to get the message he was operating, many thanks to all that helped.

We are featuring in the Manchester City Council contingency planning group newsletter as well.

The next episode has been to publicise the fact that CTI is winning new business:

The new client wins include marketing agency HCL, architects Taylor Design, data suppliers Consumer Contacts, psychotherapists Synthesis and property consultants Bridgestone Surveyors.

There should be no clients or few prospective clients that have any doubt that CTI is able to work effectively on their software and database projects.

The new release should reinforce that view and will show their resilience.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Show bloggers respect

"When I first heard that NPower was causing a ruckus I was shocked! Why would such a great org cause so much strife. Oh, wrong NPower.

Now this NPower does bring a good name to its activities."

Oh my!

I do declare!

That was the response that graced my comments box in March when I was commenting on the PR disaster that npower was creating for itself.

The affected Deep South phrases are mine.

Oxfordshire beauty spot Radley Lakes was being filled in by nPower to dispose of ash much to the bewilderment and opposition of locals and many others.

npower decided to use a gagging order from the courts to stop legitimate protest. The Mc crisis way of doing PR.

Anyway, I got a comment from npower, an unsophisticated marketing employee no doubt on a high wage, who feebly tried to point to all the brilliant charity work they do.

Don't get me wrong I like comments and I am sure the company do some admirable charity work. However that is irrelevant here. The npower rep did not address the issue but came over as patronising, skirting round the issue and hoping we would forget the npower's actions in Oxfordshire because it does some good thing in the USA.

Why bring this up now?

Well, no particularly strong reason except I have been talking about astrosurfing - putting in comments to back up a product or service and passing them off as independent comment although they are from a company with vested interests - with Robin Hamman of the BBC.

I have also mentioned recently Charles Arthur of the Guardian and the ridiculous pitches he gets from PR agencies to feature on his blog. And I have had my own experiences.

It is a small comment but it is so insulting to my intelligence that it rankles, think how annoying it would be to someone much cleverer.

A little transparency and respect goes a long way.

Besides the npower marketer completely ignoring the content of the entry, getting the case of their company wrong, that is lower case to start (I believe although I could be wrong and do not much care), when my entry criticising npower comes up on a search their are lots of npower pay per clicks. I know this might not be their fault but it brings a wry smile as they say.

Imitation sure sign of success - increasing the viral marketing potential

The last entry featured OK Go's amazing Here It Goes video. Treat yourself to 3 minutes of fun, it will make you happy for the day.

With over 18 million views on You Tube and many more seeing it through the video being forwarded to friends, the impact has been further increased by imitations.

Two worth seeing are a high school's almost perfect recreation and one featuring lego men.

But how do you get people to imitate you if that is what you want? By being brilliant and innovative.

Networking4Business's formula has been copied a number of times over the last couple of years, but never bettered. A sure sign they are the best networking meeting of their type in the North West as shown by their attendance and the copycats.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Creativity does not cost the earth

What can you do with four band members and 8 running machines?

Create an amazing promotional video.

Quirky indie band OK Go has notched over 18 million views on You Tube with their amazing dance, which can be seen here for "Here It Goes Again." It is well worth seeing.

This makes it the seventh most viewed video of all time on You Tube.

The cost: the hire of the machines, a choreographer who is the sister of a member of the band, and someone to film, which could have been a friend or fan and some production.

The result: It was voted the most creative video on You Tube for 2006. And the album that had failed to do much in a year had a 182% leap in sales and 50,000 more CDs were shipped to stores by the record company, which is almost unheard of after a year has gone with little headway.

If you want to see OK Go's for A Million Ways video click here and be entertained some more.

It just shows that creativity, promotion and success is within anyone's budget.

Thanks to Jeremy Waite of brand designers and green printers Juicy Marketing for alerting me to this amazing video.

Monday, June 18, 2007

The Times top 50 blogs - really?

The Times has published its top 50 blogs. These type of surveys produce controversy, but the journalist said this is "a work in progress" - you're not wrong.

There are the ones you would expect like BuzzMachines, but in the small list of 4 for marketing and media is Byrne Baby Byrne. A competitive space. I am happy with the others although some would argue if they are the best blogs in this category, I am not too bothered at least they have substance:

Seth Godin, yes, it is well read and respected.
Edelman is well established.
Tom Glocer alright.

The Byrne Baby Byrne blog is less than 4 months old and I cannot see that it has something to say that makes me think more than usual or says that it should be so well regarded by The Times. In fact if it belonged to someone with less profile it certainly would not be here.

Just because Weber Shandwick is a big agency it does not mean they are necessarily ahead of everyone else, otherwise they would have had this blog a long time ago.

New networking event aimed at those setting up in businesses

Networking4Business is launching a free new event aimed at helping budding new entrepreneurs make valuable business contacts.

The Manchester based networking business, which has enjoyed success with its Simply Networking format, is holding its inaugural meeting at Tiger Tiger on 10th July.

The event, called Simply Networking New, will cater to those that are considering starting a business or have just set-up. A number of seasoned business people will be on hand to offer advice.

Numbers are being limited to 40 to ensure those new to networking can make themselves at home and get to speak to a high proportion of the attendees.

Mark Greenwood, managing director of Networking4Business comments: “Business and entrepreneurship is all the rage at the moment. Many people encouraged by media interest and more flexible ways of working are looking to work for themselves, but it is not easy. This event is aimed at giving support, guidance and most of all important contacts to getting off to a good start.”

Mark can be contacted on 0161 721 4831 for more details

How not to pitch to bloggers

I was reading Stuart Bruce's blog and came across this reference to Charles Arthur, technology editor of The Guardian, and his frustration at the ineptness of PRs, especially in relation to pitching in to bloggers, of which he is one.

The following needs very little comment. I am not sure if it is funny or irritating but it is worrying, especially as the PRs represent sought after brands / clients.

Here goes:

PR: “Hello, you blog, don’t you? Do you want to write about our new brand?”

Gdn: (confused) “Your new brand?”

PR: “Yes, it’s London 2012, the Olympics, the new brand has been unveiled today.”

Gdn: “Do you mean logo?” (This would be the logo - described by everyone else including me - as “one of the worst marks I’ve ever seen. It’s just plain ugly”).

When the people touting your stuff don’t know the difference between a logo and a brand (hint: one can be included in your accounts under “intangibles” and have a value reaching into the millions; the other just costs that way), you’ve got a problem.

Later: phone rings. My phone. It’s been passed on by a colleague who works on blogs.

PR: “Hello, do you blog?”

Me: “Er, yes.” (Thinks: among other things.. what an odd way to open the conversation.)
PR: “I’m calling from Panasonic because they’ve got a new camera that’s come out and we thought you’d like to write about it.”

Me: “So what’s different about it? Cameras come out all the time.”

PR: “I don’t know exactly, but you’re a blogger aren’t you? Would you like to write about it?”

Me: (feeling slight stroke coming on): “Why? What’s this blog stuff? What is it about the camera? What’s special, different, newsworthy, if anything, about it?”

PR: “Umm, well, that’s not what I’m doing but I thought that because you blog…”

Me: “I edit the Technology section of the Guardian. Google me. Goodbye.”

If you can stomach anymore the full entry on what not to do PR wise is here.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Is it easier to be a business to consumer than a business to business PR?

There is definitely a culture gap between B2B and B2C PRs. There should be nothing to prevent a PR in one field working in another.

But there are differences and one of the biggest is how much harder the job is if you are a B2B PR.

If you look at the number of publications a B2B PR can aim at the number is much higher for B2C PRs. Say we take a Manchester based legal practise against a Manchester based clothing brand to illustrate my point.

Let's say the legal practise has a particular expertise in property law and the clothing brand is for the bigger person.

Which publications can you aim for?

Well with the Manchester Evening News you can aim for a page every Tuesday for the legal company, which has a page for professional services, but that includes all professionals services.

You can aim for 2-3 regional monthly business magazines. Occasionally a national. Perhaps trade press from vertical sectors such as construction and the odd lifestyle title. The property press naturally and that is quite well represented.

Your competition is every other legal practise that engages in property work and does PR - that must be a high number.

Yes, it all depends on relationships with journalists, the stories you produce and pitching in as well as being able to see opportunities. Yet look at the channels for the clothing brand:

The Manchester Evening News in lifestyle and the business section
Manchester lifestyle titles, there must be about 12 or more and the titles you can find in the newsagent for national lifestyle titles
The broadcast media locally and nationally
The nationals, The Daily Mail thrives on fashion ideas
Trade press for the clothes industry

And I haven't got onto the wider brief you are probably going to have to be creative and that many B2C clients are very open to PR.

I think I am going to find myself a fashion house.

McMillan charity ball

McMillan Cancer Support will be holding a charity ball at Old Trafford football club on the 20th September to raise money for providing support and care for cancer patients.

The event features fine dining, live entertainment and a range of brilliant prizes to bid for including a match day with the groundsman at Old Trafford.

For more information please contact Kim Smith on 01925 846 759

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Intellectual property seminar in Manchester

YE Magazine, is holding a seminar in Manchester on the 21st June on intellectual property.

Hot Property, as it has been named, is being held at the Manchester Conference Centre on Sackville Street from 1.30pm and only costs £25 / £15 for non-subscribers / subscribers to the magazine.

More details can be found on the YE Magazine website.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

What price reputation?: ask Joey Barton


Can you really put a price on it?

Joey Barton thinks you can and £300,000 is well short of it.

To reinforce the poor view many have of him after a series of incidents that include brawling with a fan, attacking a taxi driver (I didn't know about this one, he has been active), a colleague and attacking another colleague, Joey is demanding a loyalty bonus as his contract says that he should be compensated if he leaves Manchester City without requesting a transfer.

Joey who will treble his wages when he moves to Newcastle in a contract worth £16m is pressing his claim over the "loyalty bonus" despite the club loyally backing him up over the years. Some repayment.

In the world of football values and knowing how to behave have gone out of the window.

Joey's action not only damages him further (some achievement) but damages football as well.

Being a football PR is not for those that want a quite life.

The Apprentice, the manipulator and ALF

Katie from The Apprentice, the overtly and slightly cartoon like manipulative, devious and selfish person, has been fired from her job as a global branding consultant at the Met Office.

A few things strike me as strange. £90,000 global consultant for the Met Office? Why do they need one and why pay so much?

I always get my weather from the BBC because I am a brand loyal and identify with their hip values. Doesn't make much sense.

Apparently The Met Office denies they did pay Katie that.

She is also clueless about branding as shown on the Apprentice.

But what gets me is that she is complaining that her sacking is The Met's fault:

"I think they wanted the publicity and you have to accept there are two sides to that."


The Met "didn't think it through" that her appearance on the show would create both positive and negative publicity.


"You are going to get loads of press and the people that let me go on the show wanted to cover their own backs and I have become, yet again, a scapegoat."


It was not that The Met is publicity seeking at any cost organisation. Did they force Katie on the program. And if they are so publicity seeking why does no one really know about what they do except that it has something to do with the weather?

The fact is that Katie brought them into disrepute by her behaviour on the program and allegedly having affairs with married colleagues coming to light, which there are suspicions that she staged the images for the press.

Katie will learn that media communications is like an equation: there is a price to pay for coverage. She is getting her 15 weeks of fame by her despicable behaviour and she is probably using the experience to launch a media career. She cannot complain, she should take responsibility for her own actions.

If you want more serious comment from an Apprentice aficionado go to Jim Symcox's marketing blog.

I have actually pictured sitcom character ALF and not Katie. Look again and you can make out the difference. Can you see it? Yes ALF has less chance in being in a Christmas panto and has more talent in branding.

Enough. Entry on pitching to bloggers coming to this blog shortly.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Sponsored links: "Manchester" "PR" "Agency"

The sponsored link!

The passport to traffic. The get traffic short cut.

Well, as Simon Wharton of PushOn points out in his recent article, there is another way: organic search marketing (as featured on the How Do portal).

Simon does not discount Pay Per Click but includes it as part of a well balanced and beneficial online campaign. Even though Simon says that organic search marketing is 6 times more effective than PPC, he calculates that a marketing campaign that secures a combination of a top three placement with a top placed PPC will generate a 93% chance of gaining a click.

However, when putting the sacred search terms "Manchester" "PR" "Agency" in a search engine I was surprised at some of the results sponsored link wise.

Simon in his article claims that we look at results in a "F" shape pattern. We scan the organic search results and tend to concentrate on the top sponsored link of the ones listed the right hand side.

But what has struck me is that some of the agencies advertising are wasting resources whether they achieve a coveted top link or not. Even if Google is selecting and placing the sponsored links the results as outlined are the same.

The PPC has included agencies from as far a field as Sheffield (not so bad but why look further afield than necessary) to Maidenhead (bad) to Connecticut USA (mmmmm).

I am sure Graham Associates is very good, but just having a London office for the San Francisco agency is not really convincing for many North West based clients. Yet there they are.

The Manchester scene is not few in numbers and offers a range of company cultures, experience and skills. In some areas such as financial PR it has less to select from so I can understand a Manchester company looking further afield in this case.

Perhaps the lure and glamour of a London agency is attractive, but a Winchester or Leicester one? Not likely however good they are and with little in the way of reputation in the North West there are unlikely to be any local references.

The agencies that advertise if they do not get clicked on are losing very little. But surely more people will use organic search only if the PPC offers suppliers that in many cases are going to be of little interest, especially as there is probably a suitable agency within a half hour drive.

What is the value of the sponsored link currency?

Monday, June 11, 2007

Best laid plans of dogs and men

Dreamscape Solutions has been looking forward to this week for some time.

The Manchester based creative digital media company has been working on the online promotion of the Liverpool Tennis Tournament.

The account was won way back in October when organiser Anders Borg read about them in the Liverpool Daily Post.

Well, Anders is not able to get copies of the Post regularly as he lives in Norway, but he does receive RSS feeds and one such feed about winning Monarch Recruitment led to a flagship account.

Bernard McCabe who runs Dreamscape Solutions was looking forward to meeting Bjorn Borg. Unfortunately, Bjorn has had to call off his participation owing to be bitten by a dog called Wolf.

Bjorn will be on hand to meet sponsors including Bernard's company and fans but perhaps not their pets.

Good PR? Well it is on the BBC sport page.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Forget the Olympic logo - the classic logo top 10

With the less than impressive Olympic 2012 logo receiving very little praise, what constitutes an iconic logo?

Well, my top 10 logos have simplicity, creativity, occasionally wit and an advertising budget. One thing they do not share in the design is a big bill. The Mercedes, Nike, HMV and Coca Cola have had next to nothing and sometimes nothing spent on their creation.

(I have not included political or religious logos).

Shell - simple, easily recognisable. It has evolved without ever diverging too far from the original concept.

Coca Cola - wherever you are, whatever the language, it is easy to recognise that script. With the iconic bottle you could be in Andes or Sahara and you would know the brand regardless of the language the brand is written in.

London Underground - have you ever not recognised the symbol when searching for a tube station? Exactly.

Mercedes - the logo equals luxury.

Nike- cost $35 in 1971, better value than the London Olympics £450,000 logo?

Orange - a logo that has cornered a colour and a shape just for itself. Can anyone else use orange or a square again for their logo?

I Love NY - cultural icon that has been parodied and copied, a sign of success.

Yellow Pages - internationally recognised logo, you do not need to know the language on holiday to spot a Yellow Pages.

RCA HMV - much loved logo and one that is having Gromit making a guest appearance as the dog from this April - sheer class.

Rolling Stones - pictured although I really don't have to point that out.

There could be others, for example the Liverbird, and with the West Indies / England test match today, you could include both teams logos. And of course the Olympic logo.

If you want to get further inspiration see

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Where can you find a designer to design your Olympic logo!?

Now that you might have gotten over the mess (unless you are epileptic) that went for an Olympic logo, where can you find really brilliant design?

Well, I know designers in Manchester that I am sure can design a logo worthy of the Olympics.

I came across Russian branding and design magazine Identity and their international 2006 logo competition and the design by Stanislav Topol'skiy (Ukraine) Watch & Clock for a retail outlet. It is simple and innovative and memorable.

You do not need make things complicated to have the desired effect. Stanislav only came second in his category with this impressive work.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Free tickets for Pure tonight

I have 5 tickets for the comedy nigh at Pure in the Printworks in Manchester tonight.

Does anyone want them? Please call me on 07957611834.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

The Apprentice - it's entertainment and that's official

I came across a story about getting down to the final two on The Apprentice on the BBC website and it came under the entertainment section.

I think this is slightly ironic as this was the first episode where I think it had a real business value. The interviews that the candidates endured gave you a view of how a selection process takes place and how you have to really prepare your pitch.

It was quite entertaining but fairly predictable except that Alan Sugar got it so wrong on "the _______" (fill in your description of Katie)

Sir Alan overlooked her pathetic knowledge of branding and atrocious practical application the branding exercise although she is supposedly a "global brand consultant" on £90,000.

Sir Alan overlooked her untrustworthiness, vindictiveness and ruthlessness and chose her for the final. She unsurprisingly turned him down. Why work for Alan Sugar when you can make a fortune in the media as the new "Nasty Nick?"

One contestant has expounded the view that the majority of applicants are using the show and do not want to win. Whose using who? Sir Alan is being outmanoeuvred or in his parlance "had."

That is why the series hasn't worked for me. The 80s "Greed is good"and complete selfishness approach is outdated and not the best recipe for team or company performance.

Funnily enough the current "PC" approach could also backfire on Alan Sugar.

Luckily we get a respite from such TV pollution for a while.

Can anyone help?

Many thanks to all those have e-mailed with such diligence and commitment to offer degrees, viagra, pills, the possibility of meeting Russian girls and generous business deals over the past few months; I cannot tell you how kind the West African guys are.

Special thanks to the Japanese correspondent although I cannot read anything you send.

Does anyone know how to stop and / or report these nuisances?

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

London Olympics logo let down

The London Olympics logo has been launched to widespread condemnation.

The £400,000 logo has only inspired derision and shouts of "I could do better" although some wouldn't venture so far and claimed their young children could come up with something, anything better.

The logo presented or perhaps being hidden by Lord Coe has meet with a range of comments, nearly all poor except for some politicians.

Among the worst is: "The guys from the Apprentice could of come up with something better than that." No need to go that far.

Still the brand designed by Wolff Ollins does have something to recommend it - it can be changed.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

10 PR dream accounts

It is a bit of a mirror image of the previous entry but the following would be brilliant accounts to work on. Some are realistic aims, others flights of fancy.

(I am very happy with who I work with at the moment but CAMRA hiring me wouldn't hurt).

CAMRA - the campaign for real ale - you don't need a beard or have unstylish clothes to be a fan of CAMRA although the person on their homepage suggests you do. Lots of angles, lots of press to contact and lots of non paper based media to pitch to and of course the research isn't too bad.

Urban Splash - setup form scratch by Tom Bloxham and his business partner in 1993, the Manchester based urban regeneration enterprise has been key to Manchester's urban reshaping. Highly successful and profitable, but not at the expense of staff, coming in 12th in the Sunday Times Best small companies to work for in 2005. PR cannot succeed without a good product and they have one.

An airline - how many interesting stories could you get? Plenty.

Citizens' Advice Bureau - in an age where money and power seem to count for more it is all the more important that they are supported for those who need their help.

In 2006 there were 462 bureaux offering advice from over 3000 locations with 20,000 volunteers. It is a charity and does not receive central funding from the government.

A real and important voice that needs to communicate.

Marketing Manchester - they have an in-house PR team yet if they didn't what a great account and one with regular exciting developments.

McLibel Two - McDonald's can do no right. Wait they might sue me, I better back track. Well two individuals with little post 18 education and few resources stood up to McDonalds and won.

What great great guerrilla PR.

Simon Weston the founder of Weston Spirit- Falklands casualty that proved to be an inspiration.

Ricky Hatton (pictured) - does he need PR? Not really. His friendly attitude, openness and terrific boxing sells itself and he is even a Man City supporter. Are there no weaknesses? Forget crisis PR.

Another Ben and Jerry's - the best and most effective guerrilla campaign of all time? Maybe. How a competitor - Haagen Daaz - created their rival and one that overtook them.

For a chance to orchestrate that.

One short, any suggestions?

Saturday, June 02, 2007

10 nightmare PR accounts

I have been thinking of the 10 PR accounts I would most like to work on and 10 I would rather not. It has been easier ruling out those that even if they were offered I would not like to be associated with. It is unlikely I would have been invited to pitch for any of these but....

iSoft - as Tom Cheesewright calls it "the poison chalice" of PR clients. It has been accused of false accounting, has been lambasted on the front page on the Guardian and they have dispensed with their managing director who still got a big payout despite helping to ruin the company.

Yet their PR has shown how not to defend the company: a continual succession of account wins ignoring the real story over the last year has appeared on their website.

The work page says: "iSoft is
a challenging, demanding and rewarding employer." Not sure the "rewarding" bit applies to their PR dept or agency although the rest probably does.

Shere Khan Restaurants Limited - what can you do for your client when they serve cockroaches with their
poppadoms and are severely fined?
Well, you could go for them serving non additive food organic angle, couldn't you?

Edwina Curry - don't know much about her? Don't worry her autobiography (no one would write a biography) will be in the bargain bin at all good bookshops. Hurt party of an affair with John Major, poor innocent manipulative girl.

Boddingtons - brilliant advertising and branding, arguably on a par with Guinness. "Cream of Manchester" and then they move a fair proportion of their production out of the North West. All that brilliant advertising gone to waste. Not easy to follow with PR after that.

Beetham Tower - with the imagination of a Dave Bassett football team (I still remember the long ball game of mid 1990s Sheffield United), Ian Simpson the architect marches on with soulless and unattractive buildings. The PR might rave about how wonderful and modern and exciting it is but many Mancunians are far from impressed.

Jade Goody - what a culture where stupidity and ignorance are celebrated, at least it stopped at bullying and racism. If there is a reason to promote her please let me know.

Celebrity autobiographies - any self respecting 20 year old celebrity that has not had one ghost written for them, well good for you. Why promote such mindless literary pollution?

Reality TV - now even Ruth Badger (pictured; my little joke I couldn't resist putting up a more attractive and engaging one) has now even got her own reality TV series called Badger or Bust. I've missed all the episodes so far.

Reality TV is all so dull, unchallenging and I would not wish to propagate a format that stops creativity. It will, as we are beginning to see, damage TV.

Victoria Beckham -
There is so much not to admire but it is the incident when she sacked her PR agency because her record was not selling that got her into my top 10. Why blame yourself when you have a PR agency?

Still, you do wonder how the other Spice Girls kept a straight face when she sang solos - the most entertaining thing she did.

McDonald's - heavy handed PR. Not learning anything from the McLibel Two when they used the best legal team possible for a Pyrrhic victory that damaged them immensely, they are now embarking on a campaign to make the Oxford English Dictionary change their definition of a McJob. It is the people and common usage that decides how the OED interpret words not a PR agency or a marketing budget. Watch this one back fire.

Have I missed anyone out?