Why Piggies Need Their Backs Better Looked After: A Peek At A Better Way To Respond To News

  In traditional, ‘agency’ PR, there’s a well-established technique called ‘piggybacking.’ The idea’s straightforward enough, and is suggested well by the name: x event happens, so we produce comment on it from our client. Sound idea – but invariably terribly badly done Journalists want things they can use to take a story on to the next level, of course they do. Say the Town Hall burns down and the Fire Brigade says that it was caused by faulty wiring. It’s perfectly legitimate for electrical safety consultants to next day go to the press and suggest ways such disasters can be avoided in future – or for, say, insurers to remind us all that it’s always worth protecting yourself against the unexpected, and so on. Unfortunately, in hi-tech at least, what happens is this: Bad Thing Happens. Reporters get 100 emails the next morning – sometimes the same day – saying, ‘Oh, That bad Thing? If only enterprises had bought my

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‘Yes, I will honour the embargo… for the rest of my working life m’Lud’

Accompanied by the arch hashtag of ‘#smugjourno,’ this cheeky t-shirt  is one of an amusing range of self-designed and printed t-shits some PR wags have been creating at website Teespring.com. I must admit it did raise a wry cackle in Sarum Towers when a colleague sent me the link – as, God knows, we’ve all had more than our share of journo blowback over this issue over the years. And what is that issue? To normal people, i.e. the 99% of civilians who live their lives unblemished by concerning themselves with all the Byzantine ins and outs of modern B2B high-tech media communications, there isn’t an issue of course. ‘I’m having some grief over a journo who won’t sign my embargo.’ ‘What’s one of those?’ ‘It’s an agreement about not publishing anything until an agreed deadline’s passed.’‘What’s the problem with that?’ Well, there shouldn’t be. Right? But we know there is. The problem is very similar to what we talked

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What Surprise PR Mainstay Am I NOT Putting into Room 101?

“You asked me once, what was in Room 101. I told you that you knew the answer already. Everyone knows it. The thing that is in Room 101 is the worst thing in the world.” Cue horribly dramatic music … nah Cue, instead, please, Mr Frank Skinner’s cheeky Black Country visage, a montage of clips including the infamous moment when Anne Robinson nominated the entire proud nation of the Welsh or Mel and Sue saying the whole (actually, rather lovely) town of Leighton Buzzard was their choice… I am referring, of course, to the amusing BBC show ‘Room 101’ (see its official home here ), where guests are invited to pick their own version of ‘the worst thing in the world’ in to a special sort of imaginary prison. The programme has its roots, of course, in Orwell’s terrible original Room 101, but with, shall we say, a bit of a lighter touch. So, you know. No rats, or stuff.

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Getting Grounded about PR

You know all this worry and stress we have every day about some bit of technology not being properly understood by its target audience, or a misquote that has got the client up in arms – the ‘etc etc etc’ of daily B2B public relations and brand journalism? Here’s a quick, sure-fire cure. Go and work for a bit with a real-world, real-problem client. Because that’s a guaranteed way for you to both see the wood for the trees… as well as reminding yourself that what you do really does matter. This was all brought home to me by a bit of a situation relating to my current pro bono client, South Wilts Mencap. Note I said ‘current;’ I absolutely would recommend any PR worth their salt to have a charity or small startup or artist or community organisation that you offer your help to, for reasons I think will come clear in a second. (Note I also said ‘pro

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Why the Fault Always Lies with the Communicator, Not the Recipient

One of my biggest, central communication convictions as someone working in B2B PR and brand journalism is the following: If there’s a fault with a communication, it always lies with the sender – not the recipient. This is such a crucially important thing for me that I want to unpack it a bit, to explain it, as it’s one of the most valuable pieces of training I ever got in business, and I am glad I got it early enough for it to change my behaviour, too. So – if there’s a fault with a communication, it always lies with the sender, not the recipient. That means that you can’t ever say that the audience was too dim to get you. You can’t say that an employee messed up because they misinterpreted your instructions. I genuinely can’t think of an exception to this. My conviction is such that I apply it rigorously when I work with clients and their messaging

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Einstein, Socrates, Assertiveness – All In One Day

Today I have two things to cover. One is a bit of philosophy. The other is a reminder of the need for some backbone. Oddly, they are definitely related – and even more oddly, they both came out of quite a moment I had in an important client meeting a week or so ago. The first thing was a real moment of doubt. Wasn’t it Einstein who said that if you can’t explain it to a six year old, you don’t understand it yourself? That genius’ definition of clarity came back to me that day when a client looked me in the eye and asked me, flat out, ‘What is it you do, what does PR do – explain it to the team?’ It was a bit of a scary moment, as you can probably imagine. But every now and again, in no matter what walk of life you’re in, is it not a good idea to challenge oneself and

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