Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Prince William sleeps rough for Centrepoint


Many charities have high profile patrons but fail to utilise their PR potential effectively.

Hats off then to the comms team at Centrepoint for their brilliantly executed story about how Prince William spent the night sleeping rough in London (apart from a few armed guards no doubt!)

The story was perfectly timed so close to Christmas and the quotes from the Prince and the Centrepoint Chief Exec Seyi Obakin ensured that the message behind the campaign wasn't overshadowed by its use of our probable future King.

This is a campaign that will help raise money and awareness for homeless people during this treacherous weather and it's a great piece of PR because of the messaging; not just because of the Prince.

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Gordon Brown to call snap election

After months of being hammered in the polls there is evidence that the vote is returning to Labour with the latest poll showing a 9% Tory lead. http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2009/dec/14/tory-lead-nine-points-guardian-icm-poll

This is no surprise as mid term voters are more likely to protest against the government, with polls in between notoriously unreliable as lead identifiers for elections.

The big problem facing the Conservatives is the low key response from George Osborne and David Cameron to the Pre Budget Report. It has left voters, many of whom are unhappy with the Government, unsure as to what the opposition stands for.

Here in my local constituency we have had 3 recent glossy Tory pamphlets, with non from any other party.

This is evidence that although the Tories are awash with money, they have in many ways been fighting a campaign alone for 12 months and this means voters can become bored, to put it simplistically.

So the odds are Gordon Brown will go for a March election to try and capitalise on the small momentum Labour's core voters can create by returning to the fold.

This would greatly reduce the odds of a hung parliament and this narrative is one you can expect to see more of in the media over the coming weeks.

I will be speaking to my former employer's office in the red corner over the coming days, so hope to get a further insight then.

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Scientists unveil formula for perfect parking...but Vauxhall Motors story was released by Esure just months earlier


Textbook piece of Christmas PR from the Vauxhall motors PR team today. Their story about scientists finding a formula for perfect parking is a tried and tested recipe for coverage but, excuse the pun, there's clearly no need to re-invent the wheel with a story like this.

Third party scientific research? Check. Survey showing regional divides? Check. An issue most Sunday newspaper readers can identify with? Check. Add in bylined quotes from the brand and you have a great story, well executed.

But, however, I'm sure I've seen this exact story before? Oh, yes, I have:


So as well executed as the story is I'm sure Esure won't be as complimentary of Vauxhall Motors as I've been. Well, let's face it, they probably nicked the idea off someone else too...it seems Flat Earth News really does travel!

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Pre-Budget Report 09: Tories buy Pre-Budget Report Adwords

The interesting news to come out of the Pre-Budget report was that the Conservative digital team (according to Mesha Chhabra)  immediately purchased key Adwords on google, such as 'boiler scrappage' and 'PBR'.

The first thing to say is to hold your hands up and admit that they have gone on the front foot and gained a digital advantage.

I would, however, argue that political parties need tighter regulations over online ad spend and indeed strict rules about the content they can and can't pay for.

I'm all for digital campaigns and creative platforms, it's just the data sharing and paid for elements of online advertising that I'd like to see made fairer so come election time it doesn't become a free for all.

Not only can digital spend be harder to track, it can also be unfair. To have one party's ads come up when an ordinary voter looks to learn about the Pre-Budget Report means that, in my opinion, that party gains an unfair advantage. I think all parties should declare their digital spend in a transparent way and that they should not be allowed to pay to link themselves to topics or key words in such a manner.

I realise this sounds rather ridiculous given that it's hardly new but this particular examples re-enforces my uneasiness over how digital democracy can suffer if we don't have stricter online advertising rules.

The question is where do you draw the line between creativity and advertising - I think it's clearly on paid for links and Adwords.

Monday, 7 December 2009

Google unveils real time search results


Google's new real time search results and 'google goggles' will add further fuel to the 24 news hr cycle and increase pressure on public figures and comms professionals around the world...and I love it.

Real time news and search can often be a distraction if organisations don't have a strategy to deal with it but it can also be a force for democratic good - witness the MP's scandal and the waves of pressure unearthing truths in minutes that would have previously been buried.

The new real time searches will mean blogs and twitter will play an even greater role in forming opinions and reacting to stories, which should make for an intriguing backdrop to the mainstream media.

For PROs and comms teams the challenge will not just be on reacting but on monitoring and evaluation. Where do we have a genuine concern vs who is a lone voice?

It's these choices which will make or break an organisation's online reputation in the age of real time searches and the best thing PRs can do to prepare is to take a step back before reacting and ensure they know the key opinion formers for the relevant sector; rather than diving in ignorantly and adding fuel to a non-fire.

It's the difference between an unmissable opportunity and an irrelevant drop in the ocean yet the real time comms professional must be able to distinguish between both - it might not always be as obvious as it seems.

Exciting times ahead.

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Harriet Harman condemns RBS board


Harriet Harman has attacked the RBS board in Parliament today for having 'no recognition of the public fury over bonuses'.

I'm sorry Harriet but politicians are mistaken if they think that they simply need to express their outrage over the action of bankers, whilst doing nothing about it.

All the parties are treading water on this issue until after the election as the truth is none of them truly want to alienate the city and both Labour and the Tories are aware that it would be stupid to handicap RBS in the face of aggressive market moves by Lloyds.

Admit this, tell us your policy for dealing with it and you can start winning our respect; but until then politicians should not patronise voters.