Sunday, 31 January 2010

How to improve the inconvenient PR truth campaign

Real Wire have reacted to the intense recent debate over PR spam by setting up their own campaign to give journalists a 'bill of rights' when dealing with PRs:

In terms of being an effective tool for focusing the debate and looking for a conclusion, I think the campaign is a powerful one. I do not, however, believe it gets to the root of the problem - the lack of personal training for junior PROs and the use of crude evaluation processes like AVE which force desperate PRs to mass mail journalists in the hope of getting their figures up.

Here's my three-step theory on how to help solve the situation:

1) As I said on Charles Arthur's blog recently (, the CIPR and/or PRCA need to talk to the NUJ and agree on a code of practice which can be integrated into official CIPR and PRCA training courses. This can help reach grassroots PROs and will lead directly to the agencies responsible for the 'spamming' in the first place.

2) PROs need to be stronger with their clients. AVEs, number of cuttings - this leads to a shoot from the hip, rushed approach to comms and leaves no time to build quality campaigns and relationships with the media. Change needs to come from the top, and this will filter down and mean the poor junior execs won't have to sweat about achieving x amount of 'hits' for a stagnant press release.

3) Gorkana and the other media databases need to provide more detailed information and links to journalists' own websites, to help time poor PRs by pointing them in the direction of proper research rather than a rushed 'easy win'. Note I said point them in the direction of research, not do it for them. They could even remove the mail merge feature and there should be a note before the 'send' button is pressed - ARE YOU SURE THE CONTACTS ON THIS LIST ARE RELEVANT?

There you go, three steps which in my opinion will help more than giving journalists 'rights'.

Wednesday, 27 January 2010 - Accident Avenue

Every now and again a PR campaign makes you sit back and applaud.

@CakeGroup have delivered such a campaign for with 'Accident Avenue', Britian's most accident prone street covered in bubble wrap!

Not only is this a creative masterpiece from the Euro RSCG owned company but the follow up is a work of genius - the bubble wrap is being donated to Oxfam to help send aid to Haiti.

Congratulations to Cake and Kelly Davies the Confused PR Manager.

Sunday, 24 January 2010

Bob Ainsworth leaks election date of 6 May

The Times, quite rightly, points out the latest Ministerial 'leak' of a May 6th date for the General Election is so clumsy it must be an attempt to throw the Conservatives off the trail.

Bob Ainsworth is now the third Minister to give us all an 'insight' into the mind of Gordo and it is quite clear this is an awkward attempt to try and get the Tories to blow some of their considerable bank balance on preparing for a false date.

To be honest, the date isn't crucial as there's only a small window of time when it's likely to be called. Of more concern was today's report in the same article that Gordon Brown wants a leaders' debate audience to be comprised of 2-1 in favour of Labour and that David Cameron wants no questions from the audience!

If these men want our votes then they should be prepared for anything and let the public have their say in a 'Question Time' style debate.

Surely they should relish this opportunity and not try and make life easy for themselves? As Alan Partridge said, "this country"!

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Who will be the British Obama?

I've been inspired by Paul Armstrong's blog ( to keep a regular watch on which British political figures will take the 'Obama' crown for best digital election campaign.

Please feel free to share links and best practice. And I'll be looking for truly innovative campaigning so that rules out Web Cameron...

Here's a good article from The Guardian on the subject from a few weeks ago - well worth a read:

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Alastair Campbell tweets during Iraq inquiry

Today's appearance by @campbellclaret in front of the Iraq inquiry drew a predictable deluge of media coverage.

During the day Mr Campbell tweeted just 4 times - and only 3 of the Tweets were related to the Inquiry.

This was a master stroke, reflecting the sense that Campbell took the Inquiry serious enough to focus but allowing him to make a swift rebuttal to the media before the next day's print.

Contrast these two examples:

The Times leads on the Blair letters to Bush, suggesting this is new information. Campbell is able to correct this with one Tweet, which ensures his message has been heard by thousands who would otherwise only read the media version of the story.

(Incidentally, if you look from page 600+ of 'the Blair years'  you will find that Alastair Campbell is correct in that the letters are not a new story).

This is a perfect example of how the story has moved on before the print versions of the papers have even arrived through the letterbox.

The second insight was the sheer number of vitriolic Tweets from journalists attempting to pour scorn on Campbell. It revealed the vendetta behind the headlines and acts as an ironic counter-weight to the 'spin' the journalists were so against.

I won't name names here, if you follow today's feed you will see it for yourself.

So thank you Twitter, again you have made the news more real and more immediate than even the live BBC news feed - after all, that was delayed by one minute.

Thursday, 7 January 2010

New Sun poll suggests ditching Brown won't sway voters

Sky News is one of many outlets running today's Sun sponsored poll in which 58% of respondents said a new Labour leader wouldn't affect their vote.

Polls are unreliable but I give this one credence as this close to an election, it is policy which should be important, not personality politics.

(Ironic isn't it that Labour Ministers have spent the past 2 years accusing Cameron of being personality before policy yet here we are months away from an election and it's Labour attempting a cosmetic makeover.)

So which policy areas will become the real election battleground when the dust settles? Here's five to look out for during the election cold war over the coming weeks:

1) Foreign policy: Will Dave or Gordo risk an attempt to bridge the icy divide to Obama?

2) Public sector spending: voters want to know which cuts they can expect but they also want assurances over frontline services - trust lies with neither party.

3) Education: How will the parties stop a generation of wasted school leavers ending up on the recession scrap heap? Parents will want to hear assurances.

4) Law and order: Dealing with the escalating anti-social behaviour and youth crime in our biggest cities - especially knife crime. So far Britian is failing and this is reflected in tragedy.

5) Immigration: the far right will play this card locally, yet Labour and Conservatives seem to underestimate the impact their lack of clarity on the issue can have in marginal seats.

Out of the five highlighted areas, I'd say the two main parties could each hope to make ground in each area, as neither has demonstrated a winning rhetorical hand. It will be interesting to see if Tory Spring conference brings any new commitments from 'Dave' whilst Brown will need to hope his 'business as usual' mantra actually brings him some results.

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Hewitt and Hoon Coup

Let me be cruel, not unnatural;

I will speak daggers to her, but use none. (Hamlet, Act III, scene ii).

Today's attempt by Geoff Hoon and Patricia Hewitt to force a secret ballot on the Labour Party leadership was not only unconstitutional within the Labour Party, it signified the tragic third act of the coup that never was.

Since the death of the Prince of Downing Street, Anthony Blair, Hamlet has procrastinated over taking vengeance on the King, Gordon Brown.

They've even had visions of John Hutton but alas inactivity still speaks loudest.

This whole wretched play will become political folklore but the question may always remain - who is Hamlet?

The answer lies in the above quote, I will speak daggers to her but use none.

Todays coup was nothing more than a play, an act by mechanicals to serve the whims of a Cabinet frozen by their collective failure.

Just like in the movie, Spartacus, each Cabinet member should rise and say: I am Hamlet.

For Milliband, Straw, Harman, Johnson and the other Cabinet would-be plotters know the old King cannot hold on to his throne but they have been unable to act.

The result is that for all their work over the past 12 years, they will be forever remembered as being the lame duck Cabinet that allowed the Tories to return to power and didn't have the guts to do what was neccessary.

As Shakespeare said,

The rest is silence.

Sunday, 3 January 2010

A New Year message

Happy New Year!

2010 has the potential to start the new decade off in truly game changing style. The highlights for me will be:

- Will we see a much-feared 'double dip' recession?

- Can Gordon Brown make the most unlikely political comeback of all time?

- Will Barack Obama emerge as the great leader the world hopes?

- Is it possible for the Western allies to succeed in the Middle East?

- Who will win the World Cup?!

So, have a great 2010 and let's see how it unfolds!