PR Miscellany – January 31st 2010

So you won’t be surprised to find out I’ve been a little behind on my RSS feed reading. It’s been busy recently.

Slipping through the (PR) feeds, it’s interesting to note that probably 90+% of “PR” posts are actually about social media.  Now social media is clearly very important, but to me, the intersection of PR and social media or even business or marketing to social media is far more important.

So what interesting stuff is there this week – at the risk of drawing Valeria’s ire :-) ?

First a surprise, for me at any rate. In the blogs I scanned there is very little commentary on the PR implications of Toyota’s U.S. recall, which I have to say is strange (though I admit I may just have missed some other blogs that did cover it). So kudos to Jon Harmon who has a number of posts covering the developing issue and the company’s response.


It’s amazing just how widely Edelman’s Trust Barometer is quoted in talks, blog posts and meetings.  So we should mark the arrival of this year’s report by linking to Mr. Edelman himself I suppose.

Trust in business has stabilized and is trending upward, with a substantial jump of 18 points in the US (from an all-time low of 36% in 2009 to 54% in 2010). Trust in business falls into three categories (High-Brazil, China, India, Indonesia-at 60-70%; Middle-Canada, Japan, US-at 50-59%; Low-France, Germany, Russia, UK, Korea, -at 35-49%).


Interesting piece from TechCrunch, via Andy Lark, on a recent AOL PR snafu around the departure of the company’s chief technology office.. eh there but for the grace of god…

PR is not supposed to be fiction and spin. At least not all the time. Occasionally the communications professionals at companies, particularly publicly traded companies, are supposed to actually tell the truth. And perhaps help journalists and bloggers with a story instead of sending them off on a fake trail.


I am a firm believer that laughter is indeed the best medicine, so via Stuart Bruce, do watch Charlie Brooker illustrating how to report the news.


Valeria Maltoni has a very worthwhile post on developing a content strategy process for your blog. She also has a very interesting interview with Doc Searls revisiting the Cluetrain Manifesto a decade later.

It’s important to remember that Cluetrain in the first place was an expression of rebellion against marketing, and a declaration of liberation from it. Note the voice in "We are not seats or eyeballs or end users or consumers. We are human beings and our reach exceeds your grasp. Deal with it." We were not speaking there as marketers, or as "the audience," or as "consumers," but as ordinary people.


Finally, Morgan McLintic shares my view that we need to focus on making a difference. Speaking of which I have just added Seth Godin’s Linchpin to my reading list. I’m a fan of Mr. Godin’s constant challenge to people to think differently, but I think he’s come off the boil in his last couple of books so it’ll be interesting to see if this one hits the mark. (I have a hardback copy of the book, but if I was reading it electronically, that would be a Kindle before you ask, and I love my Kindle :-) ).

Where’s your pride?

On a cold Dublin day in 1985, the Irish rugby team were playing England at Lansdowne Road.  The country’s rugby team has traditionally played with a lot of pride and passion, but never had the quality to trouble the world’s best teams on a consistent basis (I am delighted to report that the situation is a little different today). This day they had the opportunity to win the “Triple Crown” by beating the old enemy (well everyone’s old enemy :-) ).  It was a tough match and the English team clearly had the upper hand.   In fact it was becoming apparent that once again Ireland would come so close, but fail and have to take some consolation in a moral victory.

As time ticked on, there was a break in the game, and the side’s captain, an army officer by the name of Ciaran Fitzgerald, turned to his tired, beaten team mates and roared at them words that have since become a national institution: “Where’s your f*****g pride?”.  The words were caught on TV cameras around the ground and broadcast all over Europe.

It won’t be a surprise, given the title of this post, that his team rose to the occasion following his call to arms, drove down the field and a Michael Kiernan drop goal sent a success-starved nation into sporting euphoria.

Pride and passion (as opposed to Pride and Prejudice which is a different post entirely) are incredibly valuable assets in the sporting and business worlds.  When I think of all the spokespeople I’ve worked with or observed, it’s those with pride in what they do, and a clear passion that stand out.  You can’t fake passion (let’s refrain from the toilet humor now folks), it is addictive, it brings people on a journey. 

Of course there are some downsides.  People with real passion often go beyond their brief, but I’ll take that issue any day over someone droning on with no passion.

Working with passionate people is easy, and it’s enjoyable.

Back in December I wrote about the importance of loving (and having passion) for what you do:

It amazes me how many people hate their jobs. They dread the sound of their alarm clock. Well, they are clearly stronger than I, because I couldn’t do that. It’s a personal thing. I need to have a passion for what I do. There’s a nice quote I read recently from a Steve Jobs address to students at Stanford: “You’ve got to find what you love… If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle.” Spot on.

Passion gets you out of bed in the morning. Passion forces you to think about new and better ways to work and to get results. Passion makes you an incredible ambassador.

Are you passionate about what you do? If not, think about what you’re doing today and then think what you’d like to do – what are you passionate about?

There is nothing most depressing than working with people who have lost their passion. 

If you’re working in Marketing or PR, re-capture your passion and get your colleagues passionate about what you are trying to achieve, the results will be worth the trip – and the alternative doesn’t bear thinking about.

Author aside: Please note that this entire post, which is related to PR, did not include one, single mention of social media….doh.

Update: Read Louis Gray’s post on a related subject.

The secrets of controlled media leaks…

There’s a lot of great content online.  If you wade back into the mists of time (I’m probably talking about oh 2001) then there really was very little information to find on subject areas like PR (believe me I used to look for it). 

But now we have the luxury of thousands of people actively blogging and twittering about PR and PR-related issues. This is fantastic.

Even when you consider quality-versus-volume, we’re still in a far far better place.

However, sometimes as I monitor what’s getting lots of Twitter love I just scratch my head and wonder.

The latest is this piece in MacObserver on How Apple Does Controlled Leaks (great headline) is a case in point.  You think ‘wow, we’re going to get the inside track here from a former Apple marketing dude’. (Well I personally wouldn’t say dude but come with me.)

This is being re-tweeted ad infinitum, people are getting ever so excited.

To save you the 45 seconds it’ll take you to read it, let me summarize:

“They call a reporter and tell them the leak.”

My God, why didn’t we think about that before? How clever, insightful, strategic and crafty. So, they ring a reporter and tell them the leak.  Fantastic.

I am now better equipped than ever to face the day.

Seriously, did everyone think they used to meet people in a dark corner of a parking garage? Did people think it was a mysterious envelope?


Seriously… dump that social media stuff and get back to work

Happy New Year. I had a lovely time, thanks for asking.

I have spent far too much time over the past couple of weeks monitoring the online chatter.  My god there’s a lot of noise.

I think I am having Social Media sweats. There are just so many articles, posts, rants and links.  Now don’t get me wrong it’s great that people are sharing their views, and opinions and, in a very small number of cases even their experiences.

But really… there are only so many Social Media Top 10s, 10 things to avoid, 10 brands that…. you know… enough already.

Social Media is incredibly exciting, important etc.

We get it. 


Enough with the colorful* graphs, bar charts and stock photography.

Honestly. If you don’t get the importance of the whole social media thing, then you are probably still faxing and spamming people with press releases and let’s be frank there’s little hope for you is there?

The reality however is that most of us aren’t paid a princely sum just for thinking about social media or antagonizing about the global impact of a new widget or phone. At least not me, if I missed that memo can you send me an e-mail or even a letter, please.

The reality is that we’ve got a day job and that day job requires us to think about mundane things like personal and professional objectives, managing our ever growing workload, understanding how our audiences are using social and unsocial media, how we can be more creative and how we can fundamentally change the way we write and think about communications.  In summary we are focusing on how we can be more effective in communicating with people who matter to our clients or employers. People not tools, widgets or hardware.

Social media is important for all of us, but as my grandmother often said don’t forget the knitting, it’s cold out there.

At least that’s what I think she said.

*Yes I’ve migrated to US spelling full-time.  I keep getting blank stares from my colleagues when I deliver pithy and if I say so myself, witty phrases that didn’t travel over the Atlantic, so US spelling reduces other risks.

Bloggers Note: Guest Posts

General note to all those people kindly sending me offers to write guest posts.

Unfortunately this blog only gets about 5 visitors a month (and that’s if I hit refresh a couple of times) so you’re probably better spending your time pitching and writing for a real blog like the Huffington Post or Engadget or something like that.

That approach has the upside that there’s a chance that someone other than you and me will read it.

Secondly, even if this blog did get visitors and I did take contributed posts, I’m not sure hands-on tutorials on scripting, or business transformation really float my boat, so to speak.

If the policy changes, I’ll let you know, don’t worry.


PS: Thanks to everyone who keeps sending me random press releases. I read all of them, they are a constant source of solace in a sea of irrelevance.