Thu, 31 Oct 2002 08:29:31 GMT

– Renay San Miguel at CNN takes a shot at PR people using fear as a ploy for pitching client stories
– A new PR firm in Boca Raton covered in the Sun Sentinel – I make no other comment – thanks to Richard Bailey for the link
– When Publicists Attack – Anne Nicole Smith is being sued by publicist for non-payment of fees
– The Sydney Morning Herald reveals the secret of success for PR agencies in Australia: Be Small and Be Local!
– An insight into how PR in India has been affected by the recent spate of corporate misdeeds
– An interesting profile of NASCAR’s PR boss, Jim Hunter from the AP
$500K per annum for PR job at DBS Group Holdings in Singapore
– The Boston Globe’s business editor jumps to the Weber Group – while the business columnist at the Detroit News jumps to Ford
– The Arizona Daily Star has a staggering special report on a man who, prior to murdering his two college professors at the University of Arizona, prepared and sent what the AP describes as a press packet to the newspaper, outlining his motives for the cold-blooded killings. It’s a truly disturbing read.

Wed, 30 Oct 2002 07:54:42 GMT

We all know that in an online world, security measures to protect sensitive corporate data from the outside world are essential. But did you ever think media organizations may try and uncover your confidential data? Sound unlikely?

According to Deborah Branscum, twice in the past few weeks, Reuters in Sweden has leaked corporate financial results BEFORE the results were released publicly. Now my immediate reaction was – it was leaked. But one of the firms in question, Intentia, plan to file criminal charges and say there was an unauthorized entry to their systems via an IP address belonging to Reuters prior to the publication of their interim report for the third quarter….

Read more at Deborah’s Buzz Weblog and at the two firms in question, Fortum and Intentia.

UPDATE: Deborah has an update on the story on her blog today, also we carried out a non-scientfic experiment here yesterday and were able to pull up previous announcements without knowing the URL because of Intentia’s use of standardized HTML naming conventions, e.g. if all financial press releases are named “Year_Quarter_ Financial_Results.html” then if you know the next quarter is Q3 2002, and if they have put the results up early, just type “2002_Q3_Financial_Results.html” (or whatever their naming standard is) and bingo up come the results. Sounds like a more rational explanation alright.

Wed, 30 Oct 2002 07:23:19 GMT

While I was on the road over the past couple of weeks I finally got a chance to read, The Fall of Advertising and the Rise of PR by Al and Laura Ries. I have written and re-written this piece innumerous times. I’m still not sure I’m happy with it, but I present it for your consumption.

In reviewing “The Fall of Advertising and the Rise of PR” I think the best outcome (for PR) from the book is that it encourages discussion around the merits of Public Relations and in particular PR’s role and effectiveness in a world where the vast majority of marketing dollars and kudos still goes to advertising.

In my own humble opinion, I believe successful marketing requires a multi-discipline approach. I have for over a decade been a strong advocate of Public Relations, but I don’t for one minute believe that PR on its own (except in extraordinary circumstances) can achieve an organization’s entire set of business objectives. Instead I believe that advertising, direct marketing and other tools such as CRM all play a part alongside PR.

I think this is one of the book’s weaknesses. Its arguments sound very like the version of events you’d expect to hear from a kid involved in a fight. It’s all very one-sided. According to the Ries’ Advertising is bad, PR is good. But like any good PR campaign, context is an important element of credibility. Nothing is this simple.

There’s no question that advertising has failed in many cases to grow or halt the decline of brands and businesses, but it’s a little too simplistic to claim that all these commercial failures are simply down to advertising. There are always multiple factors in the success or failure of a business.

Having said that, there is no question that the advertising business has been driven by excess for far too long. There has clearly been an absence of focus on tying spend back to business objectives – whether sales or awareness related. Not that our business is compeltely outside the greenhouse on that score.

It’s a risky strategy to tie your product launch solely onto PR. Factors outside your control can negate PR and that’s why I’m a firm believer in an integrated approach.

Where the Ries’ score highly is the discussion on the size of US advertising budgets. It is absolutely unbelievable the amount spent of advertising.

I also thought the dotcom chapter was interesting. The ultimate case study on why it’s impossible to build an instant brand – it’s the customer stupid. But let’s not forget that our beloved PR brethren took serious money in promoting these failed ventures. Indeed we are lucky that much of the arrogance shown during the period has failed to damage our business – even if many practitioners’ pretentions to be ‘management consultants’ were exposed.

If you’re in the PR business it’s worth a read, however if you’re looking for a strong analytical comparison between Advertising and PR I don’t think this is what you’re looking for.

The fact remains that if you want to offer your client or employer maximum bang per buck, while effectively managing expectations, you’re better being honest about the strengths and weaknesses of all the marketing tools. Remember, King Canute got wet.

John Crudele, the New York Post colunist gives his two cents on the book over at O’Dwyer’s.

Tue, 29 Oct 2002 14:39:28 GMT

Now stop me if you’ve heard this one before. At a recent journalist event I attended, the media representatives told the ensembled PR practitioners that their top pet peeves were:
– People following up press release to see if they (the journalist) got it.
– People pitching them with no idea of what the magazine covers
– Poor contact information on press releases and web sites

I am guessing this isn’t news to anyone reading this web page. In fact this isn’t news to anyone who has worked in PR for the past decade. But guess what, it’s still happening. How? Why? Is there a generation of PR trainers out there who still preach the old school of “always ring to follow up a press release”??? Who and where are they?

A recent article in Marketing Sherpa reiterates these same issues.

Can anyone please explain how after all this time and all these articles, our maligned profession still makes the same mistakes? I really would like to know the answer!

Tue, 29 Oct 2002 14:33:07 GMT

As E-mail’s effectiveness declines due to volume companies are investigating better ways to catch you online. The latest effort is from Relevant Reach Inc. They think that it’s a great idea to let software vendors insert private communications inside an application (that you have paid for). Through this new channel, vendors can cross-sell you products etc. oh and you can ask questions.

So let me see, I am getting thousands of e-mails, I have sixty friends on my instant messaging clients and now I can get messages through my applications as well.

Eh no thanks guys, if I need to contact you send me your e-mail or web address. Read more here.

Tue, 22 Oct 2002 14:28:10 GMT

As the PR profession is called upon to manage more than pure media relationships, understanding your audience, how they are influenced and how they communicate becomes essential. Terms such as ‘one-to-one’ and ‘permission marketing’ have been much abused over the past couple of years, but that doesn’t mean they’re irrelevant.

Indeed the tools for more effective communication are already in place. Databases, e-mail and Web technologies all provide an infrastructure for communicating the right message to the right audience at the right time. It’s just we haven’t had time to refine who or what we’re communicating.

Recently two pieces of research on technology industry analysts have passed through my in-box. Now there are already a lot of people communicating with analysts. But the amount of insight into the industry analyst community is growing and becoming far more sophisticated. The more we learn about our audiences the more we understand them and the better we can communicate with them. It’s the CRM dream.

So technology analysts.

SageCircle a firm that specializes in products and services around Analyst Relations (note the bias there 🙂 completed a survey on the influence of analysts to the technology purchasing community. They found that analysts rated second only to technology buyers’ own peers when it came to influencing purchase decisions. Personally I think that’s very high but it’s interesting all the same. They also found that Gartner comes in #1 in the influence stakes, that published analyst research is the biggest influencer (over consulting) and that typically research from Gartner, Meta and Giga is used by larger organizations.

Biz360 , which provides tools to help you gather and analyse media information also recently published an analyst-focussed body of research, though in this case the focus is on analysts’ impact in the press.

A couple of interesting findings. Smaller publications use analyst references more frequently. The most widely quoted analysts firms are: IDC, Giga, Forrester, Gartner, AMR and Meta. Though with 35% of all mentions IDC comes out tops – this could be driven by the volume of numbers IDC publish of course!

The most widely named firm in the trade press is again IDC, followed by Gartner, Meta, Forrester, Giga, AMR and Jupiter. While in the business media, Forrester leap frogs to number two.

Of course when you look below the pure numbers, Gartner are quoted more frequently in-depth (quotes, opinions, findings etc.) while much of IDC’s volume is reference to research numbers.

But this type of research helps to build a detailed picture of the target audience. Have you started analyzing your customers? [Comments]

Sat, 19 Oct 2002 00:33:40 GMT

Contradicting the recent spate of positive PR studies, research from Silicon Valley PR firm, McKie Headstrom has found that PR spend in the Valley is down and won’t improve in 2003. On the bright side respondents reported increased coverage and eighty nine percent of respondents said they were satisfied or very satisfied with the return on their PR investment.

There are in-depth reports on the study in Technology Marketing and O’Dwyer’s PR Newsletter. You can request a free copy of the study directly from McKie Headstrom.

Wed, 16 Oct 2002 12:32:59 GMT

The difficult trading conditions are continuing to cause problem for PR firms and publishers alike. It’s reported that Manning Selvage & Lee have let go thirty consultants and closed their global technology practice while Porter Novelli has cut forty positions.

After a lot of rumors of its demise following substantial layoffs over the past few weeks, Computergram has been bought (saved?) by UK research firm Datamonitor plc. It’s good news that the news service won’t be lost…bad news the money ran out.

In the UK a new survey from accounting firm Willott Kingston Smith found that salaries in the top thirty UK agencies have climbed ten percent over the past twelve months, though ominously they expect those figures to begin to fall in the coming year.