Keeping up to date… in every sense

So, it’s been a while. Having recently undertaken some digital training it only seemed appropriate to reawaken my blogging – albeit haphazardly.

Only, I have a problem. I spend my days at work on a laptop communicating through email and Twitter, phoning clients and attending meetings. By the time I get home in the evening, the last thing I want to do is sit in front of a laptop screen.

Fortunate then that I have not one but two smartphones – work and personal. Great for checking Twitter or looking something up quickly online. In fact, I’m so used to having the web access on the move that I’d struggle without it. Apprarently so would half the online population – 51% of online activity is carried out through mobile.

The challenge then? I don’t like the smartphone keypads enough – and am not accurate enough – to blog through the mobile web or on any of the associated apps.Plus, most ideas come in the shower, not conducive for typing! And, I now drive to work rather than getting the train, so less time for getting sucked in to the online world.

Back to the training… apparently the world of digital moves quickly. Just 12 months after the last training session and everything has moved on… a lot. So, a new list of tools to try out and a resolution to blog more frequently… if only to improve my Klout score!


Event & personality PR – an introduction

In recent months, I’ve been given the opportunity to get involved in event management, event PR and to witness first-hand personality/celeb management in action.

It started with Rallyfest at the Royal Welsh Showground near Builth Wells in early June. Working with partners from local authority, motorsport, the Showground, volunteers organising the Severn Valley National Rally, I saw just how much work is involved in organising something like this and how many little things need to be remembered, for example, who is responsible for collecting the cones, who puts up security barriers, who pulls out the weeds where the crowd will stand?

Also, that day, we hosted the media launch and local government introduction to Wales Rally GB. Again, so many aspects involved in a successful day – not least, ensuring there are enough bacon sandwiches to go around!

In late June, I was involved in the Protected Mobility Display and Sustainment conference at Millbrook. This military event was my first experience of media sign-on, as well as the confidentiality requirements of a military event. It was interesting watching my colleague put together a press office in a box – badges, pens, paper, printer, ink cartridges, and so on. But, however much you pack, there will always be something that gets left behind – this time, scissors.

Finally, and most star-studded, I spent the last weekend volunteering in the media services team at the Santander British Grand Prix. This was an absolutely amazing opportunity to see first-hand how over 300 journalists and photographers from around the world come together for four days – and the hard work that is put in behind the scenes to make it happen.

Again, so many things I just hadn’t considered – from the camera manufacturers who set up shop in the photographers area to repair, clean and loan lenses for the weekend, to the sheer amount of security and bomb dogs, how vital it is to provide secure storage and free wi-fi, as well as the necessity for sound-proofing in the commentary boxes because of how many there are.

And, some particular highlights – a tour around the Team Lotus garage and being invited to watch pit stop practice, sitting in the media cafe watching the start of the GP out of the window, sitting in a commentary box to watch the middle part of the race and helping out with press conferences both indoor and out which put me within feet of the F1 celeb drivers – and the PR people who never left their sides! I was also privileged to be involved in conversations with Nigel Mansell, Murray Walker and David Coulthard (well, very briefly!).

All of these very different, but also very similar experiences, have given a fascinating insight into event and personality/celebrity PR. As mentioned over the weekend, my strenghts definitely lie more in research, analysis and writing – rather than direct action and problem-solving. But it was great venturing into this world and learning about all the components that come together to make a successful event.

168 years of investigative journalism at NotW

So, what an exciting few weeks it has been for media and PR.

BSkyB’s shares have fallen, News Corp and News International have been tarnished and all because of the actions of a few – and the judgement of millions – almost a decade ago.

Former editors are in the firing line, police investigations are taking place, politicians have waded in. Interesting, not least because this ‘phone-hacking scandal’ is nothing new. But, while the British public had little sympathy for the footballers and celebs whose extra-marital affairs were exposed, the hacking of phones in murder and terrorism cases has prompted outrage.

News of the World has been around for 168 years – take a look at Roy Stockdill’s history of NotW. And, the last ever edition sold all 4.5 million copies printed last Sunday.

While there is no doubt that NotW had to go from a brand perspective – it wasn’t viable with so many advertisers pulling the plug – what will happen to the hundreds of journalists and photographers who are now without a job through no fault of their own? Media isn’t exactly awash with job opportunities at the moment.

And, what will happen to investigative journalism? While illegal activities should not be condoned, will all journalists fear undertaking investigations now? Does it mean that Nick Davies was right in Flat Earth News and even more of our papers will be filled with PR content?

Nothing wrong with making my job easier – cut and paste away – but is it really in the best interests of all those consuming media output? Shouldn’t we be supporting our media industry – the people who filter the fluff and give the public access to the important stories that shape our world?

Prova PR blogs – June 2011

Follow the links back to the full posts on the Prova PR blog site…

A glass trophy and the last train home!

It’s that time of year again… the CIPR Excellence Awards took place earlier this month in London. Over 700 entries were received for our national awards from some of the best PR consultancies and in-house teams across the UK...

Traffic cones, rally cars and clouds of dust!

When people say the world of PR is glamorous, they obviously haven’t spent an eleven-hour day laying out traffic cones, clearing weeds and stapling signs to wooden posts! …

Prova PR blogs – February 2011

Follow the link for the full post…

What’s in a name – 23 February 2011

I once worked with someone who contended that all successful brands were either someone’s name or a five letter word – Tesco being an ideal example as it is both.  This gentleman worked in printing and so was surrounded by brands like Ricoh and Epson…

Prova PR blogs – December 2010

Follow the links to read the full posts on the Prova PR blog site…


A fitting introduction to a team of motoring nuts – 10 Dec 2010

My first week with the Prova PR team has been a real whistle stop tour of the world of motorsport and the wider automotive and environmental arenas.  I’ve been introduced to the FIA, F1, WRC and so on via the medium of stick figure drawings, drooled over catalogues for Triumph accessories and delved deep into fleet management and logistics…


Hardly a tale of true grit – 17 Dec 2010

I read with interest the commentary in last week’s Birmingham Post on Birmingham City Council’s press office refusal to reveal salt and grit levels for the cold weather.  Apparently, these figures are considered classified information and are being treated on a need to know basis – the public does not need to know! …


Home working is the new 9-5 – 24 Dec 2010

By now, you are probably fed up with hearing about snow.  Pretty though it may be when you have all the time in the world to play with it!  This last week has shown that the UK’s transport network is not exactly set up to deal with it.  According to Royal Sun Alliance, the snow could be costing the UK economy £1.2 billion per day while the British Retail Consortium said that the snow had been a major blow to Christmas sales…


I’m dreaming of an electric Christmas…! – 31 Dec 2010

One of the exciting projects I’m starting to get involved with – for a couple of clients – is the practicalities of electric vehicles (EVs) and their transition from niche manufacturer to mass market over the coming three years…


Does the end justify the means in PR and marketing?

The recent ‘Cablegate‘ story has raised a few questions.

For example, how did the Telegraph reporters get into the surgery (deceit about being young mothers in his constituency aside)?  Why did Cable let his guard down (beyond expectations of parliamentary privilege and confidentiality in surgery)?  And, what implications will this have for UK government going forward?

However, leaving politics to the experts, the most relevant question: “did the end justify the means?”

In media, marketing and PR, we all have a story to tell.  Media for the benefit of the public good and/or the headline and paper sales; PR and marketing to build, manage and protect the reputation of their employer or client.

But, is the story we (are paid to) tell ever worth the sometimes questionable tactics that some people use to tell it?

For example, should the Telegraph have deceived Cable with undercover reporters?  Should the News of the World have tapped the phones of the rich and the famous?  Should Wal-Mart have covered up the occupation (paid journalists) of the ‘bloggers’ it sent round stores in America?  Should PR companies manage the Twitter feeds and blogs of their clients?

In media, marketing and PR, our integrity is essential.  If we want people to think about, feel and believe the stories we are telling and the messages we portray then there has to be an element of trust.  How we go about collecting and releasing information is just as important as what that information actually reveals.

So, was it right for Cable to speak candidly with his constituents?  Yes and no.  In a 24/7 media age of Twitter, FaceBook and blogs, very little stays private for long.

Was it right for the Telegraph to send in undercover reporters to deceive Cable?  Again, yes and no.  Did these reporters truly feel they were acting in the public good?  For the benefit of the UK voting public?  What has been achieved by these revelations?  Could the outcome and information have come about by less dubious tactics?

While there is no hard and fast answer to the question of whether the end justifies the means, perhaps it depends on the impact of the ‘end’ and the damage caused by the ‘means’.

Personally, I feel that when we fall back on the end justifying the means as an excuse for the way we behave then the line becomes blurred and our integrity becomes compromised.  That trust, which we work so hard to gain, will be wiped out overnight – along with the reputations we are paid to protect.