According to a survey conducted by Rainer PR, more than two in five UK journalists (43 per cent) have blacklisted a PR person over pitches they felt were irrelevant.
A total of 180 journalists responded to the online survey over a 48 hour period.
The Rainier PR survey also found that 37 per cent of journalists felt that less than one in 10 press releases or pitches were relevant to their publication.
One respondent commented: “90 per cent of the PR I receive is poor, I just don’t bother with anything that doesn’t have a subject line that interests me.”
The Rainer survey comes hot on the heels of a scathing blog post by Chris Anderson, editor-in-chief of Wired magazine and author of the best-selling book, The Long Tail.
In his post titled 'Sorry PR People - You're Blocked!', Anderson compiles a long list of blacklisted email addresses of "lazy flacks (who) send press releases to the Editor in Chief of Wired because they can't be bothered to find out who on my staff, if anyone, might actually be interested in what they're pitching". Ouch!
The post has caused a mini ruckus in the blogosphere, attracting over 300 comments, which Anderson notes is a record for his blog, as well as kick-starting a catfight of sorts between two rival PR agencies Blinn PR and 5WPR.
The message that comes through loud and clear is that PR people need to be a lot more diligent, thoughtful and relevant when pitching to members of the media. This has been a massive issue for the industry for years (and years!), and one that is only compounded by the advent of email.
As Stephen Waddington, managing director of Rainier PR, notes - journalists are now more likely to pull stories from sources rather than have it pushed at them.
"Blogging and citizen journalism have only augmented the issue, with journalists having more story sources than ever. Unless PRs can deliver the content in the right way and are honest about its likely newsworthiness, this survey spells goodnight to anyone prone to flaky pitching," Waddington said.
A big problem with ‘public relations’ is that it’s too easy to reduce the phrase to a simple acronym – ‘PR’.
And why wouldn’t you? I mean, it rolls off the tongue nicely. Use an American accent and it sounds even better – “peeee arrrrr”.
And then there is the ability to use the acronym as a verb, so not only do you ‘practise PR’, you can also ‘PR a new product’.
Sorry to be a stickler, but no, you can’t. You can’t ‘PR’ something, nor is a product, brand or service ‘PR-able’! Be honest, I bet you’ve heard people talk like that: “I reckon this will get up – it’s really PR-able.” Errr, no, it’s not.
Public Relations is All About ‘Relationships’
Maybe if PR was referred to more as ‘public relations’, then marketing and business people might gain a better perspective of its role in the overall marketing communications mix.
It's been building for some time, but the internet has finally taken over from television in the media consumption stakes.
According to research conducted by the European Interactive Advertising Association (EIAA), 16 to 24 year olds across Europe are for the first time using the internet more than they are watching traditional television
More than 82 per cent use the internet between five and seven days each week while only 77 per cent watch TV as regularly, a decrease of 5 per cent. Almost half claim their TV consumption has dropped off as a direct result of the internet.
According to the study, approximately 169 million of Europeans access the internet each week, with users increasingly consuming other media, such as magazines, newspapers, radio and TV while online.
A key reason for the increase in internet use is the rising popularity of social networks with 42 per cent of internet users communicating via websites such as Facebook and MySpace.
But it's not just the younger demographic who are turning on to the net - over the past year there has been a 12 per cent rise in the number of over 55 year olds using the internet each week and an eight per cent increase among women.
The research also found that the most popular online activities across Europe were search, email, communicating via social networking sites and instant messaging (IM).
Alison Fennah, executive director of the EIAA, said: "Our Mediascope study shows that consumers are using the internet for function and fun as their media world becomes truly digital. We hope to help advertisers and agencies to understand this evolution and develop new and innovative communication strategies."
We often read about the attributes required to becoming an effective public relations practitioner, but not a lot is written about what clients can do to become, well, better clients.
If there's one thing I've learnt in my 20 years of consulting, it's that the client-consultant relationship needs to operate like a partnership, with a bit of give-and-take; the whole 'master/servant' thing simply doesn't cut it and if anything, will hinder rather than enhance the outcome of a campaign.
1. Provide clear direction
This was a clear #1 priority for many agency creative workers in particular who have struggled to interpret vague instructions. Making something "more corporate" in look or language is not clear direction, though you may know what you mean by this. The best clients are the ones who are able to articulate what they are looking for.
2. Invite us to the table early
The earlier we learn about a campaign or new marketing initiative, the smarter recommendations we can bring to you. This may seem in contrast to the first point, as inviting your agency early might also mean you don't yet have clear direction to offer ... but at the early stage it matters less because as long as we have enough information, we can produce the best work. That comes from clear direction, or from early participation.
3. Be honest about success factors
The easy thing to say is that a campaign needs to get X number of views. Many times, the motivation for a campaign are more subtle. The smart agency guys (or gals) understand that part of your motivation is also to look smart in front of your colleagues. That's nothing to be ashamed of - our job is to help you look smart. If we work together, we can all win.
4. Take the advice you are paying for
One of the toughest things to do as your advisors is to tell you when an idea doesn't work. Too many agency people roll over and obey commands, but my experience with clients is that they respect you far more when you have a distinct point of view. The challenge is that once we share it, if you choose not to take the advice, we need to understand why. You don't need to always follow what we say, but the thing we hate most of all is telling you something won't work, being forced to do it anyway, and then getting blamed when it doesn't work.
5. Know what you don't know
We all have limitations in what we know and what we do. The clearest example of this comes when looking at design. If you don't have a design background, you need to tread carefully with design feedback. Take the time to understand why a designer chose to do something a particular way rather than just sharing your personal dislike. A lot of thinking often goes into designs like this, and the most disheartening thing for a creative person is to just be told to arbitrarily change a color or font or image that spent hours to select based on someone else's personal choice.
6. Understand that changes affect timelines
This again is one of the common gripes from people in agencies, that clients change requirements or requests and still expect things to be done within the same amount of time. This isn't reasonable, and the best clients know it. If you need to make a change, its ok - we get it. But work with us to get a real timeline for when we can make the change and get something back to you. We'll respect you for realizing that.
7. Ask our advice
There is a book called 'The Trusted Advisor' which has become the bible for many people who are in service businesses. As the title indicates, the book is about building a relationship of trust that gets to a level where you are considered an advisor even on things outside of your expertise. This remains the ultimate relationship between clients and agencies, and the one we all strive for.
Have just stumbled on to this article in the New York Times (The New Advertising Outlet: Your Life) - it crams in a lot of good stuff on the trend towards big brands spending money on marketing activities that better connect with consumers.
In the article, Nike executives say that much of the company’s future advertising spending will take the form of services for consumers, like workout advice, online communities and local sports competitions.
Here are some interesting points, as mentioned in the article:
Last year, Nike spent just 33 percent of its $678 million United States advertising budget on ads with television networks and other traditional media companies. That’s down from 55 percent 10 years ago (SOURCE: Advertising Age).
Companies like Nike have been experimenting with alternative forms of marketing since the 1990s. But now, even the most conventional marketers are making these alternatives a permanent — and ever bigger — part of their advertising budgets.
The amount of money flowing out of the traditional media is huge — even at a time when ad budgets in general are growing, advertising research shows.
Behind the shift is a fundamental change in Nike’s view of the role of advertising. No longer are ads primarily meant to grab a person’s attention while they’re trying to do something else.
“We want to find a way to enhance the experience and services, rather than looking for a way to interrupt people from getting to where they want to go,” said Stefan Olander, global director for brand connections at Nike. “How can we provide a service that the consumer goes, ‘Wow, you really made this easier for me’?”
Now there's a title I like: 'Global Director of Brand Connections'!
According to the article, a number of well-known brands are also trying new approaches, hoping to generate buzz both online and off.
Procter & Gamble opened a temporary Charmin-brand public bathroom in Manhattan.
Microsoft dropped thousands of parachutes holding software onto a town in Illinois last year.
Target suspended the magician David Blaine in a gyroscope above Times Square for two days.
UK telecommunications brand, Orange, has launched a 'never-ending website' to underpin its new £6m marketing campaign for its unlimited mobile phone call packages in the lead-up to Christmas.
The campaign, dubbed "Good things should never end", promotes Orange's portfolio of "unlimited" pay-as-you-go and pay-monthly packages launched earlier this year, which allow users to make unlimited weekend calls and/or texts, depending on how much they spend.
The focal point of the three-month campaign is what Orange describes as "the world's first unlimited web page".
According to Brand Republic, the website has been designed to make it impossible for users to scroll down to the very bottom of the page. Instead, they are presented with a never-ending rainbow graphic offering games, downloads and giveaways.
Cool idea, very buzzworthy, and strategically sound as it strongly reinforces Orange's 'unlimited' proposition.
Don't log on to the website though if you don't like the colour orange!
The study showed that 81 per cent percent of marketers say their social media
spending will meet or exceed their spending on traditional advertising,
with 57 per cent predicting their spending on social media will
trump their other media buys.
That and other findings are featured in Joseph Jaffe’s new book, 'Join The Conversation' . The book reveals what marketers must do to become a
part of the dialogue and how to leverage conversations in ways that benefit
businesses, brands and lives.
Further to previous post re breast cancer's 'Pink Ribbon' campaign, the blokes are shaping up alright with the Movember fund-raiser for men's health, specifically prostate cancer and depression.
Once again, it demonstrates that a strong idea well executed can galvanise the community and bring people together for a common cause. In this case, guys getting sponsored by their friends and family to grow a moustache during November.
While men's health is a serious issue, having fun is all part of the event's appeal. Given the humble mo hasn't really been in vogue since the '70s, it's pretty freaky to see so many men getting around with fluff above their lip during November!
The other key to Movember's success is the ability to tightly integrate the theme across multiple channels and tactics e.g.
Importantly, it's a really cool way to engage what is a difficult target audience, especially for a cause like this: young blokes. Driving it into the corporate sector with office parties is also a successful strategy of getting the broader community involved.
The Movember lesson for not-for-profits is that packaging up a 'branded' fundraising and awareness campaign and building it incrementally year-on-year is the most effective way to attract sponsors.
Movember has scored a number of blue-chip sponsors for 2007, including Holden, Commonwealth Bank, VB, Vodafone and Schick.
Trevor Young has built PR Warrior into one of the world’s foremost showcases of what can be achieved at the intersection of public relations and social media.” - Brad Howarth, Smart Company, September 2011 More »