Archive for the 'DMU' Category

18
Feb
11

Spin doctor or just Alistair Campbell?

I went to the Q&A session at De Montfort University last night with Alistair Campbell in the hot seat. I was really interested from a PR point of view and wondered what he would say about spin doctors and the future of the media.

First of all it needs to be said that this man has a way with words. I was very impressed by the things he said and how transparent and honest he seemed (or is this all the magic of the spin doctor?). He was very clear that he doesn’t mind talking about his past especially the pornography (no, he was not  a pornography pin-up but writer for pornographic magazine Forum) part and the alcohol addiction.

The Q&A session started with a few pre-selected questions and then the chair opened up the floor and everyone could ask Alistair Campbell a question about anything. 

An interesting point Mr. Campbell made was that the media is not always truthful and does sell stories that aren’t true. For instance the story that he was going to start managing a football club. Campbell phones the journalist and told him that the story wasn’t true and the journalist replied by saying: “I know but it’s a good story”. So does this mean that journalists are mainly selling us lies because they think we like to hear stories that are untrue but seem interesting and entertaining?

Journalist are trying to keep their grip on the agenda and want to have the power of deciding what we talk about as the public. They thought they were loosing their grip on the agenda setting because the government and politics had the upper hand in setting the agenda.

The point Alistair Campbell made is that media is trying to come up with stories that sell more newspapers but this isn’t really what the public wants and therefore the media is not going to change until the public demands a change from the media. This is a very interesting point made.

Another point that I found interesting was that Alistair Campbell said that the true spin doctors are the journalists. Journalists write a certain way to make things seem different from what they actually are and during Campbell’s spin doctor period for Tony Blair he was trying to set these stories straight. This was then seen as spinning. Who do we believe the former spin doctor or the media? Interesting topic I would say.

Interesting person to follow on Twitter, his tweet from last night was nice, or was het only being kind? Once a spin doctor always a spin doctor?

“Terrific session with students from De Montfort University. Bright, engaged, really good questions. Wouldn’t advise Dave or Nick to go there.”

Have a look at his blog:

 http://www.alastaircampbell.org/blog/2011/02/18/hezza-signals-discontent-at-lack-of-cameron-grip-but-osborne-wont-u-turn-yet/

He even mentions DMU in his latest blog post!

Got the book and he signed it to my mum from me and my new best friend. Thanks for that again Alistair Campbell!

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16
Feb
11

PRFilter?

Today I was thinking about a topic to write a research based essay on that had to do with my work experience and that is relevant to my MA course in public relations. I have always been fascinated with press releases, how these are written and how they are used to pitch to journalists. This will have to be the topic of my new research based essay.

I am in the library now just surfing around on the web and looking for external blogs to comment on (if you have any good ones then please let me know, it’s for my online portfolio assignment) and saw a tweet on Twitter by CitySavvy. This is a Pan-European financial and corporate communications agency that I used to work for. They tweeted this:

CitySavvy Ltd @CitySavvyPR CitySavvy Ltd

New search engine dedicated to press releases launched: http://tinyurl.com/6al9qe2

This sparked an interest and I clicked on the url that was given and found an interesting little article on Communication Magazine’s website about the PRFilter.

This is apparently a new type of search engine dedicated to seek press releases that have been launched. It has thousand press releases every day and has been designed to save journalists and bloggers time. This application has been developed in the UK by RealWire and has already been tested by UK journalists and bloggers last year.

This news justifies that the topic I have chosen for my research based essay is a good one because it is something that is going on now. This blog post and topic links to one of my previous post on ‘what do journalists really want?’. In that post I found out that journalists (well the ones that had been spoken to by the DMU press office) wanted to be contact via email about press releases. The phone is hardly picked up to ring journalists and the old boozy lunches PR‘s and journalists used to go on to build relationships seems like a fairy tale now.

It seems like the whole PR business and being a journalist has become a lonesome and impersonal job to have. No more socializing except for Tweeting, Facebooking, using LinkedIn and now this PRFilter program.

The thing that still confuses me is that I don’t understand why there doesn’t seem to be a need for personal, face-to-face contact anymore. Or has this again got to do with the time journalists have?

I am interested in what you think as PR professionals, journalists and fellow bloggers about this topic. Do you think the media landscape is changing and is this PRFilter a positive thing? Let me know and leave a comment!

09
Feb
11

Unpaid interns issue rumbling the blue skies above PR

I have recently signed up to PRweek online (can’t pay for a subscription yet as a poor student) and I have seen some disturbing news on there. PR agencies hiring a bunch of interns and not paying them for their work.

This issue was raised after BBC 2 screened a documentary featuring a PR agency that had hired more than 20 unpaid interns. This is shocking, how can a PR agency be run by more than 20 unpaid students? This is not right at all.

The first time I had to deal with this issue was when I had to start looking for an internship here in the UK as part of my MA degree course. The work placement was only for 4 weeks and I thought this was really strange. I am only one of the two students on my course that have done a work placement(s) before, this shocked me. Why would students in the UK not have to do an internship? It is a good way of seeing and experiencing what working in the industry is like.

I also had an issue with the time frame of the work placement, 4 weeks. What can you really achieve in 4 weeks and what kind of scope of the industry does this really give you?

During my BA in The Netherlands I had to do 3 work placements, one of 10 weeks, 6 months and 8 months. Then you have enough time and opportunity to see different  fields of the industry you are interested in and get a good grip on the work that you would be expected to do later in life in your career.

This information is all relevant because a few students on my course were asked if they had any previous experience when going for interviews for work placement. They thought this was a really strange question to be asked because they are looking for experience. They didn’t get the placements where this question was raised because they don’t have previous experience.

Now I am wondering if this question was asked because if they did have experience it would be free work done by a student that knows what they are doing and that would hardly need any guidance. Free labour basically. When thinking about the free labour for 4 weeks then why was it still hard to find a placement?

I didn’t mind not being paid for 4/5 weeks but if I had to work for a longer period of time I would want to be paid. The funny thing is that whilst looking for a work placement and mentioning the 4 week time frame the topic of payment was never raised. Funny that companies would assume that they wouldn’t have to pay you just because you’re only going to be with them for 4 weeks.

Now, this issue of PR agencies hiring interns work long periods of time and not paying them is concerning, especially because the job market isn’t that good at the moment. It’s hard for graduates to find a job. Then it’s understandable that you would go for a job that offers you experience for a few months but doesn’t pay you.

As graduates we should be able to get a job at a PR agency and get paid for the work we do. It’s not as if the work we do is useless or irrelevant. We are very capable of producing up to standard work, we have imput that is new and fresh.

Shame on the companies that were hiring a bunch of interns and making them work for free but offering experience, that just sounds like exploitation to me. Funny that one of the companies mentioned in the BBC 2 documentary said that they weren’t the only ones doing this. Always try to shift the blame on others. It is wrong what you are doing so take responsibility and make it right. I don’t think they will be getting any interns for a while or new staff for that matter any time soon.

 The articles are all on PRweek this is the link to the ones I commented on:

http://www.prweek.com/news/1052694/Danny-Rogers-Unpaid-interns-industry-disservice/?DCMP=ILC-SEARCH

http://www.prweek.com/news/1053842/Call-PR-industry-stamp-practice-unpaid-interns/?DCMP=ILC-SEARCH

 Let me know what you think about this issue surrounding the PR industry and especially if you’re a graduate let me know what you think!

06
Feb
11

DMU events office debrief

My last extra week working for the De Montfort University events office was a really busy one. That is why I haven’t really finished yet.

I was supposed to have my work placement debrief this week but because of the busy week and all the events and meetings going on, there was no time.

Tomorrow, Monday, is going to be my final day. Will be finalising my work and handing over ongoing work. Also will be reporting on the status of the projects I have been working on.

For the debrief there are certain things that I am going to be asked that I haven’t really thought about before. This is because I wasn’t sure where my work placement was going to be until the last minute.

But here are some helpful guidelines for students before they start and when they finish their work placements:

– What did you expect from your placement?

– Did the placement fulfill these expectations?

– Are there any comments, could something have been better during your placement?

– Did you learn anything from the experience gained during your placement?

– Would you consider working in the field that you did your placement in?

I must have a good think about these questions before tomorrow and will let you know how it went.

Have you had a placement debrief before? Let me know!

04
Feb
11

Week 4, last week of work placement

Last week was supposed to be my last week of my work placement at the De Montfort Universities Events Office. But because I have really enjoyed myself and have loved working with my colleagues (I think I can call them that) in the events office, I decided to stay an extra week. Today was supposed to be my last day but they just can’t seem to get rid of me. I will be in the Events Office on Monday, to finalize any work I still have to do (don’t think there is any), to hand over my work that is still going on and to have my placement debrief.

My five weeks in the DMU Events Office have been great. I have done so much and have been included in so many ongoing events that I really have got a good view of how events are planned from scratch, how events work with the Press office and eventually seeing everything coming together.

I have worked and helped out at several events and even did evening work and an early mornings.

I have been in contact with The Leicester Comedy Festival, The Literary and Philosophical Society and several marquee companies. I have been phoning people to follow-up if they are coming to events, have been using new programs I never knew existed and have met some great people.

Organising events should be something I can be good at after this experience and writing press releases has become easier as well.

The overall experience has been really good and I am sad to leave the Events Office and the team. ut who knows I might be helping out at future events this year?!

01
Feb
11

What do journalists really want?

Had an interesting talk with one of the members of staff in the DMU press office last week.

She does most of the story and quote pitching to the media about DMU.

Now, when I think of pitching a story to a journalist, I think phone. But apparently my thoughts are very wrong. My views of a press office or PR department has always been about phones ringing off the hook and PR’s running about taking journalists out for boozy, luxurious lunches! But apparently and from experiencing different placements at PR companies, my views aren’t entirely true.

Apparently using the phone to ring up a journalist to tell him/her about a story they would be interested in is not done at all.

Journalists prefer you to write them an email pitching a story. But not just any old email, no, there are requirements to this email that need to be followed. PR’s need to get straight to the point in the email and keep it very short and simple.

This confirms that, as you can read in my previous blog on press release writing, press releases are the most common way of PR’s contacting journalists. Now I know why.

Funny that most PR agencies or in-house PR departments still think you should ring a journalist instead of bombarding them with emails.

But for some reason I don’t really see the logic of why journalists prefer emails to phone calls. I have a thing about logic, and most people won’t find my logic very logical. But I will give it a go at explaining it.

In previous research for one of my essays about the relationship between PR’s and journalists one of the main conclusions was that journalists have less time to go out and find stories and go out for lunches with PR’s to create good relationships. Journalists have become desk bound. This means that journalists are just churning out stories from information that PR’s are sending them via email.

This is all very logical but then there is no relationship between PR’s and journalists and I think this is an important issue. PR’s and journalists need each other and should therefore have a good relationship.

But isn’t it much nicer to speak to a friendly person on the phone than exchanging emails every time? Emailing is so impersonal. Not that all journalist are friendly on the phone, especially when on deadline!

We are all to bound to our computers, laptops, smartphones and iPad now a days. We post everything online and hardly speak to each other anymore. But for a relationship to work you have to speak to each other.

Have gone off track a bit from pitching to the relationship between PR’s and journalists but I would like to hear your views on either of these topics. Or on logic for that matter!




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