Archive for the 'media' 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!

16
Jan
11

‘Shameless’

All this uproar about the Suit Supply ‘Shameless’ campaign. Don’t we all know that sex sells? This campaign might be a bit shocking and too revealing for some but isn’t it great that there are still companies out there that dare to be different and dare to provoke people?

I think the campaign is great. It has started a major discussion. I think that was the whole idea behind this campaign and to sell suits of course. This basically means that everyone that is complaining is just playing into Suit Supplies hands.

It was obvious when this campaign came out that there was going to be a lot of negativity surrounding it. Especially in the UK there have been negative comments. Mums worrying their small children seeing the posters and woman being disgusted by the vulgar and demeaning way the blond lady is being shown.

Here are a few pictures of the campaign so you know what I’m talking about.

Come on people don’t be prude, it isn’t as if it’s the first time we have seen a boob or underwear in campaigns, right? We have all seen the Sloggi underwear campaigns. It’s not as if men really think that if they wear a Suit Supply suit or any suit for that matter that they can just look under your skirt or touch you in private places (well some might, you never know).

The photographs have been shot by a well know photographer and you can’t really say that they don’t look amazing. Very provocative and you have to use your imagination with some of them, it is a very challenging campaign. But did we expect any less from Suit Supply? Not really.

This company has brilliant campaigns that just hang on the edge of not being too much. Like their ‘Start Smoking’ campaign to sell more smoking jackets. So clever.

The way Suit Supply has reacted to the complaint has been very impressive as well.

This company just keeps surprising us with provocative campaigns and I think we should not complain about them but appreciate them. There are enough dull and annoying campaigns in the world. This campaign is like a breath of fresh air. There are still companies out there that are creative and don’t care causing some uproar in the world. And why not?

There is just one photograph that I think could have been a bit more classy. This is the one where the blonde lady is lying over the kitchen work top. I can imagine this picture causing a bit of an uproar but all the other ones are great.

Here is a link to the Guardian that posted a story about the campaign and some of the complaints: http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2010/nov/17/dutch-fashion-firm-racy-window-display.

Let me know what you think about the campaign. Too provocative or vulgar? I am very curious about your opinion surrounding this campaign.

17
Nov
10

Lie to me

Lying

There was an interesting article in the Citylife and County living magazine last week: “The truth about lying“. Because PR is linked to the word ‘spin’ and can be seen as ‘lying’, I thought it might be interesting to read the article.

A sentence in the article that really got my attention was: “A world without deception might be a very difficult place to live – mean, do you want to hear that yes, your behind does look big in that?” I’m not really sure what my answer to this question would be and I thought really hard about it. It depends on what your behind looks big in doesn’t it? If my behind looked big in something that I really love I wouldn’t want to hear it, but if my behind looked big in something that was reasonable then someone could actually say that to me.

But we are not talking about behinds looking big in things are we. We are talking about lying in the PR business. An interesting quote from the article that I thought went very well with explaining PR and what it’s all about is: ”Know what they know. Be aware of their interests and activities so you can cover your tracks.” It’s all about relevance to the target group and what they want to believe and then you feed that to them. Is this lying? Not really, you are telling people what they want to hear or maybe trying to persuade people what you want them to think.

Then we always end up at the question: “Is lying, I prefer the word spinning, to your target audience ethical?” The answer that I think answers all the questions about if some actions are ethical is, NO. It is not ethical to lie or spin the truth, but as long as nobody knows there is no harm is there?

For example: Constructing a list of favourite music for David Cameron to help him manipulate his public image. Is this ok to pretend you like something because it makes you look cool or cultured?

The subject surrounding David Cameron might be a touchy subject but again the answer is: NO. It is not ethical, but do we really mind if we don’t know that David Cameron didn’t actually picked the songs? No. But we would mind if all the national and local newspapers wrote that David Cameron actually didn’t pick the songs, someone else did. Well then all hell would have probably broken loose. Wouldn’t it?

In my opinion ‘lying’ is a very strong word, especially when using it in combination with PR. It can be seen as ‘being economical with the truth’. We all do it sometimes to make ourselves look better, sound better, impress people, to get things our own way.  I don’t think that we have to be too cynical about this, we all know that the truth is manipulated but if we thought too much about that we would never believe anything! The manipulation has to be subtle, not too in your face, or it wouldn’t be credible.

Tell me what you think about PR spin. PR and the ethical aspect of it and if you think this is acceptable in this field of work.

09
Nov
10

How would you explain PR to your parents?

How would you explain to people what PR actually is?

After the first lectures about PR Structure and Theory there is a bit of confusion about what PR actually is and how people perceive PR. What would the average pers

on on the street answer if you asked them the question? Do they actually know what PR stands for?

Julius CaesarPerhaps most people would be surprised to know that PR goes right back to the Romans and Julius Caesar or maybe even earlier than. Can we see him as an PR innovator? Maybe we can, didn’t he use and ancient form of reputation management, stunts and shows to get people talking and writing about him?

William the Conqueror and the Normans cleverly told the story of 1066 in the Bayeux tapestry., but whose story is being told in it? Do the tapestries tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth? Or could they be the start of the oh so famous PR term ‘spin’?Bayeux Tapestry

A famous comment about Public Relations is: ”Public Relations was not invented by Americans and then exported elsewhere.”

But is this true?
Aren’t Ivy Lee and Edward Bernays famous for ‘inventing’ PR and aren’t these two from America? (Even though they are from America, they can be used as a good example of the start of PR to be able to come to a vague answer to the question of what PR is.)They were really at the forefront of PR at the time (even though it wasn’t really known as PR then!).

''Torches of Freedom''Bernays worked for one of the big tobacco companies in the US. He had to come up with a campaign to get women smoking as this was considered a male habit in the 1920’s. Posters that were used to persuade women showed young models smoking a cigarette in public on the arm of a famous man and lighting up a ‘Torch of Freedom’. Can this be seen as scientific persuasion or propaganda?

A quote from Edward Bernays: ”Those who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses pull the wires which control the public mind.” This can be seen as persuasion and propaganda but is it fair to say that PR can still be seen this way? Probably, if you ask UK journalist about PR people today.

Manipulation, propaganda, spin, influencing opinions and behaviour and persuasion. These are a few words that come to mind and have been used in this post when thinking of PR. Are all these words linked to PR to be seen as negative? Or could PR be seen as an important element in a democratic society?

There are so many questions surrounding PR and what it actually is. So tell me how you would explain to your parents or friends what PR is?




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