Posts Tagged ‘De Montfort University


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:

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!


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!


The art of writing a press release

As a Public Relations MA student one of the skills I am required to have is to be able to write the perfect press release. Hopefully I will have required this skill after my MA.

During my work experience at De Montfort University I have been drafting press releases for the press office. When I was writing one about lingerie today some questions popped up in my mind.

How do you write the perfect press release? There are so many different ways Public Relations practitioners write them. But is there a perfect press release template anywhere that can be used for all press releases? Or is there an international or even global way of how we should write them?

There is a difference in the way that I was taught to write a press release during my BA and work experience in The Netherlands to the way I have been taught to write one here in the UK during my MA.

In Amsterdam I was used to writing WHO, WHAT, WHERE, WHEN and WHY in the introduction because  journalists don’t have time to read a whole press release. You have to make is easy for them and put all the important information in first so they can decide if they want to read on or contact the PR agency.

During my MA and my work experience here in Leicester I was taught to write a very short introduction with a maximum of 20 to 30 words. I thought this was very short and didn’t understand why. Because we also learnt that journalists have less time now then they used to. So why would you then not make it easy for them by adding all the important facts to the introduction?

Seems strange to me, but I have adapted my style of writing and writing a press release now has become easier.

When I googled writing the perfect press release I came across 3 rules PR’s have to stick to when writing one:

  1. Is your press release really necessary?
  2. If you were running a story based on this release, what would the headline be and does the first sentence fit into less than 15 words? If no, or the first sentence is ‘Mrs Miggins plc announces…’, go back to Q1.
  3. If you got Q2 right, why are you changing the wording for a press release?

The first question is very important because I’ve had to write some press releases while thinking: why would this be interesting for anyone in the world?

Apparently a press release is still the most popular way of contacting a journalist. So it is very important that we get this right.

This image shows you the way I have been taught in The Netherlands how to write a press release.

This is the exact template that I would follow. But I feel like the way I have been taught now is exactly the other way round.

If we turn this figure upside down that would sum up the way I feel like I have been taught how to write a press release here in the UK.

I’m interested in how you write your press releases and what you think is the most effective template for this.

Let me know what your views are on this topic.


DMU Events work placement

During my MA Public Relations course one of the requirements is to do a work placement in January. I found a placement and am now helping the De Montfort University Events team for four weeks.

I have done an internship before at a company that did some event organising but not to the extent that the Events team of DMU does, wow. The details that have been thought about and how well the events staff know the companies they work with is very impressive.

My first week was all about getting to know the staff, how they work, what each of the staff work on, reading up on all the upcoming events, how to work with certain programmes and of course had to go through the very thorough and important health and safety check (this was no doubt the highlight of my first week). There is a lot of admin work involved during this internship but I didn’t really expect anything else as it is only for four weeks.

The way of working, how all the time plans and event plans are put together and how detailed they are has really amazed me. If every event company had these plans and worked thinking as detailed as the DMU Events team does, I don’t think any event could ever go wrong.

There are some very interesting lectures coming up this year organised by the DMU Events team. I will be helping on two of them this January. Liz Kendall, Shadow Health Minister on January 20 and Xudong Zhao, Professor of Low Carbon Society on January 27 are the distinguished lecture and professorial lecture I will be helping on. I will put some more information about these lectures on my blog soon and will let you know how my second week was!

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