Archive for January, 2007

Three rules of international PR

I did PR in Europe for many years before I moved to the U.S. so I smiled with recognition when I read the blog by John Welton of Voce Communications featuring tips from his international colleagues on how to do international PR effectively.

In particular, the following sent shivers down my spine: “Just because a CEO is coming to Europe that does not mean a press tour should be arranged and perhaps even more important that local media should write about it.” I’ve lost count of the number of times our international clients would give us last-minute notice that a U.S. executive was vitising and expect press meetings to be set up – without supplying any information on what that executive could or would talk about.

The assumption that international media will automatically be interested in meeting with an executive from HQ is just plain wrong. As ever in PR, content is king. If that visiting exec has a new vision or insightful views on industry trends, then local media might be interested.

Even better, though, would be for HQ to develop interesting content (research, viewpoints, statistics, etc.) that could be shared with local executives, who in turn could use it in their conversations with media. One of the biggest frustrations for local PR people is lack of content: they don’t always have the resources to develop original content and they don’t get enough insight into the latest thinking from HQ.

So, here’s the first rule of international PR: Develop and share content.

Closely followed by the second: Don’t assume that what works in your country will work anywhere else. HQ should focus on the content and overall strategy and leave it to the people on the ground to decide on the best tactics for their market.

And, for good measure, here’s a third: You get what you pay for. If you want creative, strategic, proactive PR internationally, don’t skimp on the budget.

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January 30, 2007 at 12:51 pm 1 comment

Of PR and social media

There’s been a flurry of discussion recently about PR and social media. Do PR people understand social media? Are PR people necessary in a Web 2.0 world? Do journalists care? Are journalists even the audience anymore? (See Todd Defren’s blog for this one) If you’re new to the topic, here’s a detailed introduction and summary of developments to date from Brian Solis. For a great overview of the issues and lots of discussion, check out Chris Anderson’s “Long Tail PR: how to do publicity without a press release.”

OR you could subscribe to the Benioff school of PR. In a Forbes interview described by Valleywag as a “breathtakingly arrogant lecture on how to play the media,” Marc Benioff, CEO of, offered the following pearls of PR wisdom:

  • “Always pitch the bigger picture. […] Reporters are writers. They like to write stories with a protagonist, a villain and a plot.”
  • “Before you start talking to the media, get ahold of your metaphor. […] Journalists will use your metaphor in their story because they can’t come up with one on their own.”
  • “You have to be part of the tech dialog. Even if you announce you’re going to buy Apple, when really you aren’t, that’s OK. Do it because it will keep you relevant.”
  • “Reporters think I value my relationships with each of them. I have a list of 25 reporters I consider influential worldwide. I pay special attention to this group. I always answer their e-mails.”
  • “People open our press kits for free chocolate.”

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January 26, 2007 at 11:45 am 2 comments

Another PR payola scandal for Microsoft, and other stories – January 24, 2006

Another PR payola scandal for Microsoft. Hot on the heels of the furore over an attempt to ‘woo’ bloggers with free laptops, Microsoft’s PR tactics have caused controversy again. The company apparently offered to pay a blogger, Rick Jelliffe, to edit Wikipedia entries (here and here) that it maintains are biased towards to IBM. Here’s what Jelliffe had to say about the “interesting offer.”

U.S. VC investment at highest since 2001. That’s according to a PricewaterhouseCoopers/National Venture Capital Association MoneyTree report featured on Silicon Valley Watcher today. Here are some nuggets: a total of $25.5 billion was invested in 3,416 deals in 2006; life sciences was the number one investment sector for 2006, with 28% of all capital invested; internet-specific deals accounted for 16% of all VC dollars in 2006; the industrial/energy sector increased 107%; 40% of capital invested the industrial/energy sector went to alternative energy. In addition, U.S.-based venture capitalists invested $856 million in India and $1.1 billion in China. But could Silicon Valley fall behind Europe in the internet start-up stakes? Quite possibly, according to the New York Times.

Moral flexibility a plus. Wired reports that National Clandestine Services, part of the CIA, has started recruiting via Facebook, the social networking site for students. If you’ve ever wondered whether you have what it takes to be a spy, check out the NCS video ad on YouTube.

Sorry Brangelina, we’re talking about serious stuff this year. The World Economic Forum’s annual meeting starts today in Davos. Celebrities are out this year (except self-styled statesman Bono), world leaders and climate change are in. Follow the discussions at Davos Conversation. Or, if that you’re that way inclined, at Reuters’ Second Life bureau.

Sun Microsystems makes Q2 profit. Hurrah!

Spying scandal doesn’t affect HP bonuses. The San Jose Mercury News reports that Hewlett-Packard CEO Mark Hurd received $19.2 million in total compensation for 2006 – including an $8.6 million bonus, one of the largest in Silicon Valley history. The industry is hoping that Apple’s Steve Jobs can emerge equally unscathed from his options backdating scandal.

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January 24, 2007 at 1:06 pm 2 comments

Continued woes for the music biz, and other stories – January 22, 2007

What’s the music business to do? Global music sales are down for the seventh year on the trot and NPD estimates that 45% of all music is acquired illegally for free. Reuters reports from an annual industry meeting from Cannes that the industry is still divided over digital rights management. A large part of the problem IMHO is that the music business made the bed it is now lying in. The industry had it good for too long at the expense of the consumer so it’s little wonder that people have no qualms about downloading free music if they can. Meanwhile, former Napster exec Mike Bebel is expanding Ruckus, a music download site that encourages students to download now and pay later. The idea is that anyone with a .edu email address can download for free. The catch is that once students graduate to a .com address, they have to start paying a subscription in order to hold onto their music collection. I’m not sure I like the concept, but at least it’s innovative thinking. Find out more about it at BusinessWeek.

Second Life endorses real life. Linden Lab – creator of much-talked-about virtual world Second Life – issued a highly amusing legalese response to the parody site, Get a First Life. The response rejected the invitation to issue a cease and desist order, asserting that even its lawyers had a sense of humor: “Linden Lab is well-known for having strict hiring standards, including a requirement for having a sense of humor, from which our lawyers receive no exception.” Among other things, Get a First Life urges people to “Go outside. Membership is free.”

Fed up of Web 2.0? Follow Valleywag’s advice for “how to be a jerk about Web 2.0.” Here’s my favorite: “Complain about every service that you never sign up for. Say it’ll never catch on, because, well, your friends aren’t on it! This is why, because your friends don’t read Reader’s Digest either, that magazine does not exist.”

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January 22, 2007 at 1:17 pm Leave a comment

Disruption in IPTV, and other stories – January 16, 2007

Disruption strikes again. Those clever Scandinavian boys who founded Kazaa and Skype are at it again. Their new venture is called Joost, a free global TV distribution platform. Based on peer-to-peer technology, Joost will be supported by advertising and aims to improve the experience of watching TV on a computer. It’s an increasingly crowded market, but as James Enck of telecom analyst Daiwa Securities sees it, “with Zennstrom and Friis behind it, it has to be seen as a serious player.”

Take that, Blockbuster. Talking of that crowded market, Netflix has wisely added an online “watch now” feature to its DVD rental service. The service is currently being trialled with a small section of customers, and only allows for computer-based viewing. Oh and of course – like most of the other IPTV and movie download services – it’s only for PCs. Call me traditional, but I like watching TV on a TV – shame that the new Apple TV device only works with iTunes…

Branding so good, it makes you weep. Amusing piece on entitled “Why Apple makes me cry.” Having witnessed the euphoria and adolation that takes place when Steve Jobs talks at Macworld, I can confirm that Momus is not alone. That’s the power of branding, innit?

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January 16, 2007 at 1:10 pm Leave a comment

Disruption, Apple-style

It seems that ‘disruption‘ was the word de jour of 2006. Not content with having a great product that filled a need, companies suddenly all started styling themselves as market disruptors. Few, of course, really were. But then along comes the iPhone. Steve Jobs claims to have ‘reinvented‘ the phone. That may be going a little far, but the iPhone has a radically different interface and will certainly set the cat among the pigeons in the mobile world – and in fact has already sent competitors’ share prices tumbling.

That’s disruption.

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January 10, 2007 at 7:20 pm Leave a comment

Irrelevant format wars, and other stories – January 6, 2007

LG gives customers want they want. On the eve of the Consumer Electronics Show, LG announced a DVD player that will run both Blu-ray and HD-DVD formats. Hurrah – finally, a move that benefits consumers (and will likely stimulate sales too). Unfortunately, it might just have come too late for either camp. With movie downloads over the Internet becoming more popular, Carl Gressum of analyst house Ovum predicted (according to the FT) that “by the time the format war has been resolved, it may be irrelevant.”

French court rules against Sony; Apple is next. A French court ruled that Sony was misleading buyers of its MP3 players by not disclosing that they only play songs downloaded from its own music store, Connect. The case against Apple – which is also facing a class action suit in California – is pending this month. Much as I love my iPod/iTunes, it really is about time that the consumer electronics world stopped trying to lock consumers in.

No love for Gap. Gap is reported to be reviewing its brand strategies for Gap and Old Navy after disappointing December sales. Perhaps it should reconsider using the theme of world peace to sell clothes…or am I the only one to find “Peace Love Gap” offensive?

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January 7, 2007 at 8:53 pm Leave a comment


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