Co-founder of Round Earth Consulting. Communications consultant with 20 years in tech sector in US & Europe.
I must admit to indulging in the collective schadenfreude over this, but with the benefit of some reflection, I want to resist the urge to heap all my indignation on House PR. I am sure there was pressure from the client and it seems like there could be case to plea 'temporary insanity' what with the big thrill of the Brits coming up. My greatest criticism of House PR, is how abysmally (and late), they responded to the crisis. My statement would have been something like this:
"I apologise unreservedly for any unintentional offence my team has caused to Tim Walker and other members of the press for the overzealous way in which we sought to influence their coverage of the Brit Awards and our client. Part of our intention was to be helpful in supplying 'templates' and making the hashtags and various events clear, but I can see now that we took this way too far. Exciting high-profile events like these can cause even the most experienced PR consultants to have a momentary lapse in judgement, but I accept we should have known better. We are in the process of informing all our guests in the media that they are welcome to attend as Mastercard's guest with no strings attached. We've learned our lesson and can assure the press and our clients that this experience has made us wiser and stronger as a team."
PR professionals might say in their defence that journalists happily accept freebies and shouldn't be so high and mighty. However, they often have to largely because publications make such little money these days due to providing content free online. PR agencies and their clients have been huge beneficiaries of this because it has massively lowered their overhead costs and provided a free and easy way to measure press coverage. Therefore it's only fair that PR agencies and their clients reinvest some of this overhead savings into sponsoring journalists to attend events that they couldn't afford to otherwise cover. It's then up to the agencies and their clients to put on a show that's interesting and well organised enough to inspire press to write nice things if they choose. But putting the exact words in their mouths and telling them what they have to cover is pretty crass and clueless.
2 weeks, 5 days ago on Priceless! MasterCard’s social PR nightmare
New bosses for HP and Oracle?
2 months, 3 weeks ago on 6 Mega Trends for 2014
Well I won a tenner anyway - I had a feeling he'd go for the yacht race over the earnings call! I think a succession plan announcement must be imminent.
5 months, 2 weeks ago on Oracle OpenWorld: no big finish as Ellison skips his own keynote
Thank you for writing this thought-provoking analysis of a subject I personally find very fascinating. I don't think there is any way to create a formula for success. In the first place, success itself is a subjective concept and does not necessarily mean rising to the top of a corporate hierarchy (my personal idea of Hell). Those that do achieve this too quickly often become disillusioned and fearful of being 'found out'. When people promote themselves with the sole aim of achieving 'success' they often wind up alienating and annoying their peers and colleagues. On the other hand when someone with a genuine passion for their work shares their knowledge and views in the spirit of educating and learning from others and growing intellectually, they are likely to gain some genuine respect from peers in their industry, which might support their eventual 'success'.
6 months ago on Self promotion in the snake pit
This is very interesting but I take some issue Mr Moore's assertion that only the new generation wants to work collaboratively while the old establishment (aka, people our age!) are fixated with hierarchical top-down systems. In fact, I always despised working with structured, proprietary systems and resented the fact that I had to change the way I naturally worked just to accommodate these rigid systems. I see that gen X types readily embrace these new, more collaborative systems that work more like Facebook (another popular site for old fogies!) than SAP. The people clinging fast to the old systems are those with a stake in the traditional enterprise technology vendors whose business models depend on maintaining the status quo.
6 months ago on Geoffrey Moore: culture, collaboration, clouds and chasms
Very interesting article. Wasn't there something back in the 90s called 'enterprise search'? Is this the manifestation of that original concept?
6 months ago on Googleised business intelligence
Over the years I have also witnessed many corporate employees increasingly becoming administrators, too often with little or no hands on experience in the areas they are managing. This makes it extremely difficult, stressful and expensive for them to manage, integrate and negotiate with agencies because they have little practical knowledge of what work is required, how long it should take and the kind of quality standards to expect. I would strongly urge corporate marketers to keep up a steady level of practical training and education in the areas they are managing (even if it self-funded) so that they don't continue to operate at such a disadvantage. This will also provide greater employment opportunity should their own role become redundant.
7 months, 2 weeks ago on CMOs left herding agency cats
I think Marissa's doing the best job possible in an impossible situation. The Yahoo legacy and brand have become too toxic and seems to taint the companies it acquires rather than being benefitted by them. I hope I'm wrong but I fear her intervention has come way too late.
7 months, 2 weeks ago on Marissa Mayer’s Yahoo! – one year on
Thanks for the helpful editorial oversight on what is more than likely paid content in Forbes Insights. Very interesting and useful.
7 months, 3 weeks ago on Why MarketShare needs better alignment with CFOs
I never thought in a million years this alliance would be possible but now you've definitely got my going 'hmmmmm'
7 months, 3 weeks ago on Oracle, Salesforce & things that make me go ‘hmmm…’
It would actually break my heart to see Depeche Mode go corporate! I do really like some of the ravey remixes but nothing to my mind beats the original Never Let Me Down Again...
7 months, 3 weeks ago on Weekend humor: everything counts
All I can say is Yahoo must REALLY want people to quit. Screaming. In droves.
1 year ago on Yahoo! Letter: Was Their Communications Team Consulted?
I've been working in PR for 22 years and part of the problem is that the hardest part of our job - pitching - is always left to junior people who may be smart but lack the industry experience, business experience, life experience and emotional intelligence at that stage of their careers to develop an intelligent proposal. Senior people to ensure that the infractions laid out in this blog never happen. I have read and taken seriously a lot of these types of blog / rants and even recently took a course from an experienced business/tech journalist on how to write better pitches. One piece of advice he gave to ensure a very high success rate was to spend at least 2 hours researching each one. I have found that is about the right amount of time, especially if you're trying to pitch something speculatively that's not in response to a listed opportunity and ensure that you have the resources available to really follow the idea through. However after two hours of obvious labour tailoring a pitch to an individual with an offer of exclusive content, I do need to know definitively whether or not it has been accepted or if I should go back to the drawing board and tailor it to another publication. I don't want to offer another publication the same exclusive content only to get an e-mail from a journalist a week later saying "yes, I'd like to do something with that." At the same time, I can't give everyone a week to respond or nothing will get done. Journalists and bloggers are busy, so I would recommend developing some kind of code system to reject well-crafted pitches that only takes a second, like 'NI' for not interested.
1 year ago on I Hate PR People: The Rules of Pitching Bloggers and Media
I'm sorry Gini, that must have been hard. Cycling is still a a wonderful sport and there are some amazing new role models like (my favourite) Bradley Wiggins. Sometimes an institution needs a crisis in order to have a renaissance. By the way, I think your advice was spot on. I hope he takes it.
1 year, 4 months ago on The Lance Armstong PR Crisis
I agree that KitchenAid handled this beautifully, thanks for sharing the story. I don't use Twitter for personal communications at all anymore as I don't feel that I can afford the risk to my business if get my audiences mixed up. My own solution is to use Facebook for strictly personal use and Twitter for work, which I realise isn't practical for everyone. Even so, one of my best friend's mother recently told me off on Facebook for posting too much politcal stuff she didn't like, which made me feel about 8 years old!
1 year, 5 months ago on KitchenAid Handles Offensive Tweet Crisis Extraordinarily Well
That is not only bad practice and bad manners, it genuinely creates business risk and for that reason should raise a bright red flag to an HR department. If you expect these people to represent the company, you might have to accept responsibility for them and their actions. What if the blogger was injured on the stand, or harrassed by a Samsung employee? What if a blogger decided to get drunk on the stand and spout obsencities to passing trade? You get the idea. It just ain't clever.
1 year, 6 months ago on Samsung Threatens Bloggers and Provides a Valuable Lesson
I totally agree. I take it one step further and think it is kind of passive-aggressively arrogant and disrespectful to wear jeans (and yes, hoodies too) because it sends a subtle message that you do not care what your audience thinks. Granted when I started my carreer in PR, the women in my agency were not even allowed to wear trouser-suits, so I'm glad we've relaxed the dress code a little. Especially now that we always have to crawl under boardroom tables to plug in our equipment, ha ha!!
1 year, 6 months ago on Jeans Not Appropriate for Business Meetings
Great article Gini. I'm SO proud of the female Olympic athletes this year. The style in which women compete is very different to men, which makes the whole competition much more interesting. Everyone I spoke to agreed the women's Olympic road race was so much more exciting than the men's this time. Much more intense and close to the finish.
1 year, 7 months ago on London Olympics Show Female Athletes Fighting Stereotypes
All I can say is 'REALLY?'
1 year, 7 months ago on The Chick-fil-A PR Crisis
SING IT SISTER! I couldn't agree more!
1 year, 7 months ago on Marissa Mayer: Why Are We Still Having this Conversation?