For me, the jury’s out, given the latest developments here from the Clifford camp.

OK, so Max holds court over a certain section of the Press very well indeed – that’s without contention – and he has clearly improved the reputations of countless celebrities over the years, not just in the UK, but on an international scale. Good PR delivery.

But my main problem with celebrity PR is this. We all know its spin.

The client knows its spin.

The Press regurgitates the spin.

The readerships know its spin.

So, where is the value? Is it just to raise newspaper and magazine sales, whilst giving the celebrity and Max a cosy pay packet? My main point is – where is the ACTUAL value to the reader? Do they accept they’re reading a piece of reputation management, without substance, and in some cases, any style, either?

In these times of increasing digitalisation, more demanding and discerning, media-savvy audiences online, where does celebrity PR sit in the longer-term? I am struggling to find a place for it to actually exist. Apart from the red tops, of course.

The point came to me as I was overviewing a few favourite social media and content sites – where there is consistently useful, interesting, engaging content. Then I caught the latest piece of Clifford client spin. And it looked like a lost cause.

What value do you think celebrity PR has, if any?

And, yes, this is despite the advances of the Goliaths online such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Blogs still rule.

I posted on the importance of blogs towards the end of last year here, and a well-rounded, consistent, informative, non-selling blog still, for me, represents the essential building-block upon which a content-based social media strategy should be based.

But why? Don’t just take my word for it.

For example, here’s 7 reasons with which I whole-heartedly agree from the excellent Deb Ng, founder of Freelance Writing Gigs online, on why building a blog as a central presence can – over time – reap rewards on several levels.

And, despite the really useful inputs on building audience trust to then carefully place relevant paid-for slots, advertising et al into the blog mix, I think a blog delivers far more than specific revenue on that one platform alone. It is essential to social media growth, awareness, credibility and sales interest across a number of platforms. It also saves you time and money.

Imagine this – and I have discussed producing single sets of blog content for multiple publication giving maximum effect before, so bear with me – but if you’re new to the blog, the idea is pretty simple. And incredibly effective.

You post a blog. It’s fed automatically into your Twitter, Friendfeed, LinkedIn and Facebook business pages, along with other platforms where your target audiences are hanging out. These respective audiences pass it on, re-tweet, comment upon, add their inputs, and build the content into an ongoing discussion, debate – giving you the opportunity to further highlight your skills, expertise and passion for the content topic. You become the go-to guy (or gal).

When did you last see a DM piece deliver this? Or a stand-alone press release? Or even a face-to-face networking meeting?

I know, I am biased – and believe me, I’ve networked with more life coaches than you can imagine. Sighs.

So, a well-executed blog rocks, rules, and generally wins hands-down for me.

It delivers content you control when you want it out there to the right audiences globally.

It supports and nurtures your social media content.

It delivers cost-effective promotion which is neither hard-selling nor intrusive in any way.

It also saves you from breakfast networking with life coaches – and for that benefit alone, I’m standing by my blog.

I don’t miss the soggy bacon, rubber eggs, and over-use of the word ‘synergy’ either.

So, imagine the scene…

You’ve sent your shiny, perfectly-formed, stunningly-interesting press release to all your target Press. Not a single irrelevant media contact has been emailed. You have absolute confidence in the power of the story contained within your PR correspondence.

And then?

Nothing, nada, zilch. Three days pass and not a single, salutory email or phone call from any of the contacted Editors.

What next?

Don’t fret, panic or take it personally.

In the last newsroom I worked in recently, I received 250 emails per day from company PRs, in-house marketers and PR Agencies dealing on behalf of clients across the UK. And roughly 10% of them were actually worth reading. As in, worth taking a closer look because they were fundamentally newsworthy and may have interested my readerships. No sales pitches, PR spin, irrelevant waffle, just good old-fashioned News.

So, are you being honest with yourself?

Ask yourself these questions:

1. Is the press release just a poorly-worded sales effort?

2. Is it really relevant to the target readership?

3. Is it about current or upcoming News in the business, or a re-hashed story from three months ago?

4. Is the accompanying image of appropriate quality for the publication or online portal?

5. Is the editorial well-written, punchy and without waffle – does it succinctly tell the story?

6. Have you given the press release to a third party to check before emailing it to the Press?

If you can pass the above questions, and still no contact from the Press, be patient. Be persistent. Keep sending the right PR, in the right format, at the right time, and within their deadlines. They’ll get to it eventually.

Oh – and never, ever, ever ring an Editor to see if they’ve received it. You’ll often find an expletive offends.

…and that is the point in question here which raises interesting issues.

Fashion magazine Vice is recruiting bloggers to provide editorial inputs, event blogs, and general ambassadorship of the magazine and all it stands for within the fashion industry. Sounds like a great opportunity. But here’s the catch.

‘Blogs that are regularly updated and “reflect a Vice sensibility” will be considered for inclusion in the Vice Blogging Network (VBN), Nicole Kai from the magazine told Journalism.co.uk.

This is not an opportunity to write for Vice, but rather a chance for the title to highlight relevant and independently-run sites.’

And what do the bloggers get for their dedicated efforts? A bit of exposure and the ‘reward’ of using a VBN badge on their blog. Wow. How uber-cool. Doesn’t seem to be too much of a deal from here.

After all, if they’re blogging content which is good enough to be effectively endorsed by Vice and published, surely it’s good enough for them to actually get paid for it too? Payment for copy produced – now that, to me, is an opportunity.

Just a thought. What do you think?

This is the extension of a sorry tale – my own experiences here. The story tells:

How I was lied to by Kwik Fit management.

How I had my time wasted.

How I was the subject of attempted mis-selling of non-required items for my car.

How Kwik Fit turned my car into a death trap.

How their senior management evaded the issues and covered it up.

How Kwik Fit’s PR team attempted to undermine my story, rather than resolve the issues.

How Kwik Fit senior management never once saw fit to resolve the life-threatening practices every UK customer is at risk from.

And, it appears, I am not alone. Far from it. Here are some of the multitude of customer comments of their experiences with Kwik Fit, as posted on my original blog:

“We contacted them immediately. The car had barely gone more than 3 miles – they refused to accept anything wrong had happened and refused to accept they had forced a sale my wife didn’t want at any stage. They were rude, ignored us and ignored any negative comments I made.”

“I have worked in the so called “fast fit” industry for 28 years.

I would never entertain working for Kwik Fit.

It is common knowledge within my industry that Kwik Fit centre staff are put under tremendous pressure by the senior Kwik Fit managers to hit targets. The only way you can achieve your target on Kwik Fit, and keep your job, is by ripping people off.

The senior Kwik Fit managers telephone the centre managers several times every day for “updates” and if they have not sold enough tyres, tracking, brakes etc they are “encouraged” to sell more to the next poor bugger who drives onto the forecourt.

Kwik Fit have what they call “ticket values” which measures how much money the centre staff have taken off each customer. They require a ticket value of around £150 !

So if you go in there for a simple puncture repair, which is around the £20 mark, they then go to work on getting another £130 worth of work out of you, that in most cases you do not need.

Whilst the Kwik Fit area manager may be concerned about the quality of workmanship on your rear brakes, and he may have an internal investigation, don’t expect him to care about the mis-selling, after all that is how he gets his bonus!

Kwik Fit senior management are very good at laying the blame for mis-selling at the door of the lads in the centres, when in reality if they didn’t harass them several times a day they wouldn’t feel under such pressure to rip people off.

My advice is to give this awful company a very wide birth!!!”

“I was told, the front and back break systems needed replacing totally, new cylinders, cables, springs, pads, discs, brake fluid the list goes on…. total nearly £1000. The car is only worth about £800!!!

I said I can’t afford it and could he kindly put the car back together so I can get it home. But was assured it was safe to drive.

I have now had 2 other garages look at the car and GUESS WHAT…..Only the front brake pads and discs need replacing, totalling between £100-£175.

NONE of the other things need doing. NONE.

The lovely guy who is now fixing my car, used to work for the awful company, and has told me a few ‘tricks’ that they do. My leaking brake fluid, would have been in fact lots of wd40 sprayed on it make it look leaky. Nice.”

“I am completely shocked at what I have heard tonight. And think that now it is time for someone ie from the company to stand up and show just how low Kwik Fit are willing to stoop. I myself would love to share what problems we are having but at the moment it is in hands of solicitors and would not want to do anything to jeopardize our case.”

Shocking stuff. And still no formal response, resolution or even apology from Kwik Fit has hit my inbox. Begs the questions: does Kwik Fit have the worst corporate reputation in the UK? Add your experiences here. Lobby Kwik Fit on Twitter via their account @Kwik_Fit. Join this group on Twitter. Join this Facebook page to share your experiences.

Let’s ensure their silence deafens them in the boardroom. We are all owed professional and prompt customer service.

And as we all know, when it comes to corporate reputation, facing up to corporate responsibilities is the only acceptable action.

And they are powerful lessons indeed, according to this blog.

It’s a brilliant, inspiring and visionary tale of how New York business journalist Michelle Leder turned a home office business into a significant commercial proposition – one which a financial heavyweight has bought into on a big scale. Kind of, buying the entire business scale. It’s an incredible story.

One of my favourite parts of the blog post is:

“And it’s also a perfect example how of a modern journalist no longer needs a job at a major media outlet to build a satisfying and remunerative career. Whether you have a job or not, the secret to journalistic success in the future is to become an entrepreneur by developing a specialty (or two or three) – and then working tirelessly to brand yourself as a recognized expert in the field. The low costs of online publishing make it easy to hang out your shingle on any conceivable subject and then to leverage the viral power of the web to build an audience.”

It’s a great story of online entrepreneurship in action. Many thanks to author Alan Mutter for sharing it. I simply had to pass it on.

According to this, it appears that journos at the Beeb are being told to engage with social media or suffer the consequences, by the recently-appointed director of BBC Global News Peter Horrocks:

“This isn’t just a kind of fad from someone who’s an enthusiast of technology. I’m afraid you’re not doing your job if you can’t do those things. It’s not discretionary.”

Let’s face it, if the BBC’s media representatives are being told to utilise social media and work collaboratively within these platforms to produce news items, it bodes well for us all. Not just media types. Not just creatives.Not just tech geeks.

Businesses, too, will benefit here – a greater awareness and exposure by the Beeb’s journalists will provide opportunities for companies to gain exposure where they might have otherwise been missed online. Bravo, I say.

The spin off? This pro-social media outlook may well filter down regionally and into other publising organisations, until we see the British Press fully engaged with social media platforms, using them as the information sources we already know they are.

Imagine this – the media coming to your social media platforms to get your news, features, comments and editorial input.

It could well make a few PRs break into a cold sweat. After all, if more Press go direct to source instead of via Rubella Pymley-Bowles at Ostentacious PR, the average business could well enjoy greater media spotlight without spending £3K a month to line the pockets of media relations consultants blanket emailing 1,000s of editors via MediaDisc. Just some social media strategy and engagement. Bravo again.

Looks like the social media revolution is officially here in the UK.

No, seriously, it is actually a piece of PR representing Disney: but the pitch – judging from the information sent to a Press contact who was kind enough to forward it on – looks as if it could have been delivered by the hapless Rubella Pymley-Bowles, incumbent account executive at Ostentacious PR. Complete and utter PR fluff, and totally irrelevant to the target audience.

If you have any examples of Rubella-isms in Mickey Mouse PR copy, please send them in: it’s a true education for us all.

WHY MAGIC MATTERS

It’s grim up north – men from Manchester, Newcastle or Liverpool are more likely than anyone else in Britain to have never experienced any ‘magic’ in their lives. Most people are lucky enough to have had what they feel is a magical moment whether it is the first time they went on holiday as a child to becoming a parent themselves. For others it could be the one in a million event like winning the lottery or seeing their football team clinch a dramatic last-gasp cup final victory.


But for seven per cent of Britain’s adults – the equivalent of 3.5 million people – there has been no ‘wow’ factor at all in their lives so far, said the study by Disneyland Paris. Men seem to be more unfulfilled – 10 per cent of them have never had that special moment compared to just six per cent of women.


Regionally, Newcastle is the most depressing as 13 per cent of Geordies are still waiting for their personal ‘wow’, followed by similarly high proportions in Manchester and Liverpool. In contrast, Bristol seems the place to go as only four per cent have yet to experience their magical moment, the lowest of any UK region.

One in three adults, 32 per cent, had their first magical moment as a child when they experienced something for the first time. Disneyland Paris commissioned the survey because it believes this is the kind of reaction it gets from younger first time visitors. Most (53 per cent) define a magical moment as something so wonderful that, at the time, the feeling is that life does not get any better than this, said the survey of 1,800 UK adults.


A further 35 per cent said it has to be an event they remember for the rest of their lives to count as a magical moment. And for many, it is something they experience as a family though it can be as simple as witnessing a spectacular sunset or a parent reading fairytales to his or her children. Nine in ten (90 per cent) of parents claim they deliberately try and create magical moments as a family, most believing it helps them bond with their children.

The results were analysed by Dr. Louise Bunce, a developmental psychology lecturer at Oxford Brookes University. She said: “Magical experiences and magical moments are important and meaningful to us. “They also play a pivotal role in our psychological health and wellbeing, as well as for the development of our imagination, creativity and understanding of the world.” This was particularly true in a recession where positive experiences can act as a protective barrier against the gloom.

Disneyland Paris found, among its own visitors, that the most magical experiences at its site were watching the daily parade and the first sight of Sleeping Beauty’s castle. Hugh Wood, Vice President and Managing Director of Disneyland Paris; “No matter how old we are, there is a still a part of us that believes in magical moments. “One in three people believe sharing fairytales is one of the most magical things a parent can do with their child so we are encouraging people to embrace them and create as many magical moments as possible.”

I guess the thing which irks the most regarding the above PR content is the simple fact it is a complete waste of the editor’s time. Not relevant to him or his audience. The lack of research from the PR pre-pitch also further damages the reputation of not the London PR Agency from where it came (that’s already screwed), but an iconic global brand like Disney itself as well. Nice.

It appears, judging from this last week, that not all companies take their online reputation management that seriously.

A fatal mistake, given the plethora of bloggers, tweeters, real-time media producers et al currently circling on the Internet waiting for the next story to hit. And when it comes to online reputation management, we all like to see a bit of action, don’t we?

Look at this, for example – the whole hiatus regarding Toyota‘s Prius and the recalling of 270,000 cars for braking issues – good to see the CEO addressing the issue immediately, and ensuring that whilst their reputation may be suffering slightly, they’re taking their corporate social responsibilities seriously. Risking customers’ lives usually needs a pretty swift response to reduce stakeholder fear and marketplace ramifications. But hey, we all know that. Basic stuff.

Are you managing your corporate reputation? Do you monitor online? After all, head in the sand won’t cut it these days, and platforms such as Twitter hold testimony to this. A rigorous, thorough and consistent approach is what’s needed for today’s businesses, to ensure their reputation survives the twist and turns of day-to-day trading intact and in a healthy fashion.

Do you remember the Kryptonite Locks example? It highlighted the importance of timing in reputation management issues.

Managing corporate reputation is a hugely-complex subject, given the rapid and unprecedented growth of social media – how does a company monitor the Internet, respond in an appropriate and timely fashion, ensuring they protect their Brand?

It is clear that managing corporate reputation online can no longer be an afterthought – as this article clearly demonstrates. I particularly liked this quote:

“Reputations are damaged by consumer review sites where a catalogue of mistakes is visible to end consumers.”

Taken from this site covering online reputation management. Great hints and tips which are, ultimately, relevant to anybody engaging an online audience with products and services. The essential message here? A problem online will not disappear.

The final word on corporate reputation management? I’ll leave it to this excellent post on Mashable. Are you protecting, managing and enhancing your corporate reputation? If not, why not? You could end up like these guys.

Excellent post here which I keep coming back to time and time again, on the rise and rise of influence of social media in all communication – and it raises a question for those utilising PR agencies and consultancies. Is your PR consultant or agency advocating social media to you, explaining the benefits, investigating and researching on your behalf, setting you up on relevant sites? No? Time to find a new PR provider. You’ll save yourself and your target Press time, trust me.

For example, 70% of the journalists questioned for the Econsultancy posting above stated that they regularly used RSS feeds to source and develop News and features items. RSS is one of the most basic online tools a business can use, and yet it has hugely powerful benefits, along with the mix of social media tools and techniques available to clients at low cost and higher return.

Blogging, tweeting, friendfeed, facebook…the list is seemingly endless, but with appropriate expertise, social media can represent an incredible resource for the media, clients and new potential clients alike, looking to find out more about the services and products a business offers. It also makes the media’s job easier, with increased content sources online.

If I were a client looking to source effective, contemporary and passionate PR for my business, I’d want to know that the consultant or agency could deliver the goods across a range of media, and not just arrange a lunch with 2 or 3 journos.

The Ab Fab days of PR are long gone – are you making sure your PR representation is relevant and utilising social media?