The Charter for Genuine Communication

Friends, what have we become?

I’ve just been offered unlimited press release distribution for an annual fee of $299. I can blast out my news mindlessly and frantically to zillions of disinterested people. Where do I sign?!!

Elsewhere on planet communication we’re seduced by the massive reach blasting out emails to millions of squillions of people at the click of a mouse. And if 0.0000002% read it, let alone reply it’s been ‘worth it’. Not forgetting ‘Dear colleague’ emails. And my personal favourite, the ‘We’re doing a survey about security in your area’ phone call.

We’re better than this aren’t we?

That’s why I’m launching a Charter for Common Sense Communication. It’s time to get personal. Look people in the eyes and find out what’s important to them. And, if it adds value to the conversation, let them know what’s important to you too. Be open and sincere. Share passions. Be honest about what motivates you and your business. Be a real person not a corporate automaton blasting out schpiel and spin.

So here it is, and it couldn’t be simpler:

The Charter for Genuine Communication

  1. Actively listen. Communicate genuinely to discover what is important to a customer (could be a journalist in my case). Some call it a two-way conversation.
  2. Contribute to the conversation with information that adds value according to what is important to the person you are talking to.

I’m committing to it. Will you join me? Have I missed anything out?

Cardell. Now That’s the Way to Do It!

Chris Cardell’s latest direct mail stunt brought a smile to my face this week.

On Thursday I received a ‘hand written’ envelope. Amongst the bills and the circulars with type-written labels it was always going to be the first one I went for. Who might have sent me this personal correspondence I thought as I ripped away at the letter.

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Inside was a ripped Times feature about marketing maverick Chris Cardell with a hand written post it note simply saying: ‘Richard, I saw this in the Times and thought of you. This guy is brilliant. Have a look at his website.’ It was signed: ‘J’

I spent two minutes thinking of all the people I knew who’s names began with ‘J’!! Until I looked a little closer.

It was hand written alright. But it was a hand written type face. Printed NOT written.

What Chris is acknowledging, with this approach, is that in a world where we are bombarded with selling messages – the only truly meaningful messages are the ones which acknowledge customers personally. And he wasn’t hiding behind any shiny branding.

It’s outside-of-the-box creativity of the highest order. And it’s just what is required to get a response. Some people will even blog about it ;)

The only word of warning is when you suss it (and I won’t be the only one) there is just an ever-so-small feeling of being duped. And that’s a feeling which locks horns with the credible endorsement power that the article and the chirpy ‘check this out’ post it note engineers.

Me?

I though it all a bit of harmless fun. It got my attention and there’s no malice in it. Hats off Chris.

PS .. but I’m not buying. Yet!

Politicians Passing the Buck – a PR Disaster

There’s a stand out news story in the UK at the moment. Members of Parliament have been ‘playing the game’ with exorbitant and frivolous expense claims. Worse, they have then used this taxpayers money to fuel property investments totalling millions of pounds.

My father-in-law is fizzing about this. We had an animated discussion about how politicians preach to us on the way we should behave before plumbing the depths of greed themselves. They levy ever-increasing taxes only to squirm their way out of paying there own dues.

It’s no wonder people are hacked off.

We know that the facts are that it’s just the way things have been for MPs. And since everyone has been doing it – none of them wanted to miss out on their own unscrupulous pay day.

But the startling fact is that out of the hundreds of MPs motivated to change public life for the better – it didn’t occur to any one of these lowlifes to blow the whistle.

They stumbled on a proverbial cash machine mistakenly churning out tenners – and have kept schtum while they filled their pockets.

It stinks.

How would a PR advisor deal with this? It’s a tricky one. I certainly wouldn’t even consider pleading innocence or apportioning blame. And no amount of baby-kissing will appease directorate baying for blood.

People say there’s no such thing as bad publicity. Perhaps this exception proves the rule.

Penny for the Advertising Industry

Our marketing cousins in advertising are having a tricky time of things at the moment. Belts are understandably tightening. But I fear the PR industry will not be immune.

The fact is, love or loathe the idea of advertising (because it’s cheating isn’t it – just paying to put your message in an advert, where’s the fun in that?) advertising spend underwrites all that lovely editorial space the PR industry plunders on a daily basis.

Newspapers are announcing redundancies, BBC newsrooms are amalgamating and that new whipper-snapper on-line media is hoovering up all the opportunities in-between.

It makes for interesting times. But if the PR industry believes it’s immune then it might be in for a surprise. It’s true that marketing budget holders are seeing significantly better value from PR than advertising at the moment.

But as advertising budgets are squeezed, editorial opportunities will become fewer and more fragmented.

It’s not doom and despondency – far from it. Remember the value PR represents! But it is time to prepare to think even smarter.

The World’s First ‘PR Land’ Theme Park to Open?

Stumbelled across www.diggerland.com reading the first UK edition of Wired magazine (worth a read). And it has inspired me. I love the idea of turning jobs into leisure parks.

So stand by your beds, because I’ve hatched a new plan to open the world’s first ‘PR Land’ theme park – but I could use some feedback on a few of the ‘rides’ that may feature.

This so far:

  1. ‘Press Release-a-tron’ Buckle Up. Can you devise an angle, quote, message and eye-catching headline – then write distribute and follow up before the deadly deadline? Watch out for the evil client-approval process!

  2. ‘The Schmooze House’ Dare you enter The Schmooze House? Can you track down journalists before your fellow visitors? Will you beguile them with your witty banter and irresistible news pitch? But beware! Don’t ‘schmooze’ them when they’re on deadline. They bite back! Grrrr!

  3. ‘Blue Sky Brainstorm World’ How wacky can you be? Park a taxi on the top of the Eiffel tower? Suspend a client MD upside down in his boxers from a football stadium floodlight? Welcome to Blue Sky Brainstorm World. A fantasy world where there’s no such thing as a bad idea!

  4. ‘The Big News Coverage Dipper’. Watch as your .. OK, bored now.

So – is it a winner?

I’ll get my coat.

Blog Directories to Improve Your Search Engine Rankings

Free Blog Directories > Free Blog Directory Submissions | Hobo

Ten links for you, with free submission, from blog directories that have high page rank (!), and rank well in Google, and on the surface, no crazy demands like actually telling you where you need to put their directory badge! Hope you found it useful.

Damned United Film and the Irony of its Pre-Launch Publicity

I’m a football fan. Have been for some time. And I’m looking forward to seeing the new film about Brian Clough. The reviews are encouraging. And the exerpts have seen make it sound like it will be an entertaining hour and a half well spent.

The publicity surrounding this film has been bubbling for a few weeks now. And it offers a great example of how confrontation can be used with great effect to generate massive publicity, curiosity and ultimately bums on seats,

Nigel Clough says he and his family will not watch the film ‘The Damned United’ when it comes out next week.

Based on the book about his dad Brian’s 44 days at Leeds in 1974, Derby manager Clough says the story has upset members of his family, including his mother.

“The book deeply upset a lot of people when it came out, including my mum,” Clough told BBC Radio Derby.

“I’ll go with the principle that if the film is based on the book, we won’t be going down the road of seeing it.”

http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/7950412.stm

Former players have also been quoted (although this is a bit tenuous in my book – from The Sun)

… he will not be sitting down to watch The Damned United.

Pearce, whose side have a friendly in Norway tomorrow night, said: “You could learn a great deal from him. He was such a strong character. Respect

“You bump into people and some of Brian Clough rubs off on all of us.

“If you asked Martin O’Neill, Brian Laws or Roy Keane they would have nothing but respect for the man.

“My lads are free to go to the pictures on Sunday so if they want to see it they are more than welcome. Personally I won’t.

“I haven’t read the book either. I worked with him for eight years so I don’t need to read a book about Brian Clough.

http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/sport/football/damnedunited/article2341282.ece

So, ready for some irony? The Clough family and players who feel agrieved by the film have generated more publicity than any film promoter could have achieved on their own.

They set out to tell people that they didn’t think the book or film represented the father/manager they knew. Fair enough.

But how many more people will now watch this film than would have if they hadn’t helped to generate publicity for it by voicing their disapproval?


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