Category Archives: PR

#media140 is coming, here’s your discount code..

Media 140

Media 140 is fast approaching, taking place on Monday 26th October 2009 at the Royal Institute of British Architects. If you haven’t got a ticket already then bag yourself one here and save £40 off the ticket price with the discount code ‘litman140′. Your ticket will then be £95 instead of the asking price of £135. Don’t say i’m not good to you.

Today’s consumer has a newfound power with the rise of social media tools such as Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube, forcing brands and marketers around the world to find new ways to engage with their consumer. Brand profiles and reputations are no longer dictated to the consumer but on the contrary they are shaped and driven by consumer demand, which makes for exciting and challenging times for advertisers and marketers.

Attendees will hear ‘warts and all’ (although i’m not really a fan of warts) stories directly from the brands who are out there engaging with their consumers through social media platforms. The event brings together experts and practitioners including; Tom Bedecarre, CEO AKQA, Paul Hoskins Head of Customer Experience EasyJet and Ted Hunt Digital Communications Manager from Innocent drinks, to share and debate with an audience of leading advertising, PR, brand and marketing executives.

I’ll be going so gimme a shout if you are too, put some names to faces and all..

Finally, here’s a few names that are confirmed to be speaking;

  • John Beasley, Head of Brand, Red Bull
  • Mel Exon, Managing Partner BBH Labs
  • Amelia Torode, from the award winning ‘Compare the Meerkat’ campaign
  • James Hart, Director at leading fashion retailer ASOS.com
  • Robin Grant, MD of some agency (It wouldn’t be an event without Robin speaking!)
  • Noam Buchalter, Marketing Manager Pepperami, Unilever

Why personalisation is still key

Pitching to bloggers, it’s a necessary evil and probably loathed more than it’s loved. I find it fascinating being in the lucky (?) position to be able to experience both sides of the coin. I enjoy the therapeutic hobby of writing down my thoughts, yet at the same time, in my day job I also pitch to bloggers. I really quite enjoy receiving pitches myself because I’m always keen to see how others do it. At the same time, I always try to highlight the pitches that really took the time to research my blog, finding that little bit of information about me to show that it’s not just a blind email sent out to many others.

I thought starting off the email with Hello and their name was pretty much standard, common practice. It shows from the off that the email before them was specifically meant for them. If there was a mental tick box when I receive a pitch, that gets the first tick.

What riled me to write this post was receiving what I think is an awful attempt at ‘engagement’. That’s really what you’re looking for when pitching right? A reply gives you validation, maybe a celebratory fist punch in the air.

This isn’t however going to be a naming and shaming exercise. That’s not the point. We’re all still learning right? I’ve made mistakes along the way and will still continue to do so but seeing as we’re all in this together I’d like to address a few parts of the pitch that particularly bothered me. I also don’t wish to draw attention to the agency, client who they are contacting on behalf of or the individual making contact so I’ll use excerpts from the pitch but not explicit detail.

Here’s the first paragraph..

“I’m getting in touch with you on behalf of (removed) as I thought you would appreciate an advance look at its new UK advertising campaign. As Lit Man Live is influential within the Media sector, we’d like to take this opportunity to provide some insight into why (removed) is pursuing a new brand strategy, beginning with this (removed) (but it was a YouTube video)”

First thing: Address the recipient. Say hello and if their first name is on site somewhere, use that. Then there’s a chance that you’ll have me at hello.. It’s such a simple first step that really needs to be there, always. In this instance being addressed as Lit Man Live shows that categorically no research has been carried out, not a jot and I was actually a bit embarassed myself to receive it. I’ve been called a lot of things but that was the first time I’ve been called Lit Man Live. Personalisation is indeed key but when you get the basic fundamentals wrong, it’s shocking, not a great place to start.

Mack Collier writes:

Any pitch that doesn’t refer to me by my correct name is deleted immediately without being read.”

The whole debate about influence comes to fruition here also. Being perceived to be influential in the Media sector is complimentary but verging on laughable. Keep that in your internal notes but to me it’s signalling in the first paragraph what you want to get out of this before you’ve even asked.

Three overly long paragraphs about the history of the campaign, how it came about, who created it, who directed it and what they’ve directed before is not opt in. I didn’t read them, they’d lost me by that point. Instead of writing endless paragraphs of background info, make the email a bit more punchy and succinct and summarise the key messages in one short paragraph with an opt in at the end, something like would you like to find out more? It provides the recipient with the option and instead of metaphorically meeting them in the street and shouting your sales pitch at them, you’re going to talk with them on their level and see if they talk back.

Read the blog before you pitch to it. Show that extra level of research and mention a post that I’ve written and give me your opinion on it. Do you agree or disagree? What did you like about it and why do you think it’s relevant to what you’re pitching me with? Hint: It should be relevant.

You’ll probably be familiar with this, you can apply it to pitching too..

hugh

Final paragraph:

“The link enclosed is to an advance version of the video which we are specially making available to you. (If it was made available just to me, why does the video have 300 views?) We will be ‘killing’ this link at midnight GMT and making the video publicly available on (removed). If you would like to write about the ad and embed any video on your blog I would be grateful if you could link to the video on (removed’s) YouTube channel”.

I received the email at 4pm. They were giving me 8 hours to view the video before it was being ‘killed’. This pitch should have finished with the opt in, which requires more forward planning but may result in a more positive response. Asking me to write about it, embed the video on my blog and which link I should link to was too much. I wasn’t going to jump through hoops to write about a YouTube video.

Remember the cocktail party analogy here.

The next time you decide to solicit a blogger with the pitch of a client, imagine we are both meeting at a cocktail party. Imagine I don’t know you and we are meeting for the first time. What is the first thing you would say to me? I don’t think it would be the same words that you would have otherwise used when doing your “pray and spray” email solicitations about your client’s shiny new product or service. No, I think you would first introduce yourself and look for something in common between us. And then only if you were feeling comfortable would you try to pitch me on behalf of your client.

Finally, again, do your research. Tell me why you think what you’re pitching me is relevant. Customise each pitch. Why should I be interested? Seriously, all of the above, coupled together is the difference between talking favourably about it and highlighting it in more of a how not to pitch light.

Here’s a few useful resources to refer back to:

This is how you pitch a blogger

How to pitch a blogger

How to pitch bloggers

How to pitch a blogger

So how DO you pitch a blogger?

How not to:

How NOT to pitch a blog

How not to pitch a blogger

How NOT to pitch a blogger

How Not To Pitch A Blogger

How (Not) to pitch a blogger

The Top 10 in PR listed in The Sunday Times 100 Best Small Companies 2009.

49th It’s with great pleasure to announce that for the 8th year running Consolidated PR has been named as one of The Sunday Times 100 Best Small Companies 2009, the 49th to be precise! It’s a particularly notable achievement considering no fewer than 565 small companies sought a place in the top 100. Of that, only 10 were classified as being in the ‘Public Relations’ sector. You can see the full list here.

To be “the industry’s hottest property by 2011” is the goal we’re all striving to achieve and it’s an exciting time at the moment with some brilliant clients, great people to work with and a forward thinking MD who really gets all this new fangled online stuff.

Along with being ranked 49th overall, we were ranked as 28th in ‘Giving Back’, 33rd in ‘Belonging’, 66th in the ‘Leadership’ ranks, 68th in ‘Personal Growth’ and 86th in ‘Wellbeing’.

So what does that even mean? How do you define belonging for example?

Giving BackHow much Companies are thought by their staff to put back into society in general and the local community in particular

Belonging - Feelings about the company people work for as opposed to the people they work with

LeadershipHow employees feel about the head of the company and its senior managers

Personal Growth – To what extent staff feel they are stretched and challenged by their job

WellbeingHow staff feel about stress, pressure and the balance between their work and home duties

==================================================

The top 10, in fact, the only 10 from the ‘Public Relations’ sector are:-

(18) Blue RubiconNew entrant

(20) Nelson Bostock Communications

(23) Brands2LifeNew entrant

(29) Text 100New entrant

(33) Shine CommunicationsNew entrant

(41) The Red ConsultancyNew entrant

(49) Consolidated PR

(94) Golin Harris

(96) Trimedia

(100) Lexis Communications

Interesting to note that of the 10 entrants, there are an equal amount of new entrants compared to agencies who have consistently remained in the runnings. Well done to Nelson Bostock, Consolidated PR, Golin Harris, Trimedia and Lexis Communications along with all the new entrants!

Lunchtime catchup with Jamie Burke of P2PR.

So I caught up with Jamie Burke, MD of Brando Digital and blogger at Social Glue the other day, who recently set up the P2PR community. Since launch it has been a runaway success, with active participation from it’s members.

We talked over lunch about all things Online PR, social media, paid for blogging (Chris Brogan) and of course ROI and the almighty echo chamber.

To view the video, click my face.. be nice ! (or alternatively you can click here if you can’t bring yourself to do it!)

There’s a whole host of videos also on the community, all of which can be found here.

As always, interested to hear your thoughts and feedback on the topics discussed. Hopefully you can take something away from it.

Say hello to Consolidated’s latest recruit..

So you may or may not have noticed that I’ve been a bit light on the ol’ blog posts recently.. I know, it’s been about 2 weeks which for me has felt like a lifetime.. There has been good reason though and it all paid off in a spectacular fashion today.

For the last few weeks now, I’ve been using any spare time to work on a presentation for my final interview with a position at Consolidated PR as a Social Media Strategist up for grabs on 16th December. I felt there being a bit more pressure because they’re the 28th top company to work for in the UK and also have just been featured in Marketing magazine in the Top 100 PR Agencies coming in at No 54.

What was the presentation all about? I won’t go in to the finer points but it was essentially 30 minutes to talk through my vision on an integrated social media strategy for a campaign, and all that’s involved in doing so, it needs the context to fully make sense but it was interesting to research and deliver.

So I was stood before the Heads of Digital and Consumer PR being asked to do my thing, there was everything riding on it. This was it, this was the moment. Before all that though and to heighten the suspense a bit, why the change in direction? I thought you were happy where you were? You were always saying how much you loved it!

As much as I’ve loved every minute working at Splendid Comms, I’ve been actively looking for a while for something permanent which they were unfortunately unable to commit. It’s not the most ideal of times to be hiring generally so it was understandable. They are however a PR Communications agency doing some fantastic work with some great clients like Marmite, Guinness, Lucozade and ShoZu. It has a real family vibe about the place and they genuinely enjoy everything that they do. I’ll be sorry to leave it all behind but will for sure be keeping in touch with them all.

Back to the presentation.. for the last few weeks I’d spent most of my waking free time researching, digesting, writing slides, cutting out slides, by the end of it I was even beginning to enjoy it!

On the day, I was horribly ruthless with my own content, (the one thing I find hard to do, cutting out slides I’ve spent quality time on) and went with the philosophy of less is more. I cut out about half my slides.. It worked, they all followed on from each other smoothly and it was remarked that I adopted a methodical approach from start to finish. Excellent! Surprising myself a bit in the process actually, because I was a complete bag of nerves the night before, on the day and up until the minute I started presenting! I was equally as nervous about the potential questions after.. what would they ask? Would I have the answer? Incredibly yes. The dreaded ‘We’ll be in touch’ was said which left me in doubt but I was happy with how it went considering how nervous I was.

17th December, the morning after the presentation, I get a call, essentially along the lines of “We’d like to offer you the job,” I was in shock. For the rest of the day I’ve had a smile you just can’t shift and have said the word awesome at least every other word. Ask @jedhallam !

On the 5th Jan 2009, I will be starting at Consolidated as a Social Media Strategist. What a way to start 2009! I have a feeling it’s going to be a year to remember. Hopefully for all the right reasons.

Anything else happen today? Yes yes and yes. I was alerted to the fact that my SOTM photo had gone up today by @tommalcolm which was taken a few weeks ago now and I’d forgotten about amidst all the job stuff going on. Someoneoncetoldme.com is a fantastic site combining photography and quotes that resonate with the subject. Mine was a quote that stuck with me through thick and thin that the mind is powerful and that it’s ok to think big and be a dreamer.. and here it is..

Oh, yeah, and how could I forget and someone on behalf of Channel 4 who are doing a documentary which is going to be featured in Picturehouse cinemas first and then on Channel 4 in Summer 2009 and it’s all about privacy on the internet.. interesting topic. They contacted me because they want a perspective on the other side of the coin. I’m an advocate for transparency and openness.

You can find out about the sites I find of interest through Delicious, the photos I take using Flickr, personal details on Facebook, work details on LinkedIn and the conversations I have on Twitter. It’s all there, and I’m completely happy with that because it brings such bizarre situations as this.

So they want to hear about the positive effects of the social networking phenomenon taking place with sites like Facebook and Twitter which is fantastic because I’d go as far as to say it’s been a life changing 6 months for me because of such sites. One question, how on earth they found me, again, all this internet fame stuff is absolutely mind blowing, I’m not worthy.

“It would be really great to get your thoughts on our film, and discuss the possibility of you appearing in the film.”
I spat out my metaphorical cup of tea.. what? You are kidding right? This is insane.
So what brings of tomorrow? I’m taking part in a week long paid mobile study on behalf of Nielsen, not quite sure what the selection criteria was for that either, considering they’ve only taken on 2 people across the UK to take part in the study.
Every day seems to be bringing something new and exciting to the table at the moment for which i’m honoured and proud to be involved in.

Reaching 500 Twitter followers – Does it mean anything?

Update – 25.11 PM – Danny has followed up with his own response here.

I’m possibly a bit biased but when I hit 500 ‘Followers’ (people who have chosen to ‘subscribe’ to my updates on Twitter) I thought that was pretty cool. It begs the question though, what does it all mean, if anything?

It’s not really something that I presume people generally even give a moment’s thought about, but when I was gradually climbing to 500, I thought to myself, this was a milestone figure, something to be proud of, in the geekiest, self congratulatory way, there’s some people out there who value what I’m saying. It didn’t really mean anything but I wanted to say thanks to the person who clicked ‘follow’ and in turn made themselves my 500th follower.

Welcome, @dannywhatmough to the equation who works at Wildfire PR and their blog is here, and who also turns out to be a top bloke. I understand he’s been spreading the Twitter word around the company and getting a whole host of Wildfirers on board the Twitter train, welcome all. Hope you stick around.

At first I thought, I’d ask him what his favourite sweets were and send him a load of them.. Then I put a message out on Twitter, something along the lines of “How should I commemorate my 500th follower?” to which @KerryMG said “Make a cake shaped like the fail whale!”.. Brilliant I thought, that’s more like it. It got my creative juices flowing.. I can do better than a few sweets surely. I thought that the fail whale was a bit out of my creative cake making depths so for the next few days I wondered what on earth I was going to do. I’ve told him I’m going to send him something now! I’d decided it was going to be cake orientated because it has that celebratory vibe about it, a cake means a special occasion, it was perfect.

I fired off an email to Danny being as cryptic as possible yet asking a bit about him, his interests and hobbies, with a view to making a truly personalised cake..

He was a great sport throughout and I soon found out that Mr Whatmough was in to Tech (Apple) Football, Food and Tennis.. It was as if I was looking at myself in the mirror, it was bizarre!

Initially, I had visions of making a cake shaped like the Apple logo/motif type thang, in the colours of Hearts FC and with a mini man playing Tennis.. I was day dreaming about a cake, that didn’t even exist, a true sign of a genuine nutter. As time went by, I realised that it wasn’t really going to happen but soon after I ordered a cake, a cake with a champagne bottle, balloons, party poppers, brilliant I thought. Obviously I wasn’t aware of what it looked like until it arrived with Danny on Monday morning so I was quite excited myself as to how it had turned out.

So what dyu think to the finished product then guys? It wasn’t until Danny, sent me a tweet and uploaded a pic of the cake from his iPhone no less, using Twitterfon to tweet and then Twitpic to upload the pic. Danny I could tell was down with the kids, and I liked that!

PS – Here’s the original Twitpic link

It’s funnily enough proven to be a quite different kind of relationship building exercise. Who’d have thunk it? We’ll meet up for a drink in the coming weeks I’m sure and live happily ever after.

PPS – I wanted it to say @Dannywhatmough, Thanks for being my 500th follower. @LitmanLive – but character restrictions only allowed the above.. so it’s not perfect, but I think it still gets the message across ;)

Can anything be garnered from this whole thing? The world of social media does definitely bring up some utterly fantastic yet hugely bizarre scenarios that you’d never experience otherwise.

In a weird way, I think it’s great that our paths collided and I wanted to reach out and make something happen. I’m not sure I believe in fate and destiny and all that kinda stuff but then there are the odd occasions that you think, wow, right place, right time, it’s great to be alive. There wasn’t any gain from me, it was one of those genuine feelings of, I want to do something different, to reinforce the value that all these people have put in me for following me when there’s an unbelievable amount of people to follow on Twitter.

It was my way of giving something back, saying thanks.