Thursday, 25 November 2010

Do WHAT Boss?!

It is very easy to sit and say: “I would never do anything that would contradict my morals and ethics.” But what happens when you have responsibilities? When you have to keep earning to make sure that you don’t end up homeless or jobless?

Individuals are in limbo, according to Seib and Fitzpatrick (Peter and Olson: 2006: 296) PR practitioners have a loyalty to themselves, their client or organisation, their profession and to society as a whole. Brilliant when they are all in sync but what happens when there is a difference. What happens when you have to do something that you don’t agree with? Quit? Do it? Tell the press?

One anonymous source from within the public sector gave me this example:

“What do you do when the top dog of your organisation has been squandering taxpayers’ money on lavishing business leaders with football tickets, hotel accommodation and games of golf? Seeing public money used in this way is a hard pill to swallow; to say staff were shocked at what was going on is an understatement. So, after a sprinkle of some PR fairy dust we managed to avoid what could have been an otherwise explosive story.”

Initially you would accuse my source of being dishonest and covering immoral behaviour, from a cognitive approach there are obvious examples of absolute rights and wrongs being displayed here. But I don’t agree, I take a more non-cognitive approach. Non-cognitivism says that’s morality is subjective and bound up in the specific cultural context of individuals. There are only beliefs, attitudes and opinions. This means that individuals are able to change their opinions (or have them changed for them) in order to justify their motives and make their morals fit the situation. Handy for us…

This situation could have been a massive story, the media would have pounced and ran with it! It would have caused major public unrest especially given the current economic climate, when the public has little respect and trust in the public sector. So is this really essential knowledge right now?

If this was being carried out in a private sector company there would be no question’s raised, it would just be plain interesting, and let’s face it, Directors take customers out to wine and dine all the time. But because this is public money does this change the situation?

The source said: “As PR people we are often privileged to sensitive, suppressed or unpalatable information, and our job isn’t to judge it, but decide the best way to use it.”

But how do we decide the best way to use it? There are many ‘ethical decision making’ models in textbooks such as Potters Box but frankly when do we have time to sit and weigh up every situation and think about consequences that can’t always be accurately predicted?

The model I will be using when I enter employment is Parson’s five pillars that ‘carry the weight of ethical decision making in public relations’ (Peter and Olson: 2006: 302):

- Veracity

I agree that you must tell the truth, more of my thoughts on this can be found in my blog post: The truth, the whole truth… But what is it?!

- Non-malfeasance

I do not intend on harming anyone purposefully. However it is important to note that this statement can be applied to different stakeholders. So my behaviour should not harm either: myself, my client, my organisation or society as a whole. Not always achievable!

- Beneficence

I must ‘do good’. Entering into the job market it could be said that I hold many slightly rose-tinted views. But I would like to think that I will do good with my job, whether that is for the organisation I work for or for our clients.

- Confidentiality

I will respect privacy. Confidentiality is often protected in the way of rules and regulations anyway, but if it is not then I will try my upmost to do so.

- Fairness

I must be fair and socially responsible. Easier said than done. Is being socially responsible telling the public everything or is taking a slightly more paternalistic view and deciding to protect them from certain information?

I will be using this model because it allows the practitioner to place emphasis on differing stakeholders and it also fits in with my main morals of telling the truth and not causing harm.

I don’t think it is possible when working as a PR Practitioner to have a black and white view on what is right and wrong because you are dealing with a high number of stakeholders interests everyday so what is right for one of them might not be for another.

I must say, I think my source summed it up completely:

We hold the information, we shouldn’t judge it, just use it how we think best.

How do you decide what is right and wrong? What ethical decision making processes do you use? Or do you just use gut instinct?

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Of public interest, or just plain interesting?

Our society’s fascination with other people’s lives is engrained within us from a very young age and is reflected in the high number of gossip magazines that we purchase as a nation. We have always liked to keep up with the Jones’s but the first stage of keeping up is knowing what they have in the first place. Like it or not, we are a nation of nosey parkers...

According to Peter and Olson (2006:69) UK regulations have been based on the distinction between public and private interests. However, it raises the question as to whether the general population know their real interest or whether these interests have been shaped by people such as ourselves, PR professionals. The textbooks call it paternalism, some may call it propaganda.

As PR practitioners we are paid to shape opinions and persuade people to our way of thinking, are we not?

So what’s the difference, do the public need to know everything just because they find it interesting? And do we have a duty to tell them details when they need only know facts and figures?

Before we decide what is ‘of public interest’ we have to define it. There are two main ways in which it is viewed, emergent and aggregate. Emergent concepts decide on areas of public interest by encouraging interactions between people in the form of discussions and debates (Peter and Olson:2006:70). The aggregate concept adds together desires and wishes of individuals. For example, according to the aggregate concept it could be argued that Emmerdale is of public interest because a lot of people watch it.

To fully get to grips with this I shall apply a case study: Michael Jacksons Death

Type in Michael Jacksons Death into Google and over 15 million results will come up.

What information was of public interest?

He died, his greatest hits album would be released soon and his tour was cancelled.

What information was interesting to the public?

Everything else. Did his Dr overdose him on drugs, the rumour that one of his children wasn’t his, what his mum and dad thought, how much money he had earned since he died, where his money has gone, who gets his estate.

Did the public REALLY need to know all that? If we decided that the aggregate concept is correct then yes they did, due to the fact a lot of people were interested. An emergent view would also support it, people were talking about it meaning that it was of public interest. But in my opinion people just wanted to know because they were nosey, did it affect their lives directly? No.

A study claims that 64% of people polled believed the coverage for Jackson’s death was too much. So it seems that some people agree, bet they still bought the papers though.

In this case I believe it was the fact that the papers knew that the public were interested in the story so it was a guaranteed way to sell papers. However it could be argued that it was an example of paternalism, in the sense that the papers (‘an elite few’) decided that the public would be interested in Jackson’s death to such an extent and fed the public a certain view on the situation, filled with controversy, dramatisation and ‘exclusives’.

The rise of individuals personalising their media choices and being able to choose the news that they receive could be seen as a solution to this apparent paternalism, however in my opinion it will always exist. Parents do it to their children, wives do it to their husbands and husbands do it their wives. It is a form of protection, putting their interests first.

Often the public’s interests are catered to with kiss and tell stories and countless articles on the adventures of their favourite celebrities but what happens when there are rules and regulations to prevent things from being printed? What about confidentiality? To a certain extent this could further fuel interest as it is not meant to be known, so when it is found out the media run with it and the public lap it up.

Does it make a difference however when you are talking about companies rather than celebrities? Do people still have that yearning for information and scandal? Indeed they do, ranging from directors of companies putting their foot in it like Gerald Ratner or grand openings gone wrong in the case of Terminal 5 at Heathrow. People are always interested in knowing what goes on behind closed doors.

As a PR professional we have to make this distinction: what do people need to know to ensure they make a rational decision? What isn’t essential knowledge and often more importantly, what do we need to keep quiet? Often we hold information that could make or break an organisation or that could cause major unrest society and it is up to us how to use it…

Scary thought hey?!

Friday, 29 October 2010

Coming soon...

Over the next few blog posts I will be exploring the notion of truth and how it fits into the profession of Public Relations.

To quote the CIPR:

‘Reputation has a direct and major impact on the corporate well-being of every organisation, be it a multinational, a charity, a Government Department or a small business. That is why the professionalism of those people who guard and mould reputation – public relations practitioners – is so important.’

The subject matter I will be discussing is:

“Honest and responsible regard for the public interest is not the same as telling the truth.”

If anyone has any specific thoughts and would like to contribute feel free to email me on: – if you wish to be anonymous then that can easily be arranged.

So come on, shock me with your best stories of withholding information. Or give me the low down on how your personal ethics fit in with the organisation you work for? And what would you do if you were asked to work on a campaign that was controversial?

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

What is Expeditionary Marketing? And is it right for you and your business?

Expeditionary Marketing is not a trek along the Great Wall of China or even a climb to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro. You don’t have to travel to the Amazon and navigate your way through the unknown forests and discover dangerous native tribes. Expeditionary Marketing can all be done from the comfort of your organisation’s HQ, your office or your home...

Society has changed due to many factors, from reductions in the amount of disposable income that your customers have to rising costs of running their homes. Consumers are becoming increasingly media savvy and have been for the past few decades, they are no longer guaranteed to seek information about certain products. No longer can marketers rely on a television advert on a popular channel, a couple of adverts in a generic magazine and a leaflet through a consumers’ front door. New innovative methods are emerging as businesses look for opportunities to approach and target new markets and gain valuable market share.

A new discipline is emerging and it is essential that companies who want to be successful at least acknowledge its existence. Entrepreneurial Marketing is based on 7 key principles:

- Pro-activeness
- Calculated Risk taking
- Innovativeness
- Opportunity focus
- Resource leveraging
- Customer intensity
- Value creation

Expeditionary marketing is one of the tools in the kit of entrepreneurial marketing. It acknowledges that failure might take place, but it is a risk worth taking. It is based on the question of:

Whether your business is there to simply serve customers and create new markets?

Do your marketing efforts follow consumer’s wants and needs or does it lead them in new directions?

If you are still not with it then let me use an example:

The Apple brand is extremely entrepreneurial in its approach to business. They are a brand that are willing to put themselves out there and take risks. Who would have ever thought that the IPod would have made such as impact? It is extremely hard to find a household without an IPod and even if an individual already had an mp3 player they would often purchase an IPod anyway. Just think to yourself, was there a market for a touch screen computer that allowed consumers to play games, view pictures, browse the internet, edit documents and download some pointless applications? No. There wasn’t. Apple didn’t identify a specific audience that needed these benefits, they launched a product and caused enough of a buzz around it through various forms of marketing and PR that consumers were convinced they needed one and it was a given that hardcore Apple Loyalists would purchase one anyway. Clever hey?!

For companies like Apple who are in the fast moving world of technology it is easier to create new products and pose them to consumers as new gadgets are being invented all the time. But could every business benefit from expeditionary market to a certain degree? By looking beyond serving consumers and venturing into the unknown your business might discover something new or tap into a new target audience you never knew you had.

It was said at the beginning of the article that your business wasn’t required to enter the unknown forest of the Amazon, but to a certain extent it is. The world is a big place with many unknowns about it, so go and explore, you never know that native tribe you find might love your product...

Monday, 6 September 2010

Shock tactics

The Charity Commission have recently updated the guidelines on fundraising and have warned charities over the risks to reputation associated with using shock tactics to encourage donations and raise awareness. After reading the article in PR Week it got me thinking:

Should shock tactics be allowed? And in such a crowded market place are they effective anymore?

We’ve all seen the adverts featuring the lonely puppy tied up by the side of the road and the children living in a shanty town surrounded by rubbish but has the time come for charities to find new methods of attracting our attention?

The majority of people know what these charities stand for so don’t need to be reminded every time they see the advert. Some people may find the content of the advert distressing and be so shocked that they disengage with the advert and the charity completely because they associate them in a negative way. There is also the argument that one of the reasons people donate money to charities is because they experience a sense of guilt, these adverts are encouraging this as individuals will look at themselves sat in their comfortable well furnished houses and feel bad. Would it not be better to try and educate donors as to how their money would benefit and show the work they have done already? This is an approach that Cancer Research UK has adopted and I feel it has been successful for them.

However is this all just further evidence of the so called ‘nanny state’ trying to shield people from what goes on in the real world? The advert represents what the charity stands for and illustrates the type of work it does. As my grandparents would say: ‘If people don’t like it then they can just turn it over.’

I do believe that when used effectively shock tactics can be a brilliant addition to a campaign as they break through advertising clutter and are likely to be remembered. In my opinion the THINK car safety campaigns use shock tactics effectively and are memorable. The main message of the advert is always remembered and sometimes I find myself quoting them saying things such as: ‘Don’t be a back seat killer!’ to my friends when they are in the back seats.

Shock tactics should be used with caution and extensive research should be done as to not offend viewers or shock anyone too much. There will always be people who prefer not to see them but that’s their choice. A balance is needed, therefore a campaign should be both informational and attention seeking.

What do you think about adverts relying on shock tactics? Is there a place for shock advertising? Would you be more likely to donate to a charity who didn’t use them or not?

Monday, 9 August 2010

Guest Post: David Clare - Is PR becoming more like journalism?

I recently attended an event attempting to answer the question, ‘is PR becoming more like journalism’.

The event was debated between 4 journalists and 1 PR pro, yet it was the audience with the more radical ideas. However, the overall view was that journalism is losing its foothold in the news arena; and change is needed.

What seems to be happening, is that people, the consumers of media, information and news, are going elsewhere for their needs. While they may go to one source for ‘some’ information, ‘some’ is all they go for.

This is because people are going to multiple sources, no just one source, like in ‘the old days’ when people read their staple newspaper. Not anymore, now people read the paper on their iPhone app, listen to their subscribed podcast, read blogs and visit multiple news sites, not forgetting all the news they consume through Twitter and Facebook.

This is the issue for journalists, and in some ways for PRs too. If people are consuming media from a huge variety of sources, in such small portions. To keep your readers it is increasingly difficult. No longer can a traditional news source break the news, that is what Twitter is for. No longer can they write exclusive features that stay exclusive, blogs will rework the content as soon as it is posted. Still, it is the exclusives and features that journalists now rely on to differentiate themselves from the rest.

So what does this have to do with PR becoming like journalism?

PR traditionally provides a supporting role for journalists. PRs would complete two tasks for them, they could be used by journalists to check the facts. A journalist would write a story that features an organisation, and in the spirit of quality journalism they could go to the PR and make sure they are reporting the truth, and could even get some quotes.

The other function of a PR, was to provide journalists with press releases. This comes in handy for journalists with slow news days, and particularly useful if a journalist just wants an easy day.

So why is this not happening anymore? Well it is, of course. It does still happen because news papers still reach thousands of people, as does the online content. What is happening is social media.

Social media, such as blogs, Twitter and YouTube, have been instrumental in the change of ways people consume news. People read blogs, watch YouTube channels and amateur footage, while Twitter constantly breaks the news - because it can. Twitter has over 100 million users, all able to write a story, add a geo-tag and an image all within seconds of an event. News sites may take 15 minutes to report a breaking story - and that is if they are very much ‘on the ball’.

PR is becoming more like journalism in the social media arena. People know what they want to read, and if they want to learn about a company they will read the company blog, follow the Twitter feed and ‘like’ them on Facebook.

This gives PRs a great opportunity. PRs have the chance to write the stories themselves. If people are going straight to the horses mouth, then PRs become the journalists. They write the stories, and if they write well enough - and not just selling - then people will come back.

This is both a great opportunity for PRs, and also dangerous. It leaves PRs open to the power of saying whatever they want, with far too much bias. However, so long as PRs control themselves, keep to the facts and write in an engaging way - like good PRs do - then this is a fantastic time for PR.

So is PR becoming more like journalism? Yes, in some ways. Is it a good thing? Not always, but it is exciting, and makes the industry more interesting - who wants to write press releases all the time anyway? Is this bad for journalists? No, they still have an audience, and with the likes of the iPad, they are just changing ways to view the content, but not changing completely.

By David Clare

From Lincoln to London...

The next guest blog comes from David Clare - a University of Lincoln graduate - David has now moved to London to pursue his career in PR.

Follow him on Twitter: @davidjmclare

Check out his blog at:

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Social networking – business, pleasure or both?!

Social networking has exploded onto the scene in recent years and I believe its arrival has changed the way in which people communicate forever. I was born straight into the technological era and had my first mobile phone at the age of 8 – although I had no idea what to do with it and can’t remember using it....

Mobile phones with their ability to text, access the internet and emails have made social networking a way of life. I think nothing of messaging a friend on Facebook and if I don’t receive an email notifying me that someone has commented on my status or written on my wall all day I’m slightly offended.

Luckily I am of the generation that I can take full advantage of these technological advancements. Facebook has always been there, Twitter and LinkedIn, all of these sites have me as a member and I use each of them actively for what I deem to be their role.

It wasn’t until I took my first step into the grown up working world I realised that it might not be a good idea to add everyone I know onto Facebook. Would my new boss really want to see what I was doing outside of work? I have to admit, I’m not much of a rebel and only tend to go out once or twice a week but is it appropriate for them to know who my friends are, where I am and what I’m planning on doing?

There are many dangers associated with having colleagues and bosses on Facebook: There have been a number of stories in the news about employees being taken to court because of writing derogatory status’s about their work and in some cases their fellow employees. There are unwritten ‘rules’ regarding using peoples pictures for business reasons – they are a minefield and depend completely on the person in question. There also seems to be no set regulations on using information that they might publish. For example if you are friends with a colleague who is under performing and you see their status updates about relationship problems should you alter the way you deal with the situation?

With one fifth of employees spending more than 45 hours a week at work their choice of who they spend their time with is limited. The likelihood is that they see their workmates more often than their friends.

This in fact begs the question: Are the lines between individuals work lives and private lives becoming blurred? And do they now overlap?

The emergence of seemed to fill this niche. When asked what it is I reply: ‘It’s just like Facebook but for my work people’. A very technical explanation but accurate.

Working in PR I know that building relationships is the basis of my career. LinkedIn provides me with a platform to do this, however it keeps it professional as there is very little personal information about me there apart from my previous work, one profile picture and status updates are more likely to be interesting links rather than how I am feeling.

Let’s call it clear cut: Facebook for friends and LinkedIn for business colleagues. What happens if your boss requests your friendship on Facebook to tag you in pictures of the Christmas party or invites you to join the company group. You can’t exactly reject. Or can you? It all depends on the type of business that you work for, each individual has to decide how much information they allow to be online and who they want to access it.

In conclusion social networking can be used for both professional and personal reasons. However there are different sites for different applications and care should be taken to make sure that the two don’t overlap.... not too much anyway.

Do you use social networking differently? Are you friend with all your colleagues on Facebook? How do you decide? Would love to hear what other people do so feel free to comment.

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Guest Post: Ashley Funderburk - Tips from an enthusiastic student

Over the past year, I have realized that getting a degree in public relations is not just about going to class and learning, but also about gaining experience. To me experience means so much more than just textbooks. You are gaining something that you cannot learn just by having perfect attendance in a class here and there. I am not saying don’t go to class, but I am saying take every opportunity that comes your way for “real life” experience.

I can gladly say that if I had not done that this past semester I would not have the knowledge I do as of now.

Becoming the firm director of our on-campus student-run PR firm (@CatComWCU) has opened my eyes to so many things. I have been able to apply the skills I have learned in class to the real world. I have only been the firm director for three months now and I have already gained knowledge that a teacher could never teach in a class. Yes, what I learned in class was very helpful. However, my teacher never said that dealing with clients takes patience, especially if they do not understand how PR works.

PRSSA is another great on-campus organization to become involved with. My first semester of majoring in PR I attended a few meetings, but stopped going because I was caught up in other things. The next semester I decided I would not miss a meeting unless I absolutely had to because the research I was doing kept pointing fingers at PRSSA and how important it is. I became PR Jobs and Internship Director of the Chapter at my university (@WCUPRSSA) and now I am Vice President. PRSSA has definitely opened my eyes to opportunities and conferences that I would not have known about if I were not involved.

Needless to say, I probably take on more than the average college student. Recently I became the Social Media Director for Kratz PR and Management (KratzPR). I also intern at two non-profits and love every minute of it. My main point of this blog is to stress the importance of involvement and experience.

Do not wait until you graduate to become involved!

Here are a few tips I have for fellow PR students:

1. Ask professors how you can become involved around campus.
PR can be found everywhere, so even if you do not have a student-run firm you still have opportunities to gain experience. Have a theater department on campus? Ask the director of an upcoming play if you can do PR for them.

2. Intern. I cannot stress how important an internship is.
I have gained so much knowledge from my two internships in one summer than I have gained in a school year. Start looking months in advance to when you want to actually intern because sometimes it is difficult to find an internship. Both of my internships are with non-profits and they really appreciate what I do for them and I love how fulfilling it is to help a non-profit accomplish something. Internships are everywhere, just open your eyes and look!

3. Freelance.
While I have not personally had any experience with freelance PR, I feel like it is a great way to gain experience when you are still in school. Speak with a faculty member, or someone that has had experience with freelancing, and ask if they will mentor you while you do freelance work.

All work and no play= no fun. Every now and then you need a break from all of the hard work you do, and trust me we PR people know what hard work is! Go out with friends once a week or grab dinner with your roommates. Never forget your personal life!

They just keep coming...

I'd like to take time out to introduce the second of my guest bloggers:

Ashley Funderburk.

As with my previous guest blogger we met on Twitter. She began following me a few months ago and I returned the favour. I now look forward to seeing what she is up to and keeping up to date with just where she is - which is everywhere! From the information in her guest blog you will see just how busy her life is and she shows no time of stopping.

It's very interesting to find someone on the other side of the Atlantic who is doing the same degree is me - maybe one day, when we both have our own PR agencies we can meet and share our experiences!

If you want to follow her on Twitter you will find her on @amfunderburk1

Thanks again to Ashley for taking time out to write this for me. From one PR Princess to another Ash :-)

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Guest Blog: First Take over Twitter, then Facebook, then THE WORLD: My take on Social Media

I’ve been asked to run my predictions for Social Media in the next few years. Luckily for the owner of this blog, I’m always happy to oblige.

My route to social media

Twitter had been around for a long time before I started using it. I always thought the idea of 140 character messages were ridiculous, and I even had an issue with Stephen Fry (who is otherwise one of my heroes) being silly enough to use it.

Even my close friends who had got involved with twitter had pulled out of using it very rapidly – something I believe is extremely common with Twitter users.

I’d already been burnt with social media. When I ran Fotogenesis – my third start-up and a photography company – I had a fan page on Facebook that I found almost impossible to maintain.

Also, I was the first person I knew to have a proper Facebook purge. If I hadn’t had 3 Facebook purges now I’d have over 500 friends (many who discovered me when I was doing the photography), but instead I have 199 and treat 200 as the target for which I run another purge.

Here’s my prediction #1: Call it unfriending, purging, or rationalisation – this trend is going to get bigger and bigger

My sudden Social Media revolution

Between January and March this year, I got control of my Facebook page. I have a list of colleagues, one for acquaintances, and my ‘access everything’ list of.

Then I joined Toastmasters, and started putting up my videos on YouTube (at ) and more recently I started taking videos of interesting things I see and adding them on there too.

Here’s my prediction (or more of a statement) #2: Once you join the social media bandwagon, you tend to join multiple channels. Therefore there is going to be more convergence in accessing social media.

What I use Social Media for

Like many I use different types of Social Media for different reasons. I use YouTube because I love public speaking and want other people to see my videos. I do genuinely think they’re good, and I’m desperate to have this video - - go viral, as I think it’s the best bit of comedy I’ve done. Although I also recommend you look at my speech half in English and French on my channel which can be found at:

I desperately want to be a part time, or even full time, professional speaker one day (if I can’t be the next Stephen Fry) and these videos can help publicise me and my upcoming foray into the stand-up comedy scene.

Facebook is a personal-only thing. I mainly use it to find out what other people are doing, providing many of the same links I do on Twitter (such as the latest run I’ve been on, or my latest blog post) and keeping all my photographs in the one place.

I have a blog at which Carly Smith, the owner of this blog I’m writing on today, has written for. It covers career development and personal development, which is the theme of Setsights Ltd which was my 4th start-up, now mostly on hold as I’ve gone into a career as a full time Management Consultant from September 2010 onwards after a chance in direction. It also covers dating – largely because I adore the human interaction of men and women – and occasional I pop in something personal – what I’ve learnt about a situation, or my opinions on Social Media etc.

Too many platforms = sore head

I’ve already said I can’t handle Facebook. I barely have the time to handle twitter.

Mind you, I’ve been impressed with Twitter. When I was thinking about buying a printer, I got an unsolicited message from Dell. When I was angry with M&S, I posted this on twitter and got a rapid reply and resolution.

Each channel is slowly developing its unique angle on social media use.

Prediction #3: Each method of social media will focus on a particular angle, and gradually each angle will be dominated by a single brand

Would Foursquare go and die already?

There are few things that really irritate me on social media. Posting information about your farm is one of them. Posting information on twitter about how busy the M25 is every 10 minutes is another.

And foursquare badge posts are the last. I do understand the point of location based services, I really do, but what I don’t understand it why they need to focus on badges etc. As more companies offer free drinks a la Starbucks and similar promotions, badges will become less and less necessary.

But at this point, Apple or similar will enter the Fray. If your phone has GPS and can detect your location, then sooner or later a company will integrate this into their phones. Or they’ll integrate Foursquare (or even Gowalla) into their basic set of applications.

Either way, I consider myself to usually be an early adopter, but like many people when it comes to something like location based services I don’t want to tie myself down to one format when it may lose.

Here’s prediction number #4: Location based services won’t take off until there is without doubt a dominant company, and yes, I think this will be Foursquare in the short to mid term

But here’s prediction number #5: The first location based service company to integrate augmented reality images into their software and make it work really well will be that dominant company mentioned above


With the rising popularity of guest blogging I decided to ask a few of my friends within PR and other similar disciplines if they would be so kind as to write a post for my blog.

The first blog comes from David Lurie, a serial entrepreneur who has founded no less that 4 companies - his latest being Setsights - a professional training and coaching company. More information can be found on .

When blog 'owners' invite guest bloggers to write for them I always wonder just what the connection is between them so I thought it would be a good idea for me to explain a little of how I know each of the people who will be writing a blog post for me.

David and I met on Twitter whilst taking part in #commschat - we both found ourselves fighting our corner and often had the same ideas and points of view. We now keep in touch through Twitter and emails. I have used the Setsights services too. My testimonial can be found at: All in all David is a funny guy and is guaranteed to make you chuckle even on a bad day.

Enjoy his take on social media....

Monday, 19 July 2010

It's all around!

For quite a while now I have meaning to write a post about services marketing and it's effect on consumers.

It wasn't until I began learning about it at University that I even realised service marketing existed. A trip to the car garage was just that, I went in, discussed the strange noises my car was making and didn't give a second thought to the service unless a member of staff was extremely rude or particularly good looking...

I have just bought a new car - a Mini - and was having some trouble with the electric windows. I took it to my usual garage but because the problem was a little complicated they suggested I took it to the dealership. This is normally something which fills me with dread. You walk into the showroom with tiled floors, high ceilings and well turned out staff. I also tend to forget what I went in for when faced with all the new model BMW's. Plus it costs a bomb and once your car disappears into the back you have NO idea whats happening to it.

The first communication I had with Mini just oozed professionalism - the lady I spoke to on the phone was very friendly and helpful. This was the first critical incident point and they had succeeded in making it positive. The phone call was promptly followed up with a text message reminding of my appointment both that day and again a few days before I was due to take it in.

When I took my car in I was ushered towards a shiny desk where my details were in put into the computer. I left feeling like my car was in safe hands. They called when promised and the situation was explained fully to me in my language...I picked my car up the day after and was very happy with the service I had received.

It wasn't until I got it home however that I had the best bit...yes....indeed....they had washed it. I spent the whole afternoon thinking to myself how nice of them it was. Silly I know...probably one of the most expensive car washes I have ever had - the kids down the road do it for £3 and some sweets...but it was the little extra touch of customer service that left me smiling and made the level of cognitive dissonance I felt was limited.

At every critical incident point Mini dealership made an effort to make the experience a postive one. I believe they were focused more on the theatre metaphor, based on performances, with the actors encouraged to develop their own scripts with their smart attire being their costumes. The garage down the road however is based more on the factory metaphor, getting the cars in and out and the money handed over.

Going that extra mile for consumers and over delivering will more than likely get you repeat custom - give them something they aren't expecting.

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

End of the "Celebrity" - a bad thing?

Having just read an article on PR

'Final Big Brother could signal end of the age of the celebrity, warns celebrity publicist.'

It got me thinking. Will the end of Big Brother really spell the end of the celebrity? Or will we just begin to find them elsewhere?

The launch of BB11 is on tonight - the last in the series of this iconic programme. The format has been used with celebrities, abroad and also as an elaborate con in Turkey in 2009. It has created a stream of 'celebs' to attend award ceremonies and grace our gossip columns.

So would losing these celebs really be a bad thing? Obviously from a business point of view there will be lose of revenue for channel 4, Davina will lose her pay packet, the potential for normal people to become 'famous' will be reduced and magazine sales may suffer.

My opinion is however that there won't be a fall in the number of 'celebs' but where we get them from will change - with shows like Britain's got talent and sites such as there will always be people who the general public become interested in....

Don't despair if you like your fix of celeb gossip there is still one series of Big Brother left !

I look forward to reading Ian Monk's full column later this week on

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Brand 'Me'

Should people see themselves as brands?

We all have reputations that other people have assigned to us. These reputations can sometimes bother us and we aim to influence them - just as brands do. Consumers, like friends, talk about our good and bad actions and give their opinions on them - sometimes more publicly than others.

Therefore should we apply the same rules to our lives that we, as marketers, would suggest to businesses we were advising?

To a certain extent I think we should....

Everything you blog, write, comment on and have written about you acts as a footprint about brand 'you'. Potential employers will be able to type your name into google when your CV lands on their desk and find out a wealth of information about you. But be warned make sure your privacy settings on your social networking site aren't set to allow everyone on your profile. However this for me could be a separate post all together - should you have your boss and colleagues as friends on Facebook? Keep tuned...

In a time when companies are being approached by hoards of applicants for one position they are looking for the whole package. They no longer just look at your CV, they want a certain type of person: a pro-active employee with a good, professional reputation.

As a student it would be ridiculous for me to say that if you want a job you can't go out and have a good time or have a Facebook profile to share laughs with your friends. All I am saying is...Think - before you join that Facebook group that could be seen as offensive, before you tweet that depressive status about your life and especially before you have your picture taken with your head in a toilet...

I would be interested to hear others thoughts on this so please feel free to comment.

Monday, 7 June 2010

How ignorant of me......

It's been a while hasn't it?! My apologies!

I have managed to bag myself a PR placement at Shooting Star PR in Lincoln, I have been writing articles for Behind The and my time has been managed to be consumed by various tasks. But do not despair - I am home for the Summer so fingers crossed I will be blogging much more - if I get the inspiration!

Scary World of Business has been neglected despite the fact there have been some SERIOUSLY scary things going on - so keep your eyes out for my new posts!

Sunday, 7 February 2010

It SHOULD be a relationship

I arrived home to visit my mum this weekend - made myself some crumpets and settled down to read my issue of PR Week - needless to say I developed a bee in my bonnet....

There is an on-going debate between journalists and PR professionals for those who didn't know - they don't like receiving our press releases if they aren't relevant and we carry on sending them - that's is the basis of the argument. A campaign has been launched by the Realwire chief executive Adam Parker named 'An Inconvenient PR Truth' and one their main policies is a PR 'bill of rights' which includes points such as after a PR practitioner has sent a press release they aren't allowed to 'chase' the recipient by phoning them. I agree with some of the points in this 'bill of rights' and think there are some good ideas however the name...inconvenient pr truth...I think they could have done it in a less 'spin' sounding way. However it has brought with it a lot of publicity which might have been one of their aims.

Both journalists and PR practitioners are busy - and we both have jobs to do. Why all the disagreement? As a university student I don't want to enter the world of work with such troubles - I live across the corridor from a journalism student and are the best of friends - because of living with each other we understand how we could use each other in the workplace effectively rather than seeing each other as a problem.

I understand completely that there are some agencies out there who are just concerned with sending out millions of press releases to people who wont find them relevant - but it is not all agencies. Angie Moxham the CEO of 3 Monkeys makes a good point in PR Week - 'It is all based on individual relationships with journalists' - we are taught about media relations in University so how is it that some people in the industry seem to have forgotten their importance?! Relationships are important both inside and outside the workplace - you wouldn't start telling your grandparents about your sex life (well I wouldn't...) so why tell a cycling publication who promote saving the environment about a new 8litre super car that's being produced?

I agree that sending irrelevant press releases to journalists is unprofessional and down right irritating for them - I was explaining this to my mum over the weekend - 1.7bn irrelevant press release emails are sent each year in the UK according to - that is A LOT. As a PR student I am constantly being reminded on making sure that you send a press release which has been tailored for the journalist - regional paper? Give it a local swing. Make it relevant for them.

So before you click send on that email:

Just have a think.

Do the research.

Tailor it to them.

And journalists cut us a bit of slack :-) I am sure you find them interesting sometimes?!

Would be interested to hear others thoughts on this so feel free to comment.

Monday, 11 January 2010

‘A team or A-team?’

There is a difference.....

According to Katzenbach (2007:38) a team is:

‘A small number of people with complementary skills, who are committed to a common purpose, performance goals and approach for which they hold themselves mutually accountable.’

Notice the word complimentary – indicating that everyone works together for the benefit of the task. A team is different to a group of people simply working together.

Kirby (2003:190) states that team work requires energy combined with patience, clear leadership, intense relationships, total trust, learning from failure and rules of behaviour that are understood by all members.

Needless to say these are things that are easier said than done. There is bound to be disagreement in groups – however this can be minimised...

To structure my dream team I have decided to use the Belbin team roles.

I prefer to work in smaller groups as I find communication more effective and there is less chance for people to become ‘social loafers’ on the basis they think someone else will take up the slack. My dream team members know their team roles and understand their strengths and weaknesses. I am a shaper so am able to motivate a team and get the work started however I am in need of a completer- finisher as they have an attention to detail that I lack but I work well with them because they possess the same sense of urgency that I do so will be good at meeting schedules that are set. An implementer would also have a place in my dream team because of their characteristic loyalty and lack of interest with self-interest. I like working with people who have good self-discipline and who have common sense; these are characteristics which implementers foster.

As much as I hate to admit it I think I would need a monitor evaluator in my group, someone who takes a step back to look at things objectively and critically. Otherwise I am likely to take an idea and run with it and not think about all the factors. I do think I would get slightly irritated with their analysing mentality...however this is something I would have to accept in order to utilise their skills and benefit the team.

One team role I feel I could do without in my group is that of resource investigator. There role includes finding external contacts and promising ideas or opportunities. However because of them losing interest in the task once the initial excitement has passed I would find them very challenging to work with. Perhaps this is more to do with my leadership style – I like people to motivate themselves and have the same level of interest in the task at hand as I do. I would constantly have to motivate them and make sure their lack of enthusiasm didn’t rub off on the rest of the group – plus if someone isn’t interested in a task it’s guaranteed they won’t be working to the best of their ability.

With all team roles there are undesirable qualities and this is something I have learnt. However if all team members understand each other’s weaknesses but use their strengths then the team will work well. Before this group task and particularly last year I had a strong dislike for people challenging my ideas and took it as a personal attack. However I have now learnt that there will always be people who challenge them....and its often how you get the best ideas and it’s nothing personal. I never thought I would say can’t surround yourself with ‘yes men’ otherwise you won’t push yourself. Of course you would get ‘good’ ideas but they wouldn’t be the best. As a leader and a team member you have to be willing to learn from your mistakes and this includes admitting them. Its often better if an idea doesn’t go as planned because then you can get constructive criticism and make sure it doesn’t happen again.

Members have their own strengths and weaknesses and it is up to others to bring out the best. There needs to be a common set of goals to work towards and all parties need to be agreed on these. There also needs to be communication both inside and outside the task at hand – even if it is just a ‘Hi – How are you?’ message. This is something I have learnt as being friends with some of the members of my team meant that I can work with them better as I understand the reasons they are the way they are.

One role of a leader that I would like to work on in the future is that of developing others and making sure they get something out of the group work. I want people to feel positively after working with me and want to work with me again. That doesn’t just mean getting a good mark but I would like a reputation as someone who not only works hard, gets the work done but is nice to work with...there is a fine line between getting the work done and just being mean. As people get to know me within the group situation they see that I am softer than initially thought but not a pushover. There is the old army saying:

‘One volunteer is worth 10 pressed men’

It’s true. I am glad I have realised this now and it will certainly be something that I remember in future.

Clutterbuck, D. (2007) Coaching the Team and Work, Nicholas Brealey Publishing

Kirby, DA., (2003) Entrepreneurship, Mcgraw Hill Education

‘Opposites attract?!’

This is sometimes true in relationships....but what about in group work? The Belbin team role test identifies 8 different team roles with distinct characteristics:

· Shaper – highly motivated, outgoing, dynamic and competitive. Prone to irritation and impatience and a tendency to offend others.

· Plant – innovative, creative, problem-solving and original. Up in the clouds, inclined to disregard practical details.

· Co-ordinator – calm, self controlled and self confident. No pretensions as regards intellectual or creative ability.

· Monitor-evaluator – serious, prudent, critical thinker and analytical. Lack of inspiration or the ability to motivate others.

· Implementer – loyal, structured, reliable and dependable. Lack of flexibility, resistance to unproven ideas.

· Resource Investigator – good communicator, networker, negotiator and outgoing. Liable to lose interest once the initial fascination has passed.

· Team-worker – sociable, adaptable, calming influence and supportive. Indecision at moments of crisis and some failure to provide a clear lead to others.

· Completer-finisher – attention to detail, accurate, high standards and quality orientated. A tendency to worry about small things and a reluctance to ‘let go’

· Specialist – technical expert, high capability, driven by personal standards and has high knowledge. Contribute only on a narrow front.

With these team roles however there are weaknesses that need to be recognised shown in italics.

I felt looking at the team roles at the beginning of the group task that it was funny to find out how people came out however I didn’t initially see how they were helpful...but by the end of the task reflecting on them I can see a lot of the characteristics of my team within the roles.

Mr Do It is definitely a complete finisher and an implementer – efficient in his work, hard working and a team member who compliments my role and is pivotal to the group’s success.

Miss Sweetheart is a co-ordinator, has no prejudice and kept sight of the main objective.

Mr Laid Back is a team worker; he listens and helps the work get done.

Mr Talker is a resource investigator and his weakness was evident – once the task had been started he took the main role at the first meeting however as the task went on he lost interest and even missed meetings.

Miss Surprise was a team worker; she was perceptive and listened at group meetings.

My role within the group is that of Shaper – I thrive on pressure and am ready to challenge ineffectiveness. I work well with complete finishers as I need someone to channel my creativity and enthusiasm. Because we were a new team I feel my role was important as we needed a shaper to get started. Another thing I have learnt is that depending on the circumstances a leader needs to adapt their style to meet the needs of their team members. No-one reacts well to being shouted at...

It is important to note however that a team member can play more than one role in a group and personality traits and personal problems can overtake the role people take. Conflict occurs when there is more than one person with a strong team role such as that of shaper or plant with neither of them wanting to take another role. There will always be issues in a group in 1965 Tuckman (Kirby:2003:192) produced a model for group formation:

Forming – the group looks to a powerful leader for guidance.

Storming – now the group fragments, members stress their own needs and concerns and resist the influence of the group.

Norming – group cohesion develops –there is a conscious effort to avoid conflict situations.

Performing – Energy is channelled into the task.

Adjourning – The group is wound down.

Groups need to get past the storming phase otherwise they will fail at the task. One of the ways to do that is to place emphasis on building relationships and maintaining them. There needs to be an extra effort outside of the working environment to keep communication channels open, however the relationships have to kept professional, personal problems should be left at home. As a group we didn’t have any major problems because of the size of the team it meant tasks could be carried out without all members being present...if the situation would have been different and we were being marked on the task then I think there would have been more disagreements.

According to Clutterbuck in his book ‘Coaching the Team and Work’ the bigger the group – the lower the productivity and a greater propensity to experience ‘social loafing’ – personally I am glad there is an academic term for general lay abouts…those that expect others to take up the slack...the words I think of can’t be used. Luckily in this group there wasn’t too much social loafing but I have experienced it in other group work and it can be VERY irritating.

Clutterbuck, D. (2007) Coaching the Team and Work, Nicholas Brealey Publishing

Kirby, DA., (2003) Entrepreneurship, Mcgraw Hill Education

‘Wanna be in my team, my team, my team?!’

Introducing the team members:

Mr Laid Back – attended the meetings, was sometimes late but was a constant and valuable team member.
Mr Talker – comes up with good ideas and likes the bureaucracy of group work – however sometimes lacks execution.
Mr Do It – knows what needs to be done and does it. Enough said.
Miss Surprise – The dark horse. I started out being unsure of her in the group however by the end she surprised me by taking the initiative and being a hard worker.
Miss Sweetheart – a genuinely nice young lady. Attended all meetings, contributed good ideas and was reliable.

Oh and me....”Carly?...she is bossy, controlling, acts like my mum, steamrollers the conversation, doesn’t listen, makes decisions, reliable, gets the work done, passionate, earns respect, has the courage to be loud, can handle difficult situations and is very organised.” These are all words and phrases I have heard being used to describe me. You know something? I am proud of them. Some of them are negative however that’s me.

There are certain things I look for from people within a group situation. I like:

· A mature and positive attitude

· Punctuality - Miss Sweetheart was always there on time and was a brilliant member of the team. She didn’t talk all the time but came up with good ideas and voiced anything she didn’t agree with – she was a reliable member of the team.

· Enthusiasm - Miss Surprise was. She independently emailed the company that the brief had been set on and asked if they could send any promotional material they had already produced.

· Confidence - Mr Do It had it. He knew what he was doing and remained a strong team member throughout. I have worked with him in other group work and I feel we complement each other.

· People who use their role to their advantage - This was evident with Mr Do It, Mr Laid Back and Miss Sweetheart – I feel they know their roles and use them to their advantage. Mr Talker knows his role however I felt that he was slightly confused...if I hadn’t have been in the group I feel he would have utilised his role better.

I would say that the qualities I am looking for are the same that are necessary in the workplace …so you could say I am preparing my team members for the outside world of work.

If you plan on joining my team here are a few pointers as of – ‘what not to do’:

· Don’t consult the team on a major decision – right at the beginning of the group work Mr Laid Back invited someone else to the group without consulting us – this is a person who had not attended any of the previous seminars, this concerned me, I didn’t know what this girl was like and to be honest wasn’t too happy she was in the group. Miss Surprise earned her name however as she pulled through – attended the seminars and worked on the presentation.

· Poor and negative attitude

· Be unwilling to participate or make suggestions

· Lateness – this is really something that gets me. Mr Talker was late to one of the meetings and totally forgot about another one....however instead of getting stressed I just accepted that they were late and carried on with the meeting as I would have done if he was there.

· Have volatile moods - this is something that used to affect me and then I worked with someone who acted the same way, I realised what an undesirable environment it caused and I changed my behaviour.

· Fail to keep promises – Mr Talker said he would take the presentation away to work on – ‘fluff up’ was the distinct phrase that was used. However later in the evening I had received nothing – I had to then follow it up – something in me wanted to sit back to see what happened but I got the impression it would have been: nothing.

In previous group work it has been said that I act like my team members mothers...taking the adult role – however I have now noticed if I take such a role they are more than likely to revert to the child role and I will have to mother them even more.

I often ask myself:

What could I do to make myself more of a desirable team member?

I used to think that I should try another role and take the non-leadership role...easier for me and I will probably blend into the background of the team more. Plus if things go wrong I can’t be blamed as I will have just been doing what I have been told to do. There is someone else in that role, the operational one who crosses the T’s and dots the I’s. I also don’t feel I would be beneficial in that role as what would happen if no-one else took the role....or even worse if someone who wasn’t competent did?! Overall I would say I am a useful member to have in a team. I provide team members with the tools they need to motivate themselves and give them a person to come to if they are stuck. I used to give the impression I was unapproachable and would bite somebody’s head off but over the past couple of months I have started to understand that I can’t control other people’s lives and not everyone puts the same amount of effort in as me. Plus sometimes circumstances take over and it alters the plan.

However....I’m not perfect....I need to work on appreciating others team member’s roles and understand how they help get the work done. This is something that the module ‘Managing PR’ has helped me with. Instead of focusing on the fact that someone isn’t a good leader they might still be pivotal to the team because of the research they carry out.

In the next 2 blogs I will be discussing team roles, how they all work together to get the best results and also what I need to work on to be a better team member....

Friday, 8 January 2010

Up coming...

So after my 3rd night in a row sledging and playing in the snow - it's back to reality! So now that I have regained the feeling in my fingers and toes I will be blogging my little heart out...

The next 3 blogs that I will be posting are along the theme of team work.

In one of my university modules, Managing PR, we were given a group task of creating a brief to give to another group for them to generate ideas. We also responded to a brief that we had been given. The aim of the task however was to see how well the teams worked....or how successfully they failed...

So keep your eyes peeled to see how I got on :-) I am sure there will be some new people visiting my blog...