Clumsy ex-journos create PR disaster for Burson Marsteller

Hat tip to Ragan’s PR Daily; a couple of mud-slinging, ex-journos who have fence-jumped into PR for Burson Marsteller find themselves the uncomfortable subjects of an embarrassing media story in USA. It appears they’ve been trying to dish the dirt against Google, while working for a client with an anti-Google agenda. Offers to ghost write critiques, secure coverage in Washington Post; you know; the standard media flak subterfuge. More ex-media types giving PR a bad name but hey, BM employed them for their ability to cultivate influence!!

Journalist publishes list of 'useless' British PRs

A UK freelance journalist, Kevin Braddock, published (then hastily deleted) a list (along with e-mail addresses) on his blog of the most useless, incompetent PR people he had dealings with during 2009. The list is/was several hundreds long and included someone from virtually every firm in the business. Fearful of lawsuits, Kev deleted the post. The Times says it’s easily found on Twitter, but I (and a few others) couldnt unearth it; any pointers??

Alleged top Aussie blogger spams PR Disasters

I just got, well, spammed; a press release about a hairdresser-turned-software developer plopped in my email box with this simple intro…Hope this story might be a good fit for your blog. Regular PR Disaster readers might know I’m not big on covering hairdresser/software tales, unless their PRs are lazily spamming me. Cet slice de petit carne-dans-un-tincan came from a contractor working for an Aussie publicity outfit whose web proclaims they’re “…not just at the cutting-edge of public relations practices, but also insists they’re “…laser-focused on helping entrepreneurs build their companies through public relations and publicity…LISTEN UP…SPAMMING CITIZEN JOURNOS WILL GET YOU NOTHING BUT NEGATIVE COMMENTARY FOR YOUR CLIENTS (who I will refuse to name in this instance). You need to understand topics bloggers are passionately interested in, and approach them in ways that don’t waste their time. I phoned the PR spammer for an explanation; seems she simply got/bought a list of 50 top Aussie ‘business bloggers’ from an outfit called O-Desk (??), and she (obviously) sprayed the stuff out hoping for some pickup. She seemed not to sense this wasnt quite kosher. But feeling my ire she said sorry. Word to the wise, guys, your online PR “laser’ needs a cleaning cloth. And as an Aussie blog pioneer…surely your team should desist from sending citizen journos like me completely irrelevant media releases?  Online or off, that’s PR 101.

Was inept PR expert, actually a journo?

Adding to my ever-growing list of journos who make for dubious PR advisers, may be one Scarlett MccGwire, named by UK leftsheet The Grauniad as a media trainer paid a share of circa $AU50,000 to train Haringey council honchos, under flak after the death of an abused child, dubbed Baby P. The reason I say “may be”, is that Net sleuthing shows a Scarlett MccGwire (very unique spelling) to be extensively referenced as a writer and broadcaster. Haringey Council is refusing to reveal the company name of the other PRs who co-supplied the training saying: “The climate is such that at present any party associated with Haringey or the handling of the Baby P case is themselves likely to attract media interest and adverse publicity. This is considered likely to damage the commercial reputation of the provider involved and their current and future relationships.” Clearly now, Haringey has learnt some reputation management tips itself. Anyone in Lahndahn confirm the identity of Scarlett’s co-experts? Continue reading

Photon 'spins' Oz's first/fourth Social Media agency launch

We’re seeing the (editorial) launch of what’s inaccurately billed as Australia’s ‘first pure Social Media Marketing agency’ ( Julian Cole has scored a gig at the ‘The Population’). Tad embarrassing for noo agency and journos, no-one researched the ‘first’ Social Media agency claim (yet Smart Company used the erroneous PR soundbite). Photon shareholders will be encouraged by the headline clips, though.

Other Soc Med Marketing agencies in Oz might include Zest, Shifted Pixels and Sticky. And several PR firms like Edelman, Text 100 and Howarth are certainly active in the Soc Media area from a PR/marcomms stance.

Population MD says their “…first goal is to simply educate the market about developing new ways of using social networking as a marketing tool, and merging the use of technology and branding.” So, pretty much treading turf similar to that taken by Ozzies like Lee Hopkins, Gavin Heaton, Trevor Cook, Laurel Papworth, and myself (and others like Paull Youngie in the US) over the last 2-3 years or so?

I welcome The Population, hoping their intellectual input will enrich the sector’s knowledge base and their Photon parentage will add weight to the validity of Web2.0 as a two-way Comms conduit, not just a marketing channel.

UK author attacks flacks, hacks and churnalism

Click above to hear UK journalist and author Nick Davies lambast today’s commercial media as passive processors of PR puff, led by the nose by powerful corporate PR influences. As well as aiming a kick at flacks, hack Nick echoed points I’ve previously made in my ‘Public Relations Disasters’ book. Particularly he explained how the death of the deadline has further depleted the resources of ‘time-pressed, deadline-stressed’ journalists. ‘Churnalism’ was the keyword of Nick’s interview with ABC’s Kerry O’Brien.

And against a backdrop of all powerful PRs and depleted newsrooms what does news org Fairfax do? Scythes its staff by 550 jobs, including 100-plus losses from its editorial complement. PR’s rejoice!! More potential success for thinly-disguised advertorials surely? 

Bank PR 'outed' via Social Media interview

National Australia Bank has distanced itself from a PR consultancy (p’raps Cox & Inall), which attempted to spam post commercial messages on several leading Aussie sports blogs. Local SEO practitioner Jim Stewart tele-interviewed NAB PR Felicity Glennie Holmes who asserted that ‘this activity was poorly executed by our PR agency”. Jim Stewart primarily challenged Felicity on corporate spamming & the ethics of placing covert NAB ads disguised as blog posts. Felicity kinda defended her employers decision.

Interesting note to PR practitioners; be wary of responding to a blog query. As you would with a journo query, ask if they plan to broadcast your communication and if you’re uncomfortable with their response, decide if you wanna participate (or not). For eg: Jim Stewart conducts his interview with Felicity, filming himself for vodcast, and putting her on speakerphone – his body language, facial expressions and other non-verbal silently ‘spin’ his take on her responses. Judging by Jim’s raised eyebrows in his vodcast of the telecon, he couldn’t quite believe what he was hearing from FGH.

I’ve called Cox Inall to see if they were involved and if so, to hear their side of the story. Someone called ‘Killingly’ is supposed to contact me; after almost 18hrs, am still awaiting any call or email. Agency head Tim Powell left a voice mail for me around 9am and is happy to speak to me later today…stay tuned.

Richard Edelman talks new media insights

Rich Edelman maybe doing Kung Fu?Over on his blog, Richard Edelman generously shares some of the most compelling new insights from a recent bigwig conflab about social media (ta Richard):

 1) Media must become comfortable with the economics of fragmentation
2) Advertising will be the primary revenue source for media, not subscriptions
3) News will become the supporting element to products and services
4) Major disconnects as newsrooms continue to separate digital and print products
5) The skill set for journalists must evolve
6) Evolution towards an open dialogue model
7) Content is still king and mainstream media amplifies new media content
Social media requires a continuing dialogue
9) Blogs are not universally popular; bulletin boards and mobile work too