Monday, 29 January 2007

Tim Bell

Well it was certainly a gripping read. From being arrested for lewd conduct to his cocaine addiction to his relationship with Margaret Thatcher - it was hard to put the book down and I would certainly recommend it to anyone interested in political communication and public affairs.

The book begins with Tim's family history and it was personally relevant to me as they are from the Hornsey area of London which is where I live now. It then chronologically progresses through Tim's middle class schooling and family life highlighting how blessed he was with the gift of the gab. His relationship with the Saatchi brothers is fascinating as it was certainly volatile by the time Tim came to leave. Mrs Thatcher certainly seemed to hold him in some esteem and he played a big part in the successes - and then failures - of the Conservative Party.

What was interesting to me is that the book focuses mainly on his advertising career which was incredibly successful and then when it considers his PR career as an adviser it seems to only highlight his failures, for example, with the BBC and British Gas. However it didn't seem to matter about these failures as it was people's perception of his role that meant that he remained in demand as an adviser. Tim says himself "I can fall into a sewer and come up smelling of roses". And the book certainly backs this statement up.

The fact that the author states that it is an unauthorised biography and that Tim Bell refused to comment leads to a certain intrigue as to either how much of the book is true, or how much of the truth has been omitted because people refused to talk. Either way it was a compelling read about a charming, successful man.

I have now started reading another Mark Hollingsworth book "MPs for Hire: the secret world of political lobbying" and will again review it in another post.

Friday, 26 January 2007

Changing trends

Well, although new media and PR is a very interesting topic I have decided to shift the focus of my blog to Public Affairs.

The reason for this is because Public Affairs is my main focus at the moment as I have just started a module in the same topic and also because it is one of the fasting growing areas of PR. I will be looking at the ethics involved in PA and will also examine some case studies.

I am mid-way through reading "The Ultimate Spin Doctor - The Life and Fast Times of Tim Bell" by Mark Hollingsworth which is very interesting so far although as it is written chronologically it is mainly about his early career in advertising and his relationship with Saatchi and Saatchi rather than his later career in political PR advising.

I will return to review the book at a later date.

Monday, 15 January 2007


Another PR trend that happens to be directly related to my field of work is convergence.

I first started working in the communications industry about 4.5 years ago when there was a clear divide between TV, radio and telecommunications.

Now, however, we have BT offering TV and BSkyB offering broadband. All of these changes mean that PR practioners will have to alter the way in which they work to communicate with their public.

We have numerous 24 hour news channels, websites such as You Tube, newspapers, magazines etc constantly bombarding us with information so PR people will have to focus on designing the best message and using the most appropriate method of distribution. Messages will need to become more targeted to reach the desired audience and evaluation of what works will become more important in public relations.

Sunday, 14 January 2007

Saddam Hussein

I managed to miss the media frenzy surrounding the hanging of Saddam Hussein (the joys of being in Thailand with infrequent internet and newspaper access) but returned to work to find out that the office was inundated with journalist calls (which I would have normally handled) about the coverage on UK television.

This well-written, informative article by Ray Snoddy highlights the difficulties that broadcasters face when using citizen journalism and calls into question whether there should be different rules for different types of media. I look forward to seeing how this argument develops, particularly in light of the AVMS Directive in Europe regarding the regulation of TV on the internet.

Monday, 18 December 2006

Blogging Continued

I came across this article today by chance http:// and I think it adds weight to my view that blogging is certainly a new PR trend but it also highlights the importance of companies keeping up to date with their blogs.

Carphone Warehouse already have such a bad reputation for poor customer service that Charles Dunstone certainly hasn't done himself any favours!

But as for it being a no-no for Chief Executives to employ somebody else to write their blog - I simply can't see any Chief Executive having the time to spend on blogging so it will be interesting to see how this develops over the next 12 months.

Thursday, 7 December 2006

Citizen journalism

Citizen journalism is also something to consider when thinking about PR trends. Dan Gillmor thought it important enough to quit his day job to set up a site devoted to it

Citizen journalism is essentially viewer accounts and pictures of events that can be considered news. They are becoming increasingly more common as technology advances and everybody has a mobile phone with decent megapixels.

In the aftermath of the July terrorist attacks in London in 2005 these pictures and witness accounts were vital for the BBC, Sky etc to be able to provide up to the minute information for the millions of TV viewers and web users watching the events unfold. And more recently there have been advertisements in the newspapers - in particular the red tops - offering to pay readers for their pictures and news stories.

While there are ethical questions to be answered, with mobile group Three entering into a partnership with ITN and Sky earlier this year to feed in viewer news clips, it seems that citizen journalism is on the increase.

So what does this mean for PR? Well it's not good news. With newspapers able to go directly to readers for news stories it means there is less opportunity for PR people to get their news into the papers. PR practitioners will need to work harder and look at ways in playing these citizen journalists at their own game

Sunday, 3 December 2006

RSS Feeds

Keeping up with websites can be time consuming. RSS feeds are a relatively new feature which lets people keep up to date with the latest information on their favourite sites without having to take the trouble to visit them all.

An RSS feed is a summary of the latest additions to a website and your PC lets you know when new feed becomes available. You can then click through and visit the website and read the full version.

No-one is really sure what RSS stands for but the most people agree on Really Simple Syndication.

RSS is also an international standard, and is rapidly growing in popularity. It is becoming more popular because it makes keeping up to date with the sites you like quick and easy.

More and more organisations are utilising RSS as a PR tool as it means if people choose to receive an RSS feed from their site then they are more likely to see their latest news release or report. There are some in the PR industry who see this as a negative impact on the PR industry. But I think it means that PR people will have to focus more on niche markets rather than the mainstream so they will maybe have to work harder and smarter but it won't put them out of business entirely.