Tag Archives: PR

Heavy handed PR – Duke Nukem Forever

Duke Nukem Forever for PS3

This is a flavour of heavy-handed PR-ing that I normally attribute to former newsroom editors rather than long-time video games comms pros, but I guess when you’re PR-ing the ‘longest’ if not ‘most heavily anticipated’ video game of all time (“FOREVER is a reference to how long its been in development) the pressure might be on:

Ars Technica tells the full story of how a blacklist threat was issued for negative reviewers of the new Duke Nuke’m game.

"Too many went too far with their reviews…we are reviewing who gets games next time and who doesn’t based on today’s venom," the company tweeted. "Bad scores are fine. Venom filled reviews…that’s completely different," another tweet read.

I guess this is one video game you have to be careful with, before, as Duke might put it, you "rip off its head and s**t down its neck." –> although in this case, the Duke turned on his own, with 2k Games firing the PR in question fairly swiftly.

My heart goes out to the guy, though, if his apologies (see the Ars Technica piece) were genuine. It can be heart-wrenching if a project you’ve put a lot of soul into gets universally panned. However; I’m a little dubious at how much the PR can have contributed… after all, the job of PR-ing one of the biggest names in gaming wouldn’t be as emotionally involved as, say, developing it in the first place….

The European Digital Journalism Survey 2011

Updated: to include my boss’ take on the survey and its findings, via Vimeo embed, below.

The EDJS 2011 – “Clicks, Communities and Conversations” – was launched today by my agency, Brands2Life, in coordination with the Oriella PR Network – our partner network of independent agencies around the world.  It examines the views of 478 journalists polled over the last few months.

Fronted by my esteemed colleague and Head of International @mistergrainger and our co-founder, @gilesfraser, we were joined by a panel made up of @kieranalger, @tphallett and @reutermarkjones to comment on the key findings of the study.

The headline trends:

The slump in advertising revenues is slowing. This year, barely 20 percent of the journalists surveyed expected their publications to see a fall in revenue. In 2010, however, 62 percent said this was the case, and in 2009 the figure was 66 per cent.

Those polled say that the popularity of online media is gradually eclipsing that of ‘offline’ publications. This year, the proportion of respondents who agreed their offline print or broadcast outlet had the biggest audience fell to 50 percent for the first time.

Social media are permeating the newsroom. Increasingly journalists are using digital channels such as blogs and Twitter to source and verify story leads.

You can read the study in full here and read SamKano’s take on the findings over on the Oriella blog, but I took a few notes and thought I’d share perspectives here too.

One of the things I found most interesting about the presentation and discussion was a conversation about the value of social media to newsrooms.

Reuters’ Mark Jones said: “I don’t think any serious professional journalist could do their job any more, without being on Twitter.” Talking about the Osama story (which Chris played his part in), Mark said: “One of the things that came out of this was that expert views came into the conversation very quickly. You didn’t have to wait for the TV broadcast or full form stories to get the analyst view. You could see the story being formed in front of your eyes on Twitter. That’s where news is going – and it has profound implications for what journalists and communicators do.”

By the same token, disintermediation in social media is an important development for journalists in sourcing expert views and validating stories.  Mark continued: “When people are looking for comments from experts or company representatives, time is of the essence. Twitter supercharges this. In a straw poll of my colleagues – [the delays are] their number one complaint. The answer is in the media.” The challenge to PR execs is to do what’s necessary to research and be hyperconnected with their media contacts.

The flip side to that question came up in discussion – does disintermediation threaten media, as it allows consumers direct access to news from the people making it, at the scene, et al? The panel didn’t come to a conclusion – though I have my views here – in that the role of the media needs to shift – less churnalism and more investigative reporting, less simple narrative and more dynamic storytelling, less straight reportage and more insightful analysis. Some of this relates to the Public Business agenda, in my view: ‘The People’ need to demand this sort of journalism, and allow publishers to fund it.

T3’s Kieran Alger made some interesting comments building on this – as a publication – T3 is working with brands on reciprocal promotion: “Today we have 20,000 followers on Twitter and 17,000 on Facebook. On any day they’ll deliver about 10,000 unique users or 20% of our overall traffic. We increasingly look to people running brands, Twitter feeds and so on to help out with that – asking PRs to help promote our stories to their followers. Big brands like Samsung, for example, have massive numbers of fans.”

Talking about the plethora of social media venues and communities that media outlets run – and the fact that survey showed a reduction in the number of reporters whose media outlets run their own communities – there was an interesting discussion as to what the different public social media outlets do for media publications. Talking about the rise of Facebook, CBS Interactive’s Tony Hallett said: “It’s horses for courses – some forms of content work on different platforms. Facebook works well for a particular type of very loyal users. Traffic that media gets from social outlets is still small compared to Google, for example, but you do get a certain type of super-user – people that interact with you in a big way. [These users] make for a very fun environment.”

Tony had given us another example of a passionate audience earlier in the discussion (making an entirely separate point): “On ZDNet, we have a subset of users that go crazy for photos of data centres – data centre porn… These are extremely secure, secretive environments, so we will take photography and video supplied to us – and are transparent about sourced material.” Which, whilst it makes the serious point that publishers are keen for more interactive comment, is amusing for the fact that it underlines the adage – that it takes all kinds.

For me, the overall takeaway is that the platforms and mechanics for engaging with media continue to shift, and professional communicators need to evolve their comms infrastructure – from the content they create to the way we pitch the media – to suit.

Also, spend more time on Twitter.

I’ll add my thanks to those of my colleagues for the fantastic discussion and encourage you to head over to the Oriella blog to join the digital debate.


Oriella Digital Journalism Study 2011 from Brands2Life on Vimeo.

Six skills today’s PR professional needs to have

One in a sporadic series of work-related posts. I’ve been thinking about some of these for a while, and a couple of them in particular sparked the idea for a post. What do you think? These are in no particular order…

1. Polymath tendencies. I think a good consultant is able to shift with the winds, being as interested in mechanical engineering one day as social anthropology or fiscal policy the next. Being able to understand the drivers behind major political, social, economic and technological trend is a key skill in helping clients meet the media agenda and too many people come into careers without even the curiosity to help them evolve to a state of general interestedness in the world. If you can step into the shoes of a psychologist, information architect, one of your client’s customers – whatever it may be – it will provide an additional lens through which you can see campaign ideas, and provide another basis of insight on which you can build your ideas.

2. Hyperconnectivity. By this I mean that you are able to connect yourself into different information and social streams with deft facility – coping with dialogues on multiple channels, and absorbing information at a quick pace. It’ll help you cope with the burgeoning requirement of enterprise to keep tabs and engage with social media conversation, it’ll support your ability to engage with hyperconnected media contacts, it’ll let you be on the edge of what’s happening.

3. Numeracy (and visual thinking). I’ve talked about data before, and the ridiculous accessibility of it – more than most people can understand or make use of. A PR’s job, in its simplest sense, is in crafting and communicating stories for and with its clients. Telling these stories increasingly requires a ludicrous amount of context and capturing this context in visual representations is a vital part of contemporary journalism and blogging. Everyone loves a good infographic – can you tell a story in pictures as readily as you can in words? Note that I don’t mean that you need to be a statistician, or a designer – just equipped enough to do some basic number crunching so that you can build the story – and think visually enough to brief a graphic designer to create what you want.

4. Literacy. I’ve met in equal number over the years – of PRs who treat the English language like an bat, crushing messages into as short a space as possible – and those that throw flowery turns of phrase into every other sentence. Good PR writing is jargon free, to the point, well-referenced, in context and over all else – concise.

5. Confidence. Whilst it may be possible to be a mild-mannered Clark Kent in the world of media (and I’m doubtful about that), PR calls for a strong temperament – you have to be able to consult (either into the business or to clients) which by definition may require taking a contrary view, you have to be able to deal with investigative journalists, you’ll probably have to deal with a crisis or two – all of this requires a steady hand and an occasionally loud voice. Not to mention confidence goes hand-in-hand with having no fear of the phone.

6. Ethics. It may be out of fashion for some, but at our agency – and in my own moral framework – it’s important to maintain certain boundaries. I’m not going to mention the obvious example here – if you’re in the industry you’ll know the current showcase example of dubious professional practice.

Have I missed any? Tell me in the comments.

Thoughts on consultancy

Been talking to my Dad a bit about the nature of consultancy – principally round the difference between consultants that tell you what you want to hear, and those that tell you what you need to hear. My Dad has always fallen into the latter camp – rarely sugarcoating difficult news, that’s his style, through well over 30 years of corporate lawyering – and I think I do too (although PR consultancy tends to require a bit more… tact).

One of the things that’s really satisfying is when a client takes on a piece of advice, acts on it and changes the way their company operates.

In the context of social media communications as part of corporate communications, I’ve had a considerable amount of experience of this lately. One client in particular took on the advice we gave and has been doing a great job of it – and the feeling you get when this happens is what makes the job worthwhile, and it’s when you know you have a client you’ve got the potential to do great things with.

Great fun. A nice perspective for me to take as I lean back and look at things from the comfortable distance of a sabbatical.

Spurs and the Olympic stadium–tactical bid?


So I’m possibly the world’s worst football fan. When my classmate Bozza explained the offside rule to me in 1994 I decided I supported Spurs, and when, at college and beyond, it transpired that Damo and Jimbo were also Spurs fans, it somewhat invigorated my ‘interest’ and I’ve paid some attention to the team – over the years – and particularly over the last two or three.

Now as a general rule (which I intend to break a bit over the weeks ahead) I don’t write about “comms strategies” and suchlike on here, but this has been an absolutely fascinating story. Other than submitting the application and speaking in controversial theoreticals (smashing down the stadium / getting rid of the athletics track etc), Spurs has held relatively quiet on the whole topic, with Redknapp in particular focussed on getting his team to the top of the table. As well he should be.

But of course, the negative outcry has begun. Football in the UK, despite its internationalisation, and that of the Premier League in particular, has ever been a local thing. The “North London Derby” galvanises the residents of different parts of the city into a neighbourly frenzy of competitive spirit. I’m brought to mind of the episode of “Life on Mars” in which Man City and Man United fans started to wage war on each other, and of course of Terry Pratchett’s latest Discworld novel…

So the move to Stratford makes little sense. Except that its a fantastic story, and despite the outcry, it seems as much flack is hitting the Olympics Legacy company as Spurs itself – which makes sense. After all, if the legacy of the Olympics should retain something of the Olympics (which makes no sense to me – after all, no country needs four velodromes running at 1% utilisation!), then it’s unsurprising that the global athletics wonks are getting upset about it all.

Of course, if I’m right in thinking the whole thing is just Spurs going after some profile-raising publicity, and in trying to eke out some regeneration money – then when they step magnanimously away from Stratford and commit their £500m of redevelopment to their local neighbourhood, local residents will be relieved and it’ll just be the Olympic legacy company that has to contend with the fallout of ever having considered such a thing. And odds are, Spurs chairman Dan Levy will get the “regeneration monies” he needs to invest in his local neighbourhood…

What do you think? Tactical bid vs. genuine interest? Comms / negotiation strategy vs. club migration? Be interested to hear.

European journalist study

Apologies for another work-related post but, hell, we’re just doing a load of interesting stuff. Brands2Life, and its International network of partner agencies the Oriella PR Network, has just done a study into the changing requirements of journalists across Europe. The study was conducted across multiple countries covered by the Oriella PR network, and had 347 respondents. There were some interesting findings, including:

Half of the respondents (46%) revealed they are expected to produce more content for their respective publications.
Video is having a growing impact on journalism with over 40% confirming they are now responsible for producing online television or video clips, despite only 3% of respondents being employed by traditional broadcasters.
European journalists are increasingly required to deliver their content in differing formats – 44% of outlets offer journalist authored blogs; almost a fifth (18%) are now producing audio podcasts; and almost one in four (24%) offer video podcasts.

You’d probably have noticed much of this if you’ve visited a news website lately. The message out of this for us PROs, obviously, is that the game has changed. My boss won’t thank me for telling this story, but he remembers a time when press releases were sent by post or (at best) fax — email shifted expectations of what we had to deliver then, and social media and the multimedia delivery platform that is the web is beginning to have an analogous impact on the nature of reporting in Europe today. Of course, in many instances, you don’t need the latest whizzy Social Media News Release or funky viral — but in some cases there’s scope to provide much more compelling content to support journalists in their endeavours.

Of course, to all them PR bloggers out there this is a no brainer — you’ve been living, eating and breathing this stuff for a couple of years. However, judging by several of the conversations I’ve had with comms directors lately, the message is taking its time to sink through. I love this sort of research because the theory is one thing — but having journalists actually tell you that they’d like to see more multimedia content, would like more b-roll (web journalists as well as broadcast and national media), well, it warms the heart.

Have a gander at the report at the study’s website, and you can read Journalism.co.uk’s write-up here.

Firefox 3 – download day

Mozilla is trying to get into the Guinness book of records with most downloads in a 24 hour period. It’s going on now – get Firefox, spread Firefox.

If you don’t know what that is, and you’re reading this in Internet Explorer — [doink]. That’s me hitting you in the head with a rubber mallet. It’s an awesome web browser, and is to surfing the web what spoons are to eating soup — a necessary tool, and a curvy, shiny piece of awesomeness to boot.

(I haven’t actually installed FF3 yet. Mozilla’s load-balancing is good, which is to say the website was still up for me to hit download, but not that good, in that I’m getting 5 k/b per second down a pipe that should give me 1.25 mb/s. I’m looking forward to it, though, in a geeky kind of way).

Update: FF3 installed on three machines now and I’m loving it on all of them. Most of my extensions/add-ons have been upgraded (not the Delicious one, oddly enough) and it seems to run smoother, faster and less resource intensively than before. Although it does seem to have a larger RAM footprint than FF2, where my systems would grind to a halt with this much memory in use in earlier incarnations, FF3 seems well stable. Happiness is a shiny new browser. Yes, yes, I’m a geek.

Fame is having your blog targeted by PRs

I’ve been pitched! As someone who’s always treated this blog as a self-indulgent dumping ground for any random thought that occurred to me, it’s flattering that someone thinks I have an audience and coherent enough content to feel it’s worth targeting me.

In any case, (and I’m not paid to promote these guys), if you want last minute father’s day gifts, you should…

Feckless Shoppers Warned Against Smash-and-Grab Gift Buying Kiss goodbye to panic gift buying: new website LateLateGifts.co.uk is helping thousands of last minute shoppers cope with Father’s Day. The idea behind the site is simple. Users can browse 60+ shops that offer immediate, same day or next day delivery gifts to take the stress out of last minute shopping. Time is of the essence for the feckless gift giver, so the easy to navigate website offers simple search options to help users find the presents they need pronto. Shoppers who are really racing the clock can search same day delivery gifts. For those with a day or two’s grace, Late Late Gifts lists retailers offering delivery by the following morning. The range of shops means there’s an ideal gift for everyone. From electricals, gadgets and computers to jewellery, chocolates and experience days, it’s all on offer – and delivered fast. Late Late Gifts creator, Richard Kershaw, was inspired to build the site by his own shoddy gift-giving habits: “I know all too well the stress of last minute smash-and-grab gift buying. But I was certain I wasn’t the only person who was, well, just a bit rubbish at buying presents. “I couldn’t find anything out there to take the pressure off buying gifts for your nearest and dearest. I hope that Late Late Gifts will make Father’s Day and those other big occasions a little less daunting.”

Thank you Kay Smith of LateLateGifts.co.uk.

Full disclosure

If I wax particularly lyrical about Google Apps in the near future, it is because I think they’re awesome, but it is important readers understand that we’ve been appointed to handle the PR for Google Enterprise in the UK. This is the division of Google that helps businesses organise their information with its cloud-based productivity applications, its Enterprise Search products and its Geo applications.

You can imagine this is somewhat exciting for me, and my increasing use of Apps is one of the factors that has me wanting an EEE PC so much.

And, to answer your unasked questions, no, I haven’t met Larry, Sergey or Eric, but yes, I’ve been to the Googleplex in London, and yes, it is as awesome as you’d imagine.

Recruiting for Head of SEM

We’re after a Head of SEM to bolster our Interactive offering. The job spec is as follows:

Brands2Life is one of the UK fastest-growing PR agencies with clients such as Cisco, T-Mobile and Tesco. Our Interactive team has experienced phenomenal growth over the last two years and we are now looking for a Head of SEM to join the team. You must be an expert in organic SEO and have proven experience of implementing PPC/CPA campaigns.

If you have website design and build expertise too then that would be a bonus. You must be a team player as you will be working as part of our client teams designing and implementing integrated campaigns. You will gain all the benefits of working at an agency that has consistently been recognised as a top employer in the PR industry with best-in-class personal training and development packages.

I’m heavily involved in our ‘Interact’ offering so anyone interested, please do contact me direct on armand.david [at] brands2life.com.