Monthly Archives: November 2009

Tiger Woods, the PR challenge.

The past week has really highlighted the inherent dangers of building a brand around real people, notably sports stars.

Frist Thierry Henry, now Tiger Woods have shown how brand icons can morph into flawed individuals.

So what’s the damage ? Well it has to come down to how it’s handled. The professionals can make all the difference and I speak as a journalist not a PR guru.  After all, with Tiger Woods, it’s not what he did or did not do , it’s the speculation that chips away at the brand. This weekend Twitter was full of wild gossip about what might have gone on. Flash-backs to OJ Simpson don’t make life any easier, although this is clearly no OJ case.

What the media crave and by extension all of us, is information. Anything from the Woods camp would help and today’s statement goes some way to fulfilling that need. Having said that, it is far from the full story and won’t quell the speculation.

Over at Thierry Henry HQ things are equally messy. As a brand icon for Gillette, (Woods is too, strangely enough !) Henry has inspired a Twitter war with PRs from a rival shaving brand. I urge you to visit for the full Twitter exchange, basically it’s what happens when PRs collide !

Sports stars with their blend of skill, money and glamour will always attract advertising cash, whatever behaviour ensues. The challenge is for their handlers and PRs to develop a strategy involving all the platforms where they are being talked about, including Twitter. It seems those strategies are still in their early days.

When Twitter feels like cyber-stalking

You’ve got a Twitter account and you’ve read all the blogs about expressing your personal brand, you even have a healthy following but what do you do now ?

Well, there comes a point in every Twitter journey when quantity has got to be sacrificed to quality.  At the start you may have decided to follow a whole bunch of people because they followed you, but now their random thoughts are clogging up your  Twitter stream and you can’t see the quality for the trash. It’s time to take action.

If you want to make intelligent connections with people who can help you then you need to track them down and follow them.

Blimey ! go back and read that sentence again. It sounds like a cyber-stalkers charter. I am English and the whole idea of using people in such a calculated way makes us feel very uncomfortable. Am I really going to find someone who I admire and then be-friend them ?  Send them messages and post stuff on their blog in the hope that they notice me ?

It sounds blatant but I think the Twitterverse can handle it. Those less reserved than ourselves have shown that it can work. There is something about social media that makes it OK to seek out those connections and most people are delighted to be of help. If someone sees you as a mentor  and looks to you for your expertise and help that’s flattering, right ?

So track down the people who can help and make a start on building trust. Don’t over do it though,  the spectre of the Cyber-stalker is out there !

If you disagree with my thoughts do let me know or simply post your comments, I’d really love to hear from you .


Respect the customer, lessons from the heavy sell.

So, anyway. I’ve started this great new hobby. I sing in a choir !

I know it sounds like I’ve turned into my mother but it is actually really cool. We sing gospel and Motown type stuff and once you stop feeling stupid it is very therapeutic. We ‘ooooohh’ and ‘ahhhhhhh’ as if we were member of the Supremes without the spangly dresses. A girl can dream.

If you’re wondering why I’m sharing this with you it’s because it is also a successful business.  It’s a smart idea and the choirs are spreading. I should imagine that the copyright on the songs and arrangements is the biggest cost and once that is sorted, the more choirs you have the more income you can generate.

But even though I love it and admire the business model I have a problem.


As a member I am being asked to attend public events, which can only amount to free publicity for the brand, purchase branded clothing and listen to quite a lot of ‘heavy sell’.  When a lot of people are handing over cash for an experience like this it would be better to take a slightly lighter approach and at least give members the illusion that they have a stake in it. If you take your customers for granted then they may vote with their feet.

I am signed up for another term,  so I’m prepared to go with the flow for the moment.  But never under-estimate the consumer, we need to be treated with respect.

How not to sell on twitter.

Since I began my adventures in social media I can’t tell you how many times I have been disappointed by the hard sell.

I don’t know why I expected to find the cyber world free of shysters. How very naive, the salesman is everywhere !  But I couldn’t resist the idea of a new media full of people helping each other. I  love a utopia.

Don’t get me wrong, there are lots of people out there who see Twitter as a genuine way to share information. They will go out of their way to help people, recommend you and pass on interesting links, some even do it for entirely altruistic reasons. And then there are the ones who SPAM you constantly and send out the same Twitter advert every half an hour until you vote with you feet and get rid of them.

De-friending is the new door in the face. And I am very happy to do it.

But hey, we are all here to promote something, to say otherwise would be dishonest. We want to build a following and share our ideas and expertise. In many cases that will be part of a strategy to sell a product or service in the long run. That’s ok, but in a blog or Tweitter message it has to be done at arms length. Therein lies the skill.

Next time I want to tell you about a class I do which is a fab idea and brilliant fun, but is in danger of being ruined, ( for me at least) by the over-sell.




Great PR it really works.

I must tell you this great story ! It will confirm/revive your belief in the importance of top quality PR.

It involves the BBC but I’ll keep names out of it.

Some time ago a senior BBC manager got a scathing complaint from one of his users. In blunt language the gentleman told the manager exactly what he thought of him and his service. Nobody likes to get complaints, they’re boring to deal with and bruising when they’re directed at you.

But this particular manager is a shrewd character and he decided to deal with the guy straight away and in the most generous manner. He would invite the complainer down to London to have a go and see if he could do the job any better.

Brilliant. The guy came down to London and had a marvellous time. Not a word of complaint was ever heard again, in fact he became our manager’s biggest fan. Great PR has turned an enemy into an ally.

And what an ally. Several years later our manager’s salary appeared in almost every national newspaper, listed along with many others together with a good bit of editorial about overinflated salaries and wastes of space.

But who leaps to his defence ? Only the former ‘guest editor’ and reformed Mr Angry. He writes a letter of glowing praise to the BBC in which he claims that our manager is ‘worth the licence fee all on his own’.

Now that is  how to win friends and influence people !

I am full of admiration.

Britney scores !

At the risk of  really annoying those of you looking for the real popstrel Britney I do have to just up-date you on my blog experiment.

If you remember I wanted to know, if by including the world’s most searched term in my post I could get more hits. Guess what ? I did ! This initiative doubled my hits to date.

I am not in the business of winding people up, so this will not be repeated.

But it does verify what people say about search terms and key words. Although, by also highlighting the words search terms and key words I did attract some spam from people trying to sell me Search Engine Optimisation advice. So that poses the question ‘was it Britters or was it the use of search-type buzzwords that got me the hits ?’

I’ll leave you with that.



Take a peek,Britney Spears is in there.

If you read my blog you will get to meet Britney Spears, earn millions without spending a penny, find the secret to eternal happiness…

Are you with me yet ? I’m trying to work out how you get people to look at a blog and these things seem to be what vast numbers of people are interested in.

I’m not thinking about how you generate long-term followers, by the way, but simply how you persuade the casual browser to look at it for the first time.  Whether you are using blogging as advertising for your personal brand, professionally for a company or just for fun,  you need to know that someone looks at it, otherwise you are just talking to yourself !

So I reckoned that if I sprinkled a few key words or search terms around then I might get some hits ? It is purely experimental and I apologise now to anyone who has come here looking for Britney. I am more of a Lady Gaga girl myself. I will let you know how I get on and then we can talk about using search terms that are more relevant to our blogs but could also help us to generate that first peek.