Tag Archives: media relations

‘Copycat Kids’ Trash Manchester Businesses

It would seem that the masked rioters creating mayhem in Manchester yesterday – August 9th – were roaming gangs of teenagers. On several levels, this should give us reason to reflect.

The likelihood is that these ‘copycat kids’ were in it for the kicks. There’s also the buzz they get from taunting the police, and the possibility of grabbing some loot from smashed-in shops.  It’s unlikely that these people are politically motivated, although some may cite economic and social disadvantage as possible driving forces.

How much do we know of the socio-economic makeup of rioters in Manchester and other English cities?  Is it likely they’re organised and operated from behind by some mysterious left-wing Svengalis?  Or was the Tottenham shooting last week a catalyst for the underlying grievances of a growing group of disadvantaged and unemployed under-25s to emerge spontaneously, collectively and violently?

Although reprehensible, it’s only half the story to label all these people (in all these places) as ‘criminals’.  Yes, they’ve committed criminal acts against the homes and businesses of hard-working and innocent people – and should be held to account. 

What we need to look at, however, is whether the so-called rioters are impressionable young people craving some excitement in their otherwise dull and predictable lives?  Or are they immature, vulnerable and naive people following politically motivated ‘leaders’ who know how to whip up a groundswell of anger – exploiting the dispossessed status of so many young English people – by the clever manipulation of social media and smartphone communications?

Heaven forbid, it could just be that some of the rioters have a case!  Maybe the condemnation by the Establishment and the middle-class masses of Baby Boomers has completely missed the point?  Maybe it is they who are responsible for creating a whole generation who’ve been priced out of the housing market, higher education and well-paid middle-class careers that are reserved for a new privately-educated élite?   Or maybe we should round up a posse and drive those pesky bankers out of town?!

The enlightened liberalism that’s been sugared by decades of economic good fortune has blinded today’s older generation to the fact that there’s a huge swathe of humanity on their doorstep – albeit living on the poorer side of town – for whom rioting (or something akin to it) is an attractive, or only, option.  Democracy clearly doesn’t work for people at the bottom of the pile, simply because the rules of the winning Establishment have been drawn up by the winners themselves.

People taking to the streets is nothing new of course.  For the French, it’s been in their DNA since the 1789 Revolution – et vive La France!  Scarcely a year goes by without their students or unions blockading something or other.  In England, we’ve had our moments too.  Think: poll tax; miners’ strike; Iraq war.

In those cases, the protesting was by people who had a stake in English society.  This therefore gave their actions a greater sense of legitimacy.  Peaceful protest has ben recognised as being part of the English way of doing things for centuries.  Protesting turns to rioting only when peaceful means don’t work. 

In the case of many rioters over the past week, it could safely be said that the many economic and social grievances which currently abound in our society have not been addressed.  This, to some people, would lend justification to their actions.  Many would also say that Tory policies have aggravated an already-sensitive situation.

What isn’t yet clear is whether those who were rioting in our cities were mainly opportunists, jumping on a bandwaggon for cheap thrills – or whether there was a political dimension to the acts of at least some of those involved. 

As of 10 August 2011, it looks likely that there were some politically-minded agitators involved, and the rest followed their lead.  Whether they can sustain unrest at a level that will make a political difference is debatable, especially given the Establishment’s track-record of successfully keeping a lid on foment created by undesirable ‘fifth columnists’.

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PR in Manchester – Changes begin with MediaCityUK

(Written by Nicholas Beeson)

The recent relocation of the BBC to Salford’s MediaCityUK has provoked a lot of discussion in the PR world. A recent article featured in PR Week, discusses the impact MediaCity will have upon PR in the northwest.

The construction of MediaCity alone has cost the BBC in excess of 189 million pounds and will see high profile news outlets such as Radio 5 Live and BBC Breakfast relocate to the new Salford headquarters. The move will also see 2,300 BBC staff making the move north, but how will this impact on PR in the region?

To many, the move is seen as symbolic as the BBC try to improve relations with audiences in the north and portray the BBC as representative of the UK as whole (not just London). With all the hype surrounding the construction of MediaCity it would be expected that agencies are getting excited by the pending move.

This proves not to be the case, as Brazen founder Nina Webb says:
“I haven’t re-written my business plan on the back of it.” (referring to MediaCity).

Although the enthusiasm of MediaCity might not be shared by all, there’s no doubt that new PR opportunities will arise from the new BBC North headquarters. Many of the programmes that are being relocated are interviewee-intensive which will of course provide opportunities for agencies with clients based near MediaCity who can comment on news issues.

MediaCity is also being touted as a catalyst for growth in the regional creative industry.  The relocation will enable many agency people to create new relationships with journalists.

In many ways, the BBC’s relocation to MediaCity is great news for Manchester and the northwest. A greater emphasis may be placed on stories coming from the north, although it has to be said that London as the centre of the media universe is not under threat!

The danger with all this is that many people could overestimate the potential impact of MediaCity, and the whole exercise could prove to be a massive white elephant – as Julian Bailey, Head of Media Relations at Morrisons, so neatly puts it:

“As a PR professional based in Bradford,” he says, “I will continue to spend more time in London than Salford”.

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New Property & Construction PR Page…

A totally refurbished Property and Construction PR page on Buzzwords’ main website features more links plus examples of experience in these two economically important sectors.

The market may be lagging a little right now, but PR is never a quick fix. That’s why now is the time to start planning! To find out more, go to:

buzzwords.ltd.uk/property_and_construction_pr.htm

(just add the ‘www’ prefix’!)

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A Merry PR Christmas!

It’s been a strange year by any standards.  Everything came to a head in October when we all thought the world was coming to an end! 

It didn’t of course, but PR activity will need to change over the coming months as clients grapple with a new economic landscape.  ‘Free lunches’ have long been out of the window.  What the equivalent is, further down the scale of professional privation, is a question that’s had me scratching my head – but probably goes along the lines of abandoning all that stuff about strategic thinking, reputation management and everything else that distances PR from the (highly successful) Max Clifford school of publicity. 

For 2009, we are where we are: in deep quagmires of a claggy consistency that won’t be helped by pompous pseudo-professionalism.  This is the year(s?) when results are all that matter.  With client budgets trimmed, it’s time for a tactical awakening.

Buzzwords’ response to all this is pretty much as it always has been ie. provide clients with a range of services from which they can pick and choose.  That’s simply because the smaller, B2B clients prefer the more cautious ad hoc approach.  I’m certainly not decrying the turnkey PR services offered by larger agencies.  There’s a lot to be said for the integrated marketing approach – if you can afford it.

This year, increasing numbers of (even the bigger) companies will be looking at ‘bigger bangs for their buck’.  To this end, Buzzwords will continue to offer traditional media relations programmes and online PR services together with specific offerings like article marketing, case study writing, newsletters (of course) – and even the odd annual report thrown in for good measure!

It’s all about flexibility and cost-effectiveness.  In times of dearth, agencies and consultants have to respond with services which will help our clients’ clients respond positively which in turn will help to pay our own rents. 

Here’s wishing you a Merry Christmas –  and, most of all, a prosperous New Year!

New content on Buzzwords’ PR & Media Relations web page

This new page sets out Buzzwords’ PR stall!  Clients in Manchester, Cheshire and beyond can expect a broad range of PR services based on many years’ experience of B2B public relations.  In addition, there are résumés of Buzzwords’ various PR services including:

  • ONLINE PR
  • ARTICLE MARKETING
  • CASE STUDY WRITING
  • NEWSLETTER WRITING
  • ANNUAL REPORT WRITING

Very soon, each of these services will link to its own web page.

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Local PR for clients in Manchester and Cheshire

Local PR is a strange beast.  And I would guess the media in Cheshire and Manchester are no different from elsewhere in the UK.  Trying to win coverage in the local press (radio or TV) using traditional media relations methods requires a little more creativity than average. 

No point sending an editor a descriptive piece about your client’s range of products or services.  You’ll need real ‘human interest’ stories… you know the sort of thing: employee raises £X million for charity; ‘green’ credentials of X company demonstrated in marathon tree-planting exercise; employees decide to marry after 40 years working together in the factory etc etc. 

The problem is, of course, that these stories don’t come along every day of the week.  So that’s where the PR man’s black art of inventing hooks and angles comes in handy.  With certain clients, however, this can be like getting the proverbial blood from a stone.  A lot of this stems from a reluctance to air one’s dirty linen in public.  Will it make us look stupid /unprofessional/ etc the client asks???  What’s the point of all this anyway, they may say? 

The answer is that local PR stories must be part of a company’s wider PR strategy.  To give an example: sponsoring a Porsche driver who’s racing at a local circuit – especially if the driver happens to work for your company – would fit neatly with an outfit  that wanted to project a young, progressive and (possibly) technically-advanced image.   

In many ways, local PR is more challenging than straightforward media relations where the trade press will publish almost anything providing it’s relevant to that sector or industry.  Likewise with online PR publishers – except online coverage also comes with valuable links back to your website! 

Of course, local PR clients always ask the same question when you first start talking turkey: do you have good connections with local editors?   It may help to a small extent but, in general, you can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.   In other words, if the story is weak, there’s no point souring a perfectly good working relationship.

Mike Beeson has added a new page on local PR to the ‘PR & media relations’ page of Buzzwords’ website.

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