Monday, June 30, 2008

Getting the Message out

I'll probably get in trouble from Transport for London for encouraging beggars, but I gave a pound to a very clever young lady on the tube this morning. Instead of simply asking for money, she walked along the half-empty carriage and placed a slightly crumpled piece of cardboard - about the size of a business card - on the seats, beside each passenger. Of course, you couldn't help but read it. It said "I am poor and look after my two sisters. Your small donation will help us eat and find a warm place to stay. Thank you for your kindness". After proceeding through the carriage again to collect her gifts, she scooped up the cards for re-use.

Yes - I had the same thought - it's quite possibly a made-up sob story. That wasn't why I gave her some money. It was very clever marketing, and it clearly worked well - almost everyone gave her something. She'd spotted a way of persuading people to give money and feel comfortable about it. That's how great marketing works.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

A fine weekend

I spent the weekend on the edge of a field with friends, having a few beers and listening to some great music. Unlike last year, it didn't pour with rain. No, I wasn't at Glastonbury, or anywhere near it. I was with a group of current and former neighbours at the home of the latter - a converted pub in the Essex countryside. We get together several times a year to chat, eat and - of course - have a few drinks. Our children all play together, giving us the chance to relax.

What does this have to do with the media? Nothing at all. It's pure downtime. I hope you had some too.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Tesco 1 Fearnley-Whittingstall 0

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall failed today in his bid to persuade Tesco shareholders to force the store to raise standards for rearing the chickens they buy. Bad luck, Hugh. Or was it? Even though he garnered only 10% of the votes, the publicity generated by his campaign has been enormous. Even his defeat could be a good thing for him, since it will keep the issue in the news for a little longer.

This kind of PR stunt (and I use the term admiringly) is a low-cost way of raising an issue to the top of the news agenda. I'm amazed that more causes and companies don't use similar tactics. Some organisations thrive on their ability to generate publicity at almost no cost. Others throw millions of dollars at advertising agencies. It really is a matter of paying your money and making your choice.

I know what I prefer...

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Goodbye George

I have been remiss. Having just written my latest ezine and recorded my podcast. I am reminded that I neglected to pay tribute in this blog to the funniest man on earth, George Carlin, who died earlier this week. I was lucky enough to see him perform live, and have been in awe of him ever since. His demolition of "soft language", religion, and pomposity of all sorts was unparallellled.

Check out the vids on YouTube - there are hundreds of clips. But be warned if you are in any sense religious, pompous or sensitive to swearing. OK, off you go...

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Oh I say!

Wimbledon time again. Or as dear old Harry Carpenter used to say "Wmbldn" (thanks to Clive James for that observation). In these early days, British hopes are high. The ladies are putting up a good show, Andy Murray looks strong, and previously unknown qualifier Chris Eaton delivered 26 aces to overcome Serbian Boris Pasanski yesterday. The Daily Mail has gone into raptures, and I say fair play to him too.

Radio 5 Live delivered a terrific audio montage of commentary on his victory played over "Eton Rifles" by The Jam. OK, a bit of a cliche, but it worked for me. Alas, earlier this year the same song was the subject of some media controversy when Conservative leader and ex-Etonian David Cameron declared that it was his favourite song. The song's composer, Paul Weller, was unimpressed, particularly since he wrote it to rage against the privilege and arrogance of students at Eton. Clearly Cameron missed the point, which Weller rubbed in by saying “Which part of it didn’t he get? It wasn’t intended as a f****** jolly drinking song for the cadet corps.”

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Jeff Koons Balloons - 12 million quids worth?

Well I'm blowed. There I was at my favourite London haunt, the Chartered Institute of Public Relations, waiting for a media training client. I looked out of the window and saw what looked like an enormous balloon sculpture in the middle of St James's Square. On closer inspection, that's exactly what it was, in gleaming cerise-coloured metal. There was even a man polishing it, and two security guards in attendance.

Apparently it's the latest work by Jeff Koons, and is due to be auctioned for a sum not undajacent to 12 million pounds (about a squillion dollars). That's a tidy sum in any language. Actually, I rather liked it, and the groups of picnicking office workers around it in the lunchtime sun seemed to approve of it too. That's what public art should be all about. Nice one, Jeff.
The MediaCoach Blog is back! OK, calm down. I'll try to post more often - honestly. Feel free to drop me a line. Ta.

Nice to see that the art of oratory is not dead. A couple of years ago, I watched Bill Clinton's speech to the Labour Party Conference, and marvelled once again at the way he can hold an audience. It was a masterclass in speaking technique, using pauses, eye contact and creating an extraordinary rapport.

That's why Bill can charge up to three hundred thousand pounds for a single speech. No-one else comes close to his earning potential, although speakers such as Jack Welch, Bill Cosby and Rudy Guiliani don't need to worry about paying the mortgage. In the UK, celebrity speakers earn the big cheques. Matt Lucas, Gary Lineker and Ant and Dec all earn over £25k a time (of course, the Geordie boys only get half each). But then you know all that if you'd listened to me being interviewed by Chris Evans on Radio 2 a while back. You missed it? Never mind, it's on my website.