It has to be said that the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) are one of our favourite clients, so when Steve Koenig, the Director of Industry Analysis at the Consumer Electronics Association (producers of the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas) told us that he was in London for a few days in June we were more than happy to organise a media lunch briefing for him at short notice.
But a press event can be tricky, you must understand it’s not the organising, no, that’s the easy part it’s the guests that can be the issue. And this latest briefing has been no exception.
So here’s the scenario, we sent out our invitations and we received our replies. We know that just like the rest of us journalists are busy people and finding time to get out of the office can be hard. So we are not at all surprised when journalists can’t make it, or call and cancel at the last minute or send someone else in their place. That’s life.
What always surprises us is when a journalist accepts an invitation and when they are sent the times and venue details – they responded along the lines of “What is this all about then?” Followed by “Oh sorry, I’ve double booked”. At this point we think two things. Firstly, how very strange to accept an invitation when you don’t understand what the event is about and secondly, if you do accept an invitation please do pop the date in your diary – it’s a useful tool and saves that nasty double booking issue.
We work hard to manage our client’s expectations and don’t run events when we know a client really has nothing to say – we don’t like to waste anyone’s time – including our own! But we feel CEA is different and yesterday’s media lunch proved that. Our lovely, polite journalists from the UK trade and nationals turned up on the right day, at the right time and the right venue and were rewarded with news on the hot consumer electronic products of 2012, what to expect at the 2013 CES and international market trends within the Consumer electronics market place.
We are looking forward to our next venture with the CEA when we run CESUnveiledLondon 2012 on Thursday 15 November 2012. As we said the CEA are one of our favourite clients and now yesterday’s polite journalists come under that category too.
If I had a pound for every time we have had to explain to a client that it isn’t appropriate to ring journalists to check that they have got the latest news release, or that although their news may be of interest to the trade media, the FT, Guardian or Independent really are not going to get excited, I would be rich indeed. Pestering the press is perhaps the biggest faux pas in media relations, but some seem to think coverage is achieved by hammering the message home over and over again. Fair enough to remind a journalist if you know them well and know the news is genuinely going to be of interest. But if I only had another pound for every time I saw a journalist complain on Twitter about PRs calling them about irrelevant or unimportant stories….……..
Part of the job of any good PR, especially in the B2B tech industry, is advising clients what not to do and managing expectations. It is something our clients respect us for. Admittedly, we have had clients jump ship, wowed by promises of endless coverage in the Guardian or the like, only to find that- unsurprisingly- the new agency couldn’t deliver. And I am proud to say that we’ve had ex-clients come back when they realise the error of their ways and that a fantastic article in the right industry publication is worth a thousand times more than a sentence in the wrong one.
‘Managing expectations’ is not negativity and not because we aren’t good at what we do and capable of getting the best coverage, it is purely and simply an attempt to focus on what is achievable. And in fact, for many, good coverage in the right trade magazines and sites that are read by decision makers is worth far more than a mere mention in the FT.
Of course, for the right topical stories, there are always good opportunities. The two areas I primarily work in, mobile comms and info security, are big issues and will on occasion have national media interest.
We often ask clients to take a look at the type of topics covered in the FT and other target media so we can help them to focus on generating relevant, topical and interesting content. Getting the best coverage is all about delivering the right content for the appropriate readership.
Like everything in life, one size doesn’t fit all in PR. While the update to a client’s software in all its technical glory may be of great interest to some media, to others it holds zero appeal. But if it is in response to a new highly dangerous Trojan that could wreak havoc, then it will of course have wider appeal. Target everything.
When I joined PRPR as a novice almost fresh from university, one of the first journalists I spoke to told me I was lucky because everyone at PRPR knew what they were doing and that he and other journalists respected the company for not time-wasting, for contacting with relevant information and having the right answers. That fact I am still with the company 16 years later shows he was correct and I am sure this is the reason PRPR has been recommended to companies time and time again by journalists.
Last night, Peter and I attended the Dragons’ Apprentice Challenge (@DragonsApp on Twitter) Awards at the University of Hertfordshire. Briefly, the challenge takes groups of students from local schools and colleges, pairs them with a local business “dragon” and a local charity and challenges them to turn £100 into £1,000+ for the charity.
Six of the 25 teams from St Albans, Welwyn, Harpenden and Hatfield schools and colleges were invited to give short PowerPoint presentations about their fundraising projects last night. And WOW, what a fantastic job they all did! I can’t even imagine being able to get up in front of hundreds of people and deliver such a professional, clever and engaging presentation as Team Nebula (the winning team for best presentation) at my age, let alone at 16-17 years old!
We also heard from the Saracens Rugby Club CEO Edward Griffiths: “What do you think is most important to a successful business…? Money? Yeah, you’re all thinking it, well- you’re all wrong! It’s people.” And he’s right. It especially rang true for this challenge. The sheer number of people involved- from the schools and students to the business dragons and the charities, not to mention the communities in which these fundraising events took place- all coming together to donate time and money for not just one, but 25 different charities is rather amazing to think about. In fact, the total amount raised was almost £35,000. In five months. Incredible!
We were delighted to have been involved in helping with the pr for such an awesome cause and wish all the very best to project manager Penny Mortimer and the team at CVS St Albans who work so hard to make this initiative work and, since its inception in 2010, have grown it each year. And will hopefully continue to do so until it takes the country by storm!
WOW! The CES Unveiled@London team at PRPR are still coming down to earth after a fantastic event on 17 November. With nearly 100 press in attendance and 15 very different but exciting exhibitors the event was definitely buzzing.
The executive team from CEA including Gary Shapiro, President and CEO, and Karen Chupka, Sr. Vice President, Events and Conferences as well as analysts Steve Koenig and Shawn Du Bravac, Sarah Myers and John Kelley all flew in from the US for the first ever CES Unveiled@London event.
Much asked for by UK journalists CES Unveiled@London did not disappoint. Hot off the press from our attendee survey these are just some of the comments we received.
“I thought it was great that this event finally came to London to help showcase some UK companies.”
“Good positive news from UK starter-uppers. Great food.”
“Great trend analysis.”
“Good insight to the importance of the UK’s involvement with CES.”
And the good news is it looks like we will be doing all again in 2012. So, if you want to find out what’s hot in consumer technology keep November free in your diary and watch this space for more news. It will be bigger, it will be even better and the CES Unveiled@London team at PRPR has already reserved space at our local luxury spa for the day afterwards.
We are over the moon here at PRPR HQ to have been chosen by the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) to organise its first ever UK media event – CES Unveiled@London. The event aims to promote the best of British innovation to the British press so we are delighted that it is being held in partnership with UK Trade & Investment (UKTI).
CES Unveiled @ London takes place on 17th November at Inmarsat Conference Centre, EC1. As I am sure you will appreciate it is all hands to the deck right now as we work towards making this new event a success. Things are looking good though, with both journalist places and exhibition spots filling up fast. So if you want to be there get in touch with us at email@example.com as soon as you can.
PRPR has been promoting and running the scholarship programme for the CEA’s annual CES (Consumer Electronics Show) in Las Vegas for eight years now and every year the press has asked when something would happen in the UK. With the launch of Tech City Initiative by David Cameron earlier this year we all agree that now is definitely the right time to do it.
The Unveiled@London event will see keynotes from Gary Shapiro, the CEA management team as well as Nick Baird, Chief Executive of UK Trade & Investment and will include a table top exhibition and networking event.
The 2012 CES runs from 10 – 13 January 2012 in Las Vegas and will unveil technology from more than 2,700 global companies and showcase consumer technologies from some 15 product categories.
This week saw the sudden sacking of PR firm Redner Group by its biggest client Take Two after Redner tweeted about awful reviews of the new game “Duke Nukem Forever” saying…….
“…too many went too far with their reviews. We r reviewing who gets games next time and who doesn’t based on today’s venom.”
This was immediately seen to mean that reviews would only be given to those that write nice things in future. And on the face of it, yes it really does read like that. However, when you actually look at some of the rude, badly written and no doubt biased ‘reviews’, it is easy to see what the tweet may have been supposed to mean. Basically, that they wouldn’t be giving review copies out to just anyone who asked; in future they would go to genuine, independent, unbiased reviewers who could write a proper constructive review. A totally different proposition to how it came across.
The trouble with tweets is that it is hard to get more complex thoughts across and therefore they’re sometimes easily misunderstood. It is also all too easy to tweet without really checking or examining the way what you have written could be taken. I am sure if I go through my history of tweeting there are a few tweets that could be taken in many different ways. But as long as they are my views, people are welcome to take them how they want. However, Redner’s tweet sounded like it was speaking for Take Two and therefore – despite the fact that if they meant it in the way I think they did they were perhaps absolutely right to say what they did – Take Two really had no choice but to sack them.
It’s a terrible shame, but an important lesson for those of us in PR. Always check and recheck and think before you post anything in the capacity as a spokesperson for your clients or indeed your own company.
While it takes a second to tweet, it can’t be taken back once it’s out there and your mistakes are likely to spread far faster than your triumphs.
We’ve all no doubt experienced those clients who have claimed not to see an upturn in sales or increased ROI on a specific media hit or piece of coverage. I’ve even seen some PRs recently state that they won’t work with clients like this because they obviously don’t believe in what we do. Got me thinking- if PR is a ‘faith’ and something to be believed in, then aren’t we the preachers whose responsibility it is to provide a catechism for clients? Especially nowadays when every role in the marketplace ecosystem is constantly being evaluated and all employees are under pressure to justify their existences; are we so brazen to think PR should be accepted purely on blind faith alone? Of course not.
So, just how can we rescue the situation when clients have a crisis of faith?
You can attempt to prove it. Methods like calculating the advertising value equivalent (AVE) can work for clients who like bottom line figures to present to their boards. There are obvious problems, since the added value of the independence of PR over something paid for is invariably a figure plucked from the air. And readership of a publication doesn’t necessarily indicate its overall influence over the target market. Today, it is seen by many in the industry as out-dated, but nonetheless can serve as a useful exercise, particularly if in a direct comparison to an organisation’s ad spend, but it shouldn’t be solely relied upon.
Some may just need to be reminded that PR is not a direct sales function. In its simplest form, PR is about reputation building and management- supporting a brand and its credibility over time. It’s not a quick sell and involves intangibles that are impossible to quantify. After all, you can’t put a figure on the value of someone instinctively trusting a brand over another due to what they have read or seen in the press; the company, and indeed the new customer themselves, may never know PR was in part responsible for the sale.
Suggest a meeting with sales. While PR is not a direct sell, we have had much success with establishing good relationships with our clients’ sales teams or leaders. Allow them to become PR missionaries by making sure they are aware of your efforts and encourage them to direct prospective customers to recent media coverage. We’ve even helped clients include a clause in their new business contracts that covers PR to help with obtaining case studies and contract win stories where appropriate.
Remember that even with religion there is an end result in mind, and the same has to go for PR. The overall objective in most cases is to grow business. When that happens, it may not be possible to directly link or ‘prove’ an increase in sales or a higher customer retention rate in relation to PR; but you believe in PR, have implemented a good campaign and sales have gone up, so it must have played its part.
And a final thought- as long as you’ve been clear from the start that PR is a slow burn, set and delivered tangible objectives and, importantly, feel happy and confident in the work you’ve done- don’t beat yourself up if a there are still those clients who debunk. They’ll probably be back one day when sales drop!