Surviving the PR Festive Season in Style (or not)

Niall Hughes, senior account manager, Clarion Communications

It's Christmas party season - and just as I was getting to grips with the gym again, we’re once more in the middle of a booze and indulgence-fuelled five weeks of office, supplier and client dinners and drinks.

If I'm going to sing like someone else, then I don't need to sing at all - Billie Holliday

Ellie Calcutt, account manager, Clarion Communications

Overheard: a journalist saying ‘no more emails - my inbox has crashed twice in the last hour due to the number I’ve received about products for the gift guide I’m working on’…

Increased susceptibility to PR and Marketing at Christmas

Sam Payne, account executive, Clarion Communications

At a time of year when Westernised people are expected to lavish each other with gifts - some useful, some dubious - there’s potentially room to take advantage of the consumer when they enter the annual festive spending frenzy.

The Power of the Christmas TV Ad Campaign

Nicola Carroll, senior account executive, Clarion Communications

The battle of the best Christmas TV adverts has been as hot as ever this season - but I’m still talking with friends about the festive offering from John Lewis.  Christmas cracker paper hats off to them for producing something different and fresh, as they did last year, which has successfully steered away from the traditional (and boring) glitz and glam of other Christmas ads.

The Top 10 Festive Stories 2012, Probably

Jonathan Smith, associate director, Clarion Communications

Like everyone else, for us PRs Christmas comes but once a year - and for the next few weeks it's certain to take over the world of media.

Deliver Us From Last Delivery Dates

Elizabeth Bateman, account manager, Clarion Communications

Yuletide greetings, savvy shoppers.  And of course the particularly savvy shoppers amongst us will avoid the crush this year and do the bulk of their Christmas shopping online. It’s the easy solution to your festive prayers: no need to brave the cold, and you can beat the rush - and the elbow digs - to ensure all your Christmas parcels are signed, sealed, delivered and yours.

Bringing PR and Social Media together under one roof

Habib Amir, head of digital, Clarion Communications

This month we’re launching Clarion’s new digital division - influenceD - which will work across all aspects of social media, social advertising and online PR.  Why?  Because clients increasingly want all their digital, social and PR needs satisfied under one roof.

Have Yourself A Social Little Christmas

Rebecca Bolton, digital team, Clarion Communications

Christmas can be fraught with customer service nightmares - from last minute present purchases and returns of unwanted gifts to the drama of the Boxing Day sales.  And with 18 million people now using social media to contact companies over customer service issues, gone are the days of the polite letter to the editor, or contacting Anne Robinson on Watchdog over an incident of poor customer service.

The Golden Age of Facebook For Brands and Why It Won’t Last Much Longer

The Golden Age of Facebook For Brands and Why It Won’t Last Much Longer

Habib Amir, head of digital, Clarion Communications

You have to hand it to Facebook: despite ever more cunning attempts by social media newcomers, it continues to lead the field when it comes to reaching consumers online. Which is great news for any of us trying to get our clients in front of customers.

Getting the Inside Scoop

Kathryn Platt, senior account executive, Clarion Communications

A lucky group of us at Clarion were recently given the opportunity to visit one of Britain’s national newspapers to get the inside scoop on how the other half work.  And when I say other half, I mean of course journalists - we all know there’s a love/hate relationship between journos and us PRs, and although some don’t like to admit it, we do work hand in hand to help deliver news.

Practice What You Preach

Sue Roberts, board director, Clarion Communications

This year we ran our fourth Nectar Savvy Family competition, inviting families from around the UK to share their favourite moneysaving tips with the nation and be judged for the crown of Britain’s Savviest Family.  The response from the public was, once again, huge…

The PR Handover - a lot like a big cake…

Niall Hughes, senior account manager, Clarion Communications

It’s gone 8pm, you’re still in the office and you’ve been working solidly for nearly 10 hours - but you’re not stressed out, you’re not frantically pacing by the printer waiting for your press packs for tomorrow’s event to come out, or slowly clearing time ahead of tomorrow’s big national sell-in...

Tales From The Olympic Stadium

 Shelley Wyatt, board director, Clarion Communications

Saturday 4th August was a huge day for me - not just because it was my birthday but because it was the day I started my first shift as a Games Maker in the Olympic Stadium Press Operations, Mixed Zone team.

In Praise of Clare

Howard Bowden, head of news, Clarion Communications

Dear Clare, I admit it: I got you all wrong.  We somehow never saw eye to eye in the past, because - and I’ll be frank here - I always thought you were a bit horsey, and a bit posho, and mainly because whenever I turned over to find you on BBC1 on a Saturday it meant I’d just missed Football Focus.

Can You Measure PR?

Alexandra Gerolami, senior account manager, Clarion Communications

Most people outside of the industry don’t really have a clue what PR is - and few can say how we are able to ‘physically’ show the success of a PR campaign.

Olympic Factor Helps Becks Notch 20 Millionth Facebook Like

Nicola Carroll, senior account executive, Clarion Communications

Earlier this week, footballer, national institution and bit of stuff David Beckham posted this photo on his Facebook page to announce he has reached 20 million Likes. The pic was posted alongside a big thank you to all his fans:

Did a lack of decent PR leave Madonna with an MDNA comedown?

James Watts, associate director, Clarion Communications

Madonna is currently touring the world to promote her latest album MDNA - a record which sold 359,000 copies in its first week of release in the US, before sales fell by a whopping 88 percent the following week to just 46,000. Such a massive and immediate drop in sales has never been seen before.

The Power of Broadcast PR: driving competition entries, boosting website traffic and increasing the nation’s love of potatoes…

Rebecca Binks, account director, Clarion Communications

In the era of tablets and Twitter, it’s easy to forget what a powerful medium TV remains.  It has the capacity to reach a massive audience - according to the Broadcasters’ Audience Research Board (BARB) we spend more than a day a week watching it, and furthermore, studies suggest that when used alongside other media, it improves brand performance dramatically.

Appy Days

Nicola Carroll, senior account executive, Clarion Communications

Has social media made us a lazy nation? Not only do we keep in contact these days via social networks, forums and blogs but we now also seemingly rely on apps to tell us where we are, what to eat and how to manage our busy lives.

TV’s Best Ever PR. Totally.

Howard Bowden, head of news, Clarion Communications

For the last 20 years, Edina Monsoon - you know, ‘Eddy’ in TV sitcom Absolutely Fabulous - has been the default setting in the minds of the Great British Public when it comes to picturing a PR person in all her or his glory.  As comedy characters go, she was pretty good, and as a caricature for the excesses of PR-dom - particularly for anyone who doesn’t actually work in the industry - she was even better.  Yes sir, no-one could top Eddy as TV’s ultimate fictional PR person.  Until now.

The Final Countdown

Shelley Wyatt, board director, Clarion Communications

I've been getting more and more excited - and a little bit nervous - as the London 2012 countdown reaches single figures because in just a few days I'll be starting my role as a Games Maker.

Please, Please, Please Show Me Your Portfolio

Matt Stokoe, associate director, Clarion Communications

How many times are we told by the media that it’s tough going when it comes to getting a job, especially as there are currently 2.61m* people out of work?

And The Nominations Are…

Lucy Allen (above, second left), board director, Clarion Communications

As awards season begins, it’s hard not to feel bogged down in submissions when you’re already busy with client and agency work. But winning awards is great for business, and time invested in getting those entries right is time really well spent in my book. After picking up several high profile awards last year (have I mentioned scooping PR Week’s Campaign of the Year 2011?), we’re still - eight months on - savouring our success and experiencing tangible benefits to the business.

Holidays are Coming

Pippa Brindley, senior account executive, Clarion Communications

It’s nearly July and there’s a definite sense that summer is here, more or less.  The nights are lighter, the temperature’s rising and we’re starting to spend our weekends out and about in the sunshine or relaxing in beer gardens with a BBQ and a glass of Pimms. Our summer wardrobes are finally making an appearance and as people start to prepare for their long awaited summer trips away, the holiday season is definitely upon us.  Sound familiar?

PR Events: Are They Worth the Money?

Kathryn Webster, account manager, Clarion Communications

It’s fair to say there’s nothing quite as stressful as an event, especially in the world of PR.  From organising logistics to inviting journalists, it’s a never ending battle - and even once it’s over, we still need to secure coverage post-event to make a return on investment and please our clients.

Do You Have Time to Think?

Amanda Meyrick, managing director, Clarion Communications

When was the last time that you stared out of the window and let your mind wander?

Unusual Briefs Are the Norm in PR

Sean Miles, director of prototyping, Designworks

We get our share of unusual briefs here at Designworks, but we recently had one from Clarion that stood out...

One Size Doesn’t Fit All in the World of PR

Cat Cambridge, senior account executive, Clarion Communications

I started my PR career at a small agency in Reading four years ago and when I say small, I mean fairly tiny - I was one of only five.  I loved my time there for many reasons: it felt like a little family, everyone always knew what everyone else was doing and best of all I gained a lot of experience very quickly.

William Hague or Ferris Bueller: Who Holds the Answer to Economic Austerity?

Jonathan Smith, associate director, Clarion Communications

Foreign Secretary William Hague recently declared there is only one solution to Britain's economic problems: hard work.  While the same week I attended a training session in which we were told to stop rushing and think more. And that got me thinking…

Getting Started

Sophie Dee-Shapland, intern, Clarion Communications

“Gherkin? Banana?”
“Ohh, G-o-r-k-a-n-a.  Er, what’s that…?”

Words that are commonplace to PR professionals are foreign territory for newcomers.  And nearing the end of my work placement at Clarion, I realise that I’ve learnt a lot in a relatively short space of time.  The past few weeks have been my first experience of PR and so initially I didn’t know what to expect.Reminiscent of the childhood experience of starting ‘big school’, the first day was a learning curve.  In fact being shown around a new office is a bit like learning the dynamics of a high school, minus the Mean Girls vibe.  I tentatively awaited my initiation but thankfully - apart from learning to use industry-standard media database Gorkana - there wasn’t one.  

The 10 PR Commandments

Louisa Jarvis, account director, Clarion Communications

We take PR very seriously. You might even say religiously. So we’ve applied the famous biblical principles of good human behaviour to the life of a PR professional - to help PRs like us stay on the right side of He Who Must Be Obeyed*.

Who’s Winning Gold in the ‘Summer Sporting Event’ Sponsorship Awareness Stakes?

Niall Hughes, senior account manager, Clarion Communications

With the world’s biggest sporting event taking place on our doorstep shortly, most PRs will have worked on at least one activity tying their clients to ‘the games’ - but is there room for everyone, and as PRs should we be advising clients to stay away from the branding bloodbath?

The Importance of Maintaining a Work/Life Balance

Laura Jones, associate director, Clarion Communication

PR is more than a job - in fact it’s often more than a career, and can sometimes become all consuming.  To work in PR you have to live it, and you have to love it - but this can sometimes leave us burning a little too much midnight oil.

Are Brands Linking with Charities for Extra PR Leverage or Does Corporate Altruism Truly Exist?

Maddalena Pinto, account manager, Clarion Communications

More and more brands are developing strategies involving charity link-ups as well as celebrity endorsements - and one wonders if this is because corporate altruism has hit an all time high, OR if finally we’ve reached a point where supporting a charity guarantees better media coverage. From tailors linking to support male cancer to a giant egg hunt around London to save elephants in Africa, it seems no brand is exempt. 

When a Day Job Turns into a Hobby: A Wine PR's Take on Her First WSET Class

Katy Jameson, Senior Account Executive, Clarion Communications

WSET is the Wine and Spirits Education Trust - renowned throughout the Drinks trade as the school for anyone whose enjoyment or association with all things alcoholic goes beyond just drinking it.

PRs In London Need A Short Sharp Slap

Gary Freemantle, CEO, Clarion Communications

I could just leave it at that I suppose, and there'd be a few nods of general agreement. But what I'm referring to is the ‘London bubble’: walk down any central London street of an early evening and you'll find people spilling out of pubs, even on a Monday (and don't even attempt to buy a pint on a Friday). Try to book a fancy restaurant for a celebration and they can probably squeeze you in at 6pm on a Tuesday in November if you vacate the table by 6.30 AND leave a 90% deposit. Because of course London is a country within a country, an international mega-city still increasing in global popularity, fuelled by the City and by massive investment from prosperous countries around the world.

Why Ridley Scott chose to take the Transmedia path to publicity for Prometheus

James Watts, senior account director, Clarion Communications

When you're creating a prequel to a film which is over 35 years old, how do you ensure the modern generation of cinema-goers can get excited about it?

Cluster Tea-making Politics

Oli Bowen, account executive, Clarion Communications

Ah, tea. The nation’s favourite (behind water, that is).  Our nation’s go-to in an emergency, if we have a hangover and, well, for all those awkward silent moments where no-one has anything to say.  Other than ’tea anyone?’

It’s a Small World

Laura Nye, account manager, Clarion Communications

The internet has made the world smaller and more accessible in a relatively short period of time - when I was growing up if we wanted to speak with relatives in Australia or America it was either by phone (expensive) or by letter.  And the time it took to get a response could be weeks or even months.  Now, with the use of Skype and social media, the world has become an incredibly small and more accessible place - with communication from the UK to both Australia and the US taking seconds, not weeks.

What is it you do, dear?

Sue Roberts, board director, Clarion Communications

I sometimes envy teachers and doctors, not because I’d particularly like to work in either profession - although a teacher’s holiday allowance would be nice - but purely to avoid the awkward conversation that follows the inevitable dinner party question, “what exactly do you do?”.  Once the general guffaw about daily quaffing of champagne has passed, how do you explain in a nutshell the colourful and varied life of a PRO?

Jumping on the Brand Britain bandwagon

Rebecca Binks, senior account manager, Clarion Communications

I read an article in the Daily Mail recently about how Asda inappropriately complained to suppliers using the Union flag on their packaging amid fears it might offend customers in Scotland and Northern Ireland.  Er, hang on - aren’t both countries represented by the flag?  Like many of the manufacturers who received the crazy email, I was a little confused.

Is Creating New Content the Biggest Challenge Facing PR?

Katy Jameson, senior account executive, Clarion Communications

News is on a constant cycle - and in our fast-paced world, where we have access to both real-time updates online, as well as daily newspapers and both weekly and monthly magazines, I think it's almost irrefutable that every PR story has been done before.

PR Stunts – Are They Risky Business?

Kathryn Webster, account manager, Clarion Communications

When I began researching a career in PR there was one part that really excited me: the big PR stunt.  It’s the crazy idea that comes up in the brainstorm to which people don’t know whether to applaud or hang their head in shame. We all remember the classics - the polar bear on the Thames, Gail Porter on the side of Big Ben and most recently the Pimms giant deck chair on Bournemouth beach. Yes, ultimately some PR stunts do work in securing high profile national coverage but what about the rest of them that are long forgotten by the media and which brands have invested huge sums of money into producing?

The Power of the Brainstorm

Kathryn Platt, account executive, Clarion Communications
The good old brainstorm - or ‘thought shower’ as it should now be called if you’re being politically correct - is an essential technique used by PRs to generate creative ideas.  But is the brainstorm still effective within busy agency life?

You Are What You Wear?

Matt Stokoe, associate director, Clarion Communications

A suit and tie. The expected attire for any man attending a wedding, christening or funeral - but what role does it have in today’s world for creative industries like PR and marketing?

Secret PR Skills no.1 – Health & Safety

James Regal, senior account manager, Clarion Communications

Permission forms. Risk assessments. Method statements. Council permits. Hardly words that inspire one to push boundaries with daring PR ideas. That’s because cutting-edge consumer PR is sexy and dangerous, right?  Guerrilla stunts, giant outdoor installations and messing about with the general public are some of the mainstays of the best PR campaigns of the past decade.

The Things We Do For Coverage

James Fick, account executive, Clarion Communications

Most of my colleagues and clients view me - I think - as a confident, outgoing guy.  But when we proposed the idea of taking a group of eight ft-tall costumed characters on a commuter train route to be photographed, little did I know that both my colleagues and client would ask me to not just oversee the photos but take part in it as well (see above – I’m on far left studying the newspaper).

Twitter Snobs

Howard Bowden, head of news, Clarion Communications

Remember at school when you’d be the first to get into a band before anyone else?  And how rubbish it was when a bit later said band started having hits, and suddenly everyone else in your class was a huge fan?  So you’d look down your adolescent nose, and tell everyone how their earlier stuff was so much better…

Evaluating Social Media

Alison Crowley, senior account executive, Clarion Communications

How PR campaigns are evaluated is changing as quickly as new social media groups are being dubbed ‘the Next Facebook’. With the arrival of the likes of Twitter, YouTube and Pinterest, traditional models for evaluating the success of an entire PR campaign are proving insufficient in dealing with the wide variety of digital coverage with which modern PR campaigns are generating i.e. ‘Likes’, ‘Retweets’, ‘Followers’ and ‘Repins’.

Jumping Through Hoops

Rachel McCartan, senior account executive, Clarion Communications

It’s a big year for Britain - and with the onslaught of the Olympics and the Jubilee, PRs everywhere are limbering up to get the ball rolling on their biggest news hooks of 2012.