PR, marketing and communication news and views.


20 things PR pros should know NOT to do


This is inspired by a post over on PR Daily naming the 20 things a PR pro should know how to do.

This is my take on things PR pros should know NOT to do. A few obvious ones, but sometimes they’re the ones most easily forgotten.

Anything to add? Make your suggestions in the comments box….


  1. Phone journalists when you know they’re on deadline
  2. Be unprepared for questions  when doing a sell in
  3. Miss a deadline
  4. Spam journalists with the same release, with no thoughts of what they actually want
  5. Fail to get interesting, exciting (and high res!) images to accompany stories


  1. Delete negative comments
  2. Focus on numbers, not engagement
  3. Not bother monitoring conversation
  4. Share nothing but links to your own website and offers
  5. Not familiarise yourself with analysis tools


  1. Fail to set clear targets, expectations and evaluation methods
  2. Not work out a clear approval process
  3. Do whatever your client asks even if you know it’s a waste of their time and money
  4. Not push for opinions and viewpoints
  5. Ignore situations if they go wrong, mistakes happen – it’s how you deal with them that count


  1. Churn out news releases with no strategy or reason behind them
  2. Get coverage for coverage’s sake
  3. Fail to make sure press, advertising, social media activity etc is joined up
  4. Not make the time to read the newspapers/blogs/magazines
  5. Not hold regular planning and brainstorming meetings

By Brooke Nolan

5 things we need from you (the client) to make your campaign a success


I’m not a lawyer, or a shopping centre owner, or an estate agent. I don’t manufacture printers or low carbon vehicles, and I’m not a small business owner.

Yet I have been involved in successful PR and marketing activity for all of these sectors.


Because the clients in question, and the people within their business, were engaged, focused, and had a clear view on what they wanted to achieve from their PR campaign.

On top of this, they wanted a PR agency who worked as an extension to their own team – they viewed us a consultant, trusted our opinion, and gave us what we needed to understand their business and get the best results.

There are many things that a PR agency or practitioner needs to do to make your campaign a success – but there are also things we need from you!

1). Your time

Perhaps the most important thing that we need from you, and one of the hardest for you to give. We understand that your time is precious – and PR and marketing is just one of the hats that you wear on a day-to-day basis. But regular and ongoing communication between client and agency is vital for success – we aren’t mind readers and we need you to tell us what’s happening within your business. The further in advance we know of events, appointments, news etc – the more mileage we can get out of them. We also need you to be available for quick approval and urgent press requests.

2). Your expertise and opinions

Just because we do the PR for a lion tamer, it doesn’t mean we know how to tame lions. We need you to tell us what the story is. What are your views, your opinions? What effect will this have on your industry? The longer we work with you the more of your expertise we glean, but you will always be the expert. Our job is to take your experience and knowledge and turn it into a newsworthy story that will capture the attention of journalists and audiences, and integrate it into an ongoing campaign.

3). Your honesty

We need you to be honest with us about everything; how do you like to work? Are we positioning your company how you want it to be positioned? Are the results what you expected?  Let us know what you think and we can adapt as we go along. A successful relationship is two way though, and we will be honest with you too if we’re not getting what we need!

4). Your belief

We know what journalists want, and we know how people want to be communicated with.  There may be times when you have a story you want to push, or an angle you’d like to exploit – which we don’t believe will work. We talk to journalists on a daily basis and know what they’re after, and we can talk from experience about what can and should be said. If we advise you that a change in approach is necessary, listen to our reasons and have trust in what we say.  

5). Your patience

It takes time and consistent effort to get results and build a strong reputation for a brand (especially when it comes to social media, which is increasingly part of the PR mix). But it also takes time to build a relationship with you, and get to know your business and your way of working.  Have patience and the results will be worth it in the end!

8 tips to keep your meetings productive


I read with interest a blog post on PR Moment which cites meetings as a waste of time.

Although the article, written by Hacked Off Flack, is tongue in cheek to some extent (at least I hope so – he states falling asleep as a way to keep your meetings short!) I can’t help but come back with a rebuttal.

Having started a new job two weeks ago, building client relationships is one of the most important things I need to do in order to effectively manage my client’s accounts. I am passionate that this can’t be done without regular face-to-face contact.

But I won’t disagree completely with Hacked Off Flack – I have been in many meetings which have proven to be a complete waste of time, turning into lengthy debates rather than short, sharp decision making sessions.

With that in mind, here some tips to ensure your meetings remain productive.

1). It’s all about the agenda

Draft a realistic agenda before the meeting and issue it to all parties for additions and reference (about a week before if possible).  This will make sure that everyone is in agreement   on what needs to be discussed, and will hopefully stop anything from being missed off, or tangents from taking over. Try and plan how long you think each item will last and decide your meeting length around this. Most importantly – stick to it and steer people back to the agenda if necessary.

2). Someone take notes

And by this I don’t mean illegible scribble (which is what I’m often guilty of!) but proper, detailed notes of decisions and actions. Note taking is actually a pretty hard skill to master – being able to filter the bullshit and capture the stuff that really matters should not be underestimated.

3). Clarify actions at the end of each meeting

How many times have you left a meeting still not knowing what you’re supposed to be doing, or wondering if your client is really clear about what you need them to do? At the end of the meeting have your dedicated note taker clarify each person’s actions, quickly and succinctly.

4). Circulate a contact report

Issue a contact report to all parties after the meeting, confirming in writing what has been agreed. In my view a written record is vital to ensure that everyone is clear on what needs to be achieved by when. It’s also a good tool to look back on when you’re nearing the next meeting, to make sure that everything has been actioned.

5). Think about who should attend

Most PROs and agencies charge per hour or day, and meetings can quickly eat into a retainer. Think carefully about who should be in the meeting – do you really need an account director, manager and two account executives? Only have those who will truly benefit from the meeting, both from your team and the client’s perspective.

6). Always schedule an end time

If you don’t have an end time you’re asking for trouble! Keep an eye on the time and give the odd countdown to remind people; e.g.: “We’ve got 15 minutes left, shall we move onto the next item?”

7). Get into a routine

Decide how often you need to have client meetings; monthly, bi-monthly, quarterly, whatever. But whatever you choose – stick to it. It’s when meetings get cancelled and you try and roll six months worth into one meeting that things get a bit hectic! The last item on your agenda should always be ‘date of the next meeting’.

8). Get biscuits (or cookies for my American readers)

Sugar makes every meeting easier to bear. Trust me, it’s a well known fact.

What’s next for NOTW?


Many red-top haters have dreamed to hear the words ‘the News of the World is closing down’.

Those dreams became a reality yesterday as News International announced that its last ever issue of the tabloid will be published this Sunday, in a bid to limit the political and commercial repercussions of the phone hacking scandal.

Allegations of phone hacking at the paper have been rife for years. Hacking into celebrity’s phones is pretty low on the scale of journalism ethics, but this time the NOTW stooped lower than even its most reverent haters could have imagined.

Under the watchful eye of editor at the time Rebekah Brooks (who denies all knowledge), the NOTW allegedly ordered a private investigator to hack into the mobile telephones of murder victim Milly Dowler, families of murdered children Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman, relatives of London bombings victims and members of the armed forces that died on duty. Messages were apparently deleted to allow room for more ‘story leads.’

Those who stand by the ‘innocent until proven guilty’ mantra will swiftly point out that the key word there is ‘allegedly’. But, after paying off celebs such as Sienna Miller in phase one of the scandal, one can only jump to the conclusion that these allegations must have at least a little fire behind the smoke – if not a full-blown furnace.

And it seems advertisers feel the same. They have been dropping like flies throughout the week, and Sunday’s final edition will publish with NO corporate advertising. I’ll be buying it just to see what that looks like.

However, despite this background of hacking claims and falling advertising, coupled with Murdoch’s ruthless reputation, the announcement that the paper is to close still came as a massive shock to the industry – an industry which is still reeling a day later and will continue to do so for a long time to come.

It’s been around for 168 years, employs a staff of over 200 people and sells over 2.5 million copies a week. You just don’t expect a media institution like the NOTW (and it is an institution – whether you like or agree with its particular style of journalism or not) to fall at all, let alone fall so quickly and amidst such a, well, such a sh*t storm.

But then again, on closer inspection perhaps it’s not a shock as such – more a well-timed business decision. And a clever one at that – who knows if it would have survived such hideous allegations – and this way it doesn’t have to wait and find out.

It’s no secret that News Corporation has an £8 billion bid on the table to buy BSkyB (although reports are in that this is already under threat). And with a price tag that big, there is more at stake than just a UK newspaper. No one wants to be associated with such horrendous and inhuman activity – whether the allegations turn out to be true or not – and Murdoch is well aware of this.

With rumours already spreading that there will be a Sunday version of The Sun on the shelves within two weeks one can only wonder what effect, in the long term, this will have on the one thing that it all comes down to – News Corporation’s bottom line. Will one cash cow be replaced swiftly with another? My opinion is yes, although perhaps not quite as quickly as some suggest, especially as the story continues to snowball and arrests are happening even as I’m writing this. Plus, as the saying goes – mud sticks.

Whatever the next steps may be, my thoughts go out to the real victims of the phone hacking scandal; the families whose privacy has been so grossly invaded and the staff who await with baited breath to see if they have jobs to go to, or if they are the ones made to take the fall for other people’s mistakes.

My best bookmarks from the last two years

I have a very bad habit of bookmarking things and then never getting around to looking at them again.

Over the last two years this has resulted in hundreds of bookmarks and favourites – otherwise known as a big, unorganised mess.

This week I’d had enough and decided to sort them out.

I found some gems – here’s some links I found that I just had to share:


1. Behind the scenes of 8 social media campaigns:

This post can’t fail to get you excited about the potential of social media. From the talented peeps over at Mashable, it gives 8 examples of innovative and successful social media campaigns which have captured their target audiences’ attention and generated some great results for clients.

2. What the f**k is social media

Does your boss (or you?!) still need convincing of the validity of social media? This no-nonsense slideshow is just what you need. It contains some impressive statistics and examples – though it is two years old now so it might be a bit outdated.

3. Seven deadly sins of social media

I’m a sucker for a list – and I love this one. It gives us the seven ‘deadly sins’ of social media including ‘Deafness’, ‘Phoniness’ and ‘Greed’.

4. Fifty digital resources you might have missed

Another great post from Mashable. This mammoth list gives you 50 resources worth reading including ‘How to make a 3D YouTube video with two cameras and a roll of sticky tape. I can’t wait to try that one!


5. Nissan’s online news room

WARNING: This post will make you want to work for Nissan. It talks about the company’s in-house newsroom which creates and develops news for the brand across all platforms, from video to print. In my opinion – all brands should be striving for this, or at least taking elements of it. A great, inspirational read.

6. Big list of free press release sites

I don’t use these sites, but they can be useful as an additional tool when selling in news releases.  This post lists LOADS of sites which you can upload your releases to for free.

7. How and why to write SEO releases, plus where to submit them:

SEO should be a skill which every PR pro is willing to learn – and it should be built into all content you create which may find itself a home online. This article is a great crash course into why SEO is so important, and how to use it for press releases.

8. Times Style Guide

Every newspaper and magazine has its own particular style, and PRs should always try and take note of these. It’s also worth having you own ‘house’ style. If you’re still trying to implement one then this could be a good post to refer to.


9. Photography challenge:

I have a secret desire to become a photographer. Two things stand in my way; a lack of decent camera and a lack of talent. When I get these things, I will definitely be doing this challenge from the White Peach Photo blog. It gives you a photography challenge every day for 30 days – from ‘Self Portrait’ to ‘Clouds’.


10. Top 16 UK marketing blogs

Looking to expand your blog repertoire? Well, look no further. This post offers up 16 of the UK’s best marketing-focused blogs.

Are there any gems hidden in your bookmarks? If so, share them here.

Modern communication: The 10 ways we speak to each other

I saw this tweet on Friday from finance journalist James Andrews (@financejames).

Of course the first thing it makes you want to do is count up your own channels, which is exactly what I did.

I have 11 altogether.  I found it pretty shocking to be honest – and a little scary when you think about just how connected we are nowadays.

What about you? What channels do you use that I’ve missed off? And is it a good or a bad thing that we are so connected 24/7?


1. Email

Ah, good old email, how I love thee. Simple to use, lets you write as much or as little as you like, send attachments, group contacts, instantly file messages into separate client/personal folders. Email is still my favourite way to be contacted and it is still the most popular way people contact me in work, and out of work for anything other than a friendly chat.

2. Phone

Look at me! I have not one, not two, not three, but FOUR phone numbers I can be reached on. I have to admit I sometimes think the phone call is a little neglected nowadays. The downside of virtual communication is that tone and humour can often be misunderstood. I often think that one quick call would make things so much simpler.

3. Twitter

It took me a while to ‘get’ it but I wouldn’t be without it now.  I don’t really use it to organise things as such, or chat with people at length, but it’s a nice way to connect with people outside of my immediate circle, and keep up-to-date with news and opinions.

4. Facebook

Facebook for me is most definitely for friends only. It’s probably the main way that I sort out where and when I‘m meeting friends for dinner, drinks or whatever. Plus it’s a good way to connect with those you don’t see as often as you like. A quick ‘hello’ on someone’s wall is the modern day equivalent of a postcard.

5. Text message

I probably shouldn’t admit this; but I hate texting. I find it laborious and boring and I am much more inclined to simply pick up the phone to speak to someone. Still ‘tis a necessity sometimes, and friends still seem to prefer to text than anything else.

6. Forums

Possibly not one on most people’s list (anymore), but I check my sports team’s forum everyday. Not only do I play the sport (roller derby if you’re interested!) but I’m also the league’s PR spokesperson and there always seems to be plenty of news to catch up on and posts to reply to.


7. Skype

I don’t use this as often as I used to when I lived in America, but I still love using Skype to catch up with old friends in different countries – both via calls and messages. I’m also trying to get it used more at work to speak to international clients.

8. Instant Messaging

There was a day when Hotmail messenger was the hottest tool around, but it’s moved on now to Facebook chat and Blackberry Messenger. I don’t use IM as much as I used to, but I have a feeling my new Blackberry next month might change this!

9. LinkedIn

Usually I use LinkedIn simply for the initial connection. If I’m interested in speaking to anyone after that it usually migrates to email, Twitter or phone.

10. Snail mail

I love receiving post, and writing a good old letter or postcard. I liaise by post regularly with my auntie in Canada and my close friend in New York. Nothing will ever quite beat the excitement you get when you receive a letter (that you know for sure isn’t a bill!), or the feeling that actually, someone must care about you a fair bit to spend the time and money to contact you the ‘old school’ way.


11. In person

Yes, that’s right! I am not just an Avatar – I am indeed a real person. If you ever want to speak to me properly I promise you I am not a hologram and I am fully capable of conversation without aid of technological tools or methods.

Timesaving ‘V’ privacy – why I can’t wait to use the new Facebook tagging tool

Facebook now automatically recognises the people in photos

Facebook has hit the headlines yet again this week after rolling out a facial recognition tool which automatically recognises the people in photos, and then gives users the option of tagging them.

The feature has been available in the USA for six months – but since launching in Europe last week it has caused outcry among some, who suggest that, yet again, those evil Facebook programmers are out to invade our privacy.

To be honest I’m not quite sure I get what the problem is.  It seems to me that the conspiracy theorists are just low on material at the moment.

For me, any tool which is added to makes things like uploading photos quicker and easier can only be a good thing, and I can’t wait to try it out.

Remember the days of ‘simple upload’ when you had to upload 5 photos at a time and albums had a maximum capacity of 60 images?

It was very frustrating – as is tagging friends in photos.

There are so many photos of me and my friends on holiday and at weddings etc that I would quite like to see, but can’t be bothered to go through everyone’s albums to find.

Same as I know that there are loads of photos of friends in my albums, who would love to be tagged, but don’t know the photos are there. And I certainly don’t have the time or the inclination to go through and tag them all myself!

This automatic facial recognition system will no doubt make things quicker and easier for all involved.

So what’s the problem?

From what I’ve read:

  • It only recognises your friend’s faces (and you know what they look like already, surely?!)
  •  It won’t recognise complete strangers who happen to be in the background, or people who you are not direct friends with on Facebook already
  • It won’t go through and tag all existing photos linked to your profile – only ones you upload from now on (and then you can choose whether or not to tag them)
  • Users who are tagged will receive a notification and can then untag themselves if they wish
  • And perhaps most importantly – you can turn the feature off! That means that your friends will have to continue to manually tag you in every photo

Don’t know how to turn it off? Check out instructions here.

This sort of technology has been around for years (there is even an exisiting app for Facebook which was launched in 2009), and I just simply don’t understand why it is an issue for Facebook to be using it to make their users’ experience more efficient.

What do you think?

Is Facebook invading our privacy or are people making a big deal out of nothing?

Photo via


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