Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Simon Cowell Must Hate Facebook

On Sunday the whole nation was shocked when it was announced that Rage Against The Machine’s single, Killing In The Name was Christmas number one. The single was released in 1992, so how come 17 years later it becomes Christmas number one? It is all down to the power and effectiveness of social media.

A man named Jon Morter started a Facebook group called ‘Rage Against The Machine For Christmas No.1.’ The Facebook group asked the question, ‘Fed up of Simon Cowell's latest karaoke act being Christmas No.1? Me too... So who's up for a mass-purchase of the track 'KILLING IN THE NAME' from December 13th (DON'T BUY IT YET!) as a protest to the X-Factor monotony?’ It started off fairly small but then began to take off and the group now has just over 500,000 members. As the group started to attract attention in the media one of the bands members, Tom Morello used his Twitter page to encourage fans to purchase the single. This along with lots of word of mouth campaigning is what resulted in this incredible shock to the nation.

I actually remember coming across the group on Facebook when I was invited by several of my friends to join. When I saw it I just thought of it as one of the many groups on facebook that is nonsense. I regarded it in the same category as the types of group which you see that are called ‘If 100,000 members join I will tattoo my name on my forehead.’ I was shocked when I saw people on my facebook started posting comments about how the single has become Christmas number one. I then turned on to the news to check if this was real.

I along with the rest of the nation expected X-Factor winner, Joe McElderry’s single to become the number one. For the past four years the winners of The X-Factor have released cover songs which have made it to Christmas number one, partly due to the final being held just before Christmas. Maybe if Simon Cowell and the rest of The X-Factor crew had worked harder on promoting Joe's single then it may have made it to number one. This year may be the turning point where The X-Factor is no longer as popular as it once was.

This is an example of social networking used in exactly the right way. It has worked well because along with the campaign having a clear goal, Facebook and Twitter were both used to speak to fans directly to create a massive buzz and this in turn has created media hype.

All this has reminded me of other occasions where social media has been used effectively. An example is the film Paranormal Activity, which was recently released in the USA and UK. The film was originally shown in the USA in just 13 towns, but Paramount later announced that they would use social media platforms to promote the film and if the film received over 1,000,000 demands then the film would be released nationwide. The film hit 1,000,000 demands and was then later released nationwide across the USA and then the UK and it has been a huge success.

It has been proven once again that social media is becoming more and more powerful in influencing people’s decisions. If the recent success story of Rage Against The Machine doesn’t encourage more businesses to start using Twitter and Facebook, then what will?

Sunday, 20 December 2009

Will People Pay For Online News?

A couple of weeks ago, one of the UK’s biggest newspaper firms, The Johnston Press started charging for access to its online content. It is the first regional publisher in the UK to do this and although the company owns over 300 papers, it has decided to run a trial with just six of their papers charging for its online content. The Johnston Press websites are asking their readers to pay £5 for a three month subscription.

It is expected that many national newspapers will follow and also do a trial with their online content as they look to find a successful business model to offer a solution to the decrease in revenue that they are faced with. I can possibly see this business model working for the regional newspapers but I can’t see it working for the national newspapers.

My local newspaper, The Malvern Gazette hasn’t got any competition from other local newspapers within the area. In this case, I think if The Malvern Gazette charged for their online content then their online readers would be prepared to either pay a small fee or switch to the traditional paper form as they have no other substitute to choose from due to the papers monopoly position within the area.

The problem for the national newspapers is that it’s so easy to find free online news on the internet and unless every single news source in the country decides to start charging, then people won't pay for online news and they will get their news from other free news websites. If a newspaper such as The Times, started charging for their online content then other national newspapers that are in competition with them may not follow in fear that they will lose their readers.

With television broadcast companies such as the BBC and Sky News, I can’t see them ever charging for their online news as they are not faced with the financial trouble that the newspaper organisations are faced with and then this could help prevent the business model of charging for online content ever succeeding.

Some kind of solution needs to be thought up quickly, if journalism is to have any sort of future. Many jobs are being lost within the occupation and with the increasing influence that public relations practitioners have within the news agenda, journalism is under a lot of threat.

What are your views on this?

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Not Every Successful Businessman Is Successful With PR

As a lifelong passionate Newcastle United fan I have been frustrated with the way the club has been run by owner, Mike Ashley. On 4th September, 2008, Newcastle United manager, Kevin Keegan resigned due to a falling out with Mike Ashley over signings that were being made by the club without Keegan’s permission.

Since then, the fans have showed their anger and frustration out on Mike Ashley, and as a result he has put the club on the market twice, with both attempts failing. What has frustrated me and all the other fans is that since Keegan’s resignation, communication between the owner and the fans has been almost none existent.

Mike Ashley hasn’t told the fans what is going on with the club and what his plans are to take the club forward. He is a successful billionaire businessman, although his public relations knowledge is very poor. It took the club 13 months to appoint a permanent manager since Keegan’s resignation, and in that time the fans were not told of any plans of who may become the manager.

Communication is vital in any football club, between the club and the fans, the club and the players, and the players and the fans. There was no communication with the players and the club either and this could have contributed to the players underperforming last season, which resulted in relegation.

When Keegan resigned he was claiming compensation on the ground of constructive dismissal, while Mike Ashley counter claimed for breach of contract. The Premier League arbitration panel concluded that Newcastle United should pay Keegan £2 million as in several publications it had been quoted that Keegan would have the last say on player transfers.

Mike Ashley was claiming that what was written in these publications about Keegan having the final say ‘were nothing more than an exercise in public relations carried out so as not to undermine Mr. Keegan's position.’ This annoyed many fans as Mike Ashley was openly admitting that he lied and misled the fans. This was very unethical of him and as a result none of the fans trust a word that he says. For many fans, this was the final straw, and at every Newcastle United match there are continuing protests by the fans to get the owner out of the club.

Maybe he should have done the MA Public Relations degree and none of this backlash from the fans would have happened!

Friday, 20 November 2009

'Sorry we are short on desk space'

I have been studying MA Public Relations for seven weeks now and so far I’m really enjoying it. Part of the course requires me to undertake a four week work experience placement within PR from 11th January to 5th February.

So far I have applied to 32 firms which consist of agencies as well as in-house PR teams. I have been rejected from 14 firms, three firms are considering my application and I am still waiting for responses from the remaining 15. However, many of the firms I am waiting to hear from are ones which I have only applied to in the last couple of days. 13 of the firms I have applied to include Premier League and Football League club press offices, I have chosen to apply to these as I have a big passion for football and would like to work within sports PR in the future.

One of the reoccurring answers I have received when being rejected includes, ‘it is rare that we can accommodate anyone for work experience as we are really short on desk space.’ The answer from most of these firms, whether agency or in-house is that they haven’t got the capacity or enough desk space to accommodate a work experience placement student. This has led me to think, are PR firms really that small? After lots of researching on the internet I have come to the conclusion that while many PR firms are small there are also a few big ones.

One of the factors that could have contributed to me receiving all these rejections could be that I have only applied to places within the East and West Midlands, with over half of them based within Leicestershire. Many of the big PR firms are located within London and the South East. After looking on many graduate job websites I have found that the PR agencies which offer graduate schemes are all located in London, so if I want to get into PR via the route of a graduate scheme I would almost certainly be forced to relocate.

I have a few more weeks left to try and secure a placement so my plan is to follow up the firms which have yet to respond to me and if I am still unsuccessful then I will have to try firms in other locations regardless of the distance. This whole experience has taught me that it’s not easy to pick and choose where you want to live when getting a career.

Monday, 2 November 2009

CIPR Speed Networking Event

Last Tuesday I attended a Public Relations speed networking event which was arranged by CIPR representative, Lisa Jones who is also PR Account Director at Reeves Green Partners Ltd in Lichfield. I had the opportunity to meet seven different people working within Public Relations, all with different levels of experience and different job roles. Some of the companies which these PR practitioners work for include Haslimann Taylor, Hopwood, Everards and Unsworth Sugden, as well as many more.

The main reason why I attended this event was to find out more about working within PR and how I go about getting a PR related career after I complete my MA Public Relations degree. Just a few days before I attended the event I had been searching on the internet for jobs within PR and I was disappointed to find out that there is only a handful of agencies that offer graduate schemes and even then they don’t take many people on.

The majority of job vacancies for PR Account Executives ask for applicants to have a minimum of six months previous experience of working within PR, this gave me the dilemma of how would I get my first job when no one will employ me without previous experience? This made me want to find out more information and this was part of the reason I attended the speed networking event.

After speaking with many of the PR practitioners at the event I learned that the best way to go about getting your first PR job is by perseverance. A lot of the people I spoke to were refused by many agencies before they got their first job and they just took each rejection with a 'pinch of salt' and carried on applying for more jobs.

Another important thing I found out was to show how creative you are to the employer and showing them your personality as it is your personality which normally gets you the job in the interview rather than your CV. I also learnt about what an average day is like working in a PR agency or in-house PR team. The type of work involved varies depending on the size of the agency and whether you’re working in an agency or in-house.

I have learnt a lot from speaking to all these people and have been given some great advice which I am going to use in the future. I am also a lot more optimistic about getting a job after my degree and am a lot more aware of what qualities are looked for in a PR practitioner. I thoroughly enjoyed the speed networking event and would advise anyone interested in a career in PR to attend any future ones.