Friday, 30 November 2012

The New Black!

 © Washington Post

If you ever needed a reminder of how big an economic influence the US is on us in the UK, then Black Friday and Cyber Monday which took place this week is a great example. Designed to entice consumers to relinquish their hard-earned cash after the Thanksgiving public holiday, the events have now become big news in the UK too (even though we don’t share the holiday part!) with big name retailers, such as Amazon and Apple joining in and shoppers snapping up pre-Christmas bargains.  At first glance the idea of pre-Christmas Sales seems an odd one, but actually it recognises that customers and potential sales are more important than ever and big names have been advertising their aggressive sales ploys using all mediums, from print media to broadcast and especially online. The emergence of Cyber Monday further demonstrates that the IT sector is just as keen to publicise its wares as anyone else and shows the direct impact an exciting marketing drive can have on sales figures.

The BBC News website this week reported that South Korean pop phenomenon, Psy, and his hit song ‘Gangnam Style’ have become YouTube’s most watched video of all time. To the uninitiated, the song takes a rather tongue-in-cheek sideswipe at the heavy consumerism of one of the more upmarket areas of Seoul and its affluent residents. The fact that the commercial version became the first ever UK number one single by a Korean artist suggests that the performer has managed to, ahem, strike a chord with the international music buying public. Interestingly, but perhaps not surprisingly, it would seem it is largely due to its exposure on YouTube. Even 10-15 years ago such a feat would have seemed most unlikely and love it or hate it, ‘Gangnam Style’ is proof of the potential a worldwide Internet audience (and therefore potential worldwide market) can provide to the right product or service.  

This week MCC Agency Director Graham Thatcher has been mulling over the myriad of business-to-business media that we are, and have been involved with over the years. Here he takes an affectionate look at its often evolving line-up:

And your specialist subject is…..
Whenever I am sat with friends at the weekend and we dissect our working week, they are always amazed that I can name a publication for just about any topic that they can imagine. Sometimes you forget that everyone else doesn’t appreciate that there is a whole world of business-to-business media that extends beyond the shelves of the newsagent and supermarket! They are even surprised to hear that PR itself has its own magazine!

So for a little fun and to find out how many people could compete with me on my Mastermind specialist subject, here are a few brain teasers, some perhaps obvious, other a little more obscure, for those who have been in the technology PR and publishing world for a little while…

  • What monthly newsstand computing publication was launched in February 1978 and closed in June 2009? 
  •  What publication did Channel 2000 replace? 
  • Which publisher of PC Magazine and IT Week was bought by VNU in 2000? 
  • Who was the Editor of Customer Service News and CRM Magazine 
  • Which trailblazing online publication that launched in 1998 delivered IT news and interviews via video? 
  • Who succeeded Brian McKenna as Editor of Infosecurity Magazine? 
  • Who was Guardian IT expert Ask….? 
  • What were the titles of the two glossy Haymarket publication for marketing professionals?
  •  Name the three security titles published by UBM that became Info4Security? 
  • Which online IT publication bites the hand that feeds IT and has a vulture for a logo?

How did you get on? If you want to know the answer to any of the questions then email me at:

Friday, 9 November 2012

Putting PR in the Pole Position

MCC Director Graham Thatcher attended a very special corporate event this week hosted by NICE Systems and got to spend a day with some of his favourite 'boys toys', as he explains:

There are some days when you don’t want to talk about what went on at work and other days when you are just itching for someone to ask. For me Wednesday fell very much in to the latter of the two.

Jumping in the car first thing in the morning (no ice to scrap off thankfully!) I got on a busy A34 and around one hour later I pulled to the barrier and heard the words “Welcome to Williams F1”. In the world of PR we get invited to, and often attend, many seminars and events, and because our clients know how to impress, the locations are often as appealing as the content. This year I paid my first visit to the Ritz and also Lords Cricket Club, but being a fan of F1 since longer that I care to remember, this was a real treat.

Of course, there was work to be done and my notepad (if you read my blog a few weeks ago you perhaps not be surprised that I am yet to decide what tablet to buy) was filling up rapidly as end users talked about why they had chosen my client's technology and the many benefits it was delivering. This is why it is so important to tag along to these events, as not only does it give you fresh case study material, the questions from the floor and the networking opportunities always provide real insight as to how the market is thinking. It also gives you valuable time with the sales team, to learn from their experiences and share ideas about how PR can help to generate even more leads and win new business.

The challenge with hosting a seminar is firstly attracting delegates and my struggle to find a seat demonstrated that there was no problem here. Once you have them it is about keeping them engaged and minimising the afternoon drop out. No such problems on this occasion as everyone seemed to share my excitement for an exclusive tour of the Williams F1 museum, home to all of the iconic cars since the team started back in 1978 from Rosberg, through to Mansell, Coulthard, Hill and the present team.

So, driving back at the end of a packed day I reflected on an excellently organised event (all credit to NICE Systems), and notepad full of stories to write. In fact, the only downside was discovering that my reactions are not even half that of an F1 driver, although I would challenge any of them to type faster than any of the team here!