Monday, May 29, 2006

Update from the 2006 European Sabre Awards

Last week, Berlin was host city to the second annual European Sabre PR Awards. As a guest of our German agency, Hotwire PR, I had the pleasure of attending this award dinner for the first time, and seeing the results of some great PR campaigns from Europe.

The award ceremony was hosted by Paul Holmes, editor of The Holmes Report, and recognized best-in-class campaigns and agencies throughout Europe.

The variety of the entries across the 50 categories was as fascinating as it was broad, and it was all the more interesting to get a ‘behind’ the scenes view of the judging process from Hotwire’s Co-Founder, Kristin Syltevik, and BEA’s Director, Public Relations EMEA, Sarah Atkinson – both of whom I shared a table with.

They said that the winning campaigns – examples like “The Amazing Bank Account Case Study” and the “Tired of Your Dog? Need to Make and Extra Buck?” campaigns – were compelling, both in the messages they were trying to get out and the results they achieved. They talked about the importance of having clear objectives for a campaign, and demonstrating measurable results – not merely in volume of clips alone, but how these initiatives effected attitudinal and/or behavioural changes in the target audience.

It was a timely reminder that PR is broader than press coverage alone. PR is ultimately about building relationships and trust, with media, influencers, industry bodies and all of an organisation’s publics; whatever form they may take.

It was an inspiring evening with many examples of imaginative work. Congratulations to all the winners for raising the bar and giving us all new examples in excellence to aspire to.

Friday, May 19, 2006

An emerging brand...the Rooney Metatarsal

For a chic that's less than enthusiastic about soccer (sorry, football), the fact that the World Cup is about to crank into even higher levels of hysteria for the next 6 weeks, is a torturous one. It’s all over the media. It’s EVERYWHERE!

Not even escaping back to Australia for two weeks in mid-June will let me get away from soccer (argh! Football!) speak – it will be just as manic there, with the Socceroos playing in the World cup for the first time in ages.

Now…what about this metatarsal thing? Wayne Rooney’s Broken Metatarsal seems to have become a celebrity of its own. I didn’t even know what a metatarsal was until I looked it up in the dictionary. And for your information, its:
“of, relating to, or being the part of the human foot or of the hind foot in quadrupeds between the tarsus and the phalanges.”
Ok. So the dude has a broken foot, and I guess that’s a bad thing if you’re a World Cup soccer player. But did it warrant more than 1,000 articles in the mainstream news and business media? Truly…according to Factiva Search 2.0, that’s how many articles referencing the Rooney Metatarsal have been published. And there are more than 3,000 articles dedicated to Rooney’s “injury”.

In the entire 2 seconds it took me to research that fact, I came across an article discussing the Liverpool winger (and fellow Aussie), Harry Kewell’s Groin Injury. Eeek! I didn’t need to check that in the dictionary… Another second of research told me that there had been over 200 articles dedicated to the Kewell Groin so far – and it hasn’t even had as much time to manifest as the Rooney Metatarsal. So are we going to be subjected to hundreds more articles on this ahem…rather sensitive issue? Lord, I hope not.

All this got me thinking…what effect are these cataclysmic injuries having on the players’ sponsors? Looking up “Nike and Rooney” resulted in just 222 articles in the last 90 days (only 20% of the volume that The Metatarsal generated!)

So perhaps sponsors should consider thinking of sponsoring specific bits of their favourite players – the players could get heaps more money that way, and the sponsors could hedge their bets and spread their risks. The Nike Navicular, The Mastercard Metatarsal, The Philips Phalanx and the Toshiba Talus and all have quite a nice ring don’t you think?

Enough of this football-speak. Go the Aussies, and bring on August!

PS. You can also find these and other far more business-critical insights via the Factiva Search 2.0 experience available on

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Inspirational marketers

This week's Marketing Week contains a a great feature about the 100 most influential marketers. Not surprisingly, Richard Branson ranked Number 1, with entrepreneurial spirit being cited by the survey as a key inspirational attribute.

I was privileged to be a guest of Hill and Knowlton's at the recent Institute of Directors Annual Convention, and saw Will Whitehorn, the President of Virgin Galactic, present. I have to say I was truly inspired by Virgin's vision of space travel. To talk about the challenges of commercialising space really is an example of thought leadership and setting lofty goals.

Richard Reed, co-founder of Innocent Drinks was voted Number 1 in the Readers' Choice and Number 10 over in the Marketing Week report. His co-founder, Adam Ballon also spoke at the IoD event, and was equally inspiring. There was a real contrast in approach between the big established brands and the "young guns", represented by guys like Adam, who spoke on the entrepreneur's panel.

The Innocent story is such a good one. I loved the anecdote about the basis on which the co-founders took the decision to chuck in their "real jobs" and start Innocent full time: they asked punters at a market day to vote by throwing their empty Innocent smoothie bottles into one of two bins. Fortunately for Richard and Adam, the punters voted that the smoothies were good enough, and the "yes" bin got more votes than the "no" bin. The rest, they say, is history. The Innocent website is also really cool - it's funky, lists and shows all their employees, and screams of personality. Innocent really seem to know what they want their brand to be about, and live it consistently.

You can follow the link from the IoD event page to download podcasts of both Will Whitehorn's and Adam Ballon's appearances - both of which I recommend.

Marketing Week also used exclusive research generated by Factiva Insight to compare the rankings of top marketers in their survey, with the rankings of the the same marketers across the UK media. Interestingly, British Airways' Martin George topped the rankings by media coverage, followed by Barclay's Jim Hytner and Innocent's Richard Reid.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Commiting the deadly sin of blogging...

I admire bloggers who can keep pumping out posts each week, let alone every couple of days! It's hard going - whether it's finding the time, or finding the topic. And so I have commited the deadly blogging sin of lapsing between posts. 2 months is a long time in the blogosphere - reputations can be built and destroyed in that time.

In any case, I shall strengthen my resolve to get back to posting more frequently.