The PR Guru

December 20, 2010

Arise “Sir Simon Cowell”

EXCLUSIVE (22/12): Simon Cowell is likely to receive a knighthood during the Queen’s New Years Honours – UK Press e-mails confirm.

So, we could all be seeing Sir Simon Cowell on the X Factor next year.

Sharon Osbourne has today proved why she has a reputation for being outspoken, by saying Cheryl Cole should not judge the US version X Factor.

The star, who was a judge on the UK version of the show for four series until 2007 thinks Nicole Scherzinger would be a much better choice.

She said, “Nicole would be amazing, she’s great TV, has a huge following over in the States and people absolutely love her. Plus she’s beautiful and talented.”

However, Osbourne agreed that Cole is the perfect choice for England because she is the nation’s sweetheart, but in America “most of them have never heard of Girls Aloud.”

Sharon who left the UK show due to rows with fellow judge Dannii Minogue accepts it is unlikely Simon Cowell will ask her to return to The X Factor because she is too old.

She admitted, “I think Simon needs his young girls beside him, like Nicole. If you were king of the world like he is, would you want ugly women around you? He’s not going to want someone with no teeth and psoriasis – that’s why he has beautiful girls around him.”

In other news, people are already excited about the Jeremy Kyle Christmas Special, in which the daytime talk show host makes Christmas wishes come true for children who have had a tough 2010, by taking them to Lapland with him to visit the home of Santa Claus, and a boy meets the Liverpool FC squad.


December 7, 2010

The Sound of Silence released to show-up the X Factor

This year’s anti-X Factor campaign to get the winner off the Christmas number one slot has been called The Sound of Silence.

Madness star Suggs and dance acts Orbital and Pendulum were among those who did nothing in a recording studio.

They were recreating composer John Cage’s experimental work 4’33” – the sound of musicians not playing.

This follows the high-profile campaign last year when Rage Against the Machine beat X Factor winner Joe McElderry to number one.

Dozens of musicians were present and the campaign – dubbed Cage Against the Machine – currently has 69,000 Facebook fans.

Cage Against the Machine follows the success of another silent song that recently made the charts.

The Royal British Legion’s 2 Minute Silence video featuring Prime Minister David Cameron, actor David Tennant and Radiohead singer Thom Yorke, reached number 20 in November.

November 22, 2010

Doctor Who Christmas Special hopes for ratings galore by making Katherine Jenkins the first person ever to sing in the programme

On Friday’s Children in Need, the Doctor Who Christmas Special had its preview and I was shocked to see that opera singer Katherine Jenkins would be one of the cast members.

This is a remarkable peice of PR for the BBC, who have decided to do they can to attract the most amount of viewers possible.

Jenkins will sing a love song in a futuristic take on Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol – itself being a really unique idea and one that is sure to entertain.

It will be the first time in the 47 years the sci-fi show has been on television that a musical performance will be integrated into a storyline.

Welsh singer Katherine is to perform a track specially-written by Murray Gold – who pens all the music for the show.

A source told the Daily Star: “It’s going to be an amazing surprise. We have never had anyone burst into song on Doctor Who. It’s a TV first for us. This will send ratings sky high.”

The episode is also hoping to attract viewers by including Harry Potter star Sir Michael Gambon as the futuristic Scrooge.

Matt Smith who plays The Doctor and Karen Gillan who plays his companion Amy Pond will set out on adventure to show Scrooge the error of his ways.

Creator Steven Moffat said: “It’s like a compilation of every Christmas movie – a big Christmas treat.”

The stars are also set to become Radio 1 DJs as they step in for a guest-presenting slot next month. Matt and Karen will be manning the decks on Christmas Eve.

Radio 1 bosses have also lined up a series of appearances from chart and TV stars over the festive period, including Pixie Lott, Plan B, Nicole Scherzinger, Tinie Tempah, N-Dubz and Gavin And Stacey star James Corden.

November 17, 2010

“Dear Santa, I don’t want any toys this year” – Why many children could be left without this Christmas…

38 days until Christmas. Probably the only other thing you didn’t want to hear today, behind the endless stories about the Royal Wedding.

But you can’t escape it…. Mickey Christmas is trending on Twitter and companies like Disney are already focusing on selling toys for Christmas.

This country is already suffering from lack of jobs and rising costs, but today it has been revealed that – because of this – many children may not be able to get the gifts they want for Christmas, which is not very good PR for the government. If we can’t get people the presents they want then what does that say about the state of the country?

Yes, toy stores – especially large ones like Hamleys in London – are already crowded with parents wanting to get their children the gifts they’ve asked for (that will never change), but it is expected that the situation will only get worse the more parents put off making the trip to get them.

One of the main problems is that toy stores can get it wrong (mostly because they have to place orders a year in advance) and can be caught out by unexpected demand – leaving parents to squabble over dwindling stocks of a must-have product.

In China, where a large proportion of the toys sold in Europe and North America are made, the toy factories have relied on a steady, and cheap, supply of migrant labour from poorer parts of the country where work has been less available.

Now, though, the supply is drying up. The government in Beijing has been investing huge sums recently to promote development in inland regions.

As salaries there have risen and more jobs become available, the migrant workforce has been dwindling, forcing the southern factories to slow production.

November 9, 2010

Michael – the new Michael Jackson album (recorded by voicemail), whilst Chanelle Hayes accuses Jack Tweed of lying on Twitter

“I’m constantly replaced by Britney Spears…. Britney Spears…” (Diva’s Lament, Spamalot)

Michael Jackson’s new album, simply titled ‘Michael’, is to be released on December 13th – with the latest revelation that it was recorded on voice mail.

Apparently, Jackson was so paranoid about new material being leaked online, he sang the songs over a mobile phone directly to his producers. Luckily, he called the correct numbers.

However, even his family have begun questioning the authenticity of vocals.

Record bosses were worried whether it would come off at all. Apparently it has, but after a lot of work – I am not so sure.

You see, the thing is, this is great PR for the Jackson’s – having Michael release a new album after his death (at Christmas time) – but even they are having doubts about it. They don’t want it to be proven that it is not actually him singing.

That is why Sony have spent a fortune analysing the tracks to make sure they are genuine.

The first track was released yesterday, but people have complained that it sounds exactly like Britney Spears’ hit ‘Piece Of Me’.

The song is a personal attack on the paparazzi in the wake of his high-profile court cases in the US.

EDIT: Today, 30th November 2010, one of the songs off the album – Much Too Soon – was released on iTunes Ping. The song was written by MJ around the time he did the Thriller album — and according to the iTunes description, “Michael always liked it but never found the right home for it.”

In other news, Big Brother 8 contestant Chanelle Hayes has accused Jack Tweed of lying on Twitter, by posting a photo of himself holding hands with glamour model Daisy Watts (however this has now been taken down).

Apparently, the two of them were supposed to have split up 4 months ago, but according to Chanelle’s Twitter they have been seeing each other again recently and were starting to get back together.

Jack’s picture may have cost him though. Chanelle how now claimed that she doesn’t want to see him again – and if he turns up on her birthday she will file harrassment charges against him. She was so angry that the list of insults she posted all suggest that she wants nothing more to do with him.

It just goes to show that even celebrities check up on each other on Twitter and the media are always there monitoring what is being discussed.

November 5, 2010

The BBC Strike, on the day the firemen chose not to

Strike action is never good for PR. It makes the company/government look bad because they cannot give the employees what they what. All part of the spending cuts and lack of money.

I woke up this morning to the news that BBC Radio Stoke was not broadcasting its normal programmes today – due to strike action. Turning on BBC News on the T.V. we saw just one presenter – not the usual two – and no weather map. All part of the reduced amount of people going into the studios today.

It has been said that, throughout the day, the news channels will only broadcast snippets of news, because there are no reporters to create a full story.

The strike began at midnight yesterday and plans to last 48 hours, with further action planned for November 15th and 16th and throughout the Christmas period – a time when people tend to stay indoors more often and watch television.

Why are the employees striking? Well, they want to defend their pensions from being dramatically reduced – and who can blame them?

The complete opposite to this, however, is that firefighters in London have called off their planned strike this evening amid fears for public safety.

Members of the Fire Brigades Union had been due to walk out for 47 hours from 10am this morning, leaving staff from private firms to provide emergency cover.

However, proposals to cancel the strike emerged after a meeting of FBU leaders.

The union had been calling on the London Fire Brigade not to press ahead with any sackings of firefighters who refuse to accept new contracts, which include a new shift system.

It looks like the firefighters already got what they wanted, with the threat of sackings now being lifted.

One of our associates, Laura Simpson, blogged about the proposed strike when it was announced. You can read her post about it here.

November 3, 2010

Justin Bieber sells products exclusively through Walmart and Twitter start putting adverts into timelines

Following our blog surrounding the mad rush for Take That tour tickets on Friday, it seems that the same thing is happening today for tickets to see concerts by the Foo Fighters. It seems that there is always a mad rush and a tendency for people to rant their frustrations about being unable to obtain tickets, from websites like See and Ticketmaster, on Twitter.

Google Analytics failed to show data yesterday for the first time ever, leaving many marketers and PR firms without any idea of how many hits their website has received, which can be vital market research.

Other technology news is that Twitter has started to swarm its website with advertising. Obviously the bigger and more popular the website becomes the more likely it is to be a massive target for the biggest companies to target.

We have been known to use Twitter to advertise on behalf of our clients, but obviously just by tweeting and blogging about the most talked about topics. Whereas large companies can already pay to have their product Featured in the trending topics list.

Now though, Twitter has begun placing advertising into individual users’ Twitter streams for companies such as Virgin, Starbucks and Red Bull.

Users will be targeted based on the kinds of people and products they already follow. So, not all users will see them. For example, someone who follows coffee companies or who follows people who write about coffee would be a target candidate for a Starbucks.

The company will start by showing the paid tweets only to people who use HootSuite.

In other news, Walmart is increasingly creating and selling Justin Bieber products, especially now Christmas is approaching, including exclusive lines of nail polish and a fragrance designed or inspired by the 16 year old Canadian singer and Twitter phenomenon.

Mr Bieber has developed an almost entirely exclusive relationship with the earth’s biggest retailer, though Walmart declined to comment on just how extensive the partnership may yet become.

Justin recently told his 5.6 million followers on Twitter, where he ranks Number 5, just behind Barack Obama and just ahead of Ellen DeGeneres, that his acoustic album will go on sale first at Walmart on November 22nd. That’s a day ahead of the general market release.

October 27, 2010

The press reveal the horrific truth about what happened to Baby P and we show you how the press always report stories in different ways

Most newspapers have today revealed that information in a secret report showed how Baby P was abandoned by the police, social workers, doctors and lawyers, to be left with his evil mother and tortured to death. This information, as always, was kept from the media because it is incredibly horrifying for anyone to know that that sort of thing can happen to a child. The police should have taken action to ensure that this did not happen and quite frankly I am shocked that it was allowed to.

The media always manage to find out this information in the end and when they do they tend to try and find a way to report it in a different way. Our PR Coaching Programme, has been designed to help you tailor your press releases to match what the newspapers/magazines are looking to publish – just as a jobseeker should always adjust a C.V. to match a job specification. Different newspapers will always want to publish things from their own perspective.

So, it is no big suprise to see that they are all handling the news about the UK’s unexpectedly strong growth rate in different ways, as they struggle to make sense of it.

The Sun chose to compare the economy to an ill patient, saying there is a pulse but no room for complacency. The Daily Mail agrees that the situation is good but The Daily Telegraph cautions people not to be too optimistic and The Daily Express called it a relief.

Russia’s plans to play a role in supporting Nato’s mission in Afghanistan has also made headlines in several papers.

The Independent referred to it as a remarkable turn of events, pointing out that in the 80s Nato encouraged the mujahideen to drive the Russians out, whereas The Times says a return would be hugely emotive.

The Guardian chose to publish a horrific story, by reporting that brown bears in Siberia have been digging up corpses in village graveyards and eating them, whilst The Financial Times reports that supermarkets are offering cut price deals on Christmas food and drink weeks earlier than usual.

In other news, John Barrowman is to star in the Christmas Special of Strictly Come Dancing, alongside other major celebrities (including Fern Britton) who were unable to commit to appearing in an entire series. The episode will be shown on Christmas Day but will be filmed on 20th November.

January 5, 2010

PR Gaffes of the Year 2009 (Part Six)

In November, the banks – and the British legal system – did nothing to improve their public standings after the High Court’s ruling on ‘unfair’ bank charges.

Maybe it’s a naive view, but perhaps the banks could’ve done themselves a favour and agreed to the payout – particularly considering our money has saved them from disaster more than once over the past couple of years.

The ruling merely added fuel to the fire of those who claim the legal system is weighted towards those with money.

PM Gordon Brown was also taking the flak, from The Sun and the Daily Mail (surprise surprise) yet again, after fouling up a letter of condolence to Jacqui Janes, mother of a soldier killed in Afghanistan.

I must admit to having some sympathy for him over this, because it should have been checked by someone in his office before it was sent out. And it also smacked of hypocrisy from The Sun, who of course have never spelt anyone’s name wrong 🙂

The highlight of the November headlines for me though was Katie Price’s stint on ITV reality show “I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here!”

She was looking for some much-needed good publicity – she’d taken a bit of a pounding from the press after splitting from husband Peter Andre – and decided a few weeks in the Australian jungle would help.

The reality couldn’t have been further from the truth, with thousands of I’m a Celeb viewers putting her forward for Bushtucker Trials day after day, until she walked out.

I think she seriously misjudged the feelings of the British people, which surprised me as I think she is usually quite astute. She assumed she could win people round by eating a few bugs and then come out with everyone back on her side.

What a disaster it was! In fact it’s probably been a year to forget for her, because the handling of her divorce from Peter Andre has been terrible.

My advice would’ve been to keep a low profile until everything blew over, which is pretty much what her ex did. Instead she was all over the papers, partying hard and showing off her new beau Alex Reid.

Her lack of humility and dignity has drastically affected her popularity, and her stint in Oz certainly won’t have helped. Shockingly she doesn’t seem to have learnt anything from the experience, judging from Reid’s appearance in the Celebrity Big Brother house this week.

Maybe the message will start sinking in if he’s evicted pretty sharpish?

And finally, onto December, which perhaps saw the biggest gaffe of the lot. But more on that later.

Eurotunnel will be regretting their response to the breakdown of their trains at the worst possible time – the weekend before Christmas.

It’s one thing to have a breakdown, I think that can be explained away as they’ve had a pretty good record since the tunnel opened in 1994. But five???

I was shocked by how unprepared they were though! Surely they could’ve expected a breakdown to happen at some point and have some kind of plan in place?

Unfortunately, they didn’t, and more than 2000 people were stuck in that horrible confined space, with no food, water or air conditioning – just what you want in the middle of a cold snap.

And their offer of a free journey when the problems had been sorted was hardly likely to appease. Hopefully they’ll have a better crisis management plan in place for the next breakdown.

Charlie Sheen isn’t exactly the most popular bloke at the moment either. He’s no stranger to controversy so you would think he’d know how to behave like a grown-up by now.

Allegations of domestic violence against wife Brooke Mueller will not have helped his standing. I’d be surprised if we see Charlie on our screens any time soon.

Despite those cock-ups, there is only one person worthy of the prize in December – and it’s a man who is pretty used to winning trophies.

Tiger Woods had a month to forget after his little car accident on Nov 27. Various women came forward claiming to have had sordid affairs with him over the past few years, putting his marriage to Elin Nordegren and career in serious trouble.

And the sponsors who made him sport’s first billionaire began to leave him in droves. Gatorade, AT&T, Accenture and others have all cancelled deals with him in recent weeks, and games developer EA is supposedly considering doing the same.

Yes, he has taken a big hit – one far worse than the one his Cadillac took – if only he had listened to us before coming out with all those wishy-washy media statements.

So that’s it for another year – hope you enjoyed our review! We’ll be keeping our eye on the gaffes of 2010 – of which there will be plenty – so make sure to bookmark this page and check out our updates.

Or just come back at the end of the year for our next review!

Have a brilliant year everyone, from all at Richard Swancott Associates 🙂

December 13, 2009

Three days to go!

Win win win win win win

Just a quick reminder folks – the most generous PR agency in Staffordshire is giving a laptop away on Wednesday!

This is the little beauty. It comes with Windows 7 and Microsoft Office 2007 – an ideal Christmas pressie or maybe just a treat for yourself!

There are four ways to enter, and you can enter more than once, but make sure you do it before 12noon on Wednesday, cos that’s when we’re doing the draw.

You can either:

Follow me on Twitter:

Subscribe to this blog

Become a fan on Facebook (search for Richard Swancott Associates):

Or pass us a referral

Simple really.

One lucky subscriber will get this before Christmas!

We’ll notify the winner on Wednesday afternoon and get the prize in the post the same day.

There are just a couple of conditions: no-one connected with me or Richard Swancott Associates can enter (that’s friends, family or staff), and you must be based in the UK to win.

Good luck!

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