The PR Guru

December 10, 2010

Why do performers always insist on giving one last show-shopping performance, even if they are too ill to do so?

“You can retire….” “Ah, but I’m a hoofer we don’t.” (Julie Walters, Acorn Antiques the musical)
“Isn’t it rich? Isn’t it queer? Losing my timing this late in my career.” (Send in the Clowns, A Little Night Music)

What is it that makes famous performers want to keep appearing on stage when they are approaching/over retiring age? A love for the stage, yes…. An escape from loneliness and boredom, yes…. The chance to bring joy to others, most definitely…. but if they are not capable of delivering the show-stopping moments they once were, surely it is better not to try.

That would seem to be the case with Dame Julie Andrews, who revisited the songs that made her the much-loved sensation she is, with a concert at the O2 called the Gift of Music.

Many fans were disappointed that she spent most of the evening sat on a stool or reading, whilst it was left to supporting acts to take up the challenging vocals.

Yes, she has had failed vocal cord surgery but that only makes you wonder why she would get up there and allow herself to get lots of negative reviews and disappointed customers.

The same thing now applies to her Mary Poppins’ co-star Dick Van Dyke who has been forced to cancel the entire run of his one-man show after injuring himself during a preview performance.

Just as with Julie, he thrilled fans by announcing he would embark on a month-long stint in Step in Time: A Musical Memoir, which would see him perform a collection of his most famous movie numbers.

The gigs were particularly special as the star would have turned 85 years old during the performances.

But the show got off to a bad start when he aggravated an injury to his Achilles tendon.

And a representative for Van Dyke confirmed on Thursday that he has now axed all the scheduled performances at Los Angeles’ Geffen Playhouse.

More successfully though, acting legends Sheila Hancock and Whoopi Goldberg have managed to bring happiness to theatre-goers at the London Palladium, during their time in the musical version of Whoopi’s movie Sister Act.

Also, original Phantom of the Opera, Michael Crawford, showed he still has the same ability to tell a cracking joke when he lit up the stage at The Royal Variety Performance last night – telling theatregoers he was returning to the same stage he did Barnum at because he was such a big hit they’d asked him back. I think he’ll be amazing in The Wizard of Oz. And Take That are also showing that boybands can consist of guys in their 40s and still be a massive success.

So, it can be done, but I think a performer – of any age – should consider whether they are up to the task of putting on a show before stepping into the limelight.

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November 19, 2010

Chris Brown turns bad PR into positive PR by completing community service to a high standard, and Glee has become such a phenomenon that a UK tour has been announced, but will See Tickets and Ticketmaster be able to cope this time?

US singer Chris Brown has earned the praise of a judge in Los Angeles, and of the press in return, by consistently completing his community service work.

The 21 year old was given five years of probation last August and six months of community labour after pleading guilty to assaulting pop star Rihanna.

Brown, recently seen in the film Takers alongside Matt Dillon, Paul Walker and Hayden Christensen has been cleaning roads and removing graffiti in his home state of Virginia.

On Thursday he came in front of the judge who said “Out of thousands of probationers, no one has done a better or more consistent job than you have.”

This comes as much needed PR at a time when Brown has almost completed the domestic violence counselling he was required to undertake and could soon be a free man.

Brown was arrested in February 2009 after attacking Rihanna, his then-girlfriend, on the eve of the Grammy Awards.

The singer, whose hits include Run It! and Kiss Kiss, later said he was ashamed of his actions and seems to have proven that to be the case.

Other massive news today is that the American TV series Glee, created by Ryan Murphy for Fox, has announced a live concert tour of the UK which will take place next summer.

The cast will perform two dates at London’s O2 Arena on 25th and 26th June and at Manchester’s MEN Arena on 22nd June, with performances from stars such as Lea Michele and Cory Monteith.

Glee has become such a phenomenon that all the shows stars, including Matthew Morrison, are now famous throughout the world and they know that this tour will be a guaranteed hit. Tickets go on sale to the public on Friday 26th November and will cost between £45 and £55.

The news was revealed on Fearne Cotton’s Radio 1 show.

The show will feature songs from the Emmy award-winning programme including Jay-Z and Alicia Keys’ Empire State of Mind, Britney Spears’ Toxic, Kelly Clarkson’s My Life Would Suck Without You and, of course, Journey’s Don’t Stop Believin’.

However, in my opinion this is not enough dates, because there are lots of Glee fans and, knowing how popular the Take That concert was, I think MANY MANY fans will be disappointed. I am sure See Tickets and Ticketmaster will crash again.

November 16, 2010

A super-injunction obtained by Take That singer Howard Donald is lifted by the High Court and news that Prince William is to marry has caused people to demand that Windsors pay

Take That are getting a lot of public attention just recently, with the band reuniting as a five-peice for the first time in years.

The latest Take That related story to break on Twitter concerns singer Howard Donald.

IIt has literally just been announced that The Court of Appeal have lifted a super-injunction preventing the naming of Take That’s Howard Donald, who has won an order restricting publication of confidential information by a former girlfriend.

No-one really knows what private information it is that is threatening to be revealed – and what it could do for the band’s image.

Adakini Ntuli, the ex-girlfriend, had hired famous publicist Max Clifford and entered into negotiations with the News of the World.

The court restrained her from doing specified but unpublishable things and prevented her and others from publishing the fact that the injunction had been obtained.

Now, the court has dismissed Adakini Ntuli’s appeal seeking the discharge of the injunction but allowed her appeal in relation to the super-injunction and anonymity issues.

Also making headlines this morning is the news that Prince William is to marry Kate Middleton. The two got engaged in Kenya last month and are to be married in London in 2011. This comes as much needed positive PR at a time when there is controversy over the Prime Minister’s decision to pay Guantanamo detainees compensation (at a time when we have little money to begin with) and the news that David Cameron’s vanity photographer Andrew Parsons was on the public payroll at a time when the Civil Service were facing cuts.

EDIT (Wednesday 17th November): There have been reports today that the UK is considering offering billions of pounds of direct loans to the Irish Republic, saying that they are our neighbours and we have an interest in ensuring they have a stable economy – but can we afford to do this? We have just promised compensation for Guantanamo detainees and now this… We need to be saving what little money we have. Although, saying that, it will benefit us in the long-run.

Also, yesterday, and today, one of the most talked about questions is who is going to pay for the Royal Wedding? One common answer is that The Windsors should because they are extremely wealthy, and the country is not. This debate has been fuelled by anti-monarchy group Republic – but even those in support of the monarchy are also calling for the same thing. Having a lavish ceremony at a time of recession would be wrong, and would send out the wrong messages to the world – and this is going to be a worldwide event.

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 29, 2010

Take That tour crashes See Tickets, Ticketmaster and other websites

What an amazing PR phenomenon!

90s band Take That (all 5 original members including Robbie Williams) are to perform together in concert for the first time in 16 years.

After only 6 years performing together, Take That had a massive string of hits including Relight My Fire, It Only Takes A Minute, Could It Be Magic, Love Ain’t Here Anymore to name just a few – enough to make a hit West End musical called ‘Never Forget’.

They have become incredibly popular. This blog you are reading now has received over 900 views in a matter of minutes – which is so mindblowing.

And this morning, it seems that it is impossible to get tickets for The Progress tour. I tried, knowing that my mum likes the band and would Never Forget seeing them on stage, but the See Tickets and Ticketmaster websites are both down this morning.

A lot of people have been very annoyed about this, saying that these massive companies are never sufficiently prepared for the high demand of such one off events – and I think they are right. Surely a ticket sales company should be aware that a lot of Take That fans will be scrambling for tickets on the day booking opens, and measures should have been taken to reduce the amount of traffic.

However, it has been revealed that the volume of calls was at least twice the amount than the number that was received for the Michael Jackson concert on sale last March.

See Tickets have a special automatic timer that is supposed to keep people waiting in a queue, but after a while it stops working. I did manage to select the price band I wanted but then it failed again. I can’t even get on Ticketmaster but I know that some people, who have managed to complete the booking process, were rewarded with an incoherant, dodgy reference number.

I have a feeling that all the dates will be sold out completely before dinnertime. It is very rare for an event to attract this many people fighting each other. Even Whoopi Goldberg’s last performance in Sister Act the musical was not as popular – with people joining the day queue at 8:30 and still getting front row.

Please share your Take That stories with us this morning. Did you manage to get tickets? What problems did you come up against?

EDIT – Monday 15th/Wednesday 17th November: On the same day as Michael Jackson’s song with Akon is released, so is Take That’s album Progress (after which the tour is named). It is sure to be a sell-out. The band have been busy promoting it, with a documentary on Saturday on ITV (Look Back Don’t Stare), followed by a performance on X Factor last night – AND on Friday the band will perform The Flood and the classic Take That song – Never Forget, for the first time as a five since Robbie left, on Children in Need.

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