Behold: the great and powerful lobbyist!

"The Great and Powerful Oz" (2013) shows what a great PR Oz might have been.

“Oz, The Great and Powerful” (2013) shows what a great PR Oz might have been.

The other day I went to the cinema and saw “Oz, The Great and Powerful” which, by the way, I highly recommend.  It tells the story of how an average small town magician becomes the mysterious, slightly frightening Wizard of Oz who is feared and admired at the same time.

It occurred to me while watching the movie that Oz would have been a great lobbyist. He works behind closed doors; he uses obscure tricks to get his way; and influences people to do his bidding. The aura of mystery that surrounds him is very much like that which envelopes lobbyists, who are perceived to be a kind of sinister magicians themselves, strategically and invisibly influencing the powers that be and ultimately society as a whole. What is really frightening is that they walk and live among us… and many times we don’t even know who they are. Continue reading

And the award for the best campaign goes to… Harry Potter!

"Pride and Prejudice" (2005) helped boost tourism in the UK.

“Pride and Prejudice” (2005) helped boost tourism in the UK.

As professionals of PR, we know what tools we should use to do our jobs and how we should use them.  But we are so focused on writing press releases, getting journalists to listen to us, engaging through social media and creating content that we are forgetting about one of the best ways of all to tell stories (which as you know is a BIG part of our job): film.

Usually, the only references which are made to movies in the world of PR have to do with how they portray professionals either as PR girls (i.e. “Bridget Jones”) or spin doctors (i.e. “Thank you for smoking”).  Nobody ever mentions the fact that movies (and I mean films, not YouTube videos) are a PR tool… and an exceptional one at that. Continue reading

Keep calm and carry on. 10 steps to creating your own app.

keep-calm-there-s-an-app-for-that-1Unless you’ve been living under a rock or on a different planet, you already know that social media is considered to be the most revolutionary, life-changing thing to hit PR in 20 years.  It may have taken you a while to accept this fact, a little longer to start using social platforms for PR and are probably just now getting comfortable with your corporate blog, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube sites. Good for you!

I hate to break it to you, but once again it’s time for you to innovate, put your creative thinking caps on and learn something new. This time around, the new challenge is to create apps. Yes, I’m freaked out too. But what I’ve learned might help you. Continue reading

This is war!

WWII Propaganda poster.

WWII Propaganda poster.

OK, that’s it. Portraying PR people as evil spin doctors full of cruel intentions is getting really old. Last week, I attended the latest in a series of debates about PR, this one titled “Modern wars are spun and not won. What warring parties say is more important than what they do”.  Don’t get me wrong, it was a great debate (there was even some pen-throwing involved!), but the fact that the profession is still seen by many as being twisted and murky is infuriating. It would be great if PR practitioners were all-powerful influencers, but in most cases that’s just not so. Continue reading

PR as the new Jedi warrior

Yoda is portrayed as a powerful Jedi Master in the Star Wars movies.

Yoda is portrayed as a powerful Jedi Master in the Star Wars movies.

No, Gruning hasn’t come up with a theory that argues the use of lightsabers for the improvement of the two-way symmetrical model. Nor are practitioners expected to speak a la Yoda to get the attention of the media. However, there is a current of thought that is taking root in PR which is based on behavioural economics theory. In Jedi terms, the idea is to use our wisdom to bend the wills of our publics and get them to behave in certain ways. Spooky, huh? Continue reading

And now we have horseballs…

Ikea meatballs have also been found to contain traces of horse meat.

Ikea meatballs have also been found to contain traces of horse meat.

Bad news for all of us who are (were) Ikea meatball lovers. The Swedish company has had to withdraw this famous product from 21 European countries after officials in the Czech Republic found traces of horse DNA in a bag labelled as beef and pork. This is just the latest development in a series of scandals which have involved meat products sold by well-known brands such as Tesco, Findus, Birds Eye and Nestle. As consumers, we must ask ourselves whether we can trust the information on these products’ packaging. As PR practitioners we have to wonder… Were these companies too busy thinking about broader Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) tactics to worry about their supply chains? Continue reading

Debate about ethical PR. Leave your boxing gloves at home, please!

Is there such a thing as ethical PR?

Is there such a thing as ethical PR?

I recently took part in a debate titled “The Only way to practice ethical PR is to work for the not for profit sector. Everything else is just corporate, political or consumer propaganda”. No doubt about it: this is quite a radical statement. As luck would have it, two colleagues and I wound up defending it…reluctantly, I might add. No self-respecting PR practitioner would agree with such a thing. Or would they?

Please note that we started off by having a show of hands which quickly showed none of the attendees were on our side and that we actually managed to come up with some pretty convincing arguments. Would we manage to convince anyone to support us?  Continue reading