Thursday, June 18, 2009

Organisation skills and time management

If someone ever asked me what I would rate as the number one basic PR agency skill this is the answer I'd give: impecible organisation skills and time management.

I'm not saying it's absolutely make or break stuff, nor I do believe that it can't be taught - it absolutely can and creating an effective to-do list should be in induction programs the world over. However I do know that TIME is the central part of a PR agency.

Without efficient use of his or her time, the best PR in the world can come unstuck. I think it's partly to do with the business model behind most PR agencies which is billable time - now this model is shifting at the moment (just ask the PRIA for examples) but unfortunately while we're yet to come up with another unanimous way to track what we do time = money in a PR agency. But that's not all, I really do believe that part of the importance of time management in PR comes down to its relationship to journalism. Now there is a time and organisation driven profession - deadlines are called deadlines because if you don't meet them your 'dead'! So PR naturally has to have an understanding of this and a good PR professional doing media relations will absolutely mould their work to fit with the schedules of their target media. And this time-focused importance has only become more important in the last 5 to 10 years with the never ending rise of the digital age.

Now I want to hear from others in the industry - how did you get your head around the organisation and time management required for PR? Personally I remember an absolutely fabulous first mentor who set me up with a To Do List template that I will take to my grave. It wasn't an option, I had to use it and I had to use it well. Now I love it and feel lost and bereaved without it! This is not to say I never come unstuck, far from there are always days when way too much lands on the plate and something's gotta give but having the right list, the right tool, the right guidance makes all the difference. So how do you do the juggle?

Friday, June 5, 2009

Reviews programs

We run a lot of reviews programs for a lot of clients. Sometimes, the days when the courier arrives it looks like we have just moved into our office - boxes fill every corner and surface while the team gets on the phone to the journalists we want to have a play with (and write a review of) the new kit.

This morning the last Logitech wireless guitar controller (the key to all your Guitar Hero fantasies) has left the office for review. Before it went, I wanted to test out what everyone has been saying about it. Its heavy and shiny and feels just like a real guitar.... it made me wanna play some Jimi Hendrix style riffs....

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Local news

What is the future of media? Will readers pay for quality journalism? Who has a responsibility to keep the media funded? These and other such highbrow and concerning questions are being asked in every PR agency, media company, freelance home study and, well, media company, around the world. But this post from a blog I like to read gave a whole new angle to the debate.

What about the local news? Anna Pickard (the author of Little Red Boat, and the afforementioned post) is a freelance features writer who recently moved to San Francisco with her 'beloved', Bobbie Johnson, the tech writer at the Guardian. Australian readers of this blog will be familiar with both their writings as they are syndicated in many of the Australian papers.

The purpose of this post is solely to get you to read Anna's post on a couple of local newspaper articles she has found since her arrival in the USA. In case you missed the link above - you can find it here. It is incredibly funny and reminds us of the lighter side of the media.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

We are all grown ups here....

An interesting story broke over the weekend, which got me thinking...

Mars (the chocolate bar people, not the planet) has reduced the size of its iconic bar by 11% - from 60g to 53g. They are keeping the price the same.

And why did they say they did it?

To help us fight obesity.

Because removing that last mouthful from your calorie-packed afternoon naughty will make all the difference....

Mars' actions are intiguing to me. They demonstrate either opportunism (I can picture an over excited product manager; "Hey, can we make this a good spin? It's going to go down really well... I have seen loads in the press recently about obesity") or fear (VP marketing; "Since Caburys launched that thing that looks a bit like a Mars bar our ratings are taking a tumbling - our focus group results strongly indicate a risk of consumers feeling ripped off in these economic times. We need to save money but lets make it look like we are doing it for *their* sake." Goodness maybe its even the 21st century incarnation of their old tag line; A Mars a day helps you work, rest and play. Its all about healthy lifestyles afterall.

But is there really anyone that would fall for this? Is it necessary to find a positive angle in everything?

If Mars' motivation was health related it could either have taken 11% of every Mars bar sale after the bar size reduction and donated it to appropriate health charities, or cut the price - because this isn't about money.

Frankly, as a savvy consumer I know its financially motivated and you know what, I don't mind. It's Mars' business and if I want a Mars bar I will buy a Mars bar (hey, we all know Wagon Wheels are smaller than they used to be, and it doesn't stop me!).

It's just rather patronising to see an entire corporate comms team and its PR agency go to all that effort to communicate such nonsense to me. Makes me think that they reckon I am thick. Not a nice brand message.