Thursday, 28 January 2010

Finding Mr Right: Should Women Settle for Mr Good Enough?

In PR, ‘good enough’ is never good enough. At Cirkle we strive for perfection or, at least, the best we can possibly deliver for our clients and the media. So if we apply this to our business lives, why should our personal lives be any different?

The American author Lori Gottlieb disagrees in her new book, ‘Marry Him: The Case for Settling For Mr Good Enough’. She argues that after the age of 30, women should stop looking for The One and simply settle for any of the “perfectly acceptable but uninspiring" men that women reject during their search for the perfect man.She says: “My advice is this: settle! That's right. Don't worry about passion or intense connection. Don't ditch a guy based on his annoying habit of yelling 'Bravo!' in movie theatres. Overlook his halitosis or abysmal sense of aesthetics. Because if you want to have the infrastructure in place to have a family, settling is the way to go.”

A hopeless romantic I may be, but I believe it is a sad world if women, or even men for that matter, can’t aspire to find true love and find that one person that they want to share the rest of their lives with. Yes, passion fades and the reality of life sets in, but what you are left with (hopefully) is a long lasting love, friendship and almost definitely the art of compromise.

But my question to you is: is that so wrong? We set ourselves such high standards in the world of business, why should we not have equally high standards in the world of love? After all, the bonuses are much better.

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Tuesday, 26 January 2010

On The Up; The End of the UK Recession

The big news today is that the UK is finally out of recession! Clearly this is fabulous news for pretty much everyone, but I won’t be cracking open the champagne just yet, as the ascent from recession has hardly been dizzying: figures show that the economy has grown by just 0.1% in the last three months of 2009.

Don’t get me wrong – it’s great news that things are (slightly) on the up. However, I really hope that that the powers that be have learnt from this experience, because we just can’t afford to go back to how things were before. We’ve learnt some important lessons over the last two years, and not just how to cook with food that’s past its sell by date.

We should have at least learnt something about jobs, housing, shopping, wastage and bonuses, and maybe even a bit about where our own priorities lie. I’m not holding out much hope though, having heard the news about Goldman Sachs employees’ massive bonuses! It would be nice to think, though, that the recession could have had a positive impact on a whole generation who had perhaps started to take things for granted.

What do you think? Will anything good to come out of the recession or will the authorities continue to act like a bunch of bankers?!

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Friday, 22 January 2010

Hair, Hair Everywhere!

Okay, so what is going on with some of our fave celebs and their P.D.H? Public Display of Hair.

First up, American actress Mo'Nique. She may very well have won a Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actress at the glitzy awards do on Sunday but she certainly is not a winner in the beauty style stakes. As Mo’Nique strutted her stuff down the red carpet, for some unknown reason, she felt the need to reveal her pins which were somewhat scarily hairy. Whether she was trying to keep warm on a chilly night in L.A or trying to make a statement about going au natural, I don’t know – but I do know it’s a big no no!

Next up is The One Show’s Adrian Chiles. It’s reported that the Beeb has demanded he shave off his unruly whiskers in favour of a more clean shaven look. Now I personally do not have a problem with a guy with a bit of facial fuzz, in fact sometimes I prefer it, however, where Chiles has gone wrong is that he’s let his beard takeover with a mind of its own which has resulted in a trampy come grizzly bear-esque look. Not good. All he needs to do is invest some time in a little man-scaping by taming and grooming his beard.

And finally, mums' heart throb and Relocation star, Phil Spencer. Seen here sporting a rather
dodgy chest rug. Again, I’d like to point out here that I’m not adverse to a bit of hair on a man’s chest but how could Phil get it sooo wrong? Bless him, you can see where he’s made an attempt to de-fuzz around his neck line so no unsightly hairs are seen poking out the top of his shirt when showing couples around prospective new homes but, he seems to have forgotten this when he’s stripped off. For me it’s all or nothing. Phil should either go the whole hog and take it all off or leave it in its full glory but, like Adrian, take a little time to keep his unkempt chest hair well trimmed and groomed.

Needless to say, all of these hairy stars could really benefit from splashing a bit of cash on some products from our lovely client Remington!

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Monday, 18 January 2010

BD Recruitment: How Not to Manage Your Online Reputation

I recently wrote an article for the PRCA website (Public Relations Consultants Association) that talks about the rapidly increasing requirement for PR consultants to actively manage online reputations. It’s an area that any PR agency worth its salt is taking very seriously, but isn’t limited to those of us working in public relations. With the advent of the real-time web, Google reporting tweets in SERPS and Sidewiki, every company, large or small, has to start treating online brand monitoring as a critical function.

This isn’t simply opinion, however, it’s fact. And if you need convincing of this, in the last few days I’ve stumbled across a fantastic example of a company that is, apparently, completely ignorant of the power of digital media and the hammering it is receiving in this channel.

The business in question is a recruitment agency called BD Recruitment, based in Manchester. About this time last year, the company annoyed a prospective client so much that, after complaining privately and getting nowhere, he chose to write this post on his blog. In it, he slates BD Recruitment’s spam-led approach and goes on to recommend a competitive company. What’s interesting, however, is not the post itself, or the fact that it gained 30-odd comments from people largely agreeing with him and calling BD Recruitment, among other things, “a bunch of jokers” and “bean-eating morons”. What’s interesting is that if you run a Google search for the term BD Recruitment, the blog post comes up 3rd in the SERPS, directly below the company’s own website. Furthermore, with his knowledge of SEO, the blogger has entitled his post (and thus, what Google displays): “BD Recruitment Ltd of Manchester I Will Never Use Your Services”.

It’s now nearly a year since the blog post was written, and yet the post is still placing higher than everything other than the company’s own website in the search rankings. Indeed, a separate blogger has now added his own post, entitled “BD Recruitment Send Email CCing Every SEO in the North West”, which now appears at position 4. And incredibly, just last week in an update on the original post, the blogger says that BD Recruitment is still spamming companies. The blogger tweeted this, which is where I and many others would have come to see the post.

If there’s one thing that this mini-case study demonstrates, it’s that reputations can and will be won and lost online as we move into the new decade. BD Recruitment seems to have no idea what damage is being done to its brand on the web, and has made no attempt to contact the blogger, apologise, discuss the issues and ask for the post to be removed. (UPDATE 26/1/10: see comments below.) Or maybe it simply doesn’t care.

What are your thoughts?

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Tuesday, 12 January 2010

ASDA: Leading The Fash Pack?

Asda is fast becoming known as a fashion innovator, rather than a purveyor of frozen peas, and their latest products look set to drive that image. Capitalising on our slightly thicker post-Christmas waistlines, George at Asda has launched a 50s-inspired dress and skirt with ‘corsetry’ built in, costing just £25 and £16 respectively. The clothes are made out of the same poly elastane material found in Bridget Jones’ big pants, and are designed to smooth curves and creating a waspish waist with no diet required.

It’s not the first time Asda have used this kind of innovation to hit the headlines – do you remember the £7 ‘moob tube’? It was a body-sculpting vest for men which sold out in just four minutes on their website, making it their fastest selling product ever.

Supermarket fashion has become a lot more popular recently – ten years ago no-one would have dreamt of picking up a cute little cardie with their carrots. Asda are really leading the march with smart, sassy pieces that haven’t been seen anywhere else, and fabulously inexpensive versions of designer pieces, and they are constantly attaining national press coverage with these creations.

It’s a genius idea, and I don’t know why we didn’t think of it before!

Will you be rushing out to buy a bit of supermarket couture?

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Thursday, 7 January 2010

Bras and Brass

Two things have caught my eye in social media circles over the last couple of days. The first is a journalist who wrote a blog slating PR agencies and consultants. The second is boobs. Or more specifically, bras. On Tuesday, a freelance journalist called Kevin Braddock chose to publish a post to his blog that laid into PRs for spamming him with irrelevant press releases, stating that it took way too much of his time as a journalist to sift through everything and that much of what he receives is total rubbish. This in itself, though perhaps a little over the top, wasn’t what riled PR people on Twitter, however – to an extent he has a point and, after all, he is entitled to his opinion and is only talking from personal experience. What really got under their skins was that Mr Braddock went on to bold as brass ‘name and shame’ a number of agencies and around 200 individual consultants who had made his life difficult in 2009. (I’d like to proudly point out that not a single Cirkle consultant made his list).

As a result, news of the post spread via Twitter so fast that within hours of the initial post, the blog’s comments section was packed with people responding and criticising his ‘out them all’ approach. As other journalists and bloggers have pointed out, it was really Much Ado About Nothing (although Shakespeare it wasn’t, ironically featuring as it did numerous typos and grammatical errors). What it did prove, however, is the connectedness that Twitter inherently has and how news can spread with lightning speed across an industry once one person chooses to tweet it. Later that day, Mr Braddock chose to remove the offending post. So did he make a boob?

Which leads me nicely on to Facebook. The same day as the PR/journo war was breaking out on Twitter, female Facebookers started to post colours in their status update. ‘Black’, one would post. ‘Red’ from another. ‘Pink & Black’ on another. And so on. The menfolk were a little baffled by this for a day or two. But it became apparent to those of us in the know that the ladies are posting, wait for it, the colour of the bra they are wearing at the time. Of course.

The question begs: why? As it turns out, it’s a viral attempt to support breast cancer awareness, and it’s spreading fast. ‘Not bad’, you might think. But much as I think it’s simple, easy to do and quirky – all the important things about virals – I can’t help but feel that someone somewhere missed a trick. There’s no call to action in this viral – no-one seems to know who started it or what organisation they’re supporting. Would it not have made more sense to update with the bra colour, but include a link to a relevant Facebook page? Or website even? After all, you might as well get an…um…double hit…

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Monday, 4 January 2010

12seconds: The Next Big Thing in Social Media?

Micro-blogging was undoubtedly the hot social media trend of 2009, with Twitter achieving phenomenal growth of nearly 1400% year-on-year at one point. Such was the impact of the ubiquitous Twitter that other micro-blogging platforms such as Jaiku and Tumblr hardly got a mention. So where does micro-blogging go from here?

I’m going to stick my neck out and predict that 12seconds will be the next big thing to hit micro-blogging and social media in general at some stage during 2010. Launched back in Spring 2009, still in beta testing mode and yet to really catch on, 12seconds is essentially Twitter in video form. Users can record short, 12 second ‘status update’ video blogs with their webcam or mobile to share what they’re doing, where they are and what they’re thinking. They can also then share these videos on Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, Tumblr, blogs or anywhere else for that matter using an automatic sharing mechanism or an embedding function. And as 12seconds records, stores and streams videos, there’s no need to store large files on a PC.

So why do I think 12seconds will be the next big thing? First, people like the personalisation that video provides – it’s more engaging than a 140 character tweet. And second, we’re living in a video-streaming world where people already watch YouTube and can record and upload video on their smartphones. So it really seems to make sense that multimedia micro-blogging will take off at some stage.

But is there a business use for 12seconds? I’d argue that once it enters the public consciousness (and having just launched an iPhone app that might not be too long) there absolutely will be a business use. Many companies, Cirkle included, are building Twitter feeds and Flickr slideshows into their new websites, as well as embedding YouTube videos. So the ability to embed short, personalised video snippets into a website, either as a stream or as an independent clips will provide SMBs with a way to show off corporate personality.

Besides which, what else can you do in 12 seconds? Answers on a postcard please. Or leave a comment below…

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