Monthly Archives: January 2008

PR Perspective – Richard Millington

Richard_millington
After a bit of nagging (I felt a lot like his mother – wash behind your ears and pick those pants up off of the floor), Richard Millington gives us the latest PR Perspective.  Richard is 22 and is currently a marketing student at the University of Gloucestershire in Cheltenham, He is also a freelance copywriting and marketing/social media consultant, and his clients include Gloucester City Council, Rancon, Hazina and HLTV.org. He is taking the rather unusual step of hoping to go freelance straight from Uni rather than pursue the traditional corporate route. Should be interesting.  He’s just moved his blog over to Typepad and here is the  necessary link to FeverBee.

How long have you been blogging?
I began a personal blog for just a few friends back in 2004, but I only started blogging about PR in May 2006. After I completed my work placement my blogging slowed down a little, but recently as part of my new year’s resolutions I’ve cut my feeds down, switched to a brand new blog at www.feverbee.com and got things going again. I think it’s going to be important for me when I finish University.

Why did you start?
My first few weeks of my placement were quite intense and one evening I decided to see if anybody else was at my stage of a PR placement. So I typed in ‘Student PR’ and ‘Young PR’ and came up with the blogs of Chris Clarke and Paull Young. I then spent the rest of the evening, reading their blog archives and those they linked to. The next day I asked my boss at apt marketing & PR if she was ok with me starting a blog, and it’s been going ever since.

Do you think blogging has helped your business?
I think it’s helped both my former paymasters at apt, and now my current freelance income. For apt it’s something we began offering as an extra service to clients, one early client took us on specifically for a social media project. It also ranked high up on the agenda for recruiting my successor, Samantha Wilcox.

Personally, I’ve been staggered by the number of opportunities my blog has given me. From a freelance perspective I would consider it essential, one of my current clients found me because my blog ranked higher on local searches than the websites of Gloucestershire’s PR agencies. I’m a firm believer that the indirect benefits of blogging (networking opportunities, knowledge sharing etc) are far more important than any direct advertising revenue/freebies/money benefits.

Blogging and reading the blogs has given me some fantastic insight into modern practices. Every morning my bloglines is filled with practical PR ideas, modern approaches and progressive advice. It’s amazing how many people are willing to share so much information.

What do you feel is the biggest challenge about writing a blog?
I think at times it can be a struggle to write something that’s both original and relevant. There has been several nasty instances this year when young PR bloggers have been slated for opinions on topics on which they aren’t experienced. Which can put us in a difficult position, what can we blog about? I haven’t worked in a PR agency on a daily basis for over a year, so it can be a struggle to keep it fresh.

What do you want your readers to know about you?
Aside that I’m open to work from June 08? I’d like readers to know how much I love what I do. I honestly believe that social media is a much a growing industry as it is a new movement to shakeout the corp-speaking, legal-worrying, suspicion-raising company ethos of the 80s – 90s. And I’m very fortunately to be graduating University at a time when there is such a radical shakeup going on. There’s plenty of opportunities for younger communication professionals to gain valuable work experience early, and rise quickly.

Which other blogs do you read regularly and why?
I put 5 blog feeds into my ‘essential reads’ at the start of the year. These were Seth Godin, Ducttapemarketing, Viral Garden, Copyblogger and Ramit Sethi.

•    Seth Godin: Is the ultimate modern marketer, albeit sometimes dismissive of PR. His blog is the best business blog on the internet, and he practices everything he preaches. A truly remarkable blog.
•    DuctTapeMarketing is John Jantsch’s small business marketing blog. This blog, whilst aimed at small businesses, is actually full of insight and advice for entry level marketers/PRs.
•    Viral Garden is just a damned good blog about marketing and social media.
•    Copyblogger helped me get a lot of copywriting work over the past year. The advice is good, up to date and is useful for anybody writing anything to be read by an online audience.
•    Ramit Sethi: I’m a young freelancer earning enough to begin investing; Ramit Sethi’s blog is my dream come true. Truthfully, I’ve never taken the time to read up about personal finance, and I’ve learnt many costly lessons. Ramit’s blog helped me both catch up and even give advice to others about their personal finances. I just wish there was a UK equivalent.

I read much more, of course (85 feeds per day) – but if I only have 5 spare minutes, those are the blogs I read.

If you knew someone was thinking about starting a PR related blog what advice would you want to give them?
I would say that sooner or later, you’re going to say something that someone doesn’t agree with. Try to react professionally to those situations and treat it as a learning experience. Nearly all bloggers have to weather such storms, some have actually benefited greatly from the opportunity.

Do you think Web 2.0 is having an impact on how PR is practiced?
Yes, but not at the speed most bloggers are predicting. Bloggers, by nature, are usually tech-savvy and work either in technology or communications sectors. Working in Cheltenham on my placement year I learnt that a lot of companies aren’t ready to begin blogging yet. If your audience never goes online and relies on newspapers, as some of our clients did at apt marketing & PR, a blog isn’t going to be much help.

In other industries however it became more of a case of how best PR and social media fit together. In Autumn 06 I worked briefly with a company called Wiggly Wigglers, founded by Heather Gorringe. Heather’s quite well known in social media circles these days through her brilliant Wiggly Wigglers podcast. Yet whilst Heather really was a perfect client for our new Social Media division, we struggled (as many PR agencies are doing) with figuring out quite how our PR expertise and her existing Social Media success fit together. We’ve learnt a lot since then, but it’s a struggle many agencies are still experiencing.

Agencies outside the biggest cities are still lagging behind with clients who wont grasp the social media concept for a few more years yet.

What’s the biggest challenge in PR?
There are so many answers to this question. I think from personal experience the most important challenges in PR is agencies trying to make clients sound more interesting, rather than advising clients how to be more interesting i.e. how to do things worth generating coverage, and what to do with that coverage.

Too often the client tells the agency they’re releasing a product in a new colour (or whatever) and want media hits. Why didn’t the client get more out of their agency fees by asking in advance what they could do to generate hits? The agency/client relationship is one which needs a lot more work.

Perhaps the other more obvious challenge is the blurring of industry lines. What’s marketing? What’s PR? What’s advertising? What’s Sales? What’s SEO? So much is overlapping at the moment that it’s difficult to keep up. I can’t say how it’s going to evolve, but PR agencies needs to broaden up what they can offer clients.

What would be your advice to someone who is looking to embark on a career in PR?
Read. Read blogs, books, newspapers and magazines. Don’t stick to just Public Relations material but read around in marketing, social media, copywriting, business and as many other sectors as possible. If possible, try to specialize in an area. Have something to offer a company which they don’t already have, it’s a great way of standing out from the crowd. In your application try to be something other than a “determined and ambitious graduate”. A lot of this goes back to what Mitch Joel and Anna Farmery have discussed – what is your personal brand.

For example, treat yourself as a client. What is your core message? Focus on what you really want to achieve, and specialize yourself to get there.

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Big Bad Bosses

I have fairly recently changed jobs.  I left on good terms with my old boss but some previous bosses haven’t been quite so nice.  Anyway, whilst bemoaning this fact to some friends the following stories (kept anonymous for obvious reasons) came tumbling out….. beware bosses, be an arse and it may come back to bite you in in the, erm, arse!

"I had a psycho boss. 
Who would tell you to fuck off one day, and then be your best pal the next. He was an alcoholic freak, and very very mean.
He also used to pimp out his dog to other people’s lady dogs in our
staff room at lunch time. He was basically a grade A bastard. I was so
glad to leave."

"I once had a boss make me pick up her dog from
her house and CARRY IT on the tube to bring it to the office.  I nearly
resigned that day."

"I had one who was a lawsuit waiting to happen…
His first words to a very shy new person (me)… "it’s always the quiet
ones you need to look out for, I bet you’re a fireball in the bedroom.
Have you got your clit pierced?"


"
I had one who used to take advantage that I was a hard
worker and did bugger all basically leaving me to run the department
whiel he sat around chatting to his friend."

"Erm… there was my first boss who kept hitting
on me.  He’d asked me in (my first ever interview at 19) if I was in a
relationship and if I was planning on having babies any time soon.
Every Friday after work we’d have a bbq and he’d get drunk and leery.
I used to make sure that my boyfriend picked me up (was "expected" to
attend and enjoyed everyone else’s company).  I left after a couple of
months.  He ended up shagging my replacement and his wife found out and
shot herself in the work parking lot.  He continued using that same car
for ages after.

Then my next boss asked me what I thought about sex.  I replied
"what do you mean, think about sex how?" to which he replied "with me".
I said I didn’t."

"My old boss was the reason that I left my old job.
She was awful a real bully, she’d pick on people for not getting enough
leads and therefore they wasn’t enough to converted to sales so the
branch wasn’t making money and colleagues wouldn’t get a bonus.   She would pick on people, out of 8 of us 3 were signed off with depression it was the most awful time."

"My last boss used to pay us by cheque and asked me to remind him, so i
did and whenever I reminded him he used to swear at me. And we were
also due to be paid on the last day of each month and one of us would
pop to the bank on our lunchbreak to pay everyone’s cheques into the
bank so that it would start to clear. The boss cottoned onto this so
would hand us our cheques after lunch break at about 3:15pm so it was
too late to for our cheques to clear which meant the money stayed in
his bank for longer! Needless to say I left due to his attitude with
this and many other things and i just got a load more of abuse for my
last few weeks. Since leaving I then discovered from the Inland Revenue
that he hadn’t been paying my tax or National Insurance which he then
had to cough up!!"

"I left my last job because of my old boss.  She was a complete nightmare and best mates with the overall boss, who
wouldn’t do anything when i eventually got up the courage to complain
about her.  One notable episode was giving my friend a nervous breakdown which
was eventually caused by screaming at both of us in front of the whole
office about something she had asked us to do and forgotten about, and
then assumed we had done it wrong. The final straw was her having gone to a meeting and left me a note
of some work she needed doing that i was to leave on her desk for her
to collect when she got back from the meeting.  I had done the work
exactly as she had asked (and had the note to prove it) and when I got
in the following day, got screamed at in front of the whole office
because I should have known she’d made a mistake on the note she’d left
and asked for the wrong thing. Such a cow."

"My boss regularly goes in a bad mood for no reason, its mostly just me
and him in the office and he thinks its acceptable to completely ignore
what i say on a daily basis, then thinks that he can come in and start
a conversation with me when he’s snapped out of it."

"An old boss threw a paperweight at my head – it
was a glass one about the size of a cricket ball because she could not
find some paperwork and she assumed that I had it. Which I didn’t by the way – the paperweight was thrown because I denied all knowledge!"

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