PR, Films and Fantasies

Archive for the ‘PR’ Category

In one of my modules this semester we had a look at a chapter by Aeron Davis regarding the relation between news production and PR. The debate was wether the influence PRs have on the news agenda is too big for a democratic society or if it is actually perfectly balanced as more and more small organisations (especially from the voluntary sector) can finally have their say due to the PR support they get.

Davis states that four resources are key in the PR to news piece process: economic capital (obviously they need to afford PR support in the first place), media capital (referring to the status of both media and source in society), human resources and media-source affinity which is influenced firstly by bureaucratic considerations (such as organisational structure or many other business related terms) and newsworthiness. The level of impact of each of them is quite different and it is actually this difference that sometimes leads to accusations of spin or corrupt journalism.

Newsworthiness in press releases is actually what I wanted to get to as I just found this from The

The type of stories people most like to follow (Q4 2010)

1 Stories about topics impacting my family and life 33%
2 Stories that make me stop and think about an issue 27%
3 News about where I live 26%
4 Stories that make me laugh 19%
5 Uplifting news 16%
6 Stories that strike up conversations at home or at work 11%
7 News about the recession 10%
8 Sound economic forecasts 8%
9 Shock headlines 7%
10 Surveys about what people think 6%







Read more really interesting articles on: !!!


We have Sex and the City, Wag the Dog, Mad Men (ok, that’s advertising), Jerry Maguire, Phone Booth, Jersey Girl and a million more. They just can’t stop portraying one of the most controversial industries, can they? But in the end why does PR have such a bad representation in the media?

It’s not all just what the next video shows…. and even if it was, you have to admit it takes a lot of planning 🙂

We all love PR stunts!!! They are the ultimate declaration of creativity, and as PR professionals we can’t hide our envy and our “damn, why didn’t I think of this?” feeling.

Taylor Herring PR (one of my fav agencies in the UK) keeps a Hall of Fame of PR stunts, with the best ever. It is definitely a MUST for all pros and a source of inspiration 🙂 Here are a few examples:

Harrods Gift Wrap A Helicopter. Luxury department store Harrods used over 600 metres of paper to gift wrap a helicopter. The chopperwas sent to a Harrods customer as a gift to take his partner on a trip of a lifetime. The wrapping was caught on camera to help promote the launch of the ‘Anything Is Possible’ season.

That Dress. Unknown model Liz Hurley arrives at her boyfriend’s Four Weddings And A Funeral premiere in a Versace dress adorned with safety pins. The next day she was the most famous person in Britain.

BA Can’t get it Up. Virgin Airlines took a swipe at the late-running, British Airways sponsored Millennium Wheel project by flying a blimp over the site – carrying the message ‘BA Can’t Get It Up’.

It’s A Wrap. The most accident-prone street in Britain was given the ultimate safety blanket – 1,500 sq metres of bubble wrap. Cars, gates, lamp posts and even garden gnomes were wrapped to highlight the dangers of winter driving. According to a car insurance comparison website,, homes in Somerville Road, Worcester, generate the highest number of accident claims in the whole of the UK. The stunt took eight men more than 12 hours to complete.

insurance company PR stunt

Cannes Bee Movie launch. At the Cannes Film Festival in 2007, Jerry Seinfeld climbed to the top of the iconic eight storey Carlton Hotel, dressed in a giant bee costume. Thirty minutes later, arms and legs flailing, he zoomed down a 126 meter wire which took him across a four lane road, to the beach pier below where the press pack of international media were assembled. For more Cannes stunts click here.



Many of us PR students dream big when considering our future careers. We will change perceptions, we will help people, we will praise for freedom of speech! I know it’s all very un-realistic, but until then, here are some brilliant PR efforts that changed history (via

7. Issuing the World’s First Press Release


Image via Wikipedia


Ivy Lee is considered one of the founders of modern public relations and was the leading competitor of Edward Bernays (below) in the emergent field of PR at the start of the 20th century . In 1906, a railroad accident in New Jersey – the Atlantic City train wreck – saw an electric train derailed and plough off a bridge, drowning 53 people. To deal with the situation, Lee put out what is widely regarded as the first ever press release, persuading operating company, the Pennsylvania Railroad, to disclose the facts of the case directly to reporters – before they could hear them from other sources. At the accident scene, a statement was presented to waiting reporters, and it was Lee’s coup that the New York Times printed it verbatim. It was a landmark in modern crisis communications – and a landmark in PR.


6. Convincing the American People to Eat Bacon and Eggs


Image via Wikimedia


The 1920s’ campaign to convince the public that bacon and eggs was the bona fide all-American breakfast was the brainchild of ‘father of public relations’ Edward Bernays. Influenced by the ideas of his uncle Sigmund Freud, Bernays pioneered the technique of using authority figures to support his clients’ causes. In this case, the opinion formers were physicians. The author of the milestone PR text Crystallizing Public Opinion conducted a survey among doctors and relayed the results – advocating hearty, protein-rich breakfasts – to thousands more physicians. The public, too, were swayed by the campaign, and as folks turned on their frying pans, ‘bacon and eggs’ were married forevermore in the collective consciousness. Bernays truly brought home the bacon, too, when sales went through the roof.


5. Overthrowing the Government of Guatemala



Image via Wikipedia


In an example of PR-cum-propaganda, Edward Bernays allegedly masterminded the toppling of Guatemalan President Jacobo Arbenz Guzman in 1954. Working for US-based corporation United Fruits Company – who felt threatened by Arbenz’s land reform proposals – Bernays spread material through the leading US media that marked Guzman as a communist. Bernays’ manipulation of public opinion thus took on a new form – ‘America’s No. 1 Publicist’ using his influence to leverage political forces and maintain United Fruits’ dominance over the government of Guatemala as the country’s largest landowner. Furthering as it did the exploitation of cheap fruit production labour in the interests of US markets, this campaign is less to be lauded for its intentions or methods than for its sheer clout. Viva la Revolución?


4. Beatles Playing a Concert on a Rooftop



Image via Wikimedia


U2 may have pulled a similar stunt in 2009, but the Beatles did it first, playing one of the most unforgettable gigs of their career on a rooftop. The London office of Apple Records set the stage for the Fab Four’s unannounced 1969 performance – all the more legendary because it was their last in public. Passersby were awestruck as John, George, Paul and Ringo rocked classics like “I’ve Got a Feeling” and “Get Back” to rapturous applause before the police put a stop to proceedings. But though the show was over, it was immortalised in the 1970 film Let It Be, becoming almost as indelibly imprinted in the public consciousness as the band itself. More than just a photo opportunity, this was the swansong of one of the greatest groups in history – and it was orchestrated by clever PR.


3. Playing Tennis on the Burj Al Arab



Image via Youtube


It’s not only musicians who get to enjoy the thrill of skilfully created pieces of PR; sportsmen do too. Who can forget first seeing Andre Agassi and Roger Federer step out to play on the helipad of Dubai’s Burj Al Arab hotel, 321 metres (1,053 feet) up in the air? In an event staged ahead of the Dubai Open in 2005, the two superstars indulged in a knock-about on the dramatically positioned, specially laid court, safe in the knowledge that there was a safety net around the perimeter. The then tallest hotel on earth has since been overshadowed by the tallest building on earth, the Burj Dubai, but at the time this was a mind-blowing spectacle for those who witnessed it that helped take both tennis and Dubai – with the Burj Al Arab its symbol – to new heights in the public eye.


2. Homer Simpson Appears Opposite the Cerne Abbas Giant



Image: Tim Bunce


When a massive likeness of Homer Simpson materialised on a Dorset hillside facing the iconic chalk figure of the Cerne Abbas Giant, local neopagans were up in arms about the audacious publicity stunt. The rest of the world, however, sat up, took notice, and smiled. A promotion to mark the opening of 2007’s The Simpsons Movie, Homer was depicted wearing nothing but underpants and wielding a doughnut, in gentle mockery of his more ancient – and ruder – opposite number, a famous symbol of fertility. The giant Homer was outlined in water-based biodegradable paint that would wash away when it rained, so while the pagans exclaimed “D’oh!” and promised to invoke rain magic, no one, not even a hardcore environmentalist, could raise much of an objection to the stunt, ensuring bad publicity was avoided.


1. The Best Job in the World



Image: kevgibbo


Dubbed ‘the world’s greatest PR stunt’, Tourism Queensland’s Best Job in the World campaign of 2009 was a masterclass in the power of public relations to spread an upbeat story far and wide. Prompted by global classified ads seeking a caretaker for Australian paradise Hamilton Island, tens of thousands of applicants uploaded videos explaining why they should get the post. The next hook was a reality TV-style whittling-down of the candidates via social media, which heightened the buzz triggered by tapping into young people’s wanderlust. Heaps of priceless free publicity was generated, as myriad media groups worldwide covered the story, largely ignoring the fact that it was a marketing ploy. A 34-year-old ostrich-rider from England won the competition, but this was a triumph for PR – and how to execute it with aplomb.


Thanks to Higher and Higher Comm for this amazing list:


1. #Commschat. Every Monday, starts at 8pm GMT. The chat is founded by@AdamVincenzini and @EmilyCagle and it is my favorite Twitter chat about communications and PR. Learn more about it here.

2. #PRStudChat. This is a monthly Twitter chat aiming to bring together PR students, professionals, and educators and trying to initiate a dynamic conversation about the PR industry. It provide opportunities for learning, networking and mentoring relationships.

3. #PRWebChat. The online news distributor PRWeb organizes this bi-weekly Twitter chat that features gurus and influencers, based on the topics of PR, SEO, social media. You can take part every other Thursday at 2-2:30 p.m. ET

4. #BrandChat. A discussion about branding – personal, corporate, product, etc. Every Wednesday: 11a ET/10a CT/9a MT/8a PT.

5. #PR20Chat. It’s a weekly conversation held on every Tuesday at 8PM EST about PR 2.0, moderated by @PRtini and @JGoldsborough.

6. #BlogChat. Weekly conversation that takes place every Sunday at 8pm CT.  Each week a different blogging topic is being dicussed.

7. #SoloPR. This chat is held each Wednesday from 1-2 p.m. Eastern time.

8. #JournChat.  A weekly conversation held on every Monday between 7-10pm CST. This is an interesting interaction between journalists, bloggers and PR people.

9. #SMbiz. Small Business Chat – organized on Tuesday at 8-9 pm EDT. Hosted by @SternalPR and @SternalMrktg

10. #MeasurePR. This is a bi-weekly chat on Tuesdays from 12-1 pm ET. The main topic is measurement in the are of PR.

11. #IMCChat. A Twitter chat about integrated marketing communications moderated by @bethharte and @abarcelos. You can take part on Wednesday at 8pm ET.

12. #HPRChat. This is a monthly Hispanic PR chat on Twitter held every first Wednesdays, 8-9:30PM EST among US Hispanic PR proffesionals, journalists and bloggers.  Started by @andycheco.

13. #HCSM. A weekly chat on Sunday at 8 p.m. CT. This chat is focused on healthcare communications and social media.

In addition, here is a great article about 35 important hashtags for PR people on Twitter written by Andrew M. Scott.


Yesterday, the CIPR hosted “Social Media Conference 2010: Reputations in Flames, The Risks of Online” (check #CIPRSM for the day’s live tweets)

Are you tapped in to what’s being said about your organisation or company on the web? Social media is here and the threats that online conversations pose to corporate reputations are real. Managing reputation today means managing conversations that are happening across multiple social platforms, around the clock. If you are part of those conversations, you can handle them – and their impact.

How do you find out what’s being said where? How and when do you respond? How do you stop a crisis situation developing?

Reputations in Flames will explore the risks that businesses and organisations are exposed to in these social networking times and equip you with the know-how to handle them.

The agenda:

  • highlight why social media is so critical to reputation
  • examine the risks posed by social media – for those who engage, as well as those who choose not to
  • provide advice and guidance on effectively managing online risks and mitigating the impact that negative conversations can have on a brand’s reputation
  • look at the key steps in digital crisis management.

I would have love to attend but unfortunately due to financial and “deadline” issues I missed this one. However, I got the slides today from @Andy_CIPR and managed to get some parts of them.



This weekend I had the chance to take part in some amazing events. I’ll start by telling you a bit about last night’s PRide Awards (Tweet #pridemids in case you want to know more).

For those who don’t know, the awards are a form of recognising excellence and rewarding achievement in UK public relations and communications. They cover all areas of the kingdom according to the different groups of the CIPR. Last night at the HIlton Metropole in Birmingham we had the Midlands awards.

I volunteered a few weeks ago to help with the ceremony and therefore I ended up being the trophy girl (aka handing the trophies to the Gold winners of this edition and spending a lot of time near and on the scene). However, it was obviously not all work as I had a lovely (free) dinner in a lovely venue, with some amazing people (thanks Gayle, Donna and Liene) in outstanding outfits (saw some beautiful dresses last night).

If you are curious about who won what, check the list of winners on @TheDrum.

The photos are not out yet, but I’ll add a phone snapshot I took:

I also had the chance to meet Jane Wilson, CEO of the CIPR which I really admire for her energy and commitment. I must have been quite stunned when shaking hand but I do hope I made a nice impression. (I also heard Jane speaking at the AMEC conference a few weeks ago and she was brilliant!)

I’ll just end by congratulating once again the Student of the Year (Sarah who just graduated from my course:)) and also the amazing team @McCannPR in Solihull for winning Outstanding Consultancy of the Year! I am really proud of having met you guys personally last spring. You really deserved it.

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