Ben Lowndes #viewsoncomms

A perspective on PR, development and life in the South West

Tag Archives: Cock ups

Building trust makes complete business sense

This post first appeared on the South West Business Insider blog on 26 March

Businesses in the South West are in a period of unprecedented change, with challenges and opportunities facing every sector.

The impact of technology, political stability, hiring good people and – yes – Brexit are just some big questions that businesses are facing, with varying degrees of success.

All businesses are different, with their own priorities and stories to tell. But research from KPMG suggests that the issue most troubling CEOs is the risk of reputational damage.

It’s long been said in the PR industry that reputations are hard earned and quickly destroyed. It’s a nice line, which has the benefit of being true. Social media’s ability to accelerate that damage makes this a more pressing concern.

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How (not) to win customers (and get blacklisted)

Don't bother mate: I'm closed for business

I blogged recently about a publisher I’d blacklisted for its dubious ad-selling, amongst other things. It was the first time I’d done this since moving to Bristol a couple of years ago.

Just like the proverbial buses which nobody sees until another one has just arrived, a different company has given me reason to repeat the act this week.

The offending firm has approached me unsuccessfully in the past with offers to publish ‘free editorial’ in return for allowing them to contact partners and pressure them to support this with advertising.

It’s a mystery to me why anyone in the sector supports this activity, which is often produced to such a poor quality that it is barely credible. Housing has a great story to tell, and better publications understand this and will help us to do so without charging for it.

After making this point a few times, I thought they had got the message.

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Links I like 12.01.21

Fumblerules of Grammar – Lists of Note
This list of grammatical howlers was picked up on my Twitter feed this morning after appearing on the Lists of Note blog. It led me find out more about the New York Times and presidential speech writer William Safire, who put together this list of sins for his newspaper column. I suspect his original piece would be much longer if written today. People who care about the use of English language will enjoy reading this compilation. Thanks to Hayley Dunlop for the tweet.

Blacklisted: you (may not) know who you are

For the first time since moving to Bristol last year, I’ve blacklisted a sector publication for sloppiness. It’s a little-known mag, whose staff sometimes send me annoying emails offering to reproduce a press release ‘for free’ (wow!) if I let them contact partners and pressure them to support this with ad revenue.

This is a dodgy tactic that plays on partners’ goodwill. But it’s supported by some because they are not directly charged for the ad space. I’ve always been staggered by how attractive this approach appears to be to some in the construction industry or public sector. But, believe me, it works.

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Why Rooney and co could learn PR from the Welsh

I am a proud Welshman, but I’ve always supported all the home nations in sporting events. I have an English dad and have spent my adult life in England, so I can’t do tribalism credibly even if I wanted to.

I was gutted by Wales’ defeat in the rugby to France yesterday in one of the most gripping contests I can remember. In many ways, it felt like those sporting failures etched on my memory: heroic performances, outrage at a referee and our boys coming up just short again.

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How (not) to win media mates

I blogged last year about organisations who use their websites to slate the media for the negative coverage they are subjected to.

There are better, more direct ways to express dissatisfaction, and it is not an approach that will be looked on favourably by a newsdesk the next time a decent story is offered up.

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‘Andy Gray-gate’ highlights slack media practice

Andy Gray’s sacking today after another of his puerile outbursts (this time to colleague Charlotte Jackson last month, above) has taught him a harsh lesson. Someone of his experience should know that ‘private’ (as in off air) comments are still fair game if someone within earshot finds them offensive enough to share with the media. In fact, if you utter them in a room full of people, it isn’t very ‘private’ at all, and therefore probably best kept to yourself.

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Tough times for former Sheffield colleagues

Bad news for Sheffield Star

A recent post by Jon Slattery has confirmed what I have been hearing about the continuing problems at my old employers, the Sheffield Star. He reports that staff are balloting to strike next week over plans to cut yet more editorial numbers from an already overstretched newsroom.

I left the paper in 2004, and ballots were taking place then (at that time, it was over pay: strike action was avoided). Nearly seven years and two editors later, it appears that conditions have got worse. Recent stories about painful cock-ups caused by a new production system (see picture, right) have added to the frustration.

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Links I like 10.12.19

Welcome to the ‘chaos theory’ of government – The Observer
The Observer takes an in-depth look at the Government’s Big Society and localism policies, framed around a recent debate where Conservative MP Nick Boles suggested that ‘chaos’ would be more effective than top-down government. In the end, his comments appear to be little more than an expression of the belief that, if power is devolved to local communities, there will be many different approaches to service delivery rather than ‘one size fits all’. That is quite different from the ‘we want to unleash chaos’ piece carried elsewhere on The Observer website. People can watch a video of the debate here.
  
The year’s best regional headline howlers – HoldtheFrontPage.co.uk
On a lighter note, regional journalism website HoldtheFrontPage.co.uk has assembled this collection of headline howlers from the last year – and there are some belters for readers to vote for. The ‘dirty dozen’ includes a couple of entries from my ex-employers, the Sheffield Star. There but for the grace of God…


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