Since first springing forth and smacking po-faced politicians on the nose with a diatribe of satirical imagery and intelligent prose,Private Eyehas become a national treasure. Like many other PR agencies in Manchester, and the rest of the UK, it’s a frequent fixture on our coffee table. And not least because few other journalists make it their sole purpose in life to mock and expose in one fell, infinitely readable scoop.
So 50 years on the publication is now Britain’s most popular current affairs title, boasting readership figures in excess of 696,000 which, in itself, stamps a big question mark over the whole ‘inevitable death of print’ thing. Still the future can never be predicted, but, quite rightly, those in charge aren’t going to let the past go without celebration, and today revealed some pretty appealing plans.
Firstly, there’s an illustrated book in the pipeline, charting the magazine’s A-Z, and The Private Eye Manual will also be made available to aid and educate. Both will be on shelves in the run up to the 1300th issue, which hits newsstands late October. After giving us so many informed smiles, it’s highly likely that when the time comes we’ll be some of the first in line for copies of these soon-to-be collectors’ items, though we’re sure the standard fortnightly editions will suffice until then.
It’s been big news for a while, and as a PR agency in Manchester with more than a passing interest in the headlines we’ve read on with keen interest. Then on Monday (March 21st) new fuel was added to the fire, meaning we finally felt obliged to comment.
So Rupert Murdoch, or rather News Corporation, is to buy the remaining 61 per cent of BSkyB. In return the same amount of Sky News will be emancipated from said editorial influence, creating a new publicly listed, independently funded service, Newco. No change there then, as we’ve known this was on the cards for sometime.
The real surprise is that Culture, Media and Sport Secretary Jeremy Hunt has used The Guardian, one of the most outspoken critics of the media mogul, as a soapbox with which to defend his decision to green-light the deal. It’s a move that smacks of a politician trying to neutralise every naysayer by using a title they trust to douse the flames. And an interesting read it is too, not least as the paper in question adopts an amusingly negative tone.
The cabinet minister argues against accusations that ‘swapping’ a stake in a news network for complete control of Britain’s most profitable broadcaster doesn’t measure up (“It was not for me to make suggestions as to what would be an appropriate remedy“). He also states that a new communications bill, expected in the second half of the current parliament, should address the organic growth of media organisations within the context of market monopolies.
In short, groups like News Corporation have seen exponential augmentation in recent memory, a situation that, as the interviewee admitted to the left-leaning national, needs to be monitored more closely. If this isn’t scrutinised, all other competitors could wind up unable to compete, which wouldn’t be very fair. With these sentiments in mind then, times don’t seem quite so desperate.
A controversial, near-monolithic organisation that already dictates the information millions of people consume daily (via The Sun, The Times, and many more) might be about to take complete ownership of the country’s leading subscription TV service. But the government’s got their number, so everything should be A-OK. Sadly, as anyone who caught Channel 4′s Dispatches: Tabloids, Tories and Phone Hacking last October will know, this, unsurprisingly, may not be the case.
The programme focused on Andy Coulson, former Editor of News of the World (another News Corporation paper), who went on to become David Cameron’s Director of Communications (until resigning in January 2011). And, worryingly, the links went far deeper, ‘revealing’ further ties between the Conservative party, and Mr Murdoch’s various businesses. Now, looking at the BSkyB proposals, things look a little less clear.
But it’s not our job to judge. After all, if the journalists are still approachable and open minded then the inner workings of Britain’s press, which by nature is in a constant state of flux, really has no effect on us. But, as we’ve expressed before, should media plurality begin to slide then we risk losing control of vital information, which in turn can lead to unspeakably disastrous scenarios. Double page spread or not, this is something we firmly object to, so let’s hope Mr Hunt has no regrets when he looks back at this moment…
This video is embedded from You Tube, with copyright owned by Channel 4.
Everyone is talking about how this is the year of the mobile (this has been said every year now for a number of years so don’t get too excited), and now Ofcom, has revealed that the next 12 months could be an exciting time for consumers and an expensive time for mobile operators.
The number of people owning smart phones has risen to 12.8 million (May 2010) with 1 million new users accessing the internet via their mobile phones in the first quarter of 2010 (which equates to 13.5 million users in total). However as anyone who uses their phone to surf the web will attest to, even with 3G the service can be slow. This is about to change as Ofcom have announced a consultation on how best to sell off the rights to the next generation (4G) of mobile wireless networks.
This could prove to a boost to be a government that is concerned about the deficit, as the last time Ofcom held an auction for the rights to 3G in 2000 it netted the treasury a cool £22.5bn and although the auction wouldn’t be held until the first part of 2012 it could be a great moneymaker. Observers are being cautious stating that the auction might not prove as profitable this time round quoting the events in Germany. In 2000 the German government raised €50bn when it auctioned off 4G last year however it raised a meagre €4.3bn.
Whatever the price 4G promises to continue to push mobile media usage and for consumers will be a welcome development.
The issue of personal details on the internet isn’t going way. At least not if the EU directive has anything to do with it.
Last November the continental powers that be began assessing privacy laws impacting on the 27 member nations. It didn’t take too long before a decision was made that current legislation wasn’t offering enough protection to users, and a tightening of boundaries, leaning of leeways, and narrowing of margins had become necessary.
Over the Atlantic, the US hasn’t met European standards of data protection for some time now, meaning it will fall further from the mark once stricter rules come into play. And when it comes to social networks, these failings are no-doubt tenfold. We have all heard worrying stories about the amount of personal information such sites store, so it’s obvious the suits responsible for outlying the need for bananas sans ‘abnormal curvature’ were going to find plenty worth shouting about when it came to online secrets, or lack thereof.
Now the EU Justice Commissioner, Viviane Reding, has decreed that any website with a presence in Europe must adhere to the region’s standards on privacy. According to Bloomberg, that means everyone from Google to Facebook is now under extreme scrutiny from Brussels, and data protection officials from 30 countries have already collectively forced the likes of Microsoft and Yahoo! to limit the amount of time details are stored for. So where do you stand on this? Is the nanny state simply becoming more paranoid, or do the gatekeepers and communication overlords need to stop hording our particulars? It’s a debate worth debating, so let’s hear some thoughts.
Here at Smoking Gun we extend an open invite to friends, colleagues and esteemed professional associates should they wish to contribute words of wisdom to these (web)pages. So it’s nice to see the favour being returned, twice.
A familiar face on the Manchester PR agency scene, our very own head honcho Rick Guttridge, has contributed not one, but two pieces to well respected media titles. Firstly, those with a finger on the media pulse may have noticed last week’s How Do Weekly Wrap featured his familiar face. A discussion on advertising, social media and product placements dominated a column that also looked at The Northerner‘s new blog-based format.
And then PR Week today revealed a piece from the same pen focused on Magazineland. Reader’s Digest is one of the few titles that can celebrate an increase in circulation. But the party at the 73 year old monthly will no doubt be 73 times bigger than any of the other publications bucking the downward trend, given the fact this is the first time in 17 years it has seen anything of the sort. Social media, and the crafty appointment of a new columnist in the shape of Loaded founder James Brown both working a treat. Have a read for yourself…
It’s nice to know that people are recognising all the hard work we’ve put in over the last year, making sleepless nights and early mornings even more worthwhile. The regional business information site has invited us to see how we fair at Lancashire County Cricket Club on April 7th, where lunch will be served along with trophies for the winners.
Now the shortlist has been released the readers will get to decide on the contenders’ fate, so fingers are well and truly crossed on Mount Street… albeit while holding a cup of coffee, answering the phone and scrolling our social media dashboard with the help of a Magic Mouse. There’s some stiff competition too. Our friends at Journey 9 are also in the running, along with Envestors, Insight with Passion and MyParcelDelivery.com, meaning competition is fierce, but affectionate. Watch this space, or click here if you want to give us your vote!
Whether it’s a BlackBerry, iPhone, Android or Symbian, chances are you’ve replaced that traditional mobile with a full 3G internet enabled bad boy. If not then the thought has no doubt crossed your mind.
It would be surprising to find many offices like ours wherein every staff member hasn’t jumped aboard the mobile technology runaway train. After all, any public relations agency, or marketing firm, can immediately see the benefits from having an on the go inbox. Or at least they think they can.
Introducing Ian Price. He’s an author, and the gentleman responsible for a book called The Activity Illusion. If you haven’t heard of it, then a brief synopsis will no doubt sufficiently explain. His work looks at the effects having a smartphone had on 500 workers, in terms of stress levels, productivity and workload accumulation. The results will no doubt come as no surprise to more than a few.
Obviously it was a pretty complicated procedure to record the evidence, and glean some conclusion. But, basically, Price found that staff with access to work emails in their pocket actually proved less productive. And while they also suffered less stress caused by the build up of unread items, this is counterbalanced by the ill-effects of being on ’24 hour callout’, so to speak.
So what do you think? Do you tie up loose ends successfully from the comfort of your tram home, returning to the office each day confident that you and Apple are on top of the workload. Or do you find yourself incessantly organising, and rarely finishing any tasks at hand? We’d like to think the former best describes us, although it’s probably not best practice to self-assess…
We’ve said it before, and will no doubt say it again. To be successful at public relations you have to think outside the salesmanship box. People want to buy things, of course, but they also enjoy engaging on a more informal level.
It would seem the brains inside Honda’s marketing head agree too. Which is a relief, as we’d be disappointed if the automobile giant ignored the mantra we live by as a well respected PR agency in Manchester. Self worth to one side, let’s have a look at what they’ve done.
In an age ruled by apps big businesses are increasingly relying on mobile technology to hold an audience captive. Now the Japanese car manufacturer has shown the watching world how this is really done by launching a new TV campaign, driven by a revolutionary new smartfone application.
The animated ad features various characters that, via an iPhone equipped with the required software, can be ‘grabbed’ off the screen, and given a new home, Tamagotchi style, inside the mobile device. We’ve embedded the video below to give you a better insight into this innovative idea, but let’s just say that ‘This Unpredictable Life’, as the campaign is called, is a fine example of asking for nothing (it’s a free download), and getting plenty back (your brand, in their pocket). Food for thought to say the least…