• Update…Ryan Air v the BBC and Panorama

    Oct 22 • General business • 1262 Views

    Thanks to everyone who voted in the recent Ryan Air poll on this blog.

    Good news for them really. 50% of you may have not changed your opinion but a whopping 44% did and changed it in favour of the airline. Only 6% of you liked them less.

    A pretty good night’s work from the PR machine that is Michael O’Leary.

    Tomorrow’s post will be about the BBC again, with controversial BNP leader Nick Griffin appearing on Newsnight. I’ll be tuning in tonight and reporting back tomorrow.

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  • “No one likes us, we don’t care” – Ryan Air v Panorama

    Oct 16 • General business • 3534 Views

    Shock news this week as ace reporter Vivian White and his august Panorma team exposed Ryan Air as…CHEAP!

    Panorma logo

    Panorma logo

    Well, can you imagine the horror at Ryan Air towers?! “Save us, Mr O’Leary. Whatever will we do? Now the country has heard it from the BBC they’ll really believe our key message!”

    PR guru O'Leary

    PR guru O'Leary

    What started out as a pretty pre-meditated attack to take team O’Leary and Ryan Air down a peg or two backfired horribly. The BBC came over as far more arrogant than Ryan Air which is quite an achievement in itself. White’s revulsion as he sat on the flight with “seats that don’t recline and a health and safety leaflet that is just stuck onto the seat in front” was palpable.

    But hold on Vivian, surely if it is stuck on in front of you the safety message is IN YOUR FACE where it should be, not stowed under the seat never to see the light of day along with the £4.50 sandwich wrapper from the previous “on schedule” flight you accidently plugged whilst raining vitriol down on their heads from your ivory tower?

    The patronising tone continued throughout and by the time O’Leary was doorstepped by White for a comment, the audience was (I suspect) aching for O’Leary to fight back and boy did he do just that. Treating the broadcast/er with contempt, O’Leary cheerfully volunteered to do a live interview so long as it wasn’t edited. Panorama refused. Hmmmm – right to reply?

    So, O’Leary launched into a monologue about Ryan Air. “Cheapest”, “biggest”, “safest” etc, with White looking on incredulous. The problem was that most of the audience found it hilarious. They don’t enjoy flying in relative dis-comfort on Ryan Air and they hate the crush and the rush in the airport too. They probably don’t like O’Leary either normally but at that moment I dare say he earned some grudging fans and certainly delivered his key messages – that is a PR win guys.

    It got worse too when White effectively criticised a chief executive for negotiating hard on costs with regards airports and aircraft. Oh no, a chief exec with his eye on his costs? Whatever next Vivian, don’t tell me Ryan Air’s gone and made that dirty word “profit”?

    In conclusion, love them or loathe them, Ryan Air came out of the BBC hatchet job pretty much unscathed. We all knew they were cheap, somewhat tacky and that their chief exec can really get up people’s noses. What we didn’t all know was that they were also the safest and most punctual airline. I’m sure Ryan Air’s PR team will thank the BBC for that one for years to come.

    The Press For Attention Prescription

    Until a rival changes its offering and starts to compete on price, Ryan Air can continue annoying people and courting profits, not friends. For now, that includes the media. The media knows O’Leary and his motley crew will always guarantee a headline when news is slow and so does Ryan Air.

    The problems with their PR approach and market offering will only come when they suddenly need to build bridges. Time will tell.

    [polldaddy poll=2127861]

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  • Jordan dropped from Breast Cancer campaign – it Asda be a panic decision

    Oct 2 • Celebrity, Charity • 6095 Views

    At the risk of P4A becoming a blog about Jordan/Katie Price, she hit the headlines again this week with the news that Asda has dropped her from its breast cancer publicity campaign. The supermarket giant made the move following comments on her ITV show which angered cancer sufferers and campaigners.

    Asda logo

    Jordan/KP had been used by Asda to mark the 12th anniversary of the retailer’s Tickled Pink campaign.

    The retailer moved to quell anger among cancer victims who reacted to comments she made on her reality show What Katie Did Next last week about scars on her breasts caused by surgery.

    An Asda spokeswoman posted a news release on a forum hosted by Breast Cancer Care which said:

    ‘Nobody was happy with what Katie said on the show, especially us. The last thing we want to do is upset anyone and so in light of the conversations we have all had over the past couple of days we won’t be using Katie in any publicity shots.’

    Katie Price aka Jordan

    Katie Price aka Jordan

    The P4A Prescription

    Sounds sensible at first glance. On such a sensitive subject it is normally better to be safe than sorry. However, did both parties miss a trick here? Rather than just “dump” Jordan from its campaign, Asda had a golden opportunity deliver an educational message. Why not explain WHY such comments are insensitive and HOW Jordan could help in the future?

    She is a woman with a heck of a media profile and is PR-savvy enough to know when bridges needed to be built. I think Asda was correct to criticise Jordan but then both parties should have pulled together to deliver the message to an even bigger audience post-outrage.

    I suspect both of them have missed out. Asda has lost a major celebrity tie-up and Jordan/KP looks insensitive and has lost a contract but the biggest loser out of all of this, is the campaign itself, which could have benefited from a public apology and greater dissemination of this vitally important message.

    [polldaddy poll=2067850]

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  • Monday mutterings…Renault and sport in a PR fix

    Sep 21 • Sport • 1626 Views

    It must be an interesting time to be in Sports PR. First we had bloodgate

    Rugby's reputaton gets a bloody nose

    Rugby's reputation gets a bloody nose

    with Dean Richards et al, as rugby players, (the perennial darlings of “gentlemanly conduct”) were found guilty shock/horror of cheating. My word, what next? We’ll soon be hearing of the little saints feigning injury (sorry, already had that), illegal tackles (ditto) and becoming obsessed with their own celebrity (oh, been there too).

    Gavin Henson the celebrity

    Gavin Henson the celebrity

    Sport is increasingly high profile. The proliferation of media outlets dedicated to sport magnifies each twist and turn, tactic and tantrum in High Def glorious detail.

    Now the money men of F1 have been caught messing with the mechanics of the sport (so to speak!). The future of the team will be decided by the sport’s governing body at a hearing today in Paris. The team has been accused of ordering Brazilian Nelson Piquet  to crash in the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix to help Renault team mate Fernando Alonso win.


    Piquet Jr

    Renault announced that it would not contest the charges and last week Renault team boss Flavio Briatore  and engineering director Pat Symonds both stepped down. My colleagues in the PR world have been having their say today, urging Renault to move on quickly and Briartore has been vilified by the press.

    However, what of Piquet himself? Would this story have even come to light had he not lost his seat at Renault and in F1 for the season? Would he not have accepted his role as a “professional sportsman” quietly and happily continued as a team player if he had not been deemed surplus to requirements at Renault?

    Whatever the decision, one might suspect the media and the profile boost it would promise his stalling career would have been a major driving force behind that decision.

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  • BBC for Breakfast? We’re radio gaga!

    Sep 11 • Inspiration • 2146 Views

    What a start to the weekend! Vishal from Blak Pearl and I headed over to the BBC studios in Nottingham at 8am today to do an interview on the Breakfast Show – an exhilarating feeling as we walked up the steps and signed in at the front desk.

    BBC studios in Nottingham

    BBC studios in Nottingham

    We were there to promote ILSG 2010 and as we were shown upstairs by the broadcast assistant and took our seats, we attempted to look calm as the reporters and editors rushed around behind us. We had done some prep earlier on Thursday and I’ve done radio interviews before but they were often recorded – not this one! This was going to be “Live in 5″ as the producer put it, peering around the door of the editing suite with cheerful gaiety.

    Sure, just another day for her but for us, what an opportunity to spread the word, especially after the earlier coverage in the press this week Nervous? Us? Never. Well, ok, we were but we weren’t going to let that stop us.

    Having waited around whilst other people came and went from the studio, including a representative of Experian PLC who was promoting Sunday’s Experian Robin Hood Festival of Running we were ushered inside the hallowed ground of the editing suite.

    The producer was busy now, trying to get hold of James Caan on the other line to do a live link to us and we barely had time for a last minute tactical chat before Vishal was ushered into the studio to meet the presenter. Some quick chat followed whilst they ran a traffic report before they were live on air.

    Vishal was excellent, conveying the message of potential in everyone very eloquently and even managing a sneaky plug of the Train to Gain angle which we’ve recently been accredited with and then….enter the Dragon. James Caan himself.

    As usual, James was his effortless charming self, chatting with ease about entrepreneurship and about our event with great energy and enthusiasm. Then, with barely 10 minutes on the clock it was over and Vishal could escape into the glare of the beautiful Friday morning sunshine. Rest assured though Vishal, that glare will get brighter and brighter as the media starts knocking on your door.

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  • Lessons from the recession

    Aug 18 • General business, Innovation, Inspiration • 1310 Views

    Last Friday I had the priviledge of meeting James Caan, CEO of Hamilton Bradshaw and the “friendly” Dragon on Dragons’ Den.

    The Blak Pearl team with James Caan

    The Blak Pearl team with James Caan

    I was in his office with the Blakpearl team www.blakpearl.com as we began filming our documentary, Lessons from the Recession” to be screened at Blak Pearl’s ILSG 2010 event in January. Mr Caan will be a keynote speaker at ILSG 2010 alongside US guru Brian Tracy and kindly agreed to be a part of the documentary.

    Buoyed by our brush with fame, we hit the streets of London to ask retailers what they had learnt thus far from the recession,  on camera, naturally. The first thing we learnt was that fear is dominant. Fear of change, fear of the unknown and fear of opportunity. Before we even got their permission to film, the vast majority of people we spoke to had decided that whatever it was that we were doing was to be viewed as a threat rather than an opportunity.

    What we were actually offering was a chance for them to air their views, give their business exposure to an audience of over 3000 international delegates at ILSG 2010 and an even larger one through James Caan but the majority would rather not get involved. There was also a chance to be involved in a world record attempt (more to follow on that in the coming weeks) but fear dominated.

    Procrastination was rife, “leave us some info”, “can we discuss it next week”, well frankly, no. We are filming a documentary, it is meant to be natural and we are in London now. Take the chance, seize the opportunity, TRY something new. Sadly many didn’t but thankfully about 20% did. The comon theme with these businesses? All were being run by younger managers/owners. They saw a glass half full. They saw an opportunity and took it.

    It is these sort of people that we need to lead us out of this recession. They embrace the new, they are eager to learn, they want to be a part of things.

    First lesson from the recession: give young entrepreneurs a chance, you never know what might happen – but then again, perhaps that scares you?

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  • Peter Andre v Jordan – I’m a celebrity PR me out of here

    Aug 11 • Celebrity • 3432 Views

    Granted, I haven’t had the “celebs” beating a path to my door during my 10 year PR career but I have to say I would run a mile from Jordan’s briefs even if they did (was that a Freudian “slip”?).

    Katie Price plus wedding ring with her new cage fighter chap

    Katie Price plus wedding ring with her new cage fighter chap

    The latest tabloid battle between these two “estranged” former darlings of the media has now descended into all-out war and I fail to see how it helps either of them in their personal relationships….oh, wait, maybe it is a more cynical ploy. Could it be that one of them has a book/single coming out? Oh yes, there it is, Peter has a new single out this week.

    When this “story” about their split first broke I was one amongst many who raised a cynical eyebrow. It would have been a pretty hard-bitten strategy for most folk I know but in the world of Price and Andre it could quite conceivably have been a PR stunt.

    Now it seems that their relationship is over, it seems even sadder to me that they continue to use the break-up as a vehicle for their careers. None of my business but I wouldn’t want to be their PR today, yesterday or any day in the future if that is the brief from the client.

    Even worse, imagine if that brief comes from the record company or publisher. Talk about pressure but I would hope I’d be able to walk from that sort of nightmare.

    Oh well, just another day in the world of celebrity PR.

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  • That Friday feeling

    Aug 7 • General business, Inspiration • 1511 Views

    Phew, what a day (hmmm, sound like Tommy 2 Days from the Direct Line insurance ad there). Great meeting with the Lord Mayor of Nottingham, the genuinely genuine Jeannie Packer http://tinyurl.com/lstdzx and her colleagues at Nottingham City Council.

    I went with the Blak Pearl team to see if the Mayor and the council would get behind the ILSG 2010 event in London next year http://www.blakpearl.com/events/ and the answer was an emphatic YES!

    It was great to see their enthusiasm in supporting Vishal in his business venture and I hope that once we get this show on the road we will be able to demonstrate that Nottingham has a heck of a lot going for it, especially with regards to innovative businesses and student enterprise.

    Credit must go to the Enterprise Lab at The University of Nottingham http://tinyurl.com/kkg7qk for their support in getting Blak Pearl started but much of it is down to sheer force of self belief, probably engendered by exactly the sort of speakers we expect to see at ILSG 2010, Brian Tracy being the keynote.

    Brian Tracy sales, management and personal success guru.

    Brian Tracy sales, management and personal success guru.

    I’ve already heard a few people question how well this style of event and coaching technique will go down in the UK but it has to be said, no negative feedback has come from entrepreneurs and that is the attitude we need to foster here in the UK as we battle our way out of this recession.

    There’s always something to learn from every situation, you just have to use it if you possibly can.

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  • Taking the Michael…Ryan Air standing room seats a PR stunt?

    Jul 6 • General business • 4008 Views

    I often wonder what it would be like to work on some of the trickier PR campaigns. Politicians trying to change their public image, failed pop stars seeking another comeback etc but I have to say, there’s never a dull day in the Ryan Air press office.

    Michael O’Leary’s gift for getting media attention (or one of his very smart colleague’s gifts) is incredible. There was the mooted “Fat Tax” which was met with extreme hostilty, a plot to remove the number of toilets and now we have them floating the idea of a standing room only seat. These will be cheaper and maybe even free.


    It was communicated (as ever by O’Leary) in simple, dynamic, “what’s wrong with that?” style and I have to say the idea appeals to me. As a taller gent of around 6ft 4-ish I regularly feel uncomfortable sitting down/hovering between the armrests and would love to be able to stand up, I can almost feel the threat of DVT retreating as I type.

    So, is this a genuine offer, designed to cut costs and reduce the fares even further or is it a PR stunt? O’Leary spent nearly as much time on-air (Sky News) talking down British Airways as he did talking about this latest scheme which seemed at first glance a gimmick to allow him to announce Ryan Air’s continuing surge in sales.

    Whatever it was, I’m sure there’s plenty of folks right now talking about it, once again ensurring that Ryan Air and their maverick boss get their share of media attention and even more.


    Standing room only with Ryan Air

    Standing room only with Ryan Air

    Ryan Air’s Michael O’Leary plans standing room only

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  • The Apprentice – lesson 1, deals just fall into your lap…

    Mar 26 • Uncategorized • 1405 Views


    Seconds into the opening titles and I’m already cringing about the future for the British economy. Where do they find these self-styled “business leaders of the future”? The great book of business cliches?

    “I’m a fighter”, “I’ve got a mouthy personality”, “I take no prisoners”, “I love money more than anything”, “winner takes all” etc etc. Yawn, they were just one more stereotype away from “Lunch is for wimps” or, I don’t know, “You’re fired!”. No, wait.

    I tuned into the first ever series intrigued to find yet another reality tv show (for this is what it essentially is folks, no matter how you style it) but one that was going to reward skill, effort, creativity and business acumen. You didn’t even have to like the participants. Excellent, could be interesting.

    Sadly, no. My interest waned as the show became more about re-working Alan Sugar’s damaged public profile post-Tottenham Hotspur and less about engaging the young fertile minds of Britain’s new business world order.

    I’ve skipped it since but I came back to it last night, encouraged by the promise of a more realistic, sober, credit-crunch conscious approach. Once the posturing was finally over, it looked promising. “Get out there and clean things” boomed Sir Alan or “SrAln” as the apprentices seemed to call him. That’s more like it, get out there with some raw materials,a bit of charm and turn some hard graft into hard cash.

    Unfortunately, that hard graft seemed conveninently glossed over. Now, I’m sure watching cold-calling sales patter is about as exciting as watching 10 strangers in a house arguing but it seemed rather too easy for both teams, despite the in-fighting to secure major potential contracts right off the bat.

    In the twinkling of SrAln’s eye, the boys had tracked down one of London’s biggest mini-cab firms and the girls had got hold of a luxury car dealership. Naturally, both businesses were happy to drop everything to have them pop over to negotiate terms as they happened to need their entire fleets cleaning.

    I can imagine the conversation amongst the directors…”Sorry? BBC prime time wants to come over to our lot and film a load of oiks cleaning our cars? For free? When? Sure, where do we sign? Make sure you’ve all had your hair cut and you’re dressed smartly guys – ooooh, who’s gonna play bad cop and who will be good cop? Our usual suppliers who we pay a retainer too? Oh, we’ll be ok, who needs to watch their costs? We’ll just absorb it.”

    So it was clearly all a set up. The BBC’s done the ground work, setting up potential gold mines for the teams to exploit and yes, I realise that is what is required to make the programme instantly compelling rather than seeing the teams pound the shoe leather and the phones searching for clients. However, that hard graft done for them, the tasks decended into a popularity and shouting competition.

    Who would emerge as top dog, or perhaps more fittingly, top bitch? Both the boys and the girls spent more time running eachother down, questioning leadership and style over outlining the business plan. As a result, lots of mess, a few tears (ok, I imagined that but they’ll be there next episode) and a spot of personality clashes.

    Is that business? Maybe. Is it reality? No. Is it reality TV? Yes. It did give nod to these more challenging economic times until the teams retired after a hard day to their luxury penthouse apartment complete with cocktail team and the real fun and fighting could begin. How long before we’re asked by Radio 1 who we think fancies who or which apprentice is the hottest? Important questions I’m sure.

    Anyway, I’m off to find a bucket, a sponge and Nottingham’s biggest cab firm. By my calculations I can make £200 profit by 7pm. Thanks SrAln.

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