On today's ramble through cyberspace, I discovered a couple of new online tools. I thought that I would share them with you as I think that they are both worth bearing in mind when working on either you own or a client's online profile.


Knol is a brand new offering from Google. It has been designed to go up against Wikipedia, which has dominated the online free-content encyclopaedia space since it was created back in 2001.

Unlike Wikipedia, you can write about anything on Knol- including individual businesses. I'm keen to see whether this will result in a huge, spaghetti like mess of useless information but, at the moment, the Knol site looks great, is easy to use and contains some very interesting entries.

As well as providing information on clients, Knol could also be used to educate more people on the benefits of public relations. There is already a PR related 'knol' listed on the site but if you don't agree with it or think that this writer has missed some key points, simply sign up and create your very own PR knol!


Ning is a social networking site that was set up with the aim of competing with the big boys: Facebook and MySpace. Apparently, this site was launched in October, 2005. This means that either I am not as up-to-speed with the online landscape as I think I am or the founders have not put an awful lot of effort into marketing it!

There are a fair few NZ based social networks on here, ranging from a Northland Fishing Forum to a group for expats.

I think that a site like this could be great for mobilising people on specific issues. Unlike the better known networks, Ning users can set up a forum for their group, which could be useful for encouraging discussion and interaction with key audiences.

Anyway, those are my two new tools for the day. If anybody is already using these, I would love to hear what your experiences have been.


I love Friday mornings. Friday mornings are when I settle down at my desk with a huge cup of milky coffee and get stuck into all of my online work. I check up on this blog, I browse the net for any online tools that may have been developed since I last checked (!) and I carry out any online PR plans that have been laid out for my clients.

I'm particularly enjoying this Friday as the sun is shining and the rain has almost stopped. Does anyone know if we had even one day free of rain this July? Anyway, I digress..

Today, I decided to go on a hunt for New Zealand based public relations blogs. I already knew of a few but wanted to make sure that I hadn't missed any. My findings are below:

Is this it? If anyone else in New Zealand is blogging about PR, please let me know and I will add you to the list.

It would be a shame if these are the only PR related blogs in New Zealand. I would love to have access to a tool, through which public relations practitioners could swap thoughts and ideas on how to improve the industry. A website containing PR news and views would also be fantastic- perhaps something similar to the ad industry's Campaign Brief NZ?


Usually, business owners are advised to steer well clear of controversy. Everyone assumes that it is much better to be honest, transparent and well behaved. If a company does do anything to upset people, they normally murmur a humble apology and keep a low profile for a while. However, it occured to me today that a tiny bit of controversy can actually be a good thing.....

As me and my little red 1990 MX5 battled our way through roads masquarading as lakes this morning, I tuned in to The Edge radio station. The hosts were talking about Disney sweetheart, Miley Cyrus, and her alleged aligment with LifeStyles condoms. It is blatently obvious that Miley's advisors would never allow her to make such an alliance and LifeStyles have created quite a stir by offering her a lifetime supply of their product. I don't believe that there was ever any chance of Miley taking up this offer. I think that LifeStyles leaked the story for their own PR purposes. And guess what? It worked. Everybody, everywhere, is now talking about LifeStyles condoms.

Sloggi have also been the subject of many a blog recently with their search for 'The World's Best Bottom'. The outrage this has caused in certain circles (mainly Swedish ones) has no doubt boosted the profile of their lighthearted campaign. It certainly hasn't hurt it. Check out how many people have already submitted a photo of their derriere.

Closer to home, you only have to open the nearest newspaper to see what our own local brands have been doing to get people talking. Dear Steve Crow and his parade of bouncing bosoms are one such example. Crow is highly skilled at using those people that dislike what he does to boost publicity for his event, Erotica Lifestyles Expo. What the politicians and protestors don't seem to realise is that when they kick up a fuss, Steve Crow and his event get an larger slice of the media pie and even more people hear about his expo. Exactly what he wants!

The story in today's Herald states that: 'Despite political opposition, the event has become hugely popular, watched by tens of thousands of people.'

I would argue that this event has attracted so much attention because of political opposition and the subsequent media coverage.

All in all, the above examples go to show that sometimes a bit of debate over a product, service or event can actually be a great public relations tool. It can raise awareness of a brand and drive more people to carry out the action that you would like them to. It should definitely remind us all to think outside of the box a little and not to shy away from a little bit of controversy, if we come across the kind of client that might benefit from it...


As you can probably guess, I am a big fan of blogging, when it is done properly. A cleverly written, informative blog can attract a huge group of loyal followers and have a substantial influence on their perceptions and the actions that they take.

This is why I am slightly disappointed that PRiNZ, the Public Relations Institute of New Zealand, has allowed their blog to die...

The first problem with the PRiNZ blog is that it is impossible to find. The only way you will come across it is if you accidentally stumble upon it whilst searching for something entirely different! There is not even a link to the blog from the PRiNZ website.

Secondly, the blog has not been updated since December, 2007. Not good.

I also find it interesting that while this blog has been neglected, a new PR magazine has been printed. This is despite the fact that research shows that online readership is soaring and less people are bothering with traditional print media.

I think that, even though some great business related blogs have come out of New Zealand, this country is still lagging behind the rest of the world.

PR people have the opportunity to demonstrate just what a difference blogging can make to New Zealand companies. Bearing this in mind, I think that PRiNZ should ressurect their PR blog, make an effort to provide some thought-provoking comments, opinions and information and lead the way forward!

Our key audiences are finding increasingly diverse and advanced ways to communicate and to unearth information. If the PR industry doesn't adapt then it may as well roll over and die...


I stumbled across this British article earlier today and was surprised to read that the author considers press releases 'a complete waste of time'.

I think that is a ridiculous statement myself. A well written media release provides journalists with every bit of information that they need to put together an accurae, informative and compelling article. Of course, we also 'talk to journalists and provide them with leads and stories' but, even after selling a story into a publication, most of us would email them a copy of the media release so that they have access to all the correct facts and figures.

Media releases can be a journalist's best friend when they are targeted at the relevant outlets and are structured properly. A good media release makes a journalist's job much easier.

Anyway, that is my opinion on the whole matter. It got me thinking though- is there anyone out there that agrees with Mr Troy and believes that the media release is dead? Or do you think that this man who claims that he does 'publicity, not PR' is yet another example of someone who doesn't quite grasp what public relations is? Interested to hear your thoughts!


This tongue-in-cheek article from the Guardian is absolutely hillarious.

How many of us have felt 'copy rage' when our lovingly prepared piece of work has been ripped to shreds by someone senior to us? I am becoming increasingly immune to constructive criticism and alterations to my articles and media releases but this piece still made me chuckle.


This is a great little campaign that was run by Royal Mail in the UK. It should serve as a reminder to us all that a choice doesn't have to be made between online and offline tactics. When you combine these two approaches, a very powerful campaign can be created.

Anyway, I shall leave it to Mr Complete to explain exactly how this can be achieved....


Last night, I was fortunate enough to hear another senior member of the Saatchi & Saatchi team speak. This time it was Dean Taylor, who took over the role of Managing Director at the S&S Auckland office earlier this year.

Dean was hosting the Business Mentors New Zealand 'Patron's Event'. S&S is a major sponsor of this fantastic, not-for-profit organisation, helping the business with every aspect of their advertising needs.

Dean gave a great presentation on small to medium enterprises (SMEs). He pointed out that, even though these individual companies are small, they make up the largest area of business in New Zealand and deserve our attention. Dean went on to say that, if we really want to connect with these businesses, we need to really get into their heads and understand their different worries and hopes.

He summed his speech up with a list of points that should be bourne in mind when dealing with SMEs. My personal favourite was point number 10 which stated that: 'Word of mouth is the most powerful tool.' It seems that even the ad guys can't deny the power of PR....!

Dean also touched on the merits of online advertising, this being an area that S&S is really focusing on at the moment (and no wonder- all the figures show that people are reading less and surfing the net more).

Like Kevin Roberts, Dean also keeps a blog. Check it out here.


I was lucky enough to hear Kevin Roberts, global CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi speak at the SkyCity Convention Centre last night. As leader of one of the world's largest and best known advertising agencies, I was expecting Kevin to come across as somewhat aloof and intimidating.

When he started talking, I was pleasantly surpised to discover that this highly sought after and incredibly successful man is actually very down to earth. He seems like the kind of genuine guy you could enjoy a cold pint with- this impression only cemented further by his disarming Lancashire/American accent.

Even though I found standing up for an hour quite taxing (wearing high heels was a mistake!) I thoroughly enjoyed hearing what Kevin had to say. It just made sense.

When discussing how companies should deal with the current economic slip, Kevin had a number of suggestions. The one point that sticks in my mind is that businesses should not shy away from being creative and innovative. When every other enterprise is keeping a low profile and slashing their budgets, the astute business owner will be ensuring that they are running an aggressive, inventive marketing campaign and are getting their brand in front of the people that matter,

If you want to get more of an insight into how Kevin thinks, I thoroughly suggest checking out his blog.


The more astute businesspeople have always known that when recession hits, the key to success is to keep on investing. The companies that don't pull through are the ones that curl up into a tiny ball and pretend that it isn't happening or the ones that sack their marketing team and slash the advertising budget.

This BusinessDay article by David Hargreaves explains exactly why New Zealand businesses should keep on investing. According to BCG managing director, David Tapper, history has shown that 'companies who reinvest in the face of a downturn tend to outperform those who return cash to shareholders or use it to repay debt'

Investing against the tide, whether that is organically- through sales and marketing, research and development, production, logistics and people-or inorganically, through mergers and acquisitions can lead to a company being in a better position than its immobile competitors.

Preparation is crucial when dealing with recession. According to BCG, companies that plan effectively for a downturn often find themselves in a position to increase market share and attract the best talent at a time when competitors are reducing head-count and delaying investments.


An exciting opportunity has just opened up at the Auckland-based Intermediary Communications for a mid-senior level Account Manager.

The successful applicant will be reporting directly to the Managing Director, Peter Boyes. Peter is a great mentor, with 26 years extensive experience in communications counsel, including being responsible for co-ordinating pan-European and trans-Atlantic communications programmes. He is also a PRiNZ chairman.

Intermediary is a fast-growing, boutique consultancy with a broad range of clients. If you are enthusiastic, pro-active and creative, then this may be the role for you.

If you are interested in finding out more, send me an email or your CV to or give me a call on 021 667 873. You can read more about Intermediary at


One thing that many junior consultants struggle with is media relations. Some go to extraordinary lengths to avoid it, such as the UK-based junior who took to pretending that he was speaking to a publication when in fact he was conversing with the talking clock!

However, contrary to popular belief, journalists do not hate PR people. They do not spend their days plotting and musing on various ways to make our lives as uncomfortable and as miserable as possible. In fact, the majority of them are actually quite nice.

It's very simple really- all they want is interesting, exciting news that is relevant to them and their publication. As long as you are honest and helpful, they are not going to bite your head off.

If you are new to media relations, here are a few simple tips to help you through those first, tentative calls:

1) Choose phone over email:

Even though email may feel like the easy option, it is not always the most effective. Emails are easy to overlook, forget about or delete. If you discuss an article via the telephone, you will be able to answer any queries that the journalist has and will be able to describe your story with a passion that just can't be conveyed through electronic means

2) Know who you need to speak to:

Research the names and positions of people working at specific magazines and newspapers and target your story at the individuals working in the relevant sections. There is no point wasting the Editor-in-Chief's time if you have a story that would be better off being pitched at the Property Editor. If you are unsure about who you need to speak to, an editorial assistant will be able to point you in the right direction.

3) Make sure you know what you're talking about:

Never pick up the phone unless you have prepared yourself sufficiently and know what you are going to talk about. Make sure that you know the ins and outs of the business or product that you wish to discuss. Otherwise, you will come across as unprofessional and journalists will feel that you are wasting their time.

4) Keep it short and sweet:

Journalists are very busy people- they do not want you waffling on for half an hour. Make sure that you can describe your idea in as succinct a manner as possible. You should be able to get your key points across in the space of a few minutes.

5) Prepare a script:

If you are really nervous about pitching your story, write out a rough script. Having a series of bullet points in front of you will make you feel more confident and will provide you with something to refer to should you get nervous and forget what you were going to say next.

6) Everyone loves a natural:

Don't try to be someone you're not- just be yourself. A few tricks to stop you feeling tense and nervous include standing up and smiling while you're on the phone.

Above all, remember that journalists need stories- their livelihood depends on it. If you can provide them with a unique, interesting story idea, they will thank you for it.