Sunday, October 27, 2013
Tuesday, October 08, 2013
Friday, August 17, 2012
The great races, triumphs, losses, medal winning scenes, opening and closing ceremonies helped make the Olympic Games in London so watchable. The BBC images were fantastic.
But I was determined to do a lot of listening, too, to the commentaries from the various venues and the more I did that, the more I was struck by their knowledge, understanding, insight, passion – and compassion. Particularly, in sports I barely watch such as basketball, show jumping, cycling, volleyball, gymnastics and table tennis where the commentary teams, whose names I don’t know, proved to be everything the so-called “experts” from my usual diet of televised football aren’t. That is to say, they were informative, interesting, amusing, genuinely involved and concerned for what was going on. They told me, unlike the puerile football pundits of this world, things I didn’t know, not repeating those actions I could see for myself.
Clearly, these unsung talents plan in depth for what they have to do, what they need to convey. Certainly, some carry the expertise from participating in certain sports so their observations and points of view have well-honed gravitas. But many will have done their homework and research, and it was evident.
In mainline sports such as tennis, John McEnroe deserves similar praise whereas the flagship football shows such as Match of the Day on BBC do not as this is a programme filled with asinine twaddle from a bunch of conceited dullards. (My views on the lamentable Lawrenson and shoddy Shearer are no secret. These two are among the worst.)
Equally, in PR terms, the best practitioners carry out proper research before going into a pitch or before offering advice of any kind to potential clients. The groundwork is vital. The homework essential. The concerted effort to stack up knowledge and relevant information that underpins any strategies is crucial. We study so we know what we are talking about. If we know hee-haw about jam making or re-usable food containers, then we find out what we can, and consult experts.
How else can a consultant or adviser operate properly? Minus a rock solid base of relevant information, we have empty words. How can one talk with any authority and hope to be as helpful as possible if the basic background preparations have been skimmed over or ignored? But, thankfully, most PRs I know are faultless in this regard, and I wouldn’t have expected anything else.
Clients entrust PR outfits with a great deal and pay for a good service to boot. That’s why research and analysis in the first instance pay dividends – it means a PR can go into any situation buoyed by information that can assist clients while not giving themselves, the PR that is, a showing up through a dismal lack of preparation.
Like the excellent commentators during the Olympics any success relies on the spadework at the beginning. Talk is cheap – real meaning needs a bit of effort.
Saturday, June 23, 2012
Thursday, December 29, 2011
Thursday, October 06, 2011
We see inside the pooch’s brain via screen bubbles and what man’s best friend is seeing or thinking is something like: “Blah, blah, good dog. Blah, blah, sit…..” Well, I confess, that’s the effect the political party conferences have on me.
The platform speakers’ speeches may well have been buffed and tweaked, re-worked and sleeked-up but the oily polemic has little or no impact on me. And when the leaders receive their so-contrived and well-rehearsed ovations I shake my head and cringe.
These are embarrassing occasions. As bad as Dad dancers at weddings. Earnest delegates nod sagely, some just nod off, others gravely take notes and try to ignore the TV cameras as they pan around the hall while upfront, centre stage, their leader is rattling on about this policy or that while sticking the knife into their opponents’ ideas. A real turn-off.
However, I actually tuned in by accident to Home Secretary, Theresa May’s speech. I was at the gym on the cross-trainer and had forgotten my iPod with the new Wilco and Laura Marling CDs on it, so stuck the headphones into the BBC channel as Coronation Street, speedway racing and some teen-angst drama were on the other screens, plus poor rap stars on MTV.
But I was in for a shock because it was so bad it was actually funny. The content, at times, was absurd, infantile. “The only cause of a crime is a criminal,” said May. No, really? Rain can you make you wet, you might want to know.
Then on human rights she said an illegal immigrant avoided deportation because of a pet cat. It made me mull over what headlines the tabloids would conjure up for that revelation but I’ll keep them to myself. Later it was revealed to be a totally inaccurate tale so that made Ms May’s oh-so-earnest delivery and assertion that she was “not making this up” an even bigger hoot. This was live telly at its most hilarious, if unintentionally.
As she shuffled off to the Primal Scream track “Rocks” she was about to get Bobby Gillespie and his merry band annoyed. They were none too chuffed with her song choice. http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/2011/oct/05/primal-scream-theresa-may-rocks?newsfeed=true
So what is the point of these political conferences, all of them, other than a jamboree for drinkies and a catch-up with chums you don’t see from one year to another? Surely, no-one is deluded by these stage-managed pantomimes or convinced that those reading from their tele-prompters have an ounce of sincerity other than to please and appeal to the party faithful attending?
Maybe the political commentators – and I am not one, I admit – would dismiss me as a lightweight in these matters and fair enough. But that doesn’t change my view that such gatherings – good as they might be for the local economy of wherever they are held – are no more than contrived, set-piece events where a lot of hot air is about all that’s delivered.
Wednesday, September 28, 2011
1. (of a person, animal, or plant) Strong and healthy; vigorous.
2. (of an object) Sturdy in construction.
Is it just me or is robust the “in” word at the moment?
A lot of people like it and are using it. Whether it’s up-against-it police chiefs in the aftermath of the riots in London, politicians defending their policies or banks and bankers trying to avoid a shake-up, robust is in demand.
It’s not a word I dislike, the opposite in fact and one I have used selectively in my role as a PR – but hearing it every day grates.
Some of the coaches at the World Cup Rugby, or Rugby World Cup even, have used the word, too. To me, that’s a sport that involves being robust at all times.
I wonder how words suddenly slip into fashion?
“Devastated” is very popular and has been for many years, as I can recall from my days as a tabloid journalist intruding in private grief. Sports stars, victims of crime, people involved in tragedies all used, and still do use, this one word response.
Transparency and accountability are high in the usage charts, too, alongside credible, incentivise, leverage, tangible, keynote and synergy. They crop up all the time. They are words of the moment. The loathsome “tasked” is another, sadly. I hate it when nouns are suddenly sullied by those who use them as verbs.
“Quite rightly” – OK that’s two words – is a phrase I’m fed up hearing, especially when spouted by a politician who has been challenged on some issue or other and is trying to give the impression of even-handedness while dismissing the criticism. Staying with politicians. The way they dismiss a question by declaring in an answer: “A more important question is…” Blooming cheek. Anyway, I’ve strayed from the topic slightly.
Visceral* and venal**, whose meanings I always need to look up in the dictionary, have been on my radar for some time. Music, book and film critics like, no, love them in their reviews. But they just came from nowhere, it seems to me.
I don’t know if any experts can pinpoint or explain why some words suddenly escape from the anonymity of the dictionary pages and become so popular. And does it work in reverse? What will replace today’s liking of robust? That’s anyone’s guess – what do you think it might be?
* felt in or as if in the internal organs of the body: a deep inward feeling.
** capable of being bought or obtained for money or other valuable consideration.