A Call for Calm

Whisper it. The real truth is, that the majority of the industry doesn’t give a damn about the text book-peddling, muttering commentariat.

Anyway, you’ll never remove splinters from my rear end. I’m not a fence sitter. Moreover, I don’t consider my contemporary offering as pure PR. Instead, let me praise someone working at the epicentre of a global news story. On Monday afternoon a superlative PR hoved into view, reminding the world what is great about British public relations. A precise man; direct, adroit, authoritative, elegant and effective. A safe pair of hands delivering leading communications in real time for his company.

Indulge my wish for a moment, whilst I contextualise Chris McLaughlin, the spokesman for the London-based satellite provider, Inmarsat.


David Blaine: A lesson in purpose and passion

It took the urban dictionary to sum up the true definition of passion. It says:

“Passion is when you put more energy into something than is required to do it. It is more than just enthusiasm or excitement, passion is ambition that is materialised into action to put as much heart, mind, body and soul into something as is possible.”


Passion was the theme of last week. I spent most of mine with David Blaine. There are many adjectives that sum up David and passion is certainly one of them. This is a man who is wholly dedicated to his craft. There have been many impostors along the way, and yet Blaine does not let any of them derail his vision. Ultimately he knows others will not venture beyond his extremes.

David Blaine was only four years old when a magician on the New York subway sparked his passion. His lifetime since has been spent honing his craft. That he is an innovator is undisputed. His magic operates on an uncommonly personal level. He took an age old skill and turned it into something unique. He started on the street which meant understanding enchantment and personalisation was vital above all. He leaves everyone in his wake in awe. Above all it is impossible not to be infected by his passion, the way he talks, his knowledge and unprecedented commitment.


Journalist bites PR. Never explain, never complain.

Last Wednesday, the cuddly, credit card provider Mastercard ran into an alleged ‘PR fail’ storm when their PR agency mishandled and misjudged a bevy of journalists they were inviting to the Brit awards. Scribblers claim that, in exchange for entry to the event, they were asked by email to guarantee coverage, and were requested to keep to social media guidelines including using brand hashtags. Why the inane babble was thought important, is another discussion.

The first thing to say is that this is but a irritating itch, not a full blown brand ebola. Journalists may have ‘taken to Twitter’ to gloat over the misstep, but I can’t see anyone getting fired over a few tantrums. House PR, who sent the offending emails, have only ‘become the story’ for a tiny circle of media old wives. The man and woman from Kettering hasn’t the faintest idea that any of this has happened. Mastercard’s logo still proudly enveloped the event like an amorphous boil.


Let’s not be fooled by fashion and tamed by reason…

“Discovery consists of seeing what everybody has seen and thinking what nobody has thought” Albert Szent-Gyorgyi
Someone recently said to me “the more I read, the less I know”. Profound. In a world where technological advances were supposed to make life simpler, the reverse seems to reflect the truth.  The world is more complex, undefined, rushed. Decisions are taken without hesitation in the race to keep up with social channels and serendipity is increasingly a thing of the past, despite what we are repeatedly told. Serendipity requires time. The one thing we are very short of. And we seldom have a big idea anymore. Instead we have ‘notions; and a notion is but the teeniest of concepts.

The point is that big ideas add value to any business. Obvious. Yet many businesses regard ideas with suspicion. Real ideas have dimensions and are resilient and flexible. Outside of some connections, where ideas really spring from is unpredictable. The only thing for certain is, ideas don’t come when called! To get to them it is necessary to clear the mind. This requires a step away from technology and to look up and around, be curious and open minded. The opposite then, of the behaviour of most businesses. Try as they might, there is a fundamental problem with businesses trying to marry creativity and commerce! The trouble is for this to work, they have to lose the fear of making mistakes and this requires a step away from viewing situations in conventional terms and avoiding creating problems that don’t actually exist. This is a dynamic system we are dealing with and it poses some interesting questions.

2014 promises to be the year of wearable tech. CES in Vegas will show a smorgasbord of new and innovative ideas and the promise of the ultimate connected life for consumers. But does this mean that businesses will become more dependant on data driven decisions? Will there be a rush to keep up and grab the upward line of the adoption curve? And will this add to the burden and confusion? The trouble with data and technology is that they doesn’t allow for ambiguity – the very nature of human beings. Data has its value of course, but we must not become complacent and rely on it. Instead at Borkowski.do we are sticking our necks out and recommending the reverse.

A goodbye to allowing the data to decide and a warm welcome back to reflection, intuition and judgment!

After all, reflection, is key to producing quality decisions and the foundation block to build strong leaders.

But the speed of disruption is so intense, it is stripping away all confidence.

Let’s look up from the technology and proliferation of ‘information’ for a moment. Great leaps forward come from asking the right ‘big’ questions. That’s why we should start our thinking with NOT knowing any answers! Competitive companies will be those that offer products and services minutely shaped by the unique ideas and perspectives of every single one of their customers.  Companies that fail to grasp this new reality will ultimately be squeezed out of markets by those that do.

Experience, though of great value, all too often fails to change the world. We must embrace the great unknown, listen, reflect and fashion solutions that are unique. Let’s not be fooled by fashion, tamed by reason or trapped by experience, but work with clear and open mindedness.
That means celebrating people and ideas from wherever they come, rather than seeing things entirely from our own perspective, and developing a unique and clear point of difference.

Welcome to 2014. The Now Economy requires us to sit still, demand more time to think, reflect and innovate, to avoid making the same mistakes of the past few years.

The Borkowski Awards—notable 2013 PR moments

I don’t usually do awards ceremonies. I’d generally rather be making a new campaign than remembering the last one. However, as the end of the year finds Borkowski towers in a reflective mood, I thought I’d put together a brief collection of 2013’s standout PR moments—the ones that made us gasp with astonishment, and the ones that made us groan in horror.

Most gloriously over the top viral stunt

I’ve actually already blogged about this one [link: http://www.markborkowski.co.uk/supernatural-pr-fear-that-fans-can-love/] but it’s stuck with me. In order to promote the remake of classic teen-angst ‘em up Carrie, the movie’s PR team set up a hidden camera stunt to end all hidden camera stunts. A new York Cafe was rigged with booby traps, and an actor was planted at a table. Following an altercation with another “customer” (actually a stuntman), the actor appears to wreak havoc with her psychic powers, terrifying several genuine customers. A video of the event went viral.

In some ways, there was nothing groundbreaking about this, well-executed as it was. Still, as I acknowledged at the time, the team deserve huge props for finding a clever way to engage with movie audiences outside of the traditional press junket snore-machine.


Addison Cresswell – a tribute.

Oh, the wretched topic of death, such a frustrating interloper, especially at Christmas, damn you. Alas, there is no point in pretending that we improve with age. In his colossal autobiography, Ben Hecht expressed the ageing process thus: “the years diminish us, time rots our body, cools our blood, darkens our brain, and, like a furtive embalmer, prepares our bodies for the winding sheet.” All too often, humans exit the process prematurely; on Saturday, the uber-agent, my old friend Addison Cresswell, checked out at the height of his power, just as Santa was coordinating the settings on his SatNav. Addi’s death was heartbreaking for his loved ones, sad for his legions of friends and acquaintances.

Bad news travels fast: Addison’s demise percolated through Facebook and Twitter like a ruptured reservoir of sadness. Folk etched moving epigraphs on a host of social sites, a community stunned into stupefaction. This unexpected shock unified the comedy universe, many finding solace celebrating his memory. Some were immobilised by a deepsense of loss; others recognised a more remarkable full stop to a significant chapter. These flickering chronologies passionately accumulated into a string of lyrical memoires about his largesse and contradictions.


Mark’s lively and informative talks, speeches and panel appearances offer provocative perspectives on the past, present and future of communications. Why not extend an invitation?

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In his talks he draws on the analytical, advisory and creative work of the company, which places it at the heart of debate and developments concerning consumers, communication and technology. But he also draws on his 30 years’ practical experience as a publicist. 30 years during which he has earned a reputation as one of the most free-thinking, innovative and challenging practitioners of the art of consumer communications.

Please e-mail laura@borkowski.do to inquire about possible speaking opportunities.