Posts Tagged ‘independent’

Why CEOs must get PRs on board

Danny Rogers, the editor of PR Week, has, in a recent Independent article, highlighted a curious phenomenon blighting the boards of the majority of FTSE 100 firms. According to a recent survey, 54% of them still do not have a communications expert at executive board level.
Considering that in the modern climate, most major decisions business leaders make will ultimately become public knowledge, thanks to the inherent transparency and traceability of digital communication, this statistic seems like madness. But in my experience CEO are bewildered by the PR process. We in the PR industry have done a poor job of defining and promoting what we do.
The term “PR” has become synonymous with “press releases” (easy enough to understand why), “buzz,” “publicity,” and “spin.” What good PR actually entails is a lot more: it underpins every conversation that is happening around a brand, every aspect of how it is perceived, and it should, therefore, sit at the centre of the brand communication process. But the talent pool is thin and many global networks are struggling to define the imperative. Instead many companies are lassoing their brands and limiting their horizons. Fear and process are embraced both overtly and on a subliminal level, because doing things the way they’ve always been done is easier than recognising the need for change and implementing it.
I’ve a  more spiritual point of view on the issue.  PR thinking comes in two types: processed and intuitive. Of course the former is necessary at the base level, but problems arise when it dominates- and defines- what you do. The best practitioners know when to make the leap from the daily grind to a moment of wild inspiration.
I’ve  always tried to place myself in the latter camp. Borkowski’s culture has remained much unchanged in 25 years, and our PR has always been led by powerful, truthful stories, drawn organically from a brand and fed to media who genuinely want them.
Consider this:  the PR industry, rather than talking about what it attempts to  do, should talk more effectively, more provocatively and to a wider audience about what it can achieve at the heart of the brand. If it is able to decode and present challenging ideas to effect internal and external behaviour, it might achieve traction at board level.
I’m bold enough to suggest all our clients consider disrupting their current processes, and draw PR to their heart. After all this is not an age for opportunism or blind luck. Clever ideas need a strategic backbone. They can’t float aimlessly in the ether, waiting for the herd to react. We think it’s important to make considered, emotional and intellectual observations about the culture of publicity. Strategic counsel is no longer a luxury for big brands and early adopters: the marmite opinions of millions of motivated commentators mean that public opinion is more visible, faster moving and more risky than ever before, and will determine everything about a brand’s success- or otherwise.
However, we understand the challenges many organisations face in the struggle to shift internal structures to fit the demands of the age. Borkowski can help. We’re not simply the go-to publicity agency. We are personable group who offer a sympathetic helping hand, leaving the much maligned ego at the door.

A Borkowski March in Links

I’ve been in and out of the papers this month, commenting on a number of subjects, from the perils of PR spin on behalf of dictators to Sarah Ferguson’s latest misadventures by way of the redemption of Chris Brown and, since I’ve been in Poland, as mentioned in my previous blog, I hope you’ll pardon this blog being a brief monthly round up, just a collection of links. It’s still all interesting stuff, of course!

Here’s my comment in the Independent on the risks of spinning for dictators. This is an article in Marketing Week on the rise of social media. Here’s a piece from the Guardian on the redemption of Chris Brown. And finally a comment in the Vancouver Sun on Sarah Ferguson.

BBC Pay Policy

There’s an article up on the BBC’s new pay policy on the Independent, featuring comment from myself and Max Clifford. There’s an extract below, but to read the full article, click here.

“…if a new era of transparency throws light on the secretive deals struck in the boardrooms of the BBC, insiders warned of dramatic changes to the way it does business that could set it on a collision course with its stars and their agents.

“‘There would be an absolute feeding frenzy,’ says Mark Borkowski, the entertainment industry publicist and founder of Borkowski PR. ‘It would spark a war between the media and celebrities over the amount the BBC pays and suddenly agents will need to convince the media their guy has value.’”

Mawkish Genius: Tiger In the Nike Psychiatrist’s Chair

The Independent have published a piece by me on Tiger Woods and the new, daring Nike advert he appears in. Here’s an excerpt:

“Through all of Tiger Woods’ scandals, Nike have stayed with him. Other sponsors disappeared, but when he made his big apology, they were sitting in the front row. And now they’re taking their pound of flesh. It may be mawkish, and a bit dark, but he wouldn’t be doing it if he wasn’t comfortable with it – and there’s no question that this is a piece of advertising genius.

“As this saga has developed we’ve watched Tiger casting himself upon the mercy of the cameras – a kind of therapy in the public eye. This continues that theme. It’s like it’s from In The Psychiatrist’s Chair. But it’s not what anyone would have expected.”

To read the full article, click here

Sorry Seems Not to Be the Hardest Word!

Well, dip me in honey and feed me to the bees – Tiger Woods said sorry! He actually said sorry! It is fair to say that I am eating my hat as I type this. I honestly didn’t expect an apology at all, as anyone who read yesterday’s blog will know.

Today’s media happening, although strictly controlled and rather mawkish, was only one tiny step on the road to recovery, however. It was full of the sort of therapy baloney, strictly for US consumption, that will sit well with the Oprah generation; Tiger wants “to find a place in your heart”.

That said, Tiger has brought the word sorry back into play when it was least expected, so perhaps he can do it. His step looks steadier now. If he wins his next tournament, then the dalliances will be a distant, blurry memory. But, as I wrote yesterday, if Tiger gets caught again, not even the most abject of apologies will save him.

UPDATE: The Independent asked for my opinion on Tiger’s apology – to read the article, click here.

More on Terry

I was asked my opinion on the John Terry affair by the Independent a few days ago, alongside Phil Hall, who has been drafted in to look after Terry. We found ourselves in agreement on the way footballers deal with problems and the people they surround themselves with. Here’s an excerpt from the article:

“The publicist Mark Borkowski, a Chelsea supporter, said the Terry case would send a ‘shiver’ through football. He said he would have advised Terry to hand the armband back before being stripped of it and said advisers should have been aware of the dubious PR value of the footballer accepting a ‘Dad of the Year’ award from Daddies Sauce last summer. Read the rest of this entry »

Russkat: The New Brangelina?

The Independent requested my opinion on the hotting up of the Russell Brand and Katy Perry romance – and more particularly the way they are being aggressively pushed into a Brangelina-shaped hole. Or should that be RussKat, as the Independent puts it. To read more, click here

Jedward and the X Factor

Jedward may finally be gone from the X Factor, but that’s no reason to expect that they have automatically dipped straight off the fame radar. For all of you wondering why and how they lasted so long on the X Factor, I contributed to a couple of articles in the Independent and the Telegraph looking into the phenomenon, the manipulation and the plundering of the Jedward brand.

To read the Independent article, click here. To read the Telegraph article, click here.

My Edinburgh

Here’s an unedited version of the piece I wrote for yesterday’s Independent, on My Edinburgh.

Trawling Edinburgh Festival for the sites of my old publicity stunts, celebrated in the #Twithibition I have just launched, has been a contemplative experience. The stunts celebrated 25 years of mischief, but that was then. What is now? I thought it worth considering how the Festival has evolved as I trekked around the city putting up posters.

I have been going to Edinburgh for years and there is always much that is astonishing, vibrant and beautiful on offer at the Festival – of this year’s crop, Sian Williams’ one-woman show for The Kosh at the Gilded Balloon and Shed Simove at Belushi’s are two to look out for. Sian Williams is the same age as Madonna and considerably sexier; she is compelling to watch. Shed, inventor of the Clitoris Allsorts, is like Trevor Baylis on crack.

But despite the amazing things that are, as ever, on offer, it’s clear that Edinburgh is at a crossroads. Arguably, some City grandees are not able to organise a piss up in a distillery. Princess Street has been dug up just as the Festival started. What planning genius came up with that one? Producers report resources have been pulled away from the Festival; the Assembly Rooms, mid-renovation, was a building site in week one, with one of its auditoria unfit for purpose – the council should be shot for not readying it for the Fringe. The insanity of moving the Film Festival to June is nearly as bad as serially under-funding the International Festival.

I believe that the blame for all this lies at the door of the city fathers, who appear to be unconsciously frittering the spectacle of Edinburgh away, dissipating the energy that has, for many years, seen journalists fighting tooth and nail to get up there every August to run up their expense account and discover the latest bright young things on the international arts scene. Even the bright young things are being discouraged from coming, as student accommodation gets ever more expensive in the city.

Venue controllers bemoan the lack of media attention outside of Scotland. Spreading out the festival over five weeks is a mistake; they should be condensing it to three! Considering it is the largest Festival of its type in the world, the coverage Edinburgh gets, outside a few broadsheets, is pitiful, with little or nothing in the news pages. The fledgling Manchester Festival seemed to get it right, but Edinburgh has slipped – it’s not seen as one of the greatest shows on Earth any more.

Tellingly, the BBC sent fewer staff to cover Edinburgh than went to T in the Park. Even the Scotsman is only using six reviewers. In a tenuous economic climate, it is foolhardy of the Edinburgh council to disregard the impact, and undermine the vitality, of the Festival and the revenues it brings.

There is, at least, good digital representation being developed to help build audiences – I am addicted to the iFringe app for iPhone – but the Festival needs to keep drawing in new talent and audiences and media. It can’t rest on past laurels as, to punters in their 20s, the Festival icons of 30 years ago are vastly distant and mostly irrelevant. Forget the past – the Festival needs to focus on what’s happening now. Stretching the Festivals out so that the Music, Film, Book and Fringe, etc, become ever more separated is preventing the sort of international coverage that Cannes enjoys from happening in Edinburgh. Something needs to change if the Festival is to remain relevant in another 30 years time.

To read the article as printed, click here.

To follow my #Twithibition, click here and search the site for #twithibition. For more information on the stunts recorded in the #Twithibition, click here.

Rebranding Sarah Brown

The Independent ran an article on the rebranding of Sarah Brown and asked several people their opinion on her efforts, including myself – see the excerpt below. To read the full article, click here.

“The publicist Mark Borkowski, a prolific user of new media, believes that Sarah Brown has shown herself far more adept in this area than her husband could ever hope to be. ‘She is operating in areas where he doesn’t have any hope of generating traction,’ he says. ‘He cannot YouTube, she can. He cannot Twitter, she can. Gordon can’t generate sympathetic votes, she can, particularly from women. They’re trying to turn her into a yin to his yang.’

“Borkowski traces the origins of Sarah Brown’s strategy back to last year’s Labour Party conference in Manchester, when she stepped up to the microphone in defence of her under-attack husband. ‘Some people at the time claimed she needed to be arm-twisted into that but actually it was a bit of a toe in the water to see how it would go.’

“Despite her PR background, it will not have been easy for her. She once said of the Hobsbawm Macaulay way of working: ‘Julia goes out to lunch with people so I don’t have to.’ One industry source recalls that ‘She never really hung out with the PR crowd.’”