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Netflix Company Values

Excellent presentation by Reed Hastings on Netflix’s company values.


View more presentations from Reed Hastings

Flipping The Tables

It’s not uncommon to hear complaints from companies after a prerecorded television interview airs. A company representative might be interviewed for up to an hour, but ultimately a couple of minutes airs and the rest of the footage ends up on the cutting room floor. The ensuing accusation goes along the lines that footage that aired is not a fair reflection of the overall interview, with the producers picking and choosing segments to make the interviewee come out in the worst light.

This is a similar complaint that the Ultimate Fighting Championship made after an ESPN feature on fighter pay aired recently. The UFC took an interesting position when responding to the piece. They had also recorded the full interview and retaliated by posting it online. The move reflects the company’s overall slick PR machine and leverages the UFC’s huge online audience.

I’ve embedded the full video response below, but I’ve also included a clip immediately underneath which shows how well prepared UFC CEO Lorenzo Fertitta was for the interview. Fertitta flips the tables on the interviewer by pointing out how little some fighters on ESPN boxing bouts make, completely undermining their ‘expose’ on fighter pay.

Loreno Fertitta flips the tables on ESPN

Full UFC Response

From an issues management perspective, the incident follows a trend of organizations using the Internet as an unfiltered platform to respond to negative coverage, without the restriction of column inches or the length of the show.

Hats off to some slick PR by the UFC.

2011 – The Year Beyond Words

2011 has, as the Guardian puts it, been the year of media overload. With so many major news stories breaking within a short space of each other, it has been difficult at times to comprehend. Here’s a great video which tries to show how it felt to live through 2011. Although one wonders whether it has been released too early.

How We Treat People Differently

Very clever video which illustrates how we treat some people differently. Without giving anything else away, have a look at the video below.

Changing The Rules of the Game

Yesterday Enda Kenny, leader of the Irish Government, delivered what will go down as one of the best speeches of his generation, completly changing the nature of the relationship between the Republic of Ireland and the Vatican. Today’s Irish Times political poll also shows that he is the most popular political leader in the country and his current ranking is the highest it has ever been since he became leader of Fine Gael nine years ago.

Yet 18 months ago, a snapshot of media coverage would have told a different story. He was heavily criticised about his poor media performances and the popular belief amongst journalists was that he couldn’t connect with the general public.

After an era of soundbite politics, it looks like things are changing. Kenny and his handlers are aware of his weaknesses and play to his strengths. Front bench Ministers are much more prominent in this Government and there is more of a team approach, rather than building a leader cult as was the case of Bertie Ahern.

A move away from soundbite politics ultimately could deliver better political discourse. A study in the United States showed that the soundbite had shrunk from 43 seconds in 1968 to just nine seconds today. People are so focused on messaging today that they ram home the same point repeatedly at times, as a recent interview with Ed Miliband ilustrates.

It’s not to say that Kenny hasn’t made slip-ups, but by not letting himself be held to ransom by journalists, he has blossomed. It highlights the fact that there is such a thing as oversaturation of media coverage and that by restricting appearances to political matters of key importance, Kenny can be more impactful despite his perceived weaknesses.

Viral is probably the most misused word in marketing circles today. I was once asked in a lecture for some tips on how to create a viral video, I simply replied to put some kittens in it, which led to some confused faces.

Consultants from a variety of backgrounds proclaim to clients that they will create a viral campaign for them, when in fact 9 times out of 10 the resulting effort is nothing more than a damp squib.

To understand what viral really means then the best bet is to sit in on a biology lecture to learn about viruses.

While there’s no recipe for success, here’s a few tips for inspiration, with samples and some further explanation underneath.

1. Put Some Kittens In It

In terms of content, cats are hot stuff on the Internet. Just do a search on YouTube for cats, kittens, etc and have a look at the amount of results and views for videos. There’s even Kittehroulette, which serves up random cat videos if you’re that obsessed by feline videos. IKEA certainly used this insight for their ‘Happy Inside’ video.

2. Kids Are Cute

We are hardwired to show affection to babies. No surprise that videos featuring infants are popular on YouTube, whether it’s Evian’s roller babies or Star Wars according to a 3 year old. Olvarit tapped into this insight in a clever way to launch their latest ingredient range by organising an exclusive tasting-dinner in a Michelin starred restaurant.

3. Did You See That?

Spectacular trick shots and how did they do that videos are some of the most shared clips on the Internet. Trickshots are popular stuff and have been doing the rounds for a number of years like Nike’s Ronaldinho crossbar challenge or Roger Federer hitting balls into a Mercedes. incorporated this into their video to drive views.

4. Star Wars

Geeks like Star Wars. Geeks hang out on the Internet. Star Wars clips are popular Q.E.D. Don’t believe me? Someone remixed this badminton video replacing the racquets with lightsabers and it clocked up a lot of views. Not too long later, this promo video for the BBC’s coverage of the US Masters appeared.

5. Muppets

Like Star Wars, the Muppets are hot stuff on the Internet. I love Javier Douglas’ unofficial LCD Soundsystem music video featuring Kermit the Frog and friends.

6. Parody

In reality this should really be about memes, but I thought a parody would be easier to illustrate. The original Inception trailer was really impactful and generated a lot of hype of the movie. There were a number of parodies of the trailer, Inebriation was probably my favourite. I like the way Coca-Cola tapped into this for one of their Christmas ads, which I’ve embedded below.

7. Infographic

Infographics are a good way to visually communicate statistical information. They are ten a penny these days, but still very effective. Here’s one we made at work on social media statistics in Ireland and here’s one IBEC created to illustrate the strengths of the Irish economy. I’ve chosen to embed one for a much more worthy cause below entitled the girl effect.

I tend to meet a lot of people that are involved with new websites. By and large most of them go nowhere despite their enthusiasm. Why? A lack of original content. For every Huffington Post, there are a thousand others that gradually fade away.

My advice to them? Be different. Obviously that’s a no brainer, hardly going to get consultancy fees saying that.

Here’s an example though – ZeroPunctuation, a cult video game online animation series. There are millions of video game review websites. Every fifteen year old boy with a website can set one up. Thousands pop up and vanish every year. No matter how many visitors you tell me that your website has, in the long run it is of little consequence. If I want video game reviews I will go to one of the big sites or pick up a copy of EDGE. I don’t mean to be cruel, but unless you have compelling or exclusive content I’m not going to visit your website on a regular basis.

I can remember the first time I saw ZeroPunctuation, I nearly cried with laughter. Instead of yet another formulaic review, it was more of a cross between Monty Python and South Park. You don’t have to be a fan of video games to enjoy it.

With so much competition online, you have to be different to attract eyeballs. No matter how passionate about your subject you are, you need to give a fresh perspective on the topic to grab people’s attention. This is easier said than done I accept, but if you don’t then your website will simply gather dust in a corner of cyberspace.

Negotiation Tips Beijing Style

I was just on a week’s holidays in Beijing. Anyone who has visited the city will have experienced the markets, which bring new meaning to haggling. Essentially sales people on the various stalls will start with an opening price of up to ten times what they hope to sell an item for and negotiate for about ten minutes to try and make as much margin as possible.

Here’s a couple of tips I picked up which can be applied in any sales setting:

  • Never open the negotiation: As the customer, never give the opening price. This sets a threshold which you cannot go below and if you are unfamiliar with the product or service you are buying you may start off with an opening price which is already higher than what the seller is happy to accept.
  • Be personable: Always introduce yourself and get the salesperson’s name. Sellers use the same trick to try to form a bond and emotionally manipulate you when negotiating. Flip the tables and do the same thing. When we were given the first price, instead of giving a counteroffer we would immediately say something like ‘I know that’s the regular price, but I’m Irish. Do you have a special discount for us?’ So instead of launching into a back and forth of counter offers, we forced the seller to offer a discount immediately.
  • Be prepared to walk away: If you look like you really want something, then you are handing over control to the seller. Most deals in Beijing are done when the customer walks away and the salesperson calls them back, accepting the final offer the customer made.
  • Don’t be put off by the sales environment: When you walk into a Porsche dealership, you know that the cars cost a lot of money. Just because a shop is snazzy or the service provider pitching to you is dressed to the nines, you shouldn’t feel uncomfortable asking for a discount. Sure they’re likely to have higher overheads, but it doesn’t mean that you can’t try to drive a bargain.
  • Always try to speak to another customer: No matter what you are buying in life, always try to speak to someone who has bought the same product or service. It’s a no brainer, besides making sure the quality is of a high enough standard, it’s also a quick way to check what they paid and gives you the upper hand in a negotiation if you were originally unsure what you should be paying.

I have been pouring over statistics associated with Barack Obama’s US presidential campaign. The most comprehensive breakdown I have seen was compiled by Pete Quily. A wave of excitement has broken out across the Internet and short-sighted analysis seems to imply that Obama won the election because he had a larger and more consistent use of digital media than his rival John McCain.

First let’s start with the statistics. While Obama may have had a large online presence and used digital tools to communicate with his supporters on an ongoing basis, one has to note the importance of content. If we are simply going to talk about statistics, then surely Viagra would have won the US general election given how many spam emails people receive about it 😀 I disagree with Richard Delevan’s view that the key statistic to look at from Obama campaign is the number of voters contacted compared to the total contacted by the McCain posse. This figure can’t be looked at in isolation, you have to look at what both politicians represented. Importantly it should also be noted that if we were to break down the demographics, then it would quickly become apparent that digital tools are far more suited for Obama’s supporters than McCain’s. No matter how many times I’ve been contacted by email offering me some form of Viagra or other stimulant, I’ve never taken up the offer. The content didn’t appeal.

We’re going to see a number of politicians try to replicate Obama style campaigns over the next couple of years and fail miserably. Anyone remember any of the woeful YouTube videos from Irish politicians during the last election? A personal audience with Politician X in his kitchen doesn’t cut it. Neither does a random Bebo profile. What should be drawn from Obama’s campaign that it consisted of a integrated communications strategy and encouraged the participation of the general public, as opposed to keeping it confined to the old boys club.

Karlin Lillington had an interesting column on the subject in the Irish Times last week. My Edelman colleague Seamus Mulconry and Simon McGarr offer some good comments in the piece:

“It’s not just the technology on its own that won the election. It’s a means of communication,” says Séamus Mulconry, a consultant with Edelman Communications and former technology specialist with Accenture who also did a stint as head of policy for the Progressive Democrats.

“Politics is a heart, not a head business. Any way you can engage emotionally with people is very powerful. And the web allows you to use music, video and images, and create communities to make that emotional connection.”

New technologies such as video “allow you to break out of soundbites, too”, he says. “Since at least the Nixon campaign, political campaigns have been defined by the tight soundbite. Oratory has been dead in the electronic age, but YouTube brought it back.”

Technology and heavy use of social networking technologies also gave the Obama campaign “a victory over the vast geography of the US”, says solicitor Simon McGarr, who set up the website during the last Irish general election to showcase political videos and encourage their creation.

“For Obama, the issue was to find people to come into the system and become door-knockers.”

Obama harnessed people who had not in the past joined a political campaign. He connected people, created communities and give them meaningful jobs to do.

Lillington’s summary of Mulconry and McGarr’s analysis sums up why Obama’s campaign was successful – he connected people, created communities and gave them meaningful jobs to do. Fundamental to connecting his supporters was content. That is what Obama represented. He tapped into the societal changes in America and gave those who were not represented in the political system a voice. They didn’t vote simply for Obama, they voted for what he represents – change.

If you step back and take a look at the Internet, what’ll you’ll find is that it has proved very successful for bringing communities with similar interests together. Again what binds these communities is content. Adam Cohen captures this in his book about eBay, ‘The Perfect Store‘:

Collectors are people with a passion, and they seek out other who share their passion. Before the Internet, many collectors were geographically isolated. Someone in a small town with an interest in Depression glass or southern art folk might have trouble finding like-minded people nearby. But on the Internet, thousands of collectors with the same fascination were only a few mouse clicks away

Simply adopting Obama’s tools isn’t going to replicate his success. It is akin to saying that anyone that picks up a paintbrush will be the next Leonardo Da Vinci. The truth is that they have the potential to be the next Da Vinci. However to achieve this potential in a political sense, politicians fundamentally have to find methods to get as many people involved in the political process as possible. By instilling a fascination in the political process among supporters, then the Internet becomes the logical tool to bring this audience together and to activate them.

Strip out all the statistics and the core element you’ll find running throughout the Obama campaign is passion. If you don’t make your supporters passionate then it doesn’t matter how many emails or text messages you send.’s series of videos throughout the election campaign encapsulate the feelings Barack Obama instilled in his supporters. I’m slightly surprised at myself for saying it, but ‘It’s A New Day‘ is actually a good song, but more than that it actually represents the thoughts of millions of Americans on 4 November.

So the Irish public has voted and they have responded with an emphatic no. I voted yes, but wasn’t surprised at the result. Listening to the analysis on the Pat Kenny Show on RTE, I think people were genuinely shocked. While everyone had commented that there was a strong No Campaign, there seemed to be a sense that just about enough had been done to convince the public of the benefits.

The long and short of it is that the Yes Campaign was abysmal from start to finish. I’m not going to weigh in on the political analysis, Stephen Collins has a great piece on the Irish Times website in this respect. I am simply going to repeat my thoughts from a month ago. From a communications perspective the Yes Campaign was poor, it gave voters few tangible reasons to vote to approve the Lisbon Treaty. How are messages like “A soul for Europe”, “A Citizens’ Europe”, “Proud to be Irish – Yes to Europe” supposed to motivate you to go out and vote yes, when the no campaign comes out with consistent messaging on a range of issues from corporation tax to neutrality. Ant wonder that the Irish Times/TNS poll before the referendum pointed out that “the reason most often cited by No voters is that they don’t know what they are voting for or they don’t understand the treaty – with 30 per cent of No voters listing this as the main reason for their decision.”

I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again, puff taglines like “A Citizen’s Europe” are all well and good if you can illustrate them to the public. However anytime any yes campaigner got the opportunity to talk, they seemed insistent on talking down the No Campaign – a tactic which never works with Irish people. Why take up precious time immediately prior to the referendum to discuss Libertas’ funding? It was the equivalent of Enda Kenny urging the public to vote for him in the next general election because he is better looking than Brian Cowen. Libertas’ funding was irrelevant, the yes campaigners should have used the opportunity to show how the Lisbon Treaty could help improve the situation in Chad, combat climate change or take a combined approach to immigration. The negative attitude in their campaigning hardly encouraged the electorate and each and every time it was brought up a minimum of thirty seconds airtime was wasted.

Ivan Yeats made some insightful comments on the Pat Kenny Show when it became apparent that the no vote had prevailed. Politicians had left campaigning so late, that they were effectively asking the electorate to trust them. As the RTE news reports later pointed out, many politicians were left reflecting on the reasons behind a No victory with some pointing to an obvious ‘disconnect’ between the people and politicians.

This disconnect between politicians and the public is obvious. There are countless research reports to underline this. We even had Enda Kenny point this out at the launch of the Edelman Trust Barometer launch earlier this year. For some reason Fianna Fail are trying to push some of the blame on Kenny and Fine Gael, when the blame completely lies on their doorstep. Kenny offered the best advice on promoting the Yes Campaign back at our launch event when he said that third parties like Corporate Ireland and NGOs had an important role to play.

Unfortunately the only good argument from the Government came late in the day, Richard Delevan points out Dermot Ahern’s passionate argument to vote yes on the Marian Finucane Show on RTE, the weekend prior to referendum day:

First, what Dermot Ahern said, then why I believe it’s effective:

He starts out badly, threatening to go into abstract eurospeak: “The treaty is about trying to make the EU work better. To get 27 to agree is extremely difficult.” [snore]

Then he gives an example of WHAT THIS MEANS from when he was minister for foreign affairs:

The UN asked us to send troops into Chad and Darfur. The decision was made at a high level — to do that — in the EU; but unfortunately because of the arcane rules, it was delayed. The went out to Chad October in the middle of nowhere, in a desert. I was asked if i would speak to a number of women. I was asked questions through an interpreter. A lady with a child — thankfully they weren’t starving because the UN and the EU were feeding them — they were there because they had been, basically, run off their land, nearby and also from Darfur. And they were there for protection. The first question a woman asked me through an interpreter was, why is Europe taking so long to come here with their troops?
…In my view what we’re trying to do in this treaty is to make those sorts of decisions quicker and better, the difficult issues of the world.

Eamon Dunphy could no longer contain himself at this point, declaring this to be “emotive nonsense”. But unless Ahern is seriously overegging the pudding about his trip to Chad, and admittedly he breaks his own rhythm a few times in trying to get out this anecdote, this seems effective to me, and that this is what’s been missing from pro-European arguments. Here’s what I think was working:

1) DA is telling a STORY, not babbling in eurospeak about process and procedures
2) The story has actual human beings
3) The story isn’t gratuitous – it makes real in human terms why the labourious nature of EU decisionmaking isn’t just an aesthetic or theoretical problem. Ahern’s underlying argument smacks you in the face: the EU could have acted sooner to stop genocide in Darfur, but it was prevented by an unwieldy decision-making process
4) Even though I don’t think it’s a slam dunk that Lisbon actually fixes the problem, DA is at least getting the argument out of airless abstraction and into something a lot of people actually care about

The final point I am going to make about the Lisbon Treaty is that anyone that thinks that traditional advertising is dead should take a walk around the streets of Ireland and see what an important role the No Campaign posters played. Normally the criticism of traditional advertising goes along the lines of “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.” In this instance, ask the Yes Campaign about the half that was wasted.

Piaras Kelly
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