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A bunch of cobblers! The five biggest mistakes marcomms players make. Part 1

From working as an editor in the UK, to taking charge of a Hong Kong magazine, industry journalist Tony Murray has formed innumerable opinions. Interested to hear a few we invited him to share his thoughts via a regular guest blog. Use the comments form below if you have any feedback or written bile to spit as a result, and please remember; if you don’t like it, he doesn’t work for us…
If marketing communications companies were people, you would not go down the pub with them. At least, not twice. They would be, by nature, overly-opinionated gits. They’d criticise your choice of hairstyle and then try and charge you 20 quid for the privilege. Having belittled your head topiary, they would then attempt to get you to use one of their mates to restyle it, pocketing another two tenners in the process. Who among us would not tell them the fuck right off?
Giving advice about how best to present yourself, corporately or individually, is the bottom line for every marketing communications discipline – from PR to advertising from digital to DM. Frequently, though, marcom companies are far better at dishing it out than taking it. When it comes to managing their own reputations, however, many companies in the sector are, at best, cackhanded or delusional. Most are just plain shite.
Let us go then, you and I, and have a crafty gander at Five of the Most Common Mistakes Made by Marcom Companies When it Comes to Managing their Own PR. While I’ll name, shame and blame several companies, I suspect many of you will have been guilty of at least one of them…

  1. The Obsessively Positive Spin

It’s always good news week in marcoms land. Every win co-incides with a major new period of spend by the client, while every loss is of a company that hasn’t spent for at least 18 months. Maybe more. A hasty “If they can make money on those margins…??? is the traditional benediction passed on to winning competitors.
Perhaps the two most desperate bids to do this both came from Newcastle. Of all the regional marcom centres, the North East is the most bizarre. The region finds it hugely difficult to attract in new business, meaning new agencies in the area only survive by taking accounts off the local competition. As a result it is the most cut-throat and corrupt marcoms area in the country. Without the agencies, design houses and PR companies of the North East, the British Little Brown Envelope industry would surely falter and die. Good work Newcastle backhander brigade.
As a result, North East players are particularly desperate not to lose face in front of their rivals. This they, quite rightly, believe will hand the competition a big shitty stick with which to beat them.
Thus, when Lynx PR had to announce it had parted company with the fairly recently appointed head of its North East office, it did it thus: “As part of its on-going commitment to staff development, Lynx PR has sacked the head of its Newcastle office.??? I kid you not.
In a similar vein, Robson Brown, then Newcastle’s largest agency, put out a statement saying: “In line with its programme of national expansion, Robson Brown is to shut its Sunderland office.???
Both companies attempted to justify their opening paragraphs with desperate guff about promoting from within and being a genuine national offering, but it was unconvincing stuff.
The lesson to be learnt here? It’s better to take it on the chin, than to make yourself look ludicrous. It’s a five minute wonder. If you try and put a gloss on it, no-one will believe it and you’ll merely extend the life of the story.
Tomorrow: The Bastard Love Child on Speed of the Obsessively Positive Spin

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