Dubai Consumer Mirror

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Stop talkin and keep walkin

In this week's Campaign ME, i came across an interview with Nick Leighton, MD of NettResults - a small Dubai based PR shop - on page 8. Mr Leighton was asked a number of PR related questions. I had to stop at one of his answers and share a short story with you.

Q. What is the biggest PR own goal you have ever witnessed or been involved in?

A. Press conferences where only one journalist attends are of course legendary - any PR agency that is unable to explain to their client that they do not have newsworthy material and are pushed into that situation are committing an own goal. I am not going to point fingers, but agencies that have had that happen know who they are (and we know who they are too).

But of course you do Mr. Leighton.

Arabs have a saying that goes something within the lines of: "he who lives in a house made of glass, should not throw stones at others".

A friend of mine was a client of Mr. Leighton's agency. My friend's company wanted to announce that their organization has been bought out by a larger, more prominent local IT firm.

M&A stories are quite newsworthy to local media here. They don't happen too often and are considered a nice change away from those 'product launches' and 'hand shake agreements' press announcements we see everyday.

So, the client was excited about the potential PR coverage this can generate and Mr. Leighton said a press conference is the best solution to maximise it.

Mr. Leighton assured that hoards of media will be attending because it was local company news since media here likes to support local companies by attending their events, covering their news ..etc. And -most importantly- they will all show up because of Mr. Leighton's "excellent" relationships with the media.

So, my friend checked his 'confirmed media attendees' list to the event and it included the following:

- A journalist that left the country for good
- A journalist that doesn't work for that newspaper for over 2 years ago
- A journalist that is based in London

The other glitch was with the media invitation. It said "come attend a press conference where we will announce that we are being acquired by company X". So, basically, my friend was told that our extremely busy
journalists will drive all the way through traffic congested roads, to spend at least an hour and a half listening to people and knowing what they are going to say... not the Dubai media i know :)

So, my friend asked Mr. Leighton if he can re-word the invitation to make it more appealing and attractive. Already scared by the media list embarrassment bit, Mr. Leighton was very offended by the fact that someone is doubting his "media relations" skills and dismissed any attempts to alter his well laid plans.

Only 2 journalists showed up at the event.
So, please sir, if you can't walk the walk, don't talk the talk.

Note: If you have this week's issue of Campaign ME, there is an EXCELLENT interview with Nancy Vonk about blogging. Its on page 20 - a must read.


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