Posted by: Rajiv Harjai | January 12, 2008

Date with David Parkin (Yorkshire Post)

david_parkin3.jpg Getting your hand written press release printed in the press could be a tedious process, which all of us experience almost every other day at work.   A few months back I was attending a seminar where we were being addressed by David Parkin, who as everyone in the PR industry in UK knows, is the Business Editor of the YorkshirePost since August 2000.   It was interesting to see David Parkin give tips, on what he was looking for and expecting from PR professionals and how we could help him and ourselves.

To begin with, there was the most common problem and complaint of most journalists regarding calls made to them. David stressed on this point conveying his disapproval of this habit of PR professionals and insisting that he does not like being called and asked “Did you use it?” I have written about this before and I try to restrain myself from making persistent calls and only call the national journalist, if and when there is an important and worthwhile press release.  

However, even before making a call or sending a press release to David Parkin, we should ‘Know’ him, or what I refer to as, establish a pseudo relationship with him.   We should do our homework and this homework is not a once in a while assignment, it is a daily routine and should eventually become a part of your PR career and your daily work life.  Read his articles and get to know his writing style, also figure out what he likes to cover and what he doesn’t cover.   This will give you an edge over hundreds of other PR professionals, who are also trying to get their article printed in the Business Yorkshire post.  On the contrary, what happens if you don’t do your homework? Then you “Insult” the journalist, and as we all know PR professionals don’t insult, instead we build relationships and not doing your homework will end up in insulting the journalist.

David personally likes to write good stories, now you might ask what is a good story? As David says “It is ‘People,’ not machines and not stats.  Remember when you are writing a press release for David, you need to pass the Pub question as he laughingly stated, which is that after work if he says to his friends/colleagues, “ I have been writing this story and the reply is “that’s interesting” we are doomed.  The point that David is trying to make here is that, when you send him a piece of writing, think from a normal person’s (or lay man’s point of view) view and think what he would think while reading that article.  Give it an angle from an audience’s point of view rather than that of customers, stakeholders and companies.

I know that in many cases, your target audience might be stakeholders and companies, but think of it that once your article is published, even if it has an angle which is not entirely addressing the company or stakeholders, it is still addressing them in some way or the other. 

Moving on to writing styles, David likes the Inverted Pyramid style and says usually he only gets the time to take a look at the Subject, so make your Subject interesting and appealing enough to catch the eye of a journalist, as that is your first step towards enticing him to read your email.  Furthermore, in the body of your article David stresses that don’t have technical jargon and never use the word “Solutions,” David never uses that word and doesn’t like it.Lastly,

David says, “Yorkshire Likes Pictures,”  it is a business section, but “We don’t have to make it boring, we can make it interesting.”  All of us know that a Picture is worth a 1000 words, but in a newspaper it literally is worth that much, as it takes a space of 1000 or more words and just has 20 words underneath it.  Pictures save you from writing 1000 creative words as well. Remember the picture should be “Eye Catching and attention grabbing.” 

Posted by: Rajiv Harjai | August 10, 2007

Still On Leave (Update)

Currently giving the blog a new look, new name …  

I am on leave till the end of the month year to complete my Thesis and enjoy the summer and winter.

Will be back soon.

Posted by: Rajiv Harjai | July 4, 2007

iphone PR campaign: A Brief Overview

So how did the iphone public relations campaign do? Quite well, (of course) the iphone till 27th June had over 11,000 articles; over 69 million hits on Google and above 300K Blog posts to start with.

One of the great things I liked about the iphone campaign was, taking the celebrities out of advertisements (besides the debut commercial) and concentrating on the phone. Good strategy, seems like Apple knows its target audience does not need to see Paris Hilton half naked to buy their merchandise.

The campaign started with debuting commercial at the Oscars featuring 31 Celebrities saying hello, but it was clips taken from movies and TV shows, I am sure that the Apple PR team didn’t pay the celebrities for that, moreover the copyrights might rest with the movie distributors.

Anyways, things can still go wrong, On NBC’s “Today” show, co-host Meredith Vieira ran into problems trying to get the iPhone to work. With a team of Apple representatives hovering off screen, Vieira was supposed to receive a call from co-host Matt Lauer in London. The iPhone – billed by Apple as the most user-friendly smart phone ever – displayed the incoming call, but she couldn’t figure out how to answer it.

A lesson to be learnt from here, if the show is live, tell the co-host the simplest of details even if it is telling her, ‘This is the answer button.’

Another thing was that Apple had a tight control on media access to the iphone, providing test units to just four journalists. I am sure it was more than that, but still it was controlled. This is not the first time I have seen this, having a control over media helps a lot especially if you have a good fan base following. In these situations you just need to maintain the image.

Lastly AT&T hired 2000 temporary workers to deal with the rush, but forgot to pay attention to their servers, which led to many customers being annoyed as the time taken to activate their account was simply too long.

The iphone will come out in Europe by the end of the year, and the rumour is that Vodaphone might be the official subscriber. I personally hope that it’s not Vodaphone, as it is just too expensive here in UK. I would rather prefer O2.

Posted by: Rajiv Harjai | July 1, 2007

PR in the Cinema World

Are PR companies, dealing with clients in the movie business, expected to look into Piracy for their clients? I think yes, if you are dealing with Movie PR, then when the movie is launched you should take care of this aspect as well.

Unfortunately, these days, before a movie is launched in theatres, it is accessible on the internet, shockingly sometimes several months before the launch. These copies of the new movies are of course camera prints, but as their DVD comes out you can see the DVD copies as well.

Now which sites host these movies? Of course our favourites… You Tube, Divx, Veoh. It’s basically any website which allows you to upload Videos. As soon as the website authors find out, they remove the movie, but usually that happens after several days and sometimes even months. There are million of videos which are uploaded every day, and you cannot expect them to check each and every one for piracy.

So you’re wondering how PR companies can keep a check on Piracy, when even the software companies themselves are unable to do so. Well for starters, get tapped into the internet world and know the sites which provide links to these movies hosted on You Tube, Divx. Veoh etc… Searching by the name of the movie on You Tube, Veoh, Divx etc…, might not really get you anywhere, since usually the videos always will be given some name which doesn’t make sense.

What am I talking about? Let me give you a couple of examples. One of my favourite movie is 300, do you want to see the perfect DVD version for free. Click here, here, here and here. As you see the name of file is something which doesn’t make sense, but there is a website where you can search 300 and it will link you to this video, hence you should not search You Tube, Veoh, Divx etc… but the websites which provide the links.

For my second example lets take a look at a new movie currently in theaters, how about Die Hard 4 (Part I). It is a bad copy, but there are better ones available as well. (I won’t provide the websites which have the links to the movie as this post is for educational and awareness means and not to promote piracy)

Hence when a PR company is dealing with Movies, they should not only take care of the promotion and events to raise awareness and other aspects of PR, but as the internet makes more and more prominent appearances, we as PR practitioners should take care of vast world of internet.

Finally this could be another aspect in their evaluation as well, they can list how many movies were taken down, at least for the one month after the movie is launched.

Posted by: Rajiv Harjai | June 20, 2007

“Journalists have become Churnalists” – Tony Harcup

I have been reading a lot of PR Vs. Journalism posts these days, this makes me remember a seminar I attended by Tony Harcup, Author of the book “The Ethical Journalist” who was talking about his book. Being disappointed with the whole profession today, he said, “What is happening to the News today? This is not journalism. Journalists these days have become ‘Churnalist,’ They just Churn news.” He added that journalists get more than 100 pitches a day and now they have started just churning it out, or churning news from the news feeders. I think what Tony said holds value, as these days above 40% of the news which is in the newspapers is provided by PR.

Furthermore, during my recent work placement, many journalists asked me if they could get a one to one interview with Shilpa Shetty, where I said let me see if I can accommodate you as there were over 100 journalists at the Press Conference. Journalists were accommodated where ever possible. But many journalists who requested for one on one interviews, didn’t stick around to wait if they could be accommodated after the Press conference was over. They covered the official press release and went to have lunch. But some who roughed it out a bit, sticking around for the right opportunity, did get their bytes (read stories). I remember one journalist was accommodated by having an interview with Shilpa Shetty, on the stairs of the Hotel, after the 2nd press conference and one-on-one interview sessison was over.

Seeing the number of journalists who didn’t rough it out or wait, I quite understand Tony Harcup’s comment about Churnalism.

Tony Harcup further said in his seminar, that many times the journalists are helpless as they have to report ‘what sells’ . This takes a journalist away from covering the news which he or she should. Celebrity news being one of the big contributors to this cause. Besides the ‘Reporting what Sells’ problem faced by journalists, I understand the frustration journalists go through when they get calls from PR executives about whether they received his/her email. My take on this situation is that call a journalist only when you know that the story is very good and when you are sure that he might have missed the story.

Many PR practitioners say that calling up to check works, but my question is, how many times? It might work 1 out 10 (maybe). Calling and emailing over and over again is making PR get a image as junk provider which even David Henderson said last month in his post on Strumpette that “PR is becoming seen as online spam.

Posted by: Rajiv Harjai | June 18, 2007

Interview with Paull Young

Regular readers of my blog might remember that I was going to post an interview with Paull Young on Blogging. Some of you even emailed me some questions which you wanted me to ask on your behalf. Its been more than a couple of months, since I started blogging, and now I am completely comfortable with it. I wanted to make sure that I was comfortable with blogging before I began podcasting. Hence, the delay in posting my interview with Paull.

This is my first podcast and I will try to interview someone who we can learn from once every month, and have many other interesting things in my podcasting endeavor. Well here it is, Paull Young’s interview with Indian and Global PR. Paull Young gave some great tips for Young Bloggers and Students in the interview.

Posted by: Rajiv Harjai | June 13, 2007

Red is Out, Green is In

shilpa-shetty-green.jpg The IIFA awards ceremoy (Indian Oscars) was not a red carpet event, instead it was green.  It was green because IIFA wanted to apprise people regarding the issue of Global Warming.  Many speeches made during the awards addressed Global Warming.   All the Celebrities came out and commented on Global Warming at the red carpet interviews, excuse me, green carpet interviews.  Shlipa Shetty made it a point to wear green at the awards ceremony and at the press conferences. 

I recently watched Al Gore’s Documentry – An Inconvinient Truth.  Global Warming is a dangerous phenomenon, if you have the time watch the documentry by clicking on the link above. 

Every company these days has global warming on their agenda, but that is not enough.  Everyone has to help in this noble cause.  Therefore, my friends and readers, lets use energy saving bulbs which cut your electricity bill more than half, this a very simple way of contributing towards prevention of Global Warming and saving money.

Posted by: Rajiv Harjai | June 7, 2007

The IIFA Awards – Yorkshire’s Date with Bollywood

This weekend the International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) awards (Indian Oscars) are going to be held in Yorshire. IIFA is going to get above 30000 tourists to Yorkshire this weekend, starting tomorrow. IIFA awards are a weekend retreat which ends with the Awards ceremony on Saturday. They will host many events through out Bradford, Leeds, Hull and Sheffield. You can get more details about the events on IIFA’s website.

Getting to the stars, many have already arrived from Shilpa Setty, the Deol’s, Salman Khan, Vinod Khanna, and many others. Today the lovely Shlipa and the great Deol’s visited a contest winner’s house in Leeds… But the weekend starts from tomorrow so Yorkshire will have should gear for an exciting three days.

Many Indian News channels have already arrived and are interviewing the stars. Tommorrow, IIFA’s press conference in Leeds will have over 300 journalists from all over England.

Working with the professionals, Genesis BM (Burson Marsteller’s Indian counterparts) I am getting to learn alot. They are the most wonderful team. Another amazing person to work with was Kanika, the Head of Hospitality for the event.

Today’s learning tip working with Kanika:

Behind every successful campaign, is the perfect blend of professionalism and concern for your colleagues/volunteers. Its all about team work!

Posted by: Rajiv Harjai | May 30, 2007

PR Writing, not Journalism

One of the aspects which every tutor, practitioner and employer emphasize is ‘Writing Skills’ which is a key aspect in PR. In every job advertisement, one of the most common skills which is asked for is “Writing Skills.” You have to know how to write effectively in order to make it in PR.

In the Public Relations world, writing is emphasized to such an extent that many students and practitioners get into this paradigm of using fancy language and hence neglect their target audience and the target audiences idioms. While you should have journalistic writing skills, your message should be simple and clear to your target audience.

There was a great point made by Mr. Narinder (former information advisor to the former Indian Prime Minister) last week. In summary he said, advertisers are not necessarily good communicators, often the language used is incomprehensible to the masses due to the high standard of vocabulary used, even Journalism is guilty of the same. The language and communication skills needed for PR are somewhat different from advertising and Journalism. In PR often we are required to be advocates without appearing to be so. We must have the skill to communicate in the idioms of the target audience.

I have personally experienced this in giving a lecture on Activism. Having lived all over the world, I have picked up a lot of jargon from the world which is really good as it helps me communicate with a wide variety of people from different cultural backgrounds, but sometimes I sound like an alien as well. In my last year of university I gave a lecture to the masters students on Activism. I named it “Activism 101” only to find out that I had to explain what 101 means to British Students. 101 is American Education lingo which means starting/basic. In American universities, every subject in the first year (freshmen year) will have 101 after the name, e.g. Persuasive Communication 101, Mass Media 101 etc… )

While the bright side was that everyone did learn what 101 means, in reality most of the time you might not get a chance to explain what you mean, hence keep your target audience in mind when any communication is drafted.

Therefore, PR writing as said above is more about communicating effectively keeping your target audience in mind than sounding like a journalist or an advertiser.

Remember this is our (read Public Relations) way to be more effective than Journalism and Advertising.

Posted by: Rajiv Harjai | May 27, 2007

Bloggers with the Advantage – PR Jobs

Continuing from my last post. Here are top 3 jobs in Yorkshire (where I live) which bloggers will have a definite advantage in applying for, not to say that they are the ones who are going to get the job, but I am sure that it blogging will give them an edge.



Bruce Marshall Associates is hiring. BMA PR is an independent public relations consultancy that operates regionally, nationally and internationally. They are the largest technology PR consultancy in the north of England and one of the top 50 tech consultancies in the UK.

They are looking for an Account Executive. While sending your email to Stuart, read carefully what they want and what they don’t want. Go to this website after you have read the job requirements at Stuart Bruce’s Blog.

Email your CV to Stuart Bruce at


At GREEN they are hiring. As one of the north’s leading PR and communications agencies, GREEN Communications is seeking highly motivated professionals to play leading roles in delivering media relations programme to a range of clients in the B2C and B2B sectors. They need people with solid client handling skills, who can demonstrate the ability to deliver clear and concise copy and adopt creative approaches to the brief. An interest in Web2.0 and social media would help.

Green has 3 job openings, Account Manager, Account Executive and Graduate Trainee Account Executive: email your CV to Ian, Emma or Andy at, or Please visit Ian Green’s Blog for job details.


Applied Language Solutions is also hiring, they are looking for a PR Executive. This is a company which has international offices and they provide translation services.

You can send your CV to Richard at Please visit Richard Michie’s Blog for the job details.

Finally after you have applied, and you are the lucky one who has received an interview call, check out what Flora has to say before you rush to your interview.

School is out and now it is time to enter a new world of Public Relations. What ever you have learnt for the past year(s) is now going to get implemented.

Hopefully every student has attained many Skill Sets to show to their prospective employer and hopefully you have done some work placement(s) and other special activities to show you apart from the competition.

Besides these skill sets, Harold Burson gives his advice on career prospects for students and young professionals. In Summary his points:

  1. Networking is the most important activity you can undertake, But never think that networking is simply a matter of knowing people. To be effective, it takes an underlying relationship – shared experiences — and you’ve got to work at it.
  2. Working as a member of an organization – a team – is an essential in most careers, especially business.
  3. Never cease working to become a better writer and a more effective speaker. One of the scarcest commodities in public relations today is the scarcity of competent writers. (This is a big topic to explain, hence part 2 of this post)
  4. Develop as broad a knowledge base as possible. In our kind of work, all kinds of problems arise. And as consultants, in all fields of social, political and economic endeavor. Strive never to be caught tongue-tied for a total lack of knowledge even on a subject remote to your every day existence.

It is interesting to see that 3 of the 4 points (except no. 2) have blogging written all over them.

  • By Blogging you can network, especially when you are a student as you do not get a chance to meet journalists or many practitioners on a daily basis.
  • Blogging improves your writing skills way beyond any student can realize. You can see in my writing since I have started this blog. It also gives you a confidence to write for a live audience.
  • Developing a broad knowledge base – If you are a Blogger, you are aware of the current topics in the world, more than any person who is just reading ‘The Sun’ or the ‘The New York Times or ‘The Times of India.’
Posted by: Rajiv Harjai | May 25, 2007

Your Opinion Matters

Finally my exams are over… Phew! Everyone knows the feeling when you get back from a long vacation and your Inbox is filled with emails and there is so much to do. Besides answering hundreds of emails, I have to read above 4000 blog posts… that’s 100 times more than my emails.

Now you could say that, you don’t have to read them. But it’s not that I have to, It’s that I want to. All of a sudden, I feel like I have been boycotted out of the conversations. There were many great topics in the past 17 days where I had an opinion and something to add to the conversation, but replying to them now is just out of context, till I received David’s comment yesterday on a post I had posted earlier this month.

To Bloggers who get in this dilemma about replying to a blog post if it is outdated, I say… “Your opinion is never outdated”

These days, I see Mac’s every where I go, be it in the Window of a store or the Brilliant Ads of PC Vs. MAC on TV, or the Bus Stop.

I was waiting for Apple to release it’s sales figures for the second quarter of 2007 (which apple released last week). The sales are up by 36% for Macs. Meaning “Get-A-Mac” Campaign is still going strong besides the announcement that their new operating system “Leopard” will be delayed and the launch of Windows Vista.

As much as the goal of the campaign is to increase market share (of course), but more importantly it is trying to create a buzz in the non-technical audience (both PC and MAC users). The campaign is aimed to induce feelings of thrill and pleasure in the users of a MAC and sort of envy feelings in PC users. The campaign is further educating the audience regarding the basic stereotypes which exist for the MAC and enforcing them in some cases and counter enforcing them in some cases. This is much better than their previous switch campaign.

In short – The campaign is raising awareness about MAC’s as a better alternative to PC. I am positive that this campaign will make many users switch to a MAC and also get loyal customers. Furthermore, I think this is their first positive resulting step towards Re-Branding the MAC.

The target audience is the young generation (18-35) and home users of any age. Further analysis shows the campaign, is aimed at the general audience (non technical, which is in the majority) who buy a laptop/desktop for Internet, Movies, Photos and the basic Microsoft Office. To think of it, I don’t use my PC for much more than that myself except for a few more applications like Macromedia Flash and some internet apps which are available for MAC anyways.

It is good for students to look at this campaign, as it has great text book example of ‘Persuasive’ theories applied in the advertisements. From Warmth appeals to Credibility to Humor to comparing products (the most popular these days) among other persuasive theories. Furthermore, “the campaign exemplifies the artfully clever use of “framing,” the selective control of information used to shape a viewer’s perception. The ads follow a good example of PR persuasive theories .

Today before writing this post, I was looking at the ads once again which are Brilliant (I love the pun in them). Couple of things which I learnt from the advertisements, further convinced me that my next computer will be a MAC (besides the point that I always wanted one). I learnt that I can run Windows on it now and it is at the same price as a PC if not cheaper.

Any Student wanting to analyse the campaign further, can look at Kelton Rhoads (psychologist) analysis of the US campaign and everyone’s favourite Wikipedia.

Posted by: Rajiv Harjai | May 8, 2007

MIH CEO, doesn’t even learn from his Mistakes

Two Months ago I had written a Post “Ibibo (MIH, Nasper) – The Worst Marketing Strategy.” Hate to say, “I told you so,” but Ibibo has ended the competition after 4 months which was going to last for a year. Proving it being the worst Marketing Strategy.

Now they have started a new competition, IBQash (I thought you were supposed to learn from your mistakes) which is similar to the old one, except introducing a Quality factor, but does that change anything? Nothing much, as the comments are still the same as before which basically lack substance and are just limited to one liner comments like ‘Nice post, I have given 5 star rating, visit my blog and give rating.’ You can read any Ibibo blog and would know what I am talking about.

The one thing this does change is that people are not going to have above 6000 posts in a month, now they can do away with under 1000 (hopefully). The only intelligent thing they have done is run this contest for a month only (May 7th – June 6th), and then I guess they will decide if they should continue it or not.

It is going to be hard task for any PR company to change the image of MIH which it has acquired currently and as per their actions it looks like that they are hell bent of making it worse.

This image problem for MIH is coming from similar situations of its other acquisitions and products. Six months ago they had acquired Pixrat, but “Pixrat continues to have a lot of Not Safe For Work content. What happened to cleaning up PIXRAT?” asks Startup World, who is among many others who criticize/question MIH’s strategies and products.

I think the CEO, Ashish Kashyap doesn’t even learn from his mistakes. It is disheartening to see history repeat it self.

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