Mark Borkowski - Mark my words - Borkowski Blogs » THE FAME FORMULA or In Search Of The Sons Of Barnum » Readability or reality – the uncomfortable lessons of the MH370 news narrative
It’s a good job wreckage has been found off the coast of Australia, because if the search for missing flight MH370 goes on much longer the world won’t actually have any journalists left. Malaysia has acted like a kind of media black hole, sucking more and more of the world’s journalists away from their home countries and into its gaping maw. Our screens fill more and more with shots of wailing families, repeated footage of bemused politicians and, well, not very much else. This is the biggest breaking story of the year so far, and in some ways it’s easy to see why. Since the plane went missing almost two weeks ago on a journey from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing there has been the perfect combination of lack of hard fact and availability of rumour to drive 24 hour media into a frenzy. There have been false leads, different potential … [Link]
Mark Borkowski - Mark my words - Borkowski Blogs » THE FAME FORMULA or In Search Of The Sons Of Barnum » The Diminishing Political Personality
Last week, the British Left mourned as it bid farewell to two of its leading lights – old Labour icon Tony Benn and legendary union leader Bob Crow. Both men will be sorely missed, too, by headline writers and casual observers of political theatre. Each was a stunning PR operator who made the weather and livened up the political news agenda. Benn had an instinctive understanding of humanity – how to stir the heart and speak to the soul of all who encountered him. In the days following his passing, stories have emerged of his warmth and compassion and the power of his oratory. Among the political classes, even his opponents have fallen over themselves to praise him. Tory MPs from Zac Goldsmith to Peter Bone speak of a good-hearted, principled man. Even David Cameron said “there was never a dull moment listening to him, even if you disagreed with … [Link]
Mark Borkowski - Mark my words - Borkowski Blogs » THE FAME FORMULA or In Search Of The Sons Of Barnum » The Samsung Sugar Rush Selfie.
If you were a conspiracy theorist the “selfie” would be starting to look like a pretty blatant illuminati signal. Last year we had three world leaders taking one, and now Ellen DeGeneres has pulled stars of the silver screen into the world’s most retweeted tweet. What purpose do these smartphone shots serve? One thing’s for sure – PR orthodoxy is now seriously in favour of them. Want to look cheeky and relatable? Snap a selfie. It’s not totally flawed, either. Ellen’s effort on Sunday night earned her 1.7m retweets in less than an hour – a new world record. Ever since astronaut Luca Parmitano snapped himself drifting in deep space last year, selfies have become a shorthand for a sort of ironic normality. They are a way, for those pinned up among the literal or metaphorical stars, to show the rest of us their ordinary side. “Look!” says the photo, … [Link]
Mark Borkowski - Mark my words - Borkowski Blogs » THE FAME FORMULA or In Search Of The Sons Of Barnum » David Blaine: A lesson in purpose and passion
It took the urban dictionary to sum up the true definition of passion. It says: “Passion is when you put more energy into something than is required to do it. It is more than just enthusiasm or excitement, passion is ambition that is materialised into action to put as much heart, mind, body and soul into something as is possible.” Quite. Passion was the theme of last week. I spent most of mine with David Blaine. There are many adjectives that sum up David and passion is certainly one of them. This is a man who is wholly dedicated to his craft. There have been many impostors along the way, and yet Blaine does not let any of them derail his vision. Ultimately he knows others will not venture beyond his extremes. David Blaine was only four years old when a magician on the New York subway sparked his passion. … [Link]
Mark Borkowski - Mark my words - Borkowski Blogs » THE FAME FORMULA or In Search Of The Sons Of Barnum » Journalist bites PR. Never explain, never complain.
Last Wednesday, the cuddly, credit card provider Mastercard ran into an alleged PR fail storm when their PR agency mishandled and misjudged a bevy of journalists they were inviting to the Brit awards. Scribblers claim that, in exchange for entry to the event, they were asked by email to guarantee coverage, and were requested to keep to social media guidelines including using brand hashtags. Why the inane babble was thought important, is another discussion. The first thing to say is that this is but a irritating itch, not a full blown brand ebola. Journalists may have ‘taken to Twitter’ to gloat over the misstep, but I can¹t see anyone getting fired over a few tantrums. House PR, who sent the offending emails, have only ‘become the story’ for a tiny circle of media old wives. The man and woman from Kettering hasn’t the faintest idea that any of this has … [Link]
Mark Borkowski - Mark my words - Borkowski Blogs » THE FAME FORMULA or In Search Of The Sons Of Barnum » Flappy Birds – a PR Cul-du-sac ?
It’s now been a week since Flappy Birds, the infuriating iOS game, was taken down from the app store, and I’m still waiting to find out what it was a stunt for. For those unfamiliar, the game requires users to navigate a yellow, beaked blob with an insipid expression past a series of Super Mario World-esque green pipes. Keep going until you snuff it, then either stop or have a shot at beating your score. So far, so derivative. Flappy Birds is different because of its maddening difficulty level. A generation of gamers used to being spoonfed their points, coins or lives have been driven insane by the bird’s insistence on flying to its doom. As a result, the game’s creator, Vietnamese designer Dong Nguyen, took the game off sale, saying he could not handle the impact it was having on users. And there it should have ended. But it … [Link]
Mark Borkowski - Mark my words - Borkowski Blogs » THE FAME FORMULA or In Search Of The Sons Of Barnum » Jose Mourinho the meme generator and public relations master
Hats off to Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho – a true media operator. Where rivals babble incoherently about “games of two halves” or, at best, indulge in bland 1970s-style trash talk, Mourinho understands that the battles played out in the media can be just as important as those won or lost on the pitch. After he dominated the sports pages last weekend with his assertion that Chelsea are a “little horse” in the Premiere League title race – a comment he later admitted was a “mind game” – we thought we’d put together a list of what brands can learn from the master. 1. Understand the power of memes No, we don’t mean pictures of cats or Sean Bean with humorous text overlaid on them. We mean pithy little units of cultural material; quotes or ideas that you only have to put out once before they are repeated indefinitely. The use … [Link]
Mark Borkowski - Mark my words - Borkowski Blogs » THE FAME FORMULA or In Search Of The Sons Of Barnum » 5 PR lessons from the artist formerly known as the artist formerly known as Prince
The artist formerly known as the artist formerly known as Prince is on our fair shores at the moment, reminding me of what a roller coaster it was to work with him 15 years ago. His set on Tuesday night at the Electric Ballroom in Camden may have seen only 1,000 fans in the comparatively tiny room, but the excitement it has generated has been huge. The singer has refused to reveal details of other venues on his tour, presumably preferring to keep fans guessing via Twitter clues, as he did before the first show. A pure showman with relentless dedication, Prince has much to teach brands about exciting the crowd time and again. 1. Know your limits There’s nothing wrong with ambition, but there’s a difference between extending your audience and overreaching it. Prince is and really always has been a cult proposition, and he knows it. A performance … [Link]
Mark Borkowski - Mark my words - Borkowski Blogs » THE FAME FORMULA or In Search Of The Sons Of Barnum » Scarlett, Oxfam & Sodastream
So Scarlett Johansson has parted ways with Oxfam. The actress, who has served as an ambassador for the humanitarian group for eight years, quit yesterday over a “fundamental difference of opinion” (read: PR disaster waiting to happen). Johansson has recently signed as brand ambassador for the drinks-fizzinator (possibly not a real word) manufacturer Sodastream. It seems Oxfam’s support for marginalised Palestinians sits badly with Sodastream maintaining a factory in the occupied West Bank. This is the PR meltdown that never happened; thanks to careful stewardship (and, one imagines, a lot of hair-pulling and arse-kissing behind the scenes), everyone has emerged positively reeking of roses. Painting the split as a “difference of opinion” was a genius move. It allowed Johansson to highlight her belief in “building a bridge to peace between Israel and Palestine, supporting neighbours working alongside each other, receiving equal pay, equal benefits and equal rights”, rather than any … [Link]