Pilot Light

Inferno is a PR consultancy. This is not. This is Inferno’s blog.

Archive for January 2008

Blunting the ‘Tipping Point’?

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Too true

This got some buzz on BoingBoing and is well worth a read.

Like many in the trade, I read The Tipping Point years ago and loved it. However, since then I have heard it was not rigorous enough and confused complex, multi-causal trends with quick, simple solutions celebrated by interested parties. In the case of NYC crime – zero tolerance targeting of antisocial behaviour was important, but was just a part of the puzzle compared to abortion law changes, highly accountable and computer-assisted strategic policing, economic growth, etc. In all marcomms, where there is so much chance at work, it can be very tempting to search for magic formulas to help us understand (or, ahem, sell, our services).

Yahoo’s own Duncan Watts has been featured in a US article trashing the concept of ‘influentials’ (and selling a new technique of his own). He makes some great points about how those who cite influentials rarely describe how and why they do their influencing. Joe Bloggs can be just as important to getting a trend going and the word out than a young hipster. Watts by and large rejects the idea of influencers in favour of traditional forms of mass marketing, enhanced by some digital good sense and goodness. He also seems to suggest that if pitched right, reasonably good ideas presented at the right time can make an impact. Watts also has the courage to see how chaotic the world can be and admit that a lot of marcomms is a question of dice rolling rather than dart throwing.

However, I would argue that in the B2B world (and in specialised, small markets generally, like high fashion, professional cameras, etc etc) influencers do exist and are powerful especially on the blogosphere. People can base, or at least justify, brand preference using them like celebrity endorsers.

There are no answers yet in this game that will satisfy every question and never will be but Duncan Watts is a thinker to watch.



Written by pilotlight

30/01/2008 at 3:56 pm

PR takes flight

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Still coolLast week the Inferno control tower in Hammersmith was alerted to British Airways flight BA038 from Beijing landing short of the runway at Heathrow. Once again the way this was handled was a great example of efficient issues management processes airlines have in place. We imagined that once it was radioed into the BA PR office that one of their planes has gone down, they will have reached into the file marked “Plane landing short of the runway at Heathrow” and will have rolled out a press release, pilot statement and list of roles an responsibilities, most probably written when the Wright Brothers climbed into the skies, changed the date and jettisoned it off to the press.

Now I don’t want to run over how great the PR response was, as many PR blogs will have talked about this and because, in all honesty, it really isn’t that interesting. This scenario will have been planned and rehearsed so many times this will have been as familiar to them as boarding the aircraft. What will be interesting from a PR point of view will be whether there is any response from both BA and Boeing following the investigation.

Boeing is currently locked in a fierce battle with Airbus to try and reclaim their place as the worlds largest aircraft manufacturer. News of their current flagship model, the Boeing 777 (a plane that is only 13 years old this year), mysteriously falling out of the sky at Heathrow won’t go down well with the company’s board or with shareholders. This news also comes in a bad week for Boeing. This week the aircraft manufacturer announced the delay in the delivery of its next model, the 787 Dreamliner, which sent its share price falling nearly 5% and with the news of the crash the share price fell further still with a close to 2% drop.

With BA blaming the planes avionics the PR radar would suggest the investigation will only yield three possible outcomes: pilot error or poor maintenance -, laying the blame at BA’s door – or a manufacturing fault – laying the blame with Boeing. With Boeing trying to allay share holders fears that the company is not on a slippery slope, and BA trying to shake the reputation of poor service and a stock price that has been falling since this time last year, both sides may need to use the PR afterburner in the days following the outcomes from the investigation.

So at the Inferno control tower we will watch with great interest to see whether a PR dogfight will break out and should we see a bogey on the six of either BA or Boeing we will be sure to keep you posted.

So keep your eyes to the skies….. or in the papers at least….

Matt L

Written by pilotlight

21/01/2008 at 1:19 pm

Posted in Media, PR

Tagged with , ,