Pilot Light

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

Posts Tagged ‘PR

Just Desserts

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Beer + Bike =....Before Pilot Light is extinguished and the Inferno boiler is lugged over to Beavor Lane, it is only right to remember that our esteemed leader began plying his trade down at Bite Towers in the days when New Labour was, well… new.

After crowing to all and sundry about his charity cycle ride being mentioned on the back page of PR Week this morning, I only feel it appropriate to remind everyone of the last time Grant ‘I’m going to cycle round the hilly bits’ Currie made the Diary pages:

PR Week Diary – Currie hits hot water and then stays on the boil.
24 October 1997

Press trip horror stories are ten a penny these days, but Bite senior account manager Grant Currie manages to stand out.

When Currie arranged a one-to-one briefing for a hi-tech journalist and a senior Oracle executive in Paris things started going wrong right from the start.

Currie arranged to meet the journalist at Victoria. After four unsuccessful circuits of the concourse it dawned on him that Eurostar leaves from Waterloo.

A quick dash across town and Currie found the journalist, only to realise that he had left his own passport at home and had only booked one ticket.

Some fast talking and, according to Bite, a ‘bit of old fashioned bribery’, saw Currie get himself on board without a ticket or passport.

Feeling he was on a roll, Currie completed the meeting before retiring for some liquid refreshment where, after confidently ordering a couple of ‘beers’ in the local lingo, he instead found himself facing two portions of apple crumble.

Apparently he was trying to order a ‘Kronenbourg’ in his best Peterborough-French accent.
You can sponsor Grant’s trek over the Pyrenees here: www.justgiving.com/grantcurrie
Go on, it’s for a good cause and it will keep him out of the office for 2 weeks.



Written by pilotlight

24/04/2009 at 8:41 am

Posted in PR, Tech

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Well, that’s that done then

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The sign of the dawn of a new era...That is what I tweeted this morning. A reduction in characters can really crystallise statements and facts it would appear (and that tweet was succinct even by Twitters standards!). So basically at close of business yesterday we announced that Inferno will merge with our sister agency Bite under the Bite name.

Which effectively means that, come May 1st 2009 (our sixth birthday coincidentally), Inferno as a PR brand will cease to exist. It will be no more. It has ceased to be. It has expired and gone to meet ‘is maker… etc etc

Although of course, it hasn’t (ceased to be, that is). Inferno was a name. It was a very good name for a PR agency I like to think (Suzy Sammons came up with it in a pub, as all good names should be created!), but it is just a name. The people, clients and the culture that gathered under that name – ah, well that’s a different story. And it is also a story that will not end with the disappearance of a name I like to think.
Indeed, from my point of view the merger was actually all about preserving what we have all worked so hard over the last six years to build – an incredibly strong and happy group of amazingly talented PR people doing exceptional work for some of the biggest, most exciting (and demanding!) clients in the business.

With this move, we provide our people with new and exciting opportunities, career paths and routes for development that, being perfectly honest, we might have struggled to give them over the next year at least due to these ‘interesting’ times. And tied to that we can now provide our clients with a number of additional, value-add services and access to real specialists and more senior experienced consultancy.

Basically, we all think it’s great news. We will be sad to see the Inferno name disappear, but business is all about change and opportunity and we are creating plenty of that!

Oh, here is the official press release if you are interested…

Agencies combine strengths to deliver new communications model to the market

London, 21 April 2009 – Bite Communications Limited (“Bite”) and Inferno Communications Limited (“Inferno”), both wholly-owned companies of Next Fifteen Communications Group PLC, today announced that they intend to merge on 1 May 2009. By bringing together two highly successful agencies under the Bite brand, the merger will accelerate the company’s growth trajectory and further enhance its position in the UK market.

“The merger was conceived as a decisive response to these rapidly changing times. Agencies must be dynamic, agile and prepared to make big decisions. With communications at the heart of every brand’s development, there is a huge opportunity for PR agencies to become centres of strategic consultancy excellence,” commented Clive Armitage, CEO of Bite. “Add to this the developments in social media and the resultant requirement for human and interactive dialogue and it becomes clear that the right PR agency – with the right skills in narrative and storytelling, combined with the multi-channel expertise to take these conversations to market – will be incredibly well positioned now and in the future.”

Bringing together Bite and Inferno will deliver a new engagement model designed to meet the diverse challenges of this ever-shifting landscape. This model will be predicated on distinct areas of specialism that will include content, broadcast, analyst relations, corporate positioning and speaker bureau, underwritten by Bite’s renowned digital expertise that is woven into the fabric of each and every one of its campaigns.
In addition, the merger will bring an injection of senior resource and expertise that will dramatically expand Bite’s capabilities and reach. For Inferno, joining Bite will provide its clients with access to deeper executive resource alongside Bite’s client service teams, as well as access to Bite’s seven offices around the world.
Grant Currie, Inferno’s founder and managing director, will assume a position on the global board of Bite reporting directly to the CEO. He will be responsible for the continued development of Inferno’s tier one clients, as well as providing strategic services to Bite’s global client base. Paul Mackender will take on the role of deputy managing director, Bite EMEA, and will focus on developing the EMEA business supporting Kath Pooley, Bite’s managing director for EMEA.

Kath Pooley, managing director, Bite said: “With this merger Bite has shifted up a gear, exploring powerful new possibilities that will deliver an unbeatable competitive edge in our market. The combined strengths of the two agencies brings to the marketplace an incredibly compelling proposition that will provide existing and new clients the perfect mix of people and skill-sets to address all their communications needs and challenges in this new, complex, world. The new agency that emerges from this process will embrace this evolving landscape, particularly around our shared vision of delivering innovative, audience-centric, channel-neutral communications. In addition, the merger will provide a springboard for Bite’s aggressive growth plans in EMEA and further enhance the career opportunities for Bite and Inferno staff domestically and internationally.”
Grant Currie, managing director, Inferno added: “Inferno is really excited about the merger and joining with Bite. An emphasis on a strong and dynamic culture lies at the heart of both agencies, borne of having been part of the same Next Fifteen family since our formation and having maintained close working links. Over and above this, the new agency brings together all the strengths and depth of skills that clients expect in the modern communications consultancy and positions us incredibly well as a real force in the new world of content and conversations.”

Several clients of both agencies have already expressed excitement in what a combined company would be able to deliver for them. Alison Perkins, head of PR, Microsoft UK commented: “We view the Inferno and Bite merger as a strategic step forward that will help us meet our own ambitious communications objectives. For us, the advantages are clear: we get to keep the strong, core Inferno team that has provided us with stellar service for the last six years, while gaining access to the rich expertise of Bite and its senior consultants. The communications landscape has changed dramatically over the last year and this merger shows smart thinking that will benefit not just Inferno and Bite but their entire client roster. And I look forward to Microsoft being one of the first beneficiaries.”

It is anticipated that the majority of Inferno’s clients will transfer into Bite as part of the merger. At the close of the merger, the expected combined client roster of the two agencies will include AMD, Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, Sony, Sun Microsystems and Symantec.


Written by pilotlight

21/04/2009 at 10:03 am

Posted in Business, Media, PR, Tech

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Slice of Crisis Comms to go?

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Fast food contaminations continue....

One thing that has engulfed the blogosphere and web this week was the antics of some people with the IQ of a salami finding pleasure in flatulating on someone’s fast food order. Now this is nothing new. For years urban legends have been around about employees of Mc Dougals spitting in hamburgers or Ken’s Fried Chicken ejaculating into the coleslaw so this was no surprise that bored pizza employees would do this, but two things did surprise me:

The first surprise was the PR buzz that this created on the web. Incidents like this have been around in one form or another from the dawn of time – and well before the internet was ever invented. Imagine the PR office in Rome when they caught wind of the Semon on the Mount? The obvious thing to PR professionals is: it’s not the buzz, but the response, and in a situation like this, the speed of reply. Whether a member of your staff has soiled a burger with body fluid or your drunken employee has just sailed 1.5 million barrels of crude oil onto a reef in Alaska, getting out the message as quickly as you can is the most important thing to limit brand damage. And in situations like this no-one does it better than the airline industry.

In crisis situations I think every PR professional, regardless of industry or vertical sector, should take a leaf out of the airline industry’s book- and I’m surprised Domino’s didn’t. These people are crisis comms veterans. They have bibles of the stuff and every time a plane goes down they roll their communications out with surgical accuracy. More importantly, the airline industry has a knack of moving the focus of the story from the loss of life, which is devastating to any brand, and onto another factor in the story which takes the brunt of the blame. Whether it is debris on the runway or a hero crew member – shift the focus and the story will contain itself. This is where Domino’s missed the boat.

By focusing the story on Twitter, YouTube and social networks bringing the culprits to justice, how this was global netizens working together to weed out injustice and wrong doing, I think the story would have taken a better turn. This would have taken the focus away from the apology and turned a negative into a positive. BA did this brilliantly with the Boeing 777 that came down at the end of the Heathrow runway – focusing on the ‘heroic’ crew to distract from questions about BA’s maintenance record- and I think Domino’s should have done the same.

Their comms may still shift, but speed is now of the essence.

Matt L

Written by pilotlight

17/04/2009 at 10:54 am

In matters of grave importance, style is the vital thing

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Ok, so that is somewhat of a bastardasation of a quote from my favourite Oscar Wilde play – The Importance of Being Ernest, but it still rings true. In an age where style dominates substance in almost every industry, PRs need to take advantage of this trend. How many times have you invited press to an event where frankly there was neither the space nor the atmosphere to truly engage with them? Or do you have a default venue for all your events?

Why not mix it up and go for other venues that offer eclectic themes or have a brilliant atmosphere? Inferno managed the launch of Microsoft Surface in the UK at The Haymarket Hotel and it was a massive success (if I do say so myself). Seriously though, we kept it informal and flexible – which I think the press truly appreciated. Plus I’m betting the free flowing booze didn’t hurt. We had the Surfaces in two different rooms and gave the press the opportunity to have real hands on experience with the devices. There was also a big-ass pool in the center of the basement, which was amazing!!

There is always a temptation (especially at the launch of business products/services) to make things formal and adhere to a strict timetable. But remember, journalists are people too. They enjoy the same things you do and I assume that no one wants to go to a boring event with loads of corporate speak. So take a leaf out of our book and keep it low key and interesting.


Written by pilotlight

25/03/2009 at 5:59 pm

Posted in PR, Tech

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There’s snow business like Tech PR

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London under snow

I have officially succumbed to the snow.

Who would have thought that a little bit of snow could cause the severe disruptions of this frightfully cold Monday? I woke up this morning to a plethora of white stretching for as far as I could see. This took me back to my childhood memories of my local radio station announcing the school closures. A rush to the garage and there you would find me, dusting off my pink sleigh and setting off down the rolling hills of Hindhead.

Today, I was not so lucky. Having spent a gruelling 20 minutes attempting to get my car out of the car park, which resulted in severe wheel spinning and my car getting engulfed in a cloud of snow, I resigned to the fact that I would in fact have to work from home. Great, I thought: the perfect opportunity for me to practice what we preach. Being a Web 2.0 agency and advocates of flexible working practices, I opened my laptop and checked my email. Instead of cancelling meetings because of a bit of bad weather, why not set up a video conference? Ah, the wonders of technology. This did of course mean I have now had to pull myself from the warmth of my bed to make myself look half decent for people I am likely to never meet. As it so happened though, fortunately or unfortunately, my journalist colleagues did not seem so keen on this idea, it seemed ‘too complicated’ – oh well, onwards and upwards as they say.

The damning fact is this: no matter how much we strive for a day away from the office, technology has meant that we are always accessible to our peers and hence, a culture devoted to our jobs. Is this a blessing, a time when people, across continents can be brought together to exchange thoughts and ideas which, years ago would have been a scene in a movie? We should welcome and accept the flexibility that has made the lives of those unable to get into work on a daily basis so much simpler. I think of my colleagues who have young children, kids who may have never seen snow like today and am happy that they get to spend today together; all be it amongst responding to emails and receiving phone calls. Yes, a play in the snow would be fun, but losing out on a day’s work – well then that’s twice as much to do tomorrow. Instead I think we should be balancing the two, and to that end, I am now off to build a snowman.


Written by pilotlight

03/02/2009 at 9:27 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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Wake up and smell the Latte

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Worth considering…

Once again those splendid TWL chaps provide another insightful post on the nature of the fabulous job that is the public relations executive. I am sure that many of us can share the pain as outlined here.

Reading it reminded me of a little slide deck my lovely fiancé sent me a couple of weeks ago – I’m sure it’s done the rounds but it made me chuckle and in light of the TWLs post I thought I should share it with you

I was struck by a large omission though – there is no mention of the MD/CEO’s position in this veritable tide of crap. I quickly concluded that this is because he/she actually lives in a whole world of sh*t, a kind of parallel sh*t universe made up of spreadsheets and the like (cue: playing of really, really small violins please).

I would like to point out that this is all very much tongue in cheek and I don’t actually mean much of the above. Personally, I think we do a bit too much navel gazing and like to beat ourselves up about agency life, I know I do. At the end of the day, its the career we have chosen and, even nearer the end of the day, I think its a bloody good career that is full of variety, entertainment and interest.

Yes it is really hard work and incredibly demanding. But no one ever pretended to me that it was any different. We need to keep things in perspective – my dad is a postie and he packed (quite literally, special delivery!) me off to University to give me a chance to have an interesting life and a successful career. I like to *think* that PR is exactly that… perhaps I’m wrong?


Written by pilotlight

27/06/2007 at 2:53 pm

Posted in PR

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It’s Rainier-ing staff, hallelujah!

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 Lots of froth in the bottle.

Well, I appear to have got myself into a little hot water with Stephen Waddington, one of the MDs of Rainier PR, around the always emotive subject of recruitment. You can see what he had to say about me here. 

Now, I’m not entirely sure how I’ve got myself into an ‘embarrassing’ situation here. Yes, I did, after discussions with contacts and our management team, email some talented PR executives at a handful of agencies to ask them if they were interested in meeting for a chat about their careers and their futures. I mean, Inferno is growing a lot and because of the accounts we hold and our culture, we need to get the best people in to do the job and continue that success.  

Did I show questionable ‘professionalism’ by doing this directly, rather than, lets say, hiding behind a headhunter organisation to do exactly the same thing? If so, then I am hugely apologetic and shall return to more professional ‘cloak and dagger’ activities forthwith! And I wonder how many other senior PR execs out there can say they have never done something similar, or at the very least thought about it (and then bottled it)?  

It’s actually a very interesting question Stephen has raised, at least in my own head. PR is a highly personal business, and is based on individuals, but have I crossed some unwritten line by becoming directly and personally involved in our search for great people?  Or did I show a lack of professionalism simply because I got the email address wrong? I did make a schoolboy error by sending it to .com, not .co.uk, I hold my hand up on that count. But I am pretty sure the mail went to the right person, given that before Stephen’s blog appeared, I received an email from the other MD of Rainier, Steve Earl saying that it had been forwarded to him by the person it was meant for.  How strange. Perhaps it was a bit of both…  

I must finally, though, thank Stephen for publishing my contact details on his excellent and well-read blog – yes, you heard it there first – Inferno is looking for some great people to come join the fold and work on some really well-known technology and B2B brands. You’ll need to be a bit ballsy, have a great sense of humour and be prepared to do things a bit differently.  


Written by pilotlight

05/06/2007 at 4:25 pm

Posted in Human Resources, PR

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