Ideas and opinions from the world of PR
It’s a new year! And so we’d like to wish you all a very happy one, and indeed hope that you already are having one. We’re going to start 2018 with a little quiz for you, because as you all know by now, we here at Small Man Media do like a quiz.
It’s a pretty simple one really: All you have to do is name what you think were decided to be the BBC’s three most dominant hashtags on Twitter in 2017. We’ll give you a somewhat cryptic clue and tell you that all of them, in some small way, relate to Donald Trump.
We’ll just wait here for a few minutes while you think it over.
Okay, do you have your final answer?
Right then. If you answered hashtags that in some way relate to Star Wars, Theresa May or the petition to rename a street with a rather rude name, then I’m afraid you are not close and so win no cigar. If, however, you went for #metoo, #takeaknee and #covfefe then you can go straight to the top of the class.
So you can probably see how Trump, in some small way, relates to three hashtags that, between them, racked up a good seven million tweets in a running total that is still climbing by the hour. The first one, and by far the most utilised, was of course #metoo, a hashtag that threw a harsh spotlight on sexual harassment, something which President Trump is apparently happy to encourage. The second, #takeaknee, originated as a peaceful way in which to respectfully challenge institutional racism in the United States, mainly via the medium of sport, and this, of course, President Donald found absolutely outrageous. So: Sexual harassment, fine. Peaceful and respectful racism protests: Totally beyond the pale!
And finally, bless his cotton socks, there was DT’s extremely peculiar tweeting of the phrase ‘covfefe’ which rapidly became a hashtag sensation all of its own, serving as a salutary reminder to us all that the most powerful man in the world is a lunatic who invents his own words and that we must all laugh at his planet-sized idiocy. What’s particularly brilliant about #covfefe was that the preponderance of the hashtag led to this meaningless word entering the cultural lexicon as short-hand for, well, any meaningless word at all. If that’s not an indicator of the power of the hashtag, we’re jiggered if we know what is.
Hashtags. They’re an interesting thing. The received wisdom is that Twitter has somehow plateaued, and indeed did so a while ago and faces a slow and ignominious slide into obscurity. And yet if this were truly the case, why is it that such simple hashtags – totalling just 21 letters between them – can become front page and TV news? In a sense, it seems to be telling us that, much like the pen is always mightier than the sword, then the hashtag is more powerful than the tweet.
The thing about hashtags is that they are simple, often devastatingly effective, tend to just flourish organically, and create an instant sense of unity on a given theme, which is much less the case with ‘original’ tweets. Hashtags are inclusive – ‘I agree with the sentiments expressed here or get on board with this phenomenon’ – where tweets can be rather exclusive – ‘Damn, I wish I’d thought of saying that, why can’t I get these RT numbers?’
This being a blog in which we started with a ‘top three’ hashtags, we’re going to end with another top three, namely the top three Small Man Media hashtags from 2017. The first two are perhaps not surprising – they’re #nationalstationeryweek and #worldstationeryday, both of them massive ‘event’ hashtags with a commensurately massive social media uptake. But the third was something of a surprise package, of which we (and in particular Dynamite Dan, who had the idea) are very proud because, well, WE STARTED IT.
And here it is – #crosspenhunt. A tiny little hashtag that made waves. The idea behind it was a touch on the insane side, but it worked, as crazy ideas sometimes do if they’re touched with genius. In a nutshell: A special Cross pen, with a tracking device in it, was hidden in a London location. Via the #crosspenhunt hashtag, and the subsequent clues that it threw up, social media users were able to… Well, to hunt the pen, with a substantial prize at the end of it (not just a pen). Simple, effective, easy to remember, and of course, that sense of unity for the participants we mentioned earlier. That’s how to hash it up.
Before we go, it would be remiss of us to not mention our first significant hashtag of 2018, namely #crossofficedogoftheyear. This (as you might guess) is to accompany the Cross Office Dog Of The Year competition, which kick-started this week, in which Cross Pens are searching for the greatest workplace-based dog in the UK. It could be you! Or rather, it could be your dog. Stay tuned for more information, and indeed hashtags – or should that be dog-tags? – in the coming weeks…
You can find us on Twitter @smallmanmedia and on Facebook at facebook.com/smallmanmedia and our door is always open to discuss subjects like the power of a good hashtag and how it can help your business out. We have many, many types of tea and biscuits too.
They say that a picture paints a thousand words. What a load of rubbish! Pictures can’t paint, they don’t have hands! And you don’t paint words, you write them! Utter balderdash, honestly. What are these people on about?
Actually, the phrase is often misquoted. The original was simply: A picture is worth a thousand words. Originally uttered in the fledgling days of the US press, it was an eloquent way of communicating the notion that a single photograph can often communicate as much drama and emotion as you could cram into a thousand words of reportage. Truer words have ne’er been spoken.
It is with this in mind that we decided to look back at 2017 via some of the iconic images that have come to define our triumphant year. We just have to break it to our Writer Monkey that he doesn’t get to invoice us for 13,000 words [wait, what? – Pete].
This has been 2017 at Small Man Media. We’ve had a great year working with some fantastic clients, including (in alphabetical order) Artline, Bridgestone, Britannia, Cross, Derwent, ETB, Firestone, First Stop, Manuscript, Mustard, National Stationery Week and Sheaffer. If you are keen on learning more about the services we provide and are interested in an award winning PR-agency creating exposure and interest around your business, then please drop us a line. Find us on Twitter @smallmanmedia or on Facebook at ‘Small Man Media’. Have a wonderful Christmas and New Year from Ben, Rachel, Dan, Michelle and Pete, and send any unwanted Celebrations, Heroes and Roses to us at the Small Man Address. Please, no miniature Bounty bars.
“Happy new year
Happy new year
May we all have a vision now and then
Of a world where every neighbour is a friend.” Abba, ‘Happy New Year’
Yes, as Abba seem so keen to remind us, it’s the end of the year, pretty much, a time when, if you are the world’s most award-winningest top-banana PR agency, you look back at the year gone by and ponder all your many successes. It has been something of a terrific 2017 here at Small Man Media, where every neighbour really IS a friend, just because we’re nice like that and it means we get more cards.
PR, as we all know, is not an exact science, but if it were, then we’d be on some Nobel Prize-winning just-discovered-a-new-metal-that’s-better-than-all-the-others type of tip. We live PR, we breathe PR, and when we sleep, which isn’t very often, we dream of doing the PR for sheep. The idea is that, when the end of the year comes around, our almost psychotic commitment to the Small Man cause has reaped its dividends and we can look back on a good PR job well done. In a sense, this blog is like the Small Man equivalent of Christmas Day Top Of The Pops, as it gathers together some of our year’s biggest hits in a party atmosphere.
Because when it comes to feeling a warm, Christmassy, mulled wine glow inside, every PR type gets as toasty as a chestnut roasting on an open fire (or indeed, a closed one, all fire is pretty hot as far as we can see) when all of their hard work results in coverage. Lovely, lovely coverage. It’s not the most important ‘C’ word in the world right now, thanks to Christmas, crackers, chocolate, Claus (Santa) and cheese plates, but over the course of the year just gone, it was the one word that stoked the Small Man Media engine. When the scent of coverage is in our nostrils, we can’t be stopped. We’re like hogs hunting for truffles.
Which is why our end-of-the-year fact fondue (sorry about all the food metaphors, it’s the Small Man Christmas dinner on Tuesday) serves up some pretty delicious figures. Imagine, if you can, that you are Bridgestone Tyres, one of our beloved clients. You’d have no reason to shout ‘BAH HUMBUG!’ when faced with figures like the following:
- 538 proactive articles in the consumer press
- 354 million views online of viral content like golf star Charley Hull, below, showing off her golfing chops in the Bridgestone Skills Challenge
- An Equivalent Advertising Value, or EAV, of ONE MILLION, ONE HUNDRED AND THREE THOUSAND, SEVEN HUNDRED AND SEVENTY TWO POUNDS, or £1,103,772 for short
- Appearances in The Sun, The Daily Mirror, The Daily Record, The Scotsman, Men’s Health and Sky Sports News.
That’s a tasty pig in a blanket right there! The key figure in that mix is the one of EAV. What is EAV, we hear you cry? Well, as the name suggests, it is the amount of money that someone would have to spend in order to secure that coverage as pure advertising space. One point one million quid’s worth, ladies and gentlemen – put that coverage under the mistletoe and give it a great big kiss!
Did someone mention pigs in blankets? Of course we did, we’re absolutely obsessed. Now, one thing that tastes nice with pigs in blankets is mustard, which brings us neatly on to another resident in our stable of talent, Mustard stationery, who have actually featured on ITV’s This Morning – that means that in the region of 1.5 million people will have seen them – while this very blog was being written. MORE COVERAGE, LIVE FROM THE SCENE! The coverage keeps on rollin’ in, kids! This comes in the same week that Mustard’s insanely ingenious creations have also popped up in Heat magazine – that’s a weekly readership of 120,000 people right there – with other major national magazine appearances already in the offing.
And yet still we work like elves on Christmas Eve – we just can’t stand still for a second. You could say we don’t like being stationary. Which is ironic, because we REALLY like stationery (see what we did there?) and nowhere did we get a better chance to showcase our love, than during National Stationery Week in the spring. Oh, what a week that was. And if it’s figures you want to help you understand EXACTLY what a week it was:
- 74.5 million people reached via print and online coverage
- The National Stationery Week hashtag trending on that Twitter for three days in a row
- 35 million listeners reached by coverage on national radio shows
- Social media likes from people in over 90 countries worldwide.
It’s handy, really, that this is the season of goodwill to all, because you just can’t argue with those results. It just proves that if you refuse to rest on your laurels, strive to come up with new and arresting ideas and stay tirelessly proactive with your clients, all good things will come your way.
So what does 2018 have in store for Small Man Media? More of the same. Much more of the same. Only even better. Remember: Coverage is the truffle, and we are the happy pigs (not in blankets this time) who find it.
WOW. That’s all we can say. WOW. Again. The size of the thing. It’s not a bus, it’s a hotel on wheels. It’s a bus so big that wherever it parks, it is automatically given a new postcode. It’s a bus so big that you could play a concert in Manchester, get on the bus, walk to the other end and play a concert in London. It’s a BIG OLD BUS.
Sorry! Went off on a bit of a tangent there. It’s just that last week, top pop turn Rag’n’Bone Man, he who is only human after all, rocked up in Wolverhampton, the city that Small Man Media calls home, to play a concert at the Civic Hall. Now, the Small Man offices are very close to the Civic Hall (or, as locals prefer to put it, ‘Civic Hall? Just next door to the legendary Small Man Media, mate’) and we’re very used to seeing top music, showbiz and sports turns show up in their swish modes of transport. Some of them are absolutely huge. Indeed, just a couple of weeks back, it was the Grand Slam Of Darts, so it wasn’t just the cars and minivans that were vastly overweight.
Rag’n’Bone Man’s tour bus though! It’s so big that the concert was on Monday and it’s actually still trying to parallel-park. It was so thunderous and huge that its arrival made the Small Man office shake, causing many of our NUMEROUS INDUSTRY AWARDS to fall off the shelves. It’s the biggest thing to hit Wolverhampton this year since Nuno Espirito Santo took over the mighty Wolves, and much like Wolves’ promotion charge, the wheels ain’t comin’ off it.
What we’re trying to say is: Rag’n’Bone Man has a really big tour bus.
Fair enough really, his band is quite hefty too. We did actually invite him via Twitter to pop over the office for a cup of tea but he never got back to us, presumably because he had tried to find one of the toilets on his bus and had got lost. But we have a Rag’n’Bone Man anecdote which just goes to underline just how fantastically well-connected we are, and it involves Carol Vorderman, a popular brand of tonic wine and fried chicken, and you can’t say that about your typical run-of-the-mill anecdote.
Writer Monkey Pete, who has taken to referring to himself in the third person in this blog for some reason, knows Rag’n’Bone Man. Pete, in his spare moments, does a bit of rap music journalism on the side, and in 2014 wrote, for the price of one bottle of Malbec and a pizza, the press bumff for Brighton hip-hop collective Rum Committee’s Boozetown LP. And Rag’n’Bone Man was, and indeed is, a member of Rum Committee, as well as being a top soul-singing troubadour of some standing and reputation. This is why Rag’n’Bone Man has just brought out his own brand of rum. Are you getting all of this?
Earlier this year, Rum Committee provided the support for Rag’n’Bone Man’s last tour, including shows in Bristol and Nottingham. Around about this time, former Countdown host Carol Vorderman expressed the desire to go and see Rag’n’Bone Man in Bristol. Now, in addition to knowing Rag’n’Bone Man, Pete also knows Carol Vorderman (DON’T EVEN ASK) and so brokered the tricky deal of getting her into the Bristol show, which went as follows:
Pete: “Hey Rag’n’Bone Man and Rum Committee, can you get Carol Vorderman into your Bristol show?”
Rag’n’Bone Man and Rum Committee: “Hi Pete! Yes, that’s fine, but she has to come backstage and see us.”
So it wasn’t actually that tricky really. The long and short of it is that TV’s Carol Vorderman DID go to the Bristol show, and indeed the Nottingham show a few nights later, DID end up partying with the South Coast’s most hard-living hip-hop collective, and DID, by all accounts, bring them not one but THREE bottles of Buckfast tonic wine (we’re not familiar with this particular beverage, but apparently it has the same corrosive properties as Alien blood) and merrily joining them as they tucked into a huge post-show fried chicken buffet on the very same gigantic tour bus that was parked outside our palatial residence.
The whole unseemly brouhaha ended up in the national press, as showbiz writers gleefully leaped upon this tale of La Vorderman’s unlikely bonding with the nation’s naughtiest rap collective. All of which is a roundabout way of saying: If we can engineer a way of getting column inches for Rag’n’Bone Man AND Carol Vorderman AND a popular extra-strength alcoholic beverage AND a high street fried chicken chain of some note at the same time, just think what we could do for YOU.
Follow us! Follow us on Twitter, for example, at www.twitter.com/smallmanmedia, or on Facebook at facebook.com/smallmanmedia. There’s a bottle of Buckfast in it for you if you do. Maybe.
You always expect the John Lewis Christmas advert to make a big impression whenever it surfaces, which is what the latest one, ‘Moz The Monster’ did a wee while back. However, the furore that surrounds the 2017 effort is less to do with the quality of the actual advert, a so-so affair with a decent soundtrack and a mixed message, and more to do with the fact that it is apparently a bit of a rip-off.
Author Chris Riddell, you see, is absolutely adamant that it bears a great many similarities with Mr Underbed, the monster star of his 1986 book of the same name – same fur, same bulbous nose, same habit of lurking under a young boy’s bed. He’s also adamant that he will be pursuing no legal action against John Lewis – he’s just popping up in every available media channel he can find saying that he has been ripped off.
Anyway, potential plagiarism aside, how does the new advert fare against years gone by? Let’s have a look back and see…
2013: THE BEAR AND THE HARE, accompanied by Lily Allen covering Keane’s Somewhere Only We Know.
Remember when this advert was ‘enough’? There’s no way this 2013 guff-bomb would cut it now, with its dodgy Watership Down-level animation, and perfunctory story arc (basically, Bear isn’t impressed by Christmas tree, then sees the tree with all the lights turned on, gets all impressed and goes to enjoy Christmas with animal friends who, under normal circumstances, he should be eating).
As for the music, ‘Lily Allen covering Keane’ is like a perfect storm of wet blanket drivelling, the ghastly icing on an already appalling Christmas cake. Rubbish music, story so simplistic it’s barely there at all – quite frankly, this will not do. Cartoons about grumpy bears WILL. NOT. DO.
Cuddliness of advert: 2/10
Dreariness of soundtrack: 8/10
2014: MONTY THE PENGUIN, accompanied by Tom Odell covering John Lennon’s Real Love.
From here on in, it was live action and clever CGI all the way, with all of the ‘cute’ amps resolutely turned up to 11. 2014 saw the arrival of a ‘pet’ penguin, actually only a toy penguin but THAT DOESN’T MEAN THAT HE’S NOT REAL TO ONE LITTLE BOY!
Monty The Penguin was actually tolerably cute, with an amusing waddling star and a charming kiss-off: Basically, the kid gets another, apparently female toy penguin for Christmas, meaning a) Monty gets a life partner with whom he can make baby penguins and b) children throughout the land immediately start bothering their parents for a toy penguin. Fair enough really, that’s how commerce works.
My only observation to this story would be that penguins are the only other species on Earth other than humans, who use sex for personal advancement. Seriously, it’s true. Lady penguins trade sex with horny males, for pebbles and stones, which they use to make their nests. FASCINATING FACT.
Cuddliness of advert: 7/10
Dreariness of soundtrack: 4/10
2015: MAN ON THE MOON, accompanied by Aurora Aksnes covering Oasis’s Half The World Away.
Also known as ‘The Year It All Went Wrong’. Seriously, what WERE John Lewis thinking of here? You remember this – the macabre tale of a freakish evil fairytale pensioner exiled to live on the moon, and the horrible little girl with a telescope, spying on his every move as he lives out his final days in lunar solitude?
It was an advert that warmed no cockles at all, merely posed lots of uncomfortable questions. What horrific crime has the old man committed to lead to his planetary banishment? And why does the girl send him a telescope for Christmas, so that he can watch her watching him? Just how self-centred can one child be?
Absolutely horrific, like finding out that one of your Christmas Day pigs in blankets is a human finger.
Cuddliness of advert: 0/10
Dreariness of soundtrack: 9/10
2016: BUSTER THE BOXER, accompanied by Vaults covering Randy Crawford’s One Day I’ll Fly Away.
You can’t accuse John Lewis of not learning by their mistakes. After 2015’s debacle, they went back to basics, which in their case means ‘adorable animals doing human stuff’. In a nutshell: Couple set up a big trampoline for their daughter so that when she wakes up on Christmas day, it’s ready and waiting for her, but before she gets a chance to use it, loads of woodland creatures – pretty much everything you see in the 2013 debacle, apart from a bear, basically – pile onto it for a bounce-off.
The whole industry was looking to John for a strong, sure-footed showing after the previous year’s trauma, and all it took was some bouncing foxes and badgers to deliver. Good music too. Result, lads.
Cuddliness of advert: 9/10
Dreariness of soundtrack: 1/10
2017: MOZ THE MONSTER, accompanied by Elbow covering The Beatles’ Golden Slumbers
An advert that poses more questions than it answers, and not just, ‘So is this a rip-off of a 1980s children’s book then?’ Because it’s not readily apparent what the advert is, y’know, TRYING TO SAY. Kid has a monster living under his bed, parents buy him a night-light from John Lewis, the monster vanishes. Must be a done deal, right?
But the thing is, by the end of the advert, the nipper and the monster are best mates. They’re having a right load of laughs together. He shouldn’t WANT the monster to go. And yet his parents give him his fancy lamp and that’s exactly what happens. What’s the message here? John Lewis has presents so good, they’ll make you sack off your mates? John Lewis: The go-to store for parents who don’t really pay attention to what’s happening in their kids’ lives?
The bit when Moz farts is funny though.
Cuddliness of advert: 5/10
Dreariness of soundtrack: 4/10
Weird fact to finish: Did you know that every John Lewis Christmas ad is precisely 2 minutes and 11 seconds in length? Well, now you do.
This blog was composed by Small Man Media’s Writer Monkey Pete Cashmore. For Christmas this year, Pete hopes to receive ‘just a load of posh cheese, really’.