Media Week – Time Is Of The Essence

Adrian J Cotterill, Editor-in-Chief

We have written before how difficult it is for many of those in the digital out of home industry sector to get mainstream publicity – this applies to mainstream press as well as the marketing press and is an issue in many countries not just the UK, of which I am going to write about in a second.

First let us say that many in the industry do themselves no favours whatsoever. The majority of the players are publicity shy and whilst many of them (YOU) will dress this up as “we can’t talk about our customers” in reality this is more down to a lack of confidence on your part – “ooh if we talk about one of our customers, one of our competitors might come and try to talk to them” is a comment we often hear.

This is ridiculous, you have contracts and you should have built a solid enough relationship with your customer for this not to be an issue. Competitors are going to knock on your customers’ doors all the time. In most cases your customer, especially in these trying times, is probably just as grateful for publicity as you should be – so you should be working together to tell the world what you have been up to.

Secondly it’s no wonder that so many of the press releases we see are ignored by journalists – full of superlatives (world’s largest, market leading, best ever), poorly written and worst of all, the releases are few and far between – there is no continuity and no plan of action on how to engage with the press over a long period of time.

If you take the idiots at Scala as absolutely the worst case example, one hint of bad press and they drop the journalists completely – leaving them off mailing lists and generally ignoring them. Who was it that said “keep your friends close, but your enemies closer”?

Oh yes and when you do issue a press release be honest! If you have one venue then say you have one venue, don’t dress up the press release and word it as if you have a whole ‘estate’ – it’s a small world and you will be found out.

Actually, we see very few people in our industry trying to forge a proper relationship with anyone in the press. Do none of you employ PR agencies any more?

Anyway, the criticism works both ways, the press to us seem incredibly lazy, the purpose of writing this article was actually to highlight how easy it seems for the traditional out of home folks to get in magazines and newspapers and how difficult it is for the others to break into (provisos given above of course).

A few days ago (07-Oct-08 ) Kim Benjamin wrote in Media Week a nice article entitled “Commuters – Tube – Time is of the essence” – it’s well written, informative, with some good quotes from Posterscope and some media buyers BUT we have heard it all before. It’s just another take on CBS Outdoor and on London Underground AND how many ‘takes’ on it do we need?

Yes, we know the London Underground digital install is good, yes we know CBS Outdoor pioneered the DEPs, yes we know they have XTP (mind you it is small and not half as good as some other installations we have seen) – it’s old news!!!!

Anyway, slightly infuriated at reading the article, which you should be able to read online here – we had to write in with the following comment…

Dear Kim, Digital outdoor advertising is INDEED a brave new world but it would be good to see you folks at Media Week step outside your comfort zone and report on some of the other digital initiatives in the UK.

Whilst this is a good story, well put together and interesting it is surely easy to step outside your front door, onto the underground and then round the corner to Camden to talk with CBS Outdoor.

We recently helped plan (and buy, although the buy bit was free) Macmillan Cancer Support’s World’s Biggest Coffee Morning campaign that was run on over 33 digital out of home networks in the UK – the largest digital out of home campaign in the UK ever.

There are 30+ digital networks out there that you never ever cover in your articles.

By the way. Whilst Titan, Clear Channel, Ocean Outdoor and EYE were the four ‘traditional’ out of home contractors who donated a hell of a lot of their digital air time during September for this worthy cause. CBS Outdoor were one of those who declined to take part.

The problem for us (as an industry) you see is that it is easy to write about CBS Outdoor. The majority of the journalists live in London, travel on the tube every day and it’s easy to pick up the phone to the folks in Camden and get hold of their press office.

This is where industry associations should help, but unfortunately we don’t (yet) have an association that truly works on behalf of the industry to help promote itself properly and as a unified entity.

The press need lobbying like anyone else.

4 Responses to “Media Week – Time Is Of The Essence”

  1. Darren Briggs Says:

    Interesting article – well said !

  2. purpledogtv (Glasgow) Says:

    Probably the kick up the backside we all need ! BTW is the post-campaign analysis of WBCM campaign available ?

  3. Francis Ford Coppola Says:

    Don Corleone in “The Godfather” said that famous quote about enemies and friends…

  4. Jeff Collard Says:

    I agree that the hardware and software suppliers do a poor job of talking about successes. However, we (collectively) often don’t talk about our customers because our customers won’t give us permission to do so. In some cases, customers don’t want their competitors to know what they are doing but more often there is little benefit to them to have their vendors talk about them. The US market is particularly litigious and any public statement about a company requires clearance from senior managers, corporate council and PR departments. Why would anyone want to go through that hassle even if it can save them a few dollars on the products they purchased? There are lots of customers that I would love to talk about but contractually we are not allowed to discuss their business, do a press release or even list their name on our web site. Many of these customers will provide references when contacted and we greatly appreciate their support but the standard corporate policy will not allow us to publicize their use of our product.

    As far as fear of competition goes, if you provide a good product and service, then you have nothing to worry about. Presumably your customer has already done his homework before he purchased (unless of course this is one of those endless free pilots to get a foothold somewhere).

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