Assessment, Brand Anarchy Book Review

Title – Brand Anarchy

Page Count – 256

Authors – Steve Earl & Stephen Waddington

Publication Date – 2012

Published By – Bloomsbury


To be perfectly honest, the thought of creating a book review didn’t hugely appeal to me at first. Although I enjoy reading fiction at times, the piles of non-fiction textbooks we must read for University leave me with little desire to read others in my spare time. With this in mind I knew I had to choose a book that would be educational and yet still be interesting. I have followed and greatly respect both authors and so thought Brand Anarchy would be a good place to start.

Brand Anarchy is written by two well known UK based Public Relations practitioners Steve Earl and Stephen Waddington. Earl trained as a news and business reporter before moving into PR and has worked with many prestigious brands including Virgin, IBM, Toshiba and Tesco. He now runs Speed, Loewy’s PR division. Waddington has twenty years of experience as a Public Relations consultant, author and journalist. He is European digital and social media director for Ketchum and the President of the CIPR.

The text looks at the issues the Public Relations industry as a whole is facing as the profession tries to adapt to the ever-changing digital media age. However I feel it is also hugely useful to anybody working in, or even just interested in, digital media and communications.

The blurb of this book instantly makes a huge impact on the reader saying ‘the media landscape is growing diverse. It’s anarchy. Individuals, organisations and governments should not waste time wondering whether they have lost control of their reputations. The fact is that they have never had control.’ SH check the first sentence of this quote please. Is it ‘growing diverse’ or growing diversely?

I think this book has something for everyone. Whilst some fairly complicated issues are discussed they are done in an accessible easy going manner. Some sections will be second nature to the digital savvy next generation of PR Practitioners and but perhaps slightly unclear to more established executives. Whilst other sections include knowledge that can only be gained through experience, making it perfect for those just starting out or studying PR.

It is clear that the authors have a deep understanding of the industry. This knowledge has allowed them to uncomplicate some matters and make them much more interesting to a less practiced reader such as myself. Issues such as ‘Measuring Reputation’ are approached in an extremely fresh and honest way, the usually universally accepted ‘rules’ such as measuring results are critiqued brilliantly throughout the book.

I would say that the general topic covered is the transformation of reputation management in the present day. This transformation has been caused by the eruption of Digital Media. In particular, social media has given customers the power and opportunity to air all and any views they may wish to and this is concerning to brands. The modern practitioner must accept this change and create suitable content to appeal to the masses. “Brand’s aren’t all yours anyway: they exist in the minds of consumers”

For me, the best parts of this book are the interviews and case studies, it is always extremely interesting to hear about real life examples. Interviews with Seth Godin and Alastair Campbell were enlightening and memorable. Case studies again were extremely thought provoking. In particular issues which I remember reading about. Just two particularly memorable case studies were the 2010 BP Oil Spill and Asda’s 2008-2011 Daily Mirror saga.

Finally, any book that can include both a section entitled ‘Crap Detection’ and a paragraph which concentrates on Northumberland County Council (I’m a Northumbrian like Stephen Waddington) is a winner for me!

Word Count – 618




Assessment, “How Public Relations is adapting to the Digital Media landscape” – Part 3

  1. Commentary [2,000 words] “How Public Relations is adapting to the digital media landscape. This could be in the form of four 500-word blog posts and you will be expected to draw on insights from the lecture series, high quality blogs, books and other sources.”

“How Public Relations is adapting to the digital media landscape”

–       Part 3

This is the third of a three-part commentary focusing on how Public Relations is adapting to the ever-changing Digital Media landscape. In this post I will strive to critique the current use of Digital Media platforms within Public Relations and the potential future of Public Relations and Digital Media.

Writing this blog post in 2014 it is clear that Digital Media is a part of everyday life and the Public Relations discipline has successfully adapted towards the digital movement. Whilst PR has arguably been one of the most accepting and fitting business partners to the Digital Media revolution there is always room for improvement.

The first critique comes in the form of better use of digital data collection and analysis. Public Relations practitioners have used data more effectively than in the past but the room for expansion within this field is still great.

‘It is the ability to gather, analyse and interpret this data that brings about ground-breaking opportunities for PR practitioners.’ (Collister 2013: 297).

Once more data is collected, campaigns can be further targeted and tailored to the appropriate people. Thus effectively allowing messages to be sent straight through to the appropriate potential customers, saving resources, which could be wasted on unreceptive individuals.

The second critique is that in larger companies the need to work with all divisions of in-house businesses needs to be further amplified. All campaigns must flow fluidly and create a narrative, which can then go on to create a buzz. The use of the same concrete message in billboard advertising, blogs, employee’s portrayed attitudes, viral videos, TV adverts, Facebook/Twitter posts can create mass amounts of interest and lasting memories. A great example of this is Red Bull’s Felix Baumgartner Space Jump.


Finally, looking towards the future of Digital Media and Public Relations. Practitioners must not forget about traditional PR and medias; the use of convergence is vital. Harry Jenkins explains beautifully with this quote ‘Cinema did not kill theatre. Television did not kill radio. Each old medium was forced to coexist with the emerging media.’ (Jenkins 2006:14).

Whilst Digital Media has brought remarkable change to the world, many people still do not have access to it. Companies must remember this and the use of further research will allow them to decide where certain strategies are most suitable.

After considering all of this evidence I think it is fair to say that Public Relations has adapted exceptionally well to the age of Digital Media. The change has been vast and the learning curve, a large one but the benefits are now being enjoyed. The future of Digital Media is changes and grows every second so it is difficult to prepare or predict what tomorrow will bring. It seems that all a Practitioner can do is follow the Boy Scout’s motto and be prepared and ready for every situation.

index Taken from the Edelman website, please click to enlarge.

Finally, something to remember whether working with modern Digital Media or elsewhere, ‘PR is about the public, not the media.’ – Alastair Campbell

Thanks for reading, you’ve made it to the end 🙂


Word count part three – 564

Total word count – 2218


References –

Collister, S (2013), Share This Too, The Public Relations Power of “Big Data” Section, Brown and Waddington, Wiley & Sons, Page 297.

Fabretti, P (2013) Share This Too, Community Management Section, Brown and Waddington, Wiley & Sons, Page 79.

Hallam, J (2013) The Social Media Manifesto, Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan, Pages 83- 84

Jenkins, H (2006) Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide, New York: New York University Press, Page 14.

Levine, R., Locke, C., Searls, D. and Weinberge,D. (1999) The Cluetrain Manifesto: The End of Business as Usual [Online]. Available from:

Macnamara, J (2014), The 21st Century Media (R)evolution: Emergent Communication Practices (Second edition), New York, Peter Lang, Page 297.

Macnamara, J (2014), The 21st Century Media (R)evolution: Emergent Communication Practices (Second edition), New York, Peter Lang, Page 311.

Miller, R (2013), Social in Corporate Communications in Share This Too, Wiley, Pages 191-193

Shirky, C (2008) Here Comes Everybody, New York, Allen Lane, Page 125.

Theaker, A (2012), The Public Relations Handbook, (Fourth edition). Oxon, Routeledge, Page 31.

Theaker, A (2012), The Public Relations Handbook, (Fourth edition), Oxon, Routeledge. Pages 411- 431.

Waddington, S and Earl, S (2012) Brand Anarchy, London: Bloomsbury, Pages

Bibliography –

Gladwell, M (2000) The Tipping Point, New York, Little Brown.

Heath, L (2010) The Sage Handbook of Public Relations,Sage Publications

Shirky, C (2008) Here Comes Everybody, New York: Allen Lane.

Standage, T (2013) Writing on the Wall: Social Media – the first 2,000 years, London, Bloomsbury.

Websites –



Assessment, “How Public Relations is adapting to the Digital Media landscape” – Part 2

Commentary [2,000 words] “How Public Relations is adapting to the digital media landscape. This could be in the form of four 500-word blog posts and you will be expected to draw on insights from the lecture series, high quality blogs, books and other sources.”

“How Public Relations is adapting to the digital media landscape” – Part 2

This is the second of a three-part commentary focusing on how Public Relations is adapting to the ever-changing Digital Media landscape.

Effect TwoWho’s in Control?

The second and perhaps most fundamental change that the Public Relations discipline must adapt to is loss of control. Social Media channels, in particular Facebook and Twitter, have created an arena in which consumers can constantly create exchanges with brands, businesses and most importantly each other. This allows anybody online to influence an uncountable amount of potential and existing consumers, meaning the consumer now holds a great deal of power in their hands. The individual charged with reacting to these issues online is most likely to be a PR Practitioner.

‘The late 19th and 20th centuries were dominated by mass media and mass communication that predominantly involved top-down, one-way distribution of information to ‘audiences’ which, in the main, had to passively accept what was given to them. ‘This has completely changed with development of Web 2.0-based social media’. (Macnamara 2013:224)

Before Digital Media, a practitioner would create a one-dimensional message with their client and slowly transmit this message through traditional outlets such as print, television and radio. Today a multi-platform message is created; the message must be adaptable and ideally personalised or at least tailored to certain groups. Shirky described this as ‘Once, filter then publish. Now, publish then filter’. (Shirky 2008).

The consumer will then have a huge impact on how this message is received and interpreted by the masses. This reaction is getting faster and faster, and as digital technology develops, the consumer’s voice has only got louder.

When a campaign is created correctly in a multi-platform approach it can create excellent exchanges between organisations and consumers. This builds loyalty and creates a free ‘buzz’ that cannot be bought or falsely obtained. However, the other side of the story is a loss of control that can create enormous challenges for Public Relations practitioners. As well as this, once content is published online it is there forever. Tomorrow it will still be trending, it won’t be fish and chip papers.

AuroraCeleb Boutique, written the day of the  cinema shootings in Aurora. Please click to enlarge.

gapGap, written when a storm was occurring which killed at least 268 people. Please click to enlarge.

The public are unpredictable and issues can escalate extremely quickly with detrimental effect. The issue is further complicated by the 24/7 nature of digital media. Office hours don’t exist in a digital world and pretending this luxury exists could be catastrophic should an issue arise. This is where the role of community management arises, a bi-product of the Digital Media Age. ‘Community Management is the nurturing of an audience, all of whom share a common interest.’ (Fabretti 2013:79) The most successful way practitioners deal with this is by mirroring the way the consumer has acted. A great example of this comes from Waitrose and the ‘#waitrosreasons campaign.

Waitrose Waitrose Reasons Campaign, please click to enlarge.

Complaints are also dealt with in an extremely different manner to the way they were. In the past a consumer would have to pick up a phone and wait to speak to someone (most probably in a Call Centre) or write a letter. The complaints were dealt with discretely, (if at all) and the company seldom encountered hardships.

Digital Media has given the consumer powerful tools which work effectively when airing grievances. A tweet which takes less than a minute to write may be re-tweeted thousands of times. A picture taken on a smart phone has the potential to be seen by millions instantly. Powerful video edited using an App can go viral in less than 24 hours. One person’s experience can determine the future choices of the masses, this is ‘Power Law Distribution’. For example ‘Fewer than two percent of Wikipedia users ever contribute, yet that is enough to create profound value for millions of users’. (Shirky 2008:125)

Virgin Atlantic complaintVirgin Atlantic Complaint – went viral along with the pictures this person shared. Please click to enlarge.

Effect ThreeConversation

Leading on from a practitioner’s loss of control is the eruption of conversation. As predicted in ‘The Cluetrain Manifesto’ Thesis 1 ‘Markets are conversations’.

The days of one way broadcasting or using the ‘Mass Media Model’ are over and messages need to have a clear tailored theme often complemented by high quality images or film added to an online post. On an average day ‘over 400 million tweets are sent’ and ‘250 billion photos are uploaded to Facebook’ meaning plain text will often be lost in the vast pool of information. Interesting posts that have great imagery allow practitioners to create a meaningful and thought provoking digital footprint for their clients. The notion that ideas can be injected into passive audience’s heads, ‘The Hypodermic Media Model’ (Theaker: 2012:31) has now been proven incorrect.

New modernised comms flowModernised Communication Flow, please click to enlarge.

Public Relations practitioners are now becoming operators of user-generated tools; particularly popular means of transmission include blogs and YouTube. Companies can send items to established online bloggers in the hope that they will promote products. ‘Public Relations has undergone a huge shift over the last five years as businesses have started to finally broaden out their definition of who constitutes an influencer.’ (Hallam 2013: 83-84)


Word court part two – 931

Thanks for reading, please move onto part 3 🙂


Assessment, ‘How Public Relations is adapting to the Digital Media landscape’ Part 1

Commentary [2,000 words] “How Public Relations is adapting to the digital media landscape. This could be in the form of four 500-word blog posts and you will be expected to draw on insights from the lecture series, high quality blogs, books and other sources. ”

“How Public Relations is adapting to the digital media landscape”

–       Part 1

This is the first of a three-part commentary focusing on how Public Relations is adapting to the ever-changing Digital Media landscape. The blog will be separated into three blog posts, which will focus on;

1) The immersion of Public Relations and Digital Media and the effect Digital Media has had on the world and Public Relations up to the present day. A critique of the current use of Digital Media platforms within Public Relations and the potential future of Public Relations and Digital Media.

The role of a ‘Public Relations Practitioner’ is regarded by many as a new discipline, however the notion of ‘PR’ been around for centuries. Many textbooks argue that Public Relations became widely regarded as a ‘profession’ with the establishment of the US Publicity Bureau in 1900.

Digital Media however arguably didn’t fully emerge until the launch of the Internet in 1991, making (for once) Public Relations the more established of the two. This new online phenomenon changed the world in a big way. The Public Relations industry was no exception; agencies and in-house practitioners had to adapt or die.

Digital Media is defined as any media that can be encoded in a machine-readable format. This includes video, audio, e-books, websites, computer programmes and software amongst others. When considering Digital Media in relation to Public Relations the most significant derivative is most probably Social Media or Web 2.0.

then and now bigTaken from Sysomos blog – please click to enlarge.

Effect One – The Loss of Spin

Historically PR practitioners have been considered dishonest and untrustworthy. ‘Spin Doctors’ who will lie and manipulate in order to achieve their objectives. According to Eric Louew the term ‘Spin Doctor’ was first used in a New York Times editorial in 1984 and was used to refer to President Ronald Reagan’s media team. (Macnamara 2005: 297). This image has stuck and been well used since, so I think it would be fair to say a lot of PR Practitioners feel they are morally obliged to work to change this image.

The emergence of Digital Media and Social Media was the perfect stage to allow practitioners, and the clients they represent, to become vastly more transparent. The shadowy restaurant lunches that Practioners may once have been able to hide behind have now been replaced with bright screens. Robert Philips claims ‘Spin is now officially dead’. Consumers are now more interested in the goings on within all organisations and have the means to find out almost whatever they wish. Companies are left with little choice but to be open and honest when dealing with difficult situations, those that aren’t have borne the brunt many times over.

In-house teams, practitioners and agencies themselves who use dishonest tactics – Max Clifford being a perfect case – are being viewed with growing distaste from peers. The industry wants to use Digital Media to prove to the public that they can be trusted and they are providing an honest service rather than cover up’s and lies.

An excellent example of this comes from Stephen Waddington’s CIPR presidential election campaign ‘10 words and 10 pledges’. Stephen Waddington created a digital campaign which included a pledge called ‘Voice’ in which he stated his ambition to ‘Displace Max Clifford as the mouthpiece of the public relations industry and promote the expertise of CIPR members to the media, through social media and speaking opportunities’.

Companies must also take greater care internally. Employees have a much greater influence on the reputation of a business than in the past. A scathed current or ex-employee has the means to create huge issues for a company should they wish to. ‘Internal communication is as important as external communication.’ (Miller 2013:191)

The arrival of Digital Media has forced companies to include clauses in employee’s contracts, which detail what they can and can’t put online. An interesting example being taken from The Mayo Clinic Center in (Miller 2013:193): ‘Don’t lie. Don’t pry. Don’t cheat. Can’t delete. Don’t steal. Don’t reveal.’

internalPlease click to enlarge.

Word count (part one)  – 714

Please move on to parts 2 & 3 🙂

Assessment Piece – Rationale Beattie Communications 2

Item – Shopping Park Launch, Events Management

Client – Vangarde Shopping Park, York

Date – February – 09.04.2014 (Opening)

Company – Beattie Communications, Leeds

A particularly interesting piece of work I completed was assisting in the development of a prestigious stakeholder event. The Vangarde Shopping Park is an exciting new development that opened in York on the 9th of April. The Park includes many shops, restaurants and leisure facilities.

The event was a stakeholder evening which included tours of John Lewis, Next and the region’s largest Marks and Spencer’s. As well as this canapés and drinks were provided with the evening culminating in The Right Honourable Lord Mayor of York unveiling some exclusive artwork.

During the run up to the event I was responsible for helping to create invite lists of  local individuals including MP’s, V.I.P’s and celebrities as well as respected business people. I then went on to retrieve contact details including postal addresses, telephone numbers and email addresses and through Gorkana and other databases. This responsibility felt quite great, as I was personally responsible for contacting and speaking to established guests.

Aside from speaking to guests my duties also included general events management. I researched caterers, marquee companies, decoration suppliers and beverage purveyors. One particularly memorable afternoon I was given a task of sourcing a set of cutlery that needed to be over 5 feet tall, a surprisingly difficult assignment!

As well as this I worked on tasks such as helping to arrange postage of invitations and formatting items such as name badges for the event. The event was a great success and although I didn’t attend myself my colleagues told me that my contribution had been invaluable.


6465835_900376141370110850_oImage from Vangarde Facebook page please click to enlarge.

Word count 287

Assessment Piece – Rationale Beattie Communications

Item – Press Release

Client – NEC Contractors (Magnox Limited)

Date – 18.03.2014

Company – Beattie Communications, Leeds

During my placement at Beattie Communications I have worked on many different accounts. A notable Business-to-Business account was the NEC suite of contacts.

A particularly challenging but (learned from) piece was a press release, the content of which was an announcement that NEC3 had been chosen by Magnox Limited as the chosen supplier for the decommissioning of some of the UK’s Power Stations. The subject was difficult to sell to journalists, as it was an announcement rather than a story. As well as this, Energy was a previously unknown market to me, a market that at times I found confusing.

My duties when working with this client included assisting in the production of press releases with a senior colleague. I then went on to make a media list using Gorkana, which included the names, telephone numbers, emails and postal addresses for trade publications.

Once I had completed the media list, I was responsible for making connections over the telephone and then going on to ‘sell’ the press release to journalists. I then sent the press release via email. The following week I made follow up calls to all of the journalists that had expressed interest in the press release.

Because the press release was particularly niche it was challenging to pitch. Trade journalists who can perhaps be notoriously impolite and short had to be slowly convinced of the point of the release. These reasons contributed to my feeling of achievement when I managed to gain coverage for the client.

Following this first experience of the Energy market I once again followed the same protocol when creating and pitching a different press release. The second press release was the announcement that NEC had been chosen as the preferred contactor for The Coal Authority’s programme to clean water that has been affected by the effluent from abandoned ironstone mines in Saltburn. Many trade publications showed great interest in the story and coverage is looking very hopeful for future

18 March 2014

Press release                                                                                                                                      

NEC3 contracts at the core of UK’s Magnox stations

NEC has been selected as the preferred contract supplier for Magnox Limited for its decommissioning programme of some of the UK’s nuclear power stations on behalf of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority.

The NEC3 suite of contracts has become a cornerstone of the Magnox programme and has been used to great effect, from raising contract management performance standards to driving a cultural change. These contracts allow Magnox to work with suppliers over a period of time rather than for single specific projects.

In 2010 Magnox rationalised its supply chain using common NEC3 terms of engagement. The aim was to improve performance by reducing complexity and duplication. It also strived to improve clarity of purpose and establish shared goals with suppliers. Magnox chose to draw on the collaborative approach of NEC3 contracts rather than operating ‘turnkey’ projects that tend to be remote and cut off from organisational learning.

Rekha Thawrani, general manager for NEC, comments: “Following the government’s decision last year to grant EDF Energy planning permission for the first of its proposed two new nuclear power plants, Britain’s nuclear sector looks set to become one of the biggest users of NEC3 contracts. The NEC3 contract suite is already being widely used on the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority’s £3 billion a year programme to clean up the UK’s older nuclear sites, leading some in the industry to describe it as the ‘nuclear engineering contract’.

“The NEC3 suite of contracts has become synonymous with the nuclear decommissioning industry and it fully supports the principles of NDA’s supply chain development strategy. The clarity and cooperative nature of the NEC3 suite of contracts has played a crucial role in Magnox’s desire to attract the best from its supply chain and become a client of choice”.

Peter Walkden, Commercial Director at Magnox Limited, comments: “NEC3 has raised our contract management performance standards and coupled with the transparency offered through the early warning process, helped our management teams through the complex task of decommissioning sites safely and cost-efficiently.

“The integration of suppliers through common NEC3 terms of engagement delivers value for both the company and the UK taxpayer. Perhaps most significantly, it also promotes a shared culture of continuous improvement, which in turn encourages timely and safe practices – both of which are prerequisites in the nuclear industry”.

NEC3 contracts have also fostered better communications at meetings, formal or informal, and via the web and presentations for Magnox. A further benefit of the integrated supply chain and strategic NEC3 frameworks has been the ability to have ‘shovel ready’ projects on the shelf whenever priorities change or funding becomes available.

For further information on NEC visit




Magnox pic 1

Magnox pic 2  – Energy Times Coverage, please click image to enlarge.

Word count 798

Assessment Piece – Rationale Michael Heppell Ltd

Item – ‘Management Book of the Year’ Awards

Date – February 2014

Company – Michael Heppell Limited 

During University holidays I have been working regularly in a North East office, Michael Heppell Limited. Michael Heppell Limited is a company, which specialises in public speaking and self help. Michael himself is also an author and has had 6 books published.

During the Christmas season I was involved in a particularly interesting project to create interest in an upcoming awards ceremony. Michael’s book – ‘The Edge How The Best Get Better’ was nominated for the prestigious ‘Management Book of the Year 2014’.

The strategy for this particular project was to raise awareness of the book itself and of Michael Heppell Ltd. I began by sending out custom tweets and Facebook messages to existing followers to let them know about the competition. As judges made the decision we unfortunately couldn’t give our consumers the chance to vote themselves but instead created a buzz about the upcoming award ceremony. I used HootSuite to programme upcoming Tweets and Posts to be used in the future.

As well as this I wrote a press release which went on to be used by the organisers of the Awards ceremony and by Michael Heppell Ltd. I used Gorkana to find telephone numbers email addresses of journalists and created a media list with this information. Following this I telephoned and emailed several local and national news outlets.


MHL website – Screenshot of MHL website, click on image to enlarge.



Does he have ‘The Edge’ to win? – Original Press Release 

‘The Edge’ nominated for ‘Management Book of the Year’

North East author Michael Heppell’s book ‘The Edge – how the best get better’ has been shortlisted for the prestigious Management Book Of The Year 2014.

The Edge shows readers how highly successful leaders get to the top and how they can do the same.

Michael Heppell took three years to research and interview over 200 super successful people from all walks of life including; General Sir Mike Jackson the former head of the British Army and Danny Mayer described as the world’s greatest restaurateur.

Michael said, ‘I’m delighted to be shortlisted in the Innovation and Entrepreneurship category. I wanted to write a book that shares what I’ve learnt from the best and gives readers tools and techniques they can apply in their own lives.’

The competition, organised by the Chartered Management Institute (CMI), is now in its fourth year. The Management Book of the Year is held in association with the British Library and sponsored by the Henley Business School.

Piers Cain, Head of Knowledge and Customer Insight at the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) said: “The standard has been very high this year and we are delighted with the shortlist, which highlights some very key management issues. The idea behind the competition is to highlight nuggets of ‘Management Gold”.

Michael Heppell is widely regarded as one of the UK’s leading business coaches and works with organisations ranging from HSBC to the NHS. He has spent the last twenty years studying successful people and discovering what they do to be the very best.

After interviews with entrepreneurs, personalities and leaders from politics to education it was clear, the best didn’t get there by accident. The good news is that after reading The Edge individuals can replicate this success in their own lives.

Michael’s research found that ‘Edgers’ only live 10% of their lives in a different way. The Edge reveals to readers what this 10% is and how to create success in their own lives.

The competition winners will be announced on 3rd February 2014, during a VIP event taking place at The British Library, London.

Further information regarding the competition can be found at

Notes for editor:

Contact – Sarah Heppell

Author Michael Heppell is available for interviews and comments.

The Edge – how the best get better is published by Hodder and Stoughton

Word Count – 643