Category Archives: Original ideas

Seven years of blogging about PR in Manchester and beyond – the best of 2006-2012

The Artisan blog was the first Manchester PR blog as far as I know.

Certainly I cannot think of another that is still going from 2006.

It has around 650 posts to date and covers a myriad of subjects, especially those relating to Manchester PR agencies, technology and of course PR itself.

It is better written now than it was when I started although I have picked out some of the best from 2006-2012.  (The most interesting 2112-2013 entries can be found here.

Let’s begin:

Sometimes I have found myself explaining or defending PR agencies such as with this thread.

Yes PR agencies can give poor service, but this is not indicative of the industry.  There are bad apples in every profession.

Sometimes I am doing the opposite such as this piece on a Manchester PR agency promoting payment by results.

Many posts are on the industry and the issues raised such as this post that highlights the weaknesses of citizenship journalism at a time when it was being lauded.

Tips pieces feature occasionally and these from myself How to pitch to bloggers and these from specialists are still very useful today: Judi Goodwin’s How to unleash your writing power! and Bill Doherty on negotiation tips.

Good PR case studies such as “Who parked their tank on my lawn?”  also feature occasionally. 

Some are sillier than others such as Dog advertising, which was this blog’s most popular page for ages, that was inspired by Puppy Doms (a Jamie Clouting favourite).

Some brilliant PR stories are global in reach such as this: “Keyboards dirtier than toilets.”  My Israeli cousin in Jerusalem picked up on this!

A few Artisan PR pieces were also featured in the blog such as this piece in The Guardian for a Manchester headhunter

Sometimes human interest stories including this one about Belsen featured.

I hope you have got something out the Artisan blog, feel free to leave comments and keep following.

The first Stone Roses PR stunt

Stone Roses PR stunt
The first Stone Roses PR stunt cost nothing but a little time and cheek

One morning many years ago I was wondering around Manchester early, before the shops had opened and I came across “Stone Roses” stencilled across the otherwise (for a change) pristine white Central Library and other buildings that offered a blank canvas.

I had no idea who the Stone Roses were – vegetable, mineral or animal (you can still take your pick) – not long after we found out.

So did this free publicity launch the band, I don’t know?  It certainly gave them a new minor urban myth and a bit of controversey as no-one could pin the deed on the Stone Roses.  Nowadays CCTV would lead to a caution, community service and a bill.

But as a PR stunt, graffiti, if you are not caught or do it legally (a bit lame perhaps), seems like an opportunity that should see a little more interest if not done badly as by Coca Cola and its agency, which picked up the blame. (Cue Coca Cola’s PR or branding department getting upset, only reporting the news).

Why do I mention this?

Nostalgia mainly, but also shows a little imagination, an old and tested format and a result perhaps (for consumer PRs).

For B2B PR it would be inappropriate, highly creative or just odd to use graffiti but I like the idea.

Brilliant PR idea – the tale of the Northampton lion

When a Northampton garage owner found that the problem of thieves was proving too much he came up with a brilliant PR idea, perhaps simply practical. to deter them, and what an idea it is.

Taking his pet dog to a canine hairdresser he turned the beast into the genuine article by making him look like a lion.

The garage owner then got word out that he had a Mexican lion to guard his premises and from a distance you can see why it worked:

brilliant PR idea
Brilliant PR ideas don’t need to be expensive if they are creative


The creativity of it is fantastic and what a great vehicle for PR, except that I cannot find it in any red top (The Sun, Mirror etc) – this should be at least half a page in any tabloid.

Many thanks to Manchester creative ad copy writer Mick Greer for telling me about this.

Open charity PR brief: can you help?

Have you heard of the charity DebRA?

DebRA is a charity devoted to finding a cure for a terrible skin afflication called Epidermolysis BullosaMore about the condition.

Have a look at this film about sufferer Jonny Kennedy – a real inspiration.

This is a very rare inherited condition that results in blisters, internally and externally, at the slightest knock.  Many sufferer develop skin cancer early.  The pain and restrictions on normal living are tremendous: changing dressing can take many painful hours.

I am giving some of my time to helping promote a dinner that deBRA is having in a month’s time.

The dinner has Michale Portillo speaking.  The event is now half full, but the organisers want to be sure of filling the remaining seats.  (I believe it is £450 per table of 10). The charity has some notable household names in addition to Michael.

The brief

The event should fill, but Tony one of the organisers is extra keen to put this to rest.  If the night is a success it will act as a platform for more – it will give the charity a real impetus.  So he is looking for ideas.

But more than that, the work of DebRA is not well-known.  The brief is flexible if it can get DebRA a higher profile.

All creative ideas welcome – something more than a charity run or jumping out of a plane – let your imagination run wild.

And you don’t have to be a PR to help – I also want to show how online interaction can work

Please leave ideas in the comment box!!!!

Subservient graduate has a future – clever job hunting technique

clever job hunting technique
One initiative to get a step on the career ladder using a clever job hunting technique rather than just e-mail CVs could pay off for advertising graduate Matthew Guy

Matthew Guy, a graduate designer, is looking for a graduate job.  It is competitive to get a foot into an advertising agency.  What do you do? A clever job hunting technique could be the answer to stand out from the crowd:

You could put your portfolio online.  Check.  You could put a bio up.  Check.

Or you could come up with something really creative.

Matthew has put cardboard cut outs of his site on advertising agency doors where he wants to walk through as an employee.

But I really like his Subservient Graduate website where you can go and command him to do your bidding (it is all pre-recorded).  Showing a sense of humour, originality, persuades you to spend the time to have a look at his work, which looks good.

Very impressive!


I have seen a few comments on the Scamp blog that say that these ideas are not new.  Who cares?  Little under the sun is.  I generally still credit anyone who can use ideas and remould them to their aim effectively.

Still have a look at Subservient Chicken from Burger King, which is live.

Curry dog and viral PR

Last week I placed my friend’s Pauline dog and his desire for curry in The South Manchester Reporter.

From there it was picked up in the Manchester Evening News. Now he has been featured in The Guardian, The Metro and The Scotsman as far as I know.

On a more serious note, there is no reason not to apply the same methods to B2C and B2B campaigns. There are certain media channels that almost act like a hub and point of reference for journalists.

A few years ago I did a story about broadband over the electrical network. I placed it in The Register, a leading online magazine read by techies across the globe. The story was picked up in Holland, Russia, USA, South Africa as well as other UK sites. About 10 sites in total used the story. Impressive coverage.

PR v advertising

I was in Waterstones on Saturday and came across the advertising section. I have to say I was impressed. The quality of ideas is tremendous.

Nothing new there. However, advertising is sometimes seen as the arch rival of PR for budgets.

It is nothing new for me to hear that a company has spent thousands on advertising with no result and they might as well have given it away.

It is easy in a pitch to acquiesce and concede the point and that PR is wonderful and highly cost effective.

The point for me is that if advertising is creative and well targeted it can work well. It can really grab a reader’s attention. There is no need to see advertising as a rival. Indeed, the impact of some of the advertising campaigns I leafed through could teach the PR profession a thing or two.