Posts Tagged ‘promotion’

Lousy Speaker Requests

Tuesday, July 3rd, 2018

If you are trying to understand the value of public speaking at an industry event, professional association or private gathering, here is some tell-tale signs it is unlikely to be a valuable use of your time:

1. The Event Host is visibly disorganised, requests go unanswered, your contribution is unclear or is constantly being moved.

2. The Event Host is too busy to introduce you to fellow panel members or the moderator pre-event.

3. The Speaker list is overweight in providers and suppliers, who are clearly only there because of their sponsorship.

4. The Moderator slots are predominantly reserved for professional service firms who are sponsors, not because of their moderating skills.

5. The location is visibly “cheap”, located in an underwhelming part of town that operates successfully solely because of the high volume of low margin events.

6. The Event Host is a highly commercial organisation that operates on a constant churn of events each year. If in doubt email me.

7. You don’t recognise any of the keynote speakers as global experts in their particular domain.

8. The commercial event model operates on a free or massively discounted incentive to a particular category of participant, at the expense of professional service firms (a feeding frenzy forms around those few “special guests”).

9. You find little or no significant track record of meaningful media coverage for the event within your industry or in the mainstream business media.

10. You find the same old faces chairing or moderating the event each year. One London Wealth Management event insisted on the media company’s Chairman, Alan, the dullest man in the world, chairing 18 events in a row!

11. Less than 30% of the Agenda is reserved for “new” topics not previously covered in the prior 3 years.

12. Mention is made of “Continuing Assessment” credits for attending the event. Who really needs those other than mid- and lower level employees (rarely buyers of your services).

© James Berkeley 2018. All Rights Reserved.


A Very Royal Connection

Saturday, May 19th, 2018

25 million Americans will arise early this morning seduced by a few hours of British pageantry,  a young Californian girl and a British prince walking up the aisle. It is a moment where fact suspends fiction. Where a powerful brand leaps out of the television set and creates a deep visceral connection with its’ audience. Pure marketing nirvana.

Are You Thinking What I Was Thinking IX

Friday, April 8th, 2016









  • Most businesses don’t lack great ideas today, they lack people with the skills and volition to apply and monetise great ideas
  • The problem is not the regulatory changes forced on banks, insurers, pharma etc, it is the ability of management and employees to respond effectively and efficiently (skills, behaviour and expertise)
  • The media and politicians express “shock” and “revulsion” at those using offshore tax havens to mitigate their tax liabilities but barely a whimper about at the cyber security criminals, who initiated the breach.
  • Man’s ingenuity is such that we can send a rocket into space and return it to the exact same position it departed, yet our “precision” capabilities when it is applied to tracking terrorist threats, cyber, people smuggling, are largely scrambled and ineffective.
  • Global markets have largely recovered the losses incurred at the outset of this year, yet the business media continues to run “recession scare” stories.
  • Every company is becoming a digital company, the consequences differ based on the quality of the management and employees, the amount of uncertainty within the business and the competitive threats
  • Microsoft and Google beat the best human at image recognition in 2015 but there is little evidence that humans will be replaced by computers in assessing and underwriting risk, which largely depends on art and science.
  • Value chains in almost every sector are being compressed and traditional functions increasingly being made redundant, as technology facilitates the faster dissemination of information and the application of knowledge to critical decision-making (capital deployment, human resources, innovation, strategy implementation). There is no going back.
  • Contrary to popular myth what new entrants into the workforce want today (interesting work, a gratifying job, career progression and equitable rewards) hasn’t changed in decades, what has changed is the ability of businesses to deliver it. Understanding why and doing something about it, is where the valuable debate lies.
  • In all the chest-beating about diversity and progressive organisations, by far the most disadvantaged and impactful on society are not single issue “victims” (sex, race, nationality, age etc) but those individuals with diverse pasts (educational backgrounds and life experiences), who are routinely rejected by businesses driven to hire and promote “people like us”.
  • The fanfare about “Self-Management”, as practised by organisations such as Zappos, speaks louder about the concept than the results the business has achieved in the real world. Separate the fad from reality.

© James Berkeley 2016. All Rights Reserved.

The Media Mirror

Friday, April 1st, 2016






Why do so many business media interviews tell us less about the individual’s story and more about their fears? If the objective of talking to a “friendly” reporter is to increase the likelihood that you are seen as an object of  interest (credibility, intellect, empathy) amongst your key constituents (clients, prospects, shareholders, employees, business partners etc), you would be wise to start by understanding the reporter’s objectives.

1. What logical and emotional priorities is he/she seeking to accomplish?
2. Why interview me? (unique story)
3. Why now? (event or occurrence)
4. Why in the manner suggested? (environment, conditions etc)
5. How is the reporter better off or better supported after the interview is published?

I see a great many successful business folk, investors and board chairs expressing anguish at what they see in the “media mirror”. “He twisted my words”, “She portrayed me in an ugly or vulgar light” or “They lied to me”.

The reporter is the easy soft target for their frustration when the real culprit is the individual themselves. They failed to ask themselves the right questions before agreeing to the interview and they walked into the interview I’ll-prepared with their ego dangling out front.

Media promotion is an important part of building a marketing gravity to businesses that  want to lower acquisition overheads and accelerate top line revenues. Doing it right is more important than not doing it at all.


Copyright James Berkeley 2016. All Rights Reserved.


Success Trumps Ego

Thursday, March 31st, 2016









If your ego won’t allow you to share credit with those who have contributed substantially to your success, why should others help you in future (clients, investors, peers, employees, business partners etc)?

Successful people always look more successful when their stories reference people often less successful than themselves, who have helped them in vulnerable situations.

Even Donald Trump in his bombastic interviews rarely avoids talking about the “little people”,  who gave him a helping hand. He just leaves you thinking that only he could walk on water!

Many aspiring business managers and execs would be wise to think about whether their conversations, presentations, speeches, media interviews and marketing collaterals sufficiently share the credit with others.

If it is all about “Me, Me, Me”, why should I return your call, stop to talk or consider working together?

Copyright 2016 James Berkeley. All Rights Reserved.




Six Myths of PR In China

Thursday, March 5th, 2015

When foreign firms think about promoting their products and services in China for many the default position is to draw unfavourable parallels with their home market and local competitors (lack of independent and balanced perspective in Chinese media, reluctance to apply critical rigour, abundance of positive spin).  Yet listen to Zhihua (Stephanie) Yan at Z.H. STUDIO, one of the members of my professional community and her recent experiences with mainland Chinese organisations and you soon grasp that many of these myths are just that “myths” with little or no substance.

  1. Majority of mainland Chinese firms today readily embrace independent third party commentaries (expert opinions).
  2. Greater number of Chinese organisations share the belief that balanced perspectives enrich a story.
  3. Greater propensity of mainland Chinese organisations to happily approve constructive criticism and editors and audiences willing to embrace diverse opinions.
  4. Are there exceptions, of course, there are mainland clients who still want to see media releases, interviews and published articles present a “more positive tone” (is that so different from US or Western European organisations?)
  5. PR investments must have clear business outcomes for mainland Chinese firms to approve expenditure. The “value” derived may be more intangible (improved image or stronger brand) than tangible (increased sales, faster talent recuitment, larger capital raising) but it must have a discernible impact on their key constituents’ behaviour.
  6. The credibility gap between “earned media” (published articles, interviews, op-ed pieces) and “paid media” in China has never been wider. Although the demand for the former still lags substantially behind the latter amongst local organisations.

Put it simply, there are three “stumbling blocks”  that currently inhibit wider adoption of typical PR approaches and the demand for external expertise amongst many mainland Chinese organisations:

  1. Mindset
  2. Capabilities
  3. Incentive

Here is two examples,

Case Study #1: A global media-savvy Business School professor requested that Stephanie proof-read, double-check and triple check quotes given to a reporter for a US news wire service in advance of providing his permission for publication.

Case Study #2: A senior executive in a Chinese organisation decided to pass on an exclusive interview with a correspondent  from a world-class, top-tier newspaper after 4-6 months of Stephanie “cultivating the opportunity” because an environment he was working in has “close to zero” risk tolerance and he saw no visible upside in speaking to the reporter. In such circumstances, retainer fees are a “must” for external PR experts wanting to survive in China today.

“Local” Growth Challenges for Marketing & Media Agencies

  1. Cultural: You have to “give to get”. The basic dynamics of PR providing newsworthy and relevant insight that is in the best interests of the writer, not the firm are still not widely understood by many local organisations.  (Increasing need for external expertise to align corporate leaders’ beliefs, attitudes and behaviour with the differing needs of local and international media when promoting their products and services)
  2. Labour Intensive: Many local organisations are unaware of the time invested in attracting major media outlets. (Increasing need for improved education, more relevant examples, more effective metaphors at the outset)
  3. Engaging External Expertise: Low awareness of the “value” derived from an external marketing agency facilitating media interviews. (Increasing need for more effective communication skills and persuasive language with clients pre-, during and at the disengagement stage)
  4. Self vs. External Promotion: Propensity amongst some local CEOs (large egos) to confuse a PR firm’s success generating demand for interviews from top media outlets with their own and their firm’s actual “object of interest” to global media. In other words why pay a marketing agency a fee if they are such a “star”? (Need to use more powerful metrics or formula to show perceived and actual level of interest, the improvement in the client’s condition and the client’s good deal)

These mis-alignment factors simply hinder the prospect of very healthy collaboration with local organisations and require greater time investment to fulfil some really credible, trust-worthy “earned media” results. For China-based media and marketing agencies it’s not something they “don’t want to do”, or even “don’t have the resources to achieve” rather there is an immediate requirement to figure out a better “alignment” with local clients’ market needs and their mutual self-interest.

When you think the grass is greener for local organisations and local agencies in China, as a “foreigner” you might be surprised about the significant advantages you start with.

© James Berkeley 2014. All Rights Reserved.