Thursday, 4 July 2013

Two examples of communication failures

Two great examples of terrible communications from the past week. One from an individual who should have been prepared and the other from a major global brand that should know better.

The first is James McCartney - son of Sir Paul - who appeared on BBC Breakfast to discuss (that is meant to be promote, James) his new album.

The full interview can be seen below:

James McCartney did quite a lot wrong in this interview which is why diverse media such as the Daily Mail  and The Independent  subsequently wrote critical articles.

I'd like to pick out three errors he made:

1. While it is good to keep your answers short in broadcast interviews keeping them down to single syllables is not recommended. Keeping answers to about 15 seconds is fine and helps the journalist to get through their list of questions. Answers of "yeah", "no" or "don't know" make you look rude and/or stupid.

2. Know why you are on the TV or radio. Here he was promoting his album so should have taken every opportunity given to him to talk it up with passion and belief in the two years of work that went into it. Instead he came across as uninterested and failed to give us a reason to buy his music.

3. Prepare for the obvious questions. If you are Sir Paul McCartney's son expect a question about your Dad. You may not like it but, frankly, that is probably the way your PR team sold you in to the programme in the first place. Use his fame, talk about the influence he has had on your music, then sell your record.

The other failure of the last week has been from global giant Amazon who sat down to brief a journalist of The Times but then was unwilling to offer up any information or a story of note. Business Editor, Ian King, explains further:

"The [Amazon] executive declined to answer any questions about what Amazon had learnt from its launch of the [new digital music] service in the US, instead offering up syrupy soundbites about how “we love to do things for our customers”.
"The reporter explained patiently that his job was not to act as an arm of Amazon’s marketing department, but to drill into the story to establish Amazon’s strategy and motivations. The response was: go back and read our press release."
This is awful PR from Amazon and shows a basic disregard for one of the rules of engagement with journalists: always give them something in return for their time - ideally a story. If you consistently fail to do this they will go somewhere else. 

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