matm’s Freaky Friday: so, who thinks they know the offside rule in football?

Friday 28th January 2011   by Stuart Bickerton

It’s been in the news all week. After Sky Sports football presenters Andy Gray and Richard Keys were both forced out of their jobs for doubting female linesman Sian Massey’s knowledge of the offside rule, we at matm thought we’d conduct a little survey. We went to Shrewsbury to find who really can explain the offside rule.

matm’s Freaky Friday: do you know the football offside rule? from matm on Vimeo.

So there’s a few thoughts from the good people of Shropshire …

for Video Blogging across the West Midlands contact one of Shropshire’s leading marketing agencies matm on 01952 883526 or email ac@matm.co.uk

matm’s Freaky Friday: whose phone would you like to hack into?

Friday 21st January 2011   by Stuart Bickerton

Andy Coulson resigned as Prime Minister David Cameron’s Press Secretary today over claims that journalists hacked into the phones of celebrities and politicians while he was editor of the News of the World.

So we went out to ask the public: “Whose phone would you want to hack into and why?”

The NoW did it – so matm asks, who would you phone hack? from matm on Vimeo.

So there’re a few thoughts from the good people of Shropshire …

for Video Blogging across the West Midlands contact one of Shropshire’s leading marketing agencies matm on 01952 883526 or email ac@matm.co.uk

Creative copywriting #1: The Bible teaches us to speak what we write

Wednesday 19th January 2011   by Stuart Bickerton

I’ve been following the news on the celebrations to mark the 400th anniversary of publication of the King James Bible, says Andy Comber, PR Manager at matm, the marketing, graphic design, digital media and PR agency at Jackfield near Telford.

The KJV, as it’s called by biblical scholars, was the topic for a radio programme celebrating its far-reaching influence on the English language. An expert concluded: “The King James Bible reminds us that the very best literature is written to be spoken out loud.”

This version of the bible was written specifically to take the Word of God to the English-speaking masses – spoken from the pulpit. The language was designed to be clear and compelling.

That’s why we still “give up the ghost” and admire people who are “the salt of the earth” and don’t like having “words put in our mouths”. All are expressions first coined in the KJV.

It’s an interesting lesson, if you spare me the pun. When you check any copy you’ve written for publication, try reading it out loud. If it reads easily and sounds like it makes sense, you have half the battle won.

If you find yourself stopping and starting, losing the thread, stumbling over words or wondering what on earth you meant to say, you’ve probably committed one or more of 7 deadly sins of bad copywriting:

  • Failing to structure what you write so it is easy to follow
  • Writing sentences that are too long
  • Writing sentences that attempt to make more than one point
  • Writing sentences that are passive, rather than active
  • Making random use of commas and full stops
  • Using long and complicated words
  • Or long and dull ones

The value of reading copy out loud was made clear to me while working for ITV Central News. Broadcast copy HAS to be read out loud. The best journalists were often the ones who appeared to spend their afternoons talking to a computer screen.

Try it for yourself. Who cares about the funny looks!

We’re loving that! Dotty graphic design that’s retro and so up to date

Tuesday 18th January 2011   by Neil Dicken

The design that often catches the eye first is often the simplest one. An uncluttered lay-out or short, yet subtle, strap line.

These album covers fit that bill perfectly, says Neil Dicken, a designer at matm, the marketing, graphic design, web development, digital media and PR agency at Jackfield near Telford.

Remixed album covers

The albums are timeless classics which still appeal to young people today. Design company Graphic Nothing has recreated them – remixed and reduced – to create a simple yet identifiable style for the iPod age.

They are retro and modern – retro-mod. There, matm gives you a new word!

The question is…do you know the names of the albums?

Mobile marketers are rapidly catching on to quick response barcodes

Monday 10th January 2011   by Stuart Bickerton

In between numerous episodes of CSI (my guilty pleasure of the moment), I’ve been watching Delia Smith talking about posh pastry on behalf of Waitrose.

Given their strong corporate ID I had a bit of a moment when I saw a large jagged box on the TV, writes Lindsay Crayton, Senior Creative at matm, the marketing, graphic and web design, web development, PR agency at Jackfield, near Telford in Shropshire.

It took me back to a conversation I had with a colleague sometime ago about these ‘boxes’, it went something along the lines of:

Me: Stuart take a look at this!

Stuart: What is it?

Me: A bar code that you can scan in using your mobile phone, it can hold information like a web address or text.

Stuart: Eyes have glazed over…

Moving swiftly on, a bit of research found these boxes to be called QR codes, QR being Quick Response.

They were originally developed, as long ago as 1994, by Denso-Wave in Japan for tracking car parts for Toyota. The main objective was that they could be read at high speed from any angle.

The QR-Code carries information horizontally and vertically whereas a standard barcode contains data only in one direction.

Also, a standard bar code can only hold 20 digits but a QR code can hold more than 7,000 and can be made to be a fraction of the size (approximately one-tenth) so less room taken up on packaging.

Companies are now increasingly using the technology to market products and services via mobile phones.

Pepsi using a QR code on a promotional billboard. It helps that the code looks arty and intriguing

A smart phone with a camera and decoding software can be used to capture and read the information on a QR code – whether it appears on the TV, billboard, in a magazine advert or on a t-shirt. The process of is called mobile tagging, while the the specific act of linking from a physical object is called physical world hyperlinking.

You can also create your own QR codes using free software. The social media site Mashable recently explained how to do it.

Facebook has a dedicated QR-Code page with lots of creative and business uses. It’s also finding its way into the art world.

An edible and scannable waffle created at NYC Resistor in 2010

I wasn’t able to scan the QR-code on the TV, I have an older phone, but if anyone else has I’d love to know…

Blame game in NI Water crisis shows need for public relations crisis planning

Thursday 6th January 2011   by Stuart Bickerton

A week ago we predicted that the NI Water crisis would be seen as a PR disaster as well as an operational one.

And it looks like it is certainly heading that way, says Andy Comber, PR Manager at matm, the marketing, graphic and web design, web development and PR agency based at Jackfield, near Telford in Shropshire.

The Chief Executive of NI Water, Laurence MacKenzie, has resigned. Politicians at Stormont, home of the Northern Ireland Assembly, are lining up to whip him out of office – and try to ensure he doesn’t get a golden goodbye.

Interestingly, NI Water has been lambasted for not communicating properly over the crisis but there appears to be absolutely nothing on the NI Assembly website about the issue.

In his resignation statement Mr MacKenzie acknowledged:

“I readily accept and recognise that there were aspects of the way in which we handled the situation that could have been better.

“In particular our ability to communicate with our customers and let them know the reasons for and the times at which they were going to be taken off supply.”

That is not the end of it though. Many local commentators, such as popular blog Slugger O’Toole, are pointing the finger at those very politicians, with claims that they are ultimately responsible. The corrosive PR fall-out will not just land on Mr MacKenzie.

What is (or should be) frightening for many who hold positions of responsibility, is how quickly events unfolded over a matter of days.

Having a crisis plan, which includes an effective PR element, is essential. And here we are talking not about PR as some sceptics people think of it – which is seen as using tricks to cover cracks. It’s about building PR directly into your on-going business strategy.

At best this may well (through effective customer engagement) help avoid the crisis happening in the first place. Or, at worst, will allow your organisation to come out with its reputation intact. And the chief executive still in a job.