I recently conducted a customer satisfaction survey on behalf of a client who had never used that type of market research before. We wanted to know what the real customer experience was when it came to buying the company's products and services.

You may have noticed I used the word "real" above - it's an intentional use to highlight the fact that many business owners will tell you they know what customers think of them even though they have never asked. I've often found that sales and marketing teams will tell you they understand what the customer wants because they "know" why they come to them - this knowledge is often based on nothing more than intuition, gut instinct or, worst of all common sense.

It is a position underpinned by the belief that the advertising campaigns being used are working (overlooking marketing pioneer John Wanamaker's attributed quote that "half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don't know which half."), that customers are buying products and services and that no one is making complaints - even though 94% of complaints about a company are never actually registered by customers.
This assumption that we somehow just "know" what the customer wants, is not only wrong a lot of the time it is dangerous, overlooks sales opportunities and leads to bad practices being continued.

The information we got back from customers did indeed reinforce some of the assumptions the sales team had made - "we knew they liked us for quality, we could have told you that" but the difference now is that the company really does "know" all the good things customers appreciate about it when they buy products and services. What's more, the company now also has clear feedback on areas where it needs to make improvements and is at risk of losing certain customers. By taking action my client was able to respond to weaknesses in its operations, strengthen challenged relationships it had (and in some cases did not know about) with existing customers and with the use of good PR, turn those customers into unpaid sales representatives as they now go out and tell others just how much they are appreciated are by my client.

Customer feedback is useless on it's own, it does nothing but provide you with information - it is taking action when you have it that matters. You can see how this is used by reading an article on another part of my website here.
The positive feedback and specific brand values that customers appreciate when buying from my client can now be used to promote my client to prospective customers. All future marketing messages will contain the truth of what customers get when buying from my client - supported and reinforced by third party endorsement.

That endorsement can be used in press releases, on websites as it is here for a totally different client, in above the line advertising or in a myriad of tactics using social media.
Back in 1597 Sir Francis Bacon wrote in his Meditationes Sacrae that "ipsa scientia potestas est" or "knowledge itself is power', now I don't want to argue with such a respected figure as Sir Francis, but how much more influence and power would that knowledge have if it was followed up with action?

Until the beginning of this week the name Martin Shkreli meant little to anyone this side of the Atlantic - but it is now synonymous with business PR disasters on a global scale.

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Mr Shkreli hit the headlines again (he has a good reputation in the States for attracting bad press) when he whipped up a PR storm after raising the price of a drug used to treat Aids patients by over 5,000% .

Shkreli's company, Turing Pharmaceuticals, bought the drug Daraprim in August with the intention of cornering the market and making it very hard for anyone to copy the drug and undercut his massively inflated price.

Amid a media and social media outcry at his actions, Shkreli went in front of the cameras to defend his decision to raise the price of the 62-year-old drug it had acquired from $13.50 to $750 a pill - which infuriated infectious disease doctors who then fanned the flames of the PR fire - Daraprim is  used to treat a parasitic infection that can be life-threatening to some babies and people with AIDS and cancer.

Not only was Shkreli staunch in his defence of his actions, he actually claimed there were some "altruistic properties" behind his decision to increase the average cost of treating one patient from $,1,130 to $63,000 a year. That altruism (selfless actions devoted to the welfare of others) was founded on the idea that profits from the sale of Daraprim would be used to fund further research into better drugs that Shkreli would then no doubt sell for more profits; even though Doctors told journalists that there is no need for improved medicines.

Following the outcry against Shkreli and two days of him trying to defend himself, he finally announced that Turing Pharmaceuticals would be dropping the price to a "reasonable cost" that would reduce the size of the profit being made. However, and this is where the company really is hoisted by its own PR petard, Shkreli refused to say what that price would be.

No matter what the price that Turing Pharmaceuticals adopts in future, it will always be seen as a callous company that will try to profiteer from the pain and anguish of others because it knew there was no other substitute for the drug it was selling. No amount of fire-fighting will dampen this PR fire while ever Shkreli appears in the media trying to look like he's been wronged for trying to make a fast buck - and he has made plenty of those in the past.

When a PR storm hits your company for something that you are responsible for, the worst thing you can do is go out in front of the media and try to claim that what you were doing to cause the storm was right and proper. What Shkreli should have done was to acknowledge his error in making the drastic hike, committed himself to working with others to find ways of preventing the infection for which Daraprim is used and alter his business practices to ensure he does not try to manipulate a market in the same way again. However, that would have taken authenticity and real altruism, which I somehow think Mr Shkreli would find difficult to purchase; no matter how he tried to corner the market. 

A few days ago I got yet another poor attempt at e-marketing. Putting aside the fact that the contact had never been in touch with me before or provided an unsubscribe option on the email, I was taken aback by just how bad this one was so decided to use it as a case study in bad examples - so here goes.

I have highlighted a number of marketing errors below by making comments in red, do feel free to let me know if you spot any more.

Hi Parker PR! (Really? The opening address to me is as the name of my company! How personal and engaging is that? You will have a much higher response rate to your e-marketing if you can take the time to find the right contact details and use them.)

Currently, 1 Canadian dollar equals 2.04 GBP! If you don’t want to sacrifice quality of work and are open to collaborating with an awesome team oversees, consider us. (Apart from the poor use of grammar, just what does this mean? Is it supposed to be a call to action - if it is then it's not working. When marketing, make your proposition clear, concise and easy to understand, that way people will know what to do next.)

I’m Lauren - Brand Development Lead at Design Pilot Creative Agency in Toronto, Canada. We specialize in creating digital experiences that engage, inspire, and entertain. We do websites, ecom, apps and more. Ideation, UX and design is our mantra. (I'm sorry, just what on earth are those things you refer to in the last sentence and what does it mean? Please don't use jargon with your e-marketing, not everyone uses the same language as you and it puts people off engaging with you.)

Check us out: and if you like what you see let’s connect :) (This is a massive cheese overload and the URL is incorrect and not made into a hyperlink. Make sure your directions are easy to follow and make it easier for potential clients to find you by making the hyperlink active.)

Best, (Best what exactly?)

  Lauren Hurley  (Nice icon; I have no idea why it is there or what it's meant to mean but never mind. Don't try to be too clever when marketing to people you have never met before - in-jokes are never funny when you are on the outside)

Brand Development Lead


Whether you are a PR pedant, pedagogue or purist, everyone seems to have an opinion on the proper use of the apostrophe. Of all the uses and misuses of it, the one that flicks my switch is the lack of it in a business' name. The problem often occurs when a business is named after the people or person who set it up.

My apologies to Charltons above, but it was the first image that Google offered me and is not meant to be detrimental. So often I'm driving and see, for instance, Jones Plumbing. If this is a company owned by one Jones, it would make the name possessive and require the addition of an apostrophe at the end. If the company were owned by more than one Jones it should of course be Joneses'. However, that would look difficult to the eye and not understood as being in common use.

That is where things come unstuck. There is a great article on Sentence First about the use of the apostrophe which highlights the fluent use of it in place and business names.


I applaud E.B Hill of Leeds for taking the time to get it perfectly right - see the above bus - I'd be interested in your thoughts and pet hates. 


Graham Paker is an award winning PR professional and inspirational speaker

I've been promoting the value of collaborative PR and marketing for some years because I know it works. It's a simple idea of two or more businesses getting together to mutually promote each other. Some years back I recommended this approach to a motor mechanic client, who hooked up with a florist I knew while attending a networking event I ran.

The garage began leaving bouquets of flowers in the cars of loyal customers following a service - the florist promoted the garage in the shop and by word of mouth. The relationship brought both increased business.


The above photo shows Ken Bonsall, lead singer of modern punk/folk band Ferocious Dog sporting a Nana's Kitchen t-shirt. You can see the photo on Nana's Kitchen's Facebook page and on a number of others connected to the business. Ken wears his t-shirt at gigs where people that attend music festival are likely to be - Nana's Kitchen serves food and runs bakery classes for kids at music festivals where Ferocious Dog are likely to be playing. Mutual brand recommendation is a powerful, easy to apply and relatively inexpensive form of PR and marketing. . jasa seo