Are men with big noses more intelligent? Why not women? #Clickbait


In men, research suggests, big noses are associated with intelligence, but not in women. I wondered what your thoughts were on this.

Since the research was conducted in 2014, do you think it applies to women now too? Do women’s noses have more clout nowadays?

Now I’ve got quite a big nose, so I have some skin in this discussion.  However, the point I want to make isn’t about the size of noses, it’s about how it isn’t as easy as you think to do good PR. It’s not that you need a good nose for a story, or that you need to be nosy to succeed in PR.  My point is that, believe it or not, that you can’t just write anything you want to get attention.

I was sent an email this week that said: “How I made £4k in 14 days on LinkedIn.” Naturally this piqued my interest, so I read the rest of the email.  Here’s the copy:

One of my LinkedIn posts – which took just a few minutes to write – has generated around 250 comments and 25k views (I’ll link to it below)….

Now some people say numbers of comments and views are a vanity measure but they DO ensure your content is seen by more of your ideal clients. And the more content your ideal clients see from you, the more likely they are to buy.

Which is how I’ve generated £4k of sales directly from LinkedIn so far this month – without writing a single sales post/message.

And that kind of blows the whole ‘vanity’ argument out of the water, doesn’t it?”

I was invited, in the email, to take a look at the post on LinkedIn which garnered so much engagement, and lo and behold the headline was <<ARE AMBITIOUS WOMEN LESS ATTRACTIVE?>>

I hope the author of this won’t mind me saying that she has quite a small nose. But she is an incredibly well-respected journalist and writer, and runs superb business courses, some of which I have attended.  I recommend her courses wholeheartedly. My nose isn’t growing as I say this, it is absolutely true.

I have not the least problem with the nose size thing, and I’m delighted about the author making money, but  I do take exception to promoting the idea that catchy, click-bait headlines are a great way to achieve PR results.  Sometimes yes, but often no. Very much no.

We’ve sniffed out the zeitgeist, we know there’s dumbing down; short attention spans; clever beaks are out of fashion and no one likes corporate speak, but even so we still can’t just use irrelevant content or contentious subjects to win engagement or sales.

I think we have to be professional, measured and intelligent for our clients who run serious businesses, as part of projecting and protecting reputations on their behalf.

That’s my opinion, what do you think?

PS If you’d like to check out the nose size research, follow this link here

PPS If you’d like to read the original  £4k post, click here

PPS If you’d like some seriously effective PR email me or check out our website

B2B, B2C or consumer PR?

, , , ,


People often ask me what sort of agency Twelve is,  B2B or consumer?

Does the definition make any difference to the campaigns that are developed and how effective they are?

I just read a really interesting article on this subject which prompted me to write this post.  The article was in the Drum, written by Jeri Smith, chief executive of Communicus.

(Hadn’t heard of them before so checked them out online. What a great statement they have on their web site: “Communicus provides advertisers with insights to strengthen campaign effectiveness and build brands.” That’s what I call walking the talk.)

Anyway to return to the subject – B2B, consumer or B2C.

Campaign objectives

How would you define PR and marketing for education?

– Is a private school, looking to attract new pupils, targeting parents as business prospects or as consumer prospects?

– Does it change when it’s a state school, does that make it all about consumers?

– What about when a school is trying to recruit high quality teachers?  Is that a business transaction?  Does it call for a B2B campaign?

How about universities?

– How would you define their need to raise awareness about their excellent research, to attract more funding, is that a business campaign?

– Does the need to ensure the public hear about the research through national media channels make it a consumer campaign?

– Is supporting student applications during Clearing a business campaign, like recruiting teachers, or a consumer one?

I’ve always thought it a strange dichotomy, the way we treat business people, as if they have two heads.

Two heads good, one head bad

One head we target with a business message, through business channels in a business-like way to get them to discover, say, the technical brilliance and benefits of a new metal coating which will improve their manufacturing processes and reduce costs.

The other head we target with a consumer message to encourage them to try a new shampoo which will make their blond highlights last longer and be less likely to start looking ‘brassy’ over time.

The article in the Drum tackles this subject with science.  You can’t beat some good hard science.

System 1 and System 2

Jeri draws on the work of Nobel Prize-winning psychologist Daniel Kahneman and his book ‘Thinking Fast and Slow’:

“Kahneman delineates two modes of thinking: “System 1” is instantaneous, driven by instinct and emotion; “System 2” is slower, driven by deliberation and logic. Kahneman hones several decades of research to emphasize how people attribute far too much importance to ‘rational’ human judgements in decision-making. Specifically, he explains that even when we believe we are making decisions based on rational considerations, our System 1 beliefs, biases and intuition drive much of our thinking.”

Maximising impact

This is where it impacts on the definitions between business and consumer campaigns:

“Business people have their own notions about brands. A huge proportion of these ideas are derived from humans’ System 1 belief system. And much of what resides in our System 1 belief system are impressions yielded from our own experiences. When it comes to brands marketing to both consumers and B2B targets, the business target has deep-seated impressions of the brand that affect their decision-making. And where do those come from? In large part, consumer advertising.”

The point is that people never see messages in isolation. The same head sees the consumer advertising, or interesting piece of editorial your PR placed for them to learn about how to maintain their hair colour, as also sees the business campaign.

Jeri concludes: “Kahneman’s insights, so beloved by consumer marketers, apply just as much to B2B: design advertising so that the target remembers the brand in a way that drives a (non-rational) connection to the brand in their System 1 thinking. Rational ad sells don’t work any better among B2B targets than they do among consumer targets.”

PR messages and content

Of course as a PR agency we don’t think about adverts we think about messages and content, but the principal is the same.

Often we use the B2B / consumer / B2C definitions to help us cut out wastage – if you want to reach process engineers, the majority will be reading ‘Process Engineering’.  A few will read Good Housekeeping or GQ but not many.

This argument was often used when I was at The Guardian to clinch an ad sale.  Overall more teachers read the Daily Mail, but a greater proportion of Guardian readers are teachers.  Your advertising spend if you want to reach teachers is therefore more targeted or effective in The Guardian, the argument goes.  But then almost all the people who read the TES are teachers…This is all starting to sound like navel gazing.  Where does it get us?


Our aim as a PR agency is to help influence in an honest way – to reach people and influence their opinion.  To make them aware of your proposition or qualities and ultimately to convince them to act on that knowledge.  That might be to purchase; apply to a new school; recommend something to others; reward them; fund them; entertain them; campaign for them, vote for them etc.

So to return to the original question, are you B2B, B2C or just consumer? The question should be framed differently.

Are you targeting a business or consumer audience?  This gives us a useful way to identify the most effective channels for reaching our targets.

An effective PR agency

In these terms Twelve is an agency which targets both consumer and trade audiences.

But in terms of emotion and impact, key factors which guide our strategic thinking and planning, we should completely ignore the false divide between business and consumer.

We an agency which helps people to reach and influence other humans.


You can read the original article in the Drum at:






Our Twelve drummers are drumming up our annual Christmas challenge

, ,

I predict a RIOT in 2017

A riot will always generate headlines, so should you be challenging your PR agency to incite one? 

Of course you should.  But far from provoking violent political unrest as the title here suggests, what I’m really advocating is the skilled use of Research, Insights, Opinions and Trends.  Yes, sorry to disappoint guys, it’s an acronym.

Getting to the nub of what journalists want is central to good PR.  A recent survey asked PR agency MDs and directors how much time their staff spend on media relations.  The results were interesting – 78 per cent said they spend over half their time, with around a third, 32 per cent, spending three quarters of their time on media relations.

Earlier this year, Twelve made a concerted effort to ask its target journalists what they want from PRs, and without exception it genuinely was research, insights, opinions and trends. A RIOT.  Were we surprised?  Not really, no. It’s what we’ve been doing for years, but it’s always good to confirm we’re doing it right – especially given the focus now on digital communication channels.

So how do you create a riot in PR?

Research done well, can deliver a strong publicity platform.  From day one at Twelve, we have had a qualified market researcher both on board and on the board. Twelve’s research director, Nicky Smith, cut her research teeth working for the Guardian and Observer newspapers, and works with the PR team to deliver credible, interesting and newsworthy data that works hard to the news agenda and beyond.

Our research projects adhere to the Market Research Society’s Code of Conduct and have delivered great coverage for our clients because they’re robust, well thought through surveys.  Our guiding principal is to use research to present an organisation’s expertise and knowledge.  All too often research is presented as a sales puff – a sure-fire way to hack off a hack.

Insights are another popular media relations tool.

Defined as the capacity to gain an accurate and deep understanding of someone or something, insight is, in my view, the bedrock of creativity in PR.  Good PR is inquisitive, observant, well-informed and open-minded and at Twelve there is solid investment in brainstorming to get to the root of an issue.  We dig deep; challenge conventional thinking; think the unthinkable, ask the questions that others shy away from.  We are, if you like, conviction PRs. Insight gives us the means to stand up for our campaigns.  This is important because if insights are right, you’ve got the basis for truly successful media relations.  And if you compromise too far, you lose the story.

Opinions create headlines

Every sector has its known opinion formers – those who say what they think with real conviction and stand by their opinions. You may not always agree with them, but it’s certainly no accident that they get more coverage than most.  Why do journalists keep going back to these people? Because they’re available anywhere, any time and will always have something interesting to say.

Trends on the other hand, can be manufactured and they’re PR heaven. A seasonal example is Hamley’s ‘Most popular toys this Christmas’ list. A trend with that amount of credibility and longevity is PR gold – especially on social media where everyone loves a listicle. (A listicle?  Did I really say that?).

2016 has been a year of turmoil and upset. And I predict that in 2017 the use of research, insights, opinions and trends will come to the fore more than ever as we seek to make sense of Brexit, Trump and whatever this new world of post truths throws at us.

Remember a time not so very long ago when ads had to be legal, decent, honest and truthful? Sadly, events this year have highlighted just how far people are prepared to misinform to get what they want. I predict a backlash (as well as a riot).  The media have a duty to up their game and challenge the information they’re given.  RIOTous PR will play its part in this.

So does your agency have what it takes to incite a RIOT next year? 

Can it deliver credible research, insight, opinion and trends? If not, give us a call and we’ll do a bit of rebel rousing for you.

12 drummers