So to all those 'friends' seeking to sell me products at social events, if you really must do this you will have much more success if you suggest a darts night or a day at the races! But just let me know at the outset that you want to sell me something. I'm actually happy to be sold to, I just feel confused when an emotional dialogue culminates in presenting me with a pot of face cream.
The current fuss plays straight into the hands of politicians who may claim to be targeting fake news, but act in ways that restrict legitimate free reporting, and deny its proper democratic function. That would leave us all the poorer. Even as a former journalist and government PR man, even as a fed up, but occasionally entertained reader, I'll put up with a bit of fake news. It's a free country, and I'd like it to stay that way.
The definition of a good PR is often a good storyteller. When I say story, I mean it in the literal sense rather than a tall tale or spin. A story or anecdote done well can convey a message and entertain. Done badly it can be the most mortifying and dull experience. Here are a few thoughts on how to keep attention rapt.
Herein lies the problem in this case. Hillary's PR team have all the facts. They know her medical history and they know that this kind of collapse may well be a possibility at any time. So why didn't they have a proper statement ready? But more than this, why have they left it so long, many months, to really tackle the growing questions about Mrs Clinton's health?
In his days as corporate affairs director at Carlton Television, David Cameron would doubtless have advised that the cover-up is always more damaging than the original sin of omission.. Mr Cameron said he had "nothing to hide". To which, the obvious response is: 'Why not tell us in the first place?'
PR is the bedrock on which our government is built. It's right at the heart of the way it operates. We have never had a more media-savvy government or PR-aware leadership. So why did they think they could spin their way around the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) disability cuts? To understand why they truly believed that the great British people would swallow the proposed PIP cuts you need to go back in time. Quite a long way.
According to Fox, it will be targeting "women and men". Teased by John Humphrys about this, he said his words were deliberately chosen to indicate an emphasis on targeting female readers. There's another paper already doing that. It's called the Daily Mail. It doesn't believe in a good news agenda. It loves being bitchy. It's also doing rather well. Let battle commence.
Have you noticed that you can now add video to virtually every social platform? Both Instagram and Twitter have added it where previously only stills were an option and although there are time limits on the videos that you can upload to these platforms, it's these snippets that are getting the most likes and shares.
Back to work today, and the Christmas and New Year break is already fading into memory. Like many people I took the opportunity, amongst the turkey and the tinsel, to look back at 2015, and look ahead to the Year of the Monkey. That brought into focus for me a number of issues facing the communications sector.
I have been asked many times what advice I would give other start-ups and it simply boils down to one thing: don't get ripped off. Not everyone will share your vision or think your idea makes sense. If fact, you might even be ridiculed for your product by some (I still remember abuse about my green trousers being hurled out of a taxi window by a middle aged Bristolian man)! This doesn't matter, provided you stick to your guns and hold onto your cash.