Fatherhood – got any advice?

After all these years, the wife and I will be (all things being well) joining the ranks of parenthood in December. The 27th is the alleged date, though something tells me its either going to be the 25th or New Year’s Day.

Blimey. Naturally we’re both excited and scared in equal measures.

Now that we’ve been begun telling family and friends, I realise we have unleashed an undocumented torrent of advice on the whole subject. If anybody has any useful advice to lend on the subject I’m all eyes and ears.


Former colleagues – where are they now? Part One

I realise FriendsReunited has a section to allow you to get in touch with former colleagues – however, its no use if they don’t actually sign up. It occurred to me that the blogosphere could be an alternative route to getting back in touch with people. (And yes, I know Google is the answer to everything, but this is more fun).

My working career began in 1985 at the Retail Newsagent Tobacconist and Confectioner. One of the UK’s oldest trade weeklies (founded in the late 19th century), I arrived at a time when the retail/wholesale side of publishing got interesting (with Rupert Mudorch, Wapping, and the move from rail to road distribution). Also co-incided with the launch of the first national newspapers in a generation – Today, The Independent, etc.

However, whatever to:

Brian VinerBrian_viner – staff writer – well, I know what happened to Brian. He went on via the Ham and High and the Mail on Sunday to be become a fixture columnist at The Independent, where he is now. The look on his face  as he lost a 2000 word feature through hitting the wrong key on his Amstrad PCW8256 is an abding memory. I did email a few years back at the Indepedent, but got no reply.

John Haylett – my first editor. And tennis nut. He was editing Tennis Monthly a few years back, but no idea where he is now.

Susan Iesi – features editor. No-one could write a 1000 word feature on confectionery like her. Google draws a great big zip.

Karen May – staff writer. Welsh, strong views. Went travelling for awhile, but apparently did end up back in journalism – but where?

Belinda Archer – staff writer. Went  on to  Campaign, and freelance work.  Byline in the Guardian in 2000, but no sightings since.

Nick Shanagher – Deputy News Editor – Irish/Australian. Ribbed me mercilessly. Was Editor of Local Government Chronicle in the early 90s, but not heard of since.

Who knows – perhaps somebody out there might have some clues.

Technology PR

£12K fee income per annum – the amount you need to bill to become a top 50 UK tech PR agency

Note: this was previously posted at the Old Towers – however, this was one of the posts that led to me moving to Typepad ie lots of people wanted to comment to it but couldn’t – also interesting how widely discussion on this has circulated.

Some observations.

Sarbanes Oxley continues to be used as a reason for not being able to
enter the table – so none of the tech divisions of the big agencies
makes it into the list. However, one notable exception is Firefly –
which is privately held. Firefly has been missing from the list for a
while. Firefly was one of the shining lights of the tech PR sector in
the late 90s – you don’t seem to hear that much about them these days.

Perhaps most interesting is down at the lower end of the table. Wyatt
International claims 50th place on the basis of £12,025 worth of tech
PR fee income – for the entire year. (That wouldn’t have covered some
client’s monthly expenses bill back in the late 90s).

In fact places of 43 – 50 are occupied by companies recording under
100K of fee income for tech. On that basis, many freelance tech PR
consultants would have made the top 50 if they had entered.

I’ve always taken PR Week’s league tables with a pinch of salt. Mainly
on the basis that the focus is on top line revenue rather than on
profitability. What would make the most interesting reading would be
looking at the most profitable agencies. No point in generating £4m in
revenue if your net pre-tax profit is 50p – or you are making a loss.

In terms of margins in the tech PR sector, the figures bandied around
are usually 10 – 12pc net profit (very good) to 5pc (average). So lets
do some maths. If we assume an agency has £2,907,161 top line, then
this would generate around £145,358 net pre-tax profit based on a 5pc
margin. Then take away corporation tax at 19pc (assuming no dividends)
– this leaves around £117K in retained profit. Which when all is said
and done, is not exactly a huge amount. Assume the company has around
50 odd employees – that doesn’t leave a huge pot for directors and
employees bonus (and this would be taxed as well so the amount people
might end up with is even less) – or for re-investing the money back
into the business in terms of business development, etc.

Even though the big agencies are not represented in the table, it
doesn’t take much to figure out that their net profit contributions
back to their respective mother ships can’t be that great.

Now of course, there may well be agencies out there with net margins of
20+ per cent – but I suspect not. And the bigger an agency gets, the
tougher it is to maintain double digit margins. Given that staff costs
are by far and away the biggest overhead for any agency, you can see
why people are trying to get more out of a people while keeping a cap
on salaries.

Which basically shows that generating real net pre-tax profits in the world of hi tech PR is pretty tough.

Technology PR

Challenges (and benefits) of a changing analyst market (and PR market)

David Rossiter’s take on an early post at the Old Towers. Parallels can be drawn between the PR sector and the analyst sector ie a polarisation between really big firms and smaller, more focussed operators – the equivalent of the "individual" brand cited.

Challenges (and benefits) of a changing analyst market


Andrew Smith’s got an interesting post (
about the publications that IT decision-makers actually read. It’s not
always what you would expect (in fact they seem to read very few IT
titles, if any at all).

It’s focused me on writing about some of
the changes that are happening with the industry analysts and some of
the questions that we’re currently in the midst of answering.

we’re now actively engaged in challenging our own perceptions on the
relative importance of analyst firms and individual analysts. We are
constantly forcing ourselves to re-examine who has what knowledge and
influence, how that is applied and how we can best help our clients
make use of it.

We ask ourselves if Gartner’s increasing size
will actually result in an equal increase in influence. We don’t think
so. There will be an increase but not in a straight line proportion.
There will also be some kind of backlash over its increasing dominance
and the prices it charges.

We ask ourselves if there will be
more consolidation among the likes of AMR, Forrester, Ovum and Yankee
Group? Yes, because whether it’s true or not, these companies are
likely to believe they have to get bigger to effectively compete
against Gartner for influence in the end-user market.

We ask ourselves if we will see the smaller analyst firms such as Quocirca (, Macehiter Ward-Dutton ( and Redmonk (
gain more influence? Yes, because we believe firms are increasingly
buying people rather than (as well as?) companies. Watch out for the
rise of the ‘individual’ brand in the analyst market.

witnessing some interesting times in the IT industry analyst market at
the moment. The changes will not make the AR job any easier in the
short-term but it’s forcing us to re-examine how influence works in the
IT sector. It’s also helping us get to understand how the role of the
industry analyst is being re-defined.


People SF

Andrew J. Wilson in town

My very old chum (best man) Mr A.J Wilson is down in London for a few days. Good to see him again – and find out how recent fatherhood is treating him.

He is deep in the throes of anthology editing and gearing up for WorldCon in Glasgow.

For those interested, more info below.

SmokeAndrew J. Wilson was born in Aberdeen in 1963. After studying English Literature and Philosophy at the University of Edinburgh, he went into publishing, and currently works as a freelance editor and writer. He is the science fiction, fantasy and horror reviewer for The Scotsman.

Andrew has published short stories in magazines and anthologies in Britain and the United States, including DAW Books Years Best Horror Stories, Markings, Fear and Scottish Book Collector, and he has also read his work on BBC Radio Scotland. His plays The Terminal Zone and The Black Ambulance Gang have both been performed at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, the latter on a moving bus several years before Speed was shown in the cinemas!

He has also published journalism and criticism in a number of markets, including Scotland on Sunday, Dreamwatch, Caledonia and Metro. He has also appeared on television and radio as a commentator, and regularly chairs events at the Edinburgh International Book Festival.

Recent stories have appeared in Gathering the Bones, an international anthology published by Harper Collins in Australia and Tor in the USA, and The Thackery T. Lambshead Pocket Guide to Eccentric and Discredited Diseases. Forthcoming work will appear in H. P. Lovecraft’s Magazine of Horror and Sailing on Strange Seas, a tribute anthology to William Hope Hodgson.

Technology PR

Aeberhard & Partners/A Plus Group/Brodeur A Plus/Brodeur Worldwide Reunion – Weds, Jun 29th 2005

One of the curious things I’ve noticed over the last month or so is that my blog postings seem to be passed far and wide. In particular, references to former colleagues and friends in terms of what they are up to.

For the last few years, I’ve been involved in organising occasional gatherings of people who have worked for A Plus, Brodeur, etc in all its incarnations. In light of the above, I’d thought I’d post some info about the next proposed shindig – in the hope that it may help to ensure that as many people as possible from the great Brodeur A Plus diaspora are apprised of date and location.

With a company name change (Pleon), and another office move, Mike Copland is kindly hosting the next event.

According to Mike: "For those of us that go back far enough, it’s been five company names and now five offices. For a very few, it’s actually six offices or, in one case, seven.

The great thing this time (well, one of them) is that we’ve moved into the real (or unreal?) agency world of having a bar on the premises. Which seemed like a good reason to invite all the Aeberhard & Partners/ A Plus Group/ Brodeur A Plus/ Brodeur Worldwide/ Pleon UK alumni to join us here (address below) on WEDNESDAY 29th JUNE.  The bar will be open from 5.30pm onwards: and there’ll be a few nibbles too.  Plus we can even recall the old days of bar football in the office since that’s also available.

Hoping that lots of you can make it and that we’ll meet up then. For those who are further afield and can’t make it, at least you can think of us having a drink on the 29th. And Ted Lelekas, who gets married in Greece the following Saturday, is excused!

Can you let Liz W ( know if you can make it so we can be suitably prepared. And if you know of others not on the address list or have any email address changes please let us know.

And see you on the 29th.

Our new home is the red brick building right on the corner of Old Marylebone Road and Marylebone Road, by the traffic lights before the start of the elevated section at the end of Marylebone Road.



Leading a double blog life

Welcome to the new alternative home for The View From Object Towers. Although I still intend to maintain my existing Bloglines home – – I’ve had too many people tell me I have to have trackbacks and comments. After casting around for advice from people who know much more about these things, I’ve plumped for Typepad.

Over time, I presume all my current readers will migrate this way.

In the meantime, apologies for the Blog schizophrenia.

Hear from you all soon.