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Buyer's Guide

Sept. 8, 2010



By Greg Hazley

Tim Bell, chairman of U.K. PR giant Chime Communications, talked to CNBC about his company's strong Q2 performance -- profit was up 39% -- and the outlook for the sector in a clip from the business news network.

"We don't have the economic gloom that everyone seems to want to prescribe," said Bell, who was knighted in 1990 and is known as Lord Bell.

Bell, who guided Margeret Thatcher to three election victories as British P.M. and has provided PR counsel to several governments and high-profile situations, is bullish on Chime's sports marketing business and compared the company to rivals like WPP in discussing a sleeker model in a "networked" world.

"The model of WPP and Omnicom and IPG, and for that matter Havas and Publicis, is a very old-fashioned model that started in the '60s," he said. "We've got a much more modern version of it. We use Internet technology, mobile technology,. We don't go for bricks and mortar. ...I think our business model is very relevant to the way the world is today."

He was also asked by the "Squawk Box" host advice to give President Obama about improving his image and talks about why he hasn't made a strong push into the U.S. PR market:

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Commentaries on subject matter are welcome. Personal attacks are not allowed. O'Dwyer's reserves the right to cover any story it deems newsworthy.


John Berard (9/08):
I am weary of the persistent mis-characterization of an agency's move from brick-and-mortar offices, stamps and paper to digital distribution, online collaboration and social media as a change in business model. These are nothing more than as when we moved from the mail to the FAX or from Remingtons to IBM Selectrics. A different way of doing the same thing. Moving away from hourly fees, moving away from administrative charges and moving away from Maister's professional services pyramid scheme are evidence of real business model change.

Ron Levy (9/08):
This knight was not made for love, nor is this Lord a master, judging from the fact that the world's leading accounts give well over 20 times as much in billings to WPP and OMC as to Chime. Why, if WPP and OMC are old fashioned, does Chime not ring the bell with savvy managers of the world's top accounts and take away the business from WPP and OMC?

This newsletter has been called "the bible" of PR by the New York Times, WPP and OMC agencies are called "Our PR Firm" by many of the world's most capable managers, even dogs are named "best of breed" in dog shows but what honor can Chime cite? Do they want us to believe that Chime "guided" Margaret Thatcher into three election victories, not that she won because she was the superior candidate?

Tim, if you think you have a better mousetrap--or even a mousetrap that is good enough to face competition--WHY don't you come into the American market and submit your qualifications in competition with the qualifications of firms you call old fashioned? If their profit is not up 39%, can it be because they place old fashioned emphasis on hiring the best people (though expensive) and producing PR results that are often breathtaking?

Tim, when instead of telling HOW you are better than other PR firms, do you settle for calling two of the most modern and successful PR armies "old fashioned"? What technology do you have that you think others don't have?

Northern PR (9/09):
LOL! "Lord" Bell looks like the quintessentially old fashioned PR man to me!! I can just see him having a glass of Chateau Plonk and smoking a fat Cuban cigar at one of his posh private clubs in London.

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