Sara Collinge 20 May 2013

Last week I spoke to Rebecca Burn-Callander (@sparky000), Management Today‘s Web Editor, to find out more about what makes a good PR into a great one, get her thoughts on Apple‘s future and Margaret Thatcher’s management style, and find out just where that Twitter handle comes from…here’s what she said.

1)    Who’s the most inspiring CEO out there right now? What do you like about them?

Ian Hogarth, founder of SongKick, caught my attention recently. Not only is SongKick a really cool start-up – it lets you know when your favourite artists are playing live, the whole company culture is incredibly interesting. Each new hire is presented with a DVD of The West Wing. The team on the show are fiercely driven and extremely bright, and always manage to find answers to complex problems – something that Songkick wants its staff to emulate.

2)    Your colleague Michael recently wrote a piece about Maggie Thatcher’s management style, what do you think of it?

She was definitely called the Iron Lady for good reason. Love her or hate her, for good or for ill, she definitely believed in her policies. I wish today’s politicians had a little more conviction and little less puff and bluster. But I must confess, I’m glad I’ve never had to work for a woman like her. Rumour has it that if she couldn’t get her way in cabinet meetings, she’d burst into tears. Just imagine Maggie Thatcher crying on you…  

3)    Do you think that Tim Cook will succeed in stopping the mighty Apple from rotting?  

If Apple does rot, it will take decades to do so. The company has $137bn in the bank. That’s a lot of cash to play with. That said, I think that Cook definitely needs to start innovating again. He can’t just bring out endless iterations of the iPhone and iPad and expect to keep consumers interested. That’s what Sony though back in the day – after the Walkman it spent decades resting on its laurels to its detriment. I don’t expect that Apple’s greatest innovations will come from the product side, however. I think that the launch of Google’s music streaming service will make Cook sit up and pay attention. Maybe Apple can go one further? A service that streams movies, TV shows, music and games, all for one monthly fee? The first tech giant to get that service sewn up will be sitting pretty. 

4)    What is the most annoying thing about PR people, other than the usual “hi, did you get my press release”!

Without a doubt, it’s when PRs call me to tell me that they are going to send a press release. Just send the release. If it’s interesting, I’ll follow up. I also hate it when I am promised an interview with a CEO or entrepreneur and the PR hasn’t actually checked if the person is available.  

5)    What’s the best thing about the good ones?

The best PRs research the publication they are pitching to and make sure that their release/pitch is tailored to it. Journalists are often busy/lazy/both. If you can tell them exactly why they should be writing about your client, how it’s relevant to their audience, and what a possible topline/topical spin will be, you’re ten times more likely to get their attention.  

6)    MT’s tagline is ‘not just business as usual’ if you had to rebrand, what would you change it to?

If I could rebrand, I’d change the magazine name, if I’m honest. ‘Management Today’ sounds pretty dry and doesn’t reflect the breadth of content we create. I’d go for something like ‘It’s The Business’. It’s cheesy but in a way I like. 

7)    Where did the name @Sparky000 come from?

Ah, Sparky was a nickname when I was a teenager and back in the early days of AIM and ICQ, that was my handle. Even now I’m a grown up business journalist, I can’t quite let it go. I’m a hoarder, even of monikers. 

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