Press release of the month: Cable & Wireless Worldwide

This month I’m looking at a press release I received on 9th February from CHA PR. Here it is:




09 February 2011: Over 42 per cent of UK business people admit to having checked or written emails when on a telephone conference call, while 35 per cent have doodled and three per cent have even fallen asleep, according to research from mission critical communications provider Cable&Wireless Worldwide.

In the UK our concentration and focus on telephone conference calls begins to wane after an average of 23 minutes, but on a video conference call or in a face-to-face meeting our attention span rockets to 35 minutes, putting us on par with Singaporeans who report the longest concentration time on a video conference call at 37 minutes. Interestingly, on regular one to one phone calls the average focus in the UK is just nine minutes, a figure the Germans put to shame with the ability to concentrate for over 16 minutes.

It’s not just those from the UK who have a tendency to lose concentration on a conference call. Over 46 per cent of all respondents from Germany, India, Spain and Singapore check or write emails, while on average 43 per cent surf the net, 17 per cent doodle and 11 per cent have even made another phone call.

Cable&Wireless Worldwide provides telephone and video conferencing solutions to large national and multi-national companies and UK Government departments.  It estimates that the use of managed video conferencing (MVC) saves customers at least 25 per cent on their travel costs. The number of video conferencing units being deployed to customers has increased by 34 per cent over the last 12 months. Internally, Cable&Wireless Worldwide uses managed video conferencing extensively, clocking up over 1.2 million minutes across the business in 2010 with usage increasing 36 per cent in the last six months alone.

Video conferencing and face to face meetings also tend to bring out the image-conscious in us with two thirds of people in the UK saying they would put more effort into their personal presentation by wearing smart business attire, while a third would smile more. Just over 10 per cent of 16-24 year olds would even practice in front of a mirror before!

“It’s fascinating to see the different behaviours prompted by audio and video conferencing,” says Matt Key, Managing Director, Enterprise at Cable&Wireless Worldwide. “Both telephone and video communications have an important role to play, particularly in the workplace. However this research clearly shows that telephone conference calls are best suited for a shorter conversation while video conferencing can ensure that people are focused for longer.

“It seems video calls are better for discussions where it is important to not only hear what is being said but also see how people on the other end are expressing themselves. Video conferencing is particularly well suited to greater numbers of participants and meetings where visual props need to be discussed. It also makes the workplace more stylish!”

The Cable&Wireless Worldwide survey also found that almost 24 per cent of people in the UK would be happy to deal with a doctor or health provider on a video call. This number rises to 54 per cent in India while in Singapore more than 36 per cent would be happy to talk to a school teacher through a video call.

Luan de Burgh, a leading voice and presentation coach, says: “The way people present themselves, visually as well as verbally, has an enormous impact. It’s always been the case in traditional face to face meetings but with the increase in the use of high definition video conferencing in the workplace and personal video calls, people need to consider how they look on screen as well.”


Cable&Wireless Worldwide conducted a survey with over 4,800 consumers and business respondents in the UK, India, Spain, Germany and Singapore about their communication methods and habits.

Luan de Burgh who has lectured on the prestigious voice studies course at the Central School of Speech and Drama and is a leading voice and presentation coach.

Now, I’m going to disappoint you and admit that I think this is a very good press release. I wouldn’t really expect anything less from CHA – they’re a bright bunch who I deal with frequently and who by and large hit the mark with their press releases and pitches. So, what do I like about this press release?

– I can’t spot a single error of spelling, grammar, maths or fact, so I can focus on the point they’re making

– they make that point clearly and directly, with some good, solid stats to support it

– they give some vivid examples that I (and more importantly my readers) can identify with: who hasn’t checked e-mails or come close to falling asleep on a conference call? (Just me? Well I’ve been on some truly dull conference calls!)

– the subject is entirely relevant to me and the titles I write for, and they’ve found an interesting way of promoting their client’s services

Good job, CHA. A final comment on surveys….

People on my copywriting course often ask about the use of surveys in press releases and I think they’re a useful tool, which can help to add credibility to a point. However I offer a few caveats:

– the survey has to be credible; this means it’s conducted by an impartial third party and it involves a statistically relevant sample

– be careful with numbers, especially percentages; they don’t come easily to us wordy types, but we do need to make sure they all add up

– avoid tedious comparisons between regions and countries; I can understand the need to include regional comparisons if you’re sending the release to local media as they are popular with those titles, but I would steer clear of using your survey results to reinforce tired and irrelevant national stereotypes

How did this press release fare against those criteria?

– 4,800 is a good sample, but C&W did it themselves which makes me question how far I can trust these figures

– as far as I can see C&W and CHA have got their maths spot on

– is it really interesting that, according to this survey, Singaporeans and Germans can concentrate for longer than Britons? I don’t think so.

I’d be interested to know your thoughts on this press release and on the use of surveys in general. Do you agree with my caveats? Are there others you would add? Do you think conference call concentration could make it as an event in the 2012 Olympics?

1 Comment

Filed under PR, Writing

One response to “Press release of the month: Cable & Wireless Worldwide

  1. Thanks for the kind words Alex! Unfortunately we can’t take the credit for this one aside from sending it out to a few relevant journalists. All the praise should go to the Cable&Wireless Worldwide in-house team, who put together the project and prepared many tailored versions of the release to suit different publications.

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