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The Man Who Ignored Technology & Saved The World

Traveling in London (1)
Image credit: rt.com

Technology systems are an integral part of modern business life, providing us with constant, useful data, however data needs proper analysis and interpretation to be reliable and useable. The best results are achieved with a combination of the effective analysis of good data, human intervention and intuition to instil a reality check in order to arrive at accurate conclusions.

In 1983 the Cold War was at its peak and tensions were running high between the Soviet Union and the USA. Only a few weeks previously the Soviets had shot down a Korean passenger jet, killing all 269 aboard, including many Americans. The Russians were wary of US President Reagan’s “Star Wars” system and feared a pre-emptive American strike.

On 29th September Lieutenant Colonel Stanislav Petrov of the Soviet army reported for his shift at the Soviet nuclear early warning centre. This was to be an extraordinary night.  For a few minutes Stanislav Petrov was to hold the fate of the world in his hands and his calm and intuitive interpretation of data was to avert a nuclear catastrophe.

System Reports Missile Attack on Russia

Just after midnight, the early warning system reported the Americans had launched a missile attack on Russia. All the systems bar one pointed to an American attack. Petrov had an instinct that it was a false detection, partly as he had not received visual confirmation.

He decided to wait before confirmation, and he reported a false alarm to his superiors instead of alerting command headquarters to an attack, which would doubtless have set in motion a retaliatory nuclear strike. Petrov retained his composure as alarms blared and lights flashed with increasing warnings of an attack, trusting his instinct that the warnings were false.

Fatal Warning Down to Technical Glitch

This was a dereliction of duty and breach of regulations by Petrov, the logical and safe thing for him to have done was to have passed on the responsibility and reported the attack up the chain. He later said that he feared that “as I was the first source of this information the danger was that as soon as I made a decision that this rocket is real, the rest of the chain of command could have been hypnotised by my conclusions. It’s like the cockerel crowing, the first cockerel in the village crows and the others all follow.”

After an agonising wait of ten minutes, relief came as the over-the-horizon radar systems confirmed that the alarm was false. Bizarrely, the false detection had been created by a rare alignment of sunlight that had reflected via the Earth into the satellite lenses.

Intuition Saves The Day, Not Technology

Computers can misinterpret information and report in error. That’s why all systems need a Petrov to analyse and say “hang on a minute”. It’s the kind of fine nuance of thought uniquely available to the human brain. Petrov had the intuition built up through knowledge and experience to question the information he was receiving. If a computer had been responsible for pressing the button there would have been dire consequences.

Petrov’s dilemma applies to the search for effective opinion leaders in the technology, pharmaceutical and other industries. A web search/algorithm can trawl for and arrange publicly available data, but can it spot through informed intuition whether alarms and flashing lights are real or fake? For that you need the skill of a team which not only understands how to programme the computer, but also how to interpret the social nuances of the world and its interconnecting relationships.

And as for the man who arguably saved the world? Petrov’s superiors treated him with the suspicion accorded a soldier who disobeys orders, he was reprimanded and took early retirement from the army soon after that fateful September night.

In today’s data-driven world it is important to question and discuss the information provided, with creativity, data and intuition proving the winning mix.

Petrov has since passed away, but his legacy lives on.

At brookscomm we have over 20 years of PR & marketing expertise and a proven track record of providing an integrated, measurable PR and Digital marketing strategy. We can help you boost your business. Email hello@brookscomm.com or call us on 01483 537 890. 

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Advice On Creating Successful Events

Oscar Wilde (1)

We have held hundreds of media events for clients in differing industries over the past three decades. Here are some top tips for creating a successful event.

Visualise your goal

What do you want to achieve? Knowing and understanding what media coverage you want to gain helps you define your target audience, timescales, budget, impacting choice of venue and style of event. Do you want to create a buzz and raise awareness of a new product or service, improve media relations, increase coverage in a niche sector, or increase sales in a specific timeframe?

Research

Before finalising details of an event, ask yourself “Does this event clash with another? Could there be travel disruptions? Is the venue easy to access? Are the acoustics good?” Put yourself in the shoes of the journalists you are inviting. Will the choice of date and venue be appealing to your target media?

Focus on your audience

Do you want to attract niche or mass market media? The demographics of your desired audience and the platforms to which you want your content shared will decide the key influencers, bloggers and journalists you need to target. Along with invitations, provide detailed timings and story outline to the potential attendees.

Preparation is key

Do as much preparation before the event as possible. Ensure collateral e.g. banners, press releases, goody bags, name tags etc. are organised in advance. To reduce the possibility of technical glitches, check the WiFi and that the venue has the necessary equipment.

On the day

To maximise brand coverage across the media, ensure attendees are aware of any relevant hashtags. It’s important to ensure the venue is well lit to allow for photo opportunities. Make sure you connect with all attendees. Key influencers unable to attend are important, so you might be able to follow up with individual meetings with them. Taking an interest, knowing and understanding each journalist and blogger’s style, areas they cover and how they prefer to be contacted are important. This level of personalisation means that you are more likely to achieve success. Good relationships with journalists and bloggers make it more likely that they will want to work with you in future.

After the event

Journalists and bloggers are busy. Following up afterwards is vital, allowing journalists to ask questions and giving you relevant feedback for future events.

To summarise:

Establish your goals, conduct your research, prepare, maximise exposure and follow up.

Organising successful events, developing strong media relations and providing a high return on investment can be a daunting task. brookscomm has extensive knowledge and experience of co-ordinating events globally. Regardless of budget, we can introduce or increase awareness and media profile of your product or service, successfully attracting positive coverage in target publications.

Email: chaz@brookscomm.com or call us on 01483 537890.

Follow us @PRexpertsUK   Linkedin: brookscomm  Website: www.brookscomm.com