Archive for July, 2012

Athlete Twitter Fans and The Olympic Effect

Monday, July 30th, 2012 by Rob Brown

The ‘Olympic’ effect on the social media following of high profile athletes is proving to be quite dramatic. Diver Tom Daley had a substantial Twitter following before the games, but the opening days of London 2012 have seen his following double from a quarter of a million to over 500,000.

The effect isn’t really new or even desperately surprising but it is pronounced.  The sheer weight of exposure that certain athletes receive translates immediately into a large online audience.  The athletes are also very keen to be freed from constraints over what they can say on social networks.  Several athletes have been speaking out over Rule 40, part of the brand policing activity that prevents athletes from mentioning brands that aren’t official sponsors.  Athletes who break the rule can be fined or even disqualified.

The online revolt based around the #wedemandchange hashtag has focused on the fact that many Olympic athletes receive very little income from sport often not enough to support their training. 1500m runner Leo Manzano posted “I am very disappointed in Rule 40 as I just had to take down my picture of my shoes and comments about their performance.”

About Rob Brown

Rob Brown has worked in PR for over 20 years and for over fifteen years held senior PR positions within three major global advertising networks; Euro RSCG, McCann and TBWA. He launched his own business ‘Rule 5’ in MediaCityUK, Manchester in November 2012. Rob is the author of ‘Public Relations and the Social Web’ (2009), blogs for The Huffington Post and is joint editor of ‘Share This Too’ (2013).

Financial services need Reputation redux

Friday, July 27th, 2012 by Jon Clements

Trusting your money to the financial services sector can be a hazardous business these days.

There’s neither time nor space here to explore the length and breadth of the banking sector’s misdeameanors, though the state of bank reputations was candidly addressed in a speech this week by Financial Services Authority Chairman, Lord Adair Turner, who said:

“Trust in banks and bankers has eroded. Three factors explain that collapse: people have come to doubt the economic benefits of financial liberalisation and of much banking activity; they doubt banks’ values; and they doubt whether banks have their interests at heart.”

And he explained that one of the factors leading to the Economist’s “Banksters” front cover (pictured top) was “Poor values and malpractice able to operate on an increasing scale.”

By contrast, the general insurance industry – to its credit – has not burdened itself with the same level of ignominy as banking; though one can never speak too soon: this week, the Financial Services Authority imposed one of the largest ever fines – nearly £0.5m – on a former commercial insurance broker for paying more than £300k of customer’s insurance premiums into the firm’s own bank account rather than to the relevant insurance company. The affected customers found themselves either uninsured or paying the premium a second time to ensure they were covered.

Either way, it’s a shocking situation to leave customers in; such “serious failings”, according to the FSA, led directly to the severity of the fine.

Ultimately, the broker in question has destroyed his reputation, while doing the reputation of the insurance broking sector no favours either.

Reputation begins with the actions an organisation or business takes; if those decisions are unethical and lead to the “poor values and malpractice” Lord Turner alluded to, then no amount of brand massaging or media spin will salvage reputation. When an organisation is satisfied that its processes, practices and corporate governance will stand up to scrutiny, then communicating its brand values will be founded on more than the corporate equivalent of quicksand.

So, while other parts of the financial services sector may take some pleasure in seeing bank bosses squirm in the wake of a scandalous few years’ behaviour, they should also pay attention closer to home.

The Chartered Insurance Institute (CII – disclosure, a Staniforth client), the professional body for insurance and financial services, recently developed an online ethics toolkit to help firms in the sector implement consistent ethical standards.

In terms of instilling ethical business practices and protecting reputation, prevention has to be better than cure. So, while general insurance may have remained mostly unscathed by the self-flagellation of the financial services sector, it can’t be sure that its own Bob Diamond isn’t about to enter stage left.

About Jon Clements

Jon Clements is a Chartered PR consultant specialising in B2B PR, corporate and marketing communications and is the founder of Metamorphic PR.

Connect at:
JonClements

It’s good to talk

Thursday, July 19th, 2012 by Gemma Ellis

HELLO?! The days of inadvertently overhearing your neighbours’ shouty mobile chatter – famously epitomised by Trigger Happy TV’s Dom Joly and his giant novelty telephone – may soon be over if new research from Ofcom is anything to go by.

Evaluating the habits of UK consumers over the past year, the report reveals that more and more people are now using text as their primary form of communication; in 2011, 58% communicated daily via text messages, compared with 47% who made calls.

The revolution is being led by the young, with 96% of 16 to 24-year-olds using some form of text-based application on a daily basis, be that texting or social networking sites.

The fact that communication is changing is hard to dispute. The wide availability and uptake of smart phones will have played a huge role in this. Consumers now have the world at their fingertips and messaging is quick, easy and convenient.

Text can cross continents and time zones without difficulty and even language barriers to a certain extent, with a quick click on Google Translate and similar service providers telling you almost all you need to know.

But I do hope that as we move away from verbal communication the art of conversation isn’t completely lost. Whether you’re thrashing things out or catching up on mindless gossip, sometimes there’s nothing better than the spoken word.

 

Reputation matters for business growth

Thursday, July 12th, 2012 by Jon Clements

How much does corporate reputation matter to business growth today, when most eyes are trained on the double dip recession, the fate of the Eurozone and burgeoning Asian economic power?

Well, it matters plenty, according to business leaders at today’s Insider Growth Through Leadership breakfast in Manchester.

To guarantee a business that grows rather than contracts, having a sound strategy, the right people to implement it, money in the bank (or, maybe more safely these days, under the mattress) and a healthy dose of optimism are all essential. But the value of a good reputation is not to be sniffed at either.

On the Insider panel, Bryan Bodek, CEO of Airline Services noted that a good reputation – embodied by his company’s brand – was powerful enough to persuade customers to pay a 5% premium for services, knowing they could implicitly rely on his company. Mark Buchanan, commercial director at Eco Environments spoke of “never leaving an unhappy customer” even if loss-making for the company, delivering on promises and being aware that the social media revolution leaves bad companies with nowhere to hide from client criticism.

These are wise words from growing companies, expressing sentiments that are sometimes grasped by senior and highly experienced business leaders – such as Bob Diamond and Rupert Murdoch – only in retrospect.

According to a 2008 reputation report from Coutts, there’s a Japanese proverb that says: “the reputation of a thousand years may be determined by the conduct of one hour.”

Which is why protecting your corporate reputation is a full-time job. Including weekends.

About Jon Clements

Jon Clements is a Chartered PR consultant specialising in B2B PR, corporate and marketing communications and is the founder of Metamorphic PR.

Connect at:
JonClements

Video That Took 20 Years Gets 1m Hits in a Day

Friday, July 6th, 2012 by Rob Brown

A video that lasts just 3 minutes and 47 seconds, but was 20 years in the making, has become the latest YouTube sensation.  Thirty two year old Jeremiah McDonald from Maine has an on screen conversation with himself, aged 12.   It’s touching, confounding and somehow ‘zeitgeisty’ all at the same time.

The juvenile Jeremiah knew what he was doing and intended to create a conversation with an older self, he just hadn’t envisaged waiting twenty years “I wasn’t thinking that far ahead when I was 12. Just long enough so that there would be a noticeable difference, as there was when I hit puberty not too long after”.

It would be easy to consider this a fluke but actually it works because Jeremiah is both an actor and a talented film-maker, just not particularly well known; until now.

About Rob Brown

Rob Brown has worked in PR for over 20 years and for over fifteen years held senior PR positions within three major global advertising networks; Euro RSCG, McCann and TBWA. He launched his own business ‘Rule 5’ in MediaCityUK, Manchester in November 2012. Rob is the author of ‘Public Relations and the Social Web’ (2009), blogs for The Huffington Post and is joint editor of ‘Share This Too’ (2013).