Monthly Archives July 2014

Reputation matters but in whom do we trust?

Smoking posterAsk most people in PR about the reputation of tobacco industry and you’re likely to get a wide variety of answers, most of which will border on the negative.

The tobacco companies have responded to the clampdown on the public sale of cigarettes through giant health warnings on packets and a steep rise in VAT by publicly talking about the need to find the “safer smoke” for its customers. And this has led to tobacco companies making massive investments in e-cigarettes.

But is this motivated by the desire to wean smokers off smoking or simply substitute one nicotine delivery system for another in order to protect market share and massive profits?

The discussions about e-cigarettes on the blogosphere and in vaping chatrooms is currently dominated by impassioned accounts from former smoke...

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Interview about best practice in marketing and public relations

20140717_084007This is a filmed interview I gave last week to the GTC Group, a leading training and coaching organisation that works with senior executives from emerging and developing countries around the world. In this interview I answer questions about global best practice in marketing and PR, the art of effective audience segmentation as well as how communication professionals can improve the outcomes from their marketing and PR activities. Running time: 15 minutes

 

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Cultural sensitivity can help to increase profits, claims new research

muslim meal timeWith British Muslims celebrating the festival of Eid al-Fitr over the coming days, new research suggests brand owners may be missing out on the sales opportunities presented by this and other cultural events. According to an online poll of 1,000 UK adults by creative agency Haygarth, nearly 30% of Asian or British Asian respondents intend to go shopping for Eid and Ramadan, the month of fasting that precedes it.This amounts to 3% of all UK consumers, leading Haygarth to warn that the retail calendar is becoming increasingly complex because of changing demographics, cultural trends and marketing techniques.

It found another 3% of UK respondents intend to shop for the Jewish festival of Passover, 7% will do so to mark the Chinese New Year, and 2% (or 26% of Asian or British Asians) wil...

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End of 150 years of history as London’s buses go cashless

Omni busEarlier this month Transport for London (TfL) that runs London buses announced they’re no longer accepting cash. TfL said dwindling numbers of passengers using money to pay for their journeys had prompted the change.

Research shows that 99% of customers use Oyster, prepaid tickets, contact-less payment cards or concessionary tickets. TfL says the transition should be trouble free because passengers who have run out of credit on their Oyster card are now allowed to make one more journey.

Mike Weston, TfL’s director of buses, said: “The way our customers pay for goods and services is evolving, so we need to ensure our ticketing evolves too...

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Will Cameron’s shuffling of the pack give Tories a winning hand in the General Election 2015?

davidcameronBritish PM David Cameron is an effective communicator although perhaps not in the same league as Tony Blair. However, Cameron did learn his trade whilst working within the public relations industry as director of communications for Michael Green at Carlton Communications. I remember it well. I once had a meeting with both men. So it’s probably fair to assume that Cameron recognised the PR challenge that was starring him in the face.

The fate of the Tories in winning the next General Election remains in the balance despite the resurgence in the fortunes of the UK economy as evidenced by a recent spate of research and statistics that show Britain’s economy is growing faster than any other large advanced economy this year.

However, until ordinary people start to feel prosperous again,...

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When bankers cry

croc tearsThe recent out of court deal between US authorities and the French bank BNP Paribas have raised eyebrows within the global banking community about whether the punishment for providing banking facilities to the totalitarian regime in Sudan is proportionate with the billions of US dollars that the bank must now pay out to settle the matter – equivalent to about a year’s profit.

Perhaps not one of its finest hours, the French bank has been forced to admit helping the Sudanese Government sell oil, clearing proceeds through New York in direct violation of US sanctions.

At that time, Sudanese Government-backed militias in the region of Darfur were massacring innocent civilians on an industrial scale; hardly the backdrop for providing banking facilities and making a handsome profit in the pro...

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Paradise Lost?

BaghdadA thousand years ago the great cities of Baghdad, Damascus and Cairo took turns to race ahead of the Western world. Islam and innovation were twins. The various Arab caliphates were beacons of learning, religious tolerance and trade. That’s a far cry from the state of Arabs today.

As The Economist reports, as Asia, Latin America and Africa advance, the Middle East is held back by despotism and is convulsed by war with Israel, which is a completely futile cause and never likely to create an outcome that the terrorists of democracy dream about.

There needs to be massive resurgence where moderation and the respect for other nations, cultures and religions once again becomes part of the Arab psyche rather than the illiterate and evil doctrine of those who profess to be Muslims and who are simp...

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Evidence of cultural stereotypes holding back innovative new business and marketing opportunities for British companies

halal meatThe recent food labeling controversy where supermarket meat products were halal but not labelled as such threw a spotlight on the choices as consumers we want to make not just about the quality of our food but also the method of its production and manufacture.

We live in a world of infinite choice and it’s absolutely right that as consumers we are given the choice of eating halal or non-halal food which is why labeling is so important.

Taking that one step further, when flying long-haul, many airline passengers will be asked for their food preferences ahead of such a journey and of course many Muslim travelers will choose halal food to be served to them on the flight.

But Muslim consumers are just as discerning in their choice of food as anyone else.

So it won’t come as any surprise that...

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What the arts can learn from sport when it comes to sponsorship

QB15This isn’t a one-way street of course. There’s a lot that sports can learn from the arts – for example creating unique experiences that reach desired audience and customer segments in a precise way that’s memorable and doesn’t suffer from ‘sponsorship clutter’ that often afflicts much bigger property types such as a premier league football club.

However, the arts sector needs to become much more commercially savvy in helping itself achieve anything like the success achieved by sports rights owners over the last 40 years that has generated billions in support of sports and entertainment that relies on sponsorship income for its existence.

Earlier this week, UK arts charity House of Illustration opened its doors as the world’s first gallery celebrating illustration in all its f...

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