Bitter buzz!

Last week Manchester was taken over by a bunch of lemons. Well not literally, but they were strewn across billboards, bus stops and shops. Huge pictures of a single slice of Lemon. But what did it all mean? Besides a clever use of the iconic lemon logo – forever associated with the Stone Roses, the posters didn’t contain a single piece of typography, but they created the kind of buzz that marketers dream of.

An honest conversation with consumers

If any of us have grown vegetables ourselves we appreciate that they rarely come out of the ground or hang off branches in the perfect and flawless shape that we find them in supermarkets. In the past supermarkets have assumed that consumers want perfection – perfectly red apples, polished peppers and bananas that are not too curved.

Graft and grit will gain your goals

It took 132 years, and at the start of the season the 5,000/1 odds were proof that no one expected it. Now Leicester City has done what every small business, entrepreneur and budding sports star can only dare to dream – they not only beat the doubters, they did it in style with a second chance, should they have needed it, against Everton on Saturday. It got me thinking about how belief, commitment and plain hard work can overcome adversity in any area of business. It’s not about smooth talking spokesmen or supposedly random acts of kindness, often grouped under the term corporate social responsibility, it’s about focusing on what you do well, and doing it better than...

Brand suicide or brave move?

Last week Mars issued a warning that some of its Dolmio pasta sauce and Uncle Ben’s rice products should only be consumed once a week due to the high levels of salt, sugar and fat they contain. The food manufacturer is in the process of updating its packaging and website over the coming months to distinguish between ‘everyday’ and ‘occasional’ items as part of its drive to promote healthier living. Surely this is brand suicide and can only result in a drop in sales? Or is it a brave move, allowing Mars to be seen as leading the…

Adapting to environments

The PRCA recently held a thought provoking event on the future of PR at Liquid’s Birmingham office, in which Alison Clarke and Adrian Wheeler discussed their thoughts on the key factors affecting the industry.

One topic that resonated with me was about proposition and going to market, in which Alison discussed her views on the competitiveness of the industry and how agencies should differentiate themselves in order to attract clients.

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Sharapova's ace in drugs crisis

The slick handling of Maria Sharapova’s failed drug test was a textbook approach to managing a bombshell revelation, but it’s the first time we’ve seen it employed as part of a major drugs scandal.

It was a shrewd decision, probably by her management, to handle the media relations by breaking the story herself and fielding media questions. 

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Celebrity scores with charm

Contrary to the old-fashioned view that PR is all about celebrities, parties and Champagne, it’s rare that we come face to face with anyone famous.

But last week I had pleasure of working with former England footballer and current England 21s head coach Gareth Southgate. He was in Guernsey as a guest of one of our clients, Providence. As a relatively new global financial services business in Guernsey, Providence had agreed to be the keynote speaker sponsor for the Awards for Achievement – the island’s biggest celebration of business success.

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Are we really listening?

I recently attended a conference about the future of public relations, which was organised by the Channel Islands branch of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR).

There are many advantages of living in the Channel Islands, but one of the downsides is that we get very few opportunities for on-island, industry relevant, professional development. It’s common for practitioners to go to the UK to attend courses and so it’s real credit to the committee that they were able to bring together some highly experienced professionals and then persuade them to cross the Channel to share their views.

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Taking our place at the table

Many people would scoff at the idea that the public relations industry is positioning itself at the forefront of transparency and ethical practice in business. The reputation of 1980s spin-doctors, with their smokescreens and dubious truth-hiding tactics, stained the profession and still linger in cultural memory. 

The Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR), which represents our industry and sets the standards of PR practitioners’ ethical practice and values, holds a very different view – and rightly so. Its core values of honesty, integrity and transparency underpin everything that the institute does through its engagement with members, training, seminars and code of conduct. 

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PR driving ethics

The PR industry is on an ethics drive. Ethics is a cornerstone of good PR practice. As practitioners we have a governance role to play in helping our clients to make sound decisions. Jason MacKenzie’s manifesto for his CIPR Presidency campaign focuses on professionalism, with ethics being fundamental in achieving this.

As the Volkswagen story rumbles on, it raises plenty of ethical questions. At what stage was it suggested it would be acceptable to fit cars with devices to falsify emissions tests, and was this not challenged? Was there a conversation where Volkswagen discussed whether this was the right thing to do, and the implications? A PR professional’s alarm bells would certainly have been ringing.

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Missing a McWhopper of an opportunity?

Considering its mascot is a clown, McDonald’s has suffered a major sense of humour failure when it comes to rival Burger King’s ‘Peace Day burger’ offer.

To mark United Nations’ International Day of Peace on September 21, Burger King offered its rival a ‘ceasefire’ in the burger wars, working together to create a special ‘McWhopper’ for the occasion.

A ‘100% genuine’ offer, BK suggested “all the tastiest bits of your Big Mac and our Whopper, united in one delicious, peace-loving…

Closing cultural gaps in an instant

With a couple of days to go before our first French exchange student was due to arrive, I started to worry about how we would communicate with her. What would she want to eat? What would we do if she was homesick? Then I thought about the return leg – did I really want to send my 12-year-old daughter to a strange place with people she didn’t know?

 What I hadn’t fully appreciated was that my daughter has been emailing and Snapchatting her ‘penpal’ for weeks without even lifting up a pen and piece of paper. She already knows that her mum speaks excellent English, that she likes chicken with everything, performing on stage, and that she has hot chocolate for breakfast. They have quickly developed the kind of relationship she has with her school friends, all at the...