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...

Rebuilding FIFA’s broken reputation

Days after being elected FIFA president for a fifth term, Sepp Blatter resigned. You don’t have to be too much of a cynic to expect some ‘revelations’ in the coming weeks and months. 

Blatter’s re-election caused substantial damage to an organisation that has had a well-earned and major reputational issue for years.

Football fans, the media and those with a keen eye have long questioned the actions of football’s governing body, calling it to account for corruption, bad decisions, and human rights issues around Qatar’s World Cup construction. Two PR agencies withdrew from a pitch process to represent FIFA in 2014, so toxic is the...

COSTLESSNESS: WHAT HAPPENS WHEN COMMUNICATION IS FREE TO SEND AND RECEIVE

Before the 1990s it cost money to send and receive information. Letters had to be typed by specialists, put in envelopes and stamped. PR firms used messengers to deliver urgent items to media offices. Companies employed typists; senior people, who were never expected to type, were given Personal Assistants. Philips calculated the cost of a letter (£3) and used this shocking figure to promote sales of dictation machines.

If you wanted to receive information you had to pay for it: you bought a newspaper, maybe several, and you subscribed to professional, trade and technical titles which usually arrived by post. If you worked in the City you paid high prices for timely information from...

Defining PR and digital

The worlds of PR, digital and technology have been converging for years and professionals that haven’t already realised and embraced this are on the back foot. The communications industry may have shied away from technology and digital in the past but there’s no avoiding it now. Marketing and IT departments are becoming symbiotic. Responsibility for social media often sits with...