A thousand words: Human curiosity

There’s a lot that goes on outside the walls of H+K. The Shard glimmers in all its beauty in the distance, the construction work of Crossrail beneath and the appearance of a random fluro pink crane hovering over the site occasionally that make us pause from what we were doing at the time, take a deep breath before powering on.

On one innocent Thursday afternoon last week at 5.23pm, news got round that an amorous and extrovert couple could be spotted in a rather compromising position in the yellow building opposite ours. Needless to say the whole of the 4th and 6th floor at H+K ground to a halt as our voyeuristic tendencies got the better of us. Human curiosity (and behaviour) never ceases to amaze.

Friday Fiver

1. Just deserts for Chris and Vicky

From the repeated lies of Chris Huhne and Vicky Pryce during trial, to the sub storyline of Huhne’s fractured relationship with his son, this car crash of a soap opera-like story has been played out in full fanfare under the media spotlight. No one likes to air their dirty laundry in public. Perhaps the eight months sentence the pair faces, will draw an end to this thoroughly modern-day Shakespearean saga. Alternatively perhaps they will use the publicity to secure book deals.

Image source: Flikr

2. Britain loses its fizz

The fizz has officially fallen flat as Champagne has been cut from the basket of goods, alongside Freeview boxes and round lettuces. According to Mintel figures, sales of the bubbly have fallen by more than 30% since the hey-days of 2007, from £1billion to an estimated £690million. Trading in bottles of Champagne, typically around £40, are bottles of white rum which can be bought for a fraction of the price.

3. Sterling stagnation is here to stay

This week the ever-struggling sterling hits a two and half year low. Good news for British investors, bad news for holidaying Brits (of which sadly, I will be one of them).

4. There’s no Pope without fire

On Wednesday, for the first time in 1,300 years, a non-European Pope was elected as head of the Roman Catholic Church. A sea of faces welcomed Argentinian Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio as he stepped onto the balcony to rapturous applause. Bergoglio will now live as Pope Francis and take up residence in the Vatican. A far cry from his one bedroom flat in Buenos Aires…

5. Can women have it all?

An interesting commentary piece in the New York Times written by former CFO of Lehman Brothers, Erin Callan on wanting to “have it all” and failing. This was in response to a heated debate sparked by the launch of Sheryl Sandberg’s new book, “Lean in” – and much of our conversations here in the team as well.

Can women strike the perfect work/life balance and really “have it all” or is it simply about “having enough” and being happy with it? What do you think? Leave us a comment below.

Thanks to @goldtorpedo for contributing to this week’s Friday Fiver

Tweet of the Week

posted by Daniel George

Basilica lion

Image source: Flickr

Given Twitter’s unique ability to latch onto specific issues in the news agenda and flood your feed with jokes about it, it was probably inevitable that this week’s post focused on the papal election. For that I apologise, though the tweet I have chosen is SO INTERESTING it had me looking like the above lion. Well, almost.

Everybody’s favourite former Baby of the House, the Rt. Hon. David Lammy MP gave us all a timely reminder of the dangers posed by absent-minded tweeting. Really, I can’t remember such a good example since Ed Balls’ infamous tweeting of his own name.

Thankfully, Mr Lammy soon realised his mistake and shared the moral of today’s story in the following tweet. It’s a simple lesson that we should all bear in mind, though I rarely tweet from the Chamber myself:

Lesson learned

Haters Gonna Hate

posted by Daniel George

Image source: DeviantArt

Those of you who remember the details of the AV referendum campaigns will surely remember the striking difference between the mass support for the motion on Twitter and the reality of public opinion as evidenced in the poll itself.

It seems that such differences between the opinions of Twitter and the public as a whole are a rather common occurrence. As such, the Pew Research Center last week released the results of a year-long study comparing Twitter’s reaction to events with that of the general public as measured by surveys.

It’s interesting to note that the stereotype that Twitter is a hotbed of liberal opinion doesn’t always hold true. In fact, sometimes, the platform can even be more conservative than the public as a whole.

Rather than seeing the platform in purely political terms, it appears smarter to note one of the fundamental rules of the internet: people will use the platform to vent their frustrations. As such, a good rule of thumb that came out of the research is that Twitter opinion is generally more negative than public opinion. Or, as 3LW so aptly put it in their seminal turn-of-the-century ‘classic’, “haters gonna hate”.

Whilst a US-based study, this is still a pretty instructive reminder of the obvious: that the demographics (and – in my case, at least – self-selecting levels of narcissism) of those tweeting mean that it shouldn’t be taken as the be-all-and-end-all of public opinion. This has obvious implications in terms of campaign research and tracking, where we need to dig a little deeper to discover how people really feel about our brands. However, it’s also useful to bear in mind when a crisis hits and you’re calming down a client who’s feeling a bit vulnerable after a deluge of abuse.

Friday Fiver

posted by jamesdumelow

This week’s Friday Fiver…

1. Pay day loans companies are back in the news again after being labelled by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) as “causing misery and hardship” and having 12 weeks to change their business practices or lose their licences. All in the week that maybe the most famous pay day loans company, Wonga, spoke at a Labour policy meeting on household debt. Personally any action the OFT can take to ban the catchiness of this Wonga advert tune the better!

2. Hugo Chavez died this week as a result of a long term battle with cancer. Some conspiracy theorists allege his cancer was caused by the CIA ; a claim dismissed by the White House as “absurd”. Love him or hate him Chavez was a huge figure on the international stage and what happens now in Venezuela is a big question mark.  However for those Chavez fans out there this is not the last we shall hear of him as according to Iran’s President Ahmadinejad, Chavez will be resurrected along with Jesus. China will be watching developments particularly closely given that the state owned China Development Bank lent Venezuela over $40bn from 2008-2012 ($1,400 for every Venezuelan), a sum I suspect it would rather a post-Chavez administration would not default on.

3. Another country, another story; however the same response from the US government.  North Korea threatened on Thursday to launch a “pre-emptive nuclear strike on the headquarters of the aggressors”. A threat that was met with the response of the week from the US government – “Absurd (and suicidal)”. Meanwhile next door, a better week for the South Korean economy – on Monday the South Korean won depreciated against the dollar to its lowest level since February 12, buoyed on by weakness in the Japanese yen. Good news for those Koreans who have been wishing for a weaker won.

4. Today (Friday) is International Women’s Day, a day of political and social awareness of the struggles women worldwide face.  FPS would like to use the occasion to celebrate its favourite woman and one that faces one of the greatest struggles of our day in her quest for worldwide economic stability – Happy International Women’s Day to Christine LeGarde


  5. Finally, out of deference to Matt Bright and Danny Calogero, our two native Hullians in FPS we will end the week with a few of our favourite bits of Hull lingo from Learning to Speak Ull

  • Ellur, arm from ‘ull - Good morning, I am from Hull
  • Giz a croggie - Request for a ride on the crossbar of a bicycle
  • Gizza pennith ‘gammy fruit - Could I please have some of those bruised apricots

That’s it for the Friday Fiver! Happy Friday and end of the working week.  FPS are signing off and disappearing for Arfa Larga - A smaller glass of beer of continental origin

Tweet of the Week

posted by Daniel George

Image source: Flickr

Welcome back for the second edition of Tweet of the Week. In last week’s post, we saw Noah Smith take the award for pointing out a key piece of wisdom that investors often forget. This time, we’re being educated by @madeupstats.

This account serves to remind us to review stats we come across with a critical eye. Indeed, I’m sure we all obviously thought Annie Lennox was singing about statistics in Eurythmics’s seminal hit Sweet Dreams.

Anyway, in its own way @madeupstats also drops little gems of wisdom along the way that we can all learn from. This week’s winner concerns the perils of QR codes:

There may yet be some hope for QR codes, however. Much like any other tactic, if the rationale for their use is well-considered and the execution is creative, they can really drive engagement and add value to a client’s campaign and business. This example from Bergge Tattoo is a great case in point.

A thousand words: The reality of high-density housing conditions in Hong Kong

We’re starting a new series on the Shocks & Stares blog, looking at some powerful imagery we’ve come across, aptly named “A thousand words” (a picture, painting and all that jazz).

In the high-rise metropolis of Hong Kong, who’d thought housed nearly 80,000 people living in inadequate housing conditions in “cage-homes”, cubicle apartments, roof-top houses and small sub-divided and partitioned units less than 9.3 square meters? According to official stats, underneath its glittering skyline, almost a fifth of the island’s population is now living in poverty.

In a shocking photo series created by the Society for Community Organisation (SoCO), exposes the harsh realities of high-density housing conditions in Hong Kong. A prime example of all that glitters is not gold.

Image source: SoCO via Reddit

Friday Fiver

posted by dannycalogero

Wow, what a week it has been in the FPS team, we’ve barely had a chance to catch our breath! This week the news agenda has been much more serious – not like last week’s horsing around (sorry, couldn’t resist). Here are a couple of the things that have been keeping us busy and entertained over the past seven days

1. Rating GeorgeSo the UK lost its AAA credit rating last Friday, who cares? Well, not that many people apparently. After a brief wobble on Monday morning, the markets shrugged off the downgrade like a hangover from the night before. However, while the downgrade may not have had a major economic impact, its political impact remains to be seen. Rather than assessing the credit worthiness of the UK, it could turn out to be more of a rating on George.

2. Fear and loathing in the Eurozone – Speaking of politics, it has been a big week in Italy. As a result of the country’s inability to form a government, the Vix Index, or, to use my preferred name for it “the fear gauge” (say it in a Jack Bauer style voice), soared by 34%, its largest one-day gain for 18 months and its 10th largest spike since 1990. With this level of impact in the markets, you have to wonder how long it will be before the rest of Europe’s patience wears a bit thin with Italy.

3. Newcomer advantage - The days of long, peaceful reflection and idle doodling in the university library may be long gone, but every now and again you spot a little something which suggests you did indeed learn something from the dusty text books.

Today’s FT reports how Asian banks are turning retail banking business models on their head, skipping branch models and heading straight for new mobile banking services. Oliver Wyman are quoted in the article with research indicating China already accounts for more than 40% of online banking customers.

By skipping years of slow banking evolution, relatively new banks in Asia are establishing themselves as leaders in mobile banking services. In the late nineteenth century, German industries skipped past their more established UK rivals with new production techniques and more modern factories. Ah, Economic History 101…

4. Bonus points – The European Union announced details this week of its plan to cap bankers’ bonuses at twice their salary. Whilst David Cameron was opposed to this, the FT’s Lex Column clearly adopted the “don’t get mad, get round it” philosophy.

5. #Twésumé – But for any banker who is considering a career change, getting a Twésumé sorted will be perhaps be essential. This week The Evening Standard reported that Twitter is playing an increasing role in recruitment with employers ditching the traditional CV in favour of a candidate’s Twitter profile.  The Twésumé (as it has been so cleverly coined) appears two-fold:

  • The generous 140 character biography becomes your selling point. Writing “I love cats and beer” is unlikely to win you any fans (except of course other like-minded individuals)
  • Your Twitter feed must be regular, interesting and offer your opinions on topics rather than just pinching other people’s funnies

Unfortunately, in mine there is little room for anything else beyond Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.

That’s all for this week folks. Thanks to Jonathan Henderson and Linzi Goldthorpe for their contributions. Have a great weekend!

Intern Insights: Do Not Make Cross-Pod Tea

posted by Tess Harris

My name is Tess and I began an internship in the Financial and Professional Services team at H+K strategies last Monday. Intern insights is an account of my ‘FPS first impressions’ (blogger alliteration mastered) and will give my fellow PR wannabes the low-down on interning at H+K.

So here goes…my first day…

I arrived at the Hill and Knowlton offices in Soho Square, dressed up in my best suit, clipboard at the ready and Blackberry in hand. All-in-all I was feeling thoroughly grown-up.  Moments into meeting the team, however, this sentiment was dissipated as word spread around the office that I was a 90s child, and the youngest in the team.

After a whistle-stop tour of the building, I settled down at my desk and tried to make a seating plan of names from the snippets of conversation I could hear. This was made difficult though, as it seemed that everyone in the team was called Claire.

I was then introduced to the workplace jargon. At H+K, groups of desks are called pods and in the FPS team, we have ‘superpod’, ‘squash pod’ and ‘tea pod.’ In honour of my position on ‘tea pod’, and in an attempt to make some friends, I called across the room to see who wanted a cup.

Big mistake. Whilst this might not seem like the biggest of faux pas, I had actually violated one of the most important rules of office politics and four runs to the kitchen later I had learnt the first lesson of my internship:

Unless you want to waste a good hour of your life, you do not make cross-pod tea.

Lesson learned.  I’ve since been able to move on to the real meat of my internship and have already found out so much about the exciting world of PR and communications. In the coming weeks I hope to discuss more intellectual topics– but for today- in honour of my place on ‘tea pod’ – it seemed fitting to focus on the humble hot drink that gets us all through the working day.

Tweet of the Week

posted by Daniel George

The H+K Tweet of the Week Award

Image source: Wikimedia

It’s perhaps predictable given that we work in PR that some of us on the FPS team spend a little more time on Twitter than is probably healthy. To justify my addiction to following people around online I’ve decided to introduce a weekly feature on the blog, celebrating the very best tweets I come across. Hence, the new Tweet of the Week feature Award.

I warn you not to expect a consistent theme as this award runs. The sheer variety of content I come across means that the winners will likely win for really different reasons. Indeed, if I find Zayn Malik the most entertaining or insightful user then he will win, regardless of whether he airs his views on payday loans. This week is simple, however. A simple yet oft-neglected fact won the inaugural award for finance professor, Noah Smith:

This week's winner