FPS’ Friday Fiver


The horsemen of the apocalypse were heard rumbling across financial markets this week. These developments top the Fiver but we have also found time for social media blunders and an aggressive hand puppet amongst other items. Thanks to Ed, Dave, Jo and Ross for their contributions to this week’s Fiver.

 An uncomfortable ceiling

 The Western world is in trouble again. On both sides of the Atlantic politicians and investors have been fretting about huge, almost incomprehensible amounts of money relating to the indebtedness of governments.

This week was perhaps the most dramatic instalment of the credit crisis since the collapse of Lehman Brothers back in September 2008. It started in the US with Democrats and Republicans at loggerheads over the country’s debt ceiling. Without an agreement to raise the country’s self-imposed credit limit, the US faced the prospect of not being able to meet its debt commitments.

A deal was eventually agreed with compromises and winners and losers on both sides of the political fence. The sums of money involved are truly staggering as the graphics below illustrate. The full graphics can be found here – http://t.co/w7nWFAv

[$100million in one hundred dollar notes]

[$114 trillion - !!!]

For years now we have been talking of these developments in terms of a crisis but to me, the images above suggest a new political and economic reality for government’s of the West. It will be some time before even the world’s richest nation can reduce an overdraft of this magnitude.

Letters from lawyers

Letters from lawyers never seem like an optimal solution to life’s problems, least of all if you’re Newcastle United and Joey Barton is the catalyst. In an interesting article in the Guardian today it is apparent that Newcastle United has sent a legal letter to their players warning them against the use of twitter to comment of club affairs.

[It’s definitely all ok]

Sport, and football in particular is unique, predominantly because of the potency of player power. Contracts are signed in an ever closing window and the stakes are high. What isn’t unique however is the fact football clubs are struggling to grapple with social media, it’s something every business, small medium or large is having to deal with. 

There is however, a relatively simple solution to this, it’s called Social Media Guidelines, and every member of staff is made aware of them when they join the company and reminded of on a regular basis, leaving no room for doubt and entrusting employees to make the right judgements and be good ambassadors for your business. Whilst Newcastle, following Man United’s lead, may have finally found it, a lawyer’s letter is perhaps not the best form of delivery. This week we came across a list of social media guidelines from a wide range of businesses, and it’s worth spending a couple of minutes to see how different companies approach their staff guidelines.

Continuing on the Twitter theme…

Collectively MPs send around 2,500 tweets a week equating to 1,000 hours a year spent tweeting, according to new research by Westminster Public Affairs. Undoubtedly, some constituents will see this as evidence that their MP is a time waster simply spending unnecessary time thumbing messages into their Blackberry. However, these constituents would be wrong.

For those that follow active MPs on Twitter, you quickly build up a personal picture of what they are like – something most constituents struggle with when they think of their MP. Twitter also allows MPs to deliver punchy messaging and highlight their ongoing campaigns; Stella Creasy MP barely writes a tweet without mentioning ‘legal loan sharking’ which allows her to keep up a sustained campaign and certainly builds traction. Whilst old fashioned excellent oratory skills that can be exercised in the House of Commons should be something that all MPs retain, other channels of communication, of which Twitter is one, will increasingly play a influential role.

If you’ve got a message to convey, tweeting alone will not suffice. But, co-ordinated alongside traditional channels, tweeting can certainly bring a personal touch and facilitate previously difficult direct interaction with your audience. John Prescott certainly believes in the power of Twitter:  Just buying a simple all in one fax, printer, copier. Any recommendations? (from 3rd Aug)       

Summer slump

Last week we talked about the ever declining choice of retailers as they struggle against a dire economy. This week it’s the turn of travel companies with the collapse of Holidays 4 U, affecting over 50,000 holidaymakers planning on catching some rays in Turkey. According to experts this is an unusually early time of year for such a collapse but it emphasises the rising costs and change in attitude towards booking holidays.  

[schools are out]

Being in the middle of the school summer holidays, there are likely to be many tearful children and disappointed parents who were looking forward to a week in Bodrum or similar (I on the other hand may have been slightly relieved at spending a week there), and now starts the long wait for refunds and compensation.

For those that are lucky enough not to be going to Turkey or having booked with Holidays 4 U then you might want to have a read of the 2011 guide to holiday money hosted on Visa’s website which includes top tips from around the world on how to save some money to haggling in Marrakesh and tipping in Chicago.

 Good Week/Bad Week…

 Given the turmoil that’s affected markets this week, there perhaps aren’t too many people who’ve enjoyed a good week in the most literal sense. One group who’ve perhaps fared less badly though are workers with final salary pensions. Unlike their colleagues in defined contribution schemes, whose pension pots rise and fall with the markets, their level of benefits remain largely guaranteed regardless of the markets.

On the bad week front, we could probably name half the City, leading politicians who’ve taken a beating for being on holiday during the turmoil, or indeed the aforementioned DC pension holders. Instead though, we’re going to plump for Paul Daniels. The man married to Debbie McGee was the unfortunate victim of one of those rare, (but all too comic) freak accidents that you really find it hard to believe could cause a hospital admission. We could describe it for you, but ultimately, we think this article in the Metro does a pretty good job of it. As an aside, it’s worth following his ‘attacker’ on Twitter as well, purely to see what happens next.


[Sooty's all smiles. Then he turned..]

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