Shocks & Stares » AV http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/shocksandstares H&K\'s Financial & Professional Services Team Blog Tue, 19 Mar 2013 08:00:56 +0000 http://wordpress.org/?v=2.9.2 en hourly 1 Haters Gonna Hate http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/shocksandstares/2013/03/haters-gonna-hate/ http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/shocksandstares/2013/03/haters-gonna-hate/#comments Tue, 12 Mar 2013 09:14:28 +0000 Daniel George http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/shocksandstares/?p=817

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.

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FPS’ Friday Fiver http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/shocksandstares/2011/05/fps-friday-fiver-4/ http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/shocksandstares/2011/05/fps-friday-fiver-4/#comments Fri, 06 May 2011 13:22:55 +0000 David Chambers http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/shocksandstares/?p=104 Yes, it’s back. After a break for the Easter holiday, some glorious weather and that dress, we return with the Financial and Professional Services team’s Friday Fiver. We also have a fresh contributor this week, our new regulatory and government expert, Melanie Worthy. Other pieces this week come from regulars Ed Jones, Ross G, Karen and myself.

Crunch time for RBS and the FSA…The Treasury Select Committee and the FSA announced this week that they’ve asked City heavyweight Sir David Walker and lawyer Bill Knight to conduct an independent review of the report the FSA is producing into the failure of RBS. They will examine whether the report fairly reflects the findings of the FSA’s investigation of RBS, as well as analysis of its own regulatory activities.

Sir David Walker - charged with reviewing the demise of RBS (image from guardian.co.uk)

Walker’s unique attributes of being both a credible City figure plus a trusted Government adviser make him an obvious choice for the role. His track record helps too – he has headed Government enquiries, such as in 2009 when he examined governance at the big UK banks.

Just as well then, as he’s going to have his work cut out. However “complex” the issues were, as the FSA cites somewhat reluctantly, there will be strong media interest and expectation for answers as to the causes of RBS’ demise; the excessive cost to the public purse from bailout; and the wider malaise that played out across the banking sector as the financial crisis ensued.  Whilst Walker and Knight tread through a minefield to avoid the legal conflicts to RBS employees, they’ll be mindful of the need to show teeth and forensic review on both sides of the regulatory fence.

Nick Clegg – Stick or Bust…Most observers of the Westminster Village Ed’s spoken to in recent months have agreed on one thing: May 5th and the outcome of the AV referendum will determine the fate of the Coalition Government. As we’ve said previously, the fates of Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband appear eerily interlinked, with success for one leading to failure for the other. It seems neither will come out of this episode particularly favourably though.

It's not been a vintage week for Nick Clegg

Judging by Chris Huhne’s recent outbursts, it would seem to look more terminal for Nick Clegg, and Ben Brogan was on to something this week when he said Nick Clegg’s body language in PMQs was ominous.

Cameron, demonstrating his exceptional political judgement, was keen to move the story on and talk up the other important work the Coalition has set out. But where can it realistically go from here? If Lords reform is offered as a carrot to the Lib Dems to carry on, it’s highly likely a similar demoralising defeat will occur on it. On the flip side, Lord Knight’s suggestion that an early election to deliver the Conservative’s a majority is intriguing, but given the barriers against this, difficulties over NHS reform and the current state of the economy, this would appear wide of the mark.

Where else can the Lib Dems look?…Given the loss of 300 council seats and a probable resounding no to AV, what will be telling in the coming days is how the Lib Dem rank and file respond to defeat. Paddy Ashdown has already launched an attack at David Cameron, and Clegg may well be hoping that this and other attacks distract party members from aiming their wrath at him.

Clearly, Clegg is going to have to secure some tangible wins for the Lib Dems in order to quell the growing frustration. With this in mind, he may seek to increase the fight for a greater say on health reforms. The Health and Social Care Bill should allow for greater private provider provision of health care, but the extent to which the Tories have wanted to pursue this has caused unease amongst many Lib Dems.

The current pause in the process of passing the Bill and now the increased chance of Lib Dems demanding changes means that private equity firms are going to be increasingly turned off due to the levels of uncertainty around private provision. If the Lib Dems decide to really dig their heels in, private equity firms could lose out on what previously looked like a sure investment.

Exchange-Traded Funds – the current big thing?…Earlier this week, we enjoyed a fantastic training session with David Yates from Finance Talking. One of things he focused on was the growth of ETFs in recent years. Financial News picked up on this point earlier this week as well, noting the recenty outflow of money from four of the five largest asset managers and into ETFs – the magazine claimed $41.4bn of new money was poured into ETFs in Q1 2011 according to Blackrock.

Not everyone seems convinced though. In today’s FT, Gillian Tett examined the boom in this market, and argued that concerns are building amongst regulators about it. While not as inherently dangerous as the pre-2007 fad for ‘CDOs’, she did note that there are some striking parallels here. Clearly, others are still a big fan of them though, as FT Alchemy notes today.

This week's Big Bite was all about the future

Learning about the future…The exciting guest for this week’s FPS Big Bite was Patrick Harris from The Futures Company. He gave us some great insights into the world of futures and left us with an interesting and thought provoking debate.  As Patrick pointed out ‘the future is all around us, it’s just not evenly distributed’. We hope that gets you all thinking as much as it did our team!

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FPS’ Friday Fiver http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/shocksandstares/2011/04/fps-friday-fiver-3/ http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/shocksandstares/2011/04/fps-friday-fiver-3/#comments Fri, 15 Apr 2011 17:24:07 +0000 Edward Jones http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/shocksandstares/?p=79 Nearly the weekend. First, here is this week’s Friday Fiver…

Thanks to DC, Daisy, Rachel and Nick for contributions.

Is the economy looking up?…

Economic figures this week were better than predicted, but is this just a pause for breath before the storm?

Here’s a question for you. If GDP growth is so flat (or even in reverse as it was last winter), then how can it be that unemployment fell according to the latest figures? Wednesday’s announcement from the ONS stated that total unemployment was down from 8% to 7.8%. Here’s another question for you as well. If global commodity price rises (particularly food and oil) are showing no sign of slowing down, then how can it be that inflation fell against most predictions according to the latest figures? The ONS’ figures on Tuesday recorded a drop in the Consumer Price Index from 4.4% in February to just 4.0% in March.

So what’s going on? Well, the fall in unemployment was definitely welcome, but it may be shortlived. The reason for this is the continued fear that new jobs created in the private sector may not be able to keep up with the large redundancies likely being made in the public sector as the government trims spending – it’s a bit like pouring water into a bucket at the top, and it flowing out through holes in the bottom; the problem is, we can’t pour water in fast enough.

And on inflation? Well, it turns out that we can thank retailers, and especially supermarkets, for the slight fall in inflation. According to the ONS, the level of discounting by shops is at an all time high as they try to maintain the flow of customers in through their doors (this might explain why my local Co-op has been running a 50% off wine promotion almost non-stop since Christmas). The question is, how long will these promotions continue to entice consumers? Especially when growth in wages continues to lag behind inflation, reducing the amount of disposable income we have to spend on the high street.

AV your say…

It’s not been a good week for the No to AV campaign with a survey revealing nearly half of the electorate supports the alternative voting system.  The controversial ad campaign warning us that if we vote Yes soldiers and babies will die or, according to Baroness Warsi, make us complicit in the rise of British nationalism, hasn’t deterred 45% from saying they would vote Yes.

Perhaps they should have opted for the slightly cuddlier celeb approach like the Yes campaign whose leaflet proudly lists off celeb supporters including Tony Robinson, Joanna Lumley, Eddie Izzard, Colin Firth and Stephen Fry. Their involvement in politics may be limited, but something they did has worked if 2,199 voters now put the Yes campaign 12 points ahead of the No camp.

Of course if you are in the No camp you won’t believe these results anyway and will view any survey produced by the Yes supporting think tank the Institute of Public Policy Research (IPPR) with immense suspicion. Or you could use the comically Blytonesque phrase ‘dodgy shenanigans’ to sully the Yes campaigns’ reputation as Mr Osborne did this week- accusing them of receiving more than £15m in contracts from the public purse.  And so the mudslinging continues in what has already been an acrimonious debate (sigh) only three weeks to go!

Journalists follow journalists on twitter. But What do they say?…

Two great infographics. Both covered by the Guardian’s datablog. The first was developed by Tony Hirst showing journalists’ following habits on twitter. The infographic indicates journalists tend to prioritise following their colleagues within the same news outlets.

And secondly, Tweetminster have teamed up with the Guardian to produce this infographic on what the UK Media tends to talk about. All fairly intuitive, but it’s interesting to see it broken down.

Above all else we think they both look great.

What price £ducation?…

In those halcyon days pre 1998, going to Uni seemed so much simpler. No tuition fees, plus those lovely maintenance grants you could blow, unwisely, in the union bar. Fast forward to this week and government adviser Professor Theresa Rees labelled as ‘barking’, the system where what you have to pay for your university degree will depend not only on where you study but also which part of the UK you’re from due to differences in devolved funding decisions.

The Department for Business, Innovation & Skills stepped into the fray on Thursday announcing that higher education students attending 83 of their approved ‘alternative providers’ can now borrow up to £6,000 toward the cost of their tuition fees, in an attempt to boost competition.  This is unlikely to leave the mainstream unis quaking in their boots however, with many willing and able to charge the maximum of £27,000 for a three year undergraduate course (bursaries for the under-privileged aside). Given the overwhelming demand for places at these universities, it will take much bigger market forces to make them more self-conscious about their pricing.

When football club owners go offside…


Sometimes you have to feel a little bit sorry for football managers. Whilst the financial rewards are undoubtedly pretty big, so too are the egos of many of your players, the pressures from unrealistic expectant fans and the chances of stress related heart disease. It’s a tough job at the best of times but in an era of billionaire owners is it becoming even more difficult?

Carlo Ancelotti cut a pretty lonely figure on the touchline during Chelsea’s disappointing performance at Old Trafford this week. You’d think he’d be happy given the fantasy football transfer strategy of Roman Abramovich but it seems that increasingly top managers are having to deal as much with boardroom tactics as they are the opposition’s. Like any group of businessmen, this merry band of football club owners is driven by return on investment and throughout many of their careers they’ve a history of calling the shots and generating success.

However investing in sport is arguably a little bit different. Firstly owners, except in the rarest of circumstances, don’t have the underlying knowledge or experience of their respective team managers. Success is to some extent out of their hands and as a result there must be implicit trust in the owner/manager relationship. Each must understand their role and when boundaries get crossed performance is likely to be compromised.

As in many situations, too many cooks can spoil a broth and when owners start interfering in team selection and tactics even the seemingly most appealing of jobs can slowly begin to look like a poisoned chalice.

I’d imagine the majority of football club owners would be less than receptive to allowing their manager to advise them on what stocks or shares to buy or which emerging market might be best suited to their latest investment strategy. Knowing the strengths and weaknesses of both yourself and your workforce is a fundamental in business and the Roman Abramovich’s of this world could do with a bit of reminder.

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