Today Programme’s Jim Naughtie stood corrected this week when he credited Ed Miliband with coining the term ‘omni-shambles’ after he used it in PMQs to describe the Tories monthus horribilis. It was of course comedy writer, Armando Iannucci, who came up with the great summation in his painfully funny political satire, The Thick of It. So there is nothing new under the soundbite sun after all it seems but I’m wondering what does this say about art and politics when a piece of satire is hijacked by the brunt (or equivalent ) of the satirist’s joke. Does it make the joke even funnier or the reality even more tragic? Probably a bit of both I suspect. Does Ed have his finger on the pulse of popular culture or is his level of self-awareness so low that he can’t see what Iannucci’s mirror is reflecting. Or perhaps he just has a great self-deprecating sense of humour. Or perhaps, more likely, the sound-bite machine and LHQ racked their brains, had a brainfart and spat it out – oh how they must have giggled at the irony! Almost reminds me of a scene from a TV programme, what’s-it-called… ah yes, The Thick of It.
ps. LOVING Twenty Twelve on BBC2 on Fridays; The Thick of it for those with a more delicate disposition and who are adverse to proper swearing. Brilliant.
Another week, another Friday and that means another edition of our team’s Friday Fiver. This week, we have money-printing banks, Twitter-banning broadcasters, Newsnight-debriefing and Good week/Bad week. Thanks to our contributors DC, EJ, Hendog, and Josh-ua. Enjoy!
RUNNING OUT OF PAPER… It’s becoming increasingly hard for the Bank of England to convince people of the value of QE. As Fraser Nelson argued in the Telegraph, the Bank has gone a little quiet on their original reasons for launching QE which isn’t helping – nor is the fact that the links between QE and growth aren’t being articulated clearly, if it all. Yet at the same time, IHS’ Howard Archer is already predicting QE4 for May.
There's more of this in the games room
Source: Creative Commons/mtsofan
What the bank faces then is a PR challenge (as well as the frankly odd problem that they may run out of govt bonds to buy). If they believe QE4 is needed, then they’ve got 3 months to convince a sceptical media and public why it’s needed – expect Mervyn King’s quarterly inflation report next week to begin that process.
In the meantime, hats off to Stephanie Flanders last night for managing to explain what QE actually is and does – that may well be a first
SKY’S SOCIAL MEDIA COMMANDMENTS…
Thou shalt not repost non-company tweets
Thou shalt not re-tweet rival journalist or people on Twitter
Thou shalt not tweet someone else’ beat other than your own
Thou shalt pass breaking news lines to the news desk before posting them on social media networks…
The Guardian reported that the greater powers at the broadcast station stamped down their feet, and banned journalists from reposting tweets not relating to the company. Contentious guidelines even include the warning to Sky News employees not to retweet rival reporters.
The latest development raises once again, the debate on ownership of Twitter accounts, corporate or otherwise and how a brand can be represented and equally, mis-represented on social media through its employees.
The interesting question here is whether the guidelines will be applied to other parts of News Corp’s network, and more importantly Murdoch’s own account.
NEWSNIGHT DE-BRIEF…On Wednesday, members of the FPS team attended a Gorkana event with Newsnight’s deputy editor Shaminder Nahal and planning producer Samantha McAlister to hear how the show is put together and what the team are looking for when it comes to content and guests.
For those of you with a Gorkana PR log-in, there’s a detailed summary of the event here.
Looking through our notes from the event, a number of points jump out:
The show has an average audience of 800,000 but this can jump significantly in a big news week. For example, at the height of the phone hacking scandal, 1.7 million people were tuning in
Those involved in the production of the show, are incredibly passionate about their work
Jeremy Paxman is apparently a joy to work with, although perhaps unsurprisingly, he is very challenging and demands a lot from those he works with
Source: Creative Commons/Ric_James
It’s a trend we have noted before, but was one that was reiterated at the event – business and economics news has become “sexy”. Newsnight’s producers are always on the lookout for people from the City who can explain the world of finance and its wider importance to the viewer.
The show’s producers left us with the thought that Newsnight is an opportunity to set the record straight or to put across a new or important view to the nation’s opinion formers. It’s not for everyone, but for those willing to take on a challenge, there are a few more prominent slots.
On the subject of setting the record straight and BBC flagships… The embattled chief executive of RBS, Stephen Hester, addressed his critics this week and the interview is a must listen.
GOOD WEEK/BAD WEEK…Credit where credit’s due, Ed Miliband has had a very good week. To be precise, Ed Miliband had an excellent PMQs. Yes, David Cameron had a very bad PMQs. His aggressive, impatient responses to Miliband’s patient line of questioning confirmed the accuracy of his likeness to Flashman ‘literature’s most famous bully’. Public bullies don’t tend to make popular Prime Minister’s. Just look at what happened to Gordon Brown:
Miliband on the other had a bit of an open goal when it came to the NHS. Even the influential ConHome has urged Cameron to #dropthebill, so to speak. The softly, softly approach worked well for Miliband though and importantly, his line of inquiry on the NHS was consistent. Cameron’s increasing frustration at having to give the same weak lines and limp backing to his struggling Health Secretary, amplified Miliband’s taunt of ‘calm down dear.’ It was typical of the bad luck Mili E has suffered with broadcasters that the news of Harry Redknapp’s court case emerged at the same time as PMQs, therefore minimising the impact of this little victory. Cameron’s an incredibly savvy dispatch box performer and will be increasingly wise to it, but if Miliband can continue to draw out Flashman Cameron he may enjoy more success in the opinion polls.
MORE BAD NEWS…Headlines have been dominated by the arrest and trial of ‘rogue’ trader Kweku Adoboli who is accused of unauthorised trading which cost his employer – Swiss bank UBS – about £1.5bn. However, a potentially more interesting story that has come to light in recent days is the sheer scale international investigation into manipulation of Libor – the interest rate used for inter-bank lending. Regulators in Japan, the UK, the US and Europe have been investigating the scheme since at least March 2011, and have now implicated employees at a number of major financial institutions. Analysts had long been suspicious that financial institutions were covering up the size of their borrowing costs during the depths of the financial crisis in 2008.
The increase in intranational prosecutions and international regulatory collaboration has also highlighted differing standards about what constitutes corporate crime. Many American investors were surprised at the British Financial Service’s Authority decision to fine hedge fund manager David Einhorn for insider trading because his actions would not have been considered unlawful in the US. British authorities generally cast a much wider net when investigating white-collar crime but are perceived to have a miserable record when it comes to prosecutions. By contrast, their American counterparts have a narrower definition but pursue cases with vigour, even if that means crossing international boundaries to do so.
It seems likely that more cases of this nature will emerge in the coming months, especially if Eurozone crisis continues to destabilise international markets.
This is the last time in 2012 I say this – Happy New Year! I hope you all had a good Christmas but now it’s done let’s look forward to what will no doubt be a memorable year, in many ways, most of which Dr Doom will relish, but many of which are truly historic. Here is our first fiver of the year.
Probably the best recovery of any opposition party in history
So the Labour Party hasn’t had the best of weeks. In fact on Thursday it really didn’t have the best of days. Firstly, Lord Glasman, adviser to Ed Miliband, gifted the tories and the so-called ’Miliband hunters’ in the Labour Party with a stinging critique of the Labour leader’s, err, leadership. Shortly after this excitement, Diane Abbott kicked up a storm over comments she made on twitter, later interrupting an interview on Sky News to take a call from Ed Miliband himself, who proceeded to give Abbott a ‘severe dressing down.’ The icing on the cake was a leaked strategy document script for broadcast (according to Labour HQ), which is worth a read, if you haven’t already (P1 & P2), and yes, it does include those fateful words in the above subtitle.
Count the cars
No doubt you’re bored of hearing about Europe and the mess our inter-dependent economies now find themselves in. The simple fact of the matter is, the problems are not over, and 2012 is set for more of the same.
Singing a different tune at the end of 2011 however, Sam Jones, the FT’s Hedge Fund Correspondent penned an intriguing piece about the lengths hedge fund managers go to find out what they are investing in. The crux of the article was that all may not be quite as rosy as it seems in the East and that problems may lurk within the Chinese economy. Hedge fund managers have dispatched intelligence gatherers to factory gates to “count the cars” and ensure official figures match realities on the ground.
The article also linked to a video of hedge fund manager Hugh Hendry dating back to 2009 on a jaunt amongst seemingly empty Chinese skyscrapers pondering who is actually going to rent these steel giants. Both the article and the video are worthy of five minutes of your attention.
Top 50 Most Valuable Brands in China
Moving seemlessly from empty skyscrapers to those who might fill them.
Click on the image – Simples!
Old hacks new tricks
After tweeting this in error, Sky’s crime correspondent Martin Brunt gave a quick lesson in how to shut down an embarrassing moment with this swift response.
A precise report which helpfully landed in our inbox earlier today revealed the following:
Who ‘owns’ your company’s Twitter followers?
A US firm is suing a former employee who took 17,000 Twitter followers with him when he left the company. PhoneDog Media is seeking damages of up to USD370,000 from Noah Kravitz after claiming the costs and resources invested in its followers and fans were substantial. Kravitz speaks to TheDroidGuy about the dispute and says the company never asked for the Twitter account back and suggested he could tweet on its behalf. In contrast, PhoneDog president Tom Klein says the Twitter account was created to promote PhoneDog content and to give fans a chance to follow Noah ‘as a representative of the company’. The New Statesman says the case could have far-reaching legal implications regarding the value of social media and its users and how intellectual property law has adapted to the emergence of social media. The outcome could also influence how companies choose to use and invest in such technology in future.
It is an interesting development, and follows (to some extent) the debacle around Twitter account ownership of Laura Kuenssberg, who you may remember, moved from the BBC to ITV taking some 60,000 followers with her. The central question (or one of them) being are you following the tweeter due to the specific interest you may have in them as a person, or because of the inherent brand association they enjoy thanks to their role i.e., were you following Laura Kuenssberg, or the BBC ‘s Chief Political Correspondent?
Hello all and happy Sunny Friday. It’s a good thing the rays are shining outside, because things are still looking decidebly wintery for the global economy. The Fiver touches on this issue this week as you’d expect, but we’ve also comments on Ed Miliband’s speech at the Labour Party conference and we profile some of the work we’ve been doing with Aviva. Thanks to Sallie, Ed, Jonathan and Joey.
Towards anomie? The human cost of the Greek crisis…..Yet another round of crisis talks were required this week to try and resolve the seemingly irretraceable problem of European sovereign debt and avoid a situation where Greece defaults on its financial commitments. Needless to say, further funds have been made available to help prop up struggling nations. In a fascinating piece for Newsnight, Paul Mason went beyond the bailouts to examine the human cost of Greek debt. The Newsnight broadcast can be found here and we’d encourage you to watch it.
The Greek economy continues to burn (Image: Belfast Telegraph)
The message to take away from the piece was that Greek society is in a fragile condition. Young people expect nothing from the state and are understandably disillusioned by the situation they find themselves in. This sense of betrayal extends beyond the nation’s youth and up into many middle class families. Mason’s report refers to the potential for anomie – not a word we were familiar with – which describes the worrying potential for a breakdown of social norms. It’s all too easy to see events through the big picture prism of the EU politicians and German parliamentary debates but it is worth sparing a thought for those who face the consequences of these decisions.
Choose your leader…..A leader in waiting addressed the Labour Party conference this week. He looked unassuming, strode the stage with confidence and was greeted with a standing ovation…..Step forward Rory Weal, the 16 year old who took Liverpool by storm, enthusiastically embraced by the actual leader Ed Miliband, who some might argue could learn a thing or two from the young man.
Labour found a new star this week, but Ed Miliband's speech was hampered by technical difficulties (Image: Daily Telegraph)
In recent days, I have read an increasing amount of commentary on the relative inability of Labour and its leader Ed Miliband to cut through to the media and by default, reach the public. Those I’ve spoken to have suggested that in opposition, Labour just weren’t prepared for the lack of column inches they would get. A problem exacerbated by the presence of Liberal Democrats as the main agitators to Government by virtue of their, albeit limited, status as coalition partners.
Two articles particularly caught my eye: Dan Hodges posted on Labour Uncut Time for Labour’s flat earthers to get real, an insightful commentary of Labour’s self perception as being too right wing, when in fact, the contrary is true; I’d thoroughly recommend reading it. Most I’ve spoken to have said this is spot on. So I was interested to read this morning on FT’s Westminster blog about Labour’s attempts to re-engage with business, an area most would associate with those on the centre-right of the political spectrum. Not a prawn cocktail offensive on the scale of the mid-nineties, John Denham (Shadow Business Secretary) is keen to establish, but it is telling to see Labour’s recognition of the need to rebuild credibility with this audience.
I suppose acknowledging the problem is the first hurdle to remedying it. Others would argue Labour needs to go much further in acknowledging the extent of the problem(s). However, engaging business is wholly necessary if Labour are to hold the Government to account more effectively and longer term, be a credible alternative to the Coalition.
Business too should not ignore the importance of engaging Labour given they’re currently undertaking a policy review, their role in holding the Government to account and the fact that they will in time, be an alternative to Government.
As highlighted by PoliticsHome’s Dot Commons’ Diary, Ed Miliband himself was at pains to thank journalists for their kind words following his wedding day. In Social Care, he seems to have found an issue to generate media traction. It will be interesting to see whether he can take this form into business and economic issues.