Shocks & Stares » Media 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 Friday Fiver http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/shocksandstares/2013/03/friday-fiver-12/ http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/shocksandstares/2013/03/friday-fiver-12/#comments Fri, 15 Mar 2013 15:24:57 +0000 Joey Ng http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/shocksandstares/?p=855 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

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Friday Fiver http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/shocksandstares/2013/02/friday-fiver-9/ http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/shocksandstares/2013/02/friday-fiver-9/#comments Fri, 22 Feb 2013 17:47:21 +0000 Edward Jones http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/shocksandstares/?p=741  

Image source: STV

1. FRIDAY FIVER IS BACK!

After a brief winter hiatus, we are delighted to announce that Friday Fiver is back with a vengeance! We’re sorry we went away and we hope you’ll have us back!

2. Blimey… Tax evaders named and shamed by Revenue

This feels like a bold step from HMRC. Will ramp up pressure on the Govt to disclose big business’ tax evasion – as demonstrated by Margaret Hodge’s intervention.

3. Trial by media or trial by jury?

Judging by the number of online mentions of the tragic incident of Reeva Steenkamp’s death, which was close to 1,000,000 on the day of the shooting, it’s hard to detract from the two trials Oscar Pistorius is facing. One in front of the Magistrate’s court and the other in front of the world’s media and the court of public opinion. Nicely summarised in this piece by Daniel Howden and Ian Burrell at The Independent:

“…in many ways his trial began as soon as news of his lover’s death reached the media. The only difference here is that the facts of the case carry a much lower burden of proof. The slow grind of South Africa’s justice system, which barely recognises contempt of court, has been unable to keep pace in the era of social media and rolling TV news. As a consequence, the first disabled global sports superstar has found himself deluged with accusations and insinuations masquerading as facts.”

4. Harry Styles Backs Ed Miliband for PM

This is BIG NEWS! Really big, but begs the question ‘Who do the other members support?’ Perhaps they’re all lefties! Harry is the lead singer afterall. Ok. What about One Direction’s big rivals - The Wanted? They must be true blues. Mumford and Sons? Lib Dems. Definitely. Their love of string instruments, country folk and their urban upbringing must surely indicate a yellow streak.  

5. FPS FATTIES

And a lighter story to end this week’s Friday Fiver, especially for the snack-loving FPS team, and for the myth of the “H+K stone” to be confirmed by a story in the papers this week. Research by The Village Bakery found that office workers are amongst the worst offenders for piling on the pounds – over 6lbs in fact – with cakes and biscuits brought into work by colleagues. This week already, we’ve had homemade cupcakes brought in by the lovely Clare M and the week before, a deliciously moist lemon drizzle cake made lovingly by Liz, Syrian delights and Jersey fudge from the islands. Temptation is just too hard to resist. Pass the biscuit please.

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

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5 things we learnt from the i’s summer party http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/shocksandstares/2012/06/what-we-learnt-from-the-is-summer-party/ http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/shocksandstares/2012/06/what-we-learnt-from-the-is-summer-party/#comments Mon, 18 Jun 2012 17:03:29 +0000 David Chambers http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/shocksandstares/?p=667 Last Thursday Jonathan and I attended one of the ‘i’ newspaper’s regular events for readers at London’s Transport Museum. i’s editor, Stefano Hatfield, gave a speech during the night which discussed both why he believed i had beaten expectations to date (it’s circulation rose again last month) and what the future held for journalism (he maintained that print has a future).

The speech itself was interesting but there were also a number of points of interest that we picked up from the night as a whole:

1. Demographics remain against newspapers: Hatfield talked enthusiastically in his speech about the number of young i readers he heard from and indeed had talked to on the night. Yet to my eyes the evidence painted the opposite picture – most of the audience was over 40 and a large chunk were 60+. The challenge of attracting younger readers to pay for news remains as difficult as ever.

H+K went to the i's summer party last week

2. Maybe people do care about Leveson: For a while now I’ve held the suspicion that most of the general public don’t really care that much about phone hacking, especially given the more immediate focus on financial constraints and employment prospects. However, the most common line of questioning put to Hatfield on Thursday was related to this issue. Granted, the audience was hardly representative (as noted above) but it still made me reappraise my view slightly.

3. Journalism remains alluring: One of the stories Hatfield told on the night was of the waves of work experience and internship requests he gets every day. As he put it, the continued attraction of working in an industry with few prospects, ongoing redundancies and low pay for most is amazing – if only the Government or others could foster a similar buzz around the far more promising and stable engineering and scientific industries then the economy might not be quite so centred on services and the South East.

4. The smallest bits of the paper matter most: If questions to Hatfield about phone hacking were common, then they were closely followed by questions, requests and praise for i’s puzzles, TV listings and entertainment guide. Perhaps too often, the focus on breaking news stories and creating public scandal overlooks the other, much appreciated functions that a newspaper provides its readers.

5. The i may be onto something: To my (admittedly limited) knowledge, the i is the only newspaper regularly holding these kind of events at the moment. For my money, it’s a clever idea to build brand loyalty in a market where ultimately you can be a consumer of the brand for free if you want to be. Newspapers continue to talk proudly about their readers in editorial columns and whenever I meet their journalists, but it strikes me this is no longer enough. In that regard, the i’s holding of these kind of events may be a very smart move – in the interests of fairness I should add that I’m aware of the loyalty route The Times has taken with its Times+ reader rewards programme. It’s a similarly good idea (which I’ve benefitted from) but it doesn’t feel quite as direct and therefore as impactful.

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Newsround – top tips for pitching success http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/shocksandstares/2012/04/newsround-top-tips-for-pitching-success/ http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/shocksandstares/2012/04/newsround-top-tips-for-pitching-success/#comments Fri, 13 Apr 2012 18:17:01 +0000 David Chambers http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/shocksandstares/?p=642 Earlier this month, BBC’s Newsround celebrated 40 years of broadcasting news to children – to put that into perspective, the programme is longer lived than Eastenders, Top Gear and is closing fast on Top of the Pops’ original run. Newsround isn’t an ideal target for all (or even most) PR campaigns, but it does have a fantastic reach and for some pieces of work it’s a cracking target.

To that end, we’ve pooled the collective wisdom of the Financial and Professional Services team to bring you our top five tips on how to get your story on the five o’clock show. Several of us have successfully pitched Newsround over recent years, most recently for Aviva’s Street Dance for Change programme. So here we go:

1. Remember the target audience: Newsround is aimed at 6-12 year olds, which means your story has to be simple enough for a 6 year old to understand, but also complex enough to appeal to a fast-maturing 12 year old.

2. Use the child’s point of view: Again, given their audience, your story needs to take place from a child’s point of view – it’s not good enough simply for it to relate to kids. Street to School was an example of this – informing children about the dangers/issues they face.

3. Yes to celebs, but the right ones: Brad Pitt, Russell Howard and Joanna Lumley are great, but likely mean very little to a 6 year old. Using a celebrity to help communicate a tricky issue can be helpful but it has to be the right celebrity – it’s easy to forget that children don’t watch mainstream TV and films. Choose wisely.

4. Watch CBeebies: Knowing your Tracy Beaker from your Sadie J can be a great help. Selling a story when there’s a similar storyline running on another CBBC show really helps as we’ve found out – just like adults, kids relate to other things they see and read in the media.

5. Remember it’s a TV programme: Like all broadcast media, it really is about giving Newsround the whole package of different elements to support the story – a spokesperson to sit on the couch, a famous face to do something clever, a kickass video for them to show online; ultimately the more you put in, the more you’re likely to get out.

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The acceptable face of economic debate? http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/shocksandstares/2012/04/the-acceptable-face-of-economic-debate/ http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/shocksandstares/2012/04/the-acceptable-face-of-economic-debate/#comments Wed, 04 Apr 2012 11:18:01 +0000 Edward Jones http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/shocksandstares/?p=632 THIS POST IS BY JOSHUA GLENDINNING

Angela Knight, head of the British Banker’s Association, is to step down after five years at the helm of the industry body. Knight has led something of a charmed life in what would be seen by many as an invidious position in an adverse political climate for the financial services sector. While the former Tory MP doesn’t garner respect from all political quarters, she is certainly admired by many within the financial services sector for her ability to speak on behalf of the industry. According to The Guardian, she has given over 800 broadcast interviews, and travelled over 14,000km to and from Brussels alone since 2006. For those working in the City, it has been preferable to have such a shrewd political operator speaking on their behalf rather than having to face the ire of public opinion themselves

Knight’s time at the BBA has been indicative of a broader trend within politics and the media. Despite frequent media brickbats, those within the financial services sector are often far better able to carve themselves positions of political and intellectual authority than many other would-be commentators. Ultimately, the BBA is little more than a lobbying organisation for its members and yet Knight has been able to assume an air of authority within the media which would not be accorded to many others in similar positions.

For example, Unite General Secretary Len McCluskey may have been making political waves this week but he is unlikely to be asked on most news programmes to talk on subjects that don’t explicitly affect his members. (Incidentally, for an interesting insight on the man who appears to have the ability to turn the government and subsequently the public into Corporal Jones from Dad’s Army, listen to Profile on Radio 4). Knight, on the other hand, has been frequently asked to discuss broader social and economic issues, as well as more obvious areas such as the reform of the banking sector.

The financial crisis (or perhaps Robert Peston) has increased public interest in the financial services sector to a level previously unseen. However, outside of personal finance, many commentators in possession of a sufficient degree of technical knowledge are also industry insiders. The adversarial exceptions to this rule (for example, here and here) lack experience at conveying their views to the new audience which has invaded their previously arcane and quiet cloister of political debate. Unlike construction, manufacturing or even many service industries, the products of financial services are almost entirely intangible and the sector is therefore assumed to be too complex or too boring for most people to understand. The upshot is that media discussion is divided between either popular yet infantile anger or sophisticated yet sterile analysis.

‘The acceptable face of British banking’ may not be missed by all, but the reputation she has built for herself is certainly instructive for any company or organisation wishing to make an impression on the media.

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FPS’ Friday Fiver http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/shocksandstares/2011/11/fps-friday-fiver-25/ http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/shocksandstares/2011/11/fps-friday-fiver-25/#comments Fri, 04 Nov 2011 18:07:33 +0000 David Chambers http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/shocksandstares/?p=398 Happy Friday afternoon everyone. The clocks have gone back, it’s dark outside, and the eurozone still doesn’t look any closer to salvation. Light relief does at least come however with the prospect of a good fireworks show this weekend. Before you get out the sparklers though, take a look at the Financial and Professional Services Friday Fiver below, which this week takes in a wide range of topics on everything from Bob Diamond to celebrity marriages. We hope you enjoy!

WE’RE GROWING!!! SORT OF…..Finally, some good news this week as the UK economy grew 0.5% in the third quarter of 2011. Compared to recent efforts, that’s practically a meteoric rise, and was ahead of City expectations.

But here’s the bad news though – the effect may not last for two reasons. Firstly, some of the rebound in growth is being attributed to the disruption in Q2 owing to that dress and the ensuing two week holiday that most people took to get over it. And secondly, the forecast ahead looks dire – the latest purchasing manager indices, released by our client, CIPS, nosedived this week, suggesting order books are drying up. Still, let’s enjoy a bit of growth while we can shall we?

SING SONG TO AN ATHENIAN RHAPSODY…..We’re viewing Europe’s sovereign debt issues through a musical prism this week. The debt odyssey has taken a number of twists and turns, the most unexpected of which was Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou’s call for a referendum on the latest bailout package. The brinksmanship proved a step too far and was quickly called off.

Disappointingly, the on-going crisis has meant that Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has been forced to delay the release of his latest CD of love songs. On first inspection, readers would be forgiven for mistaking the article as an April Fool.

It’s good to see the City is keeping itself busy and Alphaville was the recipient of a cleverly penned version of Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody set against the backdrop of recent events. Click and enjoy!

MORTGAGE DÉJÀ VU…..In 2006/07, people in America stopped paying their monthly mortgage bills. Many of them simply got up, left their houses and never came back (due to a wonderful quirk in US rules on home ownership they had very little obligation to stick around). Once enough people had walked away, banks realised that they were sitting on a pile of worthless housing stock that they couldn’t sell. Once that happened, banks who had bought mortgage loans off of other banks (neatly packaged up like a mince pie in lovable ‘CDOs’) realised they too were sitting on potentially worthless debt. Panic ensued, and we’ve been struggling to recover ever since.

Old news by now isn’t it? Probably not worth noting then that today’s FT reported that US state-backed mortgage company Freddie Mac has requested an extra $6bn from taxpayers because “homeowners were falling behind on their obligations and it could not count on mortgage insurers to reimburse the company for losses”. Or that US house “sales are down, delinquencies are rising and the pipeline of seized homes due to flood the market is growing ever larger”. Nope, not worth noting at all.

SLEB WATCH…..One for our celebrity interested readers at the request of our resident pop-culture queen, Helen Searle. Yes, in case you weren’t convinced, HuffPo’s title is eager to underline this IS an INFOGRAPHIC of the shortest celebrity marriages in homage to Kim Kardashian’s filing for divorce this week (your author this week isn’t sure who that is either). Although it could also be described as a bar chart, either way, our sleb watchers rather like it.

GOOD WEEK/BAD WEEK…..Whisper it, but it’s been a relatively good week for Barclays boss, Bob Diamond. His company’s results were better than most of its peers (though again the use of some accounting wizardry perhaps hid the true picture), and Diamond also faired rather better in media interviews than he did last time he mentioned the word ‘remorse’.

On the flip side, his banking compatriot at Lloyds, Antonio Horta-Osorio, faired far worse. No one should ever work so hard or endure such stress that they have to take a leave of absence to recover. Not ever. We hope he gets well soon.

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The Bank of England & 9 other economists you should follow on Twitter http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/shocksandstares/2011/10/the-bank-of-england-on-twitter-9-other-economists-you-should-follow/ http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/shocksandstares/2011/10/the-bank-of-england-on-twitter-9-other-economists-you-should-follow/#comments Thu, 06 Oct 2011 15:52:21 +0000 David Chambers http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/shocksandstares/?p=324 It seems the heart of the City has finally embraced social media, as word spread this morning of the Bank of England’s new Twitter feed. One can only picture Governor Mervyn King typing away at his desk, or perhaps on his smartphone providing updates on the latest data coming out of the Bank’s finest economic minds.

Or perhaps not, given that the Governor probably has his mind on other things, what with announcing that the printing presses will be whirring into action to the tune of £75bn of quantitative easing.

With today’s decision likely to dominate the domestic agenda for the next couple of days, here are 9 journalists worth following on Twitter to get your daily economic dose:

Ed Conway – Sky’s Economics Editor, @EdConwaySky

Faisal Islam – Channel 4’s Economics Editor, @faisalislam

Paul Mason – Newsnight’s Economics Editor, @paulmasonnews

Steve Hawkes – The Sun’s Business Editor, @steve_hawkes

Allister Heath – City AM’s Editor, @AllisterHeath

David Smith – The Sunday Times’ Economics Editor, @dsmitheconomics

James Mackintosh – The FT’s Investment Editor, @jmackin2

Jeremy Warner – The Telegraph’s Business Columnist, @jeremywarnerUK

Stephanie Flanders – The BBC’s Economics Editor, @BBCStephanie

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Labouring forward http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/shocksandstares/2011/06/labouring-forward/ http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/shocksandstares/2011/06/labouring-forward/#comments Wed, 08 Jun 2011 13:23:48 +0000 Edward Jones http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/shocksandstares/?p=161 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.

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Superinjunctions – good for PR? http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/shocksandstares/2011/05/superinjunctions-good-for-pr/ http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/shocksandstares/2011/05/superinjunctions-good-for-pr/#comments Wed, 25 May 2011 12:03:30 +0000 Edward Jones http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/shocksandstares/?p=141 In healthcare parlance, the condition of the superinjunction would now be best described as ‘critical’ – beaten and bloodied by the blows of parliamentary privilege and press freedom. Surely, the kryptonite to the judiciary’s comic book gagging order. What, however, does this mean for public relations’ standing in the defence of corporate and individual reputations – if anything?

The injunction applicants in question have, we can only assume, weighed up their chosen course of action and opted for the legal route. Oh, for the delight of hindsight. Standing poorer and undoubtedly regretful of their decision making, those who now face the ignominy of full-scale public ridicule, must wonder why they didn’t take the PR alternative – a carefully controlled interview piece with a suitable outlet, or some such tactic.

I’m not inclined to ponder on what may have been done in public relations terms at this time, but to question what these developments have done for PROs in the broader ‘pecking order’. Will we now see a greater say for the profession at the ‘top table’? Will the seeming dominance of our legal counterparts in crisis situations be undermined by the continued fallout?  I hasten to add that the lawyer’s role in such situations is an important one and I’m not here to suggest that we can do it without them. However, the executive boardroom has a decidedly lofty barrier-to-entry and it’s up to the profession to continue to reiterate what we as professionals can do to earn our rightful place as trusted advisors.

Please note: This post was originally posted by Peter Roberts

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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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