Culture and comms matter now, more than ever

It’s hard to believe that I was with clients at Cheltenham Racecourse just over a week ago.

The government moved into the ‘delay’ phase of its response to the outbreak while I was there. It felt strange being at a major sporting event whilst following what was happening elsewhere. What’s followed since has been head-spinning. How we live, work, communicate and travel have all changed, suddenly and without warning.

New phrases – COVID-19, self-isolate, social distancing – have entered the lexicon. Words like ‘unprecedented’ and ‘lockdown’ are everywhere. No other story has been in the news for the last 10 days.

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Building trust makes complete business sense

This post first appeared on the South West Business Insider blog on 26 March

Businesses in the South West are in a period of unprecedented change, with challenges and opportunities facing every sector.

The impact of technology, political stability, hiring good people and – yes – Brexit are just some big questions that businesses are facing, with varying degrees of success.

All businesses are different, with their own priorities and stories to tell. But research from KPMG suggests that the issue most troubling CEOs is the risk of reputational damage.

It’s long been said in the PR industry that reputations are hard earned and quickly destroyed. It’s a nice line, which has the benefit of being true. Social media’s ability to accelerate that damage makes this a more pressing concern.

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Press gets lock in at last chance saloon

For weeks, I’ve listened to arguments about the press ahead of Leveson’s damning report today. It’s depressing, but not surprising, how quick people on all sides of the debate have been to reach judgements about the report, which appears at first glance to be thoughtful, proportionate and measured.

During the hearing, we’ve heard sickening tales of people traduced by media misconduct. It shouldn’t be forgotten how people like the McCanns, the Dowlers and Christopher Jefferies were treated at times when their lives were already under huge strain. Hugh Grant, Steve Coogan and Charlotte Church (who was on Question Time tonight) have sounded at times like they are speaking for the country when calling for independent regulation of the press. It was painful to see experienced tabloid journalists Trevor Kavanagh and Nevile Thurlbeck speak on Channel 4 News tonight about the importance of a free media. Surely noone disagrees with this. But their performance tonight suggested that they don’t get what’s happening around them, or what they need to do to deal with it.

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Why I’ve stayed with my bank – until now

I’m a stickler for good service and can’t stand organisations who don’t deliver what they promise.

Being ripped off is even worse and will result in offenders being dumped. Train companies, utilities and firms like PayPal (one of the worst in my book) have borne the brunt of my complaints when I’ve known who to complain to.

On many occasions, I’ve been offered compensation as a sweetener, which I take and then leave. I’ve worked through the ‘big six’ energy companies and found them all to be a disappointment.

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Twitter cases show PR may be better than legal action

It’s been a frenzied week for the media, which has taken navel gazing to new levels over the spectacular failure of lawyers to protect Ryan Giggs’ privacy. They may have succeeded for a while in keeping their client’s name out of stories of his alleged affair. But, as pressure mounted and newspapers’ displeasure at the fact that it was open season on Twitter grew, it was only a matter of time before traditional media named him. By the time John Hemming used parliamentary privilege to publicly name Giggs, the story had turned from a fairly trivial one to an issue of constitutional significance and no amount of legal heavy-handedness was going to suppress it. When the Sunday Herald broke ranks last weekend and named Giggs, public appetite for the story was huge – and resulted in a record number of hits on its website, despite the fact that item only appeared in print.

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