Be prepared to expect the unexpected

Cliff 2AND THERE’S MOORE…

 

by Cliff Moore, Account Director, Deep South Media

 

A friend of mine is standing for Parliament in the forthcoming General Election.

I won’t mention his name or constituency for being associated with me may well harm his chances of being elected.

Suffice to say he has lived in his area for a number of years, is a respectable family man with children and holds down a solid career.

He has built up his reputation carefully and has taken on various political party roles as well as being immersed in the world of volunteering.

It’s unlikely he has a closet, never mind any skeletons contained therein.

In short, he’s a good egg who seems ideally placed to do well.

And that set me thinking – what if he actually topped the poll?

What if he actually became a Member of Parliament?

What if he suddenly found himself with a host of new responsibilities overnight?

His world would be turned completely upside down.

This is, of course, something that happens to a great many people and, indeed, companies.

For individuals the great change may be caused by, among other things, bereavement, a loss of work or a house move.

With regard to businesses, it is more likely to be some sort of out-of-the-blue incident that knocks everything off kilter.

And that could quite easily turn into a fast-moving, full-blown crisis that threatens reputations and livelihoods.

Would you know how to respond if your business became involved in a serious situation?

One would hope so, but what about dealing with the media? Are you prepared for a press pack relentlessly haranguing you for answers or social media rumours spiralling out of control?

This is where Deep South Media steps in.

Our 24/7, 365 one-stop shop crisis response team is there to provide media expertise when the proverbial hits the fan, leaving you more time to deal with everything else.

DSM’s experts can be there to professionally advise and reassure – and take over media communications immediately.

So, if urgent help is needed it is always at hand.

But it is always better to prepare for the worst and have an embedded plan of action for when the unthinkable – be it an incident, accident or even a crime – happens unexpectedly.

At Deep South Media we work with clients to focus on that awful worst case scenario and provide emergency response protocols (ERPs, yes, an acronym) to prevent a crisis from becoming a disaster.

These detailed processes for communication with the media, the public, staff and other interested parties give your senior managers a place to turn when disaster strikes.

Good media communications will not, of course, make your crisis go away, but when a microphone is being pressed under your nose or Twitter and Facebook are going bananas, good ERPs will stop it becoming deeper.

And as for my prospective MP friend, well, help could be at the end of the phone for him, but I guess he may be a little preoccupied for a little while yet…

Posted in Articles | Leave a comment

Investigating a non-complaint (or IANC)

AND THERE’S MOORE…

The crazy world of acronyms

By Cliff Moore, Account Director, Deep South Media

We live in a world of acronyms where writing whole words is simply tiresome.

Examples include the old favourites BOGOF, SWALK and ROTFL.*1

But there are also newer examples, such as DFTBA, FUTAB and SMH.*2

I blame Twitter’s 140-character restriction where the ultimate goal now is to convey one’s entire message without using any words at all.

One of my colleagues is an acronym freak, but it rather defeats his object that no one understands them and he always has to explain himself.

There is a comprehensive modern acronym list on NetLingo, although I should issue an asterisk profanity warning at this point.

All this is a particularly convoluted build-up to the matter in hand today, an acronym that many people may not be familiar with, IPSO.

You could be forgiven for thinking that it goes with ‘facto’ to make, depending on your viewpoint, the Latin phrase ‘by the fact itself’ or an old Badly Drawn Boy lyric/documentary.

No, this IPSO is the Independent Press Standards Organisation, the body controversially set up by the newspaper industry to monitor itself after the demise of the PCC (sorry, force of habit, Press Complaints Commission).

One chap who knows all about it is Tory MP Brooks Newmark, who resigned as Minister For Civil Society last September when the Sunday Mirror exposed (LOL) the fact that he had sent an explicit photograph of himself to a ‘young female Tory Party activist’ after they had exchanged a series of Twitter messages.

The activist who caught out the 56-year-old honourable former member for Braintree (he’s not standing next month) was in fact a journalist for the Guido Fawkes political blog site who flogged the story that the Mirror gleefully published.

IPSO, recently, after a six-month gap, eventually published its findings into the case after its first high-profile investigation, ruling the Mirror had not breached the code of conduct and that publishing the story was in the public interest.

The finding was obviously correct – because I think we should all be concerned that a Government Minister was exchanging explicit messages regardless of their relevance to his role – and that subterfuge was necessary on this occasion to bring it to notice.

The interesting aspect is that IPSO – headed by former top judge Sir Alan Moses and supported by all major newspaper groups except the Guardian – ploughed on with its lengthy inquiry despite the fact that no one had made a complaint.

The press watchdog, no doubt growling that it wanted to show its critics it had teeth, decided to investigate the actual newsgathering techniques to see whether the Mirror was fulfilling its obligations to the Editors’ Code of Practice (the issue being whether or not the journalist had prior knowledge of Mr Newmark’s wrongdoings).

That it cleared the Mirror can be hailed as a victory for investigative journalism, but it does raise issues, most notably about whether there should have been this self-initiated probe at all.

The media commentator Roy Greenslade described IPSO’s investigation as ‘flawed’, but didn’t necessarily disagree with its findings.

It remains to be seen whether IPSO will carry out any more of these guerrilla raids, but the bottom line is that our politicians need to be held to account and sometimes the only way to do it is by undercover means.

We must celebrate and cherish our investigative journalists as being a vital check on people in high public office who fall below the standards expected of them – especially as we approach a general election that some commentators are dubbing the most important for a generation.

On that note…

AAMOF, AFAIC, AISE, SSEWBA…ADBB*3

 

 

 

*1: Buy One Get One Free; Sealed With A Loving Kiss; Rolling On The Floor Laughing

*2: Don’t Forget To Be Awesome; Feet Up Taking A Break; Shaking My Head

*3: As A Matter Of Fact; As Far As I’m Concerned; As I Said Earlier, Someday Soon Everything Will Be Acronyms; All Done, Bye Bye

Posted in Articles | Leave a comment

Choose your maverick with care

AND THERE’S MOORE…

Why we need mavericks, but not always…

By Cliff Moore, Account Director, Deep South Media

Many trees have died in the fallout from the Jeremy Clarkson situation – axed to provide the growing acres of newsprint needed to accommodate the millions of words spewed out in description of this increasingly rancorous affair.

For anyone not familiar with TopGeargate (or hotfoodgate, if you will), I should mention that the BBC decided not to renew Top Gear presenter Clarkson’s contract following a top level internal inquiry into the alleged fracas he had with a member of the show’s production team over the provision of food.

I suspect that such situations, not necessarily about food, probably occur on daily basis around the world in many spheres of working life, but it proved one incident too far for the BBC with regard to the opinionated Clarkson, whose contract conveniently runs out at the end of March.

We might remember that the controversial presenter was involved in an ugly N-word brouhaha last year and the programme’s Argentina ‘adventure’ did no one involved any favours.

And there has been a multitude of occasions where the forthright Clarkson’s outrageous behaviour has been called into question – homophobic accusations, racial stereotyping of Germans, Mexicans and Romanians and jokes about lorry drivers murdering prostitutes, to name but a few.

The list is uncomfortably long when digested in one sitting, but most incidents were brushed off with half-hearted apologies when the criticism got too strong or ‘not guilty’ findings by broadcasting watchdogs or the BBC Governors’ complaints committee.

Against this, one might consider that the endearingly popular Top Gear is watched by more than five million people on BBC2 and sold to countries around the world (presumably sales to Argentina have slumped).

And it is the very format of the programme, much of it scripted by Clarkson, that ensures its amazing popularity. Can you imagine, in this day and age, that a Top Gear presented by a William Woollard or a Quentin Willson (or James May, come to that) comparing the petrol consumption of the Ford Cortina against the Vauxhall Vectra would attract any viewers at all?

There is also the fact that many people seem to utterly revel in being offended. A quick look at BBC’s Newswatch will confirm this pretty quickly.

The larky, jokey, lads mag nature of the behemoth that Top Gear has become is what ensured its endearing popularity – and is also what has brought down the big beast Clarkson.

Once the BBC concluded that there should not be one rule for talent and another one for the rest Clarkson was doomed.

I hold no candle for this seemingly tiresome man used to getting his own way and he will undoubtedly bounce back in one form or another, but his demise does raise an interesting issue.

That of the maverick.

We need mavericks – people who are different, those prepared to stick their neck out, take some flack, do things their way and, most importantly, achieve things.

If the world of business was full of plodders then innovation would become an arcane word. The safety-first, no risk approach would lead to nothingness.

But, as with any walk of life, control is needed. Too many mavericks would soon cause anarchy without calming influences.

The answer for businesses (simple to theorise, difficult to achieve) is maintaining a balance by allowing your maverick off the leash to crank up the ideas machine without upsetting (too much) everyone else.

First, of course, find your maverick.

Posted in Articles | Leave a comment

How the message is received

AND THERE’S MOORE…

Voicing my concern over how the message is received

by Cliff Moore, Account Director, Deep South Media

I have become, through no fault of my own but rather as a victim of circumstance, an avid viewer of BBC TV’s Saturday night talent contest The Voice.

This is the show where wonderful/average/absolutely useless [delete where applicable] singing hopefuls parade their talents before a panel of four industry experts.

These experts this year are the flirtatious Rita Ora, the earnest Ricky Wilson, the seemingly permanently bewildered Sir Tom Jones and will.i.am, a rapper whose convoluted pontifications and comparisons make A Brief History Of Time seem like a Janet and John book.

The show’s USP is that the auditions are ‘blind’, inasmuch as the judges don’t see the wannabe star before they commit to giving them a coveted place on their teams by bashing a button and turning their chair.

So, it is all a matter of perception.

Someone’s voice may be that of an angel, but if the judges were aware that they looked like a cross between (and I know I’m dating myself here) The Roly Polys and The Weather Girls (look them up, kids) would they have been so fast?

It struck me, therefore, that none of us perceive things in the same way.

This was heightened when the judges had to cut their teams to just three candidates for the live shows being broadcast currently – because I am absolutely certain they weren’t hearing the same voices as me.

They couldn’t have been or they wouldn’t have ended up with, in some cases, such duffers representing them.

Thus it is in real life. Some of us may regard Jeremy Clarkson as an opinionated oaf while to others he is a much-maligned hero of lads’ TV…and so on.

Here at Deep South Media the very nature of our business is getting the message across, but how do we know how that message is being received?

The answer is that it comes from experience.

The message from us is straightforward, factual and honest (that’s the way we do things here).

This ensures there is really only one way for that message to be received.

Our ever- growing client base teaches us that we must be doing something right.

It is the same with everything in life and, with the General Election merely weeks away, it is something our politicians may care to bear in mind.

It may be unfair to tar all candidates with the same brush, but the stock of politicians is pretty low at present and we need to know we can believe what they are telling us to maintain the credibility of our political system.

Or, not to put too fine a point on it, people may well care more who takes The Voice trophy than which party leader ends up with the keys to 10 Downing Street on May 7.

There… all that about how we view things differently without any reference whatsoever to that blue, gold and white dress.

Cliff Moore, Account Director, Deep South Media

Posted in Articles | Leave a comment

Talking yourself into trouble

Careless talk is still wreaking havoc with reputations, careers and profits 70 years after Government propaganda posters warned our grandparents that ‘Careless talk costs lives’.

Opening mouth and inserting foot is not exclusively the tendency of UKIP, and  to prove the point two Labour MPs and a prominent Tory this week have managed to talk themselves into the deepest do-da,

Everyone in public life – and that means not just politicians but anyone in a position of responsibility ­- is vulnerable.

First it was veteran Labour MP Austin Mitchell’s turn to put himself in the stocks. His statement that Labour would win the election in Grimsby even if it selected a raving alcoholic sex paedophile as its candidate would have been mildly amusing to a private audience of friends. It was reckless in front of an Independent on Sunday reporter.

Much more serious  were the boasts of two apparently impeccable elder statesmen. A few minutes’ careless talk in front of strangers was long enough for Jack Straw and Sir Malcolm Rifkind  to destroy the reputations they had spent a lifetime building.  All it took to bring them down was a simple sting operation by Channel 4 and the Telegraph, who secretly filmed them boasting how much  influence they could wield if a mythical Chinese company paid them enough,

It’s 24 years since Gerald Ratner nearly obliterated  his own jewellery company by describing some of its products as total crap, but his speech to the Institute of Directors lives on as a terrible warning to anyone daft enough not to realise how badly their remarks might be taken in a different context.

And as if the traditional media were not dangerous enough, the modern phenomenon of social media is a forest full of elephant traps in which the mildest politically incorrect comment can provoke torrents of abuse. Not just politicians, but corporate leaders need to think very carefully about what they are about to say if they want to avoid the wrath of Twitter’s thought police.

You do not have to say anything, but as any TV cop will tell you as he locks you in handcuffs, anything you do say may be given in evidence.

The moral is simple: engage brain before opening mouth.

- GARETH WEEKES, Deep South Media.

Posted in Articles | Leave a comment

Does your firm have a social media policy?

by Ron Wain, Joint Managing Director, Deep South Media

Well, what would you do?

This is your call, given that you’re the boss.

A tough one, for sure, because one of your staff has just posted a YouTube video rant against “apologetic” Muslims in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks in Paris.

There is a clear reputational issue for your business because some viewers may well have been offended by the language used, including a reference to “kuffars” (non-believers).

This was a dilemma faced this month by international law firm Clifford Chance, a Magic Circle player, following the controversial posting by Aysh Chaundhry, a junior trainee.

Appealing directly to fellow Muslims, he said: “Freedom of speech is a value upon which they [the West] are attacking you.”

It must be stressed that the video did not incite violence, which is illegal, but the religious subject matter catapulted the name of Clifford Chance into the unwelcome media spotlight.

Of course, freedom of speech is everything, poignantly symbolised by the rallying slogan of Je suis Charlie in the wake of the French atrocities.

Yet this has to be weighed up against the reputational damage an employee may do to your business if he or she takes to social media channels to express controversial opinions, even if it is in their own time.

Mr Chaundhry has apologised; this may well be an example where passion has clouded judgement.

However, there is more to this episode than a mea culpa.

Law firms and other companies in the professional services sector, such as accountancies and property agencies, should have a written policy in place regarding the use of social media.

One which makes it unequivocally clear that any private postings are not the views of the company; that any postings which have a negative impact on the brand could be met with disciplinary procedures.

Far from ideal, of course, but social media has blurred the hitherto private boundaries between the living room and the office desk.

What is galling for Clifford Chance is that the digital footprint of this unwarranted problem will remain for years to come.

The same applies to Mr Chaundhry.

Meanwhile, you better check your social media policy so you know what to do if an employee, however valued, goes off on one on social media.

If the posting does attract unwelcome media attention, we are just a phone call away to help you, ethically and sensitively, with any reputational ramifications.

Posted in Articles | Leave a comment

How PR supports social value

Just what do we mean by the phrase ‘social value’ when it comes to PR campaigns?

Under the Public Services (Social Value) Act, public bodies in England and Wales are mandated to consider how the services they commission and procure can improve the wider economic, social and environmental well-being of their areas of operation.

In a nutshell, the Act requires them to look beyond the traditional return on investment they expect to see from a contract and look at the collective benefit it can bring to a community.

Public sector tenders are increasingly inviting bidders to show how they would deliver social value under the Act.

We took a moment, outside the statutory definition, to sense check a more general approach to social value in the context of the work we do every day for clients, whether public, private or third sector.

Underpinning our thinking is the idea that PR is most effective when it moves away from solely products, features and service announcements to answer the ‘so what?’ question. That means explaining what the product, feature or service actually enables someone to do and for what reason.

Call it ‘social value’ or ‘so what?’, our work is all about integrating PR in a seamless way that helps to articulate the benefit a client brings to its customers and communities.

Let’s take it as read that our clients create jobs and provide, in their different ways, a measurable return on investment by achieving organisational objectives. What wider benefit do they bring? Here are just a few examples of the value our clients deliver:-

- Finding people jobs through expert recruitment advice

- Educating thousands of children on their journey through school

- Holidays and respite care for children with life-threatening illnesses

- Millions of bus journeys for urban residents

- Safe, clean water supplies to hundreds of thousands of homes

- Helping entrepreneurs turn commercial ideas into viable businesses

- Homes for people on low income who might otherwise struggle to find accommodation

- A more sustainable environment through renewable energy development

- Peace of mind when planning for a retirement income

- A more enjoyable experience of care homes

- A stronger collective voice when representing the needs of small business to government

- Transporting precious cargo by sea ensuring, among other benefits, that overseas fruit growers can access European markets

- Sustainable waste management

- Saving the jobs of people whose employers have gone into administration

- Helping people get a fair price for land and property at auction

- Providing location data for companies and organisations with an interest in land and property

We could cite many more examples and believe all our PR clients deliver wider value than is shown in just the numbers on a balance sheet.

Posted in Articles | Leave a comment

Why it’s time to help our entrepreneurs

Going into business in 2015? Help is on hand from WSX Enterprise

A dramatic rise in the number of people setting up their own businesses has prompted one of our clients, a leading not-for-profit support company, to strengthen its range of help.

Rising self-employment prompts WSX Enterprise to strengthen busi

WSX Enterprise, which has offices in Poole and Fareham, has responded to the growing trend with a senior marketing hire and more online support tools aimed directly at entrepreneurs.

The expansion reflects the latest official labour market statistics showing that 4.5 million people – nearly one in seven of the working population – are now self-employed. The figure is up by nearly a quarter of a million in just over a year. Forty three per cent of those going it alone are aged 50 or older and 32% are women.

The entrepreneurial trend has been confirmed in our home patch by StartUp Britain using data from Companies House. During 2014, the numbers of new companies formed were as follows: Bournemouth – 5,169; Portsmouth – 5,988; Southampton – 5,020; Weymouth – 321; and Salisbury – 1,421.

Richard Burn, pictured, newly appointed Marketing Coordinator at WSX Enterprise, said: “The rise in entrepreneurs demands an increase in business support from organisations such as us.  Being your own boss gives you much more freedom but we know from experience that start-ups need lots of ongoing help if they are to survive and thrive. With the changes to our website we are making it easier for budding business owners to find the information they need.”

As well as making its website www.wsxenterprise.co.uk easier to navigate and more mobile-friendly, WSX Enterprise has introduced a new online booking system for training and networking events.

Other new resources include video presentations, e-learning guides, webinars and pointers to help with issues such as managing HMRC tax requirements and boosting website optimisation.

Richard Burn added: “The new website complements our wider portfolio of services including start-up loans, business mentoring and sector-specific projects. We are building a trusted, practical and professional support system that will enable entrepreneurs to hone their ideas and go on to prosper, so creating an onward stimulus for employment and economic growth.”

For an example of a start-up helped by WSX Enterprise, check out this story from the Portsmouth daily, The News. It includes a video interview with Duncan Willis who is turning his puppet-making hobby into a viable business. We’ve also posted a news release about Duncan.

See also #business #entrepreneurs @wsxenterprise @StartupBritain @CFEntrepreneurs @portsmouthnews

WSX Enterprise, along with its associate companies, works across the south of England. It aims to be the natural place to go for businesses wishing to succeed in the future economy. It works independently and in partnership with other like-minded operators. Services range from start-up support through general business advice to specialist support in skills, innovation and sustainability. It has an exemplary track record in delivering publicly funded services to the highest standards of customer service and cost effectiveness.  With the support of its parent company, Southern Enterprise Alliance, it is developing innovative services in its own right and with partners. For more information, contact 01329 223242 or visit www.wsxenterprise.co.uk.

For more information on the latest labour market figures released by the Office for National Statistics, visit www.ons.gov.uk.

Posted in Articles | Leave a comment

Staying brave in the face of terror

There are few sounds more chilling than gunfire.

Many of us had shocking glimpses of today’s terrorist atrocity in Paris  through instant video footage, including the distressing sight of a helpless policeman executed in the street.

At the time of writing, the two Kalashnikov killers are at large, having been seen on camera fleeing in a hijacked car, their depraved work done for the time being.

Make no mistake, they, or killers like them, will strike again. Here, there, anywhere. Time and time again. Without warning, without conscience. Their rationale for murder, children and adults alike, is beyond our comprehension, beyond our morality, beyond reality.

This is about no-holds-barred terrorism, through the conduit of religious fundamentalism, but nebulous – and all the more frightening for it. You never know who will be next.

At least 12 people were killed, and at least 10 others injured, when the masked gunmen opened fire on staff in the headquarters of Charlie Hebdo, the newspaper firebombed four years ago for publishing a satirical cartoon of the Prophet Mohammed.

Fate spared the life of editor-in-chief, Gerard Biard; he was in London. ”‘I don’t understand how people can attack a newspaper with heavy weapons,” he said. “A newspaper is not a weapon of war.”

Actually, a newspaper is a weapon and  the pen is often mightier than the sword.

Ill-doers, criminals, dictators, the morally bankrupt, fanatics from all quarters, fear being burned by the acid of truth. For them, an open democratic media is a threat to their power base, to their operations, to their very existence.

With that in mind, we should all stand shoulder-to-shoulder in solidarity with France, Canada, Pakistan, Australia  and other countries where loved ones have been violently taken from us, including here in Britain.

That should include not giving the oxygen of publicity – online or  in print – to deadly fundamentalists whose interests are inimical to democratic societies.

From governments we need reassurance that the intelligence services are not short of resources in thwarting attacks.

And  may journalists across the free world have the courage to keep on unmasking abuses and exposing terror. Their pens must not be stayed by fear  but be moved by our hopes for a safer future.

- RON WAIN, Deep South Media.

Posted in Articles | Leave a comment

Banishing battery life anxiety

We’ve just helped a client launch a mobile phone charger that works on wireless technology.

SupaPowa® enables you to recharge the battery power of your handheld device on-the-go, wherever you are, and without having to plug it into a mains socket.

The product has been developed by QiConnect, the UK’s first wireless charging experts, based at The Portsmouth Technopole. The launch was held at Portsmouth’s Spinnaker Tower.

The technology is based on two coils: a transmitter and a receiver. An alternating current is passed through the transmitter coil, generating a magnetic field. This in turn induces a voltage in the receiver coil which can be used to power a mobile device or charge a battery.

The technology is already a reality in such devices as electric toothbrushes and surgically implanted devices, like artificial hearts.

Karen Murray, SupaPowa®’s business manager, said: “Battery life anxiety is a very real phenomenon. You can see your smartphone draining, especially if browsing on the internet, but you have no way of charging it up unless you connect to the mains power.

“And if you are away from home, stuck in traffic, or late for that vital appointment or pick-up, this can be extremely stressful.

“We’ve created some game-changing products that not only meet this challenge but could make traditional chargers redundant.

“Once you have wireless charging you’ll wonder how you lived without it.”

SupaPowa® is a registered trademark of QiConnect.

For more information, read the press release.

 

Posted in Articles | Leave a comment