Friday, 30 January 2009

Word of the week

The UK was officially in recession following figures published on Friday that GDP had dropped a further 1.5% in the last 3 months of 2008 following a 0.6% drop in Q3. And it felt momentarily like the chaotic winds of Autumn again in the past week with RBS and Lloyds suffering huge share price slides. The market settled down on Monday with Barclay’s meteoric 65% share rocket as the bank’s chief executive and chairman resorted to publishing a joint letter to the stock market outlining in detail why it had no need to bolster its capital with extra government funding. This welcome confidence boost was undermined as it emerged on Tuesday that the reintroduction of short selling had coincided with US hedge fund Paulson & Co cashing in on £270m after betting on an RBS collapse. It’s not quite October again but lets hope these echoes are no more than that. Meanwhile Gordon Brown made the outrageous claim that "I called for global financial reform 10 years ago"! I suppose he has been busy as UK chancellor since then and hasn’t had much time to think about shoring up the security of our economy. Dear me.


Thursday, 29 January 2009

Chav free holidays: Super snobbery or a clever PR stunt?

I bet you’d never heard of Activities Abroad before yesterday had you? In fact even now you may not know who they are but chances are you’ve seen the headlines about the company offering ‘Chav free holidays’. Chardonnays, Biancas and Dazzas need not apply, thank you very much.

Though intended to be tongue in cheek, the story has sparked a bit of a backlash from the ‘chav’ monikered public, and Director Alistair McLean fanned the flames by saying things you just shouldn’t say: "Everybody else in our society [except for the middle classes] seems to take from us whether it is incompetent bankers or the shell-suited urchins who haunt our street corners." Ouch.

But right and wrong aside, was it a successful marketing campaign?

The comments have certainly generated a lot of media interest. The story was covered in all the nationals as well as
blogs, and while people expressed shock and outrage at the comments McLean gave, how many of them were secretly thinking “hmm, he has a point though”?

The question in my mind is whether or not McLean was actually being very smart and knew that controversial comments like his would get him press attention, with of course the old adage that no publicity is bad publicity. Or indeed if the opposite is true and he just got very very lucky.

Either way, you know about the company now. The “shell-suit wearing urchins” will no doubt continue to stay away (although this might be a purposeful boycott now rather than lack of interest), and if you do happen to be looking for a holiday away from the Costa del Chav, you might just have found the answer.

A word from the Abchief

Welcome to the first Abchat blog post! The holiday season is over, 2009 is well upon us, we're braced for a busy year and how better to start it than a brand spanking new Abchurch blog?

With the emergence of new media outlets which are now key in sharing knowledge, fuelling discussions and forming (and cementing) opinions, we thought it was high time we started embracing this online culture. Blogging will be a great way to share our knowledge and expertise, as well as giving our clients, business partners and anyone else who has an interest in media, an insight into what life in the PR industry in London is really like.

So what will you find on our blog? Hopefully a variety of things from what we are reading in the papers – the big stories and issues affecting the City – to advice on what companies should be doing in terms of media relations in the current economic climate. We’ll have news on the events we’re attending, who we’ve been meeting and general Abchat topics.

Abchat is a light-hearted informal exchange of views and news. Hopefully – while not being too controversial – we will provide food for thought, stimulate discussion about issues that are affecting the City, and to that end we encourage readers to comment and debate, ask questions and leave opinions. Comments are unrestricted but in the interest of good practice they will go through a checking process to avoid any offence! We want to engage with the online community and hope that this will be a great way of doing it. Please do participate to help keep this site fresh, lively and fun!