Friday, 23 October 2009

Word of the week: Freedom of Speech

The BNP were granted a spot on Question Time this week, in the face of protests and outrage from the public despite the fact that the BBC have a “responsibility of due impartiality” to allow the party airtime because of its Euro vote.

As the issue has escalated, publicity for the BNP is on the up. But with an increase in BNP popularity allegedly causing spikes in racial attacks, where is the line between freedom of speech and giving the BNP a sense of legitimacy? Opinions were starkly divided and while many did not agree that the party should be given a platform to voice their policies, if the BBC, as an impartial media outlet, begins to censor political stories it could have important repercussions for future political reporting and public trust in the BBC itself. Surely it is not the BBC’s place to tell the public what political views it should and shouldn’t listen to? And this certainly provided a forum for the public to openly challenge the party on its policies. And challenge, the public did with Mr Griffin providing weak and outrageous arguments in his defense. What the papers do agree on today, is that the appearance did not do the BNP any great favours and the vast majority of educated, open minded members of the British public are enraged by Mr Griffin’s words.

The key risk, however, comes if people with no particular affiliation to any political party and who do not consider themselves racist, hear the BNP’s arguments and find themselves agreeing with some of their other policies. If this starts to happen, giving the BNP a voice in the media could be very dangerous indeed.

Friday, 16 October 2009

Taking AIM

The AIM Awards was held at Billingsgate market – undoubtedly an evening not to be missed with the main movers and shakers from an exchange that has kept us all well dressed and well fed for many years.

Jo and I put together a table that kept clients, Brulines, zamano and RCG very happy while speaking with experts from analyst and corporate finance communities. Jo went over and above the call of duty by donning black tie and greeting the guests as they arrived.

Abchurch had three short listed potential winners and, although none made the final cut, they were among strong company:

Best Performing Share
Futuragene – up 691%!

Best Communication Award
May Gurney Integrated Services plc

Best Use of AIM
Vertu Motors plc

Best Technology
Immupharma plc

AIM Transaction of the Year
ToLuna plc

Achievement in Sustainability
Modern Water plc

Best Research Award
Edison Investment Research

International Company of the Year
Asian Citrus Holdings Ltd

Best Newcomer Awards
Max Property Group

Entrepreneur of the Year
Chris Havemann, ResearchNow

Company of the Year

The Winner of a Lifetime Achievement Award went to Peter Ashworth, head of Research at Charles Stanley.
Very thoughtful thank you’s flooded the Abchurch inboxes the next day. All in all, the AIM Awards in their Old Billingsgate venue reflects the market of the past – the difference is we now trade equity not fish.


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Tuesday, 13 October 2009

CNB Seen

Today, Simone and I attended the ever-popular CIPR Speakers Lunch with guest Geoff Cutmore. Geoff is anchor of CNBC Europe and presenter of Squawk Box Europe, a programme that has yielded good coverage for a number of Abchurch’s clients. Geoff gave an interesting overview of how business news is a booming industry and particularly digital against the decline in print advertising. He then went on to describe CNBC, whose digital offering was launched in 2006, as a ‘three-legged stool’ with a leg each in the financial hubs of London, Singapore and New York.

CNBC Europe starts at 5am and the channel has had over 3,000 CEO’s and market commentators on it with around 3.3m viewers per week. The channel is most interested in speaking with listed companies but Geoff acknowledged that they have a great deal of airtime to fill and so are always interested in hearing from any company with a strong story or angle. The one overriding piece of advice he gave when preparing clients to appear on the channel was to ensure that they understand why they were coming on to speak in the first place and the wider importance of the role their company plays in the sector and issue being discussed.


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Friday, 9 October 2009

Word of the Week: Social Small Talk

This week I spotted a great example of City folk getting in on the social media scene. Alistair Dawber reported in his Small Talk investment column on Monday on Imaginatik, an AIM listed tech company whose software allows organisations to connect with their staff to collect & analyse cost saving ideas. Dawber was questioning why, after announcing a big contract win, the client was not named, even though other big brands, including Coca-Cola and Xerox are acknowledged as clients. Social media, rather than being all about twitter or Facebook, is about starting and maintaining a conversation, which CEO Mark Turrell was quick to realise. Spotting the news story moments after it was published, thanks to Google Alerts; he was able to immediately respond to Alistair’s questions in the Comments section of the article online. Whether ICIS, Imaginatik’s financial tech-specialist PR firm, had anything to do with encouraging their client to interact in this way is unclear, but I suspect that actually the idea of starting conversations and building relationships is rooted deep within the nature of Imaginatik itself. If clients are nervous about tweeting or don’t know Wordpress from a wiki, perhaps a simple online response to journalists could be the first baby steps into Social Media in the City.


Tweet-up: IPREX Portland

Since the Abchaps chose to give the the Portland IPREX meeting a miss, here’s what the IPREX partners were reporting on Twitter:

RossSullivan: #social_media - biggest shared hurdle by #IPREX firms is explaining ROI to clients. We will share are best solutions in days ahead. 4 days ago from mobile web

renzistone33: SM is best implemented thru SM audits, overall planning, tactic execution, monitoring and workshops/training. #IPREX now, wine... 4 days ago from UberTwitter

nettresults: Great intro to newsrooms by @codella at #IPREX conference and why every company needs one 4 days ago from web

codella: Thanks #IPREX for using the NewsCactus online newsroom - gr8 2 be w/ u today 4 days ago from TwitterBerry

DeborahatUlum: Google is your new "daddy" online. Love the online newsroom, thx @codella for coming to #IPREX! 4 days ago from TweetDeck
renzistone33: PR needs big, aligned ideas in changed economy. Good debate about differences in PR v. Advertising (or lack thereof). #IPREX 4 days ago from TweetDeck

renzistone33: Millenials want openness, recognition, responsibility, training, balance & opinions implemented. #IPREX 4 days ago from UberTwitter

nettresults: Ad agencies engage in a monologue - PR agencies engage a dialogue... interesting thoughts from #IPREX 4 days ago from web

codella: gr8 discussion about millennials at #iprex - an entitled, narcissistic generation - going to learn some hard lessons 4 days ago from TweetDeck

codella: Listening to org behavior expert John Barry of Positive Eye Consultancy at IPREX conf in Portland 4 days ago from TwitterBerry

vollmerpr: In Portland for IPREX mtg w/30 other top PR firms. Pinot Noir, good friends & great minds! 5 days ago from Tweetie

RossSullivan: Upbeat mood at #IPREX Portland meeting despite member firms experiencing revenue drops. #social_media depts are all the buzz. More Friday. 5 days ago from mobile web

If you want to keep up with all the latest IPREX happenings, visit and search for #IPREX. Those in the Twitterati can also follow @IPREX

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

E&Y Entrepreneur of the Year Awards

Last night I attended the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Awards as a guest of E&Y. The Hilton was populated on Tuesday night with private equity companies and entrepreneurs running high-growth businesses typically backed by venture capital or private equity.

And the winners were...

Retail & Consumer Products
Sportswift Limited, a retailer of greetings cards and related products, trading as Card Factory

IT Services
Achilles Group, risk monitoring company

Business Services
Healthcare Locums, health and social care staffing company

Science & Technology
PayPoint, cash and internet payments company

Social entrepreneur
Steve Howard, Climate Change Organisation (launched in 2004 with 20 CEOs, Tony Blair and half the UK cabinet)

Media, Entertainment and Communications
Betfair, the world’s largest betting community and the pioneer of the betting exchange model

Master Entrepreneur
Michael Spencer, ICAP, the world’s leading interdealer broker and provider of post trade services to the wholesale financial markets

Young Entrepreneur
Arnab Nasu, Durham Scientific Crystals Limited

Support Services
Senergy Holdings, helps clients find technical and process solutions which enable the development of oil, gas and alternative energy projects

Consumer Services
Dr JD Hull Associates, the largest provider of private specialist dental care in the UK

Overall winner progressing to Monte Carlo for International Entrepreneur of the Year Awards 2010 is Michael Spencer, ICAP. I am already angling for an invitation!

I gained much insight into the workings of the entrepreneur’s minds with the common denominators being
- the ability to make things happen
- being persistent

In this difficult economic climate, it is clear that the surviving companies are those with solid market drivers and those that are cutting costs and investing in growth.

The evening was made especially fun with Master of Ceremonies Joanna Lumley who relayed her own entrepreneurial story with her hard-won, historic victory on behalf of the Gurkhas. Alluding to this success, David Mellor, while presenting one of the awards, said: “Why should Boris be the only blond bombshell in Whitehall….”


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