Friday, 30 August 2013

Weekly Wrap Up: You Reddit Here First...

On 9th August 2013 Stephen Hoffman posted the following on Reddit:
“IAmA Stephen L. Hoffman the CEO of Sanaria Inc. Yesterday we reported in Science magazine that our malaria vaccine completely protected volunteers against malaria! AMA!”

Reddit is a social book-marking site where “redditors” submit articles/ stories. These are then ranked according to their popularity by the public upvoting or downvoting the Reddit story.

When Stephen Hoffman posted the above (along with a blurb and a link to his article) he was inviting the public to read it, like or dislike his story, and to ask him anything they liked about the topic. This article received 738 Reddit points (967 readers liked it, 229 disliked it) and his AmA announcement received 124 comments…

“Mr. Hoffman, just stumbled upon this AMA and want to say thank you so much for your work, as well as your service for this country and arguably, now, the world!”– mualphatautau (a commenter).

So what was the result of Stephen Hoffman’s Reddit activity? Well, at least 1,196 engaged people must have clicked onto Sanaria’s article as that is how many people cared enough to vote on the Reddit story – excellent potential for website traffic.

On top of this, three days later published an article on Sanaria’s work on the malaria study. Whether or not the journalist had found this story through reddit is debatable, but it may have persuaded him to report chairman Douglas Doerfler’s statement about Hoffman: “top scientists are backing him because of his leadership, passion and determination”.

As discussed this week by Parry Headrick in PR daily, no longer do journalists wait for and rely upon the newswires sent by PRs for their stories, but they can (and prefer to) find what people actually want to read for themselves using sites such as Tumblr, Storify and Reddit. It appears that the salt-water ocean of PR led-journalism is being increasingly diluted with the fresh-water of social media, and like a halophillic diatom PR agencies must consequently work harder to compete in this new environment.

Headrick suggests that this new environment poses a challenge to the PR industry, but this challenge is an incredibly exciting one. Sites such as Reddit are now forcing PRs to think more creatively about how to best represent their clients. The days of dry press releases are gone, and we must now come up with new and engaging brand stories and tactics to spark journalist interest.

These sites also demonstrate the importance of brand engagement with social media. A brand now needs a story, a face, a personality, rather than just a product. Stephen Hoffman had a real and honest conversation with the public, and Sanaria benefited as a result.

Eric Savitz, of Forbes Magazine, talks about the importance of “building authentic conversations” and this is exactly what Reddit AMA stands for… Stephen Hoffman’s success for Sanaria should stand as an example to all company CEOs, whether they be B2B or B2C, as to the importance of being approachable, interesting and (above all) socially engaged.

Abchurch’s prestigious Market Lunch programme kicked off again this week, with two events, one Oil & Gas focus and the second a China centred lunch.

IAmA “I am A” -  ‘subreddits’ enabling users to post an “AMA” or “Ask Me Anything” i.e. a question on any topic. Occasionally notable individuals participate in IamA chats including President Barack Obama and Morgan Freeman.

SouthBanquet takes over the South Bank this weekend. At the £15 street-party-style event, diners will feast on low-carbon footprint pork dishes such as tenderloin, chorizo and belly.

Take the kids to Little Creatures Family Festival at London Zoo, Regent’s Park. The weekend festival features interactive stage shows such as ‘Tigers Live!’, a pedal-powered disco and a chance to help Shaun the Sheep break a Guinness World Record.

East London gets ready for the time of it’s life as Future Cinema takes charge with its live cinema experience of Dirty Dancing. Hackney Downs will be transformed this weekend into the all singing, all dancing Kellerman’s Holiday Camp.

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Friday, 23 August 2013

Weekly Wrap Up: PR Controversy in Vatican City

The Vatican has always been shrouded with mystery and riddled with scandal, not least scandals related to the finances of the Vatican Bank. It therefore perhaps didn’t come as a surprise when in July Pope Francis established the Vatican Inquiry Commission to investigate the Bank’s financial dealings and to reform its finances.

What did come as a surprise, however, was the appointment of the incredibly glamorous PR executive Francesca Immaculate Chaouqui to be the committee’s PR officer (and the only female member on the eight-member committee).

So what was the Pope trying to achieve by appointing Chaouqui?

Was it her back-ground in law and her position as Head of External Relations and Communications at Ernst & Young Italy that stood her apart as a choice candidate? Was it the fact that she is a woman and the Vatican is finally attempting to (very publicly) re-address its public image on gender inequality? Or was it the fact that her ravishing good looks and publicly released nude photos make her an incredibly unlikely and therefore interesting choice for such a religious institution?

The 30-year old Chaouqui has since created something of a PR scandal by tweeting controversial statements about her fellow Vatican colleagues. She even went so far as to claim that the Vatican’s Secretary of State was “corrupt” and that the former Italian finance minister Giulio Tremonti was gay.

As previously mused about the Archbishop of Canterbury’s very public statement regarding the pay-day lender Wonga: was this simply a strategic PR stunt by the Vatican? Were they trying to appear to be more exciting, up-to-date and female friendly by appointing such a wild-card as Chaouqui and hoping that she would do something that would hit the headlines?

There is common saying that “all PR is good PR”. Could this theory be applied here? Whatever the (intended) outcome, the Vatican and the Pope have got their names firmly in the press. What does the future of feminism in the Vatican matter when such PR coverage has been achieved?

Now the premier league season in underway, Abchaps treated another two guests to an evening at Chelsea FC on Wednesday, where our side was victorious over Villa.

Stock Market Listed accounting firm RSM Tenon has been bought out by Baker Tilly. As Baker Tilly absorbs its operations over the forthcoming weeks, it will represent an excellent one stop boost of talent, client and contracts. Sticking with accounting practices, PwC has appointed Patrick Figgis as global health industries leader. He will bring his experience of advising on strategic and operational issues to the healthcare, pharmaceutical and life sciences practices.

''Social media policy" - a corporate set of rules and guidelines for employees to understand the appropriate use of social media within an organisation.

This weekend music fans can enjoy an array of festivals including South West Four which is celebrating its 10th anniversary on Clapham Common with headline acts Armin Van Buuren, Example, Carl Coz and Groove Armada. Europe’s biggest Caribbean Festival Notting Hill Carnival takes to the streets of West London with 20 miles of vibrant, colourful costumes, over 40 static sound systems and the presence of steel bands, reggae artists and hundreds of Caribbean food stalls. Most of the roads are closed for pedestrians, so check TfL before you leave! For the more civilised, pack up a picnic and head to the Live by the Lake concert at Kenwood House which will provide festival entertainment for the lesser music ravers. The English Heritage will help host a tremendous line up from Indie gods Suede, English rock band Keane and also a live outdoor screening of the American musical ‘Singin’ in the Rain’, accompanied by The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.

Alternatively, on Sunday you can head down to the free Bookstock Leonard Street Party for a good old fashioned East End knees up. Shoreditch favourite The Book Club spill onto the roads, offering live music, cocktails, bunting, balloons, film screening and games galore to create this ultimate cockney style party.

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Friday, 9 August 2013

ISA investors take AIM

The government's decision this week to enable shares listed on AIM to be held in ISAs demonstrates that it’s now happy to ease investor protection in order to meet its desire for SMEs to have sufficient access to funding. It sees AIM investors as a potential source of cash that the banks are still loath to provide. This move comes amid confidence returning to the City and activity picking up.

This move is good news for SMEs who have struggled to source capital over the past few years. This is also good news for investors. It makes AIM shares one of the most tax-advantaged of all investments. In most cases, they are already exempt from inheritance tax. From next year, investors won’t have to pay stamp duty on AIM stocks, and the new rules now add income tax and capital gains tax exemptions to the list of benefits.

AIM has seen its highs and lows. Before the 2008 crash it was thriving as the City was beaming with confidence and large institutions were on the hunt for good opportunities. Hundreds of companies headed to AIM and in 2006 alone, £10bn was raised. When the crash took hold everything came to a grinding halt and the number of companies headed to AIM dropped dramatically. This year companies picked up just £337m of new money, a meager sum in comparison to the pre-crash hey days.

As confidence returns to the City this is good news for the junior market. AIM offers great profit opportunities. As Patrick Connolly from Independent Financial Advisor Chase de Vere says: "These companies are typically more dynamic and have greater growth potential than larger firms, which are often at the consolidation stage of their development. Over most reasonable time periods it is likely that smaller companies will outperform their larger counterparts."

Hopefully AIM will start seeing more success stories such as Majestic Wine and Asos, both of which have richly rewarded investors.

Alistair de Kare-Silver

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Friday, 2 August 2013

Weekly Wrap Up: Facebook 'Likes' mobile advertising

On Wednesday, Facebook’s shares traded above $38 a share, the price at which it first sold shares to the public in May 2012. Facebook’s listing last year was one of the most eagerly anticipated floats in recent years but largely disappointed investors as its shares failed to rise.

What has driven up its share price now was the announcement that more than 40% of the company’s advertising revenues over the period came from mobile; a market that is growing enormously. New figures data firm eMarketer show that in the US in 2013, adults are expected to spend more time consuming digital media on their mobile devices than on their laptops or PCs. Yet Facebook’s predicament was that it failed to exploit this market until the latter half of last year. Last year in its second quarter earnings release, the company didn’t even bother to mention how much it made from mobile advertising.

It seemed that when Facebook came to the market there was a clear disconnect between creating a social networking site in a university dorm room and engaging with the market on Wall Street. The management failed to convince investors that it could increase profits and not users. Facebook did eventually wake up to investors' concerns and is allowing adverts in its news feeds and giving developers the opportunity to push their apps inside Facebook's own mobile platform. As a result, the social-networking company began to generate a growing proportion of its overall advertising revenues from mobile. The challenge for Facebook now is to maintain this momentum and to keep communicating to investors that its management is commercially sound and will keep taking advantage of this evolving market.

This week Abchaps attended the Reeves Corporate Advisory Summer Drinks on the Grange St. Pauls' Roof Terrace, The Tea with Investors Chronicle showcasing their digital products, and the amazing Darwin Strategic summer drinks party at The Royal Institution.

Baker Tilly has appointed associate director Alex Birch (previously of KPMG) to their restructuring and recovery team; whilst Eversheds has appointed Brett Rowland, specialist in intellectual property and pharmaceutical regulatory law, as partner in its London office.

On this day: New Facebook tab which enables you to creep back into your friends pasts. “On This Day” leads to highlights of your friends past activity, popular posts, birthdays and life events.

The biggest road cycling event ever in the UK is hitting London this weekend. RideLondon festival kicks off at 9am Saturday with FreeCycle. Cyclists of all ages, shapes and skill can take a spin around 8 miles of closed central London roads and soak up some of the capital’s famous landmarks and en-route entertainment. At 5pm, St James’ Park will host the Grand Prix races and will showcase the past and future Olympic and Paralympic champions of cycling.

The HOLI ONE Colour Festival is taking over Battersea Power Station this Saturday. Inspired by the Hindu Holi Festival to celebrate the arrival of spring, revellers are asked to turn up dressed in white where they will then be covered by clouds of coloured powder every hour from 2pm. This will all happen to an incredible cultural line up featuring some of the most impressive new electro DJ’s hitting the music scene.

Keeping to the sporting theme, the innovative street project Ping! London kicks off this weekend. For the month of August, London will see a series of 100-odd, free-play ping pong tables popping up in unusual and remarkable places. All you need to do is find a table, grab a paddle and play!

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