Friday 27 March 2015

Weekly Wrap Up: Minimise risk to your Corporate Reputation

The value of a good corporate reputation cannot be understated. It’s one of the main reasons businesses invest in communications and public relations. That’s why tracking media trends and watching for developments that signal risks, as well as opportunities, should be part of any corporate communications strategy.

This week there was a prime example of exactly why this matters so much. CEO of fashion retailer Next, Simon Wolfson, made headlines when he criticised an organisation dedicated to urging businesses to pay a so-called living wage. He claimed that £6.70 an hour is enough to live on for some people. Coming from a man titled Lord, worth an estimated £100 million and who took home a £4.6 million pay package last year, this out-of-touch comment would have been a PR disaster at the best of times. However, his outrageous remark came on the same day that Next posted bumper annual figures: pre-tax profit increased 12.5% to £794.8 million and the dividend rose by 16.3%. These results should, and probably would have, dominated media coverage of Next if not for Lord Wolfson’s poor judgement.

It would have helped if Lord Wolfson, or his communications advisors, had been paying attention to just how controversial living wage discussions have become. In the US, for example, Walmart and McDonald’s were among the major corporations that were villainised in the press due to their refusal to pay a living wage. Low paid employees at both companies even went on strike to demand a better wage.

Corporate missteps like this naturally generate plenty of bad publicity and are detrimental to an organisation. But arguably the worst part is that this damage could have easily been avoided by tracking recent media trends. If that had happened at Next, maybe they would have realised that someone who makes £4.6 million a year should refrain from providing “thought leadership” on the living wage debate.

This week Abchaps welcomed some of our UK IPREX partners to our offices, to discuss how our complementary services can further benefit our clients; joined Equity Development for an evening where they hosted three exciting and innovative company presentations within the media and technology sector for the City and PCIM community; and also attended Gorkana’s breakfast briefing, hosted by Director magazine. This newly relaunched title offers a direct line to C-Suite occupiers, and with its new look, Director does away with the usually drab vision of the board room.

Simon MacKinnon has been appointed Asia strategy adviser at the asset management firm Old Mutual Global Investors. Panmure Gordon has hired Patric Johnson as head of securities. He will also serve on Panmure’s Board.

“Living wage” - the amount an individual needs to earn to cover the basic costs of living. So maybe Lord Wolfson does know a thing or two about a living wage? His £4.6 million pay package should be just about enough to survive in London.

What says Hipster more than food served from a van? Get your kicks this weekend at Urban Food Fest, a revolving cast of food stalls and trucks serving a UN worth list of food cultures. All taking place in a Shoreditch car park, it could only be more zeitgeist if it came with a moustache.

Continuing the theme of facial hirsuteness, it is currently impossible to be more than six feet from a man with facial topiary. Love it or hate it, it has become part of our culture. So celebrate or castigate at Somerset House, whose exhibition Beard is open until Sunday.

Benedict Cumberbatch may have been taken off the market, but the Museum of London is still offering the opportunity to Sleep with Sherlock. Included in this all night event are a plethora of themed opportunities, ranging from a three course dinner, talks from detective specialists, right through to ghost stories told in the depths of the museum.

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