Friday, 28 August 2015

Weekly Wrap Up: The end of the affair?

In April, Abchat discussed infamous dating website Ashley Madison’s parent company Avid Life Media’s (ALM) decision to go public in Europe, rather than America, because of Europe’s supposedly more tolerant attitude towards adultery. But now this somewhat dubious claim may never be tested, as Ashley Madison battles the repercussions of a hacking of their system by ‘The Impact Team’. A data breach of this size, where 37 million user records were stolen, is in itself a public relations catastrophe. But a company’s response is the key to minimising damage, and ALM’s response has been nothing short of disastrous.

There was a somewhat promising initial reaction, where ALM Chief Executive Noel Biderman confirmed to Brian Krebs of Krebs on Security that the hack had happened, but that the company was “working diligently and feverishly” to remove the data. And it seems they were successful - within 30 minutes of Krebs talking to Biderman, several of the links no longer worked.

But with the information already hacked, ALM couldn’t prevent the inevitable. On 15 August the Ashley Madison database was leaked. However, instead of working to mitigate the damage, or at the very least apologising, Raja Bhatia, Ashley Madison’s original founding Chief Technology Officer, did what you might expect a cheating spouse to do: he initially denied the authenticity of the database, stating that it must be false because it contained credit card details, which he claimed Ashley Madison did not have records of. So when clients confirmed the database did in fact contain their details, it left Ashley Madison in an awkward public situation – one which many of their users might now be familiar with.

Avid Life has now been forced to act, but their efforts, including offering their paid-delete service to clients for free, and a reward of $500,000 for intelligence on who may be responsible, are ‘too little, too late’. Investment bankers have already said the Company can “kiss its IPO plans good-bye”. The stolen information will likely have repercussions for clients beyond the financial; jobs, family and reputation could all be lost, and it seems unlikely that the Ashley Madison brand will be able to recover from such a devastating breach of client confidentiality. Ironically, it seems that Avid Life media is about to find out that broken trust can make it impossible to repair (client) relationships.

This week, Abchurch hosted a market lunch, where topics such as the Chinese stock market volatility, crowd funding as a source of finance and the current IPO market were discussed.

The week, Mirabaud Asset Management appointed Ken Nicholson to manage European small cap and mid cap equity portfolios. Nomura Asset Management appointed Andreas Koerner as head of marketing and client relations for Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Edison Investment Research appointed Anna Bossong as UK technology, media and telecoms analyst.

“The Impact Team” – A group (or possibly an individual) apparently created for the sole purpose of hacking Ashley Madison.

This Bank Holiday weekend, there are a plethora of events on in London, with something to suit everyone.

Of course, those prepared to brave the inevitable crowds will be heading to Notting Hill Carnival, which is celebrating 50 years with the theme ‘Emergence of Carnival’. It is running from 10am to 8:30pm on Sunday and Monday, with the former intended as ‘A Family Day’ and the latter ‘The Grand Finale’.

If you fancy motoring through the weekend in style, you might like to check out the Bond in Motion Exhibition taking place at the London Film Museum in Covent Garden. It is the largest display of its kind ever staged in London.

For the foodies, on Saturday, The Urban Food Fest is taking over a Shoreditch Car park. Sample dishes brought to you from all four corners of the globe and wash them down with craft beer, cider, wine, champagne or a cocktail (or two).

Follow us on Twitter @AbchurchComms

Friday, 14 August 2015

Weekly Wrap Up: What's Donald's Trump card?

In a world where professionals can be forced to quit due to public slip-ups, gaffes and a lack of political correctness (PC), we take a look at Republican hopeful Donald Trump and his Campaign trail over the past two months in order to discover whether or not as the saying goes, no publicity is bad publicity.

Donald Trump has made his wealth a central theme of his presidential bid, but has spent less on his campaign than most of his top Republican rivals. This is somewhat intriguing as the billionaire continues to lead in Republican polls, despite his ‘minimalist’ spending and controversial performances that included making inflammatory comments about a female Fox News host at the first GOP debate last week. His unorthodox campaign has gained momentum almost solely through his media appearances, which have showcased him as a candidate who says and does what he wants, without being beholden to anyone. This is in fact backed up by the fact, certainly outside of America, that he is the candidate we have been exposed to the most so far, even more than his potential Democrat rivals.

With Team Trump’s PR’s in a constant state of trepidation whenever he opens his mouth, the tycoon’s popularity continues to grow rapidly despite earlier disparaging remarks about Mexican migrants and fellow Republican John McCain’s Vietnam War record. Commentators, analysts and rival candidates have noted that Trump has connected with voters who are unhappy and disengaged with current politicians as well as the fact that he refuses to give in to those who are pressuring him to be more PC.

So, it would appear that ripping up the PR playbook is working for Trump and his entourage and two old adages come to mind when concluding what is only the start of a long Presidency campaign. Trump seems to be of that special calibre of getting away with creating controversy but if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it and so far anyway, no publicity is bad publicity.

This week, Abchaps hosted two market lunches, including an Asia and a life science lunch, where we discussed opportunities from Asia and in the booming life sciences space with other advisers.

This week, Pete Daffern joined investment company Octopus Investments as a venture partner. Alan Teixeira was appointed global director of international financial reporting standards research at Deloitte. Marcus Jamson joined Howard Kennedy as a partner in its commercial finance group.

“Political correctness” – (commonly abbreviated to PC) an ordinarily pejorative term used to criticise language, actions, or policies seen as being excessively calculated to not offend or disadvantage any particular group of people in society.

London’s largest free jazz festival will be taking place at Canary Wharf from 14 to 16 August. The festival will feature jazz-funk, Latin, big band, soul, instrumental, folk and jazz so there are plenty of choices for music fans.

The Photographer’s Gallery in Oxford Circus is currently exhibiting works of social documentary photographer Shirley Baker, exposing to audiences a portrait of the urban decline of late twentieth century Britain. The exhibition includes previously unseen colour photographs by Baker, alongside black and white images and ephemera.

To celebrate the London beer culture, The London Craft Beer festival will be taking place at Bethnal Green from 13 to 16 August. A ticket gives you entry and unlimited beer to try from 26 brewers so be sure to be strategic with the beer tasting!

Follow us on Twitter @AbchurchComms

Friday, 7 August 2015

Weekly Wrap Up: Digital age and online news

Just as various global media outlets face challenges from the decline in print, the New York Times bucked the trend and reported good financial results for the financial year 2014. Operating profit increased more than two fold from $16.5 million to $38.1 million, despite a fall in revenue to $383 million.

The key to the financial success, is part owed to the publication’s usage of digital media and their reaching out to digital audiences. Just four years after it switched to its metered pay model, the publication has reached 1 million digital-only subscribers. Additionally, digital advertising grew by 14.2 per cent.

As traditional media giants such as the New York Times begin shifting their focus to the digital space, it is the time for communicators to really start thinking about how to change their content strategy accordingly, to navigate the evolving media landscape.

For the time being, traditional print outlets remain fundamental and extremely relevant to gaining public attention, as readers look for detailed opinion and investigative stories. However, as more people begin using the digital space as their primary platform for sourcing news and content, it is vital to ensure that companies create press material that is not only interesting but also digital friendly. In addition to creating detailed press materials for traditional outlets, it is important to also attend to the needs of the online journalists. Short, snappy, press releases with searchable titles help win these kind of journalists.

Companies also need to ensure that press materials are mobile friendly. Earlier this week, Ofcom reported that smartphones have now surpassed laptops to become the most popular way to browse the internet in the UK. In addition to written content, easily digestible videos are bound to win the attention of mobile audiences. For companies, that means it becomes vital to have spokespeople that ooze charm in front of the camera whilst re-iterating their key messages. News outlets such as the Financial Times and Wall Street Journal are increasing their use of video stories and this trend is likely to continue so whether you are a CEO of a FTSE 100 or an exciting start-up consider your digital presence more than ever!

This week, Abchaps hosted a market lunch, discussing the trends of the London IPO market. With guests attending from different walks of City life, various topics were raised including the future of AIM, current hot sectors and how London can continue to attract overseas companies to list in the UK.

Peel Hunt have appointed Paraag Amin as Technology Analyst in the Company’s Research Team. Investec Wealth & Investment have made four appointments to its research team. Dominic Barnes as a Fixed Income Portfolio Manager, Esther Gilbert as a Fixed Income Analyst and Marcus Blyth and Adrian Todd as Find Selection Specialists.

Content strategy- the practice of planning content creation, delivery, and the governance of useful, usable content.

If you are a fan of the Romans and their choice of entertainment, head down to The Guildhall Yard, London’s only Roman amphitheatre for the Gladiator Games. Brought to you by the Museum of London, it was here that gladiators fought 2,000 years ago, and in a somewhat less brutal re-enactment of those devastating battles, fighters will gather to prove their physical supremacy and secure their future.

The London Korean Festival is being held at Trafalgar Square this Sunday. The event will showcase the country’s creative talents, with entertainment on the day including a K-pop concert, culinary displays, creative workshops, screenings and more.

Join Dr Matthew Green on Saturday for a walking tour centred around South Bank for some education & exercise! Dr Green, a historian, broadcaster and author of London: A Travel Guide through Time, will lead a group of modern-day Londoners for a tour of Shakespearean London. Over the afternoon, the group will learn of the violence offered to audiences at the Globe and early use of special effects, visit a Southwark stew (the Clink prison) and learn about the unexpectedly rarefied world of London’s disappeared tobacco houses.

Follow us on Twitter @AbchurchComms