Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Things Are So Much Better When They're Free

I finished my work experience at The Phoenix Partners about three weeks ago, but today they posted a blog post that I wrote for them on their website.

Saturday, 6 February 2010

We All Knew John Terry Liked Scoring At The Bridge, But This Is Ridiculous!

After reading the stories in the newspapers over the past week about John Terry I'm surprised he still hasn't come out and talked about the situation.

I do understand it is a very hard situation for him to deal with and overcome, I'm not saying people cheating on their wives is acceptable but if you are going to do it you don't do it with your team mates girlfriend!

I think he deserves all the criticism he's getting right now as what he has done is unacceptable and I'm glad he has been sacked as England captain! There is no way he can gain the respect he previously had from any of the England team after what he's done.

He has hired PR expert Phil Hall, the former News of The World editor to try and deal with the crisis. But what is Phil Hall actually doing? It seems to me that he has done absolutely nothing in helping Terry as he still hasn't made any comments on his affair with Wayne Bridge's ex girlfriend. Even though I'm no PR expert I'm sure common sense would be for Terry to apologise for his actions and apologise to all his fans and tell them how he has made a big mistake.

After reading a blog post by Phil Hall, commenting about Tiger Woods and the crisis he was faced with, he said that it was essential to "tell your side of the story - quickly, honestly and accurately", rather than "cower behind bland statements". He goes on to say, "On every main principle of crisis management, Woods and his team failed". Now that's a bit rich coming from him, what has he done differently from what Woods' team did? Hall needs to take on his own advice he gave for Woods and use it for Terry if he wants to handle the crisis in the best way possible.

It sounds like Hall has had an easy job so far in advising Terry how to handle the crisis as all he would have said to him is "keep quiet" but there's going to come a point when he has to respond and in my opinion the sooner the better.

One thing I'm sure Hall won't be able to do is find a way for jokes like this to stop - Ashley Cole was caught doing 105 mph in a 50 zone. When asked by police why he was speeding he said "I have just heard John Terry's car is parked outside my house".

Friday, 22 January 2010

Social Media Opportunities

Since starting a master's in PR I have learnt more about the role of social media within communication strategies. Before I looked at Facebook as a communcation tool for a person rather than for a business, but now I understand how powerful social media can be in influencing and informing people. As social media platforms are used worldwide, there are great opportunities for companies which operate globally.

Companies can now communicate to a worldwide audience via platforms such as Twitter and Facebook. A company such as Next use both these social networking sites in order to let their customers know of new the styles on offer and they upload pictures of these styles.

Video sharing sites such as YouTube have allowed companies to share videos of adverts and videos of how to use their products. Marks and Spencer adverts are widely available on YouTube, this enables people in other countries to view English adverts which wouldn’t be aired on television in their country.

Blogging allows companies to share information regarding their brand with people. This allows for two-way communication as people can post their comments and converse with the author of the blog as well as other people who comment on it.

While there are many opportunities for global brands using social media platforms, there are also threats. An example is the recent blogging backlash that Eurostar were faced with when some of their trains were trapped inside the tunnel. Many passengers used Twitter to talk of their experiences and the poor communication from Eurostar. Consequently, their reputation has been seriously damaged.

Any threats of social media to global companies are severely outweighed by the opportunities. The amount of users signed up to social networking sites is ever increasing and this allows for companies to expand on their existing communication strategies and reach a wider audience than ever before.

I know if I ever start up my own business I will definately take advantage of the use of social media.

Monday, 18 January 2010

Goodbye From Raj!

I have now finished my two weeks work experience at The Phoenix Partners, here is the final blog post I wrote for them.

Sunday, 17 January 2010

If You Like Orangutans Then Don't Eat Chocolate!

Recently, I was watching a very comical documentary presented by Alex Riley called Britain’s Really Disgusting Foods. One of the topics that Alex investigates is the production of palm oil used for producing chocolate. To produce palm oil many South-East Asian rainforests have been cleared and this could cause the orangutan to be extinct within 10 years.

Mars Chocolate UK Ltd recently announced that the Galaxy chocolate bar will be Rainforest Alliance certified in 2010. However, while the cocoa they use in it will be 100% sustainable, the palm oil won’t be.

Alex decides to meet the spokesperson for The Rainforest Alliance and asks him why Mars are allowed to get the Galaxy certified by them when they are using unsustainable palm oil. Alex is told that in order to get The Rainforest Alliance seal of approval the cocoa needs to be from a rainforest certified farm, regardless of whether the palm oil is sustainable or not. One word now enters my head, 'greenwashing!'

Alex then decides to go to the Mars Chocolate UK Ltd Head Office with a lorry full of 'orangutan friendly' palm oil and a group of people dressed up in orangutan costumes. Alex tries to sell the palm oil to Mars; however they decline the offer. This is hardly surprising, would you a buy a lorry full of palm oil from a load of people dressed up in orangutan costumes? I very much doubt it.

A spokesperson then comes out and hands Alex a statement. The statement explains that Mars have now committed to using sustainable palm oil by 2015. You may be thinking that’s a fairly good outcome, but how many orangutans will actually be left in 2015?

Although the documentary was presented in a comical way, the issues raised were quite serious. It has all led me to think about the topic of greenwashing. Before you ask me what greenwashing is, no it isn’t like stonewashing jeans but with grass instead of stones!

Greenwashing is when companies mislead consumers to believe the environmental impact and sustainability of a product is more positive than it actually is. This is exactly what Mars have done with the Galaxy. Consumers see that it’s Rainforest Alliance certified and think that it’s environmentally friendly and saving the rainforest, what they don’t know is that the palm oil used in it is causing the extinction of the orangutan.

I wouldn’t say that I’m a 'tree hugging' type of person, but I’m all up for helping to protect the environment. I bet many of you could probably say the same? Whether you're a 'tree hugger' or not, the environment and sustainablilty is something we all need to understand in order to keep the world going.

Maybe, if more of us knew about greenwashing and how widespread it is then companies wouldn’t get away with it. But on the other hand, this wouldn’t be fair on companies whch communicate their CSR to the public and are making genuine attempts in being 'green', as we may think they are greenwashing' when in fact they aren’t.

Companies may then be put off from communicating their CSR in fear of being accused of greenwashing. Personally, I wouldn’t want to see this happen as I think companies have the right to let people know they are acting responsibly and as a consumer I would want to know when they are demonstrating CSR.

What do you think about all this? Should we find a way to prevent companies from greenwashing or should we let consumers work out for themselves whether they are undertaking genuine CSR or not?

Saturday, 9 January 2010

The Latest Talent

After a busy first week at my work experience placement I've got involved in a wide range of hands on experience, including blogging, writing press releases, writing letters to clients etc. Check out this blog post I've done for the Message Merchants, who are part of The Phoenix Partners. There may be more to come in the weeks ahead.

Ooh isn't it Dark in Here

Take a look at this....

I have done a news post about Eurostar while doing work experience at The Phoenix Partners.