Five questions the ‘leave’ campaign needs to answer

brexit

 

 

 

 

  1. Why don’t you believe we’re stronger together?  Doesn’t being part of the EU deliver strong economic, social and cultural benefits to the UK?

 

  1. How will you mitigate the complications of divorce?  Two years of upheaval will take its toll on our economy.

 

  1. Peace – since the EU, we have never had such a long period of peace.  How will you maintain our global and welcoming outlook?.

 

  1. What’s your vision for business?  None of us knows what will happen to trade as we exit the EU but we do know it will become more complex.

 

  1. How will you curb immigration?  You make it the defining issue but the truth is that the majority of immigrants to the UK are from outside the EU, Britain is not borderless and Turkey will not be joining the EU unless conditions are met.

 

Can anyone give us a happy ending to this story?  Particularly interested to hear from Brexiteers

‘Birmingham – A digital opportunity’

The Digital Revolution

I was recently at a Birmingham Business Breakfast Club event and the guest speaker – Simon Jenner, a technology entrepreneur – gave an inspiring and motivating talk regarding the position of Birmingham as a digital hub.

As we are all becoming increasingly aware, the digital landscape is changing and technology appears to be influencing everything we do.

A great example of this is Uber. Simon explained that within a 4 year period, the company has gone from nowhere to being a $50bn business and the biggest taxi firm in the world. Yet they own no taxis and no taxi drivers – they are a truly digital business.

Brummies Overlooked?

So, where does our great city and the surrounding area fit into the global digital arena? Simon told us that in terms of numbers in employment, digital technology accounts for the 4th largest sector, equalling 40,000 people. The public sector is still by far the biggest employer in Birmingham, with 450,000 people.

However, despite most sectors now being affected by technological advancements and despite 20% of the UK gaming industry being based in nearby Leamington Spa – why is ‘digital’ is still being overlooked?

An Opportunity

Simon is clearly very passionate about his city and technology. The issue from his perspective is that the two have not become aligned as yet, but there’s absolutely no reason why Birmingham cannot become a ‘digital hub’ on a grand scale, rivalling London, Manchester, Edinburgh…

It’s easy to think of this scenario as classic Birmingham – living up to a reputation of a city behind the times. However, it’s thanks to Simon and other visionaries that we should see this as a great opportunity for the city to build a reputation, like any brand, by offering a clear vision and standing out from the crowd.

 

It’s true that without a ‘champion’ business, such as a Google, it has been difficult to be seen as an industry player, but with lots of smaller individual companies – who knows which one of them could be the next overnight phenomenon?

Success breeds success, and the time is now for Birmingham to join the digital revolution.

Ashley Madison – A broken marriage

Fundamentally Flawed

“Life is short. Have an affair.”– The slogan used by website Ashley Madison offering extramarital relations and a 100% guarantee of confidentiality.

The site, which prides itself on being the ‘world’s leading married dating service for discreet encounters’, has suffered from a recent hijacking from a group of hackers known as ‘Impact Team’, who gained access to over 30 million user details and subsequently released them online.

The identity theft of users’ personal details including sexual fantasies, has swept all hope of confidentiality away from the brand. Few who’d signed up to have an affair could be happy to have that particular portion of their moral code exposed to all.

Founded 13 years ago, the Ashley Madison website concept was fundamentally flawed from the start. A service promoting betrayal of a partner will have been considered by a large majority to be of such a low moral standard, anyone who signed up would get their just desserts.

Vision, Mission and Values

A reputation can be defined as “everything you say, everything you do and everything others say about you.” (Chartered Institute of Public Relations)

In order to build and maintain a sustainable reputation, it is key for an organisation to deliver their service focusing on a clear vision, supported by a mission and set of values.

Ashley Madison’s vision could be described as becoming the world leading service for extramarital relations and ensuring people have no regrets about having an affair. Their mission would simply be to provide guaranteed privacy, secrecy, confidentiality – call it what you will. Finally, some relevant values may include‘rigorous security’; ‘changing perceptions’ and ‘customer successes’.

The Theory Bit

Jane Jacobs, the author of the business publication ‘Systems of Survival’, details that in order to be a successful company there are a number of key precepts. Let’s consider two of the most important: respect contracts and be honest.

Following the clear breach of trust to keep data confidential, it is evident that Ashley Madison had little respect for their customers’ data when they entered into a contract with them, while the guarantee of anonymity was, in fact, far from honest. In the eyes of this particular commentator, Ashley Madison will clearly struggle to survive after breaking these values and contract.

A guarantee within a legal context is described as a pledge to be responsible for another’s debt or contractual performance if that other person does not pay or perform. This provides yet more evidence that Ashley Madison is a business on the ropes as it could also be bound legally to refund their customers for an inadequate performance relating to one of their values – rigorous security.

Broken Trust

The moral question here should really be how Ashley Madison can remain a functioning business with such a blatant disregard for people’s data?

The answer is, it can’t.

There is a clear association between personal relationships and business relationships – both are based on trust. Alas, trust can take years to gain, yet can be whipped away in a flash – the Ashley Madison fiasco a case in point.

Given the kryptonite nature of the data entrusted to them, Ashley Madison clearly did not do enough to protect it. The seemingly relative ease that private information of customers has been obtained and released into the public domain is alarming and completely conflicts with the company’s mission of guaranteed secrecy – hence, a reputation destroyed, broken families and now two suicide cases.

DivorceThe trust between this business and its customers has been obliterated and it is hard to see this particular relationship not ending in divorce proceedings.

Ashley Madison’s slogan has become rather apt – “life is short”

When the zombies came to town….

zombie

It’s unbelievable how quickly things change. One moment you’re in the office, the next you’re caught up in a zombie apocalypse on Church Street. Of course – It’s nothing we couldn’t handle!

The recent surge of multi-million pound film companies in Birmingham and the Black Country has sparked a whirlwind of interest amongst locals, as the stars of the big screen move right onto the doorstep. Celebrities have been using Midland film sets for the likes of BBC show ’24 hours in the past’ and perhaps more breathtaking, the filming of Hollywood movie ‘She Who Brings Gifts’.

Stars doing their thing amongst the streets of Birmingham were the likes of Gemma Atterton and Paddy Considine,  and with such credible reputations it’s a credit to Birmingham City Council and Dudley Council for being so welcoming, rivalling the popular trend setters in Bill de Blasio’s New York City.

The county’s reputation as reputable and trustworthy with beautiful architecture stands up to the mark as the perfect film set, allowing Colm McCarthy and his team to shut down two busy streets during a working day and turn them into a dystopia.

Colm McCarthy is obviously a fan of what Birmingham has to offer, previously filming the BBC smash hit Peaky Blinders with lead actor Laurie Borg talking about, “bringing the of myth Birmingham, back to the people of Birmingham.”[1]

It’s never easy to pick a key Birmingham street, turn it into an overgrown wasteland and then back into a business district again in one day. Onlookers marvelled as the likes of Paddy Considine and Glenn Close fought off groaning zombies to keep their cerebral matter safe and sound.

Not only were the characters in safe hands with Gemma Arteton at the helm, but Birmingham City Council has made sure that the reputation and trustworthiness of the city has been boosted by their endorsement of this apocalyptic thrill ride.

At kinetic HQ, Upon hearing that Church and Berwick Street were turned into a war zone, we grabbed our survival gear (coats) and headed for a look. An insight into the film industry isn’t something you get every day! Our close-up view of all the technical equipment direct from the hills of Hollywood shows how a future splattered by brain-munching zombies starts life as a camera crew, pedestrian barriers and rigging.

This may not sound exciting to an outsider but for us it was almost as fascinating as ogling the celebrity presence. Why I hear you cry? Our clients Eventserv supply key implements to the film and event industry that, as we have witnessed, are vital in the efficiency and quality control of a blockbuster picture along with their blockbuster service.

We’re not zombies, so feel free to pick our brains (hypothetically speaking of course). Leave you comments below!

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TynES3kLLOI

The Kinetic way – a Shorthouse review

Dan Shorthouse joins Kinetic for two weeks worth of experience

Dan Shorthouse joins Kinetic for two weeks experience. 

‘Knowing me, knowing you, there is nothing we can do’ sung four very trim Swedes in 1977.

This was subsequently covered by four, unbelievably happy, beaming women in the Jewellery Quarter on a crisp Monday in June. I’m not quite sure how or why, but this felt like the perfect welcoming to two weeks worth of work experience in an industry, I was completely mystified about.

Having only finished university two weeks prior, PR to me was still suited and booted men drinking whisky in New York City that I’d watched in Mad Men. This broke up three years of Shakespeare, Milton and Blake and sounded like a mystical, if unlikely, prospect.

From the moment the Kinetic door opened to 3 Tenby Street, I was part of the family. Work experience is a concept that many are sceptical about. “Will it give you a true feel for the industry? Won’t you get bored of making cups of tea?” But no. A real warm feel greeted me as I entered the office and continued throughout the two weeks. The first cup of tea I received was wonderful as a point of reference!

PR is all about communication, trust and chemistry. The tight knit team at Kinetic really knows their clients, their aims and their goals inside out and real strive to provide the best possible experience, not only for clients, but for me too – a tall, Black Country Lad from Wolves. Luckily, my accent behaved itself and was kept to a minimum, especially during key sell-ins. Bostin’ wor it!!

Kinetic certainly keep you on your toes. The rigorousness of their procedures ensures a top quality service every single time; it’s almost unbelievable the attention to detail that the team here endure to achieve. Kinetic would endlessly repaint the Sistine Chapel where possible. Bring it on Michaelangelo, where’s your media release? Media list? Project review? Thought not!

Working here is fun. It’s incredibly busy, but brilliantly challenging. It’s almost like a marathon, run very quickly, with analysis of every turn and every street ticking by in your mind. Strategy is vital. Like my heroes Dave Brailsford and Bradley Wiggins at Team Sky, the “belief that if you improved every area by just 1 percent, then those small gains would add up to remarkable improvement”.[1]

The drafting process is much like this. It’s small tweaks that add up to one major improvement and an unbelievably satisfied feeling that rivals completing the Sunday crossword in the allotted time slot.

A company that sticks to its values are vital and wonderful to see, especially following FIFA’s recent incident which has crushed their respectability. Kinetic’s VMV’s are the chocolate that runs through the Madeira cake that is 3 Tenby Street. It runs right through the business and interlocks with everything Kinetic strives towards; rigorousness, challenging, moral, pioneering and most of all, fun!

I was proud to be a part of that and was made part of the family, if only for two weeks.

Diary full of the day’s deeds, I left fully satisfied that I’d seen the true side of the PR industry. A fast-paced, quick-moving workplace which still finds time to conjure creative ways to promote and push client exposure. PR is definitely about communication; internal, external and on the web. Anywhere, everywhere and everything is all about your image, your face to the rest of the world. Every moment is a time to make an impression.

 

[1] http://jamesclear.com/marginal-gains

The Kinetic Experience

Dom.01

Caption: Dominic Walker joins Kinetic for two weeks work experience

When walking into an interview and the interviewer asks me, “what can you bring to our organisation?” I feel like I could say a lot more than just another typical answer. During my time at Kinetic, I’ve recognised the importance of interaction. PR is all about trying to master the art of communication and direct conversation. Working within an agency like Kinetic has been a great experience, with great people and a great atmosphere – I really felt very welcome.

During my first commute to the office I was constantly thinking about how I should come across to the rest of the Kinetic team. Excited. Happy. Nervous. Shy?  When I eventually arrived at the office, I was surprised at how tightly-knit the Kinetic team are. They instantly made me feel at home offering me tea and coffee – of which I’m still yet to accept- but the bran cake was beautiful.

The Kinetic internship has been a wonderful experience. I’m grateful that I wasn’t just flung into the kitchen having to make tea or coffee, which was the case for so many of my friends during their internships. It wasn’t long after I got comfortable at my desk that I was given a list of tasks to complete during my placement.

One of the most memorable moments during my two weeks was when Angela spoke to me about the importance of Kinetic’s VMV. These sum up the backbone of Kinetic. If the team are at a loss of what to do Angela makes it clear – the VMV is Kinetic’s way forward.

Kinetic has a diverse range of clients and one of the reasons it’s so successful is because of its ethos. I’ve learnt to value the importance of direction in PR, having a clear vision of what you’re trying to achieve is no doubt one of the biggest lessons I’ve taken from my two weeks here.

My advice to any graduate/undergraduate starting an internship would be to accept any challenge and be eager. You get what you put in and the good thing about PR is that your results mirror the amount of effort you put in. Kinetic is definitely committed to producing reputations you can trust. The people within the team are genuine – they gave me the opportunity to learn and grow.

Trust – lost by a robotic response to a human problem

United Airlines Blog

You can understand why some are concerned about the growing influence of robots in our lives when you consider United Airlines’ thoughtless response to a customer complaint.

Pushing for efficiency Chris Chmura’s flight had left twenty minutes early, leaving him at the gate feeling somewhat confused. His initial complaint was down to the behaviour and service of the gate worker who had failed to deal with the problem caused by the airline. When the Florida reporter issued his complaint United Airlines’ customer service department fell short of what it promised to deliver – instead issuing an unmoving response. The decision to add robots to the customer care team may be a step too far, and consequently have gone some way to damaging the brand image.

The major problem is the gulf between United Airlines’ promises of great customer care compared to the actual delivery of their service. If they truly promise to ‘provide great customer service’ then surely, they’d not have allowed this spell checking gaff, suggesting that his name is relatively similar to ‘Mr Human’, nor would they be so impersonal. The choice to not spell check, or even look over the response points to a lack of a strict external and internal communication policy.

With  little human intervention, what should have been a straightforward apology and correction has now been forgotten and escalated into a much bigger debacle, with the company being ridiculed for its inability to deal with a simple problem.

The idea of a customer services department reliant on its computers to confidentially deal with issues overshadows the original problems highlighted by the baiting reporter, but what’s more alarming is that Chmura has blown up a bigger problem, failure to successfully communicate with its customers in an appropriate and diligent demeanour.

Words are cheap and United Airlines has definitely proven that by saying “Mr Human, your email clearly expresses your disappointment and I would like to extend a sincere apology for any negative impression that may have been created.” How can a computer be sincere?

In all the communication error made by the airline points to a larger problem, and has gone some way to scarring the brand. If you’re going to make promises, make sure you keep them otherwise your brand will appear hollow.

That’s why a guarantee is so binding – a contractual promise that pays out if you fail to deliver rather than a few well meaning words and a discretionary compensation.

Where is the brand custodian at UA?  Why aren’t they putting up a stauncher defence?

Is this a world class company?

Chris Chmura isn’t the only angry felt passenger…

Will.i.am tweeted: @iamwill I’m flying to china and @united just gave my seats away…wtf

Robert from El Cajon, California: ‘The United flight #5422 was delayed when a crew member did not make it to work.’

Jeff of Tomball, Texas: ‘My mother-in-law who is 72 was supposed to have a direct flight with United Airlines leaving from Houston to San Francisco today. We get there. The flight’s been cancelled to 10am… So we wait till 10 then the flights cancelled to 1:15pm… the customer service is non-existent with this company.’

Would YOU trust to fly UA?

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