Flexibility works – within reason!


I just read a great post by Richard Branson on LinkedIn.  http://www.virgin.com/entrepreneur/the-false-promise-of-remote-working.Remote working

I will start this post by saying I believe flexible working is a good thing.  I have had several roles that allowed me to work from flexible locations.  For me it has worked in some situations and not in others.  The occasions it has worked has been when the team I was a part of was on the same page, and more importantly where there was trust at all levels.  However, when you are in a management position and there are people looking to you for guidance, visibility is important, and this is where I have found working away from the office does not work so well.

Further to this, I would add that even when you are part of a company and a team that allows or even encourages remote working, I believe there is a limit.  In most roles (if not all) collaboration is an important part of achieving greater success.  Even the simple act of eating lunch with colleagues or chatting at the water cooler can prompt new ideas and opportunities.  For this reason, too much remote working is not healthy, in my opinion.

I guess what I am saying is that I agree with Branson’s view (of course he also has a great deal more experience than I do).



Nighthawk – Stock price mapped against production volumes

Nighthawk stock against productionYou will have to click on to the image to be able to read it I believe.  I took the historical figures from Google and took the average for the month and mapped that against the gross average daily production volumes by month from the company investor presentation.  Clearly there is some correlation until more recently when it is likely to be on anticipation of the current drilling campaign.

Google+ – trying to do too much for too many?

While I really like the circle concept of GooglePlus as well as some other features like hangouts, I think it is trying to do too much in one place.  The functionality and general usage of LinkedIN is very different to that of Facebook.  Not only do I manage the two sets of connections very differently, and post different comments and content but I consume the two sites very differently.

While GooglePlus allows me to theoretically do the same in terms of managing my contacts, content and comments, it may restrict the level of functionality.

A simple example is I don’t care who checks out my profile on Facebook (and most of it is protected anyway), whereas I do care who looks at my LinkedIN profile and I do want my LinkedIN profile to be public and viewable to everyone.  I am interested in who is looking and any potential opportunities that may present.

I am sure there are other similar nuances that I can’t think of off the top of my head, but you get the idea.   Perhaps Google+ will find a way of enabling you to provide different profiles to different circles, but for noew, while I like G+, it is just another social platform for me.

If anything, I would say there may be growth in niche-networking – take AngelList and seedcamp – they both have two very specific audiences, which is exactly what the entrepreneurs and investors that use it want.

That all said, I still like this video…

Are you trusted?




Trust has increased across all institutions, but government most of all

I was looking over the results of the Edelman Trust Barometer, and while I shouldn’t promote a competitor, I think this report is quite interesting.  Although it points to people generally trusting all institutions more compared to 2010, what I find interesting is that the biggest increase in the level of trust is in government.

This suggests the strong leadership and decisive actions such as VAT increases in the UK, while being a little hard to swallow at first, are being generally well-received (of course it  does not reflect the recent challenges being faced in certain territories such as Tunisia and Egypt).




Middle Eastern society expects a lot of corporates

Middle East population looking for corporate alignment with society

What is more interesting for me, living in the Middle East, and the UAE in particular, is the clear difference in expectation of corporations to create shareholder value in a way that aligns with society’s interests, even if that means sacrificing shareholder value, as this graph shows.  I am not sure about the latter part of the statement, but as we work with financial institutions on a daily basis, we are familiar with the principles of Shariah compliance, and in this context the result is unsurprising, and given the importance Middle East society places on following Shariah principles, people clearly see less need for
government regulation on this issue.

Looking to strong leadership 

I am fairly surprised to see the switch of trust between peers and ‘people like me’ to CEOs, although in some ways this mirrors the increase in trust in the government.  In tough times, people look to strong leadership.  Clearly the need for a CEO and associated company to establish, build and maintain the trust of its various stakeholders (clients/customers, employees, partners, regulators, the community etc) is more important than it ever has been.

Trusted organisations/individuals benefit from greater resonance

Trust builds resonance

This report also points to the resonance that messages have depending on the level of trust an entity or individual has built.  This works equally in terms of positive information and inversely in relation to negative information.  The report states that when a company does not have solid trust equity, nearly two thirds of people will believe negative information, whereas inversely, for an individual or entity which is trusted, only 25% of people will believe negative information.  The difference is more pronounced when looking at positive information.  Only 15% of people will believe positive information if an entity/individual is distrusted, as opposed to more than half believing positive information when a company is trusted.

Finance sector needs to work on its reputation, unsurprisinglyThe term ‘financial crisis’ alone suggests blame.  Of course the crisis involved more than just the financial industry.  But things are what they are and as such it will take time for the financial sector to fully recover its reputation.   

Finance sector on the floor

This result bodes well for me and my company.  As an organisation with a significant focus on building
the level of trust and understanding of our clients’ expertise, we are well positioned to grow and support industry leaders, particularly in the financial sector.

Online sources growing in influence

Again perhaps unsurprisingly, a growing number of people are using online outlets as sources of information.  The online arena is evolving faster than ever before and with more than two thirds of people using the Internet as their first source of information (according to this report), the communications industry must seek to evolve even more rapidly to ensure it is reaching client’s audiences in the most effective manner possible.

Online sources continue to grow in influence

This will involve more and more integration of various marketing disciplines as we witness the most successful campaigns continue to span multiple channels and tools.  Although more consumer-focused, two of the more recent, prominent and successful campaigns include ComparetheMeerkat.com (ComparetheMarket.com), Walkers crisps flavours campaign.  I am confident that such multi-channel, multi-discipline campaigns will become more commonplace. 

In any case – trust will remain key for any company operating in an increasingly competitive environment.


The art of writing

I certainly do not claim to be the most talented writer. But as I spend half my day drafting all sorts of documents from pitches to by-lined articles and ghost-written articles to annual reports and corporate brochures and of course press releases, I do have a perspective to share.

I think a piece of writing is like a piece of art. More often than not, the writer usually forms the finished picture in his or her head towards the beginning of the piece.

With this in mind, it therefore becomes difficult to have numerous people working on various sections of a document such as annual report where there should be a flowing theme from beginning to end.

Beyond the obvious variance in terminology and style, the text should weave consistent messages and perspective throughout.

It is difficult to bring the consistency and flow back into a story when it has been worked on by several parties.

That’s all I have to share today – nothing that meaty, just an opinion.

‘PRs’ vs PR consultants

I was not the fastest in terms of career progression at the beginning of my life in PR, and with hindsight I can clearly see why.  Now that I am a little further ahead, I see others missing the same points in terms of client service.

Whether working in an agency or in-house we all have clients – the only difference is that in-house they are not paying you an hourly fee, your clients are the head of the business, usually the head of sales or business development and so on.

I believe the trap a lot of people fall into is the box-checking trap.  They fail to think from the clients’ perspective. 

An example that springs to mind is a simple interview.  The ‘box-checker’ will pitch ‘an interview’, get the questions from the journalist and relay them – interview organised, tick the box.  The consultant will begin by pitching in an actual story angle, and if they have been working for a client for more than a few weeks, they should have a reasonable understanding of the client’s business, and as such, they should be well placed to save the client work by helping provide some guidance in terms of answers, even if that is only to point out some key messages that they should remember to try and drop in to their answer.  Then when in the interview, a good PR person will step in and prompt an important point if the client has missed something that will add to the story and to the goal of telling whatever story the company is trying to push.  If all I am doing is copying and pasting their questions into a ‘brief’ then am I really adding value – no!

Another is issuing a press release – the ‘box-checker’ will be asked to write a release – will draft it and distribute it – tick the box – done.  Where as the consultant will take a step back even before the release is drafted the and think if that is the most effective way of achieving what the client is looking for, after that (if a release is most appropriate) – what is my client trying to achieve and so what should the release contain, what perspective should it be from, will it have any adverse impact to another part of the business etc.  Then once the release is sent out, the good PR person will firstly try to sell it in to the journalist (the box checker may ‘follow-up’ by calling and asking if the journalist received the release) and then will be watching the coverage closely to see what results have been achieved – if not sufficient then further follow-up is in order.

A third example (and there are many more) is – and this one always shocks me as people in PR live or die by the coverage that appears – when there is a significant announcement, a client will be concerned about the quality and reach of coverage, and this can be within minutes of an announcement being made.  The client will not wait for a day or two to see the coverage, and if you as the client-service provider do not proactively make sure he/she receives it, then it means that they have to go and search for it themselves – this is a simple job and should be automatic for anyone in a PR client-service role.  Equally important is highlighting any important elements of the article – what key messages does it contain, what is the tone of the article, has the journalist misinterpretted something – the box-checker will at best copy and paste the coverage and send it – the consultant will provide analysis and add value.

I think if PR consultants wish to be thought of as consultants, then they need to act like consultants and add-value and not be paper-pushers and box-checkers.


The office I work in is busier than ever, and I can’t help but think that the crisis has to some extent been a healthy development.  It seems to me that it has brought about a sorting of the wheat from the chaff, both in terms of companies and individuals. 

When operating in a bear market, people and companies become a lot more conscious of the money they are spending.  Those that were not delivering in the past were able to survive in the boom period, however when budgets get scrutinised, and with them results, there is no room for fat.

I am priviliged to be working for a consultancy that prides itself on the quality of deliverables – it is much easier to justify your fee if you are able to clearly demonstrate worthiness through delivering on your promise, bringing value-add and sound advice.

I hope always to be in such a position, whether that be in-house or within a consultancy.