Archive for July, 2010

A whinge

Often information comes your way that provides an interesting juxtaposition. So on the same day that the Law Society reported that small businesses have to wait for 71 days on average for invoices to be paid, a survey from Unum claimed that yer average UK employee could survive for only four weeks without full pay. Only around a quarter of those surveyed thought they’d get through for longer without having to seek help.

Now this is interesting, because assuming that accountants were represented in the Unum survey, it would appear that they believe it is OK to impose conditions on small business owners way beyond what they themselves would find tolerable. Ask any small business owner what is their biggest challenge and they’ll tell you it’s getting paid. It’s clearly time for the Government to stop ‘encouraging’ prompt payment of bills and start enforcing it.


The failure of the Church

My sons have been educated in a Catholic school out of respect for the beliefs of their mother and I have always accepted that such beliefs must be accommodated in their upbringing even though I do not share them. However, I continue to be astonished at the failure of the Catholic church to deal with the issue of child abuse by priests. If you want to look up the history of the Church’s absolutely breathtaking mishandling of this issue, then go for your life.

Forgive the sprinkling of apostrophes but the latest attempt by the Church to try to defuse the issue is a ‘clarification’ of the ‘procedures’ to deal with the ‘worst cases’ of ‘abuse’ that it has issued with a concurrent clarification that treats the attempted ordination of women priests on the same basis.

We can all form our own opinions on the thinking behind the Church’s attempts to bury the way that priests have habitually raped, abused, assaulted and threatened children over many years but their betrayal of children continues in their refusal to see this as anything much more than a procedural issue. Even so, speaking solely from a public relations point of view, I am amazed that anybody within the Church thinks this is an acceptable course of action. They have lost their moral authority but is there nobody within the Church capable of suggesting that when you are in a hole, you should stop digging?

How climate change scepticism works

Some interesting thoughts from Media Lens on how the media distort attitudes to climate change here

God – the greatest PR man of them all

It seems that anybody’s image can be made over for some people, so long as they claim to have God on their side. According to this article in the New York Times, the Son of Sam killer David Berkowitz is being held up as an exemplar of redemption by Christians in the US.

Berkowitz terrorised New York for over a year from 1976 to 1977, killing 6 people. He claimed variously that he had been commanded to do so by a demon that had possessed his neighbour’s dog and that he was a member of a Satanic cult that had carried out some of the killings. You might argue that the belief in demons and his subsequent belief in God are connected and that the people lauding his redemption should be wary.

But, as is the modern way, a church is hosting a blog for him to pontificate on everything from homosexuality to his fellow inmates’ hip-hop. So, you might also argue that he lost the right to pontificate in public about other people’s taste in music and partners at the time he was busy murdering innocent people. But then sometimes it seems all is allowable if you claim you have God on your side.

World Cup – the PR winners and losers are…

Loser – Ashley Cole

Given the turmoil in the England camp, it seems harsh to pick on an individual …. so who better than Ashley Cole? It’s true that he was one of the better performers in the England squad, but then he has to go and ruin it all by allegedly texting a friend that he hates England and its people. What is so baffling about him is that he is clearly surrounded by highly paid agents and advisors as well as an entourage of friends but nobody seems to be asking him whether he really thinks it’s a good idea that his autobiography should feature the infamous passage about feeling sick at only being offered a contract worth £55,000 a week or that he should text women he’s picked up in nightclubs to ask for pictures of their body parts or that his reaction to being dumped by the nation’s sweetheart should be a trip to the local nightclub to pick them up in the first place.

Winner – Bavaria Brewery

Dutch brewers Bavaria (I don’t know why either) couldn’t believe their luck when FIFA went bananas about their publicity stunt of sending 36 orange-mini-skirted blonde women into a match. FIFA worked with the local police to arrest the women before somebody pointed out that it was giving the company the sort of PR the official sponsors Budweiser could only dream of. Maybe the call came from Budweiser.

Losers – France

At least England just stuck to blaming the team. France went into a collective meltdown as the French squad under Raymond Domenech made complete arses of themselves. President Sarkozy made a public statement and sports minister Roselyne Bachelot  said: ‘I told the players they had tarnished the image of France. It is a morale disaster for French football.  I told them they could no longer be heroes for our children. They have destroyed the dreams of their countrymen, their friends and supporters. The government has to intervene as the reputation of France is at stake.’


Winner – Paul the Octopus

Or rather the Oberhausen Sea Life Aquarium who have a real life draw on their hands now that their psychic octopus is world famous. It’s such a great story it’s a shame to point out it’s a load of nonsense.

Winner – South Africa. Oh, what the hell. The whole of Africa

Before the tournament, many people appeared to be predicting that there would be problems with infrastructure, crime and organization. They were all wrong and the tournament has been a great success with no more problems than any other. The atmosphere appears to have been superb and the event inclusive for a whole continent.

Winner and Loser – David Beckham

Although it was never entirely clear what exactly he was doing there, Goldenballs spent far more time on camera than any member of the coaching team with the exception of Fabio Capello. Beckham has now found himself associated with the England World Cup bid debacle and the England actual World Cup debacle. Brand Beckham appears to be untarnished by these associations, but for how long?

Losers – The FA

Clearly unable to do anything right, in the space of a few weeks the FA managed to lose yet another Chief Executive and Chairman in acrimonious and embarrassing circumstances, fouled up its own bid for the 2018 World Cup (before roping in David Beckham as the face of the bid in the apparent hope that people would forget about it all because he looks good in a suit), offered a very generous new contract to a manager before he had proved he was worth it, lost a lucrative sponsorship deal with Nationwide and was dubbed ‘unfit for purpose’ by former sports minister Richard Caborn. Is anything likely to change? Given its track record and its ongoing refusal to implement the recommendations of the Burns Report, not likely.

Winner – Football

While previous World Cups have often been marred by fan violence and unsporting behavior from the teams, this one seems to have been played out in the right spirit on and off the field, even allowing for the involvement of France.

Losers – The makers of the Jubulani ball

There have been more misplaced passes in this World Cup than any of the previous four tournaments, causing some commentators to complain that the Jubulani ball very nearly ruined the tournament. Even Craig Johnston who set up Adidas’s research lab in Germany has written to Sepp Blatter to complain that “football is all about texture, flavour and colour. That has been taken away by a ball sanctioned by who? Fifa and its sponsors. They may have been rewarded by making tens of millions of dollars profit, but the result is they have removed the art and craft from the game. If a sponsor came into your office before the World Cup and said: ‘We are going to give you a new, perfectly round match ball, the players won’t like it at all, there will be more mistakes made than in any other World Cup, there will be fewer goals scored, fewer passes completed, less control by players and roughly 70% of shots on goal will go wide or way over the crossbar.’ What would you say to them?”

Winner – The makers of goal line technology

 Ahead of the World Cup, FIFA President Sepp Blatter had claimed that he wouldn’t introduce technology to major football games while he was in charge. That all changed when Frank Lampard’s goal was missed by the officials in the game against Germany. Although technology would not have changed the outcome of that game, it was clear that it might well do at a crucial point in another. On past form Sepp Blatter may try to bury the issue once the World Cup is a memory, but it’s inevitable it will happen one day.

Shhh. Not in front of the dog

New research proves that dogs and horses understand quite a bit about what we are saying to them.

What is Adam Crozier for?

The famous journalist James Cameron once wrote that each day as he sat at his typewriter he thought: ‘Today is the day they are going to find me out.’ He needn’t have worried, not just because he was a talented writer but also because apparently we all feel that way a lot of the time.

One person who I’ve always felt had more need than most to feel that way is Adam Crozier. He is one of the many people I’ve picked up as an irritant like a hedgehog acquires fleas. I first became aware of him in 2000 when he joined the FA as Chief Executive (a friend of mine knew him slightly). Since then I’ve followed his career with growing incredulity. His CV runs something like this:

1995 Joint CEO Saatchi and Saatchi – Joined in the wake of the departure of the eponymous brothers overseeing a period of turmoil for the agency.

2000 CEO Football Association – Oversaw the Wembley debacle, the National Football Centre Debacle and the reorganisation of the FA that has been oh so progressive for the game in this country.

2003 CEO Royal Mail – Did actually return a profit in one of the years he was in charge but only by ignoring Ofcom targets. Sold off hundreds of Post Offices, alienating customers as he did, returned the business to losses, presided over two major strikes.

2010 CEO ITV – We’ve yet to see. But I think given the state of the advertising market and Crozier’s own propensity to wind up his own staff, it might not end well.

Now you could argue that each of those jobs represented a poisoned chalice to some degree or other, but you could also argue that this is what happens when your going rate is £3million a year or whatever. You could also argue that not one of those organisations was in a stronger position post Crozier than it was pre. And you’d be right about that. No question.

So why does he keep getting hired? Maybe it’s because in each case he actually made things better than they might otherwise have been? Maybe because he doesn’t mind being the figurehead for difficult changes? Maybe because he’s got that look that people seem to find so appealing in our politicians nowadays? Or maybe he just comes across in the right way?

July 2010
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