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Clarke Mulder Purdie on PR, media and other random topics

Archive for the ‘business’ Category

What will be the impact of the current downturn on business psyche?

Posted by Chris Clarke on June 11, 2009

Green shoots?

Green shoots?

Join the ‘What future for business?’ debate

With many people desperate to seize on today’s headlines that the infamous green shoots of recovery are here, what will be the lasting impact of the downturn?

To explore this question we have launched an online debate on the impact of the global downturn on the future of business.  However, instead of looking solely at the arithmetic and economic impact, which has and will be explored to death, we are exploring its impact on business psyche.  We are looking at what impact the downturn will have on how business people think and make decisions and what it will mean for the way that business is likely to be conducted in the future.

The project launches with a series of online debates where, each week for six weeks, two contributors provide alternative views on different facets of the subject.  Contributors are prominent business executives, media figures and politicians, including David Kern from the British Chamber of Commerce, Paul Mason from BBC Newsnight, Jenny Davey from The Sunday Times, Chris Francis from IBM and more.  Everyone will also be able to have their say by joining the ‘What future for business?’ debate here.

Topics to be discussed include: How gloomy or hopeful should we be?  The role of business psyche?  What can we learn from past experiences?  What do today’s CEOs think?  What do the business leaders of tomorrow think?  What are the implications for tomorrow?

We will also be hosting a live debate at 7pm on 7 July at The Commonwealth Club, where the contributors and audience will continue the discussion face-to-face.

This project is part of our Hothouse Foresight initiative, which is a series of research, debates and events exploring how changes in the economic, social, political, business and media landscape – both locally and globally – are impacting organisations and their stakeholders.


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Insights from Wireless and Mobile 09

Posted by Sarah Mulder on May 21, 2009

Morning on the show floor

Morning on the show floor

We’ve started our second day at Wireless and Mobile 09 in Olympia, where we’re running the press office for Europe’s largest wireless show, now in its fifth year.  The mood here seems realistic and upbeat.  Yesterday, educational seminars were all full and footfall at the event is doing extremely well; demonstrating that even if people are finding the economy tough, the appetite for growth and technological development does not seem to be waning.

Opera Software gave an interesting perspective on the role of the internet in today’s world.   Jon S. Von Tetzchner, Opera’s co-founder, reminded the audience that despite the internet’s centrality to seemingly everything in the developed world, actually only 20% of the world population currently has online access.  It will be interesting to see how fast this percentage grows over the next year as the developing world starts using some of the mobile technology on offer here today.

Continuing with this theme, Opera ran a survey in 1998 asking, ‘what would you rather do without, TV or your PC with internet access’? In 1998, 80% of respondents said they would rather be without the internet while 20% said TV.  In 2007 they ran the same survey and unsurprisingly the balance had shifted, but what was surprising was by how much; 85% now say they could now live without TV and only 15% were still wedded to their telly.

Encouragingly though, it seems as though this hypothetical conundrum may soon be solved as Jon finished his talk by telling us that within the next ten years every TV set produced will have internet access. Given that one of Opera’s customers is the TV giant Sony Bravia, they are probably in quite a good place to make this prediction.

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Staying focused on the future

Posted by Sarah Mulder on May 18, 2009


The PR recruitment industry?

As everyone is well aware, we are in one of the most uncertain market environments the world has seen in decades.  For most industries this has, quite rightly,  prompted an introspective ‘baton down the hatches’ and generally make sure your ship is in order approach.  Indeed, it may be one good thing to come out of this market correction; that businesses are better run and there is generally less wastage all around.

However, one  major negative impact brought by the winds of recession swirling around us is that industries can start to lose structure as holes appear through freezes in training and recruitment.  Take the PR industry: in the recession of the 1990s, there was a fairly industry-wide approach, lead by giants like WPP,  to not only halt recruitment but also to cancel all graduate training programmes.  Whilst this fixed the short term problem of cost control, it has meant the industry has been seriously short of good talent for years after as that ‘year group’ of capable, bright recruits were missing from the system as AEs and then AMs and now ADs.

Times are tough, there is no doubt about it, but it is so important to keep talent coming through industry.  Tempting though it is to completely nail those hatches shut, it is essential to keep one eye on the future of whatever industry we are in and invest in the talent that is going to be by our side when the sun finally comes out again.

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Restoring corporate trust – can communicators really make it happen?

Posted by majazupan on April 2, 2009

Caught between jaded consumers and sweeping budget cuts, should communicators roll up their sleeves or ask for a sabbatical?


The G20 London Summit brought together national leaders from around the world, as they searched for ways to restore the global economy. And, while the desired outcomes are economic in nature – stabilisation of financial markets, regeneration of the housing market, creation of jobs, sustainable growth – the public outrage, market volatility and finger pointing of the past six months have made it clear that no solution to arresting the economic fall could stand a chance without one key ingredient – restoring trust.



“Those of us who have looked to the self-interest of lending institutions to protect shareholders’ equity, myself included, are in a state of shocked disbelief.” These were the words of Alan Greenspan, former Chairman of the Federal Reserve, the very beacon of the free market philosophy for decades leading up to the crash last autumn.


But, the breech of trust did not happen over night. The fact is that confidence – in both institutions and individuals – has been deteriorating for a long time now. Still reasonably fresh in our minds is the Enron scandal from 2001, which prompted the US government to introduce the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, setting strict guidelines for public company accounting practices.


If anything, the market crash was but a last blow to the school of thought that considers the creation of shareholder value the key responsibility of any corporation. It has become apparent that accountability to shareholders does not act as a sufficient check on the level of risk tolerance within global financial institutions.


Financial resilience, it turns out, can not be guaranteed without the integrity of corporate governance and concern for the interests of the wider community. Relationships based purely on a financial contract are inherently self-centered, so corporate accountability must go beyond the balance sheet to include an investment in human relationships in order to create trust and a sense of community between the organisation and its stakeholders.


Consumer psychology in recession: trust no one


A lot has been written about the extraordinary loss of consumer trust in businesses – ranging from pure rage toward the financial sector to apathy for industries such as retail and leisure, as consumers tightened their purse strings and strengthened their distrust of corporate marketing.


The public focus has now shifted to policy makers, who have struggled to find quick solutions to an avalanche of market failures due to both corporate and individual misconduct, as well as decision-making based on insufficient information and flawed assumptions. And, while governments are now expected to establish a system of checks and balances to ensure ethical corporate governance, public opinion ranks politicians as even less trustworthy than businesses.


According to the annual 2009 Edelman Trust Barometer, trust in government did not rise to offset disillusionment with the business sector – enterprise is still more trusted than government in 13 of the 20 markets surveyed. The media closely follows the government trajectory, with less than half (47 percent) of overall respondents worldwide saying they trust the media to do the right thing. This figure drops precipitously in the UK, with mere 28 percent of respondents placing trust in media.


What’s a communicator to do?


Faced with such strong distrust in their corporate spokesperson, their political guardians and the media channels – should corporate communicators throw their hands up in the air and give up trying?


The short answer is – absolutely not. Withdrawal at a time of crisis not only feeds the public suspicion by cloaking the organisation in a veil of opacity, but it also allows detractors and the competition to take the reins and tell your corporate story from their point of view.


Trying to get yourself heard and noted while bearing in mind heightened sensitivities may seem like navigating a landmine, particularly with very few certainties to anchor your key points to in this volatile economic context. However, it is key to remember that consumer behaviour is only partially rational. Those organisations consumers come to see as ‘their brands’ appeal to their emotions, desires and the need for identification and comfort – the dimensions that, albeit highly personal and complex, are rooted in a simple human need to relate and belong.


So no, there is no rulebook for regaining consumer trust. Rather, communicators should deploy their innate ability to listen and act intuitively to find a ground where both their organisation and its stakeholders can stand comfortably.


House Sweeper in Chief


Before engaging with the wider public, communicators have a big role to play in making sure their organisation’s house is in

Problems within organisations all too often arise when the information available is insufficient, misinterpreted or withheld from those whose conduct or decision-making depends on it. Having access to various areas of their organisation, and on a perpetual mission to gather information to base their external communications on, communicators are in a unique position to be the first to notice something being wrong with either the information itself or its interpretation by various internal stakeholders.


Communicators should use their listening skills to detect any such breakdowns in communication, which, if undetected, may present reputational risks to the organisation. Put in political parlance, communicators should have in place an ‘early warning’ mechanism by which to evaluate the internal flow of communication. This, in turn, can enable them to anticipate questions and concerns likely to arise among the organisation’s external stakeholders.


In short, communicators should keep their ear to the ground, monitoring both internal as well as external chatter to understand what gaps may exist between the organisation’s goals and self-perception, and external stakeholders’ expectations and conceptions of the same.


Turning communications into an operational function


Having this knowledge does not in itself mean that communicators can begin plugging gaps through crafty communications.


Informed understanding of organisational opportunities and threats is a golden opportunity to reassess not only the way an organisation talks about itself, but more importantly, how it behaves. Analysis of external perceptions can shed a spotlight on corporate practices that are redundant, inefficient or misdirected. In such instances, attempting to adapt the corporate rhetoric without solving the core issues that cause the disconnect can only aggravate the already fragile confidence in the organisation.


Owning up to shortfalls and acting to address them needs very little supporting rhetoric to make meaningful progress in calibrating perceptions and restoring trust. Communicators are in a powerful position to make the case for organisational change by bringing the potential reputational risks to the management’s attention, and embedding transparency into any remedial course of action.


Ability to influence management decisions implies a communications role that is part of the management structure – a strategic role integral to an organisation’s operations, rather than a functional position serving to merely report the official company line. Organisations should go beyond introducing grand titles, and truly make communications part of the decision-making process, including board representation where applicable.


Knowing who your friends are


Understanding issues and having the right set of messages still does not guarantee that messages will be heard and, critically, stick. Good communications are not only relevant, well targeted and easy to understand. Ideally, they are also supported by sources outside the organisation – those people and organisations who matter to the audiences the communications are trying to reach. Messages delivered by third parties – such as academics, think tanks, industry analysts, or ‘people like me’, often carry more weight than messages communicated directly by the organisation itself.


Understanding who the influencers within relevant communities are, and finding ways to align with them, should be at the core of communications planning. Having a corporate position endorsed by the people who are personally relevant to your audiences helps create a sense of common purpose and familiarity crucial to building trust.


Reinventing romance


Once the organisation enters this privileged relationship of confidence with its stakeholders, the job, in many ways, only begins. As with any relationship, nurturing through regular contact, being in tune with personal concerns and changing needs, creating opportunities for personal involvement with the brand – all of these are key to making sure the relationship continues to blossom.


And, while apologies may be accepted and amends made, getting it right the first time around is worth its weight in gold in the face of short attention spans, volatile economies, and competitive suitors ready at the door to jump on an opportunity to get involved.

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Why innovation matters…

Posted by Will Connolly on March 2, 2009

Innovation is defined by the Oxford dictionary as “1 the action or process of innovating.  2 a new method, idea, or product. ” So what is the process of innovating, and what can we achieve?   Innovation is then, creating new ways of thinking to enable the practice of a new method, or design of a new idea, service or product. 

Whether we are talking about the global economic downturn, scarcities of knowledge and resources in developing countries, or thinking about new ways to learn and educate; innovation is essential in the way we work. 

How can innovation be envisaged?

Methods of creative thinking such as brainstorms, collaborative working, and exposure to new experiences shape our innovative success.  Working in a creative environment, the use of social media and web 2.0 are ways to engage with others both in and out of our physical vicinity.    Working in these ways inspire new thoughts and avenues of discovery.  Web 2.0 and social media are an ever-increasing phenomenon, but what is the point to all these usernames and passwords?  How much social media can we take? Among the young no doubt, social media is a popular topic; people are using websites such as Facebook and MySpace to connect with their peers.  How many professionals today are using these ways of communicating fully to their advantage?  The increase in contact through these channels surely leads to learning new information and inspiring ideas.  Twitter has proved a popular business tool, to communicate with journalists, PRs, and add a personal touch to the way we communicate in business.  This is an example of how we can manipulate the media to our advantage.

Best practices and examples of success

Context is important when thinking about innovation.  What are the social, environmental, political, economic, and media factors that will influence the way we communicate and design?  Can the way we look at and forecast the future also define what we should be doing now?  Knowing what issues of the day affect our businesses and policies will put us in better positions to be successful in the future and aid the evolution of innovation.

Business Week asked futurologists, to describe what they’d like to see arise from the current downturn.  “What are the most important inventions of the next 10 years?”.  The futurologists suggest innovations in energy such as bio-fuels and thermal and kinetic energy generation for electronic devices, smarter applications for mobile devices, medical breakthroughs, such as a cure for cancer, and social media literacy to name a few.

Financial rewards and other results of innovative thinking

Can innovation be measured?  The innovative successes of the BBC iPlayer, iPhone3G, Twitter and Facebook, show how innovative thinking can lead to record breaking corporate transformation.  The network operator O2 sells 1m Apple iPhones in 2009 showing how this innovative product helped initially gain the deal with O2 and subsequently increase its sales.

Are there flaws in innovation?

Some people may be wary about changing traditional practices.  Whilst some ways of working will be productive, innovation of our methods and the way we communicate can result in higher levels of productivity and success. But does success stifle innovation?.  Another interesting topic discussed on Business Week; success identified here as breeding a spotlight on efficiency – which can be an obstruction in creative innovative thought.   Companies and organisations should then have a balance between what is measurable by success and what can be measured by our ideas.  Innovation is more an investment in the long term.

Innovative thinking should be used by all and nurtured into our best practices.  Striving for new and exciting prospects and ideas will lead to richer experiences and the ability of communicate with more people.  Innovation and communication should go hand in hand. 

Posted in B2B, business, clarkemulderpurdie, comms, facebook, PR, socialmedia | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Fortune-telling and Fact

Posted by alicocksworth on February 27, 2009


Last week I went to a debate at LSE entitled: ‘Why Did Nobody Tell Us? Reporting the Global Crash of 08’. The event set out to explore why the media had failed to forecast the banking crisis and the gravity of its impact around the world. In spite of an all-star line up (Vince Cable MP, Evan Davis of Radio 4, Gillian Tett from the FT among others) I left disappointed. The problem wasn’t the speakers – the majority confirmed themselves first-class thinkers – but the limitations of the topic.

At this stage of proceedings it seems not only counter-productive but pretty uninteresting to delve back into the whys and wherefores of who should have clocked the magnitude of the problem and whose fault it was that they didn’t.

Two much more engaging questions emerged out of the evening: firstly, is it the media’s job to forecast world events?

Willem Buiter (FT contributor and academic) held not:

‘I don’t blame the media – they’re not supposed to see it coming. Prophets, scientists – they’re supposed to see things coming’.

I quite agree with him.

All this criticism of the media for failing to see through the fragmented intricacies of the banking system or at least failing to report it feels a lot like a blame game that is not only ridiculous but indicative of a misplaced frustration. Journalists are meant to report and report rigorously. They cannot prophesy and nor should they be expected to. Yes, opinion and prediction are important elements of the media landscape but they cannot be allowed to infiltrate the reporting of fact – isn’t that the kind of irresponsibility we so often castigate the tabloids for? Surely Mr Peston’s ‘warning’ about NorthernRock and the consequences should stand as a lesson that the media must report, not only with clarity but with impartiality.

The second more interesting and I think more pressing issue was raised by Gillian Tett – one of the few journalists who actually understood and attempted to report the fragility of the system – and disputed by Evan Davis when he said this:

‘It’s not the media’s job to bang a drum when no-one else is’

Forgive me Evan but I think that is exactly what the media’s job is.

Some of the most brutal problems the world faces are spoken of only in blushing whispers: suffering up-close tends to inspire awkward embarrassment or a channel change to perpetuate a sense of plausible deniability.

The media wields the awesome power of being able to drag these things out of the shadows and it is the only means by which social silence can be broken and allow education – education that is desperately needed around issues like sexual violence and STIs – to begin.

I do not expect the media to champion causes or issue warnings and I certainly don’t blame them for not producing an accurate horoscope for the financial world. But keeping quiet because it’s what everyone else is doing? That is criminal.

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Hothouse Foresight 2009 launched

Posted by amandapurdie on November 24, 2008

On Wednesday, we launched Hothouse Foresight, a research initiative to explore the economic, political, business, societal and media trends that will shape the operating environment in 2009. To mark the launch, we assembled a stellar cast of speakers including Paul Mason, Economics Editor, BBC Newsnight; Holger Schmieding, Chief European Economist, Bank of America; Professor James Woudhuysen, De Montfort University; and, Edward Mason, Independent Diplomat.

In line with our approach to the research, the speeches and discussion was broad ranging. It covered everything from the impact of energy saving light bulbs to economic restructuring; European expansion to the evolution of the Anglo-Saxon capitalist model.

The event – hosted at London’s Soho Hotel screening room – attracted over 70 senior communicators representing companies from many sectors.

If you would like to listen to an edited podcast of the session click here.

Paul Mason, Newsnight

Paul Mason opened his presentation with insights from his travels in the US, to cities such as Detroit which have been at the sharp end of the credit crunch. He also focused not just on the short-term economic impact of the current downturn but also explored what it means for the Anglo-Saxon model of capitalism, consumer expectations and policy-making.

holder_bigHolger Schmieding – a self-confessed optimist – talked about prospects for the UK and European economy over the coming year. He said it is likely that this recession will last longer than six months or so and we could be well in to 2009 before we start to see economic growth. He also suggested that – if you remove the impact of government expansion in the last decade – the UK has been growing at a similar rate to most countries in the Eurozone. Looking to the future, he suggested that this may indicate that UK growth in the next decade will be more line with the rest of Europe.

james_bigProfessor James Woudhuysen is currently finalising a book called Energise! which looks at how we can begin to address the world’s energy needs. He challenged the presumption that energy is a scarce resource and that we need to move beyond this ‘austerity mentality’ which punishes individuals for using energy and instead focus on creating scientific solutions to the energy crisis.

edward_bigEdward Mason presented his views on what an Obama presidency would mean, prospects for the EU Reform Treaty and what would potentially be the global trouble spots in 2009. He suggested that it is likely that continuity, as much as change, will define the Obama presidency as he continues to further and safeguard US interests across the globe.

The launch of Hothouse Foresight was the culmination of months of work and planning. Hothouse Foresight is part of our commitment to underpin PR and communications with insights into what is shaping business decision-making, consumer purchasing and policy-making. We will be using the research with our clients to develop high impact comms programmes over the coming year.

If you’d like to know about Hothouse Foresight, or what the trends mean for your business or sector, then do get in touch. We’d love to meet up for a chat over coffee.

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Complimentary workshop

Posted by amandapurdie on October 10, 2008

Clarke Mulder Purdie are offering a complimentary one hour workshop to examine how your company should be communicating about sustainability issues. 


In the workshop we will cover


  • How your company is currently perceived with regards to sustainability issues?
  • What is the image of your sector in general and your competitors?
  • What are the key sustainability trends and issues?
  • What would be an appropriate way for you to incorporate sustainability themes into your communications?
  • How to avoid being accused of greenwashing?
  • How to get buy-in from your organisation.  


Please let me know if you would like to take advantage of this offer.  Amanda Purdie, 0207 401 8001




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Communicating sustainability: what really matters to your customers, and why you should care?

Posted by Helen on October 10, 2008

From Maja Zupan, Associate Director, Clarke Mulder Purdie…

For the past year or so, one could not open the morning paper or log onto a news site without half a dozen headlines jumping off the page announcing newly crafted sustainability policies by this or that organisation. However, after initial praise for the green pioneers, the media became more difficult to please, criticising many a corporate policy as skin deep. This, in turn, has led some organisations to conclude they were better off not doing anything at all.

At a time when the economic downturn is placing new pressures on organisations, and the media appetite for corporate sustainability stories is seemingly waning, are these organisations onto something? Should companies put their sustainability policies on a shelf and get on with business? While tempting, such thinking is fundamentally flawed.

Read the rest of this entry »

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London Leaders

Posted by Helen on October 10, 2008

The London Leaders programme was created by the London Sustainable Development Commission in 2007 to promote sustainability in the city. 15 inspirational Londoners were appointed to act as sustainability champions in their respective fields and communities.

One of the Leaders performs with her band

One of the Leaders performs with her band

Clarke Mulder Purdie was appointed to conduct a media campaign to profile the individuals and support the leaders in their pledges. The leaders themselves include an ex-circus performer turned green roof expert; a Bangladeshi immigrant running a gardening and cookery club at Spitalfields City Farm; the Head of Arts from the RSA, and a businessman working to reduce fuel bills for low-income homes. This wide variety of backgrounds meant engaging media from a number of sectors – from BBC Asian Network radio to the construction and architecture magazine Building. At the launch of the programme coverage was achieved with BBC London news, the Evening Standard, Metro and the London Paper.

It can be hard to weave the social, environmental and economic strands of sustainability into one coherent message, especially while trying to tell 15 different stories which each make up a part of the whole. Luckily, the way in which the Leaders worked together within the group illustrated the symbiotic nature of the three strands – uniting on projects to extend the original remit of the programme. The programme itself is ongoing, with plans to recruit new Leaders each year to add to the existing community across London.
Working with the London Leaders proved that the best way to spread an inspirational message is to start locally and build the momentum across different communities, creating spheres of support, small at first, but growing until they overlap and cover the city.

For more information: tel 0207 401 8001 or click here.

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