Monday, May 26, 2008

Cannabis blunder at Tokyo airport

Amazing.... "A customs officer hid a package of the banned substance in a side pocket of a randomly chosen suitcase in order to test airport security. Sniffer dogs failed to detect the cannabis and the officer could not remember which bag he had put it in. Anyone finding the package has been asked to contact customs officials". Lucky they don't have the death penalty for drug traffickers in Japan.

From the BBC.

University of Southern California releases generally accepted PR practices study

This is an academic study conducted by Jerry Swerling, Professor and Director of PR at the USC. I am blogging about it as although this is a US study, the findings apply to European markets:

  • In 2007, PR budgets increased on average by 7%
  • Organizations remain reluctant or unable to allocate adequate resources to PR evaluation, preferring to focus on execution (so true...)
  • Increasingly the PR function reported directly to the C-Suite at 64% reporting to human resources, legal, finance and strategic planning.
  • PR was ranked as the top contributor to success among respondents at government agencies and among all but the very largest not-for-profits, suggesting that one of the benefits of working in the government or not-for-profit arena is the extent
    to which PR is seen as an important player.
The recommendation for best practices in PR are as follow:

  • GAP Best Practice #1: Maintain a higher than average ratio of PR budget to gross revenue (GAP PR/GR Ratio).
  • GAP Best Practice #2: Report directly and exclusively to the C-Suite.
  • GAP Best Practice #3: Optimize the C-Suite’s understanding of PR’s current and potential contributions to the success of the organization as a
  • whole.
  • GAP Best Practice #4: Establish an effective social responsibility strategy for your organization.
  • GAP Best Practice #5: Establish an effective digital-media strategy for your organization.
  • GAP Best Practice #6: Establish an effective issues-management strategy for your organization.
  • GAP Best Practice #7: Optimize integration and coordination within the PR/Communications function, and between it and other organizational functions.
  • GAP Best Practice #8: Encourage highly ethical practices across the organization, beginning with communication.
  • GAP Best Practice #9: Encourage the organization-wide adoption of a long-term strategic point of view, beginning with communication.
  • GAP Best Practice #10: Encourage the organization-wide adoption of a proactive mindset, beginning with communication.
  • GAP Best Practice #11: Encourage the organization-wide adoption of a flexible mindset, beginning with communication.
  • GAP Best Practice #12: Optimize the integration of PR and reputational considerations into top-level organizational strategies.
  • GAP Best Practice #13: Measurably contribute to organizational success.
My suggestions for the next GAP are questions on how PR agencies or clients use/integrate the web in their programs.

Check out the full study at USC.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

BrandTags: See what people think of brands

This is brilliant! Look at a brand logo and enter the first word that comes to mind. You can see the collective brand association about each brand. If you could enter your demographics, this would be a nice market research tool. Trends data would be useful too so you could see how perception shifts and you could tie that back to campaign activities.

Check it out: BrandTags.

Do you know who I am! Ladbrokes CEO bullies British Airways.

Bookmakers Ladbrokes has instructed staff not to fly with British Airways following an incident involving its chief executive's daughter who was on her way back from Barbados (the flight was overbooked and they offered a standard compensation for her and her friend to take the next flight). I am with BA on that one. The Daily Mash sums up my feeling in a hilarious article: "A JUMPED-UP bookie has threatened to boycott British Airways after a stewardess refused to rearrange his caviar into the shape of Charles Bronson in Death Wish II". The customer is always right and some have more rights than others... or at least feel like it. BA apologized... But as the Daily Mash pointed out, they will certainly now be seeking their racing tips from the bloke that runs William Hill instead.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Fifidel: real time negotiation engine for product sales

Fididel is an online marketplace based on real-time negotiation of sales. Interesting concept. Open to US transactions only at present.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Affordable Mobile Broadband on the go with Three

During my short stay in the US, at least as far as I recall, most public places offered free Wi-Fi access. It is a commodity. In the land of high price/low value, I found to my astonishment that even Starbucks (who pioneered free Wi-Fi in their shops in the States) is charging £5 for local Wi-Fi access, which is outrageously expensive. Some independent cafes offer free Wi-Fi such as the excellent Tuttis in Holborn but they are a rarity. The alternative is to use pay-as-you-go services such as The Cloud but not all the places I go to use it as their Wi-Fi provider and I wouldn’t want to pay for a service I could not access everywhere (prices start from a hefty £4.50 per hour on pay-as-you go or £10 a month for subscription).

If you are a business nomad, you would want to consider Three’s mobile broadband offer. I am testing it courtesy of the folks at 3MobileBuzz.

The first SIM I received was faulty but I got it replaced quickly. This is my second experience with their call centre and I must say that once again they did a great job: professional and courteous. So dealing with it wasn’t the hassle I anticipated.

Setting-up your connection is pretty easy, at least on a Mac:
- Insert the SIM card in the USB modem. You only need to do that once.
- Plug-in the dongle
- When it mounts, click on the “Mobile Connect” application.
- Click on “Connect”.

That’s it, you are online.

Connection speed varies a lot. My very first test was at my school in Baker Street. The connection was unfortunately too slow to check-out my emails. I did subsequent trials at various locations around London and the speed was good enough to check emails and surf the web. I plan to try a Skype video call this weekend, which would be the ultimate deal clincher for me.

Three has a special offer and retail their USB modem from £49.99. On contract plans, you get 1GB allowance for £10, 3GB for £15 and 7GB for £25. This is similar to the 2 other companies offering mobile broadband in the UK: Vodafone is also charging £15 for 3GB allowance so is T-Mobile. The latter has an “unlimited data” plan, which is in fact a 10GB allowance for £35 a month. Telecom plans are notoriously difficult to compare as companies have all incentives to make it look like it is different from their competitors so I am going to ask a few questions to my contacts there so I could work out where the real value is in the market.

In the meantime, I will make the most of the sunshine with some outdoor blogging.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

The triumph of form over substance: Boris Johnson wins London

Prepare to turn the clock back as London enters 4 years of stagnation. What is Boris' policy on transport apart from bringing back the routemasters? (Tories like to romanticize the past). What is his policy on housing apart from hating any building taller than St Paul's? I could go on for ages. People forgot how bad London was before Ken, they are going to get a taste of it pretty soon.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

How Europe can shape the global system?

Good article about the end of the "unipolar" world doctrine as preached by the neocons (which is also the end of American influence) and how Europe could carve itself a role in today's multipolar world. Anecdotally, European standards are the reference in manufacturing processes across a wide range of goods in Asia. Financial Times

On a totally unrelated topic, I am testing Three's new mobile broadband offer and will report on it very shortly.