The current economic crisis – and the uncertainty that comes with it – has had a tremendous impact on Cyprus and it must make us tenacious when it comes to finding ways out of this negative situation.
Over the past 3 weeks, we’ve witnessed chain reaction effects due to the harsh decisions taken. However, the time has come to acknowledge and accept facts. Mistakes were made (unacceptable mistakes, but they happened nevertheless). The days that followed should not have found us accusing (at least in the private sector)… but instead we should have been processing ways out of the deadlock, setting scenarios and making unemotional decisions.
The need to reconfirm a more flexible short term or long term strategy must be the next and most immediate step. What are the facts? How have they affected the business of each company? How can a business continue its operations in its current state or even as a new, different model? How are partners and consumers affected by these developments?
Despite warnings, the decisions taken hit a (mostly) unprepared business world. The immediate reaction was ‘freeze everything until we figure out what happened and to what extent it affects us’.
This reaction made sense for many, but brought with it a series of chain reactions that now mean the system is being hit by hard blows from abroad as well as locally.
The communications sector, especially advertising, is almost completely frozen. Budgets have been withdrawn… collaborations moved to a future date… campaigns set aside. As Stelios Anastasiades, Chairman of the Cyprus Communications Agencies Association, said ‘… most planned actions for April have either been cancelled or moved to a future date,’ adding that: ‘… foreign brands continue to be advertised while local brands aren’t, with local brands losing ground’.
The above is a clear cut position. Once again, Cypriot products and services are suffering against foreign and more flexible brands. Years of investment in communications has practically been erased, pushing up brands that at times of crisis dare to go out and speak to the consumer… to the targeted audience… exuding confidence which translates to consumption and sales.
Strong brands are necessary to boost the economy, but the system’s weaknesses must become a lesson for the future.
At some point, responsibilities will be assumed. But the past is gone. The future lies ahead.
Dimitris Ioannides is General Manager Cyprus, Action Global Communications and member of the board of SDEK
In March 2012 we posted a funny manual on “how to cook eggs in the microwave” on our client’s facebook wall and we accidentally did not write the name of the author of the text. As a result, some very popular bloggers started making comments and writing negative reviews about the company.
We thought that in order to stop this, we shouldn’t get into the discussion, instead we should find the author of the text. So we’ve found Leo Kaganov who is very famous in Russia for his posts and poetry.
We apologized and offered him a present – a microwave of our client Hansa.
Also, we found out that he loves engraving on things and so we engraved “To Leo Kaganov from Hansa” on the microwave.
He was so very happy that he offered us to make a series of experiments in the microwave – we cooked eggs.
The project was a great success – the post of Leo Kaganov spread all over the internet and we had more than 20 re-posts. His post had more than 200 comments (all positive). All the negative reactions were taken down. Plus we had a great audience – more than 50 000 people have read the post on Kaganov’s blog.
Digital Society or the negative effect of media history? What is the reason of the low rate of Poles’ trust in media and what may be its impact on the promotion of companies?
A recent survey of European Trusted Brands (ETB) showed that the vast majority of Poles don’t trust the information presented on television, radio and newspapers. At the same time, more than half (56 percent) believe in the internet.
The ETB report highlights a social trend which seems to be like
a red light for leading channels of communication companies.
Faith in the message is its greatest strength. Therefore, although there is no denying that television or radio are more attractive mediums than newspapers, in comparison with the multifunctional internet, recent leaders look less prestigious.
The Digital Life survey made in 2011 revealed the fact that the internet is a reliable source of information for many Poles. Nearly half of the respondents agreed that comments about a product on the internet are deemed to be true.
I am convinced that the advantage of the network content is located in its anonymity and the joint action of users. – Many people still perceive media as a political tool. But internet emerges as the ambassador of social issues – the place of an ordinary voice of every Pole.
In addition, another extremely valuable group for the media is represented by advertisers.
Promotion of the company has no end. In my opinion the ETB study does not indicate that there will be dark clouds coming over traditional media or that advertisers will no longer invest in these forms of marketing. Rather, it shows that substantive content is gaining importance, and that the inscription “this program contains product placement” could build a distance.
If you can’t write well in either English or Arabic, then why are you here?” That question was asked frequently of her staff by one tough but astute Dubai PR agency boss who has since moved on. It encapsulates in one sentence the problems and opportunities that exist in the UAE PR agency market.
Having been a client of UAE PR agencies for the past eight years, I am well aware of the poor standard of English writing on offer. Friends in the media confirm that the quality of press releases and other materials they receive is not generally very high. I have been party to enough heated discussions about the quality of Arabic writing from agencies, freelancers and translators to know that the quality of Arabic writing in agencies isn’t that great either.
Truly excellent writing isn’t that easy to come by in the rest of the world, of course. I’ve run agencies in London, New York and Hong Kong and it never ceased to amaze me how many people could carve out a career in PR without being about to write a well-structured, coherent news release.
It’s a particular problem in the UAE, however, for several reasons. Chief among them is that many – perhaps most – agency employees are not native English speakers and therefore are writing in English as a second language. Secondly, there are fewer PR managers on the client side with a classical PR or media background and who come instead from the marketing stream, where the line between editorial and marketing promotion comes pre-blurred. Thirdly, Arabic is such a diverse language with so many different dialects that finding agreement on the correct word or phrase can be more challenging than it might seem at first.
My goal for MCS Action in the UAE is that we build a reputation for delivering the best writing (in both Arabic and English) and the best media relations service in the country. Yes, we offer all the other professional services of a full-service PR firm – strategic counsel, crisis management, internal communications, media training, events and so on. But the truth of the matter is that what most clients here want, most of the time, is excellence in writing and excellence in media relations.
Remember the Florida election disaster in the 2000 US presidential campaign, in which there seemed to be some serious counting errors that affected Al Gore in particular? One American comedian summed it up well when he said: “You know that big idea about building a missile shield in space that would shoot down incoming missiles and protect us from nuclear attack? Hey, before we do something really ambitious like that, why don’t we just invent a great big counting machine…!”
So before the PR agency community in the UAE tries to advise clients about positioning, messaging, digital media strategy or crisis management, how about they start with the basics and start producing decent copy. We already have the best English writer in the country on board and have just strengthened our Arabic team with a top-flight Arabic writer and editor, so we’re doing our bit.
Dr Steve Peters has a theory and he calls it the Chimp Paradox. As advisor to the British Cycling Team, as well as many other sports stars and senior business people, Peters has proved himself and his techniques in many areas of life. The Chimp Paradox looks at the way in which self-doubt and irrational, impulsive behaviour can have a negative impact on our personal and professional lives.
Peters argues there are three elements to the psychological mind. He labels these the chimp, the human and the computer. The chimp is the area of the mind that is driven by feeling, impressions, emotional thinking and gut instincts. The chimp quickly jumps to opinions and thinks in black and white terms. It can be paranoid and its behaviour can be catastrophic, irrational and emotive. Its primary motivator is survival and it goes back to a very primitive and essential part of our human development.
The human part of the mind, on the other hand, is rational, evidence-based, thinks in shades of grey and operates a balanced judgement. It is driven by self-fulfilment i.e. having a real, greater purpose in life rather than the moment-to -moment survival instinct of the chimp.
The chimp has an ability to hijack us and take over our reactions to situations rendering us irrational, emotional and out of control in a way which we regret afterwards. You cannot bypass the chimp part of your nature, nor can you control it with willpower. You need to acknowledge it and have what Peters calls a “management plan” to release powerful emotions, work through them and eventually “box the chimp” i.e. put it in a place where it cannot cause destruction or damage.
Running alongside these two aspects of our nature is the computer. An empty hard drive at birth, the computer is the repository of all our experience; a reference source which both the chimp and the human look to for guidance when reacting to situations. The computer is only as good as the information it contains. The computer has all our stored beliefs, some of which are positive, some negative, some deeply hard-wired and tough to change and some easier to reprogramme. Our personalities are formed, Peters argues, by a combination of the chimp, the human and the computer.
Together they form who we are and how we behave.