Friday, 26 October 2012

Abchat Weekly Wrap Up: PR Week Awards 2012

Abchurch was a finalist in the prestigious City & Corporate Communications category at the PR Week Awards that took place this week. We were nominated for the work our team did for Noble Investments UK plc promoting the auction of the Prospero collection of rare Ancient Greek coins. The PR Week Awards receives hundreds of entries every year, so being selected for the shortlist is a welcome recognition that our organisation is part of the industry elite. We ran a hugely successful campaign, demonstrated by the ‘white glove’ result of the auction; a world record amount being paid for an ancient coin; and a considerable increase in the share price for Noble.

The awards ceremony at the Grosvenor House Hotel was well attended by many PR professionals, and we were amongst strong competition. Graham Norton was the guest speaker and provided us with an amusing summary of the media industry over the last 18 months. The general consensus was that we were all pleased to be at the event after what was a reasonably challenging year given immense cuts to the public sector and companies cutting back in their marketing and communications budgets. Nonetheless the event showcased some of the great work our industry as a whole has done. Unfortunately Abchurch was pipped to the post by the excellent Brands2Life campaign - well done to the winning team at SHL!





1. Good news Britain: the double-dip recession seems to have sunk it’s little head for now as the Economy sees its strongest growth rate in five years. Only time will tell if the jubilee and Olympic celebration anomalies have lifted us on to the road of recovery or merely lulled us into a false sense of security.


2. TechCity: The UK government makes a significant push in the development of East London’s tech cluster, Silicon Roundabout, with the high profile hiring of Joanna Shields, former vice-president of Facebook as Chief Executive of Tech City Investment Organisation


3. Swiss Banking Cutbacks: Considerable restructuring expected and job losses loom as both UBS and Credit Suisse struggle to meet targets. Credit Suisse’s revenues fail to meet expectations as Q3 net profits fall 63% and UBS’s investment banking division fails to deliver solid returns.


4. Luxury goods market - not so luxurious for investors? First it was Burberry and now, this week, Mulberry has sent out a profit warning. China’s gloomy downturn in economic spending has been partly blamed for drops in both demand and sales. However, despite an uncertain market, analysts and investors in luxury stocks seem to remain unperturbed.


5. STOCKWATCH: Facebook’s shareprice made a rising jump back onto the radar after the Company reported better-than-expected revenues. A 14% increase in advertising for the quarter aided a share price rise of 19% and their largest gain as a public company since its listing back in May.





Abchurch became a member of Life Sciences and Healthcare Network One Nucleus this week.

Henry joined the insightful Oriel Securities UK Economics Breakfast Briefing.

The team were at the PR Week Awards, hopeful of winning the City & Corporate Communications award that we were shortlisted for.

Today, one of our graduates attended the LSE's London Investor Show, hearing insightful talks from Russ Mould, Editor of Shares Magazine, amonst other speakers.

Abchaps hosted a Resources focused Market Lunch, with topics including BP's $27bn sale of its TNK-BP Russian joint venture to Rosneft.
 






"Netizen" - a portmanteau of Internet and citizen
 





Play the Look for Longer game, brought to you by CBS Outdoor. Can you name the 75 Tube stations in the image?


Sutton House on Homerton High St, Hackney, is hosting two fancy dress events for Halloween this Sunday and next Thursday. There will be scary stories abound!

The awesome KIGU are hosting a Horrors of the Deep Halloween party at a secret waterside location this Saturday.

Media in China: A Work in Progress

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“Social media is a relatively new and ever changing topic in China” were the opening words of Professor Guo Ke, Dean of the Public Opinion Research Centre of Shanghai University, at the IPREX 2012 Asia/ Pacific Fall Meeting in Shanghai. China and social media are phrases one might think do not necessarily go hand in hand.

The feeling one gets from visiting China is that the economically liberal communist state is now forcibly having to adapt to an ever changing world; as Professor Ke put it, “kids these days are born Microsoft proficient”. The internet is just too accessible in today’s world to not allow the populace some kind of internet freedom, the extent of which remains ambiguous. The talk was of a social revolution taking place in China.


The fact that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is allowing access to social media does show its willingness to modernise and be more liberal, particularly considering that 30 years ago a negative news story wasn’t even allowed to be published in the press. A lot has changed since then, not least the changes to the printed press.


Susan Shirk, the University of California’s Institute Director of Global Conflict and Cooperation, made the observation that before this mass reform, China had no journalism as we know it, only propaganda. As with any totalitarian regime, this one, centralised form of media can alienate the ruling elite from the masses. The people of China were certainly no different and began to crave information from credible sources. The adoption of a free press in China began in the 1980s when the CCP cut state funding of media and opened it up to the free market. This led to the creation of various new media outlets including Southern Weekend, a commercial spin-off of the Guandong Province’s official Nanfang Daily and the Beijing Youth Daily, a commercial spin-off of the government controlled Beijing Daily.

The subsequent circulation figures from 1993 to 2003 of the Beijing Daily tell the story of the Chinese people’s yearning to hear from more credible sources. Print figures for the older publication plummeted by 27% to just 380,000 copies while over the same period the Beijing Youth Daily tripled its daily print run from 231,000 to 600,000. Chinese people wanted credible independent news and their newspaper choice was striking evidence. But the recent phone hacking scandal at News International, as well as the French paparazzo snapping topless photos of the Duchess of Cambridge at a private residence, begs the question: is there really such a thing as a fully free and credible media anywhere in the world?

Zhongguo Xinwen Chuban Tongji Ziliao Huiban,
published by the China Statistical Press (Beijing)
The rise of the internet is key to appreciating the uptake of a freer press in China, leading to the proliferation of social media and micro-blogging activity. The reductions in the control of the print press showed the CCP’s willingness to free up the media; however the implications of the vastly modernising world, and press, mean the CCP will have to liberalise even more. Increasingly liberal policies were not the only reasons the Chinese government opened up the internet; the government saw the importance the internet would have on economic development. The government has actively and successfully supported e-commerce projects and the country has produced many successful internet and media companies, many of which are listed internationally. Opening up the internet to the Chinese public has certainly had its benefits for the Party. China still experiences disagreements with some of the large Western media and tech organisations, Google being the obvious example, which are actually losing money in China. However, overwhelmingly the CCP has used the capabilities of the internet to great effect. Social media is a slightly different phenomenon to the internet as a whole.


Tracking social change

The micro bloggersphere in China presents more of a conundrum to the CCP. Sites such as Weibo are excellent tools for the young and educated classes to connect and vent any grievances they might have against the system, but could this eventually lead to civil unrest and pose a potential threat to the authorities? The answer, for now, would have to be no. As Professor Ke highlighted during his talk to IPREX members, the government monitors these sites very stringently and it can see exactly what is being said, by whom and it can sieve the influential bloggers from the sheep. In actual fact, the use of micro-blogging in China can be seen as beneficial to the Party.



When one looks back at history, all political movements which lead to successful revolutions began with groups within the intelligentsia meeting in bars and coffee houses to listen to charismatic speakers. In a country the size of China, physical meetings would be almost impossible to keep tabs on while posts on popular websites are far easier to track. Through the monitoring of social media, the CPP can precisely identify potential trouble makers and take the necessary action keeping CPP firmly in control. It has also been suggested that allowing Chinese citizens to vent their frustrations on the internet is the CCP’s equivalent of giving citizens the vote. In a democratic country, if you do not agree with the ruling party you will principally let them know when you enter the ballot box. This is something that does not exist in China, so discussing grievances on the internet is really the closest thing the Chinese people have to a vote.


The Party also takes advantage of the populist nature of social media. The CCP can plant propaganda, for example anti US and Japanese slogans, leading to an increase in nationalistic pride and further cementing its power.


Ultimately sites such as Weibo and Renren will lead to social advantages primarily because they place pressure on the government to make policies more diversified and lead to further reform.


B2China

One of the interesting areas where social media in China completely differs to social media in the West is the fact that in general, Renren and Weibo in China are not yet used by businesses. This is understandable because social media is now well established in the West while in China it is at a much earlier stage of its evolution. Professor Ke was unable to provide a single example of a company that uses Weibo for business purposes but is convinced that this would start to happen soon. One IPREX delegate asked Mr Ke if he thought Facebook and Twitter would ever be opened up to the Chinese public; he felt that it would not, however given the vast changes that have taken place in China in the last 30 years, I would be inclined to say that one day they will be open, after all it was not that long ago that CNN and the BBC were banned, but can now quite easily be watched.


Media in China is certainly changing, with reporting now more balanced and less about keeping the ruling Party in power. Social media is giving Chinese citizens a voice and more influence over policy, and as Professor Ke assured IPREX members, Chinese business will begin to use social media for marketing and customer services purposes, they just need a bit more time.


Jamie Hooper



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Thursday, 25 October 2012

China is neither super slowing nor super cars…..

Having spent last week visiting clients and intermediaries in Beijing and outlying Provinces, it was interesting to see first hand whether the hackneyed Western views of China as being a nation of super slowdown coupled with conspicuous car consumption really hold true.




Whilst the economic statistics are presumably flawless, little account is taken of the actual base line from which the recent super growth began.
Leaving Beijing for Shandong province, I was lucky enough to visit two factories designed and built to execute an identical manufacturing process, the only difference being the build dates - 2001 and 2011 respectively.

I began my advisory career with Price Waterhouse, touring scores of factories, and thus feel reasonably qualified to date the design, processes, and controls of the 2001 factory as being the Western equivalent of immediate post war build - i.e. the early 1950s. This arose presumably through a lack of access at that time to Western technology and advice.

The same Company has built a replacement factory, which has doubled the previous capacity of the factory, and filled it with state of the art equipment and technology. Apart from drastic improvements to the working environment, the productivity shift is exponential.


Arches to rival the world in downtown Beijing
So in exactly ten years, this Shandong business has advanced seventy years in technology and efficiency. Extrapolating that principal to the macro economy, the super growth that we have all witnessed in China over the past few years is understandable.

It is unreasonable however to expect that growth rate to continue because the maths simply does not work; 10 years from now the technology cannot possibly be a further 80 years ahead!

Experienced advisers on China growth often use the analogy of dog years, whereby your favourite hound packs into each year of its short lifespan seven more years than we mortal humans do. This multiple is uncannily close to the Shandong example.

So expect a slow down relative to the previous base lines, but the forward pace will still be far faster than what Europe can even dream of at present. Anyone waiting for the big economic fall of China may end up with only statistics for comfort and find themselves in very much the wrong market!


Supercars few and far between
As for the super cars? In six days of moving to and fro across Beijing from Chaoyang in the East to Xicheng in the West, the best offerings of glamour cars were Range Rovers and Audis - hardly super car league. A daily 15 minute drive to the City of London each day always yields a good mixed dozen of Astons, Ferraris and the odd Lamborghini, so voyeuristic petrol heads need not head East from London just yet!


Julian Bosdet


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Friday, 19 October 2012

Abchat Weekly Wrap-Up: Google: Human Error

 
  

For Google executives, the plummeting share price after its results blunder must have been a crushing blow, but it also had a huge impact for those of us watching the fiasco unfold. For the first time ever, the world witnessed Google slip off its pedestal; the company that one newspaper claimed “powered the internet”, frankly, c**ked it up. The 20% drop in profits, the early release of the results statement, the quote that had yet to be drafted on behalf of Mr Page didn’t really matter. What mattered, was the fact it happened at all.

In the early days of the internet, many search companies vied for a slice of the action, but Google swept in and took the whole pie. The verb ‘to Google’ embedded itself firmly in the English language and its success sparked the creation of brilliantly developed tools we never knew we needed but can’t live without. It allowed its staff to spend 20% of their time working on their own development projects, driving innovation in a wonderfully original way. Google is clever, it is cool, it is quirky, it is light-years ahead in its thinking. For many, it appeared infallible, a company that we assumed would continue, uninterrupted, on its astronomical growth trajectory. This image was absolutely shattered yesterday and it will be interesting to see what impact this has, because for the first time ever we have a tiny inkling that along with everything else, Google is also human.
 


 

After a positive week for RBS last week with their Direct Line float, they have endured a mixed week of events. The disposal of 316 branches collapsed as Santander pulled the plug on the deal. However, some positivity ensued as the government approved RBS’s exit from the Asset Protection Scheme, paving the way for reprivatisation.

Utility bills and energy suppliers have dominated news flow this week. After the majority of big energy suppliers announce price hikes, Ofgem has unveiled proposals which force suppliers to show the cheapest tariff and allow customers to default to the cheapest option at the end of fix-termed contracts. This supports Cameron’s plan to bring in legislations to make firms give customers cheapest tariffs.

China released economic figures for September indicating economic momentum has picked up. This has given some optimism to the global market which saw many stock indexes close on a high.

Two major newspapers announce the ceasing of their print editions. American magazine Newsweek is to halt print publication on 31 December whilst British papers The Guardian and Observer are in serious discussion of moving to a solely online platform as management fails to stem annual losses.

Stockwatch – Google saw shares tumble 8% on Thursday as disappointing third-quarter results were accidentally published prematurely by their financial printing firm, RR Donnelley. 
Bozzy has been busy networking out in Beijing this week, meeting a number of law and accountancy firms, fellow members of the CBBC council, our IPREX partner Newell PR, the London Stock Exchange… As well as our Beijing based clients.
Meanwhile, almost 800 miles across the country, Jamie is in Shanghai at the Asia Pacific Fall Meeting 2012 with our 78 IPREX partners from 32 countries, with 10 partners from Asia Pacific. He has also met with Pinsent Masons and the Shanghai based Times correspondent. 
Our Northern team co-hosted the London Stock Exchange’s PCIM Investorday in Leeds with Eversheds. 
We hosted a very successful event on responsible investment, with WHEB Asset Management and Social Finance as part of National Ethical Investment Week, chaired by Anthony Hilton, Finance Editor of the Evening Standard. See the running order on Abchurch's Pinterest. 
Abchaps also hosted in two Market Lunches.  
 
 
 
 
 
Robin Campbell has joined the research team at Seymour Pierce covering the Healthcare, Medtech and Pharma sectors.
Grant Thornton has appointed Jane Stevenson head of the Company’s new sustainability team.
Deloitte, the business advisory firm, has made two appointments to its corporate finance team; Anurag Verma  joins as a financial services partner and Duncan Chandler joins as a director. 
David Bresnick has joined law firm Morrison and Foerster as a partner in the M&A division.





"Gazelles" - the fastest growing new companies, a small subset of all start ups





Catch the launch party of the Robbie Boyd Band’s latest EP at the Barfly in Camden this coming Tuesday 23rd October

Until Sunday you can see 60 chronological images that make up The Queen: Art and Image at the National Portrait Gallery held to celebrate her diamond jubilee.

Take a train to the Canterbury Festival, which is showcasing a range of comedy, festival fringe, talks and activities over the next week.



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Mind the Gap: Bridging the divide between client interests and advisor perceptions

Trust, Credibility and the Future of the Investment Industry


Trust is like a reputation, which as Warren Buffett states “takes 20 years to build and five minutes to ruin”. To rebuild trust and the credibility of the investment sector will take time, but facilitating a dialogue between clients and wealth advisers is a step in the right direction. This was the premise of WHEB Asset Management (WAM) and Social Finance’s event hosted by Abchurch on 16 October as part of National Ethical Investment Week.

Moderator, Anthony Hilton, Financial Editor of the Evening Standard, panellists -  Catherine Tillotson, MD Scorpio Partnership, Richard Brass, Director, Berenberg Private Bank and Alexander Hoare, Partner, Hoares Bank and the packed audience of wealth and asset managers started with the breakdown in trust within the industry and what could be done to rebuild it. In addressing that question, it emerged that this lack of trust has led to a breakdown of dialogue between clients and their advisors and what the former really want.

A report on Responsibility in Wealth, undertaken by Scorpio for Kaiser Partners,  questioned 250 multi-millionaires in four of the worlds leading wealth creating economies: Russia, USA, Germany and the UK. The results identified a serious gulf between the ultra High Net Worth (HNW) clients’ desires and what wealth advisors expect these desires to be.


In response to the series of questions posed to them, the ultra HNWs naturally placed family financial future as the number one interest, followed closely, on an almost equal footing, by civic duty and a desire to give something back to society.


However, when a selection of wealth advisors were asked similar questions, they overestimated the importance of family financial future and hugely underestimated the desire of clients towards wider altruism. Clients’ desires are not being met and something needs to be done about it.


Why the disconnect?

This problem is occurring due to a lack of conversation surrounding the desires of clients beyond those of financial return; furthered by a presumption that social investments are viewed as a non-starter and therefore create minimal demand.  There is also a lack of understanding of the difference between traditional philanthropy and social investment.


What can be done?



Richard Brass suggested that the best route to solving this problem is to “walk clients along the road of investment,” identifying the investments options, whilst understanding clients aims and desires for their wealth.
 



Taking a more holistic approach to dialogue with clients will not only grow trust directly, but will have a knock on effect in boosting the credibility and trust of the investment sector as a whole. Then there is the sustainability and social finance sector which provides the products in which to facilitate this interest in social investment. As Alexander Hoare mentioned it will take time to bring these into the mainstream and measure their success. Check back for the next post on how this is done and what conclusions were drawn from the debate.

Ashleigh


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Monday, 15 October 2012

Five Minute Abchat: Harriet Russell, Growth Company Investor

Harriet Russell, an equities and markets journalist at Growth Company Investor, takes some time out of the busy reporting season to speak to Abchurch about her background, interests, the industry and what really makes a journo tick!

What did you want to be when you grew up?
My childhood was spent desperately wanting to be a dancer but I soon realised it’s pretty hard and that I was not particularly gifted (my dad’s words!) so I turned into a bit of a nerd at school instead. I always knew I loved English and literature at school but I never tried to box myself into one career path – in case I got bored before I’d even begun! I actually tried to get into the professions before turning to journalism full time but found they weren’t creatively fulfilling.

How did you get into journalism?
It started mainly at university although I had dabbled at school by being made editor of the annual magazine. At uni I was Deputy News Editor and then Comment Editor of the student newspaper. The pace of news is addictive but I liked being able to share my opinion in comment, so I guess my job today is a bridge of the two.

Describe your role in ten words or less (if that’s possible!):
Interview companies, build relationships, write news flow, write share tips.

If I wasn’t talking to you now, what would you be doing?
My afternoons generally get reserved either for meetings (earlier), or working on my content for the monthly magazine. Right now I should be finishing the feature for the November issue!

What is the most interesting thing about your work?
Getting to meet the most important people in these companies – that are all worth multiples of millions – face to face and ask them direct questions which most people my age will never get a chance to do. I also get to travel to sites for certain companies who make the offer which is invaluable to really get a picture of the company and whether there’s a great story there or not.

Is there a common misconception about journalists?
I think different PR firms and different companies will have different suspicions but I think the most obvious to me is that I’m always looking for ‘dirt’ and a reason to write a poor review. I’m honestly not, I don’t much enjoy writing about a lack of success because I know these are hard times! It’s quite the opposite: I’m looking for the companies who really are weathering the storm and providing excellent returns for shareholders and have proved they can keep doing so. Another misconception is that we all will make stuff up. Some people take liberties but most of us hang tight to integrity and fact.

How has the industry changed over the last couple of years?
The financial crisis has obviously changed things in ways that will never be the same. The attitude to risk is completely different. While AIM is still a higher risk market, everyone, from investors to NOMADS, is taking a far more cautious stance on companies entering and trading on the market. Regulation is moving higher on the agenda. Also, our readers are perhaps less interested in a volatile high-risk return as they are in interesting or untouched regions of the world. So if you can prove steady revenues and profits in an interesting part of the world we’ll definitely notice you!

What developments do you expect to see in the next twelve months?
Unfortunately I don’t expect to see much change at all in terms of market movement. It’s very flat and it will stay that way until some bigger issues come to a head such as Europe, the commodity market and availability of credit. People have been optimistic year on year only to have their hopes dashed and it’s time to be realistic, sensible and keep costs and expectations lower rather than higher. I’m no economic genius and couldn’t possibly predict when things will pick up. Investors remain highly conservative as do companies – the number of new hires for instance remains really low which is understandable but really sad for a generation that will inevitably hold some great people.


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Friday, 12 October 2012

Abchat Weekly Wrap-Up: Throwing Stones of unrest

When was the last time the Rolling Stones released a single? The answer is six years, 20 years if you want to find their last hit!

Yesterday the ageing rockers released the first of their two new singles, Doom and Gloom, and it’s pretty good!

Doom and Gloom is a high energy and upbeat blues number which is reminiscent of an Exile of Main Street track, the album famously composed when the band were in ‘exile’ in a mansion in Villefranche, in the South of France. Keith Richards and Ronnie Wood’s thrashing riffs are something to admire and they are seamlessly held together by Charlie Watts’s cool backbeat on the drums. Vocally this is one of Mick Jagger’s more shouty numbers that is so synonymous with the Rolling Stones of the 60s and 70s. Mick Jagger’s skill with dragging out a vocal by exaggerating the syllables are there for all to admire too, with the word “screws” turning into “screeeeeeeews” for example. Doom and Gloom ticks all the right boxes to when making a song Stonesy, and this track is certainly immediately recognisable as a Rolling Stones song.
 
Lyrically the song is a traditionally Stones anti-establishment politically charged number, not the words one would expect to be uttered from the mouth of a Knight of the Realm. Jagger is complaining about all the bad news he hears, hence the track’s title. Lines such as: 
 “Lost all that treasure in an overseas war”
“It just goes to show you don’t get what you paid for”
are present throughout the song offering a critique of the decisions made by various governments and people in high places, whichever party or bank they might belong to. The sentiments the song exude echo the general feeling amongst the British public with the powers that be over social unrest, the state of the economy and an interventionist foreign policy so again in that respect, the Stones have remained true to their traditions. If only big banks were as shrewd and in possession of marketable trademark lick like you Mick; it might not be all doom and gloom?

 
One final remark; it is certainly more enjoyable to hear someone’s grievances aired via a raw blues song rather than a group of bleeding hearts setting up camp out of protest for months in a historic location.
 
Great song, relevant yet amusing lyrics, let’s just hope Mick’s prediction that soon:
“We’ll be eating dirt
Living on the side of the rooooaaaad”
doesn’t come to fruition.
 







Cambridge University takes advantage of lowyields and taps into the capital market, issuing a £350m, 40-year public bondto fund a new research laboratory and post-graduate accommodation block

The highly discussed £30bn BAE-EADSmega-merger collapsed

Another football club looks to the stock market asRangers plan a £20m float on AIM

At the Tory conference this week, David Cameronreinforced his vision of an “aspiration nation” and highlighted Britain’s“entrepreneurial streak” as we reach a record number of 4.5m businesses

The IMF published its latest economic estimates forthe 2013 world growth expectations. The UK presented a gloomy outlook as itsuffered one of the biggest downgrades with a predicted contraction of 0.4% -down from a 0.2% growth three months ago

British Gas increases gas and electricity prices by6%, causing the average dual fuel bill to rise by £80 a year and push consumersinto fuel poverty

STOCKWATCH: Direct Line’s share price closed up 7%at 188p after its first day of trading on the London Stock Exchange. RBSfloated it’s insurance arm for £2.63bn; making it Europe’sbiggest IPO so far this year





Adam, Head of Life Sciences was a guest of PwC at their Life Sciences dinner at St Catherine’s College, Cambridge.

We hosted a great group on our table at the AIM awards, which we themed around our Financial Services practice. In addition to clients, our guests were from KPMG, Shore Capital, Canaccord Genuity, Growth Company Investor and Shares Magazine.

Our Life Sciences team was invited to ITN studios to sit in the gallery and watch the lunchtime news being produced.
 
Abchaps held two market lunches this week, one with a Cleantech theme, and the other focused on China, ahead of Bozzy’s trip there over the coming weeks.





High profile business women Kate Swann steps down as CEO of WH Smith, calling time on her 10-year career with the Group.
 





"The Gallery" or "Production Control Room" is the place in a television studio where the outgoing program is put together by the director and producers. It has a video monitor wall and what looks like a giant mixing desk.





Take part in the contemporary art event of the year by visiting Frieze Art Fair Regent’s Park this weekend.
 
Twelfth Night, The Taming of the Shrew and Richard III are the final plays of the season on this weekend at Shakespeare's Globe.

Catch the last weekend of Chocolate Week with events near you.



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Thursday, 11 October 2012

Vive IPREX!

IPREX EMEA meeting in Paris 4-6 October 2012
Having enjoyed hosting IPREX’s Annual meeting in London earlier this year, Bozzy and I nipped on the Eurostar looking forward to seeing how our Parisienne partner, Newcap, would entertain us for the EMEA meeting. 
Gathering the European partners (with a smattering of US and Asia / Pacific partners) this very much focused on how having over 100 offices and 1,500 staff available wordwide, gives each agency the opportunity to offer our clients and potential clients global reach with detailed and expert knowledge across markets and sectors.
Abchat-IPREX-ConferenceThe collegiate and collaborative atmosphere, especially amongst the EMEA partners meant frank and open discussions about steps each agency was taking to weather the current economic storm.  The approaches varied but two key points came up:
It is important to continue to review and refresh the client offering
As one US partner said “If you wait for your sector to come back, you will be finished”.  Whether that means refreshing your brand, doing a complete rebrand, or simply diversifying the product offering; adapting and seeking out new opportunities is key.
Digital and Social media is essential
We heard some very intersting case studies from Manifesto (Finland) and Imageware (Italy) on how they have turned Social and Digital Media into an additional and growing revenue stream, a product that is now a key part in winning business.
With the use of very sophisticated meeting software provided by Succeed Together, we were able to collate answers to a number of questions relating to the strengths and weaknesses of the IPREX network compared to multi-national PR agencies, and how we should position IPREX and ourselves so that we can tap into global and multi discipline opportunities. Our partner agencies across the world have between them such a wide range of skill sets and experience across Investor Relations, FPR, Corporate and Consumer PR, brand management that there is very little we cannot do. 
The partners enjoy through the IPREX brand:
Abchat-IPREX-Conference
  • Flexibilty in our approach to client needs
  • Partner agencies who trust each other and are assured of the overall quality of agencies
  • Global reach with many offices
  • Detailed knowledge of our markets
With these strengths in place, recruiting new agencies is no longer just about geography, it is about making sure new members add depth as well.
Abchat-IPREX-Conference
In terms of promoting the network and our agencies, we can
  • Publicise partner additions and successes
  • Share success stories when it comes to launching new product offerings or reaching out to new markets
  • Incorporate IPREX into our own websites
Bozzy’s presentation on how Abchurch markets itself was very well received, particularly our systematic approach to networking and new business which has enabled us to use our Market Lunch programme and events as a platform from which we can foster new business for all attendees.  We also highlighted the importance of involving every Team member and utilising their diverse skill sets.
Newcap were excellent hosts, organising a packed schedule with interesting sessions and excellent opportunities to network.
We were also treated to some excellent food in historic locations, dinner at the Auberge Nicolas Flame, Paris’ oldest house, opened as a soup kitchen in 1407. Harry Potter fans will know that Nicolas Flamel discovered the secret recipe of the Philosopher’s Stone!  On Friday night we followed in Nicolas Sarkozy’s footsteps and celebrated dinner at Le Fouquets, and then onto Pershing Hall, a ‘modest’ nightclub, almost rubbing shoulders with the Qatari royal family and surviving members of the Gadaffi clan!
Thank you Newcap and IPREX for such a great conference!
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