POSITIVE Relations: Reputation’s what you need…

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Over the last few weeks I must have been asked about the value of PR at least 10 times. To many, Public Relations is a world of fluff and spin. But reality could not be farther from the truth…

Lazy PR is what most people associate with Public Relations activity: Churning out vacuous press releases simply to tick a box and count the beans for your boss or client. Without forward-thinking, creativity or looking at a client’s bottom line.

Great PR is an altogether different animal. Not only does intelligent PR create and drive a brand; it also protects a brand. And how do you quantify the worth of your brand?

When I lectured in PR for Boston University (USA) and The University of Buckingham, I used to recommend that my students throw out every book they have ever read on PR – many are full of bar charts and graphs that mean zilch in the real world.

If a plane falls out the sky, you don’t have time to start searching for ‘Crisis Management’ in a textbook. For most companies or individuals, they only truly value the tenacity of PR when shit hits the corporate fan and share prices or sales sheets are faltering.

In most basic terms, if there is a public-facing issue with your product, business or service, the guestimated loss associated with this is two years’ worth of marketing budget. Go figure. And prevention is better than cure although many companies don’t believe in investing in PR until they have to play catch-up.

Long gone are the days when PR accounts should solely be quantified by rigid KPI’s and complicated algebraic formulae. Marketing departments need to look beyond the text book and consider real ROI for their individual business, rather than have their head stuck in a corporate box.

Solid PR is as much about happy staff and how an MD or CEO presents him or herself to the world as it is about achieving sales targets and column inches. When things go wrong you always look for the weakest link in the business. And 99% of the time this comes down to people.

Bottom line, PR is about Positive Reputation, at every level of the business model. What takes years to build up can be destroyed in minutes. Once you lose trust in a product, brand or individual, it takes much longer to re-build that trust – just imagine your partner has been unfaithful to you… how long does it take to build trust again? Sometimes months, sometimes never.

As a PR professional who is often called upon when others fail or after companies or individuals have been burnt, I am 100% committed to building and protecting my clients’ brands. Discerning consumers today are flooded with the gift of choice and Google to search ‘Good’ or ‘Bad’ reviews. Whilst online posts can be removed, human sentiment cannot be so easily erased.

One of my most fundamental roles comes into the fore when companies are in trouble or people are causing problems. People are much more difficult to manage than a faulty toy when there is fixed protocol to follow.

I urge my fellow PR colleagues to teach their clients well and educate them in the why’s and wherefore’s of ‘positive relations’. And this is how I think PR should be re-named: POSITIVE RELATIONS. Let’s put more positivity into public relations. It’s about time…

 

 

Paralytics Vs Politics – #inorout

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As the UK prepares itself for the 23rd June Referendum, social media and traditional media alike have capitalised upon the divisive nature of this campaign to bring out the worst in most of us.

When we start to react, we stop thinking. Emotion overtakes reason and it all feeds into the mucky little paws of all the big wigs leading their respective camps. Some of the public debates I have listened to and watched are utterly shocking.

Regardless of how the British people vote (as long as votes aren’t tampered with, of course) we seem to be ignoring or underestimating a few fundamental points:-

1. #inorout, we still have internal issues to deal with. Speculative ‘blames, claims, percentages, statistics and claims’ mean nothing in real life. Problems are still problems and need to be addressed. We cannot and should not blame these on ‘Europe’ and certainly can’t rely on an Economist’s stoic view to guarantee a brighter future for the British people.

2. Our current Prime Minister loves the big platform. He enjoyed his electoral campaign but appears to be less gifted when it comes to dealing with day-to-day issues. Focusing on #Brexit means less time and resource is attributed to genuine socio-economic issues within our borders.

3. If we leave, the UK will find its way, albeit eventually. It will take at least two years to sort out the paperwork and what will happen to the problems that affect the British public during that time? Who will be keeping their eye on the British Ball (and I don’t mean in the Euros)?

4. We forget that many of the countries with whom David Cameron shares a round table in Europe are countries we sided with or defeated in two World Wars. France might have been an ally during the War and is less so now, Germany is now our ‘friend’. We can and should learn from one another.

5. You cannot compare the UK to Norway or Switzerland. We have always belonged to something in some way. The head of the British Empire, an influential part of Europe’s history or winning wars. If we stand alone, we will need Winston Churchill to rise from the grave and lead us.

6. On this point, #inorout, we need a PM and Ministers that LEAD us. Not media-polished Spitting Image caricatures of themselves who wax lyrical about theories rather than realities and successes. We should abolish political parties and fuse together elements of each party’s votive. Every party has some credence in their manifesto but times have changed – we need a more integrated approach.

7. For every high profile company boss or business mogul that produces a video for ‘in’ there will be one produced for the ‘out’ campaign, having been approached by high profile politicians, PR’s or just to jump on the ‘Brexit Bandwagon’. It is all hype and nonsense at the end of the day. Once the decision is made, it will still be business as usual for these companies and individuals.

8. We can’t blame Europe for most of our country’s crimes and misdemeanours. Issues like housing policy for example and an abuse of the benefits’ system is down to bad governing and policy. Not immigrants. We should focus on how we deal with those who choose to live in the UK, rich and poor alike. And there is a knock-on effect from the rich coming into the UK as well as the needy.

9. Whilst the UK may welcome overseas oligarchs buying up property in the UK for mind-blowing sums, we seem to have overlooked the fact that this policy is seriously impacting upon our property market, particularly in London. Much of Europe has only recently started to purchase residential or investment properties – they were usually rented or handed down. We can’t blame Europe!

10. And we certainly can’t blame hooliganism on Europe. How Brits abroad conduct themselves is not big and it certainly isn’t clever. Europe could teach the UK a thing or two about how to drink within reason and for social rather than ‘paralytical’ pleasures.

And so we have it. Politicians, journalists, dinner party guests – we could debate this topic until the (CAP) cows come home. And whilst we have little control over the detail once the ballot papers are counted, I simply urge the British people to think before they react.

Furthermore, we need to wise up in terms of how we present ourselves to the rest of the world and to consider ‘The Politics of Paralytics’. No-one will want us! And then what? We certainly can’t blame Europe then.

 

Prince’s Crown (Chakra)

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I haven’t blogged for a long time. It doesn’t mean I haven’t had anything to say – far from it. I have had a lot to say, just not much time or will to do so.

But this week we lost Prince. It will go down in history as the day a Jack trumped a Queen (it was Queen Elizabeth’s 90th birthday). Just as well the world operates in different time-zones as Queenie may not have got a look in, had Prince died that very same morning, UK-time.

Prince was a musical genius but more than that, he was a humanitarian and a great friend, according to the genuine, heartfelt accolades that spilled over in a sea of purple rain, from Coast to Coast and City to City the world over. Fundamentally, Prince was always true to himself. Which, in itself, is honourable, in our world of falsehoods and alter-egos.

I have struggled with myself of late: my health, my emotions and my belief in self – I doubted the fact that I am true to myself and perhaps should change this to keep up with the status quo. My life mantra has always been pretty much ‘like me or lump me’, with a strong sense of self and integrity, but I started to waiver towards change.

Prince’s death however, and the quote above, jolted me right back into my own reality and gave me a right royal purple lashing to my butt, to remind me that I am doing OK. Prince would appreciate that slightly sadistic reference, I am sure.

I think Prince was the only recording artist who banned third parties from using his musical material for commercial gain. He stood up for what he believed in, wearing very high heels – against a Goliath of an industry that can strip you of your dignity faster than you can say ‘Kardashian’.

The very nature of social media has increasingly allowed all of us to become the type of person we aspire to be rather than the person we actually are. I can’t tell you the number of times I have seen a friend posting something on Facebook or the like and I know that what they are saying is utter rubbish as they have been pouring their heart out to me minutes earlier (or saying something completely different).

In a world where the quality of your selfie filter defines you, Prince created his own self-managed filter in every aspect of his life. And whilst some people may consider him to have been a few blackcurrants short of a Ribena carton, his lyrical wisdom and melodic lightning bolts will stay in my heart and soul until I reach my own version of Purple Rain.

Prince reminds me what it is to be a woman, in the most visceral sense. I don’t think I know one person who hasn’t had sex to a Prince song, at one time or another. For me, that song and that experience was ‘Anna Stesia’. It takes me right back to when I was too young to care yet old enough to know better.

For me, Prince’s death has reminded me to trust in myself; to retain my integrity and take Madonna’s ‘True Blue’ to another level. I have transcended to ‘True Purple’, the colour of the crown chakra and an infinite connection with Heaven. I only hope and pray Prince is wearing a purple crown up there – the royal purple crown of Kings and Queens.

 

 

 

 

 

MY THAI(LAND) – The Jewddhist Priestess’s ‘Phuket List’

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(Shrine to Buddha along Walking Street in Koh Lipe)

Thailand Blog – Part One of Three

My first introduction to Buddha was through my late father who had a sandstone Buddha in his NW London living room. As a young girl I was taught that you had to keep Buddha high up in the room as a sign of respect and rub his belly for good luck. Buddha always stood out against the more traditional style of antique wood and Holbein memorabilia. Buddha always made sense to me even though I was brought up as a United Synagogue Jewess. Roll forward to today and I too have this Buddha in my living room, in his memory and I regularly cleanse him just to keep him looking ‘slick’. He sits, up on high, together with a second laughing Buddha, also a keepsake from dad’s Estate. There are lots of Buddha’esque touches to my home.

So going to Thailand this Xmas just past was not only a trip long overdue on my ‘Phuket List’ (sorry, I couldn’t resist) but also as a mini homage to my dad teaching me about Buddha and our combined interest in Feng Shui, alternative medicine and food. This trip was my first two week holiday without working for about nine years. It was long overdue and whilst all my doctors told me to rest, when you are self-employed with only one household income, you can’t. Regardless of whether Cancer is trying to destroy you or not. This trip was significant and symbolic for me, beyond words.

I don’t know anyone who hasn’t fallen in love with Thailand. Even if they were flown out of the country because of a life-threatening condition or ended up in the wrong hands at a Full Moon Party, the Thai people and everything that encompasses the country’s passion for colour and simplicity, touched their heart and soul. And I have to admit, my trip has inspired and changed me in a most profound and unexpected way.

As a linguist, I am fascinated by language. Language tells you everything you need to know about a country. What the Thai language shows us is that life IS simple and straightforward. A Thai person might not understand you when you are ask for a “Black Coffee” but they will understand “Hot Black Americano”. Specific and correct. With the emphasis on the “Hot”. Ditto a “Lemon and Banana Shake” is understood as a “Banana Shake with Lemon”.

Myself and my two buddies, AKA “Two Knobs and a Tourist” (and you can guess my title within this dastardly trio), laughed and laughed at some of the misunderstandings during our two-week visit. No-one understood us if we said “No Milk” – moreoever, we had to say “No Mil”. “White Wine” became “Why Why”. You can imagine the chaos that ensued.

I think my greatest linguistic memory from my trip relates to a wonderful lady we met at our hotel in Koh Lipe. Koh Lipe is 14km from Malaysia and one of the lesser known Thai islands situated within a protected National Park. It is quite spectacular and 100% worth a visit, as an aside. The lady I met is called Thung. She was my masseur at our hotel (Idyllic Concept Resort), is a mum of two and a qualified product designer. She hasn’t seen her children who are in Bangkok, for two years.

Thung has something about her. I am very sensitive to people’s energy and she is a lot more than she would ever let on. Not only is she an incredible masseur, but she is also a healer and a Guardian Angel. Curiously, her sister had the same cancer as me and also had an hysterectomy. So she knew how to massage me without hurting me: she knew this instinctively as well as practically.

The first time Thung massaged me she said how strong I was and kept telling me! And that I looked so young, maybe 31, because “Mi-ran-da is so INJOY (enjoy)”. If we go back to the theme of language, Thung and the Thai language are absolutely right. When you “enjoy” something, you truly should be “in joy”. As I type these words, I am crying. Not because I am sad but because Thung’s words and her inner power really had a huge effect on me. So the theme for “Two Knobs and a Tourist” became all about “in joy”. Particularly after a few sherbets… I haven’t laughed so much in years. I haven’t felt so myself (and obviously been so very, very funny) in years. I haven’t rested for years. I was truly in the utmost “in joy”.

There is a lot to be said for being “in joy” in our day-to-day existence. Whilst this is the first in a series of three blogs about Thailand, I could write and paint and dream all day about how the Thai colours, sights and experiences overwhelmed and delighted me. I brought a little piece of “in joy” back with me, together with half of MBK market. But that gives too much away. More to come from “Miranda INJOY” over the coming days about this fantastic trip. For now, go and “INJOY” your Thursday! I am off to rub Buddha’s belly… he too deserves a bit of “INJOY”…

SADele… #25

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According to Forbes.com, Adele’s new “25” album sold over five million copies in three weeks. Not too shabby. But what does this say about us, Adele or the record company that produced and released it?

Firstly, I am renaming ‘Adele’ as ‘SADele’ as every song is loaded with sad emotion. As someone who memorises song lyrics after just one or two listens, I am walking around in a pool of SADele despair, without even realising it. I used to annoy an ex boyfriend as I sang along, pretty much word perfect, to most songs that came onto the airwaves. I love Adele and her talent but I never feel happy after I listen to her music. Am I supposed to feel sad and reach for the nearest bar of chocolate? Should every album or download come with an on-pack promo of Dairy Milk?

As an aside, I didn’t consider the number 25 as a direct link with Christmas until I watched a film with Will Smith called ‘Focus’, last week. Will Smith plays a professional grifter and explains to Margot Robbie (his love interest, OF COURSE) that a ‘mark’ can be manipulated subliminally, with numbers, images and repeated visual or audio references.

So, on this basis, the title ’25’ may be a direct association with Christmas in relation to the calendar date and so that we ‘buy, buy, buy…’. On the flip side (oops pardon, don’t mention the flip phone… more later on this topic), however, the evidence might suggest that we are all a bunch of closet depressives, masking our inner demons and hurts. And that Adele is clearly a ‘skint stalker’ (more reference to the flip phone debacle). I am not sure which part of this tale is most depressing.

For a start, anyone who “must have called a 1,000 times…” should be sectioned or just move on. I for one would NEVER call a man 10 times, let alone 1,000 times, to say sorry for breaking his (or my own) heart. If he ain’t picking up love, he don’t wanna speak. And, if he does want to talk to you, it will only be when you stop calling that he will wake up and call you back!

As for the inclusion of a flip phone in the video for “Hello”, according to the Director, he said that he didn’t want to focus on technology or detract from the message of the video. But having a shit phone just brought more attention to the fact that SADele, poor lass, can’t afford a decent phone or is telling a very old ‘sepia’ story that might relate to her as a teenager, not as an adult.

If you think about sad music, some of the richest song writers in the world write and have written, in the main, tracks about heartbreak or love lost: Lionel Richie (SADele has usurped Lionel’s “Hello” throne) and Elton John are two prime examples. Are we all sad and wallowing in memories? I do wonder…

In spite of my musings and blog-friendly observations, I do love Adele’s exceptional talent. I also (quietly) enjoy going into my person and digging out the pain and hurt that passively consumes me from time to time. Maybe Adele is a new type of therapy for us all, regardless of our age or where we live. Five million people (plus, plus by now) all have something in common. “It was just like a movie, it was just like a song… my g-d it reminds me, of when we were young…” gets me every time!

So if SADele’s transition from 21 to 25 is encapsulated in her music, my own is translated into typed words: Throughout 2011 and 2012, I was a bit of an emotional wreck on and off and, at the time, “21” took me through my roller coaster ride. I struggle to listen to the album now.

By the end of 2012 this is probably the time that the dreaded ‘C’ word took hold on my body. Just after Christmas 2013, I had was just about to find out I had been living with cancer for a year plus and would need an operation, cancer treatment and lifelong health restrictions.  One year ago, at the end of 2014, I had an hysterectomy. This year, I will be in Thailand for NYE, fulfilling a life long dream and enjoying my first holiday without work for about 10 years.

So SADele and the rest of us have so much in common…. nothing stays the same, albeit good or bad. We grow, we shift our perspective and we heal: emotionally, physically and psychologically. I wonder where we will all be by the time SADele releases her next work, I guess in 2019. Hopefully, by this time, she will have a decent mobile for the video and her ex will have answered the phone.

Merry Christmas and the best of everything to you and yours for the New Year 2016.