RSS

Monthly Archives: January 2012

To make a promise and to keep it…PRICELESS!

No, I’m not going to write about that cool ad from the UEFA Champions League. Now when I mentioned it I’m sure people would pay more attention to what I’m blogging about because I just referred to football. To me this is one of the greatest ads ever for it does more than just promoting a product: it reminds on that word of honour called promise.   I like writing about words, their use and their meanings and I think now it’s the best time to ask you: Do you keep your promises? Or if you can’t stick to them do you apologize or you just leave the other person/people hanging? What does a promise mean to you?

To me a promise means a lot. It means I put my trust in somebody, it means I rely on this person, it means I believe that person or in other words this person means a lot to me. So keeping a promise show you care, shows respect, shows your manners and attitude. Or at least that’s how I see it. When I say I promise I do mean it and I never promise something I can’t make. Or if I can’t make it I certainly do everything possible to inform the other person and I do apologize and try to make up to them. Many people, for example, don’t bother to call if they are late or they simply forget about it. OK, life happens: once you forget, twice you forget….n times you forget and it turns into a habit. Or it seems you just don’t really care, doesn’t it? Like we say in my country: If you want to do something you always find a way; if you don’t want to do something – you always find an excuse. Probably I would sound a bit too old-fashioned or sensitive but what’s wrong with that? Since when it’s become old-fashioned to respect people?

It’s these “little” things that make the big ones. Or like we say in my country: “A word given – a stone thrown” – you can’t take it back and you should stick to your word. That’s what I try to do. If you never do it then why do you promise at all? The word “promise” simply loses its meaning, it just becomes chit-chat and eventually nobody really believes when you say “I promise”. I’ve noticed, especially around New Year’s Eve, that many people say they will now change their ways and lives for better because it’s a New Year – it’s a new beginning. Well, my views are quite different than that. The New Year is just another year – from January to  December. Every year many people say they will have a fresh new start and then nothing really changes – it’s just another New Year’s Eve with celebrations, friends, family, food, music etc. and then it comes another one…and another one. Do you really need a New Year to change your life? If you want to become a better man – do it. If you want to be a braver kid – then be. If you miss somebody – call. If you want something – go get it. Why do you need another New Year for that? You live now and tomorrow starts today! Why do you need to do something special for your sweetheart only on St. Valentine’s day? Or their birthday? Do you need a reason to say “I love you” or “I miss you” or “I care about you”? I don’t! I know in many societies the New Year’s Eve is related to customs and hopes for a better, healthier and happier year but come on, is that the only time we are supposed to hope for that? Aren’t we supposed to also do something to achieve it?

I’m not trying to change anybody’s habits or ways. I realized it is impossible long time ago. What I can change is my own ways. If more people do that then it’d make a difference. What about you?

M

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on January 30, 2012 in Ethics and Philosophy

 

Eyeless in Gaza: the misuse of language in war reporting

Israelis and Palestinians have been fighting for about  century over land. The battles  – involving many other issues than just land, have been fought with tanks, rockets, aircraft, fists, stones, sticks, you name it. However, nowadays battles do not happen only on clearly delineated fronts. The battles of the 21st century are fought on editorial pages, TV screens and especially on the Internet. Satellites and cameras made transmission of text and visual context almost instantaneous so wherever we live in the world we stay “informed”. But is everything as “real” as it seems?This globalization and unification of communication have had a big impact on war turning it into a global spectacle, especially for those not directly involved in it.  Basically, if you can dominate world media and influence people’s opinions, you can defeat your enemy on this second “virtual” front by letting global levers like trade sanctions, decreased tourism etc. constrain him.

That is a good reason why media often reduce highly complex conflicts such as the Israeli/ Gaza one. Sweeping instances of media distortion – when big media report important war conflicts wrong – fascinate me. That’s why I decided to write my dissertation on this particular topic, using the Israeli/Gaza conflict as a case study.

Having witnessed the 2008/09 Israeli/Hamas war I had the chance to see how international, Arab and Israeli media reported the conflict. Being 20 km from Gaza I got pretty much real experience that I could compare with what was reported. You can imagine how shocked I was while reading and hearing different stories on the conflict from a variety of newspapers and TV channels. They were reporting the same subject but why did it sound so differently?

Words, words, words – “power of media is all about words and the use of words. It is bout semantics” Robert Fisk.

At the Independent Literary Festival in Woodstock 2010 I had the pleasure to hear Robert Fisk, the best journalist reporting on the Middle – East, speaking about the misuse of words by journalists.

It is about the employment of phrases and clauses and their origins. And it is about the misuse of history; and about our ignorance of history. More and more today, we journalists have become prisoners of the language of power’.
It made me think why is it so? Is it because journalists don’t pay enough attention to the words they use? Or is it on purpose? Sitting in the old Woodstock Church in Oxfordshire and listening to the discussion I was wondering why and I couldn’t give myself a good answer. I’m still looking for the answer but after hearing Robert Fisk’s lecture it became a bit clearer to me: power of media is nowadays all about words…
M
 
Leave a comment

Posted by on January 30, 2012 in Media and Politics, Middle East, Politics, PR

 

Becoming green: how small things can have a big impact

Sometimes small changes can make a big difference and Holland & Barrett are a good example. Nowadays Corporate Social Responsibility is becoming an important issue for all industries and that’s why it’s crucial for companies to take a lead on their support for the environment.

 Linking the banning of plastic bags into its 25-year of a butterfly conversation project positioned Holland & Barrett as the first high street retailer to lead the way on a major environmental concern. Under the banner “The Butterfly Effect”, Pegasus PR launched a campaign aiming to highlight H&B’s corporate responsibility, its 25-year sponsorship of the Large Blue butterfly conservation project and achieve significant media coverage. The campaign, launched at London Zoo reached an audience of more than 56 million and was featured in major press including the BBC and the Daily Telegraph. Through the PR campaign, H&B successfully raised the profile of its corporate responsibility towards green issues and its overall environmental credibility. It also won a Gold CIPR Pride Award for Corporate Responsibility and therefore I decided to have a closer look at it as an example of best practice. The campaign was quite creative employing the well-known “Butterfly Effect” theme to add an interesting twist to the story. The strategy was clear: to raise awareness of H&B as an environmentally aware retailer and communicate social responsibility to its eco conscious target consumer. What seems really interesting to me is the fact that they added a political angle to capture the attention of the business media by releasing comments from H&B’s CEO challenging the UK government to encourage other retailers to follow its positive lead by introducing a tax on plastic bags. Furthermore, this controversy was used to grab media attention on an old topic: introducing half measures such as plastic bag charges or a total plastic bag ban?

The campaign was measured by attendance at the briefing, number of press cuttings, total audience reach and equivalent PR value. In terms of their objectives it seems that the campaign hit its targets and even exceeded them. However, in my opinion measurable outcomes should have been set to make the campaign look even better, i.e instead of just aiming to raise awareness of H&B as an environmentally aware retailer a clear percentage could have been given and then compared to the initial perception of media and target audience.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on January 30, 2012 in CSR, PR

 

All I want for Christmas is….BULGARIA AIR!

“I’m dreaming of a white Christmas, with every Christmas card I write may your days be merry and bright and may all your Christmases be white!”

Do you remember this song? I bet you do! Do you still want a white Christmas? I bet you don’t!

Especially if you are stuck in Heathrow or another airport for a couple of days! As Western Europe was hit by an unusual amount of snow major airports were shut leaving hundreds of people stuck for a couple of days! What should airlines do in such a crisis? Some of them provided beds, food and even clowns to entertain their passengers in Frankfurt. Others, like BA, provided meals, hotel rooms, ticket refunds and ticket substitutes within the next 12 months. If only BA could postpone Christmas!

I’m lucky enough to be home watching all this on the news in my comfy living room in Bulgaria. Here there’s far more snow, temperatures are more freezing, weather conditions are generally bad during the winter, Sofia airport can’t be even compared to Heathrow and it’s still operating. So I’m wondering why measures weren’t taken on time? Was it that hard to predict this scenario?

Anyway, all this is not even surprising me. What really caught my attention was the kind gesture Bulgaria Air (Bulgaria’s National Carrier) made to all Bulgarian passengers stuck in British airports.

The number of Bulgarian citizens in the UK is large. Most of them are students, like me , who want to fly back home for the winter holiday.  Most of them booked their flights with a low – cost airlines like easyJet or Wizzair which means no refunds or entitlement of anything.

Fortunately they will be able to see their families as Bulgaria Air decided not only to save its own passengers with delayed flights, but also to send extra aircraft for all other Bulgarians no matter which airline they fly with! Airplanes were sent to Heathrow, Gatwick and Luton a couple of times and more airplanes are expected to fly to the UK these days.

I’ve never heard of another airline doing that and I think that’s very generous, humane and simply the greatest Christmas gift for all those helpless people in airports! What’s more, Bulgaria Air’s profile was definitely increased and I  think it should be an example of how to deal with such a crisis without causing a massive outrage and even keeping loyal customers and winning new ones!

M

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on January 30, 2012 in PR

 

Maersk: being ethical in an unethical industry

Maersk, the world’s largest container shipping company, has recently won an European Business Award in Paris. Based on its environmental agenda, the Group was awarded the “Environmental Awareness Award” in a field of entrants that ranged from skincare to aircraft. I was very pleased that a shipping company won such an award as this industry is generally very dirty business. I think Maersk deserved to be awarded for its integration of environmental sustainability into the business strategy, and especially Maersk Line’s commitment to transparency and open innovation.

Maersk proved that moving closer to customers can actually be beneficial! As shippers became more concern about their carbon footprints shipping companies had to make a move. Maersk was a pioneer in introducing slow – steaming and hybrid engines in order to lessen its environmental footprint. Since then the Group has been agressive in its efforts to reduce its vessels carbon emissions and to turn that reduction into a competitive advantage by differentiating itself as the greenest carrier.

For instance, the company announced it is getting independent third-party verification of its carbon dioxide emissions and introduced the so called CO2 Dial in its monthly customer scorecard, so each customer can see what its footprint has been by shipping with Maersk Line over the last month, and also can see how that compares to what it would have been if they shipped with an industry-average carrier.

Maersk also set three goals for reducing its environmental footprint: cutting CO2 emissions by 25 percent by 2020; eliminating sulfur oxide emissions altogether; and reducing the overall impact of its vessels on the marine environment by purifying its ballast emissions, using non-toxic paint in vessel hulls and making sure there are no oil spills, or having procedures in place to cope with them if they occur.

By doing so Maersk has not only reduced its customers’ carbon footprints, but it has also reshaped the whole industry! All other carriers have already started following this fine example. For instance, APL, the world’s sixth largest carrier by fleet capacity introduced slow-steaming in 2009. What is more, the company already has a separate website devoted to its environmental initiatives!

Ocean carriers are realizing that helping their big customers lessen the environmental footprint of their supply chains also can reduce ship costs and maybe even give them a marketing edge. The World Ports Climtate Initiative that will introduce the International Ship Index, the Clean Cargo Working Group of Business for Social Responsibility, the support of the Global Compact, the CO2 Dial are only a part of all initiatives Maersk started. I’m very happy that there is such a company that’s not “greenwashing” but is actually really “green” and good, especially in such an industry! I recently read that this month Maersk has donated 300 ships worth 500 000 dollars to help a charity called Advance Aid to ship emergency kits to Africa!

Maersk has been very proactive in its efforts to be ethical and I think companies from all industries should take this as a great example of how to be good! Recently I read a statement somewhere which said that a company can’t increase its profit being environmentally friendly. Well, by exceeding its previous $4bn forecast for annual net profit I think Maersk just did the opposite!

M

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on January 30, 2012 in CSR, CSR in container shipping

 

Strategy and Objectives: which one comes first?

Recently I had an argument in university with some of my classmates about whether strategy or objectives come first in a PR plan. It was a long argument, my classmates even looked at books to find the answer and interestingly enough there were different versions in those books we found.

I personally think that strategy comes first – it’s the whole lot, the meta message, isn’t it? It’s the big picture of everything, the whole sense. Every sense is formed by many little “senses” so to say and these are the objectives – things we want to achieve. What do you think?

M

 
2 Comments

Posted by on January 30, 2012 in PR

 

Eco-friendly tourism: is it possible?

Today I participated in a facilitated discussion with other students. The topic was very interesting: eco-friendly tourism. To be honest I never actually thought about it even though I go on holiday quite often.

The discussion was really interesting and made me think: is eco-friendly tourism really possible?

Considering the fact that building a hotel or a resort already causes damage to nature, how could a resort be eco-friendly? Or if it is in terms of enery-saving, low carbon etc. then what about its suppliers? or employees? does such a resort exist anyway?

Certainly yes. For instance, in Bulgaria there is the so called “village tourism” where visitors live in ancient small villages preserved during the centuries. There are no cars or modern roads and the idea is simple: back to basics. Of course houses are well equipped with everything but people just escape from big cities’ life, all the noise and stress. And the resort is apparently eco-friendly!

However, is this possible when it comes to contemporary resorts? I think it is the norms of the society in which organisations operate that influence the environmental impac, i.e society should become environmentally friendly in order to create a sustainable world.

M

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on January 30, 2012 in CSR