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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

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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

 
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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

 
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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

 
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Posted by on January 30, 2012 in CSR

 

PR challenges for Egypt

The ongoing protests in Egypt against president Mubarak  have caused chaos not only in the country but also in the PR industry. It’s hard to rebuild damaged reputation especially when it comes to top travel destinations like Egypt.

The uprising made thousands of tourists evacuate from country’s major cities leaving hotels and resorts empty. Even though most resorts are 8 hours away from Cairo and other big cities it seems that tourists still feel frustrated and are reluctant to stay or go to the country.

Comms specialists are trying new strategies to rebuild Egypt’s international reputation. The main idea is to provide clients with accurate up-to-date information. PR practitioners constantly appear on a number of regional radio stations explaining that key tourist areas are unaffected trying to put them in context, i.e most of them are far away from Cairo and even are serviced by a different airport.

Would it be enough? In my opinion, once protests are gone, tourists will start flying to Egypt again because it is an interesting country with historic heritage.

M

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

 

If your government shuts down your internet, it’s time to shut down your government

Some governments are willing to commit to open web access for all, no matter what. In 2002 Estonia made internet access a human right. Finland introduced a law last year that guarantees every sitizen broadband internet. .
However, some countries have recently tried to suspend the national internet. We all wintnessed the internet blackout in Egypt and the censored news and social media in Tunisia. The notorious news coverage blackout posed by Israel made us “eyeless in Gaza” but was it actually a winning strategy? Did such radical measures stop the protests?

Certainly not. If anything, one lesson seems to be that enforced closure of internet and media access can only do harm: if your government shuts down your internet, it’s time to shut down your government. Especially on the Second Front – media!

M

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

 

UK PR agencies doing work for Quadafi???

More and more PR agencies are being approached by foreign dictatorships officials to deal with the current crisis.

I’m just flicking through PR Week where on the cover page I can see there is yet another UK PR agency to be targeted by protesters because of its links to the Gaddafi regime. Shocking!Disappointing! But is it really true that agencies are currently helping dictatorship regimes such as Gaddafi’s?

Joy! Lybian officials were trying to hire PR agencies but fortunately it came to nothing! Yes, Brown Lloyd James did do work for Gaddafi but back in 2009 when Lybia was recognised by British and American governments. So, is it that bad?

Panta rei! Things always change – what was good yesterday might not be good today and PR practitioners know this best! It’s PR professionals who best know how fragile a reputation is and it’s them who best know how to take care of reputation, especially their own!

Do you really think a decent PR practitioner would risk their own reputation with doing work for somebody who is generally hated? Certainly not!

I’m a bit disappointed! Is it becoming fashionable to attack PR agencies?  Why activists don’t  target governments that do business with such dictatorship regimes all the time instead of turning the PR industry into notorious spin?

M

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