21 May 2015
Who would have thought Jess S’s opinion could be so important? Or Tegwen’s. Or even your own. Of course, the rise of ‘person like me’ endorsement (or consumer advocacy, as some would have it) is nothing new. From billboards and brochures right through to Jess S’s epistolary appearance in front of my eyes on a jam-packed M3, ‘people like me’ are ever more numerous.
Who would have thought Jess S’s opinion could be so important? Or Tegwen’s. Or even my own.
Of course, the rise of ‘person like me’ endorsement (or consumer advocacy, as some would have it) is nothing new. Trip Advisor’s entire business proposition is, in many ways, based on exactly that.
Yet, what continues to strike me is its prevalence. From billboards and brochures right through to Jess S’s epistolary appearance in front of my eyes on a jam-packed M3, ‘people like me’ are ever more numerous. In fact, I’m beginning to wonder whether I can possibly have something in common with that many folk at all.
But I guess that’s the point. When it comes to modern media, we are all equal (providing you don’t count the fact I probably have fewer Twitter followers than you). And that means all opinions are equal too. So if I decide to say something good about a brand, why wouldn’t they use it to decorate their delivery trucks or adorn the testimonials section of their website? I’d certainly expect some kind of reaction if I aired a complaint instead.
Besides, as Edelman’s own Trust Barometer recently showed, nowadays people are far more inclined to trust my views about a company – positive or negative – than those of its CEO, a politician or even the media. And because I have a myriad of ways to publicly express myself, my feelings don’t just matter anymore, they’re highly accessible too.
For brands, that makes monitoring their customers’ views about more than just gathering insights. It’s also an effective and credible way to uncover sound bites that help them showcase the quality of their stuff. To prove that we don’t just have to take their word for it.
Meanwhile, whatever we think about privacy or becoming a vehicle (no pun intended, Jess) for company endorsement, the rest of us have a chance to make our voices heard like never before. To live in a world where our opinion matters just as much as anyone else’s.
Personally, I think that’s pretty cool, so for what it’s worth (note the earlier comment about my Twitter following), I’m going to keep sharing my views and would encourage anyone else to do the same.
Who knows, one day we might find our own words entertaining us in a traffic jam.
20 May 2015
We invited Jasvinder Sanghera into Edelman to speak to GWEN – Edelman’s Womens’ Network – as part of our Inspiring Women series. She was definitely that.
We met an amazing woman the other night at Edelman. A force of nature. One of those people you hear speak and have to tell others about. You have to share the story you’ve heard because it’s made you so angry; a story so shocking and harrowing that you want to do something about it immediately. We invited Jasvinder Sanghera into Edelman to speak to GWEN – Edelman’s womens’ network – as part of our Inspiring Women series. She was definitely that.
Jasvinder Sanghera set up the charity Karma Nirvana in 1993 to help victims of forced marriage and honour based abuse and killings. Her very personal and powerful reasons for doing so became all too apparent as she recounted being shown the photograph of a stranger – a man who was destined to be her husband, when she was eight.
It can’t have come as a total surprise. As one of seven girls in the family she had watched her sisters disappear one by one to return to India and life with a stranger. She rebelled, ran away from home at the age of 15. Homeless and friendless she was rejected by her parents and has never spoken to them since.
But worse was to come. The catalyst for setting up Karma Nirvana came when her sister Robina, who she had secretly been in contact with, killed herself. Unable to face an abusive husband but under strict orders from her family not to ‘dishonour’ them by divorcing him, she set herself on fire.
“The terrible thing about honour abuse is that there are multiple perpetrators and they are the people closest to you” said Jasvinder. “A network of relatives will coerce you and sometimes resort to killing a child to erase them from the family rather than tolerate being dishonoured in the community.”
These killings are not well documented but a recent study identified at least 18 killings and 11 attempted killings in the UK in the last five years. But of course numbers are likely to be higher as communities close ranks around the issue.
Karma Nirvana’s helpline incredibly receives over 600 calls for help a month.
“Although the majority are from young girls we are seeing a huge increase in young gay men who are being pressurised in the same way,” said Jasvinder.
One of the saddest moments in her presentation was an image full of beautiful young faces – young women – all killed by their families before they had even had a chance to live and all because they cherished an ambition that to most us is a right that we don’t even think about.
Banaz Mahmod was 20 when she died. She had warned the police that she was under threat. She finally went back to the police with a list of the people they should suspect if she were to disappear. She did. The male members (cousins) of her family raped her, garrotted her and buried her body in a suitcase. And all because she was seen kissing her boyfriend in public.
There have been some milestones. Last year the government made forced marriage a crime and this year Karma Nirvana has campaigned to win cross party support for a day of memory which will take place on July 14th. That is the birthday of Shafilea Ahmed, who was suffocated by her parents in front of her siblings in 2003. She was 17 years old.
“When a family kills a woman over these issues,” says Jasvinder “their intention is to wipe her from history – which is why remembering them is so important.
Edelman’s Global Women’s Executive Network (GWEN) works to increase the presence of women leaders at the most senior levels of our firm and create an environment where women are supported to lead and succeed.
20 May 2015
Charter talks offer the chance to be a global player via mobiles and to cut the licence fee, says Ed Williams.
Charter talks offer the chance to be a global player via mobiles and to cut the licence fee, says Ed Williams
Negotiations over the BBC’s charter will begin soon and will be the most important in the corporation’s almost 100-year history. What is decided will determine the media landscape for the next 100 years. The collective wisdom is that a Conservative government with a Thatcherite culture secretary will take revenge on the BBC for decades of perceived liberal bias. The first target, under this argument, will be the level of the licence fee; the second, BBC activities that compete with commercial rivals. Thus, the “forces of darkness” are ranged against it. Nonsense.
The impending negotiations are unprecedented in importance but not for the reasons advanced by this simplistic portrayal. John Whittingdale, the new culture secretary, is a sophisticated and nuanced thinker with a genuine belief in public service broadcasting. The decision facing him and the government is not “whither the BBC”, but whether or not Britain can ever aspire to fulfil its potential and compete globally in media and entertainment. While short-sighted arguments debate the BBC’s size and scope, the likes of Google, Facebook, Amazon, Apple and Netflix are building businesses that will dominate media for our generation and the next.
The tired rhetoric about the BBC’s impact always rests on comparisons to other UK television operators, other minnows in the global pond. While we have been fighting among ourselves, giants have been created. If we want a dog in the global media fight — you might almost say, if we want our culture to endure and thrive — we need to lift our heads and look outside our back yard. Giant global players are accumulating cash at a rate unseen in the history of the world. (Apple could buy ITV with little more than three months’ cash flow.) In Britain, we may have one chance to play with the big boys but it means putting the one asset we all own to work in a way we haven’t done up to now.
There is a solution that would impose strict limits on the BBC’s extracurricular activities; that would reduce the level of the licence fee; and that at the same time would create a global media player. Not bad — so how do you do it?
First, the BBC needs to articulate clearly the red lines of business activity that it will never cross. Over the past few years, it has correctly retreated from areas of mission creep, such as the ill-fated purchase of Lonely Planet. The new charter should expressly set out the boundaries; not just what the BBC will do, but what it won’t do. Protections for commercial media in Britain should be put in place, and the BBC must show its commitment to helping support the wider media ecology, such as artists and producers.
Second, our regulators need to be brave. In 2009 the competition commission blocked the launch of a “British Netflix”, known by the codename Project Kangaroo, because it was deemed to be a threat to the nascent British video-on-demand market. Since that decision, British television companies have each developed a video-on-demand service, such as ITV Player. But Netflix, the global giant that Kangaroo could have become, now has 60m global customers paying £10 a month, on average, while adding 4m subscribers every three months.
Third, BBC Worldwide needs to be given the freedom to compete overseas in an unfettered way, in the best interests not only of BBC licence payers but of the entire British television industry. One way of catapulting this venture would be to float half of Worldwide, creating an immediate fighting fund of more than £1bn to invest in Britain’s creative industries. That provides funding for the next Top Gear or Sherlock, whichever producer or broadcaster makes it.
The unleashed, commercially global BBC should then focus its attention principally on delivering its content on mobile, the fastest growing platform in the world. It should invest in a workable global version of iPlayer, a platform that brings great British content to those who want to pay for it, wherever they are in the world. Content would come from any UK producer. The supplier could receive a cut of profits or sell their rights to the platform. Downton Abbey could be streamed alongside Luther. As the profits from this export giant grow, the load on the licence-fee payer could be reduced proportionately, while not compromising the BBC’s core role of continuing to produce great content for viewers and listeners.
In the end, it all boils down to the question of what we want the BBC to be: a shrinking domestic broadcaster that every 10 years has to justify its existence, or a true global media player that benefits everyone and that Britain can be proud of. We have an opportunity to play on the global stage because we have the one thing they don’t — British creative genius. It may already be too late to achieve this. If we wait another decade, it certainly will be.
This article originally appeared in The Sunday Times.
19 May 2015
Edelman employees take on Tough Mudder - a 12 mile endurance event where you have to get yourself up/over/under/through 20+ obstacles before you’re allowed to finish. And when you get to that finish line, there are more than 10,000 volts of electricity hanging in separate wires ready to take you down!
I don’t know what we were thinking. A 12 mile endurance event where you have to get yourself up/over/under/through 20+ obstacles before you’re allowed to finish. And when you get to that finish line, there are more than 10,000 volts of electricity hanging in separate wires ready to take you down!
Although I’ve listened to colleagues share tales of their experiences at events around the world, I myself knew absolutely nothing about what Tough Mudder would entail until literally the day before, when panic started to set in. I started asking some frantic questions to anyone who would listen: What is this “Arctic Enema” they speak of? Is there some sort of bowel prep I have to take the night before? What is a “Sewer Rat”? Do they have license to let large rodents roam the course? Will it smell? Help me – what is this lunacy?
Thankfully our team was guided by the great (and far more composed) Jonathan Halliwell, Emily Favret and Liv Haddow, who work on Edelman’s global Tough Mudder account team – so they’re used to all the fears and glory of becoming a “Mudder”. My team for the day took all the advice we could get; from duct-taping our trainers to body marking ourselves to ensure fully primal, hardcore event photos.
While the account team calmed the nerves of photogs and media taking part in the largest Tough Mudder event of the year, we arrived to check-in, suit-up and take on the course, fearful of what lay ahead of us. Apparently they went through the trouble of re-doing every obstacle on the menu for 2015, and we were among the first to take them on (insert terrified face selfies here).
What happened throughout the day was quite profound. Of course, the seven of us all know each other, work together, and see each other in some capacity every day. But what Tough Mudder does best is bring you together in a way that you really can’t describe unless you take part in one yourself.
Every single person on the course wants to help you – therein lies the brilliance. Complete strangers give you a boost over an impossibly high wall, or lend their bodies as a climbing frame to overcome “The Pyramid Scheme”, or just simply turn around and wait to check you’re ok and ready to press on when you get out of “Cry Baby”. And these were all complete strangers… so you have some idea of the camaraderie of the event. If strangers could act like this, the #Edelmudders team took it to another level – by the end, we had become brothers and sisters. On top of this, we knew we were also joining #Edelmudder teams before us from Canada, New York, Atlanta, Australia and Germany, who had proudly achieved their Mudder headbands before us. Game. On.
A particular highlight had to be when Jonathan (the tallest member of the group by about 3 feet) was thrown down at the top of “Everest 2.0″ by a nearby woman who exclaimed he was “tall and lanky” and “just who she was looking for”. But it wasn’t just Jonathan who was roped in – our entire team leant over the top of the summit and reached down to assist this woman and her friends up and over to safety. With humour ensuing at each reach, pull and thankful embrace.
Or when Gary and I leapt out of the hideous ice torture that was the “Arctic Enema” and simply looked at each other in shock and horror and screamed. Or when Greg injured his leg but wasn’t left behind. Or when we all collapsed on the finish line after “Electroshock Therapy” and laughed hysterically when we couldn’t get up (likely a combination of the rain and exhaustion… or the electricity).
To top off our weekend in the mud, we had 24 hours to be showered, clean and presentable (not to mention mobile) ready for national television. Yes, the embarrassing photos and videos of our team were not enough; we were needed on-set at the BBC’s One Show for a debut segment on the various incentives for taking part in these wild events. If you scroll to the 8:09 mark, you can see me wave to my mum with a goofy grin, a finisher shirt and yes, my arm around my teammates.
There were endless other examples of the team either helping each other overcome our fears or helping complete strangers, but there is no point me writing them all down – you’ll just have to find out what it’s all about yourself! Join our London team for our next event in September 2015, or if you can’t wait until then, head to one of the other many events in the UK and Ireland this season. For photos and video of our team and Edelmudders around the world, check out #Edelmudders on Twitter and Instagram throughout the year.
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