Specsavers – should’ve listened to Oscar Wilde, or Richard Dawkins about memes

specsavers

News that Specsavers, the high street optician, is attempting to trademark the phrase “should’ve” shows how they are failing to understand the wise words of Oscar Wilde or understand memes – and are in danger of scoring a massive communications own goal.

The company is reported to have filed a trademark application with the UK Intellectual Property Office to establish Specsavers’ rights to use of the terms “should’ve” and “shouldve” in a range of commercial spheres.

The move was presumably instigated by the use of the phrase, “should’ve gone to Specsavers” at the end of their adverts. There is legal opinion who think the rules would not allow such a common phrase to be trademarked.

Yet the move doesn’t make significant sense in the rules of modern-day communications terms either.

The great observer of the human condition, the writer Oscar Wilde noted in his ‘Picture of Dorian Grey’, “There is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.”

The enemy of Brand communications and PR are not messages from Brand competitors.

It’s being ignored.

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How HSBC nearly ruined me – and my story of renewal

Mary Creagh formal opening

The banks are in the news – this time with revelations about HSBC. Here’s my personal story of how the banks, the financial regulators and government losing their moral compass affected one individual.

Last week Mary Creagh MP formally opened a new co-working centre, IndyCube Wakefield, in the Wakefield Media and Creativity Centre.

It hopefully marks the start of a new area creating work and career opportunities and promoting a new style of working for small businesses, freelancers, and remote workers who prefer not to work alone.

It’s a story of hope and honest endeavour, in marked contrast with the news.

It has emerged that US officials refused to prosecute HSBC for money laundering in 2012 because of concerns that it would cause a “global financial disaster”.

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Why the PRCA must keep ‘public relations’ – for the future of PR – and even humankind.

prca logo

The UK organisation currently known as the Public Relations Consultants Association (PRCA) is about to make a decision to change its name – even considering dispensing with the words ‘Public Relations’.

This is a plea to keep the epithet ‘Public Relations’ for its own self-interest and for the wider good of the profession – and the world at large.

For its own self-interest retaining ‘Public Relations’ preserves its acronym and most common usage of its title – ‘the PRCA’.

Neither do you need a crystal ball to predict that at some point, in the not-too-distant future, there is going to have to be a debate about whether there should be a merger between the two organizations operating within the UK public relations sector – the PRCA and the Chartered Institute of Public Relations. The PRCA retaining the ‘Public Relations’ part of its name facilitates any future marriage.

It is understandable that an organization formed in 1969 recognized the need to reflect the fact that it was no longer limited to just those working as consultants. ‘Consultants’ has to go.

Yet, the advent of integrated communications, with the blurring of the lines between different communications disciplines such as advertising, brand management and digital marketing could tempt a forward-looking strategist to adopt ‘Professional Communicators’ as a catch-all theme.

This would be fundamentally wrong.

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Lessons for listening for Public Relations from BREXIT

ears

Following the UK people’s vote to leave the UK has there ever been such an important time for the ears of PR people to lead the way in creating a better future?

Listening is not only a tool for the most effective communicators but also one of the key management functions of public relations – PR people need to both good listeners and also be the champion for their organization’s listening.

It is not about communicators asking other people to lend them their ears, but also be mindful of how good is their own listening: are they really listening? If we as PR practitioners cannot listen effectively then how can we ask our targets to do likewise?

Are there lessons for our political establishments – both at a UK and European-wide level – as they reflect on the lessons they could learn from the BREXIT win?

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How Leave won the Meme Wars in Referendum and lessons for you

projectfear

The UK is still reeling from a Referendum vote that surprised the global markets, institutions, and even the Leave campaign supporters.

One lesson is how the Remain campaign lost the ‘Meme War’.

Mention ‘memes’ and the fashion now is to think of virial Internet messages that capture people’s imagination and get passed on.

Yet memes are more profound, I would argue they form the DNA of communications, of how information gets passed on, received and crucially passed-on again.

And what’s clear the Leave campaign won its Meme War – by gaining a disproportionate part of popular culture – leading to a majority result in favour of the UK leaving the EU.

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