Trust me I’m a cloud vendor… Cloud PR in a post 2e2 world

It is too soon to see the effect that 2e2’s collapse has had on the sales of cloud solutions, but it has undoubtedly raised old concerns about data security in the cloud and entrusting data to third parties. The stunned […]


21 Mar
by Aspectus PR

cloud_prIt is too soon to see the effect that 2e2’s collapse has had on the sales of cloud solutions, but it has undoubtedly raised old concerns about data security in the cloud and entrusting data to third parties.

The stunned silence that followed the news of the collapse was quickly filled by the vital question, ‘How could this be allowed to happen?’ Several articles have recently aimed to answer this question, with Sooraj Shah of Computing doing a particularly good job of tracking down those in the know. What is clear is that the collapse was not due to any flaw in the technology, but more likely a combination of factors involving a company growing too fast to keep itself in check.

The Cloud Industry Forum (CIF) was quick to react to news of the collapse and released a list of actions IT buyers should be taking when investing in cloud solutions. This list also acts as a good starting point for any cloud vendor looking to learn something from 2e2 and start building a reputation as a trustworthy, secure vendor.

The CIF urges cloud users to add an exit clause to their contract before signing; we would also suggest that cloud providers add these clauses themselves, if they hadn’t done so already, and market this fact as widely as possible. Not only does this show confidence in the security of your solution, but it is also the quickest way to distance your company from 2e2. By proving that you trust your client, in turn they should begin to reciprocate.

Andy Burton, chair of the CIF, also stresses the importance of IT buyers having a disaster recovery plan, but we would argue that this responsibility should lie with the cloud vendor. They can at least make this process as easy as possible for the buyer by being clear in their terms and conditions rather than hiding loopholes in small print and detailed legal jargon.

Perhaps the greatest lesson to come out of this mess is the need for transparency and clarity in the cloud industry. With businesses more concerned with risk than ever before, cloud vendors must ensure they are putting potential buyers’ minds at ease. Communications and public relations have to play a key role in this.

The 2e2 debacle won’t halt cloud adoption but it has undermined an industry that only recently gained the trust of the business world. But as we have seen with the horsemeat scandal, a breakdown of trust in the market gives well run companies a chance to shine. Now all these companies have to do is learn to shout about it.


Business cases and PR need to get back to basics on fracking

Is fracking for shale gas and oil an energy security saviour or a Pandora’s Box of water pollution and earthquakes? Well, it all depends which newspaper you read! Regardless of the controversy, there are serious pros and cons at the […]


20 Mar
by Aspectus PR

Lord BrowneIs fracking for shale gas and oil an energy security saviour or a Pandora’s Box of water pollution and earthquakes? Well, it all depends which newspaper you read!

Regardless of the controversy, there are serious pros and cons at the heart of the shale debate – but is it really any different to any other oil and gas discovery? In all cases, the risks must be weighed against the benefits.

That’s why it was refreshing to see David Bamford of New Eyes Exploration call for a return to common sense on the issue. As he summarised at the Finding Petroleum exploration event this month, we need to go back to basics at the start of all shale-related business and media conversations. The key issue in all unconventional exploration is establishing if it can be produced at conventional rates – until this is confirmed all other thoughts should be on hold.

A perfect example of this common sense media conversation came this week in the form of Jon Snow’s Channel 4 interview with Cuadrialla Resources’ Lord Browne. Browne took the conversation back to economics as the starting point, without dismissing other concerns. This was just the kind of performance you’d expect from someone with Lord Browne’s experience and is a great example to the industry.


Could you be Aspectus PR’s next financial services account manager?

Know the facts about FATCA? Know your private equity from your p/e ratio? Get a buzz out of Basel III? Then read on! There is an exciting opportunity for an account manager to join Aspectus PR’s growing financial services team […]


12 Mar
by Aspectus PR

Aspectus PR - PR logoKnow the facts about FATCA? Know your private equity from your p/e ratio? Get a buzz out of Basel III? Then read on! There is an exciting opportunity for an account manager to join Aspectus PR’s growing financial services team in its central London office.

We are looking for someone with:

  • 3-6 years of agency experience in marketing, PR or communications in financial services

And is:

  • Fearless with the media
  • A strong writer
  • A lateral thinker
  • A great manager

You’ll be part of a busy, dynamic team, frequently working with our colleagues in North America and Asia with clients that encompass some of the biggest names in the business, to the hottest, most innovative new start ups. You will have a genuine interest in financial services, and a determination to deliver PR results that directly supports clients’ businesses.

We’re committed to providing a stimulating and supportive place to develop. We’ve got big plans: each office is growing, and we’re expanding globally. We’re big enough to offer exciting opportunities, but small enough to ensure that everyone’s voice is heard, their opinions valued and their ideas rewarded. We hire and promote on merit, and we don’t do office politics.

If this sounds right for you, please send your CV and covering letter to info@aspectuspr.com.


Nothing ventured – communicating VC aspirations for the British Economy

When playing a word association game with the term ‘economy’, a few options spring to mind almost immediately – austerity, recession, triple-dip. All pretty negative I’m sure you’ll agree (sorry George). SMEs however, is one word that provides a glimmer […]


11 Mar
by Aspectus PR

FIG ManifestoWhen playing a word association game with the term ‘economy’, a few options spring to mind almost immediately – austerity, recession, triple-dip. All pretty negative I’m sure you’ll agree (sorry George). SMEs however, is one word that provides a glimmer of hope.

As the back-bone of the British economy, SMEs account for 99 per cent of all the nation’s enterprises today. But these types of business don’t just appear like an army of ants, ready to prop up the economy. They begin as start-ups. And they need the best possible support from the government, its partners, and the private sector.

However, it’s been a tough few years, and when banks aren’t eagerly lending and government finance options aren’t functioning in the way intended, something needs to change.

It’s for these reasons that we worked with our client Find Invest Grow (FIG), a venture capital firm that invests in start-ups founded by students and recent graduates, to draw up a manifesto and identify key initiatives with the potential to unleash the power of the best young business brains.

Recommending 10 changes designed to make investing in British business more attractive, the FIG Manifesto believes in:

  • More opportunities to get in and out of early-stage investments;
  • Enhanced education for ALL stakeholders on the risks and rewards of start-ups; and,
  • A culture enhanced by government policy that celebrates and champions start-up businesses.

A manifesto can be a powerful catalyst for change. However, it can also provide a key means for developing and enhancing a brand. Setting out a clear and practical way forward to put an industry, sector, or even the economy as a whole on course for a better future, will highlight just how well a firm knows the markets in which it operates. Showcasing a company’s thinking in this way creates an edge that others will often fail to match, but only if it is communicated in the right way. In this respect, high-quality content is critical.

Quality content hits home with the market and the media. For the press, it provides a point of reference they can work from when shaping their stories. More importantly, it should provide insight on key challenges and suggest viable and pragmatic solutions.

Aspectus PR’s campaign based on the FIG Manifesto secured great coverage in the Huffington Post and International Business Times, amongst many others. And, beyond the launch, we have developed ways to re-cast, retell and replay FIG’s insights to ensure that both the Manifesto, and the company, continue to get maximum exposure.


Prevent your event from going into hibernation by keeping the media conversation flowing

After a fairly quiet winter, we’re now entering a busier time for events. We’ve got a number on our radar over the next couple of months and have noticed dormant event Twitter feeds slowly coming back to life and a […]


07 Mar
by Aspectus PR

event-prAfter a fairly quiet winter, we’re now entering a busier time for events. We’ve got a number on our radar over the next couple of months and have noticed dormant event Twitter feeds slowly coming back to life and a growing number of reminder emails landing in our inboxes.

This type of ‘event hibernation’ syndrome serves to highlight the importance of keeping conversations flowing all year long, if event companies are to ensure their offerings stand out and attract the size and breadth of audience they are looking for.

We’ve touched before on the importance of keeping a Twitter feed active throughout the year, but we also advise maintaining the profile of your event by contributing regular guest by-lines to target publications.

By identifying topical issues, news stories and debates that tie in with your event’s key themes, or simply those that resonate well with your target audience, you should be able to not only keep your offering front of mind for people, but also catch the interest of a broader audience.

As well as boosting footfall, ensuring a sustained PR and marketing campaign during the course of the year should help ease the pressure in the final few months leading up to your event.


Sorting your biomass PR messages from policy complexity

Biomass is a controversial topic. There is no shortage of debate on the competing uses for wood and the increasingly wide range of potential energy crops – be it fuel, heat, construction, or consumption! In the UK, DECC have to take […]


04 Mar
by Aspectus PR

Biomass PR & CommunicationsBiomass is a controversial topic. There is no shortage of debate on the competing uses for wood and the increasingly wide range of potential energy crops – be it fuel, heat, construction, or consumption!

In the UK, DECC have to take myriad options into consideration, along with complex issues relating to competition for land use between biomass and food produce.

However, one of the main advantages of biomass over other renewable energy sources is that it can provide a low-carbon bridging fuel that is available now and is proven. As a result, biomass firms are keen to push ahead with their development plans despite the pervading policy uncertainty.

This presents them with a complex communications challenge: they must explain how and where their product or service fits within the evolving policy debate, how they will address environmental concerns, and focus on the benefits their product or service can deliver today.

The answer to this challenge lies in messaging. Biomass companies need to assemble a small number of concise, and simple yet hard-hitting messages that provide a platform for their wider PR programme. These core messages must clearly communicate the company’s contribution to the market, its stance on policy, and future roadmap.


Man down, but hedge funds and the media can be friends, not foes

The news yesterday that Man Group’s clients pulled billions more from its funds last year and that one of its employees had been arrested for insider dealing dealt a blow not just to its share price, but yet another to […]


01 Mar
by Aspectus PR

The news yesterday that Man Group’s clients pulled billions more from its funds last year and that one of its employees had been arrested for insider dealing dealt a blow not just to its share price, but yet another to the reputation of hedge funds in general.

Certainly, the introduction of the JOBS Act in the US has created ample opportunities for hedge funds to enhance their public image through better media relations and advertising.

Yet many hedge funds remain media-shy, hesitant to stray away from a reactive approach to public relations, where they engage the press only to respond to difficult incidents such as SEC allegations. As competition for investor assets heats up, small-to-mid size hedge funds have an opportunity to work with media to differentiate themselves from their peers and, more importantly, better communicate their story.

Often, small hedge funds are run by capable managers who produce consistently solid returns. However, they rarely gain as much attention from the press or investors because they’re not a big name. Indeed, by taking a more proactive approach with media, smaller hedge funds currently have a great opportunity to educate journalists, institutions, and consultants about their investment successes and value propositions.

As the hedge fund space becomes increasingly competitive, public relations can play an important role in helping smaller funds connect with potential investors and consultants. But sharing their insight with the media forms part of a much bigger agenda: transparency.

For hedge funds of any size, increasing transparency can help greatly with educating potential investors about how they deliver returns and harness the collective intelligence of their executive teams. By sharing key insights about risk management, operations, and other elements of a practice with influential media, hedge funds should be exploiting the opportunity to highlight their knowledge and expertise.

Crucially, by encouraging more open dialogue with the media, hedge funds can ensure they feature prominently in the stories that matter. As stated by hedge fund media personality Anthony Scaramucci:

“The media likes to focus on the person that made a billion, the person who lost a billion and the person who stole a billion, so what happens is the general public has an image that we are gunslingers.”

By engaging in dialogue with journalists on a regular basis, whether comment is off-the-record or not, hedge funds can gain their trust by giving them the inside track. And the more trust and knowledge there is in the relationship, the greater likelihood that a fair story will be told. This is why hedge funds must adopt a more proactive and strategic approach to communications, seize on media opportunities as they arise, and earn the trust of journalists, investors and institutions alike.


OneVoice’s message heard loud and clear at FSI Conference

Industry events provide a unique opportunity for professionals to come together in one place to network, share ideas and have a good hard think about potential solutions to today’s toughest industry issues. They are also a place for companies to […]


28 Feb
by Aspectus PR

Financial Services Institute

Industry events provide a unique opportunity for professionals to come together in one place to network, share ideas and have a good hard think about potential solutions to today’s toughest industry issues. They are also a place for companies to learn more about the latest developments and increase their brand visibility. And, with media in attendance, they are a prime opportunity for event organizers, sponsors, and attendees to get their messages out into the marketplace.

Whether it involved technology, compliance, lobbying or innovation, there was plenty to talk about at this year’s Financial Services Institute (FSI) Conference. And for independent broker-dealers and advisers in particular, one message came across loud and clear: ‘yes, we will’. This is the affirmative and ambitious campaign slogan presented at the OneVoice annual conference, which took place in January in Washington’s sunny San Diego and was arranged by the lobbying organization of the same name.

OneVoice used the FSI Conference as a platform to reiterate its lobbying successes over the past year (such as protecting 12b-1 fees) and to highlight some of the key issues it will be championing this year. Regulation, technology, and the use of social media emerged as key areas of concern for independent broker-dealers, with advisers unsure of how to effectively use social media to support their businesses and broker-dealers struggling as far as interpreting and adapting to increasingly strict regulations. Meanwhile, technology spend was identified as a definite priority for both advisers and broker-dealers in 2013.

With the TechLeaders Conference due to be held 13-15 March in Irving, Texas, we expect similar industry-moving announcements to be made, with the dialogue providing a better indication of what is next for financial technology in the broker-dealer industry. ‘Do-it-yourself’ (DIY) technologies appear to be a trend, and with regulatory pressure driving further technology change, new approaches to pushing straight through processing seem likely. But with custodians and large broker-dealers leading the technology charge, the topic de jour remains anyone’s guess.

One thing’s for certain, however. And that’s the importance of not just attending events but having something to say, and knowing how to say it.

When working with clients at a conference – whether they are in financial services, BtoB technology or energy – the first things we ask them is: what do you want to say, why, and how will it have an impact on the industry?

In the financial services space, there is growing consensus that the time is right to regroup, rethink, and reclaim the industry, but as the FSI has served to remind us, the best way to do so is ‘with one voice’.


Big Data and Privacy laws raise Big Questions

Big Data is everywhere. According to IBM, 90% of the data in the world today has been created in the last two years alone, equivalent to 2.5 quintillion bytes of data per day. Across almost every sector, Big Data is […]


26 Feb
by Aspectus PR

Big Data

Big Data is everywhere. According to IBM, 90% of the data in the world today has been created in the last two years alone, equivalent to 2.5 quintillion bytes of data per day. Across almost every sector, Big Data is transforming the way organisations operate, and many are starting to unlock its value and have even come to rely on it.

One of the challenges firms face however, is growing concern amongst internet users over data privacy. As users become aware of privacy tools and how to use them, a significant number are already opting for data invisibility on the web. In a recent survey of about 11,000 people across 11 countries, 68% said they would use a ‘do-not-track’ feature if it was easily available on a search engine, while just 14% said they believe internet companies are honest about their use of personal data.

Research by analysts at Ovum also warns that firms exploiting the abundance of personal data on the web to accrue profits may soon run into problems, as well as more government regulation further down the line. Those that rely on the collection of personal data by placing undeclared cookies on a web user’s browser, a process sometimes referred to as ‘data fracking’, face legal action under the cookie law introduced in Europe and the UK recently.

Better engagement

The negative headlines surrounding data privacy could certainly threaten firms whose business model relies on the collection of personal data for targeted advertising, among other things. So, from a communications perspective, how can they address this issue?

As more companies come to incorporate Big Data into their business models, they will need to be clear with their customers about how it will affect them, or risk the threat of a privacy backlash. As CIO UK highlighted, there are a number of ways in which companies involved with data collection can alter their approach.

Ovum advocates that companies offer greater incentives for customers to give up personal information. For example, Amazon uses personal information to improve customer service and build a much closer relationship with its customers.

In addition, an effective communications strategy will tackle concerns about privacy head on, and educate customers on what exactly is being done to protect the privacy of their data. Only by being open and honest can firms better engage with their customers and avoid the threat of further regulation. Naturally, when so much of what we do as individuals and as businesses takes place on the internet, we need to accept that some of the information we share is no longer ours alone. That being said, users need to be made aware of the benefits that Big Data can have for them and companies need to be able to communicate these effectively, making it clear they have nothing to hide.


Headlines highlight energy mix diversity and need for refined communications

It’s been another busy week for the energy industry, with warnings over nuclear subsidies, Ofgem’s plans to make energy bills fairer, and the publication of new report findings that global solar farm capacity almost doubled over the past 12 months. There […]


22 Feb
by Aspectus PR

biomass-pellets

It’s been another busy week for the energy industry, with warnings over nuclear subsidies, Ofgem’s plans to make energy bills fairer, and the publication of new report findings that global solar farm capacity almost doubled over the past 12 months. There was also the news that Drax shares rose after the company announced it had made rapid progress in its plans to switch to using biomass fuel.

Certainly, the variety of stories this week have served to highlight the diversity of our energy mix and remind us of just how hard it is to predict what our energy landscape will look like in ten years’ time, or how high our bills will be!

Energy suppliers, whether renewable, nuclear or fossil fuel driven, all face a challenge tracking the various changes in government policy and consumer reaction, making close monitoring of the news essential.

However, as we have argued previously, matching marketing messages to short term issues can be a risky short-term strategy.

Every energy company must be able to zone in on the discussions that are important to them and their stakeholders in the long term, and hone their messages accordingly.