Posts tagged "PR"

Ex-Independent editor Simon Kelner to launch PR agency

Seven Dials will work in partnership with ad agency set up by Trevor Beattie, who created ‘Hello Boys!’ wonderbra campaign

Simon Kelner, the former editor-in-chief of the Independent, is to launch a public relations agency in partnership with the ad agency co-founded by Trevor Beattie, the man behind campaigns including Wonderbra’s famous “Hello Boys!”.

Kelner, who stepped down as editor-in-chief of the Independent in 2011 after 13 years, is to open the doors on a new PR agency called Seven Dials.

The Covent Garden-based agency, which has former deputy editor of the Observer Jocelyn Targett as creative director, is being backed by Beattie McGuinness Bungay, the ad agency co-founded by Beattie.

Seven Dials has also hired Eleanor Conroy, a former PR executive at Freud and Saatchi & Saatchi, as business director.

Kelner, who owns a significant stake in the venture, said the agency has already signed up clients including Fortnum & Mason, Aberdeen Asset Management and fledgling drinks brand 31Dover.com.

“13 years as the editor-in-chief of the Independent means I have been at the intersection of journalism and PR,” says Kelner. “I understand what’s good PR and bad PR and how reputations are made and lost pretty quickly. I’m putting that knowledge to work for clients. What we are offering is chief executive counsel and reputation management, plus full a day-to-day PR service.”

Seven Dials will have an advisory board that includes Simon Walker, director general of the Institute of Directors and former PR chief to the Queen at Buckingham Palace and Charles Wilson, a former editor of the Times and Independent.

The advisory panel will be chaired by Andrew McGuinness, the co-founder of BMB, which has clients including McCain, Samsung and Virgin Money.

Kelner finished working with the Independent’s owners in November when Evgeny Lebedev pulled the plug on a high-profile journalism foundation that he was leading.

He said BMB expressed interest in developing a PR arm and that he has been engaged in a “mixed portfolio of journalistic and PR style commitments”, including writing a column for the i and consulting, and that the fit was right.

Kelner has known Beattie and co-founder McGuinness for a number of years, with the agency working on the Independent’s advertising account, including the launch of 20p national paper the i.

“One thing I feel very, very strongly is that every company is a publisher,” said Kelner. “Through social media, a [company] website or direct communications to customers. A lot need expert help with their publishing portfolio and we have a high level of expertise.”

Kelner is understood to be set to stand down from his position as a non-executive board director with Lebedev’s Independent Print Ltd.

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Mark Sweney


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Posted by admin - May 16, 2013 at 00:01

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Tech City – believe the hype?

Technology clusters in areas such as Cambridge, Newcastle and Brighton may have a better case for getting exposure – and cash

Since the Coalition came to power in May 2010, the Tech City initiative has had significant money, PR and industry support thrown behind it. Tech City is often trumpeted as the saviour of the UK’s flagging economy and the ultimate replacement for a broken financial services industry by capitalising on two of the UK’s greatest, but underexploited, strengths – science and innovation. But how much innovation is actually taking place in Tech City? And what about other burgeoning tech clusters in the UK?

When Cameron announced in November 2010 that the UK government would be throwing its weight behind Tech City, he was clear about what he wanted to achieve.

“Our ambition is to bring together the creativity and energy of Shoreditch and the incredible possibilities of the Olympic Park to help make east London one of the world’s great technology centres,” he said. “[We want to] Help to create the right framework, so it’s easier for new companies to start up, for venture capital firms to invest, for innovations to flourish, for businesses to grow.”

Fast forward two years, and the announcement of a £50m fund to help regenerate Old Street roundabout attracted similarly grandiose words from the prime minister, the mayor of London, Boris Johnson, and the then incoming CEO of the Tech City Investment Organisation (TCIO), Joanna Shields.

“Tech City has become a thriving hub of tech-based enterprise and creativity,” said Shields. “We have a vibrant community here, full of exciting emerging businesses that are growing alongside some of the world’s most respected tech companies.”

You might assume from these comments that Tech City is presently Europe’s most dynamic, innovative and fast-growing tech cluster. The fast-growing part is at least true. In 2008 there were just 15 media and technology companies registered in Shoreditch. In 2013, according to the Tech City Map, there are 1,340.

But how many of these startups are actually technology businesses creating innovative products?

Number crunch

The Guardian audited every company listed on the Tech City Map, which was set up with the blessing of the government to help analyse their influence, and found that of the 1,340 companies, 137 are tech companies, 700 are PR or design agencies and 482 are “miscellaneous” – which includes charities, pubs, cafes and fashion boutiques. The remaining 21 companies were either entered more than once or entries with no information or link to an external site. So just 10% of companies in Tech City actually do technology, 53% are PR or design agencies, and 37% are “miscellaneous”.

Such a low concentration of tech companies raises the question of why the Government has thrown its weight behind Tech City. Is the initiative a cynical PR campaign, with London acting as a figurehead for a wider drive to diversify the economy? Or is there a genuine ignorance to the makeup of Tech City that’s yet to inform policy?

The Guardian asked Benjamin Southworth, deputy CEO of TCIO, a public body that was set up to help grow and promote Tech City, about the figures. “The Tech City Map is a great resource, but we don’t recognise this precise split in terms of companies that make up the businesses based in the cluster,” he said.

“Equally, one of Tech City’s strengths is the interplay between what people have historically called ‘creative’ and ‘technical’ industries. We at Tech City believe that these distinctions are less relevant in an increasingly integrated world.”

Southworth argues that “tech should not be siloed into being only one thing”. He says: “At Tech City, our focus is to nurture, support, and celebrate the development of entrepreneurs, the go-getters and business builders determined to strike out and succeed on their own.”

Regional ascents

Yet other tech clusters, some with a higher concentration of tech companies, exist elsewhere in the UK without the same industrial and governmental support. Cambridge is well known for its roots in hard tech such as biotechnology and engineering; its cluster currently houses 1,535 companies; 12 tech companies in Cambridge have achieved $1bn (£642m) valuations in the past 15 years, and the combined turnover of the entire cluster was recorded at £11.8bn in 2011. This makes it one of the biggest, oldest and most successful tech clusters in Europe. Yet politically, Cambridge goes largely unnoticed.

Mauro Ciaccio, founder of CamTechNet.info, a Cambridge technology news and company listing website, thinks the Tech City initiative is partly a PR exercise: “I would say the majority of Cambridge tech companies are innovative companies and that continues to evolve. In the past, it was the [processor design company] ARM’s and hardware manufacturers, the second big one that came was the inkjet printing, and now there’s a whole thing of biotech. It’s seen as the next big sector to explode in Cambridge.”

Stewart McTavish, director of Idea Space, a startup enterprise accelerator, says Cambridge has more innovators because “there’s a real experience base of people that have started and succeeded in Cambridge who are able to help people out. Repeat entrepreneurs and investors are part of the ecosystem and they’re willing to spend their time to help develop business ideas.”

Further afield in the north-west, Manchester also has an established and growing tech cluster. Trade association Manchester Digital believes digital content and ICT industries account for 45,800 jobs in the Greater Manchester area and generate about £2bn annually in economic output.

Shaun Fensom, founding director of Manchester Digital, explains: “Manchester has the most significant internet exchange outside London. There is a large concentration of data centres offering hosting and co-location. These attract carriers and major ISPs – they’re all here – and transit costs are similar to London. Growing clusters of digital, tech and media activity are helping to accelerate this.”

Manchester had a thriving games industry years ago with names like Ocean Software, Fensom says: “it mostly collapsed. Now, with mobile apps, it’s back and thriving again.”

Newcastle ignited

Take a short trip east and you’ll find two sides to the north-east tech scene. First is the small but concentrated tech cluster developing in Newcastle, which is still in its early stages. It’s estimated there are around 30 to 40 startups operating out of Newcastle and accelerator programmes such as Ignite 100 are helping develop the scene.

Paul Smith, director of Ignite 100, has personally helped more than 30 tech companies through his accelerator programme. He says the north-east is the “rational choice” for a tech startup because of the better quality of life and lower cost of living.

The other side is the more established and growing clean tech programme that’s creating new technologies such as Nissan’s electric car initiative and SMD developing renewable energy technology.

Although the cluster is small, there is a trend emerging of the type of tech company planting its roots in Newcastle. Paul Rawlings, founder of Screach, one of the best known local startups, explains that there is more emphasis on innovation and product development than providing services.

“This is the advantage of these accelerator programmes. There are 10 teams on an accelerator and they’re all creating a product so there’s people to talk to about tech. It’s happening down south too, but up here it’s moving more towards product creation than service offering. A lot of companies are starting to realise there’s more money in product than service.”

Brighton rocks

Brighton, too, has an established tech cluster. It’s less hard tech than Cambridge and Manchester, instead focusing more on the creative adaptation of existing technologies. Phil Jones, director of Wired Sussex, a members’ organisation for digital companies in Brighton, told the Guardian that “In this city, no idea is too off-the-wall not to be treated with respect. This is key in these new industries where disruptive thinking is in their DNA.”

Wired Sussex, alongside Manchester Digital, Bristol Media and the South East Media Network formed an alliance called One Digital in 2009 to represent the UK’s tech clusters outside of the capital. Jones says: “Brighton, Bristol and Manchester formed the One Digital alliance because we recognised that all three tech clusters could benefit from sharing our individual experience, expertise and knowledge.”

Unlike Tech City and TCIO, all are funded by their member companies. “It does need to be recognised that rapidly growing clusters like ours in Brighton that successfully fuse creativity and technology have much that Tech City could learn from,” says Jones.

So Is TCIO too London-centric? “We recognise and support the other technology clusters around the UK, and we are looking at ways we can take what’s happening in Tech City and use this to help establish, nurture and support a community of ideas and innovation around the country,” says Southworth. “In the coming months, we will be collaborating with other technology clusters from around the country to share ideas, thinking, resources and learnings in order to build on our collective success.”


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Posted by admin - May 1, 2013 at 15:57

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Barclay brothers named richest media figures in UK with £2.3bn fortune

Tough times for Richard Desmond mean £150m is slashed off his wealth, according to Sunday Times Rich List

Sir David and Frederick Barclay have been named the richest people in media in Britain with a £2.3bn fortune, while tough times at Richard Desmond’s Northern & Shell business has seen his wealth slashed by almost £150m.

The 78-year-old Barclay twins, owners of the Daily Telegraph and Sunday Telegraph, have been named at the top of the 2013 Sunday Times Rich List of people in publishing, PR and advertising in Britain.

The brothers, who also own assets including the Ritz Hotel, where Lady Thatcher was staying at the time of her death, increased their wealth by £100m compared with last year’s rich list.

But it was a bad year for Northern & Shell owner Richard Desmond who dropped from second to third place as his £1bn fortune dipped by £140m, according to the Sunday Times’s calculations.

The view of the compilers of the list was that Desmond’s media assets – which include Channel 5, OK! magazine and the Daily Express, Sunday Express, Daily Star and Daily Star Sunday – are “generally underperforming”.

Viscount Rothermere and family, controlling shareholder of Daily Mail and Metro publisher Daily Mail & General Trust, slipped back £40m to £720m – fourth on the media rich list.

Elisabeth Murdoch and Matthew Freud made their first appearance in the media list – although not the overall rich list where they rank 315th – as they derive some of their wealth from PR.

The power couple ranked 12th in the UK media list with a £255m combined fortune.

Lord Heseltine and family, owners of Haymarket Publishing, the company behind titles including Campaign, re-entered the list for the first time since 2010 with a ranking of 11th and a fortune of £264m.

Questions over the state of Heseltine’s finances – which included putting up assets including his 18th century mansion and 55-acre estate in Thenford, Northamptonshire, as security in debt restructuring negotations with RBS – meant he has been kept out of the list for two years.

The 25-strong media rich list also includes Sir Martin Sorrell, founder of advertising group WPP, at 14th with a £36m boost taking his estimated personal wealth to £210m.

Lord (Maurice) and Charles Saatchi, co-founders of M&C Saatchi, increased their fortune slightly to £135m.

Despite the shaky state of regional press Sir Ray Tindle, owner of newspaper publisher Tindle Press Holdings, slightly increased his fortune to £130m.

Alan Parker, the founder and chairman of City PR firm Brunswick, boosted his fortune by £9m to hit £104m and secure 23rd on the media list.

Sunday Times Rich List – top 25 in publishing, advertising and PR

Wealth in 2013 (2012 figure in brackets):

1. Sir David and Sir Frederick Barclay: £2.35bn (£2.25bn)

2. The Thomson family: £1.1bn (£700m)

3. Richard Desmond: £860m (£1,000)

4. Viscount Rothermere and family: £720m (£760m)

5. Mark Getty and family: £650m (£330m)

6. Felix Dennis: £500m (£500m)

7. Paddy McNally £440m: (£515m)

8. Cristina Stenbeck: £405m (£369m)

9. Viscount Cowdray and the Pearson family: £400m (£500m)

10. Mike Danson: £376m (£310m)

11. Lord Heseltine and family: £264m (-)

12. Elisabeth Murdoch and Matthew Freud: £255m (£251m)

13. Lord Iliffe and family: £245m (£266m)

14. Sir Martin Sorrell: £210m (£174m)

15. Jonathan Klein: £200m (-)

16. Neil Hutchinson: £178m (£123m)

17= Mike Luckwell: £135m (£135m)

17= Lord and Charles Saatchi: £135m (£135m)

19. Philip and Patricia Brown: £132m (£132m)

20. Sir Ray Tindle: £130m (£125m)

21. Gregory Nasmyth and family: £115m (£85m)

22. Nick Forman Hardy and family: £105m (£102m)

23. Alan Parker: £104m (£95m)

24. Sir John Madejski: £100m (£150m)

25. Martyn Rose: £75m (£72m)

• To contact the MediaGuardian news desk email media@guardian.co.uk or phone 020 3353 3857. For all other inquiries please call the main Guardian switchboard on 020 3353 2000. If you are writing a comment for publication, please mark clearly “for publication”.

• To get the latest media news to your desktop or mobile, follow MediaGuardian on Twitter and Facebook

Mark Sweney
Charles Saatchi
Maurice Saatchi


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Posted by admin - April 19, 2013 at 07:10

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Barclay brothers named richest media figures in UK with £2.3bn fortune

Tough times for Richard Desmond mean £150m is slashed off his wealth, according to Sunday Times Rich List

Sir David and Frederick Barclay have been named the richest people in media in Britain with a £2.3bn fortune, while tough times at Richard Desmond’s Northern & Shell business has seen his wealth slashed by almost £150m.

The 78-year-old Barclay twins, owners of the Daily Telegraph and Sunday Telegraph, have been named at the top of the 2013 Sunday Times Rich List of people in publishing, PR and advertising in Britain.

The brothers, who also own assets including the Ritz Hotel, where Lady Thatcher was staying at the time of her death, increased their wealth by £100m compared with last year’s rich list.

But it was a bad year for Northern & Shell owner Richard Desmond who dropped from second to third place as his £1bn fortune dipped by £140m, according to the Sunday Times’s calculations.

The view of the compilers of the list was that Desmond’s media assets – which include Channel 5, OK! magazine and the Daily Express, Sunday Express, Daily Star and Daily Star Sunday – are “generally underperforming”.

Viscount Rothermere and family, controlling shareholder of Daily Mail and Metro publisher Daily Mail & General Trust, slipped back £40m to £720m – fourth on the media rich list.

Elisabeth Murdoch and Matthew Freud made their first appearance in the media list – although not the overall rich list where they rank 315th – as they derive some of their wealth from PR.

The power couple ranked 12th in the UK media list with a £255m combined fortune.

Lord Heseltine and family, owners of Haymarket Publishing, the company behind titles including Campaign, re-entered the list for the first time since 2010 with a ranking of 11th and a fortune of £264m.

Questions over the state of Heseltine’s finances – which included putting up assets including his 18th century mansion and 55-acre estate in Thenford, Northamptonshire, as security in debt restructuring negotations with RBS – meant he has been kept out of the list for two years.

The 25-strong media rich list also includes Sir Martin Sorrell, founder of advertising group WPP, at 14th with a £36m boost taking his estimated personal wealth to £210m.

Lord (Maurice) and Charles Saatchi, co-founders of M&C Saatchi, increased their fortune slightly to £135m.

Despite the shaky state of regional press Sir Ray Tindle, owner of newspaper publisher Tindle Press Holdings, slightly increased his fortune to £130m.

Alan Parker, the founder and chairman of City PR firm Brunswick, boosted his fortune by £9m to hit £104m and secure 23rd on the media list.

Sunday Times Rich List – top 25 in publishing, advertising and PR

Wealth in 2013 (2012 figure in brackets):

1. Sir David and Sir Frederick Barclay: £2.35bn (£2.25bn)

2. The Thomson family: £1.1bn (£700m)

3. Richard Desmond: £860m (£1,000)

4. Viscount Rothermere and family: £720m (£760m)

5. Mark Getty and family: £650m (£330m)

6. Felix Dennis: £500m (£500m)

7. Paddy McNally £440m: (£515m)

8. Cristina Stenbeck: £405m (£369m)

9. Viscount Cowdray and the Pearson family: £400m (£500m)

10. Mike Danson: £376m (£310m)

11. Lord Heseltine and family: £264m (-)

12. Elisabeth Murdoch and Matthew Freud: £255m (£251m)

13. Lord Iliffe and family: £245m (£266m)

14. Sir Martin Sorrell: £210m (£174m)

15. Jonathan Klein: £200m (-)

16. Neil Hutchinson: £178m (£123m)

17= Mike Luckwell: £135m (£135m)

17= Lord and Charles Saatchi: £135m (£135m)

19. Philip and Patricia Brown: £132m (£132m)

20. Sir Ray Tindle: £130m (£125m)

21. Gregory Nasmyth and family: £115m (£85m)

22. Nick Forman Hardy and family: £105m (£102m)

23. Alan Parker: £104m (£95m)

24. Sir John Madejski: £100m (£150m)

25. Martyn Rose: £75m (£72m)

• To contact the MediaGuardian news desk email media@guardian.co.uk or phone 020 3353 3857. For all other inquiries please call the main Guardian switchboard on 020 3353 2000. If you are writing a comment for publication, please mark clearly “for publication”.

• To get the latest media news to your desktop or mobile, follow MediaGuardian on Twitter and Facebook

Mark Sweney
Charles Saatchi
Maurice Saatchi


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Posted by admin -  at 07:10

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Next Fifteen reports 21% slump in pre-tax profits

Figures at PR group hit by alleged $3m embezzlement in US subsidiary Bite PR

Scandal-hit PR group Next Fifteen has revealed it has been subject to an alleged $3m (£1.9m) embezzlement at its US subsidiary Bite PR, causing a 21% slump in pre-tax profits for the year to 31 July.

The UK-listed group, which owns five PR brands including Text100 and Lexis, announced last month it was delaying reporting its full-year results while it investigated an alleged complex fraud at the San Francisco office of Bite PR.

“This has now been thoroughly investigated with the conclusion that this was an act of personal embezzlement by a long-standing member of the finance team in a trusted position,” said Richard Eyre, chairman of Next Fifteen. “This crime is now being investigated by the FBI and the [San Francisco police].”

Bite lists big-name companies including Microsoft, Nokia, Sony and Mozilla as clients.

Next Fifteen said it has written-off $2.8m relating to “unrecoverable assets and unrecorded liabilities, reflecting cash stolen from the business”.

The company said that as the alleged fraud continued beyond the current reporting period to 31 July, another $200,000 write-off will be required.

“All steps will be taken to recoup lost assets but it is too soon to estimate the likely scale of any recovery,” said Eyre. “The board is undertaking a comprehensive review of the internal financial controls environment.”

Next Fifteen reported a 21% year-on-year fall in profit before tax, from £7.5m to £5.95m, in the year to 31 July as a result of the alleged fraud.

Stripping out the impact of the activity the company said adjusted pre-tax profits rose 14% from £8.4m to £9.6m.

“This regrettable event will not impact the operational performance of the group or affect its ability to make the investments it has planned for the coming year,” the company said.

Total revenues rose a healthy 6% from £86m to £91.6m as technology PR, which accounts for two-thirds of revenues, grew 2% year on year despite the loss of the Hewlett Packard account at Bite.

The consumer PR division, which accounts for 16.5% of total revenues, saw revenues fall 6% thanks to a tough year at Lexis PR, which Next Fifteen said has been “restaffed and retooled considerably”.

Corporate PR, which accounts for 7% of total revenues, reported a 31% increase mainly due to new acquisitions.

Next Fifteen paid a final dividend of 1.7p, raising the total dividend by 12% to 2.3p.

Next Fifteen also published its annual report which showed Tim Dyson, chief executive, received total remuneration of £460,000. This is 11% less than the £519,000 he received in the previous year.

Dyson holds 450,000 shares as part of Next Fifteen’s long-term incentive programme. He also holds 5,781,004 ordinary shares in the company.

• To contact the MediaGuardian news desk email editor@mediaguardian.co.uk or phone 020 3353 3857. For all other inquiries please call the main Guardian switchboard on 020 3353 2000. If you are writing a comment for publication, please mark clearly “for publication”.

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Posted by admin - November 28, 2012 at 20:44

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Huntsworth reports 17% slump at financial PR division

Citigate hit by poor economic conditions in the UK and Europe

Huntsworth has reported a more than 17% slump in revenues at its financial PR division, Citigate, but said that thanks to cost-cutting it expects profits for the year to be “significantly” ahead of 2011 levels.

The PR and healthcare group said revenues in the third quarter have been hit by poor economic conditions in the UK and Europe, which accounts for 60% of total revenues.

PR subsidiary Grayling, which has clients including Google, National Grid and the EU commission and accounts for almost half of Huntsworth’s revenues, saw revenues fall 7.6%

Its PR consultancy Red reported “excellent” revenue growth of 11.4% while Huntsworth Health lifted revenues 6.8%.

Huntsworth said total group revenues grew 3.6%, this is a significant drop from the 7% reported for the same period last year.

“Huntsworth Health showed strong revenue growth in the third quarter with no sign of the downturn which affected the fourth quarter and Red continued to show excellent revenue growth,” said Sally Withey, chief operating officer and finance director.

“In Grayling, new multi-office business could not offset a further slowdown in the third quarter across the Eurozone. In Citigate, revenues in Europe and the Far East showed some growth but the division was held back in London by the continuing lack of activity in the UK financial markets.”

• To contact the MediaGuardian news desk email editor@mediaguardian.co.uk or phone 020 3353 3857. For all other inquiries please call the main Guardian switchboard on 020 3353 2000. If you are writing a comment for publication, please mark clearly “for publication”.

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Posted by admin - November 15, 2012 at 08:17

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…if there was no physics, these sectors would not exist…

How much does physics contribute to the UK economy compared to, say, the financial sector? A new report from the IoP has the numbers

Meeting rooms of the Palace of Westminster can be disconcerting places in which to give speeches. This week, Alok Sharma MP hosted the launch event of a new report from the Institute of Physics on The Importance of Physics to the UK Economy. As soon as IoP president-elect Frances Saunders began her reply to his welcome, the division bell rang deafeningly for several minutes. When she finally managed to restart, a background rumble from some elderly men in the corner, hitting on the free wine, provided a distracting backdrop. I was told they were Lords, which seems too clichéd to really be true.

The report itself is full of information about, as the name suggests, the importance of physics to the UK economy. It kicks off (footnote one, executive summary) by defining “physics-based sectors” of the economy as those where “the use of physics – in terms of technologies and expertise – is critical to their existence. i.e. if there was no physics, these sectors would not exist.”

It is clear from this that the report was not actually written by physicists, who would of course claim that physics is critical to the existence of everything since without it the Earth wouldn’t go round the Sun, the atoms of your body would not hang together, and of course nothing would have mass. Still, the list of nearly a hundred industries and sectors given in the appendix, ranging from “Extraction of crude petroleum” to “Repair of communication equipment” seems a pretty reasonable delineation of the part of the economy that would quickly be in trouble if the UK stopped doing physics research and education.

There are some impressive numbers. The direct contribution to the UK’s economic output is £77 billion, or 8.5%. This rises to more than £220 billion if you include indirect spend. 3.9m jobs are supported by these industries in the wider economy, with the average worker in a physics-based industry adding a factor of two more “gross value” than the average worker overall. It’s not, to be honest, the main reason I do physics, but it is one reason that we should, as a nation. And I’m glad someone writes these numbers down, because unless we know these things, physics may cease to exist. At least in the UK.

Jonathan Flint, CEO of Oxford Instruments, gave a very clear and inspirational speech about the vitality of physics (and of his company, of course). An interesting statistic is that only 5% of the company’s business is now in the UK. This is very positive from the export point of view. But since Oxford Instruments mostly supplies companies that are doing high technology research themselves, it may be a worry that a diminishing fraction of this is being done in the UK.

At least two of the attendees at the event were ex-students of mine. Gratifying though that was, I was beginning to feel a bit too senior at that stage and was quite glad of the presence of those may-be-Lords to remind me that I wasn’t yet that far gone. Coincidentally, earlier in the day two of my current students – one of whom had initially taken physics because he wanted to work in banking – had been asking me for tips on physics-based careers. We need them.

In a comment after my last article I was accused of being part of a slick PR machine for particle physics. I’m trying to be flattered by that, but to be honest I see myself as a scientist, a physicist and a particle physicist in that order of importance. And I’m a PR person, or advocate, some way further down the list. Anyhow, I’m glad the IoP have some this covered.


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Posted by admin - October 19, 2012 at 08:12

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What does ‘embargoed’ mean? Don’t ask a lawyer

The judgment was not yet handed down. So why was a triumphant law firm’s PR hawking it in advance?

Here’s something new, to me at least. Dan at Maltin PR emails to say that his client Chris, senior libel partner at “well-renowned” Hamlins LLP and representative of Hello! magazine among others, has won a big case against the Mail on Sunday – to be confirmed at 10.30 the following morning when Mr Justice Tugendhat’s verdict is handed down. This wasn’t “responsible journalism,” says the judge, via a sneak peek at a press release on the ruling (marked “Confidential” and “Embargoed”). Dan will send me the whole judgment, or an executive summary, if I wish. Meanwhile, Chris’s ready-cooked quotes mention Leveson, of course, and bang on about “the importance of responsible journalism” at this “particularly sensitive” time.

Hang on! I thought draft judicial verdicts (see Procedure Rules, Practice Direction 40E) couldn’t be supplied ahead of publication to “any other person” than the parties involved? Nor be the trigger for anything but “internal” action until then?

This isn’t some ministerial finagle on the Today show ahead of a white paper, or the new line-up for Strictly Come Dancing. This is British justice. Has Judge Tugendhat given a special dispensation to break the embargo? I ask Chris and Dan. No reply. They’re probably working on their next homily about responsible journalism.


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Posted by admin - October 7, 2012 at 09:19

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Matthew Freud forgoes dividend, despite golden year for PR agency

Freud Communications profits rise 30% thanks to deals with London Olympics, BMW and Department of Health

Matthew Freud has waived the option to take a multi-million pound dividend payout as his PR agency group, Freud Communications, enjoyed a 30% increase in profits thanks to client wins, including the London 2012 Olympics.

Freud, who was paid £440,000 and received a dividend payment of more than £1.8m in 2010, bought back the 56.3% of his agency controlled by Maurice Levy’s Publicis Groupe in April last year.

After taking full control, Freud decided to invest more cash into growing the business, and as a result the latest Companies House filing for 2011 shows that he was not paid a dividend.

His salary is not known, although a Freud spokeswoman confirmed that he is not the highest paid director – that is an unnamed person who received £378,000.

Freud is unlikely to have to tighten his belt, however, having made about £2m selling his holding in M&C Saatchi, the advertising agency founded by brothers Charles and Maurice Saatchi, earlier this year.

He continues to hold a stake in Engine Group, which owns ad agency WCRS which has clients including BMW and BSkyB, and YouGov.

Freud’s UK and international PR and marketing agencies fired on all cylinders in 2011, with pre-tax profits up 29.6% year-on-year from £6.9m to £8.9m.

Operating profits grew by 28% year-on-year to almost £9m, as revenue rose 7.6% to just shy of £40m. About 70% of Freud Communication’s revenues comes from UK operations. The operating margin grew from 27.7% in 2010 to 32.5% in 2011.

Freud Communication’s coffers were bolstered thanks to a major contract with London 2012, as lead PR agency for ticketing, volunteering and the torch relay programme.

This fed a major chunk of income into the bottom line last year, despite the event not kicking off until this summer.

The agency also won BMW’s account for Olympic PR, and picked up the Department of Health’s £1m-a-year contract for its PR work on public health and obesity.

Freud also added Vodafone and maintained its longstanding international relationship’s with Mars and PepsiCo.

The company had £9.12m in cash on its books as at 31 December.

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Posted by admin - October 3, 2012 at 14:45

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Profit and PR are the real enemies of innovation | Peter Wilby

From drugs to computers, the big rewards are now in tweaking existing products and presenting them as ground-breaking

For more than a decade, we have been told that the pharmaceutical industry faces a crisis: it finds it more and more difficult to develop new drugs. The returns on research and development, company executives plead, are dismal. In the US particularly they have therefore lobbied for longer periods of patent protection, more government subsidies and less regulation of new drugs. The growing costs of research, they argue, justify the high prices. But this week a widely reported paper for the British Medical Journal, by two North American professors, Donald Light and Joel Lexchin, points out that the annual licensing of new drugs is much the same as it has been for 50 years. Unfortunately, 85-90% are minor variations on existing drugs (often introduced when patents are near expiry) and provide “few or no clinical advantages for patients”.

The US drugs industry, say Light and Lexchin, spends only 1.3% of revenues (excluding taxpayer subsidies) on basic research to discover molecules that could lead to genuinely new medicines. It spends far more on maintaining profits – among the highest of any industry, after tax – and on PR, marketing and lobbying. There is an innovation crisis, but largely of the companies’ own making.

For years nearly all original drugs brought to market have been based on research either at taxpayer-funded institutions, mainly universities, or in small biotechnology companies. Big companies, such as Pfizer and GlaxoSmithKline (recently fined $3bn by US regulators for aggressive and misleading marketing), are essentially rent-seekers. They do not create wealth and add social benefit, but enrich themselves through control of resources, as landowners have done for generations. And what has happened in “big pharma” – long marked down by the left, and some on the right, as an unacceptable face of capitalism – mirrors what has happened across the British and US economies. The innovation crisis is not confined to the drugs industry.

Max Levchin and Peter Thiel, co-founders of PayPal, said last year that innovation in the US was “somewhere between dire straits and dead”. In his book Rise of the Creative Class (2002), Richard Florida of Toronto University argued that, while a time traveller from 1900 arriving in 1950 would be astonished by phones, planes, cars, electricity, fridges, radio, TV, penicillin and so on, a traveller from 1950 to the present would find little to amaze beyond the internet, PCs, mobile phones and, perhaps, how old technologies had become infinitely more reliable. The US economist Tyler Cowen made a similar point last year in The Great Stagnation: innovation slowed after the 1970s, he argued, and failed to create jobs. No development of the past 50 years, he could have added, bestowed benefits comparable to what washing machines and vacuum cleaners did to liberate women from drudgery.

Green energy technologies have not developed for large-scale use as was widely expected. Nor have electric cars, still less flying cars. The promise of gene therapy is unfulfilled. The development of MEMs (miniaturised pumps, levers or sensors on silicon chips) and nanotechnology – predicted as long ago as 1959 – has been agonisingly slow. In some respects, we have gone backwards: since the retirement of Concorde, the speed of air travel has slowed.

The desirability of some of these technologies is contested, but their spread has not been inhibited on social or ethical grounds. So what stops their development? Excessive government regulation and high taxes, stifling animal spirits among innovators and entrepreneurs, are commonly blamed. I see it differently. Invention and development of genuinely new, beneficial products are being stifled, as in the pharmaceutical industry, by big, established companies, not government. Just as drug companies tweak existing products, and deploy large marketing budgets to present them as new, so do other companies tweak and sometimes incrementally improve technologies that were familiar to our grandparents.

Supermarkets are full of things that claim to be “new and improved”. Technologists tweak vegetables and fruits to make them last longer, look better and travel more easily, without regard to flavour. Bankers develop new trading “products” that, however you cut it, are still about borrowing and lending. We have digital radio and high-definition TV, though not everybody thinks either improves on what existed before. For many companies, skilful marketing of products that aren’t significantly different from what preceded them has replaced innovation. It’s cheaper and less risky to convince customers that something is ground-breaking, even when it isn’t, than develop something truly innovatory.

In short, rent-seeking is now far more lucrative than innovation that delivers social benefits. The big rewards go to directors and executives of large companies – and financial traders, the ultimate rent-seekers who impose an unproductive tax on invention, investment and hard work across the world. Like the inventors of lasers and transistors, Alan Turing – without whom the modern computer wouldn’t exist – and Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the worldwide web, did not become rich. Bill Gates and the late Steve Jobs did.

Gates and Jobs recognised the possibilities of what others invented, risked money to develop them, and through marketing and design made them accessible to millions. Nobody suggests they should go unrewarded. But as Joseph Stiglitz points out in The Price of Inequality, Microsoft “did not develop the first widely used word processor, the first spreadsheet, the first browser, the first media player, or the first dominant search engine”. Gates became rich because he established a near-monopoly in PC operating systems. When innovations such as the web browser appeared, he saw off their initial developers and other potential competitors by launching his own versions at below-cost prices or none at all.

Innovation always entails risk. But the bar is set higher because those who innovate or support innovation must overcome the entrenched interests of monopolistic rent-seekers, who usually have the ear of governments and regulators. Knowing this, many scientists and mathematicians put their innovatory talents at the well-rewarded service of financial companies rather than struggle in research labs. Light and Lexchin argue for better regulation of the drugs industry. We need better regulation of rent-seekers across the board if the British and US economies are to be steered towards creating genuinely new, marketable technologies that are both job-creating and socially beneficial.


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Posted by admin - August 11, 2012 at 09:01

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