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The communications briefing: Week ending 25 January 2019

PR news this week, with thanks to Early Morning Media 


Huawei launches fresh charm offensive 
Chinese technology firm Huawei, which in recent months has faced a number of negative headlines, including allegations of trade-secret theft and the arrest of its CFO in Canada, has embarked on a PR push, in the hope of improving its image and being seen as more transparent. The company last week offered international media a tour of its smartphone production factory in Dongguan, before hosting a round table with reclusive founder Ren Zhengfei. Jonathan Hemus, MD of crisis communication consultancy Insignia, said: “The willingness of its CEO to enter the media spotlight is a positive move”, although he added: “the sheer magnitude of the allegations against the company renders a charm offensive as, at best, a small step in the right direction”. Jonathan Bernstein, the president of crisis management firm Bernstein Crisis Management, agreed that it faces a rocky road ahead: "Global media, categorically, are unlikely to change their editorial content about Huawei just because they've been given the kind of consideration they should have been given all along”.

Avon pulls Naked Proof ads following Jameela criticism
Avon has removed an ad campaign for its new Naked Proof line, after actress Jameela Jamil called it out for “shaming women”. Ms Jamil focused on the slogan “dimples are cute on your face (not on your thighs)”; she tweeted: “Stop shaming women about age, gravity and cellulite. They’re inevitable, completely normal things. To make us fear them and try to ‘fix’ them, is to literally set us up for failure”. In response, Avon tweeted: “Hi Jameela, we completely understand where you’re coming from. We realise that we missed the mark with this messaging. We have removed this messaging from all future marketing materials. We fully support our community in loving their bodies and feel confident in their own skin”.
Good to Know

In focus: Zara’s advertising strategy
The Retail Gazette asks a number of marketing experts how Zara manages to maintain sales growth while shunning advertisements. The retailer only spends about 0.3% of sales on advertising, Pietro Barbieri-Hermitte, planner at customer engagement agency TMW Unlimited, noted. Seb Dean, MD of Imaginaire Digital, said the firm’s city-centre store locations, where footfall is consistently high, effectively act as adverts in themselves. Senior account executive at W Enterprise Georgina Ince said she believes that the limited nature of its advertising is what helps it stand out from its main competitors. “Zara embraces the luxury brand ethos ‘less is more’, with most of their content displayed through images and videos on their website and social,” she said. Finally, Alistair Green, chief strategy officer at creative agency Studio Blvd, said the retailer was quick to build a following on social media, investing in high quality online content “while most other brands were under the illusion that online content could be done quickly and cheaply while traditional print and TV still required huge budgets”.
Retail Gazette


How to rebrand after a PR crisis
Forbes features an article on how firms can successfully rebrand after suffering a PR crisis, labelling the process “a necessary part of recovery and survival”. Members of Forbes Agency Council offer insights in the article on the right way to go about doing so, from acknowledging the problem to ‘rebirthing’ a brand with a clear message. Scott Kellner, GPJ Experience Marketing, advises readers to “always own the actions and share your steps to be better”, while Jon James of Ignited Results suggests getting rid of those responsible for the crisis, stating “you need to ensure that the guilty parties have been removed and that it is going to be possible to start over again with the right information”.

Cision acquires digital PR platform
Digital PR platform Trendkitehas been acquired by Cision for $225m. Trendkite, which uses artificial intelligence and analytics to monitor and measure communication efforts, will be offered as a stand-alone app for now, but will become part of the Cision Communications Cloud product in the long term.
Martech Today

Media companies shed workers
News and entertainment site BuzzFeed is laying off 15% of its staff, or more than 200 jobs, amid a deteriorating climate for online publishers who have struggled to sustain fast growth in digital advertising sales in a tough battle with Alphabet’s Google and Facebook. BuzzFeed founder and chief executive Jonah Peretti said restructuring “will reduce our costs and improve our operating model so we can thrive and control our own destiny, without ever needing to raise funding again.” Meanwhile, Verizon Media Group, the portfolio of media brands that includes Yahoo, AOL and The Huffington Post, is laying off 7% of its workforce, a person familiar with the move has told CNBC. The layoffs affect around 800 employees of the Verizon division, and follow company-wide buyouts in December. A spokesperson for Verizon described the restructuring as a "strategic step toward better execution of our plans for growth and innovation into the future."
Financial Times   Wall Street Journal   CNBC   CNN

Reputational risk

Ashley eyes new PR team
Sports Direct tycoon Mike Ashley is reportedly looking to engage a new PR team, as he seeks to add music chain HMV to a burgeoning portfolio that also includes House of Fraser and Evans Cycles. Filings at Companies House reveal that Sports Direct relinquished its controlling stake in PR firm Keith Bishop Associates last week; while it is understood that the firm will continue to deal with Mr Ashley’s personal matters, as well as those relating to Newcastle United, the football club he is currently looking to offload, another firm is being sought to take on corporate and retail work.
City AM

Cannabis oil firm on slippery ground
A cannabis oil firm is using an NHS-style logo on its advertising leaflet – prompting the Health Service to warn against 'misleading' use of the brand. Natural Organic Pure Clean CBD Oils' leaflets ape the familiar slanted block letter of the NHS logo, but to spell out 'CBD' – short for cannabidiol, a compound found in cannabis – in a blue box. A spokesman for the Department of Health and Social Care said it has already taken action against the firm, adding: “The public must be able to trust official NHS information, which is why its distinctive logo is rightly protected against exploitation”. 
Daily Mail

Buckingham Palace accused of ‘DIY PR moment’
PR consultant Mark Borkowski has described the way Buckingham Palace has mismanaged the fallout from Prince Philip’s car crash as a “DIY PR moment”. “We all have clients who want to do things in a way they want to do,” he acknowledged, and call that situation "doing all the wrong things really well," though cautioned: ”Somebody's got to get on top of this story now and say guys we've got to stop this because this is getting out of control.”
Daily Express


Targeted advertising needs assistance
FranceTV Publicite has tested with TDF and advertisers Sofinco and St Hubert the substitution of a commercial with a "targeted spot" on HbbTV DTT households. Such innovation allows advertisers, when permitted by regulators, to adapt their TV advertising spot to the profile of the households. Separately, writing in eMarketer, Ross Benes describes how the "slow but steady" digitisation of TV advertising is placing further pressure on ad measurement firms to create more robust cross-platform metrics and attribution models. Multichannel video programming distributors and networks must however keep their technologies and strategies updated to maximise change, he said.
Broadband TV News   eMarketer


Facebook VP talks up data-sharing program
Brian Smallwood, Facebook’s VP of marketing science, has said that a data-sharing program allowing advertisers to see how many people saw, clicked on and bought something from a Facebook ad compared with one on Google, would be easy to set up, using an existing platform such as Nielsen’s Digital Ad Ratings technology. Nielsen's product is widely used by platforms other than Facebook, and Smallwood suggested that it would be possible to get a data-sharing program up and running without a significant amount of work - as long as all the platforms agree.
Business Insider

This briefing has been prepared by Early Morning Media.  If you are interested in a customised bespoke news briefing for you or your client across any vertical, please contact

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