Taking a break – but some odds and sods before then

The blog is taking a break for a few weeks while we travel to places with poor Internet connections (yes Virginia they do exist!).

 But before we go a few odds and sods

 Never trust the conventional wisdom or PR shorthand for market trends

 At the start or 2012 the markets were full of doom and gloom. Analysts and pundits listed all the problems – from the debt cliff to Europe – which would ruin us all. The outcome, despite the predictions, was that markets achieved their best performance since before the Great Recession. Now, one year on the analysts are talking about the ‘great rotation’ from bonds etc etc etc to equities as investors will shift their investment behaviour. read more

A grand old party

“The Republican Party must be known as a progressive organisation or it is sunk. I believe that so emphatically that I think far from appeasing or reasoning with the dyed-in-the-wool reactionary fringe we should completely ignore it and when necessary, repudiate it.”

 Clearly not the views of a Fox News commentator but an interesting view of the GOP even if it is now more than half a century old. The comments were by a Republican President, Dwight Eisenhower, who would no doubt be regarded as a RINO by the Tea Party. It sits well with his more famous comments about the ‘military-industrial complex’ although that comment was expressed in a speech while the view of the GOP was contained in his diaries and cited in Jean Edward Smith’s biography, Eisenhower in War and Peace. read more

Civility and a touch of class

Writing about Ann Wroe, The Economist obituaries editor, the other day reminded me of two acts of civility which stood out – for me at least – during 2012.

 One was an obituary of Eric Hobsbawm the Marxist historian and one was a tribute to him. The obit was in The Economist (4 October 2012) and the tribute was in the Financial Times (6 October 2012) by Weekly Standard writer Christopher Caldwell. Now neither the FT nor The Economist are left-wing rags, neither are even that keen on social democracy and Caldwell is not that keen on Barack Obama either, so how did they handle the death of a life-long British Communist Party member? read more

The cost of crises

There has been much research on the benefits of handling crises effectively but now there is new evidence about the cost of doing it badly.

 Tony Jaques, in his invaluable Managing Outcomes newsletter, has recently reported on a number of new studies and linked them to some older ones, to give insights into the consequences of not handling crises well. The full report can be found at www.issueoutcomes.com.au.  Jaques says: “A study by international law firm Freshfields Bruckhaus Derringer examined 78 major reputation crises across 16 stock exchanges – including New York, London and Australia – and found not only a share price hit but an increased departure rate among executives in companies which were less able to resolve a crisis. The departure rate of senior executives from companies which suffered a share price hit averaged almost 10% within a year of the crisis breaking.  This increased to 15% among executives unable to steer their company’s share price back to previous levels within six months, but dropped to just 4% among those who did. read more

A must hear in Adelaide

The Adelaide Writers’ Week is always outstanding but this year’s program contains one exceptionally interesting speaker who might not get as much attention as other, higher profile, writers.

 The writer is Ann Wroe, The Economist obituary editor and writer of many of the obits. The Economist obits are a delight – a great example of how simple, elegant, witty and cerebral writing is still possible in the modern media.  She was also the paper’s US editor in the Clinton years. read more

Why no comments?

Have had a few queries about why there is no comment function on the blog. It’s because the function is switched off. The problem is that I  have neither the time nor inclination to moderate comments and, from my experience with the crikey column, such moderation is essential. Sorry.

A train wreck on the way

Many people in the communications business (well the best of them anyway) have been influenced in recent years by the advances in social psychology – from social marketing around behaviour change to political policy based on ‘nudge’ strategies to persuade people to do (or not do) various things. read more

A challenge for media and political staff

Most of the media coverage of the September 14 Federal election date has focussed on the problems facing politicians and parties but big problems also confront the media itself and, to a lesser extent, the political PR staff.

First, the media:  It is noteworthy, as I wrote at the time, that not one member of the Parliamentary Press Gallery was on to the 2010 coup against Prime Minister Rudd until it actually happened. A few people tried to pretend that they had canvassed the story but in fact no-one got it. Now, the biggest political story so far this year – the announcement of the election date – was also missed by everyone in the Gallery although one reporter did break the news a few seconds before it was announced. Of course, there were people who talked about September October because that was in the agreement with the independents but that is not the same as missing the date announcement story as they did. Now the Gallery churns out masses of information and predictions every day but what is clear is that unless someone actually points them in the right direction they rarely find out important stuff for themselves. There are, of course, notable exceptions among those who – as I.F.Stone did – trawl annual reports and official data for insights and stories, but the striking thing about most of these stories is that they don’t fit into the predictable agenda of Gallery coverage and end up well back in the paper or the broadcast when they get covered at all. read more

Opinion poll opinions

With eight months to go before the next Federal election just how important are the opinion polls?

 Obviously they are important to the members of the media who write relentlessly about what they mean. Equally they are important to polling firms who get brand exposure which benefits the many other research activities they undertake. But how important they are in forecasting results is another question altogether. read more