Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Bye, London, bye

I am no longer living in the UK. I left London a couple of days ago on a pleasant, sunny afternoon. It felt awkward, just as changing countries usually does. Yet, while deciding whether to stay or go, I didn’t feel wrenched or pressurized by possible scenarios of what if this- or what if that happens.

London has changed me, in a certain, very specific way.

If I were in a similar situation a few years ago, I would have felt miserable and indecisive. It was easier this time. More straightforward it was. This time choices felt like chances.

London has been an eye-opening and horizon-widening experience. And today, in the end, I am articulate about what I liked in it.

London is clean streets, hectic central areas, tranquil green spaces, free museums, coffee shops for anyone’s taste and interests, an ultimate sense of order, but more than anything, London is its people and communities.

It is diversity, inclusiveness, lack of judgments and little acts of kindness.

Once there, you get impressed by the well-marked bus lanes, the endless bicycle alleys, the lack of trash on the streets, but what really stays in your mind is Londoners themselves – the way they greet and thank you, the way strangers on the tube exchange smiles, kids say “Sorry" and people call you a “lady” and not a “girl.”

I found out that little things are crucial things. I understood that the respectful Westminster, the corporate Embankment, the free-spirit Soho, the eccentric Shoreditch and Camden, and the pleasant Notting Hill are just areas and only the people living and working there bring them to life.

London is its people, their ability to swap cynicism and grumpiness with a smile, and a “Yes, please” and “No, thank you,” and their belief in the bright side of humans. London is positivity and genuine willingness to be nice to people.

It thought me that the effort to smile is the same as the effort to sass and you decide which one to go for.

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Girl Rising: We all must see this movie

The most inspiring cause, supported by the business, I have seen in a while. Hats off to Intel for helping this movie happen and shedding light on the severe obstacles that many young girls still face today when fighting for their right to go to school. 

Friday, 4 January 2013

Insomnia cookies

Insomnia Cookies is a growing American chain of stores that delivers warm cookies and brownies (with complementary milk and ice cream) until 3 am. As it is aimed at college students, their locations are found near college campuses. Clever, no? 

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Ten rules for PR pros

In the early 1960s, Dan Edelman put together these ten rules for all PR practitioners. Over half a century later, just one from the list has had its status shaken, namely "Merchandise the Clippings."

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Trust broken: Starbucks avoids UK taxes

Reuters yesterday announced that according to its four-month-investigation, Starbucks has reported no profit, and paid no income tax, on sales of 1.2 billion pounds in the UK over the past three years. The coffee giant has posted a UK loss of 33 million pounds.Yet transcripts of investor and analyst calls over 12 years show Starbucks officials regularly talked about the UK business as "profitable", said they were very pleased with it, or even cited it as an example to follow for operations back home in the United States.

As soon as the news broke, an outrageous wave of negative comments and intention to boycott the company flooded the space. See here + here + all around the place. This morning Starbucks has been #One trending topic on Twitter.

Meanwhile, Unions questioned the government about loopholes that allow companies avoid taxes and suggested that Starbucks affects the business of the small, independent coffee shops across the country. Earlier today a senior MP called for an investigation, saying that Starbucks may face an inquiry into its British tax affairs.

The only official statement Starbucks has made so far reads the following: "We will continue to pay our fair share of taxes to the letter of law as we always have."

There is no doubt that the PR machine at Starbucks is now working at full capacity to smother and keep the scandal under control. There is also no doubt that even if the PR team manages to do so, it won't be easy or happen overnight. It will be a process and will take time. Trust has been broken and to glue and stick the broken parts together again, the management and the communications specialists will have to act very carefully, very tactically and very strategically, especially in the few forthcoming weeks. By failing to do so, they risk having to deal with even more unpleasant developments - those of a momentum already built and intentions of boycotting escalating to determinations of boycotting - and add to this that the UK is one of Starbucks tier one markets.