Round-up news from across the Atlantic . . .MAIN-Band-Aid-30-arrivals

The irrepressible Bob Geldof gathered together a band of altruistic pop stars and dusted down the lyrics to “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” – the hit song originally released in 1984 to raise money for victims of famine in Africa. This time around, the song is aiming to raise money to support the fight against Ebola. However, the song is not without its critics; Geldof and the song’s amended lyrics have been accused of being patronising and not an accurate reflection of modern Africa.

RBS, which is 81 percent owned by the taxpayer, received a £56m fine this week following a breakdown of their online banking system in June 2012, which left customers locked out of their bank accounts for days on end. The fine comes only eight days after the bank was fined £400m following the forex rigging scandal. So not a great couple of days then.

The Labour Party created a Twitter storm for itself this week after MP Emily Thornberry tweeted a photograph of a house clad in the St George’s Cross in an apparent attempt to belittle the owner. She was subsequently belittled by the Twitterverse before being asked to step down from her position in the shadow cabinet. Ouch.

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As PR professionals, one of the questions we get asked all the time is whether a story will be in print. Sometimes I think it’s the clients’ favorite question to ask, but is also very outdated and not nearly as important as it once was.

Many people assume a print story carries more prestige than an online story (“It was on A1, above the fold!”), and though this was once a long held truth by both communications professionals and journalists, this is no longer the case. Why you ask? Let’s look at the facts.

News reporting happens around the clock – daytime, evening, middle of the night and even weekends. It never stops and with competition hitting an all-time high – the result of many things, among them the 2008 financial crisis which caused everyone to tighten their belts and prove their worth – media outlets can’t wait for the next day’s print edition to break a story. Today, stories break as they happen.

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Media Navel GazeThe Week Unpeeled

The best news story of the week was literally otherworldly when a robot of sorts made the first-ever landing on a comet and beamed back pictures to mere mortals on Earth, thanks to the French.  Other otherworldly events starred Kim Kardashian (but not even going there #breaktheinternet).

Elsewhere:

  • President Obama signed a “landmark” agreement with China last week to reduce greenhouse gas pollution;
  • Warren Buffett buys Duracell;
  • Oil trades below $75 a gallon;
  • Goldman names 78 to partner, the second-smallest class on record since going public 15 years ago;
  • Hasbro acquisition talks of DreamWorks breakdown;
  • Halliburton in talks to buy Baker Hughes in a move no doubt tied to declining oil prices and may be the start of more consolidation;
  • Stocks continued to make record highs with the Dow gaining 0.4 percent on the week to end at 17,634;
  • High Art:  Sotheby’s and Christie’s staged fall auctions in what has been called the “hottest two weeks ever in art history,” selling more than $2 billion in works with headlines focused on Warhol’s and Steve Cohen’s $101 million purchase of a Giacometti sculpture; and
  • Low Art: Duck Dynasty may hit the Great White Way as a musical. End of Story
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Round-up news from across the Atlantic . . .tower-of-london

Ceremonies took place all over the country this week as the United Kingdom marked 100 years since the start of the First World War. At the 11th hour, of the 11th day, of the 11th month, the country stood in silence for two minutes to remember those that have died in conflict for our country. To commemorate the centenary, there was an installation of 888,246 ceramic poppies at the Tower of London – each to represent a British soldier killed during the First World War.

Six banks have been fined £2.6bn by UK and US regulators over traders’ attempts to manipulate foreign exchange rates. HSBC, Royal Bank of Scotland, Swiss bank UBS and US banks JP Morgan Chase, Citibank and Bank of America have all been fined. A separate probe into Barclays is continuing.

For football fans, FIFA, the governing body of football (the English kind of course, none of that overdone padding in sight) has got into hot water this week. The body seems to move from scandal to scandal and the latest to engulf the organisation comes in the form of allegations that corruption was behind the selection of the host nations for the next two World Cups (in Russia and Qatar). The EU’s top sports official has now waded in and urged FIFA to disclose the full findings from its investigations, a move that may be seen as a precursor to a Brussels rethink over the commercial freedoms of FIFA.

To continue with the weekly Christmas advert review, Sainsbury’s (a popular British supermarket) has got itself into a bit of bother with its offering. The advert shows the famous scene on Christmas Day 1914 when both German and British soldiers reportedly played football together. A large number of commentators have thought the video to be in bad taste, attempting to capitalise on and glorify the undeniable tragedy of the First World War. You can see the video here. End of Story

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amazon_3Q14

Not too long ago, Amazon.com released its 3Q14 earnings, and to be blunt — things weren't quite going as the online retail giant had hoped. The company's profits do indeed continue to rise, but Bezos's behemoth is continuously looking for ways to expand its horizons. Hence the tragic flop of the Fire Phone, which, well, wasn't a good idea to begin with. One quarter isn't going to kill the company, however. Q4 is, beyond the shadow of a doubt, the most coveted of quarters, as it contains the wallet-draining holiday season. And consumers love themselves the convenience of their Amazon-goodness. But should consumers and investors be concerned that Amazon's foray into new territory might be a distraction as opposed to an attraction?

Let's ponder the following question(s):

Taking Amazon’s track record and 3Q14 earnings into consideration, what can the company do to earn back its investors’ trust and positively rebound? Is there cause for alarm?

Let's see what some of our prime respondents had to say about the subject.

Investing in Amazon is like sitting at the popular table in high school. Drones, like the star quarterback, are sexy. However, the popular table loses some swag points when it’s open to just anyone. Amazon, like the popular table, needs to streamline its innovative efforts, rather than play catch up with the Googles and Apples of the world. The company is credible on its own as the largest internet-based company in the United States, and doesn’t need to emulate other business models.

Despite a more than lackluster quarter, Amazon has the capacity to earn back investors’ trust by continuing to show advancements in and commitment to its autonomous aerial vehicles initiative. Flirting with the mobile phone business, “because everyone else is doing it,” is no longer enough to convince shareholders to stick around following a loss of more than 20 cents per share. All the fuss about being able to order a DVD on Amazon and have it delivered, via drone, before your popcorn is done, has to be supported by true advancements. 365 days of progress on a single innovation means more to an investor than releasing an iKindleFIREbookPRO, just to keep up.

~Abby McAleney (Follow Abby on LinkedIn) Continue Reading »

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