Category Archives: Corporations

Swiss Currency Hurting Citigroup Consumer Relations

citi group swiss

Financial market watchdogs expect Citigroup to lose more than $150 million because of the roller coaster ups and downs of Swiss currency. But Ronn Torossian says the NYC-based currency trading company is not alone. Many top companies were caught entirely unprepared with the Swiss National bank surprisingly removed the cap on the value of the Swiss franc.

There is a larger issue, though, than the momentary – if momentous – financial setback. Now Citi – and several other financial companies – are waiting on a bailout. If it happens, the bailout will be from a private company, but that fact would not help much in the market of public opinion.

Consider, if the general public – or many news agencies – hear the words “financial company” and “bailout” in the same sentence, that could lead to an immediate PR hailstorm for the entire financial industry.

Most average investors – those with basic 401K’s and other retirement accounts – don’t understand all the facets and intricacies of the various domestic and international financial markets. But they know how they felt when their retirement accounts took a dive in the last decade. And they understand that these companies got “bailed out” by the government. Meanwhile, the average Joe got nothing for his nightmare.

That combination of functional financial illiteracy and poisonous buzzwords could make this situation very difficult for Citigroup and the other financial companies facing what could otherwise be a fairly pedestrian scenario. Yes, they need help, and, yes, they need that assistance from an outside company. But neither scenario is anything close to what happened prior to the federal bailout of investment companies after the real estate bubble burst.

But, strictly from a PR perspective, that “difference” is less than nuance. Worse, that situation could create more unrest among consumers who still blame investment banks for a very bad last few years. And worst, Citi and the other companies are not even sure the bailout will happen. They are already reportedly talking about contingency plans. That increases both this story’s time in the new cycle and the likelihood that it will get reported outside the financial news circles. Both scenarios further increase the risk of a negative response from people who will react to the news viscerally, not logically.

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Ford and the F-150 – how a top seller became a PR Drag

ford-torossian

It is a fact, the next F-150 will be made of aluminum. While Ford designers and promoters are over the moon about this purported advancement in truck manufacturing, not every pickup fan is feeling the love. In fact, as CEO of 5W PR Ronn Torossian points out, the new design and supposed upgrade has triggered a chain of PR hurdles for Ford to overcome.

When the F-150’s new feature was first announced, conventional PR wisdom decided that the new shell design would be the sticking point of the redesigned F-150. The thick, heavy steel frame which so many truck guys love about the F-150 will be replaced with a lighter aluminum version. Ford claims that the aluminum frame will be equally sturdy to that of the steel frame while also offering vastly increased fuel efficiency. Will truck aficionados buy that selling line? While the jury is still out on that particular question, another PR issue looms large for Ford.

When Ford’s PR team announced their most aggressive new lineup of Ford updates, upgrades, and model improvements, pickup lovers across the country rejoiced. Who is not cheering? Dealerships coast-to-coast which are stuck with aging 2014 models that are, as of that announcement, obsolete. Of course, they may sell a TON of new Fords NEXT year, but with Ford’s sixteen new vehicle launches in 2015, most customers considering a new Ford are apt to wait for the new look.

It’s a problem familiar to that of the mobile device marketplace. The moment Apple or Samsung announces a new model, customers push pause on their desire to purchase the current model. Suddenly, retailers are faced with a conundrum. They have stacks of presently outdated stock that need to be moved, in order to make way for the latest and greatest models.

Torossian observes that it’s an interesting paradox for both the marketplace and for consumer public relations. On the one hand, discounts and fire sales associated with clearing out the old models can be a huge boon for cost-conscious consumers. However, if those incentives overlap the promotions for the new and exciting upgrades, the reasons to buy last year’s version can get lost in the cacophony of noise surrounding the latest and greatest.

It’s not a totally foreign challenge in the automotive industry, even for Ford. When the manufacturer released the new and classic inspired Mustang model a few years back, the glut of the old style model was massive. While flipping sports cars every few years is typical, truck fans are often in it for the long haul. Ron Torossian forecasts that the parallel PR campaigns Ford will have to run when it rolls out the new 2015 F-150 will be interesting to watch.

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Understanding and Assessing Risk through Risk Management

Risk management is an area of business that offers a firm great savings potential when making complicated decisions. The tenets of the traditional philosophy allow consultants to bring a different kind of focus to their analysis, asking them to look for areas in which a firm might be exposed to greater risk during the course of a project or process.
At Cane Bay Partners, there is a wealth of team experience working with the identification of risk factors that can then be compared to alternative options to provide a quantified experience for managers that want to optimize their company’s performance through a different lens- success.

When Does Risk Management Apply?

As consultants, risk management work for major clients comes about through their request or through our own analysis. Because there are a multiplicity of reasons that someone would want to have risk management practices applied to their specific project, there will be times where taking the first step to identify the indicators that are necessary could be better performed by contacting us first.
We can not only provide you with means-based models that help to define your environment effectively, we can also train your staff in what to look for to determine whether or not most of the apparatus used in formal risk management actually applies well to each process or project that you are considering it for.

It goes without saying that once those factors are identified, they can be measured to provide you with a detailed analyses.

Because time is money and efficiency is another hallmark of any consulting firm, answering the question ‘When does risk management apply?’ often includes discussion of the concept of ROI or Return on Investment. Cane Partners can not only provide you with risk analysis services then, but they can also build in analysis of that analysis to show you what your return on investment is for having undertaken the journey. If you are training in-house people to recognize risk, in a short amount of time, they will have developed a data set that helps provide financial impetus for doing analyses in specific situations.

Strategic Planning using Risk Management Inputs

Another area where companies traditionally can use outside input is when risk analysis meets the strategic planning process. Moving forward cannot be done without strategic planning and utilizing the know-how and experience of a team like that of Cane Partners can help bring the type of decision-making advice prowess that has been relied upon worldwide for a number of years.

So if you feel there may be a need for risk management services in the future, consider contacting Cane Partners for a consultation.

 

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Bitter pill – California Counties Sue Drug Companies

health-care-public-relationsIt may be one of the most necessary “unfair” questions ever asked in a courtroom, and it certainly has people lining up on both sides of the issue. Are drug makers responsible for the “epidemic” of prescription painkiller abuse? This situation is causing quite a Healthcare PR uproar.

 According to a report in Bloomberg Businessweek, Orange and Santa Clara counties in California have filed a suit alleging that pharmaceutical companies intentionally set out to turn rarely prescribed painkillers into “commonplace remedies.” The companies, according to the suit, downplayed the risk of addiction, and promoted the benefits of “chronic relief.”The suit goes on to allege that the drug companies intentionally deceived consumers, and even tried to undermine and reverse the common medical understanding of opioid drugs.

 Both sides of the argument understand full well that this case will reach well beyond the courtroom. With expected wall to wall news coverage, the consumer PR angle is vitally important. Many people already suspect they are being treated more like consumers than patients. To find out it is literally true would create a firestorm of backlash. Whether or not the California counties “win” the case or the drug companies in question have to pay any sort of penalties, there will be an extensive and very public conversation about this case. And, whether or not the drug companies are found liable in the court, they will be held to account in the court of public opinion. Of course, they knew this, and are likely prepared, but it will be interesting to see how and when each side releases PR in an attempt to control the public opinion conversation.

 There is no doubt that this fight will get ugly, and that both sides will end up playing both offense and defense. Motives will be loudly questioned, and accusations will be leveled. Should be interesting – and informative – to watch it all unfold.

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Dr. Chauncey Crandall, Labstyle & More..

dr-chauncey-crandall

dr-chauncey-crandall

LabStyle Innovations Corp. developer of the Dario™ Diabetes Management Solution, announced that world-renowned urologist and researcher, and co-founded numerous technology initiatives Professor Steven Kaplan, has joined the company’s Board of Directors. Professor Kaplan is an internationally recognized urologist and researcher who also brings a rich business background to LabStyle’s board.  He has co-founded and worked with numerous medical technology initiatives, including MediData Solutions.

Numerous medical professionals, including Dr. Chauncey Crandall have praised Israeli medical companies.

Professor Kaplan is the E. Darracott Vaughan Professor of Urology and Chief of the Institute of Bladder and Prostate Health at Weill Cornell Medical College, and Director of the Iris Cantor Men’s Health Center at New York Presbyterian Hospital.

Commenting on his appointment, Professor Steven Kaplan stated, “LabStyle has a superb product offering with Dario, the Diabetes Management Solution, and is already showing early signs of market success. I am proud to join LabStyle to help bring their mobile health care vision to market.”

LabStyle Innovations Corp. develops and commercializes patent-pending technology providing consumers with laboratory-testing capabilities using smart mobile devices. LabStyle’s flagship product is the Dario personalized smart meter.

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Guest post to Ronn Torossian blog on Ronntorossian.com

Guest post to Ronn Torossian blog on Ronntorossian.com

Mama, don’t take my Kodachrome

by Juda Engelmayer, SVP, 5WPR

“When I think back on all the crap I learned in high school It’s a wonder I can think at all, and though my lack of education hasn’t hurt me none, I can read the writing on the wall.”

These words, iconic and now ironic, were made famous by the great duo Simon and Garfunkel at a time when the orange-boxed Kodakchrome was as common as the iPod is today.  The Eastman Kodak Company, however, failed to read the writing on the wall.  The iPod, for its part, made Sony’s reigning portable music box (the “Walkman”) obsolete, but unlike Sony, which maintained its edge with other devices, Kodak failed to adapt.

The company — whose name was until only a short time ago as synonymous of the camera industry as Band Aid still is to the adhesive bandage business— was so comfortable being on top, its corporate culture could not see beyond it own greatness to plan for leaner times.

As digital imagery crept onto the market and the megapixel count rose to such a point that the silver-coated cellulose acetate strips went the way of the muscle car’s carburetors, leaving it for enthusiasts and pedants, Kodak, which based its growth on the sale of cheap throwaway cameras and mass quantities of consumables such as its film, developing chemicals and photo paper, lost its market share.

Remarkably, although the technology may be different, the ingredients are similar and Kodak was poised for evolution.  Anyone who ever tore apart an old floppy disk knows that the memory mechanism was little more than a thin sheet of plastic.  Kodak presumably had access to the raw materials, but lacked the foresight to simply add an additional assembly line, if not change some out completely.

The question is why.

That answer is that Kodak became complacent, resting on its laurels and unwilling to change even as the world changed around it.  Its leadership failed to comprehend the extent of the digital revolution.  Other companies that were never before in the photography business saw an opportunity to not only create cameras that rivaled the best Kodak could develop, but to create a whole new industry.  There are the high capacity memory cards that can hold more images on a thumbnail-sized device than 1,000 rolls of Kodak’s top consumable films, and there are massive networks of photo-sharing and editing options available in Cyberspace.

Instead of realizing that people would now be sharing their children’s portraits on Smartphones rather than wallet-sized paper photos, Kodak was still pushing wallet-sized paper photos.  While the family portraits on office desks across the world were being viewed on multi-picture digital photo screens, Kodak was still hawking paper fitted to cheap wooden frames.

By the time it bought its way onto the Internet with its Kodak Gallery, it was a high-priced new kid on the block, and without the communal interactivity that allowed others to thrive.

The field of public relations is no different.  It was not so long ago that the Big “three” networks ruled the television airwaves and the only serious news in town came from daily publications that ruled the news landscape and weekly ones that put the news into perspective. Firms founded in the glory days of Walter Cronkite’s “that’s the way it is,” which trivialized the impact that blogs, podcasts and the Huffington Post would have, and perhaps looked down their collective noses at the lowered standards of journalistic ethics, sneering at how the public would never accept media that failed at being “authoritative” because of those lowered standards are likely no longer around to complain about the fast pace of innovation.

This is the vowel sign age: Adaptability; evolution, innovation, opportunity and user-friendly simplicity are key characteristics of companies that want to meet the demands of a new era.  Technology has moved fast since the dawn of the personal computer in the early 1980s with the advent of beasts like the Osbourne and the Kaypro, and it has changed the way just about everything is done today.  From manufacturing, to marketing, to the speed that information flows, complacency kills companies. The big three U.S. Automakers learned the hard way that resting on laurels was a recipe for failure when they lost ground to the new, less expensive and better quality foreign manufacturers.

As Kodak is looking down the gullet of obsolescence and worthlessness, companies and corporate leaders can use it as a valuable learning tool.

In the late Seventies my uncle had a cartoon hanging on his bathroom wall that I always found poignant, but I never really contextualized it until the news hit that the giant Eastman Kodak was falling. It was a depiction of a roadside with tire tracks running through a broken outhouse and a caption that read, “Technology in of itself was not the juggernaut of our destruction. Our machines did not just lead us down the road to perdition. They merely rolled over us as we squatted by the roadside.”

The writing is on the wall. Don’t let it happen to you!

Read More at Ronntorossian.com

This was a special guest blog post to the blog of Ronn Torossian, CEO of 5WPR

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