Make way for premium internet packages

The internet could be about to embark on massive changes that would result in our providers selling us premium packages to access the sites that we like online.

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Re-inventing Aberdeen for a new era

The collapse in the oil price is a painful reminder that Britain’s time as an oil producer won’t last forever. We have been here before, of course, and the oil price has always bounced back giving us another period of buoyancy. But, as each year passes, we get closer to the end of the North Sea Oil era.

Aberdeen City Region Deal Read More...
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Crises will happen - it’s how you respond that matters

I always remember the article in a computer magazine that started with the statement: “all computer disks will fail, the only question is when”. It’s amazing how that statement makes you sit up and start worrying about your back-up strategy.

crisis management Read More...
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A momentous election, where does it lead us?

Anyone who thought that the result of the General Election would mark the end of the political debate about the future of our country will be sadly disillusioned this morning.

United Kingdom politically divided Read More...
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Transport solution could be over our heads

At a time when Aberdeen is looking at implement a new City Centre Masterplan and looking at ways to connect the city centre more effectively to Aberdeen Beach, is this a time to reconsider my suggestion of a city centre monorail?

monorail for Aberdeen? Read More...
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Cherish your identity - don't lose your brand

Your business identity is the fundamental element in your corporate communications strategy. The business name and the visual identity are the face of your business and express your identity and personality to internal and external audiences.

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Concern grows over Marischal Square

Judging by the petitions and demonstrations, it seems that many of Aberdeen’s citizens have a healthy ambition to set high standards when it comes to regenerating our city centre. That is surely a laudable aim.

Marischal Square Read More...
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The importance of ethics in public relations

My first-ever PR textbook, the ‘Manual of Public Relations’, wasted no time in getting to the subject of ethics in public relations. It was section 1.5.

Ethics in PR Read More...
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'Yes' or 'No", which was the better campaign?

Taking my ballot paper into the voting booth on September 18, I almost felt cheated. There it was. Just one short question and a box for ‘yes’ or ‘no’.

Scotland UK jigsaw Read More...
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Will development make Marischal College more enclosed?

When Muse Developments and Aviva Investors lodged their detailed plans for Aberdeen’s Marischal Square in May this year it seemed like the developers had won, despite widespread reservations from the public.

proposed Marischal Square, Aberdeen Read More...
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Know your way round the new media landscape

One early recollection of the revolution was receiving our first internet photograph for a news story. It could hardly have been a more dramatic demonstration of the internet ‘shrinking the world’ as it was a picture of a client’s timber-frame construction project in the remote Falkland Islands.

multi channel communication Read More...
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Marischal Square: shouldn't we aim a bit higher?

It’s probably inevitable that the unveiling of the design for the proposed Marischal Square in the centre of Aberdeen has provoked a barrage of negative comments in the press.

Provost Skene's House ┬ęK McEwen Read More...
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Positive vision needed in independence referendum

We are now less than six months from arguably the biggest and most momentous decision the people of Scotland have ever had to make. Should Scotland be an independent country – yes, or no?

Scottish Saltire flag Read More...
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Not all bad news

A recurring theme across my years in public relations has been the complaint that ‘the media never want to write anything good about us’. This is usually followed up by mutterings that all they are interested in is negative news.

good news Read More...
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Has short-termism ended our ability to think ahead?

It was in 1957 that the then Scottish Secretary signed off the plan for the new bridge over the River Dee to replace the mediaeval Bridge of Dee and link to both the Ring Road (Anderson Drive) and also head west round Garthdee to the proposed Aberdeen by-pass.

1949 Granite City - A Plan for Aberdeen Read More...
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Have you embraced the changes in marketing?

In the past, marketing and advertising used to be all about grabbing people’s attention to deliver your selling message. These days, effective marketing should be more about holding people’s attention.

a community of brand ambassadors Read More...
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Extra runways in London, or move flights out of London?

A regularly recurring news item at the moment is the verbal battle between Heathrow and Gatwick about an additional runway.

air traffic Read More...
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End the delivery rip-off

I am hoping that a new bill brought forward by Sir Robert Smith, MP for West Aberdeenshire, may tackle the nonsense of hiking delivery charges to Scottish addresses.

delivery charges Read More...
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Can new city centre plan achieve consensus?

Just when it seemed that the plans for a transformation of Aberdeen city centre were about to disappear, along with Sir Ian Wood’s incredibly generous potential donation of £50 million to the scheme, along comes a new plan from Aberdeen architect John Halliday of Halliday Fraser Munro.

Union Terrace Gardens new plan Read More...
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How public are your posts?

We all know how easy it is to rush off an email in the heat of the moment, only to regret what we said as it disappears off into the internet. In times gone by, there was at least the opportunity to have second thoughts and fish the letter out of the mail room before it went.

social media privacy Read More...
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Union Terrace Gardens 11 months on

Eleven months after Aberdeen City Council administration voted against the Aberdeen City Garden Project, the council’s deputy leader Marie Boulton has suggested winding the clock back and reviving the Peacock arts centre plan for Union Terrace Gardens.

Union Terrace Gardens Read More...
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City of Culture bid doomed

The announcement that Aberdeen has failed to make the short leet for the 2017 UK City of Culture is disappointing, but not surprising.

Dundee Waterfront Read More...
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Keep it simple

Unless we make a deliberate effort to escape, we are now almost constantly bombarded with information every minute of our waking hours.

child reading Read More...
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Disappointment at new Aberdeen civic square

The good news that we were to lose the much hated eyesore that is St Nicholas House, has turned into disappointment at the proposed replacement.

Marischal Square Read More...
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Opportunity and danger for job seekers

We are in the midst of a huge change in the way we receive our news. Until very recently the power of mass communication was vested only in television companies, radio stations, newspapers and other publications.

social media network Read More...
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Reviving pride in Aberdeen city centre

After the sometimes bitter political battles over Aberdeen’s City Garden Project, the initiative by Prof Ferdinand von Prondzynski, principal of the Robert Gordon University, holds out some hope that it could restore a sense of direction for the city.

Aberdeen Town House Read More...
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Hard-won reputations are losers in horse meat scandal

It may have created a field day for comedians and those with Photoshop skills, but the horse meat scandal is a very serious matter that has shaken our faith in some of the country’s best-known brands.

horse bagging Read More...
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By appointment to Camphill School Aberdeen

I'm delighted to report that Ken McEwen Public Relations has been appointed to handle PR work for Camphill School Aberdeen.

Camphill School Aberdeen Read More...
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Don’t bury your head in the sand

Some years ago I spluttered over my cornflakes when I read a client’s name unexpectedly splashed across the morning headlines. The story suggested the business was on the brink of collapse, with the potential loss of a substantial number of jobs.

Burning business plan Read More...
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Yes or no? Scotland's future.

The ‘Edinburgh agreement’ has cleared the way for the referendum on Scotland’s independence in 2014. It will be the most momentous political choice any of us are likely to have to make. Just one question: yes’ for independence, ‘no’ for retaining the union.

Welcome to Scotland Read More...
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Aberdeen needs a plan to recover

I have made no secret of my support for the Aberdeen City Garden Project. I saw it as transformational for the city. Something that our forward-thinking forebears (who boldly built the viaduct that is Union Street to create the modern city we know) would have been proud of.

Union Terrace Aberdeen Read More...
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Pace yourself to sustain your PR

Part of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations’ definition states that public relations is “the planned and sustained effort to establish and maintain goodwill and mutual understanding between an organisation and its publics”.

Pace yourself Read More...
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Aberdeen City Garden the story so far

The idea to create a new civic space in the heart of Aberdeen over the Denburn Valley is not new. But the latest Aberdeen City Garden proposal was approved by a majority of 52% in a March 2012 referendum. But the new council administration aims to vote the plans down. Read More...
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Twitter: can't see the wood for the trees?

There are three objections I regularly receive whenever I suggest using Twitter. Before I can get to explaining how I find it valuable for communication, or for just keeping more informed about what’s going on in the news, my locality, or in particular industry sectors, someone will come up with one of these three objections.

can't see the wood for the trees Read More...
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Time for straight talking

One of my favourite all-time quotes is the infamous statement made by Donald Rumsfeld, then US Defense Secretary, at a press briefing in 2002.

straight talking Read More...
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The importance of a vibrant city

I have an old photograph of Aberdeen in the 19th Century, soon after the Granite City gained that title, following the completion of the huge granite viaduct that carries the grandeur of Union Street across the Denburn Valley.

Union Bridge old Read More...
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Dismayed by attempt to derail democracy

Along with a substantial proportion of the local population I am dismayed at the threat to vote out the City Garden proposal for Aberdeen city centre, despite the result of a democratic referendum. Read More...
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A (good) picture is worth a thousand words

Digital cameras and phone cameras are great, aren’t they? As a keen amateur photographer, I love the way I can snap away without worrying about wasting film and I can see the results without waiting for processing.

Scan 7 Read More...
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City centre investment depends on garden vote

I only discovered last week that the City Garden referendum in Aberdeen has much wider implications than simply the decision between retaining the existing Union Terrace Gardens or creating a new City Garden spanning the Denburn Valley.

City Garden Read More...
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Diverting energy from the Energy Capital?

It wasn’t the creation of Enterprise Areas that surprised me. It was the fact that an Enterprise Area for Low Carbon and Renewables technologies appeared to very deliberately exclude the established global centre for energy technology – Aberdeen.

Offshore wind turbines Read More...
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New attitudes needed to city centre trade

If I was going to open a shop, I would start out by doing some pretty intensive market research. I would want to know what people want. I would want to know whether there was space in the market for my business.
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A business genius who connected with people

I have a sticker in my study that says “Steve Jobs for President”. I can’t remember who gave it to me, or when. But, the fact that someone produced and widely distributed it, does underline the extraordinary way that Steve Jobs connected with ‘the people’.
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Hard to ignore social networking potential

I read today that 26 million people in the UK are now on Facebook. That’s 41% of all the entire population!
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Under pressure? Stick to the facts.

The recent capture and shooting of Osama bin Laden has provided a reminder of one of the most important principles of supplying information under the full glare of the media spotlight.
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Assessing impact of Chancellor's tax raid

I was listening closely as the Chancellor delivered his Budget last month. I had a deadline to produce 300 words for a client’s Budget comment to be published in the next day’s paper.
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Ethical public relations: an oxymoron?

My first-ever PR textbook, the Manual of Public Relations, wasted no time in getting to the subject of ethics in public relations. It was section 1.5.

Good and Evil Read More...
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Millennium Park draws visitors into downtown Chicago

At yesterday’s City Garden presentation, one of the first examples of city centre revitalisation presented by Charles Landry, author of City Making and Creative City, was the Millennium Park in Chicago.
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Apple shows how diversification can work

It seems so obvious with hindsight, but as the new millennium dawned, few of us would have seen the logic of a computer manufacturer producing a mobile device for playing music. That, in those days, was the domain of Sony with their Walkman.
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What is the future for your daily newspaper?

For as long as I can remember, people have been predicting the death of newspapers. Firstly, it was the immediacy of radio and television that was going to kill them off. Now, it is the easy distribution of news on internet.
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Acquisition strengthens Aberdeen's global reach

It would be difficult to find a better example of Aberdeen’s drive to strengthen its role as a global oil and gas technology hub than the Wood Group’s £600 million acquisition of fellow Aberdeen company PSN, announced earlier this week.

Wood Group Brazil Read More...
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Blinded by technology

I admit to being a bit of a geek. I am excited about the potential of new technology and, whenever there is a new update to any bit of software on my computer, I have to be restrained if I am to resist the temptation to hit the download button.

Fotolia_9698814_XS Read More...
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Did they not know or did they conceal the truth?

The desperate news of financial meltdown in Ireland raises the question of how Western European economies, including our own, apparently turned from boom to bust so quickly.

Irish Parliament Read More...
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Is being ‘included’ really being excluded?

I’m following up my previous post with this moving story from Camphill School Aberdeen. It demonstrates how the work of the Camphill Aberdeen charities can make such a huge difference for individuals and for families in crisis.

excluded child Read More...
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The call that began a remarkable journey

It was almost exactly seven years ago that Dr Stefan Geider at Camphill in Aberdeen called to ask if I could help with setting up a campaign. What was to follow tested my PR and public affairs skills to the extreme, but I would have been a lot poorer in so many ways had I not risen to the challenge.

Camphill Aberdeen City and Shire Read More...
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Putting the "public" back in public relations

There are still many people out there who believe that public relations is entirely about getting ‘name checks’ for clients in the newspapers.

pick member of public Read More...
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BT needs to build broadband confidence

I hoped it was our hub playing tricks when the internet went down this morning. But, no, it was a second BT Broadband outage affecting much of Scotland, Northern England and Northern Ireland.

Internet Read More...
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Seizing the marine renewables opportunity

The news that Scotland’s First Minister, Alex Salmond, has called a summit meeting in Aberdeen on December 17 to examine how to secure “the biggest economic opportunity in a generation”, is timely and welcome.

Offshore turbines
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PR in action as Chilean miners emerge

The story of the Chilean miners emerging, after more than two months trapped underground, has captured the attention of the world, with good reason. This is a top-notch ‘good news’ story.

Chile mine rescue Read More...
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Cutting off the Energy city

It is more than a little ironic that barely two weeks after business leaders wrote to Transport Minister Stewart Stevenson demanding urgent action to improve the offshore energy capital’s transport connections, news percolates from London that direct rail services from London to Aberdeen might be axed.

Swiss train Read More...
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Sort our transport system say energy capital business leaders

Today’s Press and Journal, BBC, Northsound and Original are leading on reports that business leaders in Aberdeen have written to Transport Minister Stewart Stevenson demanding urgent action on delayed transport projects in and around Europe’s Energy Capital.

Aberdeen trunk road Read More...
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The blame culture

I was laughing at a cartoon linked on their Facebook page by a relative who is a teacher. The cartoon features two scenarios: 1960 and 2010.

Angry man Read More...
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Good and bad news from world of politics

Reading today’s Press and Journal newspaper holds out hope and then dashes it. In the early pages is reference to moves to persuade the UK government to support the development of an appropriate infrastructure for Europe’s Energy Capital.

Then, on the letters page, is an example of the in-fighting that has hampered our progress for too long.

motorway Read More...
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Hyping the gloom?

Many of us will have spluttered over our cornflakes this morning when we read headlines saying “Spending cuts ‘will rise to £42 billion’ for Scots”.

World squeeze Read More...
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Stepping aside from IoD chair

So, after four years, it is time for me to step aside and let someone else take over as chairman of the Institute of Directors in Aberdeen. It has been a real pleasure and privilege to chair such a vibrant branch, which has a around 280 business leaders in the Aberdeen.

oil platform Read More...
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A (good) picture is worth a thousand words

In this age of digital cameras and camera phones, it is only natural that – with an eye on reducing costs – businesses will question the need to spend upwards of £100 per hour on a professional photographer.

Press photographer Read More...
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Marketing Scotland’s new energy future

In the immediate years before setting up my first PR consultancy, I was responsible for marketing and promotion at the development organisation for the North East of Scotland.

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Would the Prime Minister elected on Thursday please stand up?

For those of us living in Scotland, the current political shenanigans in London are more than a little puzzling. The Conservatives, under David Cameron, won the UK election with the largest number of seats. Surely, therefore, they should have taken over the reigns of power by now?

Houses of Parliament Read More...
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Sir Jackie's name still linked to Pagani crash

It is now five days since the first reports that Sir Jackie Stewart had been behind the wheel of the Pagani Zonda supercar that crashed in Aberdeenshire, producing an insurance claim of £300,000.

Sir Jackie Stewart Read More...
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Action needed now to secure UK oil industry

The message delivered by Sue Bruce to the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA) that action is needed now to encourage investment in the North Sea oil and gas industry needs to be heeded by our politicians.

oil platform Read More...
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Innovation, technology and leadership theme for IoD Scotland chairman

Innovation, technology and leadership will be the themes of Thursday’s (March 11) IoD Aberdeen lunch, where the speaker will be IoD Scotland chairman Raymond O’Hare. Read More...
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How does City Square stack up?

In the 19th century Aberdeen made great strides. Union Street – a viaduct on huge granite arches – was built to extend the city west over the Denburn Valley. It was the realisation of a remarkably forward-thinking vision and a breathtaking feat of civil engineering in an era of wheelbarrows, picks and shovels.



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Toyota’s problems show how crises can devalue a brand

It might have been Volkswagen that actually used the advertising slogan “if only everything in life was as reliable as a Volkswagen”. But, in terms of public perception, it could have been Toyota – at least, until now.

IoD Scotland Magazine Read More...
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One bark for Labour, two for Conservative

With the looming General Election, things have obviously got a bit desperate at the House of Commons. The Speaker has started sending out letters to encourage future voters to register. But something seems to have gone a little awry with the system.

Alba McEwen

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More evidence of distorted view of North Sea oil

Watching Jonathan Dimbleby’s otherwise excellent programmes on Russia. He was at a BP base in Siberia when he drew a contrast between the industry there and the oil and gas industry in the UK.

Oil platform Read More...
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The benefits of being social

Camphill Aberdeen City and Shire took the plunge into social media last month, with the setting up of a Twitter account and a Facebook page. Meanwhile long-term social media exponents, The Spires, continue to see the benefits.

Camphill Aberdeen City and Shire Read More...
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City Square aims to put the heart in Aberdeen

Plans to transform part of Aberdeen’s city centre into a large public open space, or civic square, have taken a step forward with the unveiling of a new name and identity for the plan. The City Square, would open off Union Street and build a new public space over Union Terrace Gardens and the Denburn.

City Square Project Read More...
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What happened to our oil wealth?

For 40 years Aberdeen has been the principal base for the North Sea oil and gas industry. Indeed, it is now one of the global centres of excellence and is recognised as an upstream oil centre that ranks second only to Houston in Texas.

oil rig Read More...
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One year on there's no end to the gloom

I was preparing the traditional review of the year for yesterday’s IoD Aberdeen committee Christmas dinner and looked out the notes for 2008. I realised that I could almost have got away with delivering the same messages.

belt tighten world Read More...
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Good transport links are vital

Good transport links have been at the centre of Aberdeen’s success over the years.

Forth Road Bridge Read More...
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You need to know what people are saying about you

In some of my recent blogs I have talked about the growth of social media and how mass communication power is shifting from organisations with editorial control and into the hands of individuals armed with nothing more than a mobile phone.

Angry customer Read More...
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Offshore Europe dispels any gloom

When the organisers said that this year’s Offshore Europe was going to be the best yet, I must admit to some nagging doubts. We are, after all, in the worst recession since the Great Depression.

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Learn lessons from UK parliament and banks

This summer PoliticsHome and PR Week joined forces to unveil the first Reputation Index, tracking the reputation of 50 top political brands in the Westminster corridors of power.

UK Parliament Read More...
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Don't cut the marketing 2

Some advice from others on surviving the recession to become a stronger brand ready for the upturn.

Money pressure Read More...
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Social media proves its power again

Previously in this blog I have highlighted how social media put mass communication into the hands of the individuals equipped with nothing more than a mobile phone.

Mobile phone Read More...
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ACSEF maps out vision for the future

At yesterday’s ACSEF Economic Summit, the chairman, Tom Smith, admitted that he is fond of saying that this region has had “more visions than Joan of Arc”.

Offshore platform
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Plans for Aberdeen's new city centre revealed

Today, the wraps come off the initial plans for the transformation of Aberdeen City Centre. The proposal would create a new six-acre civic space as a focus for the city as it aims to keep its role as one of the world’s premier energy centres.

Union Terrace Read More...
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Securing Aberdeen's role as energy centre

At our IoD Aberdeen lunch yesterday, three business leaders involved in Aberdeen City and Shire Economic Future presented their vision for the future development of the region.
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Some clients still have social media jitters

The talk in the public relations industry at the moment is very much about social media and their role in the future of corporate communications.

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The changing world of media

We are used to the power of mass communication being vested in television, radio, newspapers and publications. Now, as the pace of the internet revolution shows no sign of slowing, we are seeing a real shift in that power.

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Running out of superlatives

Is there a danger that we are running out of superlatives to excite and enthral people? Read More...
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Your reputation is a key asset

What are the most important assets in your organisation? Your people? Your premises? Your intellectual property? What about your reputation?

Shooting yourself Read More...
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Time to focus on oil and gas

Considering the scale of the industry and its massive contribution to the UK economy, it sometimes seems that the North Sea oil and gas is being deliberately downplayed. But, it is so vital to our future that it should be promoted to the top of our national agenda.

North Sea Oil provides 75% of UK prime energy Read More...
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In difficult times internal communication is critical

With everyone being fed a daily diet of doom and gloom, keeping your own people informed is more critical than ever.

Internal PR is essential in uncertain times Read More...
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Tough times? Don't cut the marketing!

It is one of those business truisms that we all have at the back of our minds. But, at the first sense of economic turmoil, it is still too easy to fly in the face of all the evidence and cut the marketing budget.

maintain PR spend during recession Read More...
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