Flogs and Slogs

This week we introduced the first annual report that is also a blog. I’ll be honest when we had the idea a few months ago I was rather surprised nobody had done it before and felt sure that by the time we launched someone would have done it. Well, unless our Google searches are wrong, they didn’t and we were the first. I don’t think our blog is the greatest blog on the planet but I do think it will be the start of something. I’m pretty sure that in a year or so thousands of companies will be opening up their annual reports in this way. It makes a lot of sense when you think about it. Today lots of investors go to chat rooms and so on to get their insight. This approach allows them to have a direct access and it allows the company to take part in the debate. Now of course in many parts of the world there are still limits on what a CEO or CFO that is blogging can say but the success of may executive blogs such the one by Sun CEO, Jonathan Schwartz make it clear that people like the idea of an open door policy to communication.

As for my headline to this piece the question is what you call an annual report that is also a blog. The two listed, flog (financial blog) and slog (shareholder blog) are the most common suggestions to date.

Will a weak $ affect our industry?

My guess is that most people in the PR industry don’t pay much attention to exchange rates, unless they do financial PR. This isn’t intended to be a criticism. In most instances exchange rates don’t make much difference to the day to day work carried out in our industry. However, the steady decline of the US dollar in the last few years ought sooner or later to have some impact. From where I sit I can see a few ways a weak dollar could impact agencies:

1. For agencies representing European firms a weak dollar may create an argument for higher spending. This argument is based on the fact that relative to the Euro or Sterling, marketing spends in the US are actually declining in real terms – of course so are sales which is of course the reason most budgets won’t change. But for companies wanting to shift perceptions in a big way, now may be a good time for that promotional push in the US.

2. For agencies representing US businesses overseas it could be argued that budgets should also rise. I’ll admit here and now that the logic trail is rather one sided but hear me out. Many US businesses are benefiting greatly from a weak dollar by becoming more competitive in overseas markets. Put another way they are deriving a greater percentage of their profits from overseas markets thanks in part to this improved competitiveness and in part to the translation effect of converting say sterling back in to dollars. This may in turn make it more attractive for them to up their marketing spends in these markets to improve sales even further.

3. US agencies looking to sell may find themselves more attractive to European buyers. The US agency market has been a difficult one to crack for many European agency groups. A weak dollar makes US agencies a relatively cheap deal right now – if of course you assume the US economy is going to continue to perform relatively well. Now there a number of UK agency Groups that could be potential buyers, these include: Chime, Huntsworth, Creston and of course Next Fifteen. The larger Groups such as WPP and Publicis are of course also an option. My guess is that the likes of Ad Media Partners are brushing up on their international dialing codes.

So while a weak dollar can be frustrating for someone like me that runs a UK-based PR Group, the news isn’t all bad.