Archive for the ‘Banking’ Category

Housing Crisis or Housing Opportunity?

September 29, 2015

housing opportunity

I was sitting on a plane coming back from London on the late flight and I noticed someone a few seats ahead of me on the opposite side flicking through the newspaper. I hadn’t tuned into the news that day so I was trying to soak up the headlines as best I could to get some hint as to what was going on.

Headlines are quite dangerous because often they are designed to catch your attention and the actual content may not fully reflect the ‘story’ that is portrayed. You only discover this when you actually read the article but often we never get that opportunity as when we are busy we flick the pages of the newspaper and very quickly we start to consume the ‘headlines‘ as the actual stories.

This headline had the words ‘Housing Crisis‘ in it and as it would imply there must be a housing crisis. I have read these words in so much coverage lately that it would be correct in assuming that we have a big  ‘housing crisis‘ on our hands.

If you Google the words ‘housing crisis‘ you will get a mountain of listings with many published in the last few days.

When we read the articles you will hear about the lack of supply, small numbers of houses being built, negative equity, repossessions, rising rents, tighter controls over bank lending, NAMA and developers sitting on land banks and a looming homelessness crisis.

For the most part it is all negative rhetoric and that word ‘crisis’ is bring used over and over, so much so that we should all get depressed.

In any other industry if you were to describe this exact set of circumstances we would be using the words ‘opportunity‘ instead:

  • There is high demand for the products and lack of supply
  • The demographics indicate that this demand will sustain itself into the future
  • Prices are rising due to demand but there are also low interest rates and an improving economy
  • Employment levels and income are rising
  • Fulfilling this demand (10,000 units per annum extra) will create 25,000 extra jobs
  • More jobs means more ability to pay, creating even more demand
  • Demand will generate income for the government
  • Demand will stimulate growth in supporting industries

Why aren’t we using the word opportunity and looking at the upside and the huge positives?

If this was any other sector, businesses would be seizing the opportunities and they would be supported by the banks. If we could create 25,000 new jobs there would be all sorts of supports and incentives on offer by the government.

And what about all of the ancillary products and services? – the carpets, curtains, tiling, fittings, furniture and electrical sales which would come after all of the professional services. That would be a huge amount of economic activity.

When it comes to property we are suspicious, we are fearful it will ‘overcook‘ the economy once again and we feel that any incentives given to consumers will be abused by the developers. It’s an industry that we distrust and the word ‘greed‘ seems to automatically apply because of the excess of the Celtic Tiger, which is still fresh in all our minds.

Despite this negativity around the industry I am very puzzled  that no one is writing about these obvious positives so I have a peep at the Construction Industry Federation website to see what they are saying.

I find a copy of a press release dated 4th September 2015 with the heading “Six steps to increasing housing supply and stimulate growth in the economy“.

They could just be right ..

The best way to solve our ‘housing crisis’ is to seize the housing opportunity.

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion PR, Marketing and Graphic Design, with offices in Dublin and Cork

 

Death Forgiveness ..

October 3, 2013

Every time I hear the advert on the radio or see it on the TV it drives me into an absolute rage – how can they run a campaign like that, it’s ironic, it’s insensitive, it’s untrue ….it’s a meaningless marketing tagline and message designed to make them stand out.

The “message” is that we are different because we really care about you, we consider our customers in a different way, we know our customers, we are sensitive to our customers needs, we are customer focused.

When you come up with a PR or advertising campaign it must be true in order for it to work.

It’s not about fancy taglines and cool adverts – it should be about capturing the real essence and truth about that business and then delivering on that promise.

Think of the simple “Ronseal” principle – “It does exactly what it says on the tin“. When you get this right it works.

Stephanie Meehan - KBC

Stephanie Meehan brought the nation to tears about a month ago on the Late Late show with her heartbreaking story about her husband Fiachra who took his own life due to the pressure of the Priory Hall debacle – A badly built home that they were put out of nearly two years ago because it was so unfit for purpose.

Her story was one of reckless builders and an insensitive bank who would not take circumstances or emotions into  account and kept hounding her and her family for money they were not in a position to repay. Unfortunately something had to give ..

The incredibly brave Stephanie, when she was strong enough told her story to the media, which culminated in the appearance on the RTE Late Late show.

After the sobering and tear jerking story on the show there was an audience prize giveaway and an appearance by some band and smiles were back on everyone’s  faces  – the show is about entertainment and they have a duty to mix the content but I was surprised at how quickly we could move on.

That’s very sad, poor girl ….next!” – do we move on that quick?

Personally I wasn’t surprised when I heard about Stephanie’s family story – for years now I have heard countless stories about banks who have been showing no mercy to anyone as they push through their agenda and pick at the bones of what remains of people and their businesses. People have been destroyed and good businesses have been shut down because of this behaviour – how many other lives have been destroyed I wonder?

I fully understand that the banks have a job to do but we all know and fully understand the circumstances of our economy, the huge role that the banks played in fuelling the problem – decency, understanding and mercy should be ethics that we all follow in our professional and personal lives and the banks are no exception.

Stephanie’s appearance had the effect of the bank waiving part of her debtgiven the specific circumstances of the tragic case” – well done! In my personal view this was just  PR pressure – they knew of her “specific circumstances” well before her Late Late appearance.

This is a game we all know and understand …if you don’t sort it out I’ll run to the media and if the story gets enough media attention you will be forced to do something (it worked recently for Tim O’Brien who cycled to Dublin to get a medical card decision revoked for his daughter)

Was there a public apology, was there a genuine promise and commitment that they would investigate their internal procedures, did they assure us that they would interview everyone involved in this case?

I didn’t see or hear about it if they did.

Instead we get a brand new advertising campaign – was it already planned, was it to balance the poor PR from the incident ….is it a true reflection of their bank and their values?

Never Forget - Hillborough Tragedy

I know it is a totally different thing but in Liverpool, 24 years after the Hillsborough tragedy where 96 Liverpool FC fans lost their lives The Sun newspaper is still boycotted – this is due to their hurtful and incorrect coverage of the incident at the time.

They don’t forget or forgive in that town.

One week after Stephanie Meehan’s Late Late appearance we were getting:

KBC “Join the Bank that’s all about you” …. “KBC – The Bank of You” ….hmmmm 

It drives me mad – Why do we move on and forget so easily?

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion

Fuzion are a Marketing, PR and Graphic Design firm in Ireland with offices in Cork and Dublin.