Thursday, October 29, 2009

Used cooking to reduce South Africa’s carbon emissions

Trucks delivering concrete to Cape Town’s 2010 football stadium are using diesel enhanced by used cooking oil and poultry fat.

This was revealed this week by Bruce Thorndike, CEO of Biogreen Diesel, a renewable energy company that is pioneering the conversion of waste oil to a less expensive, pollution-free biodiesel.

As waste cooking oil is reused, the Free Fatty Acid content (FFA) increases, making it harmful to consumers and decreasing the quality of biodiesel that can be made. Often this oil finds its way into animal feed, pet food, or sold to unsuspecting consumers.

A safe alternative is to have this oil converted into a high quality biodiesel by a reputable company. Monthly tests on Biogreen Diesel’s finished product have certified that the company consistently produces high quality biodiesel that meets international standards.

“No other company in South Africa has set this as a norm,” said Jeff Theodor, a Director in Biogreen Diesel.

Although Biogreen Diesel only became operational earlier this year, the company also supplies biodiesel for Pick n Pay and Spar delivery trucks.

The company uses the first patented Jet Reactor, invented by Org Nieuwoudt, to convert waste oil from restaurants and retailers, to an environmentally friendly fuel that can be used as a mixture with, or a substitute for, diesel.

Biodiesel has a minimal impact on the environment. It is non toxic, has a higher flash point than mineral diesel so it is safer to handle, and has reduced exhaust emissions in comparison - 400L biodiesel exchanged for the same volume of diesel will reduce the Carbon Dioxide emissions by 1 tonne.

“Sixty percent of the brown smog that often sits over Cape Town is created by diesel emissions,” said Dave Morison, Production Manager of Biogreen Diesel, who has a background in atmospheric sciences. Switching to biofuels will help to reduce this pollution.

By using a biodiesel/diesel mix, Pick n Pay and Spar combined will reduce their carbon emissions by approximately 1000 tonnes in the Western Cape over the next year.

Biogreen Diesel, based in Cape Town, will open in Johannesburg in November and plans to expand operations to Port Elizabeth and Durban by mid-2010.

Posted by HWB Communications, Cape Town's premier PR agency specialising in crisis communications & media relations in South Africa. BIOGREEN is a client of HWB.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Spier Red Week Friday October 23rd to Saturday 31st

Spier’s environs will soon be draped in brilliant shades of red, with the blossoming of 230 indigenous coral trees. In celebration of the event, and the arrival of spring, Spier will host its annual Red Week festival from Friday October 23rd to Saturday 31st.

Red wine tastings will be a focus of the festivities, with limited offers, special tastings and unusual food pairings showcasing award-winning blends and single-cultivar wines.

Red-spot specials at the luxury Spier Hotel will include a Red Revive package complete with dinner by candlelight, red wine and a red-related surprise. Restaurants will incorporate red themes into the dishes, bringing delectable ruby and scarlet tones to the table or picnic fare.

The conservation programs will be on red alert all week, with special activities planned to educate and enthuse.

Further information can be found at, or telephone 021 809 1100 for stay-over specials and more.

Posted by HWB Communications, Cape Town's premier PR agency specialising in crisis communications & media relations in South Africa. Spier is a client of HWB

Monday, October 19, 2009

SA in top ten Tweeters

Cape Town - Can't live without Twitter? Can't go through your day without tweeting about it? Well, give yourself a little pat on the back, because you have helped to tweet South Africa into the 10th spot of the world's top Twitter countries.

Yes, go on and tweet it: South Africa has become the 10th largest user of Twitter in the world.

According to Canadian research company Sysomos, South African Twitter users make up 0.85% of total online Twitter interaction, beating Japan (0.71%), the Philippines (0.64%) and China (0.49%) to a spot in the top 10.

The US is the winner by far with 62.14% of the world's users, followed by the UK (7.87%), Canada (5.69%) and Australia (2.8%).

Twitter attracts around 55 million unique visitors worldwide per month - 0.85% of this amounts to 467 500 SA visitors per month.

Since starting out as a side project in March 2006 in San Francisco, the popular social networking and micro-blogging site Twitter experienced explosive growth, attracting celebrity users such as Oprah, and a growing mountain of media and blog coverage.

In fact, according to Sysomos's study, 72.5% of all users joined Twitter during the first five months of 2009.

Sysomos analysed information disclosed on 11.5 million Twitters accounts to take an "extensive snapshot" of Twitter "that goes far beyond anything done to document Twitter's use, growth and demographics".

"While Twitter's growth has been well documented, we wanted to put the spotlight on how people use Twitter, as well as identify many of the key trends in their backgrounds, demographics and activity," said Nick Koudas, Sysomos' co-founder and chief executive in a press release.

Posted by HWB Communications, Cape Town's premier PR agency specialising in crisis communications & media relations in South Africa

Internet overtakes television to become biggest advertising sector in the UK

The internet now accounts for 23.5% of all advertising money spent in the UK, while TV ad spend accounts for 21.9% of marketing budgets.

Posted by HWB Communications, Cape Town's premier PR agency specialising in crisis communications & media relations in South Africa

Friday, October 16, 2009

HWB involved in media for UN victim empowerment programme

On Friday HWB handled media relations for the handover of contracts for 12 NGOs, recipients of grants from the UN Office on Drugs and Crime through a programme run by the European Union.

Victims of crime, trauma, and violence - and those who work to assist them - will receive a boost with the handover of grants totalling R4.77 million from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the South African Department of Social Development today.

The grants, being made to Western Cape-based civil society organisations (CSOs) fall under a European Union (EU) funded project “Support the Government of South Africa’s Victims Empowerment Programme”.

Following the initial call for proposal, the first round of grants resulted in 66 approved applications – funding to the tune of R25 million. In the Western Cape specifically, 12 grants are being issued totalling R4.77 million. In line with supporting both established and emerging CSO’s, R2.03 million has been allocated towards well-established CSO’s in the Western Cape, while the remaining R2.74 million will go towards supporting less-established CSO’s.

Read more about the UN Office on Drug & Crime
Posted by HWB Communications, Cape Town's premier PR agency specialising in crisis communications & media relations in South Africa. UNODC was a client of HWB

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Credible PR lends legitimacy

Public relations (PR) is the practice of managing the communication between an organization and its publics.[1] Public relations gains an organization or individual exposure to their audiences using topics of public interest and news items that do not require direct payment.[2] Because public relations places exposure in credible third-party outlets, it offers a third-party legitimacy that advertising does not have.[2] Common activities include speaking at conferences, working with the press, and employee communication.

PR can be used to build rapport with employees, customers, investors, voters, or the general public.[2] Almost any organization that has a stake in how it is portrayed in the public arena employs some level of public relations. There are number of related sister disciplines all falling under the banner of Corporate Communications, such as Analyst relations, Media Relations, Investor Relations, Internal Communications or Labor Relations. wikipedia

Posted by HWB Communications, Cape Town's premier PR agency specialising in crisis communications & media relations in South Africa

Microblogs and PR: "involvement, dialogue & fun"

By Bartek Lewicki, Senior Account Manager, Multi Communications, PRGN POLAND


Late last year the owners of the American tourism portal TravMedia were thinking of ways to increase their brand’s recognizability, the number of unique visits and, most importantly, revenue, all on a limited budget. They were aided by the Boston-based Castle Group agency from the PRGN network.

Their advice was simple: Twitter. A focused use of the micro-blog service as a marketing tool proved extremely useful, and helped increase the number of portal visitors by 150%. More importantly, revenues in the first five months of this year twice exceeded the budget prognosis.

There are many more such examples. Not surprisingly, the eyes of PR consultants in Poland are on Blip – the Polish equivalent of Twitter – a service which allows you to post messages of up to 160 characters. This amounts to a message about as long as the previous sentence. Can such short messages be useful in building effective and efficient communications?

Opinions vary, not only among Polish PR specialists, but also their global counterparts.

No one doubts that micro-blogs are becoming a very important tool in the everyday work of communication specialists. Abbie Fink of HMA PR in Phoenix, Arizona believes that Twitter will become a staple of most communication strategies developed by her agency, enabling them to directly involve consumers and journalists. “We use Twitter every day to communicate with the media. We use it to signal a story that we elaborate on by e-mail or over the phone.” David Landis of LCI, San Francisco-based agency, emphasizes: “I follow the media, and the media follow me. With Twitter I have a good sense of what journalists may be needing at a given moment and I do my best to provide it to them.” Landis believes that Twitter is an indispensable tool in everyday communications. “ The way we access information is changing rapidly. As communications professionals we must speak where people are listening,” he says. As an example, he describes a project carried out for the San Francisco symphonic orchestra. “Twitter helped establish a loyal group of lovers and sponsors of the Orchestra, as well as fans of its conductor, Michael Tilson Thomas. With daily updates, music lovers became more attached to the orchestra.”

Twitter is also invaluable in crisis situations which require fast reactions and ongoing monitoring of the development of events. Patricia Pérez of VPE PR in Pasadena California says: „We have been following Twitter on behalf of our clients and report on ongoing discussions, especially if they are negative. With the shrinking of traditional media, we have less opportunity to place our clients' opinions. Twitter enables us to reach the public directly.” For Pérez it is also important that micro-blogs help her keep in touch with opinions on the client side, which is invaluable when cooperating with large corporations.

But not everyone is equally enthusiastic about micro-blogs and public relations. Mark Patterson of Australian-based Currie Communications believes Twitter can only serve as a source of information for monitoring potential crisis situations, and emphasizes that: “The majority of our receivers do not take this form of communications seriously. There is also insufficient proof that it can influence audience attitudes and behaviors. We find it hard to encourage our clients to invest in such activities.”

The TravMedia portal mentioned in the beginning of this article had no reservations about investing in communications via Twitter. Mark O’Toole from The Castle Group in Boston admits that the biggest challenge lied in establishing the initial group of people who would follow the company’s Twitter account. In the first month, the agency managed to attract several hundred people from a database of opinion leaders. This initiated a viral marketing campaign into social media. Less than six months later, the @TravMediaUSA address had over 3400 followers. This enabled the company to rank among the top 400 tourist portals (from among 20,000) in the Twellow ranking. The Twinfluence ranking placed this microblog in the top 15 000 - which is a success considering that Twitter has 10 million users. With Twitter, TravMedia reaches out to over 5 million people.

Uwe Schmidt from Hamburg-based IC AG believes that Twitter may be used to communicate with consumers, but it will not be successful in B2B communications. “In Germany this tool is still looking for its place in the PR professional’s toolbox. We are beginning to introduce it slowly in our services to selected clients, because it speeds up communications and provides support for classic PR” – he says. Representatives of other agencies agree with his opinion. “Social media like Twitter are another communications tool, but they will never replace materials developed by professional journalists, who continue to prefer traditional ways of developing and verifying information” – believes David Landis. Abbie Fink adds that this isn't about replacing “traditional methods” but about applying different strategies that must be planned, tested and developed.

“You cannot just open a Twitter account, make a bunch of entries and call it a strategy. You need to manage it like any other communications plan”, she emphasizes. “You need to remember the three basic premises: involvement, dialogue and fun.”

Poland’s most popular micro-blog – – is approaching half a million user, but it is hard to find evidence of successful marketing campaigns in the medium. Rather, agencies are testing the capabilities of the new service and focusing on building a network of contacts, referred to as “observers”.

Lively discussions are underway to integrate the public relations community.

Mariusz Pleban, president of Multi Communications admits he is interested in what goes on in “I currently see two benefits for businesses that open accounts in Blip. Firstly there is the opportunity to talk directly to the consumer, which translates into the second benefit – imagebuilding.

However, there are no tools to precisely verify effectiveness, which chills our enthusiasm somewhat. Fortunately, we have access to the experiences of our global colleagues associated in the Public Relations Global Network.

Their experiences with Twitter have been very valuable for us"

The benefits of twittering and PR are there for… Twitter itself. The monthly value of its advertising equivalent is around $48 million ( Hard to believe? Not if you got 2.73 billion quotes over several months in CNN, Fox News and the press all over the world.

Independent of whether the PR industry has fully embraced the possibilities offered by micro-blogs, the phenomenon of Twitter and similar service is undeniable and cannot be ignored. Agencies which come up with the right idea and persevere in including social media (micro-blogs in particular) into their communications strategies, will be successful.

The PR agencies and firms quoted above are part of Public Relations Global Network associating 40 independent agencies operating on 80 international markets.

Posted by HWB Communications, Cape Town's premier PR agency specialising in crisis communications & media relations in South Africa