As PR gimmicks go, the Heating and Ventilating Contractors Association hit new heights this week in trying to find a novel way to persuade Building to pass on its positive message.
It's heartening to hear that the HVCA membership has topped the 1400 mark for the first time in the association's 98-year history. But sending us two boxes full of more than 1000 copies of the same press release took the proactive PR approach just a little too far.
Just back from holidaying in Florida, the amused HVCA corporate communications director Jack McDavid said an investigation into the mishap was under way.
What's in a name?
Incoming Movement for Innovation chairman Bob White has pledged to root out duplication in the various Egan bodies (see pages 28-29).
I wonder what he'll make, then, of the latest initiative from the RICS?
Next month, the institute is launching a new body that will consider how the Egan agenda is being carried forward in the surveying profession. To precede the launch, industry bigwigs have been invited to attend a special lunch at which they can impart their ideas for the new group.
But the proposed name sounds strangely familiar: it's called the Egan Strategic Forum. I'm sure the RICS has done its homework, but doesn't such a body already exist?
Shooting up in Docklands
The Corporation of London has long been jealous of Canary Wharf's ability to throw up skyscrapers without getting bogged down in battles with conservationists. Now Canary Wharf is set to raise the stakes: I hear executives there have been busy fitting polystyrene extensions to the models of proposed towers in their marketing suite. A string of buildings mooted for West India Quay may all be extended upwards; and plans for an edifice as tall as the main Canary Wharf tower are being considered for the Thames-side site at Canary Riverside.
But, shhh! Don't tell the corporation.
Nobody loves us
So much for construction firms being the new darlings of the stock market: industry firms make up 12 of the 50 companies in The Sunday Times' list of the least loved companies in Britain.
The survey, which identifies firms whose consistent performance goes unnoticed by the markets, is particularly heavy with housebuilders and materials firms. Housebuilder Wilson Bowden tops the list of FTSE wallflowers, with Travis Perkins sixth and Berkeley Homes seventh. Persimmon comes in 11th and Taywood 12th; others on the list include Countryside, Gleeson, McCarthy & Stone and Wimpey, plus materials firms Hanson and BSS.
But industry chief executives may be relieved to learn they are in good company. At number four in the list is vehicle distributor Inchcape – whose chairman is one Sir John Egan.
But what was the food like?
Sometimes it takes an outsider to point out the absurdity of a familiar situation. An American was overheard expressing incredulity at London's bizarre political set-up during New York mayor Rudi Giuliani's visit to the capital last month to pick up his honorary knighthood.
Along with the rest of Giuliani's entourage, the American first enjoyed a banquet at the Guildhall, hosted by the Lord Mayor of London. He then attended a dinner hosted by mayor Ken Livingstone, at Sir Terence Conran's Pont de la Tour restaurant.
"It's weird," the American observed. "The Lord Mayor has no power yet can lay on a full ceremonial bash at the Guildhall. Whereas Ken Livingstone runs the city but has to book a restaurant."
Cranes on the catwalk
Are tower crane operators the new supermodels? Yes, if a new glossy magazine dedicated to them is anything to go by.
Trans_form magazine, spotted on sale in the bookshop of London's Tate Modern, celebrates everything crane-related: the first edition contains a crane operator's diary, an explanation of operators' handsignals plus photos and artworks relating to cranes.
It's about "explaining the magic of urban sculptures that appear and disappear in the cities we are living in," the editorial runs. "We present information about tower cranes and crane operators' daily lives in the sky."
The magazine comes in a transparent plastic cover with a free CD-ROM, and the price, £19.95, is appropriately sky-high.
Spot the difference
Sir Terry Farrell regaled guests with a whistlestop tour of his projects in four continents at the launch of Ten Years: Ten Cities, the new book about his practice. As well as an airport outside Seoul, a railway station in Sydney and aquariums in Seattle and Hull, Sir Tel also waxed lyrical on his huge rail terminus in Hong Kong.
His audience sat up sharply when Sir Tel described Hong Kong as "a bit like Scotland, but tropical". Hong Kong has two things in common with Scotland, he argued. Both are mostly mountainous nature reserves with the population concentrated in flatter coastal areas. And both have transport systems developed by the British.
But before his audience could ask why Hong Kong has ended up with a brilliantly efficient transport system and Scotland hasn't, Sir Tel had moved on to his next global city – Beijing, if I remember rightly.