Academic reading. What to read and it’s importance.

Open Book Isolated on White with Clipping Path
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I will start this blog with a small anecdote that made me think.

So here I am, University starts. I was just another additive to the vast population of London and its outer suburbs. Track back to my first week, I find myself buried beneath books, frantically searching for an insight to help me get started as an undergraduate. After being slightly disheartened of my worth among London natives, I realized that moving from Gloucester to London was probably more of a culture shock than London to the USA. As I stood reading the biography of Steve Jobs, I was approached some guy. Clean cut, nice shirt and well groomed, he stood tall. Later I found out that he’s a graduate and doctorate of Cambridge. As he stood behind me he advised me to ‘read strategic books, not biographies, still in shock that someone actually took the time to speak to me, I replied ‘Why?’, he said ‘You are in high school, right?’, slightly insulted, I began to tell him how I was actually an undergraduate at Kingston’s school of business. We spoke for a little over fifteen minutes. He continued to preach how so many people read biographies and only those who are post academia start reading more strategy, which if you think about it is actually very true.

Now why did this matter? Well as I thought about it, it became clearer. Now imagine that you are an undergraduate, a master of medical research or anything that you desire participating in during your own academic studies. You are the leading generation responsible for innovating an industry. You are the input into major businesses decisions, the fresh brains behind medical science, political structures and energy movements. This is a business blog, therefore I will focus on business. Repetition is good, I am aware of that. Do you not, however, think that interpreting someone else’s views and their philosophy behind business is the way to innovate and create academic breakthroughs? No. Innovation comes through risk. It comes as you learn how something works and then shape into something even better, creating and then implementing something that is much greater than what it was before.

Think about one of my recent blogs, ‘Big Data’. Do you think that the idea to design and build complex algorithmic machines came as a result of some technical whiz kid who read Ginni Rometty’s biography? No. Instead, they realized that strategically, through digital and technological advancements that there was a way to rework data science, which could potentially lead to increased business output.

This is where modernization and improvement takes place. Life in business is a series of steps. External factors changing around us will always allow for new and exciting things to happen.

I don’t really know if this is what the academic from Cambridge meant, I think that he wanted to give me an insight to academia and it’s importance before I aspired to a role model. And sure, I agree that it all depends on where you are, where you are going and how developed your plan is to a successful career after your academics. I do believe in personalization, individuality. Some will tell me that I am wrong, ‘a role model will always come first’. This is not my ideology; I understand that people are intrigued in their role models. But I just think that people become infatuated with these figures, become obsessed with reading about other people. They think it’s more important to understand how Warren Buffet is self-made, they think that how Branson skipping class as a youngster is more important than understanding the laws of business psychology. This is great in motivating in moderation, but never did it mention in both Branson and Buffets biography that their success was a derivative of their obsessions with their own business idols.

Yet again it comes down to my own very generic answer to absolutely everything. Academia, business and everything that we care about in self-development is a method of balance. Business is balance. There is no right or wrong thing to do. If you do extremely well in business, you will be an inspiration to others and most probably implement industry innovating strategy. If you don’t do well and you end up second or third best, you won’t know what could have been, or what choice you should have made. Therefore it will be irrelevant. Except you don’t want that to happen, you want to be the best and that’s why I chose to take the advice of strategy over biography. Let’s be honest, there is probably not a book that a business person published before 2013 that even mentioned ‘Big Data’, in fact my blog probably touches more strategy in that particular area than many top tier business biographies. Why? Because ‘Big Data’ is new, it’s fresh. It is only something that we can find when we look at snippets of research and regularly updated magazines such as ‘Harvard Business Review’ and ‘Marketing Week’.

Now I can tell you, some academics in business cannot tell you what integrated marketing communications is, or corporate philanthropic ventures. They will be able to tell you what corporate social responsibility (CSR) is, but will they be able to name the pillars of modernized CSR? Will they be able to tell you about economics and how it links to our modernized society? Probably not. The reason that I can is because I read strategy, I focus on strategy, I focus on my needs when I research and I am confident that this style of learning will pilot me to innovation and not repetition.


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Email me on: connorwells111@gmail.com

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Why are we all so perplexed by integrated marketing communications?

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Integrated marketing communications (IMC) is becoming increasingly more important with technological advances; it is however misinterpreted by many academics. IMC‘s evolving concept from 1989 has changed dramatically with the direction of business. Why? There is no specialty to it’s perplexing dynamic. IMC is so hard to define as the theory is a both a concept and a process.

So what is IMC exactly? Well, there are many definitions. IMC defined by Tim Duncan, A famous author in field of marketing, defines IMC to be the strategic co-ordination of all messages and media used by an organization to collectively influence its perceived brand. And if you were wondering, co-ordination refers to long term and strategic orientation of consumers. Now what does this mean? If you look at Duncan’s definition, it states that the ‘co-ordination’ is between all messages and media used by an organization.

All good and well, what is the concept behind IMC and how what does it actually do? Well, according to Harvard Business Review (HBR), ‘IMC is to manage effectively the mediated impression of and direct encounter with the brand so that synergism ensues among all the interrelated elements of IMC, including research and development, manufacturing, price formulation, channel arrangement, consumer service management, marketing message construction, and communication program execution.’, in a nut shell, IMC theory practices the use of synergy to create a congruent brand image through all business practices.

It all seems very simple, and it is. However, the problem arose with defining and clarifying IMC is due to its age and the direction that business has swerved. So prior to establishing that it’s both a concept and process, what does this mean? So concept is abstract, like a concept car – a great idea, but not possible to manufacture on a large scale. It was an unrealistic venture back in the mid 1900’s to have a congruent and consistent brand image across a campaign or entire organization. Therefore it could not be practiced. However, what do we have now? We live in an incredibly advanced world with technology, dramatic innovation and an economy that is growing. This is what makes IMC now a process. It is a tool now used by marketers as a series of actions or steps taken in order to achieve a particular end. The ‘end’ being a profitable brand image through integrated consistency. So, IMC has actually just grown. Where it was once a disabled concept, now it can be used because of the tools marketers have around them.

IMC was originally comprised of two principles. The first was that the campaign message is designed to speak and voice something, which is very generic indeed. The second principle is that the campaign will be designed in an attempt to elicit a measurable, behavioral consumer response, which can be measured. Communications professional – Kliatchko, elaborates on his theory of IMC and how it has evolved to be more of an effective tool in business operations, therefore not only a concept. His views are similar to my own, that it is split up into ‘old’ and ‘new’ concepts. The old being the two fundamentals (Stated above) which come together to create whole consumer orientation, and the new which is the rise in technology that has allowed the ‘old’ theory of integrated communications to actually be carried out.

What once was a strategic approach to planning and brand message consistency through channels, now has become a better perceived, specialized and more formal practice which is oriented around the three pillars of IMC. These three pillars established a benchmark of this very generic concept and process. The three pillars are Audience focus, channel focus and results driven. This is a modernized framework of IMC, and at least is set gaining recognition. However, this doesn’t make it bulletproof to critique and misinterpretation, this is just another academic opinion that will change again over time.

This is one of the easier areas to hypothesize. IMC is hard to define and practice. This boils down to its ability to be a concept and a process. The age of IMC means that it was once a concept, which could not be practiced. Now however, advancing capabilities in technology and communication mean that it has become an extremely popular process. But lets be honest, most organizations are integrating their marketing communications regardless of the definition. They are creating an image just like the ‘innovative leader’ we see apple to be. But they don’t even know it because it’s just what the market has demanded.


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‘Big data’, the phenomenon that is complicating business.

bigstock-Big-data-concept-in-word-tag-c-49922318Why is business so complex now? Why do we spend so much time cross-referencing expertise in business now days? With psychologists, mathematical scientists, did business digress? Now I don’t mean ‘simple’ in terms of its ‘global span’ or even the profound obsession with ‘profitability’ throughout those global corporations. But I mean the decisions that used to be made with four marketing professionals in a small smoky room. I can tell you why it isn’t simple now and it all boils down to two words – big data.

Both academically and professionally, we have all either heard or regard this new marketing phenomenon as the burning essence of modern business.

So, we have all heard the term ‘big data’, but what exactly is it? Well there are many definitions; I’ve come across around eight in total. My favorite is by far this one: ‘analyzing data that was previously ignored because of technology limitations’. Matt Aslett’s ideology refers to big data as an opportunity for business, which is the context it is most scholarly used. The most generic way of describing big data is a mass of unorganized data, which can be collected from a range of areas, one of which is for example, social media. This is then collected and run through specialist software developed from companies like IBM to make marketing decisions through complex algorithms.

Is it really that affective? Well according to Harvard Business Review (HBR), it is the sexiest new business revelation that hit us business enthusiasts with a bang. HBR states that with big data comes big responsibility. Although a very scientific field, you would assume that this data is so reliable and so magnificent that it can cure diseases. Well not quite. The only this that’s being assumed is the outcome that this data can change. Let us track back for a second, PEST (LE). Now data may be reliable, but there is no way in hell that it can be literal and certain. With political events, the economy, sociological and technological factors ever changing, it simply impossible for data to be relied completely upon.

Alex Pentland, the Toshiba professor of media arts and science at MIT, suggests that with the companies not owning the data, where does that data come from? With all of this responsibility, is the data even dependable? As business professionals and academics, we can all come across data and assume that it is reliable. After all, who would spend all of this time and effort gathering data that isn’t reliable right? This is not about reliable data, neither is it about assumptions. What it is about is security and as a business, using time efficiently. As a result, there is now a ‘new deal on data’, in order to reform the way in which data is used, Pentland has projected set principles and practices to define the ownership of data and where it has come from to ensure it’s worthiness.

What I am trying to poke at is its worth? Yes big data has made some incredible advancement. With IBM aiming to make millions through new growth areas such as cloud and big data, it cannot be worthless. However, there is a difference between getting carried away. For example, Harvard Business Review conducted a study on a retailer, and found that their analysis of big data showed that they could increase profitability substantial amounts by extending the time products were on the floor before and after discounting. However, this would have required a complete redesigning of supply chain. Henceforth some of the data will point to decisions that a business plainly cannot make.

Am I slating big data? Will I ignore it? No. I just think that there is more too modern business than just that. I am flying out to New York on the 17th of March from Chicago to complete a course in big data. I am not critical at all; I just know that there is a bigger picture. I know that it will play a large part in my job as a digital marketer. I know that I will have to cross paths with it many times, and that it could potentially control my job. But I am aware that it is a balancing act. I do not think that the old smoky room should go away. Take away the stigma and what do you get – great minds who know precisely what the company needs. Combine this with data, which is an advancement of modern business, you then have a great strategy to implement with the use of both.


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Organisation Philanthropy, Contradictory or profitable?

philanthropy
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In the corporate metropolis which we live in, opinions vary regarding business philanthropy across the globe. Ideas expressed within the world of business vary from positive influence to negative directed toward whether they are worth the corporation’s time and efforts. Long-term American economist Milton Friedman, expressed that corporate philanthropic activity is in fact contradictory, and can have a negative effect on the efficiency of the business by siphoning earnings into social programs that have little to do with the company. While this view may be controversial, it has to be understood that Milton is an economist and therefore his business vision is to reinvest money in a way that will profit directly.

This argument is often opposed by the popular view that ‘you can’t do business in a society that’s burning’ – I came across this quote while researching and thought it was a great way to describe many corporations ideology behind being philanthropic. The quote comes from the founder of an un-named company who focus on data collection, a much smaller company than the likes of blue chip multinationals. Simply, from my own perception, it was based around the concept that business and good will go hand in hand. The Data supports that you cannot receive without giving in today’s society. This is inevitably a view that would contrast from an economist’s view; personal professional experience will always vary both significantly and insignificantly from data. My view is that extremes should not be exercised and that elements of data and also profitability at all costs, should be implemented into a philanthropic communications plan.

In a nutshell, following my research – I believe that success in business comes from balance and the ability to be ambitious, following key trends without the derivative of becoming unbalanced.

L’Oreal are a company who have created a very ambitious and long term commitment to their own philanthropic ventures. In 2007, L’Oreal endowed it’s corporate foundation and focused on strengthening it’s philanthropic initiatives on beauty, convinced that it can drastically improve the lives of vulnerable individuals. They did this by actively restoring the public’s self-confidence and rebuilding social ties. Examples of their brands work in philanthropy are distinctive across different continents – for example, in Africa and Asia, the foundation is funding reconstructive surgery, while in France it is developing an aesthetic therapy program to help fragilized adults, teenagers and children to feel good about their appearance.

In respect to L’Oreal, I believe that this example of corporate philanthropy is very efficient. However my reasoning is logical; L’Oreal adopted a philanthropic venture that is aligned with their mission. Arguably this specific area of ‘beauty’ can be so controversial, that when carried out well is easily aligned. I believe that their mission is very clear –  and due to the mission being created primarily around ‘ethical beauty’, the link between the two is much easier as ethical behaviour and corporate philanthropy compliment each other, especially in the 21st century.

Is this example of philanthropy benefiting profitably? Yes and No. staying diplomatic? Of-course. While L’Oreal are a global corporation, they are able to lose money by giving a little extra to a community. although this goes against Milton Friedman’s concept of efficient business, we do operate in the 21st century and with L’Oreal selling 130 products every second globally, it gives them leverage to make a small loss to benefit society. On the flip side, I do believe that with it being their mission and philanthropy being so well well aligned with great exposure, it does have an effect on how the consumers view the L’Oreal brand, thus leading nicely to profitability through an enhanced and more exposed brand name.

To conclude, in my opinion, the success and worth of a philanthropic venture boils down to the industry that the company is in. In my opinion, it is easy to have a successful community outlook if you have an appropriate mission and you operate in an appropriate industry such as beauty or healthy food. However, industries such as fast food and banking are examples of business ventures where the sole purpose is to make profit and not necessarily help the customer (Internally motivated). While a larger brand such as ‘McDonalds’ CAN run community outreaches, this can sometimes work nicely when done well, simply because they are very influential. However, customers know that McDonalds sell high fat food, and they are for maximum profit only. Similar to the banking industry, they professionally manipulate customers into investing money and investors by exaggerating quarterly growth statistics for their own worth – therefore in most cases should not run philanthropic events as it does nothing but exercise Milton Friedman’s view of being extremely contradictory while diminishing trust with investors and consumers.

Social media, how it’s used and how it’s replacing the press release

Social Media
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According to Mashable, (2014). Public relations (PR) specialists were some of the first people to embrace the power of social media. Often, public relations practitioners are the ones leading the way in the social space, whether they are consulting with clients from an agency point of view or strategizing on an in-house PR team. With the advancement of 24 hour news and the demand from society to be constantly updated, journalists have become dependant on the content generated by public relations professionals. This has amplified controversy as this media kit is then absorbed by the public who then generate their own views and opinions on the issue. However this is balanced by a journalists neutral writing style.

Public relations and marketing is becoming continuously oriented around social media. With growing statistics reinforcing the rise in technology amongst those of all ages, it will continue to be a safe house for agencies, practitioners and just about everyone involved in the link between the public, the media and corporation.

Mashable also gives us an idea of how the growing rise in social media could potentially replace the press release. According to slate.com – Newspaper sales have dropped from 65.8 billion in 2000, to 17.3 billion in 2013 in the united states.

During the past few years, we’ve witnessed a shift towards what some are calling the “social media release.” Services like PitchEngine, PressLift, PRX Builder, and MindTouch are bringing the press release into the new millennium with embedded multimedia and easy distribution through various channels, including social media and e-mail. (Mashable, 2014).

Gearing more towards the more popular tools of social media, the original vehicle ‘Facebook’ was followed shortly by twitter, followed by Instagram and other developing applications such as Snapchat which are being utilised by businesses. As a mature generation Z, I have seen clearly a development of business promotion and use of linking the media with the public and promotional techniques through the social media that I am familiar with. Recently I have seen a decline of the use on facebook as its usage is slowing, however the use of viral marketing on social media is great in the current climate as it is inexpensive and efficient with maximal exposure.

Social media is a cheaper way of linking the public to the corporation who offers a product or service, or educating the public on a specific matter. However, It seems to be becoming more business oriented than social.

An article published on newschannel10, (2014), advertises a new Twitter marketing application. This article talks about how companies can. Newschannel10 stated:

SocialCentiv’s Twitter Marketing application utilizes a proprietary approach to identify relevant tweets in a manner that is unparalleled in the technology marketing industry. The company combines state-of-the-art technology with a crowd source task function called human screening to filter tweets down to the most relevant, and convert prospects on Twitter into SocialCentiv users.” (Newschannel10, 2014).

This is a prime example of how the industry of press and use of 4p’s and beyond (digital media) are stretching their business techniques along with the increasing interest in social media. People realize that it is the best way of utilizing markets trends to educate people on a company’s products or their services that they offer.

I believe that social media is changing the way in which the media interacts with the public. The decline in traditional techniques of educating the public is too big to go un-noticed, and it is important therefore that practitioners in public relations and in marketing take their opportunities to utilize social media. Also, it is much more cost effective way to appeal to a large public. Maybe a positive derived from the economic crisis. I think that journalists should use public relations, and they should utilise the gold mine that is information processed from corporations. However, it is important not to get carried away, as time evolves, it is inevitable that technology will also. It is a journalists job to research extensively and not just quote information handed directly to them as a media kit.


References

Marketing Made Easy with Twitter Marketing Application. (n.d.). Retrieved November 10, 2014, from http://www.newschannel10.com/story/27345127/marketing-made-easy-with-twitter-marketing-application

The Decline of Newspapers Hits a Stunning Milestone. (n.d.). Retrieved November 10, 2014, from http://www.slate.com/blogs/moneybox/2014/04/28/decline_of_newspapers_hits_a_milestone_print_revenue_is_lowest_since_1950.html

The Future of Public Relations and Social Media. (n.d.). Retrieved November 10, 2014, from http://mashable.com/2010/08/16/pr-social-media-future/


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Crisis Management & Coca Cola

Crisis management is the application of strategies designed to help an organization deal with a sudden and significant negative event. (2014). Crisis management is the series of steps that a business must take in order to communicate a problem that they are encountering to the public so that it does not diminish their brand image.

Crisis management is an imperative element of any business. Why? Because it affects the stakeholder, just about anyone who has a relationship with or is affected by the way the business operates.

Of course we all know about the major crisis’s we have seen among businesses and celebrities in the 21st century – with BP and their catastrophic oil spill and the share price drop sickening the public, or the role model scandals which turns the most respected athlete representatives into some of the most hated characters on the planet.

The most interesting in my opinion was a mistake from a world leader. The blue chip multinational ‘Coca Cola’ in 1985 carried out some large changes, which did not go down well with the public. Arguably one of the largest marketing fails in the history of commercialism, which led to extreme public relation tactics to rebuild a brand.

In 1985, ‘Coca Cola’ carried out their own research on a large scale – they approached consumers and blind tested the comparison in taste between ‘Pepsi-Cola’ and the original ‘Coke’ taste. The consumers chose Pepsi to be a better taste, leaving the Coca Cola second. After the R&D at Coca Cola had taken on board this research, they decided to abolish the original Coke and create a brand new taste called ‘New Coke’.

Confidently thinking that this was what the consumer wanted, the loyal consumers of Coca Cola boycotted the brand where many made it clear that although Coca Cola did not have the best taste out of the two, they were loyal to it because of the brand that is ‘Coca Cola’. After sales shot lower and lower, the marketing manager was released and the public relations of a crisis catastrophe began.

After the changes had been made and loyal consumers lost, Coca Cola made it clear that it was a terrible mistake and that they will restore the original Coke and sell it as normal and abolish the New Coke. One of the ways they did this was by incorporating and emphasizing their company mission, of which is to ‘be the brand’, Inspire creativity, passion, optimism and fun. This was very clever as they had something, which they could really emphasize to the consumers who became loyal once again to the brand driven company.

This is a fantastic example of how a company can experience a crisis, not just internally, but externally without planning it. Coca Cola did not know that this was going to occur, they assumed that they knew their consumer too well, and assumed that they could do what they wanted and still maintain their consumer base. This backfired and they had to communicate to the public and those who had been affected to ensure that they could restore their sales.

With good knowledge about the subject matter, the ability not to answer ‘No comment’ and act quickly on the situation a crisis can be resolved in a business context.

(T. Wiffen, Personal Communication, April 17, 2011.)

Crisis management. (n.d.). What is ?. Retrieved October 19, 2014, from http://whatis.techtarget.com/definition/crisis-management

Mission, Vision & Values. (n.d.). The Coca-Cola Company. Retrieved October 19, 2014, from http://www.coca-colacompany.com/our-company/mission-vision-values#TCCC

Public relations and how it effects modern business

 

When conducted in the correct way, I think that public relations can be one of the most effective yet inexpensive methods of promotion and marketing. Public relations is the creation of a public image which people associate with your brand whether good or bad.

The best way to utilize your campaign via pubic relations is through technology. Through the creation of social networking and the Internet, popularity among interfaces such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram have given brands the opportunity to communicate with the public to create a better brand image. In my opinion this is a fantastic promotional method. It is extremely inexpensive in comparison to alternative above the line techniques such as television and billboard campaigns. And when used in the correct way, public relations through modern social media can exploit a vast network with a high coverage of different people. This cluster of people can consist of many different ages, different genders and different wants which gives you a great representation of your market.

According to Katy Daniells, (2013). 74% of marketers believe that Facebook is important for their lead generation strategy. By targeting Facebook, automatically public relations and viral campaigns become almost depended upon. And most often when conducted well, they are very successful. This explains why whenever you browse your Facebook or your Twitter you see a new company with a new campaign – usually with a catchy hashtag and a follow up hyperlink for you to engage as consumers. This works well, best of all it comes at a very low cost. This is the reason PR is becoming so desired for in business, it’s ability to save money and be extremely effective.

Further analyzing the use of public relations, professionals in the industry state that “Public Relations is concerned with building relationships and generating goodwill for the organization”, as well as the fact that “Marketing is concerned with customers and selling products and services” (Wilcox, Cameron, Reber & Sheen, 2013). With key concepts of business being to build relationships with consumers, many including myself would argue that Public Relations will overtake other divisions of business in terms of importance when running a campaign through the ability of building lasting reputable relationships with consumers.

In addition to the prior point regarding the importance of relationships, it is also vital for a company to focus on long-term success from sales revenue in comparison to short-term gains. A perfect example of this would be Tesco, the British supermarket giant. With their ‘club card’ campaign, they were able to target their customers and their buying habits to further build relationships with them and increase sales figures. According to Clive Humby, Terry Hunt & Tim Phillip, (2004) to offset the 16 million dollar launch cost of Clubcard and the cost of issuing membership cards and reward vouchers, it was calculated that a 1.6% uplift in sales was required. This was surpassed by a 4% increase in sales settling at around 2%,“An almost unheard of sales spikes from a single marketing initiative” and a “Public relations triumph by any standards” (Clive Humby, Terry Hunt & Tim Phillip, 2004). This was not an immediate short-term gain of Tesco’s; it was an expensive campaign whereby the main focus was capitalizing on their relationships with the consumer to increase sales. This is a fantastic example of how public relations are used to create relationships. With Tesco introducing the club card before the economic crisis, they were also able to maintain the link with their customers during their financial difficulties, creating and maintaining exposure to their low prices and coupon schemes.

To conclude, I completely agree with the use of public relations and it’s ability to enhance business. Public relations is a tool, which many different businesses and industries can use. A company’s success through PR comes down to the skill of the practitioner responsible. I believe that they should liaise with all departments within the company and the representative should be present in all major business endeavors.

References

Daniells, K. (n.d.). Social Media Stats 2013 . Infographic: Social Media Stats 2013 | Digital Buzz Blog. Retrieved September 6, 2014, fromhttp://www.digitalbuzzblog.com/infographic-social-media-stats-2013/

Wilcox, D. L., Cameron, G. T., Reber, B. H., & Shin, J. (2013). What is public relations.Think public relations (2nd ed., p. 15). Boston: Pearson.

Humby, C., Hunt, T., & Phillips, T. (2004). Because we can . Scoring points how Tesco is winning customer loyalty (p. 64). Sterling, VA: Kogan Page.