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Social listening has grown to become a major component in any consumer social media strategy, but did you know that social listening can be just as effective when it comes to brands targeting B2B audiences online as well?

The ability to home in on exactly what’s being said about your brand, to measure vital statistics such as mentions and engagements and to quantify emotion and sentiment, is a vital commodity for all brands looking to leverage social media and advance their business.

From a corporate perspective, where sentiment can fluctuate overnight and crisis can always seem to lurk in the rear-view mirror, social listening can play a key role in your online or social media strategy.

What’s more, brands in certain corporate spaces can find themselves up against their competitors who are targeting the same audiences, especially in niche industries. It is vital that you use tools at your deposal to try and get ahead and discover what content works best on each channel.

This insight can be obtained from social listening. Here is a quick, 5-minute guide to social listening and why you need it for your corporate business.

The statistics that matter

Traditional social media tools will enable you to keep track of the top-level statistics of your competitor’s social media channels. Audience growth, post frequency analysis offers little beyond vanity metrics and superficial comparison so can be hard to determine a true picture of their success.

We can track brand mentions and benchmark these against mentions of your competitors enabling you to depict your share of brand voice. We are also able to track the output and performance of owned content.

Social listening allows you to dig deeper and uncover insights into the impact and output of your competitor’s social media activity. For instance, the engagement rate of each of their posts, whether video and GIF assets work better than still imagery; the impressions generated by their recent influencer collaboration can all be tracked. All this information can be collated into easy-to-read reports, and what’s more, we can also provide insight into your industry benchmark, so you know exactly how you stack against others in your sector.

This information can help fill in the blanks between the ‘what’ and ‘how’: what are your competitors sharing that is working, and how are they sharing it. This is gold dust when you’re trying to go one better than a rival online and get a step ahead on social.

Shout, shout, let it all out.

No, we’re not having a Tears for Fears nostalgia session, we’re talking about share of voice and measuring your online influence.

What is share of voice and why is it so useful to measure? A very good question with a simple answer: because it enables you to visualise what proportion of your industry audience is aware of who you are, how often they talk about you, and how that stacks up against your key competitors.

You might find your brand has a small share of voice, which implies you’re not doing enough to raise your profile against your competitors and it’s time to amplify your message with a more robust social strategy that hits harder and further.

Conversely, you might find that, whilst you possess a much larger audience via traditional social media channels, your key rival has utilised a little-known community online and is using that to dominate industry conversation, seed key messaging and acquire additional traffic to site.

Such insight would enable you to understand exactly where you should be sharing your message, and the type of content you should be putting in front of your target audience.

When we start working with you, we pin your share of voice to the wall from the outset. As the weeks and months go on, we monitor its fluctuations and it becomes an integral part of our performance metrics.

Press coverage, new campaigns a revamped social media strategy are all great ways to give your share of voice a good kick start.

The calm before the storm

For those seasoned social media managers out there with a few years’ experience under your belt, you’d know that a crisis on social media is never very far away. What might be an innocuous error could soon escalate into a Twitter or Instagram firestorm with no sign of abating.

Whilst we cannot build a bullet-proof strategy that promises to eradicate crises for good – we can promise to notify you at the first sign of things going awry online. Enter sentiment analysis…

The ability to monitor sentiment should not be underestimated when it comes to forecasting a crisis. Just like dark clouds gathering before the main downpour, a decline in sentiment and a rise in the volume of mentions is the first sign of a crisis about to unfold. Our social monitoring platform allows us to place alert systems that signal immediately at the onset of a crisis.

Whilst that won’t necessarily dampen its effects, the ability to react instantly enables us to stay in control and limit the ‘catching-up’ period that so often causes a crisis to go from contained to uncontrolled. Working with senior crisis communication figures at PHA, we have a track record of using social listening to pinpoint exactly when and where a crisis has started, and later on use it as a way to track its trajectory, neutralise your most outspoken critics and assess the impact it’s had within your industry.

And there you have it; a whistle-stop tour of social listening and why it is essential for corporate brands. Of course, there’s a lot more that we can discuss about the virtues of our software and how we can use it to amplify your brand, but it’s probably best saved for discussing in person.

If you’re interested in learning more about both our social listening and social media services at The PHA Group, get in touch today and have a chat with one of our experts.

The importance of social listening for corporates

Now in its third year, Europe’s leading blockchain for business event, Blockchain Summit, is back in town this week at London’s Olympia.

Although still relatively young as an event, the conference has become known as a hub for innovation and an opportunity for industry leaders, decision makers and tech pacesetters to come together and talk all things blockchain.

From Helene Stanway, Head of Digital Innovation at AXA to Amit Varma, Chief Technology Officer and blockchain pioneer at CitiBank, Blockchain Summit has lined up over 80 visionary speakers to lead panel discussions and deliver insights over the two-day event.

In this blog, we’re focusing on some of the pioneering and unique companies who will be exhibiting. From businesses who are advancing blockchain protocols to global companies that are playing a major role in enabling a decentralized world, and everything in the middle.

Insolar
A global tech company, Insolar is building its own public and private blockchain solutions on its propriety Insolar Blockchain Platform; which it claims is the most secure, flexible and scalable blockchain for business. With a team of over 80 spread across the globe, Insolar’s mission to change the way the world does business is definitely one to watch.

Algorand
Founded by a team of researchers, mathematicians, cryptographers and economists, Algorand’s mission is to create the borderless economy by removing the technical barriers that have undermined widespread adoption of blockchain to date – scale, security and decentralisation. Ultimately, the team aims to provide a stable platform that businesses can trust as we move towards a decentralised, borderless economy.

Altoros
A consultancy and professional services business, Altoros has helped over 2000 companies around the world harness innovative technologies to create products that give them a real competitive advantage. Offering consultancy, training and the technology building blocks for solutions across cloud automation, blockchain and AI, Altoros is actively helping companies to understand and successfully implement the latest technologies into their business.

OpenLedger
Founded in 2014, OpenLedger works with companies around the world to integrate both existing blockchain solutions and build new decentralised apps that provide real competitive advantage. Dedicated to bringing the power of blockchain to the business world, OpenLedger provides solutions across supply chains, IoT, logistics and healthcare to name a few.

fifth9
Working with leading FTSE companies, fifth9 is driven by a simple aim: to combine subject-matter expertise with solid consultancy to give clients clear, actionable value. With more than a decade in technology strategy and business transformation, fifth9’s products are baked with industry insight and global experience.

ClinicAll
Founded in 2008, ClinicAll is focused on the development and rollout of digital services in hospitals. Its software solutions and apps support seamless interaction between patients, doctors and medical staff and the team is focused on developing products that fulfil hospitals’ requirements for modern and efficient solutions while offering quality care.

If you’re looking for public relations support for your blockchain business speak to a member of our team today.

Spotlight on: Blockchain Summit 2019

Emma Lawton, meet our people

Tell us a bit about yourself and how you’ve found yourself as the go-to blockchain specialist here at The PHA Group?

I started at the PHA Group just shy of three years ago in the Technology team having worked at a B2B technology PR agency in Nottingham, my university city, for a year after graduating. With my background in “techy tech” (telecoms, AI & dynamic spectrum access technology) I was keen to help grow our B2B client base.

Around two years ago we had an old client return to us wanting help with a new project that involved blockchain technology. What followed was a crash course learning about blockchain and how it could disrupt virtually every established industry. From the success of that first client (we launched them with an exclusive in Forbes) we began actively offering our services to more clients harnessing blockchain technology.

What is it about the blockchain sector that grabbed your attention in the first place?

I love the fundamental principle of blockchain – decentralization. For years we had willingly given over all our personal data to large centralized conglomerates without a second thought. We’d also happily gone along with the established financial systems; even if that meant getting a mortgage or loan was almost nigh-on-impossible given the long-winded and opaque processes. Implementing distributed ledger technology could change all of that.

You’ve been heavily involved with all things blockchain in the past couple of years whilst at The PHA Group, what is it that you look for when calculating your PR impact?

It always depends based on what each client is looking for when they start working with us. For some, it’s about growing the profile of the business outside of the crypto enthusiast bubble. So, getting cut-through coverage in the nationals and mainstream technology & business titles is success. For others, it’s about raising their profile in front of traditional investors for their ICOs. Ultimately, we always look to make sure we deliver what our clients define as success.

In a matter of years blockchain has become one of the most talked about industries around, what role has PR played in this?

Not always a good one! PR and marketing has definitely contributed towards the hype around blockchain and cryptocurrencies – especially given the wild volatility of the nascent market. We’ve seen fraudulent ICOs con people out of millions of pounds all thanks to a snazzy whitepaper and polished marketing campaign. What we are focused on doing through our PR campaigns is telling the genuine story of blockchain as an enabler – a technology that can truly disrupt existing models for the better, much like the internet did 30 years ago. Over the last year we have started to see PR play more of a positive role; focusing on real-life case studies of blockchain in action and the tangible value it can bring to businesses.

What sets The PHA Group apart from other blockchain focused PR agencies?

We aren’t a purely blockchain PR focused agency. A major benefit of PHA is that we are a multi-disciplined agency. We work with football clubs and clothing brands to business entrepreneurs and cybersecurity companies, and everything in between; which means we have contacts across virtually every sector. This is really important for blockchain businesses, as most of the time their business is about bringing distributed ledger technology to an already established sector to enhance and bring efficiencies. So, already knowing that sector’s media and what’s newsworthy to those journalists is a major advantage.

If you would like to find out how PR can connect you with the right audience for your Blockchain offering then please get in touch with us today.

Meet our people; Emma Lawton

Last week’s London Tech Week celebrated technology, talent and start-ups in our capital. A standout event was the AI summit, which was organised by PHA client, Dan Pitchford.

I was lucky enough to be offered a ticket to the two-day event learning about innovations in artificial intelligence, enjoying ice cream selected due to Microsoft’s smart facial recognition software (reader: I was strawberry), and even got to meet the world-famous Pepper the Robot.

The ExCel was bursting with fascinating innovations, but below are five of the most exciting businesses exhibiting at the AI Summit.

Top 5 Businesses at the AI Summit

Alpha

Based in Barcelona, Alpha is using technology to support mental health issues. It currently has an app called “Perspectives” which uses cognitive behaviour therapy to help and support people who are suffering from body image issues, but Alpha is hoping to broaden its support to a wider range of mental health concerns and is currently testing in the US. The technology used is constantly learning and working out how to best look after users – informing future vital developments to provide help for the estimated one in four people who will experience a mental disorder in their lifetime.

Squirrel AI

This fascinating China-based company uses AI to help students further their potential across a whole range of subjects. The AI system is used to understand and adapt to students’ specific needs and offers a personalised one-to-one tutoring plan based on where individual knowledge may be lacking. The belief is that as every student’s knowledge base is different, Squirrel AI provides a hyper-focused way to complement each unique learning style.

GyroGear

GyroGear is a new piece of tech created to help people with tremors. The idea of the business was born out of the desire to return independence and freedom to anyone who experiences tremors. The advanced technology, which attaches itself to a user’s hands, was borne from an NHS doctor and a mechanical engineer who used AI and machine learning to work out the best way to help someone who was suffering with a disease such as Parkinson’s so that they could improve the quality of life for someone who was suffering from tremors.

Luminoso

We’ve all been there: you get in touch with a company to make a suggestion, complaint or compliment and feel distinctly underwhelmed by the identikit reply. Luminoso uses artificial intelligence to monitor, understand and advise how businesses should respond to customer feedback or requests. It is already being used by big tech companies such as AWS and there is no reason to think that the company isn’t going to grow even further.

Marhub

Marhub is a chatbot application helping refugees gain valuable information and services when they have been displaced. The chatbot provides information in the native language of each user, easing communication problems. The platform is helping organisations increase efficiency, scale and improve the quality of their services. The chatbot offers legal advice, can answer questions and can connect refugees directly with lawyers or organisations that will be willing to help. The technology uses AI to learn and adapt to the issues that are facing refugees all around the world and Marhub is one of many examples that shows how technology is being used to improve the lives of people who are in desperate situations.

The AI Summit was a whirlwind of an afternoon and the sheer variety of exhibitions, using the technology to address some of the world’s most pressing issues – migration, mental health, education – was fascinating.

And I was delighted to not have been identified by the smart ice cream dispenser as vanilla.

The top five businesses from the AI Summit

With over 200 travel tech business attracting £2.5billion of funding in 2016 and with over 1.4billion global travellers in 2018, the travel industry is booming. In fact, since 2010 tourism has been one of the fastest growing sectors in the UK with online bookings rising to an all-time high.

Against this backdrop, travel tech is evolving at a rapid pace with entrepreneurs exploring new niche markets in the industry. From programmes that democratise air travel to end-to-end booking platforms, the potential for real-life applications that can transform the way we travel and see the world are endless.

With innovations revolutionising the way in which we travel, here is a list of five of the most promising companies to watch.

Stratajet

Founded in 2011 by pilot turned computer scientist and entrepreneur Jonathan Nicol, Stratajet was developed to democratise flying by private jet.

Frustrated by the out-dated and inefficient process to book a private jet, Jonathan developed an algorithm that connects flyers to available aircrafts. The programme, which took him five years to develop, finds the best deals, maximising capacity and cutting out the need for a broker between the airline and consumer.

Today, Stratajet partners with international aircraft operators to deliver its service to customers across forty-four countries in Europe and the US. By enabling consumers to search, compare and book a private jet at the best price in minutes, Stratajet provides a seamless and reliable booking process, opening up luxury travel to the masses.

TalkTalkBnb

Established in 2015 TalkTalkBnb is a collaborative platform that connects people who want to travel with those who want to improve their language skills. Free for both parties to use, it provides a way for travellers to enjoy free accommodation by connecting with their host and talking in their native language.

With travellers increasingly drawn to local experiences rather than package tours or hotels, TalkTalkBnb is one of the few companies offering a way to access a truly unique and authentic experience alongside a way to exchange value.

Since 2017 the platform has also opened up to businesses, demonstrating how the sharing economy can have a profound impact on business travel as well. By creating your business circle on TalkTalkBnb you can bring all your company’s employees together from across the world in one place. This can open the door to job swaps and even provide access to an ‘internal air bnb’ whereby colleagues can stay with each other, rather than in hotels when travelling on business.

 Live2Leave

Live2Leave is a travel app that allows users to record their favourite hotels, restaurants and activities, and see recommendations from a community of friends and local experts, providing a more interactive and exciting experience whilst travelling.

Launched in May 2017 by Celeste Owen-Jones, a former journalist turned entrepreneur, the app targets tech-savvy travellers and it already has over 11,000+ recommendations across 2,800 cities. With travellers increasingly booking their trips online, the app is soon to expand to include additional planning and booking features. This will enable individuals to manage their entire trip on one app, transforming the ease at which we can plan a holiday.

Srprs.me

Designed with today’s time-strapped individuals in mind, srprs.me takes all the hassle and stress out of researching a trip and plans it all for you, even answering the question of where to go.

The online platform allows you to tailor your trip down to every last detail from dates, departing airport and accommodation type, however, your exact destination will remain a surprise until you arrive at the airport.

With over 100,000 travellers using the digital platform to design their holidays, the idea is still very much centred on making the process of planning a trip quick, simple and hassle-free. With no planning ahead, travellers using srprs.me have no set expectations and can, therefore, enjoy every moment of their holiday.

The Booking Factory

Founded in 2014 by husband and wife team Tikky and Evan Davies, The Booking Factory is an all in one hotel management and marketing platform that helps independent hotels manage their business and master the guest experience.

Inspired by Evan’s parents who ran a hotel in Wales for more than forty years, they built and launched the platform because they needed a simple tool to manage the business online and increase direct bookings. The platform does this through providing access to software that can help users build a website, automate repetitive tasks, generate online bookings and implement online check-in.

With 74% of travellers now planning their trips online and increasingly turning to independent hotels for a more unique experience, companies such as The Booking Factory are crucial to ensure these boutique hotels remain visible and competitive within a market dominated by hotel chains.

If you’re interested in finding out more about our experience or how we can help profile you or your business please get in touch today.

The top five companies innovating travel tourism

Facebook’s news that it will be launching it’s own cryptocurrency, Libra, has made quite a lot of waves; but not necessarily for good reasons. While an interesting move for the social media behemoth, Libra represents a dangerous premise. And it’s not guaranteed to succeed or be the saviour of the fledgling cryptocurrency market.

Undoubtedly, the technology and adoption rates behind Libra are frankly astounding. Libra’s governance is made up of the biggest players in payment technology – Spotify, PayPal and Mastercard are all involved – which means that it is almost a given that Libra will be the most valuable cryptocurrency in the years to come. Being backed by tangible assets also means it has value that hasn’t been created out of thin air.

But Facebook’s main play here is to the billions of unbanked people in the developing world. Given their entire strategy at the moment seems to hinge around the developing world – they’ve made some serious ground with bringing mobile technology into developing nations in recent years and Facebook is almost synonymous with the internet now – this move with Libra is understandable. If Facebook effectively controls the internet in developing countries, as well as the monetary source, then they’ll be the most powerful company in the up and coming world. One which is catching up with first world counties at a much quicker rate than the first world is able to innovate itself.

Yet Facebook doesn’t exactly have a good record on data privacy, *cough* Cambridge Analytic *cough*, and yet this move would grant them a huge amount of power over intrinsically sensitive data. While it’s unlikely that the central banks will just let go of the power of money, Facebook will still now need to worry about much more than who has access to images or user profile details; think money laundering, KYC protocols across multiple jurisdictions, the safety of blockchain to name a few.

Another factor to consider is that Facebook itself is only a single member, with a single vote share of the entire organisation – which is non-for-profit. While this could be used in their defence that they won’t try to control the system, why would they do this unless they had some sort of ulterior motive? They’re not exactly altruistic.

Add to this the fact they’re launching their own wallet, which is set to be built from the ground up to support transactions with Libra across Instagram and Facebook. This will ultimately create an ecosystem where you can buy an influencer’s clothing line directly from Instagram using Libra.

Sounds great right? No – therein lies the catch.

The move to launch Libra is fundamentally a business-motivated decision. It’s not about advancing blockchain technology or showing the value of cryptocurrency. The fact Facebook only represents one vote out of 27 matters very little when they control the vast majority of popular tech in today’s society.

If you would like to find out how PR can connect you with the right audience for your blockchain offering then please get in touch with us today.

Facebook’s Libra – the future of crypto or a dangerous premise?

Last week saw London Tech Week take place, an event which highlights cutting edge innovation and break out trends within the tech industry. One of the hot topics of this year’s event was cybersecurity. Cyber attacks and breaches are a real threat for UK businesses and organisations, with 32%  reporting an attack in the last year.

With this increased level of threat, the cybersecurity market has been working hard to develop and flourish, which in turn has enabled more startups to emerge within the industry. We’ve looked at five UK cybersecurity startups to check out.

RazorSecure

Providing continuous threat monitoring and defence strategies for the rail and automotive industries, RazorSecure works specifically with trains, buses, planes and cars. Their software has been designed to operate in the most challenging environments including at 30,000 feet up in the air. Interestingly, RazorSecure’s software can protect systems without a guaranteed internet connection due to the automated response playbook that can respond when an attack is detected.

Senseon

The Senseon platform provides a unique and innovative Al-led approach to dealing with cyber threat detection. Senseon’s USP is that it offers security teams unmatched visibility across organisations, which means even small attacks will get picked up. Through Al learning, Senseon trains itself based off of genuine threats, which in the long run helps to reduce false positive alerts.

AimBrain

The award-winning fraud detection platform has one single aim, to help organisations be sure that their users are who they say they are. From individual developers to the biggest names in financial services, AimBrain builds technology that helps to not only detect but also prevent fraud. If that wasn’t enough, the even better news for consumers is their single-minded approach – they want to make it as simple as possible for everyone to use. AimBrain has found a way to harness the power of biometric authentication so that everyone can benefit from it.

Callsign

If you’ve struggled in the past to determine if a user is who they say they are, either at work or at home, Callsign are here ready to help. Using real-time AI-powered identity and authentication solutions, Callsign helps your users get on with their digital lives in the most seamless way possible, whilst being verified and safe. Some of their clientele include BT, Accenture, Deloitte and KPMG.

Tessian

Welcome to the future of security. Tessian is in the process of building the world’s first human layer security platform which will keep sensitive data and systems private and secure.

Whether it’s misdirected emails or phishing, Tessian can come to the rescue for unsuspecting users. Tessian combines historical email data and stateful machine learning to decide if an email looks like a security threat.

So far Tessian are working with leading enterprises across financial, legal and technology sectors using natural language processing and the Tessian Parallax Engine to automatically investigate all inbound emails in real-time, before warning users if something looks unusual.

 

If you would like to find out how PR can connect you with the right audience for your cybersecurity offering then please get in touch with us today.

Cybersecurity on the rise – Are you prepared?

With countries including America, Canada and Israel leading the way in the field of medical cannabis innovation, there is a great deal of interest and potential around this nascent field in the U.K. and Europe.

Cannabis Europa is one of the leading international conferences focused on sharing information on the medical cannabis industry and its future.

The next event takes place in London on the 24th and 25th June and brings together politicians, international businesses and financiers, healthcare professionals and interested entrepreneurs to discuss the essential issues facing the European industry today.

Here, we look at the unmissable speakers from the conference and those likely to be shaping the industry in the coming years:

Hannah Deacon

Hannah works as Patient Advocacy Specialist for European Cannabis Holdings and leads campaign group, End Our Pain, which works with families not allowed a medical cannabis licence as they do not have their doctor’s backing. Hannah’s personal fight led to her becoming the first person to legally enter the U.K. with medical cannabis oil to treat her severely epileptic son, Alfie.

With conventional treatments not working and causing horrendous side-effects, Hannah took the decision to move with her son to Holland for five months so that Alfie could be treated with legal cannabis oil. Alfie’s seizures dramatically improved and Hannah took on the U.K. government to allow NHS access to the necessary oil for her son. Ultimately, a special licence was approved and Hannah now helps other families facing similar battles.

Deepak Anand

Deepak Anand is a leading expert in the emerging cannabis space. Based in Canada, he sits on various advisory boards offering expertise in areas such as compliance and the future of medical cannabis. He is the co-founder of Materia Ventures, a strategic supplier and distributor of high-quality medical cannabis and CBD products to the burgeoning European market.

Navdeep Dhaliwal  

Navdeep Dhaliwal is an impact entrepreneur, investor and financier, with interests in industries including tech, renewable energy and cannabis. He believes that cannabis legalization will have a positive impact socially, medically and as a recreational product. He is CEO of The Supreme Cannabis Company, Inc. a Canadian company providing high-quality cannabis products.

Andrea Paine

Andrea Paine is National Director of Government Relations at Aurora Cannabis, a listed, high-profile Canadian medical cannabis producer. Her career spans work at the most senior federal and provincial government levels, as well as being a candidate in three federal elections, and managing election campaigns. She is leading collaborative government relations efforts in Europe for Aurora and should provide invaluable insights at Cannabis Europa.

Mark Reinders

The massive potential of hemp as an affordable, sustainable, multi-faceted industrial product is only just being rediscovered after decades of neglect. From rope to canvas to clothes, hemp was a vital and abundant crop, grown by the likes of George Washington. Mark Reinders is at the vanguard of the reborn industry as the CEO of HempFlax, one of the world’s top hemp producers and leaders in returning this age-old crop to its former glories.

Steve Barron

Steve Barron has had a varied, and fascinating career to date, and his talk at Cannabis Europa should prove captivating. He directed classic 90s films including Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Coneheads and music videos including the mighty A-ha’s Take on Me. More recently, Steve has put his talents towards pioneering research and development of bioplastics from industrial hemp from his Margent Farm in Cambridgeshire.

His farm is promoting sustainable living via the use of corrugated hemp fibres – a versatile bioproduct that could make a real impact to manufacturing and construction. In conjunction with the University of Cambridge, Stee established Margent Farm to explore the ability of industrial hemp to revolutionise construction with its adaptable and highly efficient properties.

Margent Farm was recently revealed as one of the Green Heroes for 2019 at Grand Designs Live.

The farmhouse will be open for events in the summer and they will also be producing an exciting wellness range of high quality, organic products developed with their in-house herbalist, The Herball.

If you’re interested in finding out more about our experience or how we can help profile you or your business please get in touch today.

Speakers to catch at Cannabis Europa

‘Fast fashion’ has become something of a buzz phrase lately, and some fashion brands are having to defend themselves against the backlash of selling cheap, seemingly poor-quality clothes, thereby promoting disposability and excessive wastage. The UN has published research that says that by 2050 the equivalent of almost three planets could be required to provide the natural resources needed to sustain current lifestyles, given the growth in global population. The House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee says people are buying twice as many items of clothing as they did a decade ago. We’ve investigated why the explosion of fast fashion is something we should care about and have listed five businesses presenting ethical alternatives.

What exactly is fast fashion and why is it a problem?

According to ethical brand ratings app Good On You, “fast fashion can be defined as cheap, trendy clothing, that samples ideas from the catwalk or celebrity culture and turns them into garments in high street stores at breakneck speed.” While this may sound like an innocent shift towards putting more choice into the hands of consumers, it has a huge negative impact on the environment.

Firstly, there’s landfill. The more clothes that are produced and purchased, the more clothes are thrown away. According to Rubicon Global, a staggering eleven million tonnes of clothing is thrown into landfill each year in the US alone. In the UK, 235 million items were sent to landfill in 2017. Another problem is the materials that are used to manufacture the garments. Polyester is the most popular fabric used for fashion, and not only is it made from fossil fuels (contributing to global warming), but when washed, polyester garments shed plastic microfibres which end up in our oceans. The Plastic Soup Foundation have claimed that more than 4,500 fibres can be released per gram of clothing per wash.

It’s not just the planet that suffers. With fast-fashion brands introducing new products multiple times in a single week, the intention is to encourage consumers to replace clothes with newer and trendier items after just a couple of wears. On their website, Missguided boast that they “drop up to 1000 brand new styles every week”. With an increased rate of production, however, comes reduced quality standards. Clothes made by fast fashion brands are often intentionally made to have a short lifespan, for example shrinking in the wash or breaking down quickly.

Mass-produced, cheaply made garments also have a human impact. Labour workers have been found to work long hours in dangerous environments where they’re exposed to harmful chemicals, for low wages and without basic human rights.

So, it turns out high-street fast fashion brands have a lot to answer for, namely their impact on the environment, their low-quality products, and their ethical dubiousness. But all hope isn’t lost – there are several clothing brands out there fighting for sustainability.

What are the alternatives?

Komodo

Established in 1988 by Mark Bloom, pioneer brand Komodo promotes the use of ethically sourced organic cotton, hemp, bamboo, Tencel and other natural fibres – limiting the amount of chemicals, water and wastewater used in production. It creates high-quality, long-lasting products without compromising on design, and the company deploys a robust supplier code of conduct that ensures its workers are paid living wage. It runs independent audits on its final stage of production, and Komodo staff visit factories for at least two months each year to ensure that any problems can be solved together.

https://www.instagram.com/p/Bw9ufr0nO-S/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link

AllSisters

AllSisters is a Barcelona-based, eco-friendly swimwear brand that uses the highest quality recycled fabrics to create high-end swimsuits. The brand has a commitment to ethical and sustainable fashion design, utilising high quality recycled textiles from Italy that carry the Made in Green by OEKO-TEX® certification. This ensures that they are tested for harmful substances and are made in environmentally friendly facilities and socially responsible workplaces.

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Everything is better at the beach! Our beloved sister @tonigarrn shines in the sustainable white swimsuit✨

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Mayamiko

Award-winning women’s clothing, accessories and homeware brand Mayamiko fuses modern and traditional textiles from Africa, Asia and Italy. In 2013, 37-year-old Paola Masperi was inspired to begin the label as a charity that provided creative business training and opportunities to disadvantaged communities. The company grew from there and now produces high quality, trendy and desirable fashions, that are wholly made under ethical conditions. It reduces its carbon footprint by sourcing textiles from the same region it manufactures in, and ensures all workers are permanent with fixed salaries, earning a living wage.

Rêve En Vert

Founded by Cora Hilts and Natasha Tucker in 2013, Rêve En Vert is a retailer of sustainable and honest luxury, which to them stands for four principles: organic, re-made, local and fair. With a commitment not to sacrifice style for ethics, the brand uses natural, organic materials with an emphasis on low-environmental impact and longevity. It recycles and upcycles materials as often as possible, checks for fair factory certification to ensure workers are paid living wage, and exclusively features designers who operate their businesses with respect for people and the planet.

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Traditional artisan skills meet natural materials to create a beautiful collection cultivated by the rhythm and aesthetics of a modern day free-spirit. Every dress, kaftan and jumpsuit by A Perfect Nomad is made using either naturally dyed organic cotton or peace silk (the most ethical kind). Tap the link in our bio to find your next timeless, trend-resistant travel piece. #aperfectnomad #ecotravel #consciousliving #sustainability #honestliving #conscioustravel #summer #honestluxury

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THTC

Set up in 1999 by brothers Drew and Gav Lawson, The Hemp Trading Company (THTC) is an award winning, ethically driven clothing label, specialising in eco-friendly, politically conscious streetwear that is high-quality and long-lasting. Materials are made from hemp, carbon-neutral organic cotton, and recycled salvage plastic fibres, and most of the company’s supply chain is either independently audited or directly visited by the brand.

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Go wish this G a very happy birthday. @lowkeyonline has been speaking truths and raising roofs for a long time – and the world is a better place for it. If you've not checked it already, go peep 'Soundtrack to the Struggle 2' – our absolute mad lad managed to get Noam Chomsky to open the first track. Wish we could give you a better present than this post – but hey, next year we might just try frog marching Tony Blair to the Hague to be tried for war crimes. That would be an ace birthday present, no? #Lowkey #soundtracktothestruggle #happybirthday (Photo @foonia)

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If you’re launching a new product or would like to raise awareness of the work you’re doing for a cause close to your heart, get in touch with our award-winning team today.

Ethical clothing – the alternatives to fast fashion

This time last week I hopped on the 06:00 easyJet flight from London Gatwick to Amsterdam, bound for Money20/20, Europe’s largest fintech event, hosted at the impressive RAI Amsterdam just outside the city centre.

Starling Bank CEO Anne Boden announced that “Everybody is here and every year it’s getting bigger and bigger” – so really, what choice did I have?

It’s an event we’ve wanted to attend for a while, and this year felt like the perfect time to support the fast growth and development of our fintech division within the Technology team.

After the world’s most expensive taxi from the airport (must have been the suit), over two days I met with 16 fintech companies with whom we’d arranged meetings in advance, and spent time discussing their growth plans and how PR could positively impact each of their businesses respectively.

In the end, it didn’t matter that my Outlook calendar failed to take the new time zone into account…each meeting ran smoothly, just an hour later than scheduled…

The brilliant thing about Money20/20 is the caliber of the businesses there…though still relatively early on in their respective journeys, the whole start-up community is punching well above its weight, fitting in naturally among the mammoth interactive booths belonging to Mastercard, PayPal and Huawei.

16 meetings and 60,000 steps later, here are 5 things I learnt from my two days rubbing shoulders with Europe’s fintech elite.

  • The Netherlands is a burgeoning fintech hub

In 2018 there were over 400 Dutch fintech companies – the Netherlands is a global frontrunner in successful fintech innovation, and the start-up scene is thriving. Home to industry leaders such as Ohpen and Adyen, the Dutch capital was a natural choice for this year’s conference, where jobs in the sector have grown by 35% since 2017.

One of the biggest talking points in financial services is the integration of technology to disrupt notoriously traditional approach to industries such as banking and insurance. Large banks across the Netherlands are actively embracing the innovation and transparency afforded by the fintech start-up scene and actively support it. The sheer mix and variety of traditional banks and fintech start-ups sharing the floor at Money20/20 this year was evidence enough of this collaboration.

  • Open Banking was the dominant theme

There were over 10 individual talks/seminars covering open banking – it was very much the buzzphrase of this year’s conference, and rightly so. It’s now just a matter of weeks until PSD2’s Regulatory Technical Standard (RTS) deadline on 14th September, bringing new requirements for authenticating online payments to address security concerns related to Europe’s move to a digital economy. So, EU merchants and banks have a decision to make when it comes to fintech collaboration.

As well as ensuring compliance with new regulations, banks are also being challenged to compete and stay relevant when faced with fast-moving competitors. This is where fintech partnerships are key, supported by data from PwC which revealed 82% of banks will look to increase the number of partnerships they have with fintech companies over the next three-five years.

  • Fintech is all about the customer

Fintechs are setting new standards when it comes to customer experience. It became apparent when speaking to a variety of start-ups and challenger brands shaking up traditional industries that a customer-centric approach is what they are focusing on, with the financial element coming later. By their very nature, fintechs are tech-first companies; they complement and support the banking industry but are able to win customers at a faster rate because of their customer-centric approach. They prioritise a seamless, enjoyable end-to-end customer experience before they seek to solve the actual banking layer.

  • You get what you pay for

Money20/20 was the most enjoyable and worthwhile event I’ve been to since working at PHA. Aside from the obvious benefit of unlimited food and drink (no less than 10 global cuisines under one roof!) it was exciting, educational and just by being there you felt part of a global community.

It’s not the cheapest event in the world, but the exciting businesses I met, the quality of the speakers on show, and the packed schedule over three days meant that the event oozed quality and you felt you were getting real value for money.

When seeking to meet people, grow your network and hone your knowledge, there’s no substitute for being ‘on the ground’ and in amongst the action – and we’ll certainly look to do it again next year with another 12 months of fintech growth under our belt.

  • A smoothie is a great ice breaker

I’ve never seen so many smoothie bars in one place. It was as though a smoothie was the universal mechanic for starting a meeting – and it really worked. As one of the 5 Star Sponsors, ACI Worldwide ran the main smoothie bar which completely dominated one of the exhibition halls. It was packed every day, and I received a couple of calendar invitations with, simply, “smoothie”, as the location – it became one of the key meeting hubs for people keen to talk while hitting their 5-a-day.

For those who wanted to jump on the smoothie hype, many stands had their own blenders and coffee machines, and it does make you naturally gravitate towards them, or catch the CEO-cum-barista’s eye, which often leads to a quick chat or exchange of business cards.

Is your business or start-up looking for PR support? Why not get in touch with our award-winning team today.

5 things we learnt at Money20/20 Europe