View a full range of our ebooks

View full library

Explore

Our Location

The PHA Group
117 Wardour Street,
Hammer House,
London,
W1F 0UN

0207 0251 350
info@thephagroup.com
PHA Digital Studio
Fourth Floor,
47 Dean St,
Soho,
London,
W1D 5BE

0207 0251 350
info@thephagroup.com
PHA Finance Department
117 Wardour Street,
Hammer House,
London,
W1F 0UN

0207 0251 350
info@thephagroup.com

Jared O’Mara and the Unforgiving Eternity of the Internet

Jared O’Mara and the Unforgiving Eternity of the Internet

Just cos he writes about gayness and gay issues, doesn’t mean he drives up the marmite motorway.’

‘I just think that this story is much more poignantly romantic than fudge packing Jake.’

‘A rhythm section that’s tighter than your mother was when I took her virginity all those years ago.’

You could be forgiven for reading the above statements as the deranged blabbering of a sulky, and confused teenager. If only it were so. Instead, they represent the historic online comments of elected Labour MP Jared O’Mara.

O’Mara made headlines in the snap election when he displaced Nick Clegg from his seat of Sheffield Hallam. He was seen as a candidate who was very much carried along on the crest of the Momentum wave.

That was June, this is October, and O’Mara has been suspended from the party following a string of vile revelations broken by Guido Fawkes, a right-wing gossip blog infamous for exposing the worst digressions of Members of Parliament.

O’Mara’s ire was not limited to homosexual people, or other people’s mothers. ‘Fat’ people, women, Spaniards, Danes and teenage girls have all felt the sting of O’Mara’s vitriol over the years. Angela Rayner, a member of the Shadow Cabinet, defended O’Mara by claiming that these comments were made a long time ago, and that his opinions had evolved. This is a pretty weak defence, and weaker still given that we can simply check the dates of his comments in an online forum and ascertain that he was 21-years-old.

Now, I’m 23, and as vulgar and detestable as my colleagues might find me, I would argue that I know that referring to teenage girls as ‘sexy little slags’ is not the social norm, and I would also have known two years ago that it was unacceptable.

While it would be easy to sit here and pull apart O’Mara’s views, and the sub-standard Labour vetting process that allowed him to contest a seat, the best lesson learned for figures of public prominence is the damage that the digital world can wreak on a reputation. O’Mara is 35-years-old now, and is perhaps one generation too late to have truly grown up with the internet.

But given the way he is now being torn to shreds in the media, this raises an interesting question over whether this is something we can expect to see more of, as more public figures who have grown up with online forums, Facebook and Twitter come into the spotlight.

This can at times be a source of amusement. The SNP’s Mhairi Black was just 20 when elected (you may have seen her, in a blinding lack of self-awareness, lamenting ‘career politicians’ recently), and some of her old tweets from her teenage years were dug up after her selection. They were quite funny to the casual observer, and rather embarrassing for Black herself.

 

 

 

Andre Gray, the Premier League footballer, had a more sobering experience when explosive homophobic tweets from his past were pulled up. He faced FA disciplinary action as a result. 

Trial by social media is not a new phenomenon, but as those who have grown up hand-in-glove with the internet move into positions as MPs and figures of public influence, there could be much more scandal yet to come.

Being cautious or vigilant in the here and now is clearly not enough. Do people remember all that they have done and said in the past? Should they continue to be made to atone for it? Is the best course of action to completely erase your digital footprint?

Online is forever, and as Jared O’Mara is finding out, there is no hiding place once all is revealed.

Just how many more skeletons are there in how many more closets? Halloween is on the way, so another fright may be just around the corner.

 

The Greek financial crisis – Twitter’s take

For the past few weeks the news agenda has been dominated by the Greek crisis and what seemed to have become the never-ending discussions by political leaders to end the stalemate. However, at the same time that the political negotiations and debates were taking place, the online world of social media was also heating up.

Social media and Twitter, in particular, are now the key channels where people express views, debate, criticise and argue, but what is even more interesting is how users use humour and creativity to address hot topics on these platforms. Major political topics and personalities are targeted through a different lens, pointing out elements that are often exaggerated and have become almost stereotypical. The aim? To give a new spin to the grim reality and in many ways to challenge ‘authority’ and emphasise its ‘weak’ points.

Interactivity and engagement are among the key perks of social media and coupled with humour and political satire, they make a powerful mixture. Hashtags like #ilovetsipras and #merkelmeme gained in popularity with users tagging caricatures and other content, while hashjacking like in the cases of #greferendum and #agreekment also inspired users to post their own version of political analysis in a humorous way.

Social media has been awash with satire throughout the crisis.

Social media has been awash with satire throughout the crisis.

Is humour people’s way of dealing with a highly stressful and uncertain situation? Politics and humour have always been different sides of the same coin. Political cartoons made their presence in the UK in newspapers as early as in the 1700s. The internet, however, has enabled the creative potential of humour to unleash and at the same time it has also made it easier for satirists to bypass censorship and stay anonymous.

What was even more interesting was that the parallel online satirical trend that followed the EU talks had no geographical limit with users across the world participating and engaging with one another and exchanging jokes, cartoons and memes. Humour creates a global communication channel and social media have made it possible for this content to enjoy a global reach they never would have had otherwise.

Coverage of the issue has been mixed to say the least.

Coverage of the issue has been mixed to say the least.

What the recent example of the EU talks on the Greek crisis shows is that humour is a fantastic way to create virtual community bonds among users that would potentially have never interacted otherwise. It is also a great shock absorber helping people to make sense of reality and look at things in a more positive way. It is clear that the social media frenzy over the Greek crisis will continue in the weeks and months to come.

After all political satire was a Greek invention.

The Greek financial crisis – Twitter's take

For the past few weeks the news agenda has been dominated by the Greek crisis and what seemed to have become the never-ending discussions by political leaders to end the stalemate. However, at the same time that the political negotiations and debates were taking place, the online world of social media was also heating up.

Social media and Twitter, in particular, are now the key channels where people express views, debate, criticise and argue, but what is even more interesting is how users use humour and creativity to address hot topics on these platforms. Major political topics and personalities are targeted through a different lens, pointing out elements that are often exaggerated and have become almost stereotypical. The aim? To give a new spin to the grim reality and in many ways to challenge ‘authority’ and emphasise its ‘weak’ points.

Interactivity and engagement are among the key perks of social media and coupled with humour and political satire, they make a powerful mixture. Hashtags like #ilovetsipras and #merkelmeme gained in popularity with users tagging caricatures and other content, while hashjacking like in the cases of #greferendum and #agreekment also inspired users to post their own version of political analysis in a humorous way.

Social media has been awash with satire throughout the crisis.

Social media has been awash with satire throughout the crisis.

Is humour people’s way of dealing with a highly stressful and uncertain situation? Politics and humour have always been different sides of the same coin. Political cartoons made their presence in the UK in newspapers as early as in the 1700s. The internet, however, has enabled the creative potential of humour to unleash and at the same time it has also made it easier for satirists to bypass censorship and stay anonymous.

What was even more interesting was that the parallel online satirical trend that followed the EU talks had no geographical limit with users across the world participating and engaging with one another and exchanging jokes, cartoons and memes. Humour creates a global communication channel and social media have made it possible for this content to enjoy a global reach they never would have had otherwise.

Coverage of the issue has been mixed to say the least.

Coverage of the issue has been mixed to say the least.

What the recent example of the EU talks on the Greek crisis show is that humour is a fantastic way to create virtual community bonds among users that would potentially have never interacted otherwise. It is also a great shock absorber helping people to make sense of reality and look at things in a more positive way. It is clear that the social media frenzy over the Greek crisis will continue in the weeks and months to come.

After all political satire was a Greek invention.

Mail Online crosses the Atlantic

The Mail Online has announced its switch from a .co.uk homepage address to a .com domain, in recognition of its increased international readership and to boost its global traffic.

It is reported that negotiations between US paper the Charlestone Daily Mail, occupiers of the dailymail.com address for 18 years, and Daily Mail & General Trust have resulted in the latter paying in excess of £1m to secure the valuable domain name.

It seems that Mail Online has reached a point of saturation amongst its UK audience, and recognises that the one factor preventing a further increase in the already huge portion (70%) of monthly traffic from outside the UK, has been the .co.uk domain.

The site recently announced a switch from a .co.uk to .com domain.

The site recently announced a switch from a .co.uk to .com domain.

It is thought that DMGT missed their revenue target of £45m last year, but have set themselves a target of achieving £60m-worth of revenue in 2014, they clearly recognise the growing importance of international markets to Mail Online, especially growth in the US, if ad sales and resulting revenue are to increase.

There wasn’t a huge reaction in the UK – I can’t say I noticed – when theguardian.co.uk made the switch to .com mid-way through last year, but having seen their left-wing cousins reap the financial benefits of the lucrative US market, Mail Online has seized its opportunity to add to its 161 million monthly unique users and boost its global PR appeal in the process.

Rarely has a news outlet been able to spark public debate by doing its job properly. It baffles me how well Mail Online appeases our appetite for easy reading, yet people feel the need to pick holes in every story in the comments beneath and accuse them of lazy journalism. I certainly look forward to hearing the reaction of Mail Online regulars to this particular story in the coming weeks, not that any criticism is justifiable.

Is the Mail Online’s infamous layout and homepage one of the reasons for British readership waning slightly over the last year? Even if we are losing interest in the website in this country, Mail Online has already been extremely successful in the US by segmenting the placement of stories relevant to that particular audience, and this looks only set to continue.

I should think that, as was the case with the Guardian, the switch will have a temporarily negative impact on traffic to Mail Online, but not for long. After the initial short-lived backlash from the UK-centrists, normal service will be resumed and the site will flourish once more.

The real question is whether the Mail Online’s political focus will change, in parallel with the new domain. Will the MO continue to be politically UK-focused and celebrity-focused internationally? I shouldn’t think much will change, and looking too much into it defeats the purpose of the switch in the first place. Simply, global traffic to the site will increase, it’s just how the internet works.

Despite the 70 percent of website traffic coming from overseas already, Mail Online will have to be wary of ensuring that their content caters to an increasingly diverse international audience. Maintaining a balance between news for traditional readers and celebrity updates for more casual visitors will continue to be necessary, but at the same time, the .com domain may even give the MO scope to, as the site continues to grow, incorporate auto-generated home pages based on the user’s location.

Most importantly, however, wherever it goes, the Mail Online will always be there for us at lunchtime.

The Google Zeitgeist report shows the importance of PR for businesses

The highly anticipated Zeitgeist report showing the top Google searches over the past year was published last Tuesday. With access to the internet being worldwide, the report quite literally tells us what the entire world is researching and is consequently interested in. This is a PR’s dream!

In addition to the report being broken down into countries, there are a number of different categories such as the top searched people, ‘How to’ questions and TV shows so we can really get a feel for the news stories and events that have occupied the nation’s minds over the past year.

Some results are a little more unexpected than others but it comes as no surprise that ‘What is twerking?’ is the number one most searched for ‘What is…?’ question of the year, weather forecast is a hot search in the UK and ‘Paul Walker’, ‘iPhone 5s’ and ‘royal baby’ are the top searched terms overall.

Image Courtesy of NTEZIRYAYO ALPHONSE, flickr. com

Image Courtesy of NTEZIRYAYO ALPHONSE, flickr. com

Looking through the top charts it quickly becomes apparent that all the top searches are things that are current and memorable for some reason, whether it be good or bad. For example, four out of the top five most searched for people have passed away this year and the top five searched songs are controversial for some reason whether it be the clothing, or lack of it, the dancers are wearing, the outrageous dance moves or shocking lyrics.

As human beings, we remember and are intrigued by tragic news, shocking stories and things that make us laugh. This is because they play on our emotions and we want to know more. PR’s work with this in mind every day when trying to think up that perfect campaign or a write a press release that will grab a journalist’s attention.

Not only is the Zeitgeist report entertaining and a great talking point but it shows the importance of PR for businesses and brands by proving just how vital it is to keep them in the forefront of the media and constantly on people’s minds.

By keeping businesses and brands no matter what size in the media regularly, whether it be an article in a magazine, an interview in a newspaper or online as a thought leader, they will remain in consumers’ minds, even subconsciously, making them more likely to want to find out more. This, in theory, should lead them to the company’s website where that interest may be converted into a sale.