Frequently termed ‘The King of Social’, Instagram started as a simple picture sharing app, used mainly between close friends and some carefully-selected family, to display the ‘best’ snapshots of your life. It was a refreshing alternative to the swathes of imagery that confronted you on Facebook, each one only slightly different to the last. It’s single-picture format enforced a kind of self-control not seen elsewhere. Of course, this wouldn’t last forever. Years later we have video, galleries and stories, and Instagram has expanded far beyond your own social circle. It has, however, kept its highly-polished aesthetic and fetish for ‘authenticity’.
Now the app is one of the biggest Social Media sites in the world, with over 700 million users, 400 million of which are active daily! It’s impressive to say the least and the potential audience reach on this platform is ever growing. It took only four months to gain the last 100 million followers, whereas the previous took six months.
So, what makes it such a great platform? It’s seen as considerably cooler than Facebook, more interesting than Twitter, and more useful than Snapchat. Instagram has become incredibly sophisticated in storytelling and doing so in an artistic manner. The ability to fluently and diversely communicate a brand or individual’s story has become indispensable. Authenticity is key to modern marketing, and Instagram is the platform that allows this ‘intimate’ insight into a brand. And what better brand to apply it to than a Start-Up? A company that is rooted in individuality, ingenuity and passion. One that is already trying to tell its own story, and express its personality, unlike many conglomerates that churn out an all-encompassing ‘brand’ worldwide.
Engage your audience
So, we know Instagram has the audience and the tools to effectively tell your story, but what techniques can you employ to make Instagram work for you? As a Start-Up, it’s important not only to put out great content, but to actively engage with your following, and users who you feel would be interested in your brand. This engagement, or ‘community managing’, is what will help you grow your channel, awareness, and ultimately your brand. It may seem like a lot of work, but just taking the time to reply to comments and reach out to users and brands can make all the difference.
Building this community can be done in several ways, but the most immediate is through hashtags. By putting up to 30 relevant hashtags underneath your post you can make yourself visible to the potentially millions of daily users who are engaging with account and brands like yours. Engaging with other users in these hashtags is the next step to generating conversation, and this is worth remembering. Social Media is not a one-way street, you need ask questions, respond authentically, get people interested and keep them talking with you and about you.
If you are a local business, such as a restaurant, boutique or event, then you can utilise these hashtags to target a specific audience. Likewise, you may also use geo-tagging to involve the local community in a location-targeted campaign. These techniques allow you to build a community both offline and online.
Collaborate and listen
Many brands have taken to cross-posting and collaborations to bolster their online presence. This is a mutually beneficial process that sees both brands raise awareness, and is particularly applicable in a Start-Up environment, where both have a chance to establish themselves in an industry. It’s not just other brands that you might consider this tactic with; featuring your customers is an increasingly valuable tool in promoting your brand’s merit. Not only will this provide potential customers with authentic, positive feedback for your brand, but it also rewards fans for being fans. In doing this, you encourage them to continue to share their interactions with your brand on Social Media. It’s a win-win, they get to interact with the brands they love in an authentic way, and you get exposure and great content for your own channels. Just make sure you always credit them!
Do what works for you
There are a plethora of techniques to employ on this ever-expanding channel. To do it perfectly, you would be using a variation of careful curated daily posts and stories to provide the most artistic storytelling experience you can. You could run competitions, and cross-post and promote other brands. You could shout about your brand down every relevant avenue, and target it perfectly with paid posts and influencer marketing. This is a lot to take on, especially as a Start-Up. It can seem overwhelming, but it is also wholly unnecessary to try to do all of them at once, and to sustain them. Our advice would be to cherry pick what works for your brand, and remember that creativity and authenticity are at the heart of successful Social Media marketing.
If you want to champion your brand on Instagram effectively, the main thing to consider in this whirlwind of possibilities is creativity. Instagram is a platform that welcomes creativity more than any other. This is the point of difference needed to stop users endlessly scrolling through their feeds and focus on your post. This is the first point of engagement with a consumer, and one of the hardest things to engineer. You want to disrupt and simultaneously engage; having a creative edge here is key.
Of course, this is perhaps easier said than done. But with a proper strategy and some practice, you should quickly find yourself building your brands presence and identity online. Building and maintaining this presence is of huge value to brands and businesses, after all, 32% of all internet users are on Instagram. That’s a big slice of the pie to be missing out on!
If you would like to talk about how our digital services could help grow your Instagram following, why not get in touch with us today.
Five legal tech apps disrupting the legal market
Since the dawn of crime, technology and law have managed to co-exist together almost entirely indifferently. Yet, as they say, all long periods of slumber and denial must come to an end. And for the legal world, technological apps hell-bent on increasing efficiency and destroying the businesses of all honest lever arch files salesman, have arrived to transform the profession and challenge its robust conservatism.
Total investment in UK Lawtech firms has only just reached £16m, in comparison, Fintech generated £1.5bn in 2015-16 alone. But the market is still in the initial stages of development and is largely unexplored. The expectancy, however, given the UK’s legal services generate over £25bn annually, is that this is where the next tech drive is going to take place.
Here are five of the early contenders attempting to disrupt the legal market.
In May this year, the world’s best Go player lost to an AI machine for the first time. ‘Go’ is a hugely complex ancient strategy game where hundreds of years of received wisdom and intuition were believed to mean humans would always retain the edge over machine calculations. It’s different in that way to chess, where more than twenty years ago, IBM’s Deep Blue defeated world champion Kasparov in its first-ever game. For two decades since that defeat, however, professional Go players had remained undefeated to technology.
How then did they finally teach an AI machine to outthink the world’s best player? Well, in many ways, they didn’t. Instead of providing it with information about the game as had previously been the technique, they let the machine teach itself. AlphaGo played millions of games in the space of a few days and by correcting its every error, generated its own knowledge. It then baffled the world in its first game (over 100 million people tuned in) by producing moves unseen before, but which in hindsight, made perfect sense.
The development and potential of ideas like this outside of the realm of board games are what is captivating the legal world now and it’s not hard not to see why. What could happen if AI strategy games could be developed into legal strategy?
Cambridge graduates were out to test this theory when they created CaseCrunch, an AI software that can predict legal decisions with high accuracy, and it appears, a higher accuracy than human lawyers.
Lawyers from the leading law firms in the UK, including magic circle firm Allen & Overy, were asked to assess 800 historic insurance misselling claims in a week-long competition and predict the outcomes of the cases. The results?
Lawyers – 62%
CaseCrunch – 87%.
The first ever competition to pit lawyers against AI, and it was decisive. The expectation going forward, however, is the two will work together, rather than apart, we hope…
This company may be the most disruptive of all. Premonition knows “Which Lawyers, Win Which Cases, In Front of Which Judges.”
The database is gigantic and growing by 40,000 cases every day in the US alone. The slogan is you can “Select Your Lawyer on Data, Not Anecdote”. By entering your requirements into the database, the technology will return the lawyers with the best success. This includes who wins the most, who are the most hired and who are the proven losers that are continually re-hired. Hard to guess why lawyers have been resistant to technology, isn’t it?
But it’s not all bad news, as the data alone is fascinating. In Civil Appeals there is a barrister with 11 straight defendant wins, despite the fact, plaintiffs win 75% in UK courts. It also revealed Law firms select barristers 38% worse than random, and General Counsel’s 18% worse than random!
Aside from collecting this hugely valuable data and significantly strengthening the hand of the consumer, a more juvenile dive into the stats gives the perfect opportunity to settle old scores. According to the data, female partners win 12% more than their male colleagues and female associates win 3% more than their male colleagues. Something to do with multitasking etc…
Another UK legal tech start-up, Cognitiv+ applies artificial intelligence to the task of contract reading to background music of grateful cheers from training contract applicants everywhere.
As legislation, contracts and new regulations continue to grow to sizes of the extreme, the argument in favour of this technology is that managing contract changes are going to become an increasingly impossible job for humans. The AI should be able to monitor changes in legislation and then compare its analysis to a company’s own contracts, flagging up potential conflicts or alerting its users to the important changes.
The AI’s engine effectively automates contract analysis and management, offering businesses a way to stay on top of legal risks, contractual obligations and changing regulatory landscapes. Brexit has likely come along at exactly the right time for this startup, with new legislation and regulations likely to arrive in their droves in the next few years.
While so much time is dedicated now to worrying about the next big cybersecurity attack, Check Recipient worries about what happens if a data leak is done from within, by mistake. The technology studies your emails and alerts the user when it believes an email has made its way to the wrong person, blocking the attempt and allowing the grateful and-still-in-a-job associate a second chance.
There’s more to this idea than just potentially saving you from accidentally sending your boss your CV. The future of data protection may mean the consequences of email misdirection will result in more than just social faux pas. EU regulations set to enter legislation in 2018 could mean mandatory reporting of data breaches and subsequent fines.
A plethora of horror stories has entered the press recently regarding misdirected emails. From an HIV clinic accidentally releasing the names of its patients to a school in Australia sending its students a link to an “inappropriate adult website” instead of the intended annual breakfast event. Yet, closer to home, something as simple as sending the wrong email to an opponent or client when a legal case hangs in the balance would be mortifying enough. Check recipient has got that bit covered.
FlexeBoss.com is an online legal marketplace which enables people to search, select and interact with high quality, affordable (20% cheaper than the market rate), vetted by UK solicitors to solve their legal issues. Lord Justice Jackson may not have been able to convince the profession of fixed costs outside of personal injury claims, but this app goes ahead and fixes them for you. You place the service in your shopping basket, send the documents the lawyer requests, and the Lawyer returns the work to you in the agreed timeframe.
It’s a win for both sides, however, as Lawyers can also sell their services through the site. It functions a little like an Amazon for legal services and the potential for growth, as more lawyers become self-employed could be endless. It could be an interesting future for the legal trade should concepts like this become the preference of the consumer. It gives more certainty over cost and an online interface more familiar to the modern customer. Viva la legal revolution.
Technology’s Smarter working initiative shortlisted for PR campaign of the year
The PHA Group’s Technology & Innovation team is delighted to have its work recognised in this year’s B2B Marketing Awards – shortlisted for ‘PR Campaign of the Year’.
The Smarter Working Initiative (SWI), which the T&I team first developed in 2016 with long-standing client Powwownow, has been listed alongside eight other PR campaigns, with the winner due to be announced at a gala dinner on 23rd November.
The T&I team worked closely with Powowwnow to develop the inaugural campaign designed to have significant longevity. The brief was to challenge existing perceptions of flexible working and promote the benefits of embracing a working culture that aligns with employees’ personal lives.
As a business with a core ethos of efficiency, productivity, and collaboration, Powwownow’s objective in 2016 was to increase awareness of the benefits of smarter working among UK business leaders and employers. Aware that only 6% of UK businesses proactively offered flexible working to their employees, the team set out to fundamentally change how employers think about smarter working practices.
The SWI was foremost an awareness day: Monday 25th July 2016 – the first day of the school summer holidays. A supporting integrated PR strategy, combining cut-through thought leadership content, data stories, news agenda hijacking and relevant and insightful broadcast interviews for members of the senior management team, helped position Powwownow as a leading authority on smarter working across a range of business sectors.
In the build-up to and following Monday 25th July, the team achieved over 30 pieces of media coverage, reaching a significant business audience across the UK and Europe. MD Jason Downes and FD Andrew Johnson appeared on BBC News ‘Business Live’, Sky News, London Live, talkRadio and Share Radio discussing topics including business efficiency and the rise of technology to facilitate flexible working.
The team’s efforts saw Powwownow more than double their initial target of business sign-ups by securing over 120 businesses, including leading UK employers such as Purplebricks.com, RED Driving School and Orebar Brown. Over 100,000 UK employees worked flexibly on the day thanks to the initiative.
The SWI received prominent coverage across online and traditional media. Online, we reached business leaders through thought leadership pieces for MD Jason Downes, CTO Chris Martin and FD Andrew Johnson in a variety of publications including Virgin.com and Real Business. Targeting employees, the team also secured press on consumer-led websites such as Metro and Marie Claire, using unique data stories supported by thought leadership. The initiative was also covered nationally in The Telegraph and The Sun, with a prominent photo story in the latter reporting the social media campaign which ran over the course of a week.
Not only did the SWI reach a far wider audience than originally anticipated, it established positive brand awareness and positively changed assumptions about flexible working. After the initiative, 78 percent of business owners who did not previously offer flexible working to their employees said they would do so in 2017 and beyond – a tangible change in attitudes towards smarter working.
Most importantly, Powwownow were delighted with the campaign and last month the Tech & Innovation team oversaw the SWI 2017, which saw over 200,000 employees from over 200 businesses work flexibly on Monday 24th July, resulting in MD Jason Downes appearing on BBC News.
Customising global content – it’s never one-size-fits-all
It’s funny how the word globalisation is essentially a way to describe how the world is getting smaller. As technological giants – such as Facebook, WhatsApp, LINE, Google, and Apple – and their local counterparts begin to spread through every nation, we’re becoming ever more connected to our fellow man, regardless of where they are.
But while the distance may seem smaller, it’s important that we don’t make light of some key cultural (and linguistic, of course) differences that need to be navigated when we’re communicating with one another – particularly if you’re a business looking to talk to potential customers.
Generic, poorly-localised content – whether that’s PR, marketing or advertising – at best might bore, and at worst could offend and cause some serious reputational damage. To help you avoid the pitfalls, here are three things you should prepare for when coming up with your international strategy.
Let’s get the obvious out of the way – there is many a company that has fallen prey to translation gaffes. A couple of infamous examples include Ford marketing its Pinto model in Brazil (pinto being slang for ‘penis’ in Brazilian Portuguese) and more recently, HSBC’s unwitting ‘Do Nothing’ slogan. Let the laughter ensue.
But language choices entail more than double checking whether your product needs a different name abroad, or that taglines aren’t literally translated. It’s also about making a nod to local nuances, and understanding the gravitas of words. I like to use the example of the Japanese word natsukashii – the closest translation in English would be ‘nostalgic’, but while the English suggests long-gone childhood memories, the Japanese can be used in a wide variety of circumstances.
A tricky one indeed, as there’ll be lots of different factors in play. Is the market you’re looking to enter quite liberal, or conservative? Does it operate a hierarchical system, or is it a meritocracy? Do they care more about quality or price? The best way to check is to test your messaging on a small sample pool first before rolling out more widely.
A great example is Acer China who tested a slogan ‘Simplify my life’ as part of a campaign emphasising how affordable their PCs were. It didn’t resonate. After further exploration, it became clear that the focus on price was arousing suspicion among Chinese consumers that the products might not perform reliably. Normally considered a big-ticket purchase in China, consumers were far more concerned that their PCs would last the long-haul than whether it was dirt cheap. The brand changed their strategy and quickly doubled their market share.
What you may take for granted as common knowledge, or on the flipside consider revolutionary in one country, is likely to differ from another. Be careful that your content doesn’t alienate audiences by jumping the gun, or equally by teaching them to suck eggs.
When Boris Johnson visited Japan on a trade mission in 2015, for example, he attempted to position London as a leader in fintech, preaching the benefits of a cashless society to Japanese technology executives by whipping out a contactless card. Except the Japanese already pay for many services using their phones, let alone cards – the audience was, understandably, bemused.
For internationally-ambitious brands, the world has never been riper for the taking. But a bullish approach to crossing borders is not the way forward – instead, content needs to be carefully planned to ensure it’s customised to fit the needs and expectations of that country. Whether you’re going in alone, or working with strategic partners, take the time to understand these differences and be flexible enough to adjust your messages as required. If push came to shove, you don’t have to call the car pinto, right?
The Charities Inspiring Positive Change
At PHA we champion positive change. From working with universities, to mentoring students, to raising awareness of charities and organisations who educate and fund aspiring teenagers; at PHA we are always looking for new and exciting ways to support our younger generation and help them to achieve their goals and aspirations.
Encouraging young people to thrive in what they are passionate about, and giving them access to an assortment of knowledge and skills, is a mantra which we believe everyone should foster. But we are certainly not the first people to think this!
Below are six charities and organisations who have made it their mission to create positive change, by tackling a variety of social issues which are preventing our young generation from reaching their full potential and living life to the full…
Big Change is a youth charity who believe that small changes can lead to ‘big change’. They aspire to create a generation where everyone believes that they can change their own world for the better. How? They invest in big ideas and projects that help young people to thrive in life, not just school exams.
For example, the charity has been working on a programme called LEAD which aims to end leadership inequality in working-class communities, by bridging a gap that exists between young natural leaders in working-class backgrounds and the world of business, media, politics, and education. They achieve this by identifying young leaders and helping them to develop their skills so that they can to go on to engage in their local community or find work.
Another one of their many projects is called ONLY CONNECT, which inspires young prisoners, ex-offenders, and youths at risk, to look to the future, by engaging them in group projects, such as drama and the arts. The project encourages teamwork and personal discovery in those who may feel that they have lost their purpose in society.
By backing young people’s ideas at an early stage, the charity is helping to give them the skills to believe in themselves and drive positive change in their own lives.
The Ideas foundation are on a mission to create diversity in the creative industries, by identifying and nurturing creatively gifted 13-19 year olds. Their ‘I Am Creative’ and ‘Incubate’ programmes allow them to identify creatively gifted young people, and ‘The Ladder’ scheme is their way of nurturing them.
How do these projects work together? Well, ‘I Am Creative’ exposes 13-19 year olds to the creative industry by giving them an opportunity to have a go at answering a live creative brief from a global company, and then inviting them to pitch to the company in London. The ‘Incubate’ programme brings specialist industries employers into the classroom to work intensively with young people on projects from across the Digital and Media communications sector. Highly recommended pupils from both programmes will get a place on ‘The Ladder’, where they are exposed to an array of opportunities, news and information, so that they get a head-start in the creative industry!
#iwill is a UK-wide campaign that aims to make social action part of life for as many 10 – 20 year old’s as possible by the year 2020. The campaign is being coordinated by the charity Step Up To Serve, to give more young people the opportunity to take part in exciting and innovative youth social action projects, and develop their skills for work and life.
#iwill involves campaigning, fundraising, and volunteering, to raise money which will benefit young people and their communities. So far more than 700 business, education and voluntary sector partners have committed to embedding social action into the lives of young people – will you join them?
Vinspired is the UK’s leading volunteering charity for 18-25 years old’s. They believe that volunteering can help young people to thrive, and transform the communities they live in – which is why they are encouraging more young people to make their mark on the causes that they care about through volunteering, whilst learning new skills and talents along the way.
The charity has launched a number of schemes to make this happen. For example, their VInspired Cashpoint allows young people to set up their own voluntary project to tackle community issues that matter to them, and their VInspired Task Squad provides employability advice and support.
Since 2006, the charity has created over 1 million volunteering opportunities for young people across the UK – and they aren’t stopping there!
The UK has high levels of inequality, decreasing community cohesion, and an aging population, whilst economic challenges are making it ever more difficult for young people to succeed in life. Generation Change believes that encouraging more young people to be involved in social action will help to tackle these problems.
By partnering with seventeen of the UK’s leading social action programmes, Generation Change is enhancing the understanding and quality of youth social action, providing a platform for collaboration between youth social action and other related organisations, and drawing attention to the youth social action agenda in the media and with policy makers.
If your organisation offers young people an opportunity to take part in social action, why not make a profile on Generation Change’s Horizon Map?
Fight 4 Change is a registered Sport for Development charity which is inspiring young people from vulnerable and disenfranchised communities to make a positive change in their lives – through sport.
The charity encourages young people to participate in a mixture of sports (including boxing, martial arts, multi sports and fitness training) as part of their Sports Intervention Programme, to teach them teamwork, discipline, routine and a sense of belonging.
The charity has also developed a range of health and educational tool kits, including; Employability tool kit, Health and Nutrition tool kit, Mental Health tool kit and Physical literacy tool kit. These tool kits will help young people to build resilience and address goal setting, as well as teaching them communication needs, leadership and confidence.
So far, Fight for Change has engaged 5,120 young people in their Sports Development Programmes, 219 in gang intervention programmes, and 30 in education training and employment!
The PHA Group PR Student Awards – we have our winners!
The The PHA Group 2017 PR Student Awards have received a number of amazing entries and we would like to say a very big thank you to all of you who entered, we really enjoyed reading your entries and were impressed by your enthusiasm for PR.
After much deliberation, the team couldn’t narrow it down to one winner, and therefore have decided on the following three winners:
Josh Dunne – Addict Aide’s Louis Delage Instagram Campaign
Kate Eldridge – Smirnoff’s “Love Wins” Campaign
Jasper Stanley – The Royals’ Heads Together Campaign
As a leading UK PR Agency, The PHA Group are advocates of recognising talent and we are committed to reaching out to students to help inform them on what a career in PR can offer them. We run a very successful PR Internship programme, regularly attend University Careers Fairs and host PR Open Days at our offices for aspiring PR professionals to gain a unique insight into what it’s like to work in Public Relations.
Over the years we have been hugely impressed by the creativity and ideas of the great interns we have had at our agency and so we wanted to create an initiative designed to give students a chance to discuss PR campaigns that they felt particularly engaged with.
We asked students to tell us about their favourite and most inspiring PR campaign from the past 5 years in 300 words or less. The campaign could be from any size company but had to be a PR campaign specifically.
We hoped to hear from students who are interested in a career in PR and who are excited about the prospect of joining The PHA Group team for a day of interactive and bespoke activities at our London Offices – and we weren’t disappointed!
We received so many engaging entries which had hard-hitting topics at their core such as mental health, equality and addiction. It was a tough process choosing a winner, and so we decided on three of our favourites.
Josh Dunne impressed us with his understanding of the impact that PR can have and how campaigns can be effective on a low-budget for his entry on Addict Aide’s fictional Instagram account for socialite Louise Delage to highlight how easy it can be to miss the addiction of someone close to you.
Kate Eldridge wowed us with her description of the “Love Wins” PR campaign for big brand Smirnoff and the real world impact that they achieved with their bespoke ‘equality collection’ vodka bottles which created awareness and supported gender, sexuality, race and nationality equality.
And finally, Jasper Stanley stood out for his awareness that a successful PR campaign doesn’t have to have a monetary impact, but can simply create a conversation where previously there has been stigma – this was achieved by the mental health campaign Heads Together in partnership Prince William and Harry.
The winners will spend a day at The PHA Group learning from industry experts and gaining a unique insight into one of the UKs leading PR agencies. There will be Q&As with our senior team, including ex-national newspaper journalists and the founders of the PHA brand. As a multi-sector PR agency we have expertise across consumer, sport, business, fashion, corporate and political PR and our friendly team are excited to welcome Josh, Kate and Jasper to the agency on Wednesday 19th July.
A day in a different press office: Make-A-Wish
Last week I chose to spend my development day in the press office of UK charity Make-A- Wish® UK, which works to grant the wishes of children and young people who are fighting life-threatening conditions. The wishes they grant for children and young people are a way to bring hope and happiness into their lives during particularly challenging times, and in the 30 years that the charity has been running, they have granted the wishes of over 10,000 children.
The charity has granted a wide range of wishes from helping children to ‘become’ something for a day; a ninja princess, a chef or a fireman to name but a few, to sending the children on the trip of a lifetime, and the charity works hard to enrich the lives of so many families affected by devastating illnesses.
Celebrity ambassadors play a large role for the charity, with big names signed up in support of the work they do including John Terry, Warwick Davis and Jessie J. Many of the wishes for a lot of the children are to meet their favourite celebrities, and the likes of Usain Bolt, Ed Sheeran and Helena Bonham Carter have all played a part in granting special wishes.
You can read some of the children’s stories here.
My day was spent in the press office of the charity, which is manned by Joanne Porter, a relatively new addition to the team and who had made the move over from a career in journalism and working for BBC Children in Need. There’s a great emphasis on digital engagement at Make-A-Wish and press coverage for the charity is largely case study placement across regional press. They also focus on events and special projects across the year including their annual sports dinner, which sees a wealth of top sporting stars attend the dinner in order to fundraise for the charity and celebrate the work they do.
We spent much of the day discussing strategy for journalist outreach, and how best they can maximise the case study stories they have, as well as coming up with new ideas for how else to raise awareness of the charity. We also spent quite a bit of time discussing ways in which the charity could maximise the relationships they have with celebrity ambassadors, in order to generate further press coverage, and we explored the pros and cons of different PR databases such as Gorkana and Celebrity Intelligence.
Sadly, and much like so many other charities, Make-A-Wish is up against the issue of a lack of funding. The work they do wouldn’t be possible without the work of their volunteers and fundraisers so it felt really beneficial to share ideas and strategy between myself and Jo, sharing experiences from two different press offices, and we were in agreement that we both took away valuable learnings from each other.
When I asked Joanne about the most rewarding part of her job, she told me about a little girl called Amelia who had a wish to be a zookeeper for the day. Joanne said: “After her wish was granted, I spoke to Amelia’s mum and she said Amelia didn’t think it was remotely possible that her wish would happen. So when it did, she started thinking that other things might be possible too – including getting better.”
With that kind of feedback from the children they are helping, it’s clear to see the positive impact the charity is having on so many families across the UK who are enduring some very painful times.
London Technology Week – PR Tips for Tech Brands
Next week the capital will light up as plucky Silicon Roundabout start-ups and tech heavyweights alike swarmed to London Technology Week 2016, Europe’s largest gathering of tech events.
After the popularity of our seminar last year, our Technology & Innovation team will once again host our own talk on Tuesday to help innovators across a wide variety of industries learn how to get their brand noticed ahead of the competition.
And to give you a sneak peek, here’s an overview of our top tips for getting your tech brand in the press.
The buzz around the latest tech developments has never been greater. There has been an exponential increase in the number of ‘tech-specific’ journalists alone, with more and more other journalists including technology amongst their cluster of interests.
But while the opportunities for technology to grab the headlines are numerous and wide-ranging, the competition is fierce, with journalists receiving hundreds of emails every day.
One of the most regular questions on brands’ lips with regards to getting their product the attention it deserves is: why aren’t journalists responding? There could be any of a number of issues, from your approach being ‘too pluggy’, a lack of personality, using overly technical language, or simply an email being missed due to the sheer volume of competition.
An important way to get your brand in the news is through company announcements. But it can be difficult to know which of your updates should be sent out to the press.
It’s easy for brands to contract ‘baby isn’t beautiful’ syndrome, where being told that news from your company isn’t of interest is almost a personal affront.
When launching your brand or bringing a new product to the market, structure your approach by asking yourself:
- What basic problem are you solving?
- What makes your offering different to others on the market?
- Why would someone read this news?
- Why should a journalist write about this now?
Reacting to the News Agenda
A vital strand of PR activity for your tech brand is to react to the news agenda.
Large stories dominate the news agenda for the full day, if not longer. To ensure the story remains relevant, media outlets utilise expert commentary with strong opinions.
Making sure your voice is the one that’s heard requires quick reflexes and snappy key messages. Remember to not shoehorn your company name into the news with no real purpose – ask what you can add to the story.
Using Your Expertise
Remember that your people are your greatest assets.
Your company is made up of individuals with invaluable insights from success thus far and natural areas of expertise and opinions.
For our work with Purplebricks, the hybrid estate agency, we used their CEO’s expertise to secure them interview slots on the likes of Sky News to comment on house price statistics.
Positioning your personnel as ‘experts’ can not only bring authority to your company name but also give the illusion that you’re bigger than you are.
Creative campaigns are a fantastic way to get your brand noticed in a fun way, generating a different type of coverage and reaching new audiences. The right campaign can have just as much impact as something more long-term.
They also need not cost very much at all, so you can afford to experiment a little – but remember that timing (and a little bit of luck) is vital.
For example, for conference call provider Powwownow, we created a #PowwowHelpMeNow campaign, where office workers could tweet in with an issue for Powwownow to help solve. One office tweeted in saying that their working space was too hot, so Powwownow helped them move their desks and entire office space to the roof.
This was a shareable and visual campaign generating plenty of fun coverage with journalists which were otherwise difficult for a tech brand to reach.
We’re not talking about stunts here – the campaign must be relevant to your brand and help position it in a constructive way.
For Powwownow, whose aim is to help workers do their jobs more easily, a campaign to assist offices in need was relevant and beneficial to the brand’s image, and generated a social reach of 6.3 million.
Another key area of PR activity is based not on reacting to the news agenda, but on creating it.
Brands can shape stories and headlines from data. All tech companies have data, but some don’t realise its PR value.
Behaviour patterns and trends are often of interest to the press, helping to confirm theories or, alternatively, shock with unusual findings.
If your company doesn’t have the necessary data for the story you’d like to create, you can make your own data through market research and surveys. These don’t have to cost the earth or take up time – three or four data points are enough to make a compelling story.
In order to humanise your brand, case studies and journalist trials are of great importance. However, not all case studies are born equal – think about:
- What does this case study provide/add?
- Will anyone care?
- What’s the wider story?
We’ve seen some fantastic case studies and journalist trials which have made the headlines in key titles for our clients.
For property rental app, Movebubble, we sent a journalist on a ‘virtual property viewing’, securing coverage in TimeOut, Evening Standard and The Sunday Times.
For dating app Happn, a profile of the five most in-demand women on the app secured a double page spread in the Evening Standard.
Right now, tech is experiencing an incredible boom and hundreds of journalists are interested in the latest news. But with the massive competition out there, your brand needs to stand out.
Above all, the content you provide to the press must be varied as well as helpful, informative, opinionated or entertaining.
The Power of the Pop-Up
With pop-up locations in London multiplying on what seems like a weekly basis, the Cadbury Crème Egg Café in Soho and the Dogs Trust Valentine’s Day ‘MicroChippy’ in Clerkenwell are the latest to have caught our attention. The UK is wholly embracing the pop- up phenomenon and according to research undertaken by the Centre for Economics and Business Research, pop-up stores contributed £2.3bn to the British economy in 2015. With high business rates and ever increasing rent prices, the continuing amount of empty locations will see this passion for the pop- up continue throughout this year.
The Cadbury Crème Egg café on Greek Street has already heavily dominated the press, despite Easter being weeks away. The café which is open a mere two and a half days a week from 22nd January to 6th March is situated in a prime consumer location, in lively Soho. With its appealing exterior creating the perfect Instagram opportunity, it is a perfect example of the impact that social media can have in maximising the exposure of a PR stunt. The novelty factor here is essential and with rumours of an interactive ball pit and crème egg toasties for £2, there is no surprise that interest in the café has been enormous. With extortionate rent prices in this area, limited opening hours and cheap prices there can be no intention for the café to run a profit. However, what Cadbury have achieved is a huge amount of buzz and excitement surrounding this novel idea. With tickets for reservations sold out weeks in advance and a strong media presence, the crème egg café epitomises the essence of a pop- up with a combination of exclusivity and innovation.
The Dogs Trust recently announced their charity pop-up in Clerkenwell which will open over this Valentine’s weekend, 13th and 14th February offering pet owners a Doggy Date venue. Aptly named, ‘MicroChippy’ the aim is to raise awareness of the upcoming change in legislation which requires dog owners to have their pets microchipped. It is a perfect example of tapping into a consumer holiday and offering an alternative from the romantic, oversaturated Valentine’s day offerings which are largely directed at men and women, rather than animals. The location, a pop-up 1950s diner complete with booths, dog bean bags and treats for the pooches offers dog owners the chance to enjoy a romantic meal with their pets. Visitors will be able to sample champagne and hotdogs provided by Bubbledogs with all proceeds donated to the Dogs Trust. Although the successful business reality for this venue is minimal, what ‘Microchippy’ will do is offer a unique experience while also providing information and raising funds for charity.
Pop-up venues allow for a variety of creative ideas and entertaining customer experiences. We’ve seen that established brands launch them to either freshen up their image, test out a new location or engage with customers. However, small emerging brands can use temporary locations as a means to further their customer base, and continue to project their brand awareness.
BOXPARK in Shoreditch is the perfect example where established brands like Adidas and Nike sit next to emerging designers and restaurants. For online sites, a physical location offers the opportunity for a physical representation of their brand, and for high-end restaurants, we’ve seen pop up locations as an extension and often more accessible version of their offerings. There are a huge variety of success stories where businesses that once started out in a temporary location have now become household names, or return to the same successful are, year in year out much like the hugely popular food and drink pop up that is Street Feast.
Social media is an extremely powerful tool for pop-ups in order to maximise their exposure and 2016 will see the power of this continue to grow. Ensuring that a pop-up has a catchy, yet unique hashtag and that the décor and signage are on brand is key. If you search #CremeEggCafe you’ll be astounded at the sheer amount of posts on social. Similarly, the temptation of uploading a snap of dinner with your dog will no doubt ensure that social channels are flooded with images of ‘MicroChippy’ this weekend. Befitting the neon lights of Soho, the Cadbury crème egg café has also displayed neon Cadbury signs in the windows, creating the perfect Instagram opportunity for passers-by. If you are interested in extra pointers to help make your brand insta-famous do follow this link. Finally, by inviting key figures and publications to a pre-opening of the pop-up, it is possible to create a trending hashtag and for teaser images to start flooding social media. This results in tempting customers with the excitement of the opening, via social media results in a further excitement on the opening day and beyond.
As 2016 unfolds there is no doubt that the sheer scale of pop up bars, shops, restaurants and animal café’s will continue to multiply. With the encouraged notion of here today, gone tomorrow. You’d better act quickly or you’ll miss them!
The fall of the paywall – enjoy it while you can
By Callum Mollison
News was born free. Its roots can be traced back to the “Daily Acts”, decreed by Julius Caesar, that were placed on public message boards in Ancient Rome. They contained news on everything from political happenings to prominent marriages.
Last month, Britain’s biggest-selling tabloid newspaper, the Sun, followed in this tradition by disarming its paywall. It may safely be inferred that this was largely for monetary reasons. Alas, the Sun has not suddenly emerged as a revenant of the enlightenment, fighting for the right of the public to free information.
The fact is that the Sun has failed to garner the same number of views as its rivals, the Mail Online and the Mirror, behind its paywall. The advent of social media has diversified methods of news distribution, so whilst paywalls have gone up, barriers to journalism have fallen – the information behind a paywall can be placed on Facebook by anyone with an opinion. However, those newspapers without a wall can benefit from the social media users option to share, which generates subsequent click-through views.
However, free news will not last. The emergence of the digital age may have given news-lovers a brief, charge-free moment in the sunshine, but the sun is already setting. To understand this you must look to history. The appearance of the first modern newspaper was accompanied by a charge when the Venetians decided to charge one gazette for news-sheets in 1556. The newspaper meant that news was no longer a state-funded right but an independent and profitable venture. As long as there is money to be made, news will never be free.
One survey has shown that nearly three-quarters of newspapers are now charging for online content and print-media is dying. The Sun’s publisher, News UK (owned by Rupert Murdoch), is, in fact, keeping the subscription model for its Times and Sunday Times publications. This model is also proving successful for publications such as the Wall Street Journal, Financial Times and the Economist.
As soon as other news sources learn how to grow their audiences, take advantage of social media and make more from advertising they will erect paywalls. Other business models are simply inadequate when people are willing to pay.
The future of the news is paved with paywalls. Why am I so sure of this? Look around you on public transport. Do you see young people carrying newspapers? Rarely. The real picture you see is dozens of people glued to their phones and this trend will certainly worsen as accessible WiFi spreads. The modern man doesn’t want to carry a newspaper; he wants quick, easy, weightless information. In fact, a 2013 study in the Guardian showed that 20% of 25-34 year-olds have already paid for online news.
There will be no more Julius Caesar’s. There will only be newspapers catching up with technology.