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Spotlight on…. London Blockchain Week 2018

Spotlight on…. London Blockchain Week 2018

The technology that defined 2017, even if we didn’t necessarily realise it, was blockchain. Providing the foundations for the volatile and fascinating world of cryptocurrencies which stole the headlines. For a whole week, starting tomorrow, the world’s leading blockchain experts and enthusiasts will meet in London for Blockchain Week 2018.

Kicking off with a Hackathon, the weeklong event sees the original Blockchain Conference return for its fourth year. Featuring an expo of some of the most exciting blockchain companies from around the world, the following two-day conference will explore blockchain/ DLT across all sectors, led by those innovating at the very forefront of the field.

Here we’ve picked out some of the hottest companies exhibiting and speaking during the event to watch in the coming months.

Qadre

Qadre is on a mission to redefine how businesses onboard, quantify and manage trust in enterprise through harnessing blockchain technology. Ultimately, they aim to solve the problems with trust in the digital world. With a whole suite of products and solutions, Qadre is providing the much-needed tools to businesses; minimizing inefficiencies and chances for fraud. With big plans for 2018, this is definitely a start-up to keep on your watch-list.

Green Energy Wallet

There are two significant emerging technologies that will determine our future – renewable energies and electric vehicles. However, to ensure we fully move away from fossil fuels and protect our planet’s future, an efficient facility to store renewable energy is needed. Green Energy Wallet has utilised blockchain technology to create a battery leasing system, that harnesses the combined storage capacity of electric vehicles and home batteries – maximising the production of renewable energy and resupplying the grid as needed.

Effect.ai

The Artificial Intelligence ecosystem has grown at an explosive and exponential rate but has largely been driven and dominated by the likes of Google, Facebook and Amazon. Effect.ai aims to create an open, decentralised network that provides all services in the AI market to ensure AI is available to all – known as The Effect Network. Based on the NEO blockchain, and fuelled by a network NEP-5 token called AIX, the team behind the network is on a mission to define the future relation between AI and humanity.

Lendingblock

Realising that only when we can spend and lend digital assets as easily as fiat money will they supplant traditional currencies, Lendingblock has created the first open decentralised exchange for borrowing and lending such cryptocurrencies. The company aims to create a financial system that provides equality of access to everyone, regardless of financial status or location. An exciting company who is working hard to make this goal a reality.

Atonomi

There are billions of IoT devices spread across the globe and ensuring they all are trustable in terms of interoperability for both data and commerce is essential. Rooting the identity and reputation of these devices on a distributed blockchain-based immutable ledger, Atonomi provides a new security and infrastructure to do exactly this.

Tallysticks

Trading has become a complicated, time-consuming practice, with little trust amongst parties. Tallysticks is aiming to make trading simple again – helping independent businesses to grow around the world. Using software automation and existing banking products, Tallysticks is helping to build trust between trading partners through its single online tool for documentation, communications and payments.

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.

Cadbury Creme Egg Cafe. Image courtesy of Certified Nosh

Cadbury Creme Egg Cafe. Image courtesy of Certified Nosh.

 

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.

BOXPARK is the perfect pop-up example.

BOXPARK is the perfect pop-up example.

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 PHA Group Win Best PR Campaign at B2B Awards

PHA-Award-2015-B2B

Following the nomination in August, we’re incredibly proud and excited to announce The PHA Group have won Best Public Relations Campaign at the B2B Marketing Awards.

The awards were hosted at The Honourable Artillery Club in Central London and are known for recognising organisations of all sizes – from Google and Barclays to Worldpay and now QinetiQ with The PHA Group.

The award feels particularly poignant. Not least because both The PHA Group and the B2B Marketing Awards are celebrating their 10th Anniversaries this year, but also because just a quick glance at the nominees for each category conveys how fierce the competition is.

When it comes to public relations campaigns, at The PHA Group we’re known for a journalistic ethos that brings stories to life. And that’s precisely what we achieved with our work for QinetiQ and the 5% Club.

Founded in 2013 by Defence technology company QinetiQ, The 5% Club is an initiative aiming to redress the problem of youth unemployment and the skills gap. As an industry-led campaign involving several listed and privately owned companies, it calls on all businesses in the UK to sign up and pledge that within five years, their workforces will comprise 5% apprentices, graduates and sponsored students.

Why? Because there is a burning need for young people to develop relevant skills and confidence in the workplace. Moreover, those who are best placed to make a difference are not governments or charities, but businesses.

This is the 5% Club message.

It is time to invest in the next generation.

It is time for the business world and its captains to step up to the plate in creating demand for apprentices and graduates if Britain was to be competitive with the rest of the world.

Out of dozens of agencies, QinetiQ chose The PHA Group to launch this campaign, which has grown from the original eight signatories from the Confederation of British Business, to having over 125 members. These include Vision Express, Airbus Group, Croudace Home Group, Ofcom, the National Nuclear Laboratory, and the Ministry of Defence. There are lawyers, marketers, engineers, surveyors and recruitment specialists involved. It has featured in national newspapers, has spokespersons interviewed on national broadcast platforms such as Sky and BBC’s impressive Today Programme. In total, there have been countless pieces of coverage for the 5% Club.

Such results were the effort of The PHA Group’s long-term media plan, which in truth could only be realized with the commitment and dedication of the founding members of The 5% Club and those companies which have joined over the past two years.

From delivering an impactful launch through broadcast, online and print media, and through various social media channels, to continuing the momentum through thought-leadership in key titles and profile raising coverage for the campaign.

The PHA Group are immensely proud of what The 5% Club has achieved for young people in Britain and in our role in helping its message reach the UK.

B2B Awards

Best Public Relations Campaign  ‘The Five Per Cent Club: Investing In a Generation’ for QinetiQ by The PHA Group

 

The PHA Group Win Best PR Campaign at B2B Awards

PHA-Award-2015-B2B

Following the nomination in August, we’re incredibly proud and excited to announce The PHA Group have won Best Public Relations Campaign at the B2B Marketing Awards.

The awards were hosted at The Honourable Artillery Club in Central London and are known for recognising organisations of all sizes – from Google and Barclays to Worldpay and now QinetiQ with The PHA Group.

The award feels particularly poignant. Not least because both The PHA Group and the B2B Marketing Awards are celebrating their 10th Anniversaries this year, but also because just a quick glance at the nominees for each category conveys how fierce the competition is.

When it comes to public relationship campaigns, at The PHA Group we’re known for a journalistic ethos that brings stories to life. And that’s precisely what we achieved with our work for QinetQ and the 5% Club.

Founded in 2013 by Defence technology company QinetiQ, The 5% Club is an initiative aiming to redress the problem of youth unemployment and the skills gap. As an industry-led campaign involving several listed and privately owned companies, it calls on all businesses in the UK to sign up and pledge that within five years, their workforces will comprise 5% apprentices, graduates and sponsored students.

Why? Because there is a burning need for young people to develop relevant skills and confidence in the work place. Moreover, those who are best placed to make a difference are not governments or charities, but businesses.

This is the 5% Club message.

It is time to invest in the next generation.

It is time for the business world and its captains to step up to the plate in creating demand for apprentices and graduates if Britain was to be competitive with the rest of the world.

Out of dozens of agencies, QinetiQ chose The PHA Group to launch this campaign, which has grown from the original eight signatories from the Confederation of British Business, to having over 125 members. These include Vision Express, Airbus Group, Croudace Home Group, Ofcom, the National Nuclear Laboratory, and the Ministry of Defence. There are lawyers, marketers, engineers, surveyors and recruitment specialists involved. It has featured in national newspapers, has spokespersons interviewed on national broadcast platforms such as Sky and BBC’s impressive Today Programme. In total, there have been countless pieces of coverage for the 5% Club.

Such results were the effort of The PHA Group’s long-term media plan, which in truth could only be realized with the commitment and dedicated of the founding membes of The 5% Club and those companies which have joined over the past two years.

From delivering an impactful launch through broadcast, online and print media, and though various social media channels, to continuing the momentum through thought-leadership in key titles and profile raising coverage for the campaign.

The PHA Group are immensely proud of what The 5% Club has achieved for young people in Britain and in our role in helping its message reach the UK.

B2B Awards

Best Public Relations Campaign  ‘The Five Per Cent Club: Investing In a Generation’ for QinetiQ by The PHA Group

 

My week as a PHA intern

To gain a broader understanding of the world of public relations and fashion, I made the decision to embark on an internship at The PHA Group having heard lots of positive things about the agency. After spending a week with the Fashion & Lifestyle team, it is certainly safe to say I have achieved this and more!

On my first day at PHA, my mentor, Naomi, tasked me to help her to update a beauty and lifestyle client’s twitter account. With no prior experience of managing social media channels, this sounded like something I would be able to learn a lot from and I was extremely keen to help. Starting my week with this task was a brilliant way for me to see how varied the job of a PR executive can be.  Having the responsibility of creating tweets gave me a chance to see how fast-paced social media is and what is entailed in the upkeep of a channel such as Twitter.

Later on in the week, Suzanne, one of the account managers at PHA, allowed me to accompany her on a desk visit to meet a reporter at one of the national newspapers. This gave me the chance to observe her while she spoke about a product on behalf of a client and provided insight into how crucial maintaining strong relationships with the press is for a PR professional.

One task I particularly enjoyed during my internship was writing copy for a short press release, on behalf of one of the fashion brands represented by PHA. I am not a particularly confident writer, so this helped me to improve my skills in this area and it was very helpful to have some pointers from the team. I worked specifically on e-alerts which, I learnt, were a punchier alternative to press releases in terms of getting a message out to the press. I enjoyed the chance to be creative by picking suitable products from the range of clothes and accessories. I enjoyed the chance to use my knowledge of fashion trends and the challenge of having to think outside of my usual fashion choices.

Throughout my week as an intern with the Fashion and Lifestyle team, I have accomplished a variety of tasks and have been able to learn from the different responsibilities that are expected of a PR professional. Seeing how many different elements there are to being in public relations has surprised me and shown me how expansive the skillset you need to possess is. The staff at PHA are really nice to work with and It has been made clear that in order to succeed in this type of fast-paced environment you have to be determined, proactive and receptive.

My experience at PHA has allowed me to adapt my interpersonal skills as well as my ability to write press releases, use social media and liaise with journalists.

I am grateful for being given the opportunity to learn more about the industry and I feel the knowledge I have gained from PHA has driven me to seek out similar learning opportunities and will benefit me a great deal in my future career!

 

Court ruling may help clients reclaim reputation management costs

Reputaton management The PHA Group

‘image courtesy of patparslow in Flickr’

Suffering a wrongful attack in the media which leads to reputational harm is more often than not a highly damaging experience.

Whether it is a business or an individual, the loss of custom, revenue, respect and social standing, can be devastating.

Then there are the financial costs of seeking redress and repairing the damage caused.

Public Relations professionals would always advocate that crisis and reputation management should begin from the outset and be preventative rather than a cure.

The old adage of “once the horse has bolted” is clichéd, but rings true when it comes to the media and crisis prevention, particularly in the age of the internet when the flames of one story can quickly be flamed and spread across Google in a flash.

Employing lawyers and public relations consultants is an added expense.

The recoverability of legal costs are covered by rules laid out in a set of guidelines commonly termed the Jackson Reforms, which came into play last year and received attention outside of the legal profession during the publicity surrounding the early rounds of the now famous Andrew Mitchell libel trial.

But to most, the costs of hiring public relations professionals to help restore reputation would seem to be a spend that, despite it being an absolutely vital investment, could not be recovered in monetary terms.

However, a little-known court judgment handed down at London’s High Court recently could be set to influence that.

It came following a trade libel case brought by one UK company which battled against a campaign waged against it by a group of defendants.

The company sought PR advice to help it repair damage caused by the slurs. The reputation management work proceeded over 12 months in a bid to retain customers.

 

At the end of the case, which was won by default by the company, the judge ruled that the money spent by the company on its PR firm were recoverable damages.

Mr Justice Parks said that he had “no difficulty in concluding that…..the cost of employing a public relations consultant to undo some of the reputational damage which the first claimant suffered…. are recoverable as reasonable mitigation.”

This meant that the money spent on the PR campaign would, be the order of the court, be recoverable from the losing side.

It added to damages which totalled more than £400,000, including some £240,000 in profits which had been found to be lost as a result of the reputational attacks on the company.

Of course, not all reputation management matters end up as libel trials, and this judgment would only be relative to matters which have proceeded to court and a libel hearing.

Lawyers, and indeed Public Relations professionals worth their salt, would only advise on litigating to seek redress only if that course of action was absolutely necessary.

Nor should those who have suffered reputational harm take it as read that they will always be able to recover costs of PR if they end up using those who have libelled them.

But this judgment is important as it means the PR costs have been recognised by a judge as being a cost which can be recovered by way of damages from the other side. It is down to a clients’ legal team to argue the case and claim for the PR costs as part of the case.

As lawyers and public relations professionals often work in tandem when fighting to restore a mutual clients’ reputation, the judgment is worth noting in case the battle ends up in court.

Are our child stars doomed?

Amanda Bynes is back in the press this week and Justin Bieber, Lindsay Lohan and One Direction regularly grace our headlines with news of their shocking antics. Whether at the root of celebrity feuds, drink driving charges or rumours of drug abuse, the stories continue to be churned out as the world spectates at the downward spiral of our child stars. This pattern of erratic behaviour seems to occur all too often and begs the question, are the pressures of fame too much to deal with as a child?

Amanda Bynes rose to fame with The Amanda Show on Nickelodeon aged just thirteen and from there went on to star in Hairspray, feature on the front pages of Vanity Fair and win numerous TV awards. However, over the last few years her increasingly strange behaviours have hinted at psychological problems, all of which have been well documented by the media. There were the celeb twitter spats which saw her comments become more and more outrageous, rumours of drug addiction and most recently shoplifting charges. Having looked a little further into her story, I have found one of the saddest aspects to be the fact she is now estranged from her parents. In a time when they are needed the most, her family support network has broken down.

Image Courtesy of Amy Wood, flickr. com

Image Courtesy of Amy Wood, flickr. com

Justin Bieber recently came under scrutiny for a series of seemingly racist videos which showed him singing offensive songs, aged 14. The media went into a  frenzy and he was blackmailed as people tried to extort him and make a quick buck out of his poor judgement. Photos were also leaked of Justin smoking weed that saw him taken swiftly off his ‘role model’ pedestal and then there were mentions of speeding and car crashes in his £150,000 Ferrari. With a loyal fan base of ‘Beliebers’, JB has a wealth of youngsters looking up to him.  The downside of this, is that aside from his talent for singing, his every mistake will be read about all over the world and we all know that negative headlines sell.

Aged 20, JB is supposedly one of the current most hated celebrities in the USA. It seems he has burnt most of his bridges in the celebrity world and alienated himself from the paparazzi. Although he has grown up with the pressures of his celebrity status, he needs to take some responsibility for his disrespectful actions, of which there are countless. His story thus far has an element of self-destruction and he almost seems to be setting himself up for failure. Other similar examples include Lindsay Lohan, who spent time in prison and battled an eating disorder, and Britney Spears who famously had a meltdown in 2007 which involved shaving off all her hair whilst supposedly being addicted to amphetamines.

This year, the UK X Factor has lowered its entry age from 16 to 14 to draw in ‘fresh talent’. The decision has come under much scepticism and judge Cheryl Fernandez-Versini has been vocal about the fact she thinks this is too young. I am inclined to agree, given that the audition process sees candidates publicly ridiculed for poor performances whilst the judges make cutting remarks. Furthermore, numerous candidates have already been rejected for ‘not being ready’, so the change seems a little counter-productive.  Past winners of the show have gone on to be dropped by their record labels and have failed to maintain their success after being told they are the ‘next big thing’. I don’t feel it would be fair to face a 14 year old with this level of disappointment and inconsistency, especially when a school education may be at stake.

Reality shows such as X-Factor can literally catapult people into the limelight overnight and this combined with the rise of social media, means fame and

Image Courtesy of Catherine Laight, flickr. com

Image Courtesy of Catherine Laight, flickr. com

celebrity status can be obtained more quickly than ever. One Direction are one of X Factor’s most prominent success stories, with 122 awards between them, a world record and millions of pounds to their name. However, with the media waiting in the wings to make or break these stars, it was only a matter of time before band scandals started surfacing as we have seen.

So, what is the solution? These young stars need a strong network of people around them to support, ground and manage expectations. A reliable agent, publicist and accountant that aren’t only in it to make money, and have genuine concerns for their wellbeing are necessities. Kris Jenner’s family tie to her Kardashian clan may be the reason they have all been able to deal with the trials and tribulations of fame despite being one of the highest profile families on the planet. In times of crisis, reputation management PR may prove essential but preventing these scenarios from arising in the first place should be the priority.

It seems unsurprising that growing up in the limelight can lead to a premature mid-life crisis- how can anyone be expected to know what the fame package comes with in their early teens? Although success clearly has many benefits, this downward pattern repeats itself all too often and the power that comes with money and fame cannot be taken lightly. The future of 1D, Justin Bieber and this year’s young X Factor hopefuls remains to be seen but regardless, they need to be prepared for what could lie ahead. Although talent can shine from a young age, fame comes with a lot of baggage and a child is not equipped with the maturity and life experience to deal with this single-handedly.

Hello Cannes

It’s that time of the year again where we are visually transported to the French Riveria and invited to experience the Festival de Cannes celebration of film and cinema. With the Festival’s 66th birthday this year, we are sure not to be disappointed with this year’s line-up. Scheduled to preview fresh films of all genres from around the globe the Festival kicked off on the 14th May. From emerging directors, to regular Hollywood superstar attendees, Cannes is one of the most anticipated and international events of the year.

Since its birth in 1946, the Festival’s founder Thierry Fremaux has traditionally showcased some of the most important European films in cinema history, making it one of the most sought-after public platforms for raising the profiles of film-makers and actors. English director and writer Mike Leigh explains, ‘If you’re a film-maker, it’s the centre of the universe’. With British talent attending the event including Robert Pattinson, Matt Smith, Dominic West and Imelda Staunton we hope to make an impact on the Festival.

Image Courtesy of gem_106, flickr.com

Eva Longoria Cannes Film Festival

Cannes, would not be Cannes if it wasn’t for its media metropolis manifesto, and glamour under the sun fashion. Public relations and Cannes go hand in hand together. With a number of journalists flying out to capture the booming festival (which has multiplied by 5 in the last 40 years), publicity has never been so vital for the Festival’s success.

From a PR perspective, this is the perfect opportunity for filmmakers all over the world to promote their masterpieces, of all genres, to the public and get the recognition it deserves, particularly independently produced films. Without Cannes, or the media coverage that comes with it, it’s likely these films would go unwatched.

As with any major event involving celebrities, fashion choices are fundamental to boost personal status. With the red carpet dress code at Cannes, black tie, designers are given the ultimate opportunity for press coverage and recognition. Who will you be routing for this year?