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Spotlight on… Film Technology

Spotlight on… Film Technology

The 2018 awards season is well underway. Commentators are announcing their last-minute predictions ahead of today’s Oscar nominations and #TimesUp is making this one of the most memorable and poignant seasons of all time. It’s no surprise that the media has a sharper focus on the film industry than ever before.

The filmmaking business has undergone some real change in the past couple of years, and technology has been monumental in driving progress and empowering independent filmmakers and content creators. But which Film Technology companies should we be keeping an eye on in the next year?

The edit: Frame.io

Frame.io is the tool that helps creatives keep the creative process moving. Editing content is often slowed down drastically by file transfer and lengthy review processes. Frame.io replaces Dropbox, for file sharing, Vimeo for video review, and email for feedback. Integrated with all of filmmakers’ favourite tools including Premiere Pro, After Effects, Final Cut, Slack, and Vimeo, this is a collaboration platform with some serious streamlining powers.

The training: Masterclass

Masterclass has firmly made its mark on the online learning space in the last year with its all-access pass to online classes taught by some of the biggest names in the creative industries. With screenwriting programmes from Aaron Sorkin, film scoring lessons from Hans Zimmer, directing classes from Ron Howard, and writing masterclasses from Shonda Rhimes, the platform offers unparalleled access to flexible learning course from world-class industry professionals.

The grade: DaVinci Resolve

A favourite of editors and colourists around the globe, the latest iteration of DaVinci Resolve is an industry leading set of tools for editing, colour correction and professional audio post production. The software – which is completely free – was originally designed for the industry’s elite colourists, but is now available to all. With Resolve 14, creatives can switch between editing, colour correcting and audio mastering almost seamlessly, making it one of the easiest tools to use.

The soundtrack: Filmstro

Finding or scoring music for pre-shot footage can be an incredibly frustrating process for creatives, but new platforms such as Filmstro aim to make this time-consuming process far easier. Filmstro is a music library for content creators and filmmakers that sits behind ‘intuitive software’ and allows them to create musical scores to accompany their footage. Now integrated with both Premiere Pro and Final Cut Pro, the platform uses a roster of talented composers from across the globe to allow users to control the momentum, depth and power of their music.

The gadget: DJI Osmo

DJI have been leading the way when it comes to drones in recent years, but one of their newest tools is a game-changer for creatives looking to create professional looking video on the go. The newest version of the Osmo Mobile is a compact handheld gimbal for smartphones. With a lightweight design, cinematic movement, and active tracking, this is the perfect tool for professionals on the move.

The subscription: Flix Premiere

The appetite for independent films is growing year on year, and Flix Premiere is looking to feed this growing demand for originally storytelling with its video-on-demand platform. With new, exclusive, releases each week, it’s an online cinema that helps overlooked independent films find their audiences. The platform offers exclusive access to curated theatrical releases, and award winning independent productions making it perfect for movie goers tired of studio blockbusters.

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.

Like my addiction

A post shared by Louise Delage (@louise.delage) on

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.

New bottles!! #love #loveislove #lovewins #❤️ #👭 #👬 #👩‍❤️‍👩 #👨‍❤️‍👨 #smirnoff #lgbt #lgbtq #pride #pridemonth #mindyourbusiness #letitgo #loveeveryone #drinkdrankdrunk #drinking #drinks #vodka #absolute

A post shared by Manda (@paanda1990) on

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.

#throwbackthursday to @adwoaaboah & her mum Camilla showing that two heads are better than one when it comes to mental health. #headstogether #mentalhealth #oktosay

A post shared by Heads Together (@heads_together) on

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.

 

 

Does the power of celebrity have a place in politics?

Hollywood loves an underdog story. Rocky, Seabiscuit, Trump? Well, perhaps not quite. The world of celebrity (Clint Eastwood aside, no relation) was eerily quiet at Trump’s ascension to the presidency.

It seemed a script that even the zaniest Hollywood writer could surely not have dreamt up two years ago, and cast all manner of doubt on the impact of celebrity endorsement. With the might of the mainstream media and support from figures from Katy Perry, to Beyoncé, to Lady Gaga, to Chris Evans (no, not that one) behind her, Hillary Clinton still could not hold back the tide and beat a very average candidate.

Fast forward to June 2017, and Jeremy Corbyn achieved success in a way that Clinton simply couldn’t. It is worth quantifying that Corbyn did not ‘win’ the election, he was well short of a majority, but he did harness the potential of social media and celebrity to create a movement, amongst young people in particular, that led to a result that no political commentator had predicted (whatever he says now, The Guardian’s Owen Jones didn’t see it coming).

Nobody expected to see hashtags like #Grime4Corbyn taking off, but that’s exactly what happened. When even Grime MCs are wading into the debate, it is worth taking a step back to explore the role that the celebrity now plays in the political sphere.

First and foremost it is an amazing thing that the power of celebrity can play a role in bringing people otherwise totally disengaged into the discussion. The young, and many other people who felt disenfranchised before the election, were invigorated by the momentum Corbyn’s campaign generated.

Celebrities can also use their position to raise crucial issues, JK Rowling is an example of somebody who uses her platform to regularly do so (see below evisceration of Westboro Baptist Church), and Jamie Oliver is another who has done so to great effect.

But there are also drawbacks. In some ways, politics is now more reductive than at any other time in history. The influence of platforms including Facebook and Twitter has changed the very nature of political discourse.

It feels as though we live in a world of increasingly polarised opinion. Cropping manifestos and political opinions into 140 characters might well make things digestible, but there is less room for nuance than ever before. With Brexit and the General Election, there has been a very dangerous recurrent narrative on both sides of the spectrum of ‘them against us’.

The last 18 months have been characterised by a surge in vitriol and division as tensions reach boiling point. The world isn’t split into good and evil, but too often the content we read online gives the impression that it is.

In this atmosphere of heightened pressure, do celebrities have a greater responsibility to think before they tweet so as not to fuel the fire?

There is an elevated risk in what is a pretty poisonous political climate of appearing crass, condescending or even incendiary. Piers Morgan and Katie Hopkins have both built their brands off the back of being controversial firebrands, and by saying what nobody else would (and there’s generally a good reason nobody else would). Milo Yiannopolous did the same until his Twitter ban. All of these ‘provocateurs’ delight in sowing division and taking ‘the left’ to task for all manner of perceived sins.

But fear not, the left is just as happy to fire back. Owen Jones takes great pride in deriding those with differing views, while Lily Allen is another who divides opinion, always ready with a forthright opinion and an unerring ability to upset people.

Even Rowling, the patron saint of millennials, was quick to point the finger at Nigel Farage and the now infamous ‘Breaking Point’ referendum poster in the immediate aftermath of the Finsbury attack. Some may agree with her, but others might contend that such a tweet was insensitive and misrepresentative. Many people disagree with Farage, but to imply that he advocates killing in the streets does nothing to advance the discussion and in the immediate aftermath of an atrocity looks like distasteful pushing of an agenda.

It feels increasingly that battle lines are being drawn. Celebrities have the clout to influence and effect genuine change, the recent election showed that, but with their visibility comes a greater degree of responsibility.

Social media is constantly changing the world around us. The power of celebrity has a place in politics, but exactly how far that power should reach becomes harder to quantify by the day.

In the increasingly factional current political climate, those with the greatest visibility in our society have a duty to think before they speak, pause before they tweet, and to seek to unify rather than divide.

Could social media save english cricket?

For cricket fans the world over, 2005 evokes every superlative in the cliché book. The Greatest Ashes Series of all time, the series to end all series, theatre on an unparalleled scale in the history of cricket.

What a load of nonsense. The 2005 Ashes is the worst thing that ever happened to cricket. It’s the year that cursed a generation.

Ever since that fateful summer, my relationship with the gentleman’s game has been tumultuous, confused and epitomised by endless frustration. Simply, it was too much too soon. As an 11 year old I watched in awe as everyone I knew (yes, even the year 6 cool kids) experienced a sort of religious cricket awakening. Suddenly everyone was talking about the Ashes, everyone wanted to play cricket all day.

But in a sickening twist of fate, what followed that euphoric summer was a gaping chasm and the haunting realisation that everything would simply never be that perfect again.

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A Natwest T20 Blast match between Hampshire and Glamorgan. Image courtesy of Warren Duffy on flickr

Cricket promptly disappeared from terrestrial TV to Sky, depriving the generation that followed mine of the ease of access to the sport that so captured the imagination that summer.

And now here we are, seemingly scratching around from week-to-week in search of a way to save the terribly British game of cricket, right here in Britain.

For those who watched that series, there were so many moments that were unforgettable:

Freddie Flintoff and that incendiary double-wicket over, Kevin Pietersen’s blonde Mohawk, Ian Bell waking drenched in sweat as Shane Warne haunted his nightmares, Simon Jones swinging the ball like it were Mark Ramprakash’s hips, Michael Clarke shouldering arms and having his off stump obliterated, Simon Katich shouldering arms and having his off stump obliterated, the King of Spain, Harmison’s slower ball, Woodworm bats – I’m not sure a single member of my colt team didn’t buy a Woodworm bat in 2005– that summer could not conceivably have been better.

image courtesy of intocricket on flickr

I don’t know what’s better, Freddie Flintoff’s smoulder, or that majestic Woodworm bat. image courtesy of intocricket on flickr

English Cricket has failed to replicate this ever since, and while the move away from Free-to-Air Television has doubtless stifled its exposure, it has been a broader failure to evolve how it speaks to younger audiences that has quickened the sport’s demise.

The Big Bash League has shown the positive impact that television coverage can have on the game – viewing figures and attendances have simultaneously soared in Australia – but there is a tendency to pin all the blame on TV and overlook other shortcomings. This is particularly pertinent with under 16’s in 2017 – they simply don’t consume news and information from the TV screen in the way we did a decade ago.

Cricket doesn’t hold the global appeal of football and doesn’t have a massively popular and engaging console series like FIFA or Football Manager to fall back on, so it needs to find more innovative ways to engage fans.

Youtube, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram have become the nerve centre which drives the news and sporting agenda for young people. If ever there was a time in which TV could be circumnavigated, it is in this age of social media. Other sports dominate these channels – Youtube has even made stars of vloggers who upload videos of them playing FIFA.

It’s incredible to think, but people playing football games in their bedroom pull in hundreds of thousands of viewers every day while many cricket counties struggle to fill out their grounds. Football is omnipresent, people know everything about it, and they are constantly consuming more information about it.

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The Indian Premier League and Big Bash in Australia have made cricket modern and accessible. image courtesy of BubbleOnFire on flickr.

Conversely, cricket is conspicuous by its absence. There is a pervasive, largely unchallenged notion that cricket is a dry, boring sport, something that few would have asserted a decade ago. Has the game become more boring? On the contrary, the perfection of the T20 format has created the perfect bite-size entry point for new fans.

But what has changed is the way we talk about cricket. At its best, cricket ebbs and flows, it provides tension, shock and theatre. But large swathes of the British public seem to have forgotten this. We need to communicate with a modern audience in a language they understand to fight these misconceptions.

Social media is awash with influencers who are interested in sport, not just You tubers and Instagrammers, but what about musicians too? Actors? Young people are constantly engaging with content from these figures and are being influenced by what they see.

Greg James is just one example of the kind of ambassador the sport needs. He’s a fantastic advocate for the game and has landed himself a role presenting on BT Sport. More assets of a similar profile could have a tangible impact on exposing the game.

Why not get influencers involved with England’s players, filming themselves in the nets with Jason Roy or Jos Buttler learning the game? Going along to a match with Greg James? People are so disengaged from cricket in this country that there is a unique opportunity to educate people and rebrand the sport in the process. Cricket is tongue-in-cheek and accessible, it’s a game that lends itself to oddities and humour.

Cricket needs more advocates in the media like Greg James, but preferably with sleeves on. image courtesy of Ric Sumner on flickr

Cricket needs more advocates in the media like Greg James, but preferably with sleeves on. image courtesy of Ric Sumner on flickr

The Big Bash and Indian Premier League are proof that cricket holds mass appeal. I genuinely believe that if we get people watching and playing the game, some will not be able to help but fall in love with it.

The raw materials are there to make cricket a resounding success in England. A formidably talented generation of players are coming into their prime, including the fiery Ben Stokes – heir apparent to Flintoff, and the extraordinarily explosive Jos Buttler, renowned for swatting the ball dismissively out of the ground. The Women’s game in the UK is professional, and has made huge leaps in recent years.

The tools are there to catapult cricket back to the levels of 2005. Social media is just one avenue to achieve this, but one that can make a palpable difference if treated seriously and harnessed effectively by the powers running cricket.

 

Matt Haig : Can Men Write About Feminism?

Matt Haig, the award-winning author of Reasons to Stay Alive, was recently lambasted online for wanting to write a book on the ‘perils of masculinity’. Having sent out the concept on twitter, scores of women decided to lampoon his idea as ‘anti – feminist’.

But why?

Feminism PHA he for she

‘Image courtesy of Marco Bond on Flickr’.

In January, Emma Watson spoke of her pride in being part of the HeForShe movement. She told us that feminism is a matter for both genders, and has benefits for women and men. When Matt Haig expressed an interest in writing about gender, however, twitter descended. According to them, there are enough books out there about men written by men. And here was another one, coming along to try and ‘mansplain’ feminism.

To an extent, it’s possible to see where they’re coming from. There are a lot of books by men about men for men, and swathes of articles as testament.

Yet Haig is the writer whose memoir deals so sensitively with depression and the social stigmas surrounding mental health. Having repeatedly clarified his reason for thinking ‘toxic masculinity’ could be an interesting and timely subject matter – sexism benefits men, but also hurts men – surely a similarly sensitive novel would be a boon to feminism?

Put this alongside recent headlines asking why, when Britain leads the world in female entrepreneurship, gender barriers remain in ‘boys club’ industries. Or why, though we’ve seen feminism become a mainstream trend in pop-culture, Mad Max’s more-than-capable Imperator Furiosa was met by scorn and a boycott from Male Rights Activists. As was the Girls Who Code group. And FIFA 16’s introduction of women’s football teams.

 

 

Surely a novel, a book that would make people acknowledge and challenge the heated subject of gender equality, could only be good?  Stories are, after all, integral to how we communicate and consequently one of the greatest tools of change.   

Let me take a little tangent by looking at two PR campaigns.

Most of us will have seen adverts that deal with modern preconceptions of what it’s like to be woman. Two particularly poignant recent examples are P&G’s Always ‘Like a Girl’ campaign, and Miss Representation’s ‘The Mask You Live In’.    

In the Always’ ‘Like a Girl’ advert, the director asks a series of pre-and post-adolescent women and men to run like a girl, fight like a girl, hit like a girl. The results are striking in that they show young girls putting their all into each request – they sprint, they punch, they look fierce. Their older counterparts fluff their responses, play with their hair, mock themselves as they act ‘like a girl’. They essentially do what the boys in the ad do. They imagine that girls cannot do what boys do. Cannot be as fast, strong or serious.

The question emerges, why can’t ‘run like a girl’ mean winning the race?

When did doing something ‘like a girl’ become an insult?

A year later, the campaign attained a coveted Super Bowl ad-space. Following up on the previous video’s demonstration of the ‘devastating’ effects of being taught ‘like a girl’ is a bad thing, it showed it’s possible to change the narrative.

Doing something ‘like a girl’ can mean doing amazing things.

On the other hand, 2013’s ‘The Mask You Live In’ looked at the impact of the phrase ‘be a man’ upon how men connect with their emotions.

 

‘Be a man,’ they argue, is one of the most damaging things a young boy can hear.

It expresses a lack of value for qualities that have been ‘feminised’. It means not crying. Dealing with problems alone. Not talking about fear or anger or hurt.

It’s a problem that run so deep that, as the Guardian’s Owen Jones wrote, it can kill.

The key thing here is that just like the ‘Like a Girl’ campaign, the values of ‘The Masks You Live In’ show a polarized narrative. In it femininity is bad, masculinity good. Both have demonstrable, painful, consequences. Because even now, men are still expected to be dominant, to be natural leaders, to be physically and emotionally impermeable. This is not healthy for men – and it’s not healthy for women either as they experience the fall-out. 

Importantly, when you see brilliant campaigns like these, you start to think about the bigger problems.

You start to talk about them. They take fantastic stories, focusing on how boys and girls grow up in society, and turn them into a call to action. They’re not exactly subtle but they explore the need to communicate about the problems inherent within society in order for change.

Yet these are stories told in three minutes.

Imagine how powerful a whole novel might be in addressing some of those same feminist subjects?

Returning then to the twitter onslaught Matt Haig experienced. Like Miss Representation, he considered investigating how masculinity in its current form damages men, and how feminism – the desire for gender equality – would thusly be good for everyone.

 

Haig’s plight, it seems, is partly that women don’t want men to lead feminism, which is valid. He wanted to tackle ‘toxic masculinity’ from a male perspective. Considering he identifies as male, this seems sensible since he can draw from his experiences. Moreover, penning a book exploring this issue does not mean Haig or any other male writer (Joss Whedon say) favours a men-first form of feminism.

It just means that he’s talking about the problem too.

A book’s ability to make people think and talk about problems they might not previously even have known is unparalleled.

They start conversations without even meaning to.

They can unravel problems and weave them into a tale, spin many hidden nuances into something terrifying, beautiful and complex.

This is the power of stories.

It’s why the campaigns we remember are the ones that deliver ideas not pitches.

So whilst I don’t want men to lead feminism, I also don’t think that we should begrudge men for wanting to be part of the conversation. They should be part of the solution. Especially when it comes to changing views on masculinity.

As long as there are great stories being told that challenge sexism, there will be conversations that should be valued, not vilified.

The Power of Social Media: The case of Alan Barnes

Alan Barnes - GoFundMe page

Alan Barnes – GoFundMe page

The #NoMakeUpSelfie and #IceBucketChallenge are examples of two of the most high profile campaigns of 2014. Arguably both were great PR ideas that allowed people to engage, whilst self-indulgently sharing an important message. However, it was social media that played the fundamental role of starting the online conversations that spread the word globally and created an international buzz.

The most recent example to illustrate this is the national news story of Alan Barnes. When the disabled pensioner was mugged in his garden whilst putting out his bins, sympathiser Katie Cutler set up a GoFundMe page to raise £500 to help him. In just three days, over £250,000 in donations had been generated. People flocked to support the cause with some as far away as New Zealand and Canada; but what prompted the unprecedented success of this fundraising campaign?

The very nature of social media allowed for the sheer volume of supporters, from far and wide, to generate hundreds of thousands of pounds in a matter of days. The immediacy and accessibility of Facebook and Twitter provided the vehicle to ensure the desired message went viral and its limitless nature spurred on this frenzy of interest. Every time the story was/is shared, another opportunity for engagement is created and support continues to grow.

Since the page was set up on January 28th, the Alan Barnes fund has received nearly 30,000 shares on social media – 26k on Facebook and 3k Tweets. The story has been all over the national newspapers and the fund has now been halted at £329,000 by his grateful family. Attention is now turning to young mother Katie who is being described as a hero. A new Facebook page named ‘Katie Cutler For An OBE’ has already gathered over 300 likes and another fund has been set up to thank her for her kindness.

Alan Barnes’ story not only demonstrates the growing influence of social media, it displays the way it can unite people and be a force for good. Despite all the negative stories we read, in the right hands, this snowball effect can yield positive results and perpetuate goodwill and generosity. Alan’s story culminated in unbelievable results and encompassed an online community spirit – millions of people working together in a way that has almost made us forget the tragic reason the page was set up in the first place.

#JeSuisCharlie and the Twitter bandwagon

Last week’s attacks in Paris were sickening, of that there is no doubt. The fallout, many innocent people are dead, world leaders are doing their best to be seen to support their French allies and millions of tweets are being sent bearing #JeSuisCharlie.

This isn’t a blog looking at the wider repercussions of the attacks, that’s something far too large to do here, or in any single blog – to look at the rising anti-Muslim agenda, scaremongering and media misreporting, but what can be assessed is the role social media plays in these instances.

Since last week’s attacks, I’d be keen to bet that #JeSuisCharlie has trended consistently. A hashtag which aims to show solidarity towards the victims, defiance against terror and a pro-free speech outlook – big objectives for a mere 13 characters.

Millions show their defiance against the Paris attacks.

Millions show their defiance against the Paris attacks.

The main reason social media, particularly Twitter, is able to spread this feeling of support and defiance is that, simply put, it’s quick and easy to do so – a great advantage. Yet this ‘click and forget’, ‘like and leave’ mentality is its own worst enemy. Take the previous example of #BringBackOurGirls, a hashtag supported by the likes of Michelle Obama to raise awareness around the Boko Haram kidnapping of 300 girls in Nigeria. Remember that? Outraged at the time? Perhaps you even shared the hashtag. But what then?

Social media, of which I like most people am a big fan, makes news quicker, more interactive, and affords people the opportunity to share their opinion. But when it’s just as easy to back worldwide disgust at a terrorist incident as it is to show your enjoyment of a picture of a cat dressed as a lion, in many ways it cheapens the message.

The nature of social media, particularly Twitter, is transient and perhaps the wider question is can a campaign be sustained through this channel and if so, how?

Yes, being able to say X million people worldwide have backed #JeSuisCharlie is powerful in itself, it is a message that society won’t be defeated, but surely a much more powerful measure of impact, of our resistance, is to ask people a month down the line who still really cares? This may sound blunt, but the news agenda moves quicker than ever before and most stories are forgotten.

The Paris attacks perhaps are (and should be) too large to fall into this category, but only time will tell.

Consumers Will Pay More For High Quality Content

Content marketing has become an increasingly popular method to get a business noticed. For those who are not in the know, content marketing involves creating and sharing content. Whether it is video posts, Facebook and Twitter posts or blog posts – it is a way to get customers to engage with the brand better, customers who are potentially going to be advocates for the brand and spread the word to an even wider audience.

Rather than some traditional methods of marketing, which involves the ‘hard sell’, content marketing helps to build a rapport with them, and helps to give your brand some personality.

You might want to write a blog post about a particular event your company is holding; Instagram pictures of your new office pet or create a viral video and upload it to YouTube. Anything that encourages customers to engage with your brands in a less formal way.

New research suggests that customers could be more willing to part with their cash for a firm that uses good quality content marketing. In fact, two-thirds of consumers are more likely to buy from firms whose content they enjoy, even if it costs a little more than from a brand that doesn’t.

However, when it comes to content marketing, some brands get it wrong; like engineering, or finance, there’s an exponential difference between merely good content and exceptional content. You can distinguish yourself from the 99% of your competitors by pursuing the exceptional – brands get this wrong by sharing other people’s content instead of creating their own. Sharing is a great thing in the world of social media, but when many people are all sharing the same content at a time, it’s pollution.

Brands That Do It Well

Red Bull is a great example of a brand-turned – publisher that has mastered the art of story-telling.

Consumers Will Pay More For High Quality Content

If you’ve seen their adverts, marketing stunts (Red Bull Stratos Jump), it will be no surprise that their blog is designed to entertain and motivate readers.

Red Bull created a lifestyle around their brand by effectively implementing the four I’s of storytelling: Immersion, interactivity, integration and impact.

 

Enter The World of Digital Diplomacy

We’ve come a long way since the first broadcast from the White House in 1947. Back then, Harry Truman was guiding his nation through post-war uncertainty and readying the state for a forty year fight with the ‘communist bugaboo’.

Fast forward half a century and Barack Obama is living in a distinctly different world. Those pesky commies may have been dispatched long before his climb to power, and the President now lives in an age where communication with ‘the people’ is only a tweet away.

The US president has 35 million Twitter followers, the fourth most popular account on the social network (behind Rihanna, Justin Bieber and Katy Perry) and regularly he updates the nation with nice sound-bites, personal photos and regular calls to action:

 

President Obama is not the only world leader on Twitter. A study by Twiplomacy found that three-quarters of all world leaders possess a Twitter account. That’s 153 countries in total and a combined following of 105 million!

Next in the Twitter league table comes Pope Francis. The head of the Catholic Church is a clear second with 7m followers, whilst Turkeys Recip Erdogan is a distant third with 3.5m. Big Dave Cameron, the UK’s Prime Minister is the 9th most popular head of state on the social network, with 2.3 million followers.

The list stretches all the way down to infant states to South Sudan, who have gathered a following of just over six thousand since gaining independence in 2011. For small nations such as South Sudan, Twitter offers a perfect means of communication. Unlike United Nations conferences and the like, Twitter offers a level playing field whereby South Sudan’s voice weighs just as much as Barack Obama’s.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: a diplomatic war could break out very easily if just one head of state sends an inappropriate, nuclear bomb of a tweet to a fellow leader.

But don’t worry, there’s no need to panic just yet. There are so far very little signs that Digital Diplomacy (Digiplomacy? You heard it here first) is taking off. Although 68% of Twitter’s world leaders connect with each other, very little interaction actually goes on.

So for the time being at least, you won’t see North Korea formally declaring war on the US via Twitter, Europe’s leaders publically discussing how to solve the Eurozone crisis, or Barack Obama creating a #GiveBackSnowden trend.

Nonetheless, it does show the power that social media possesses in the world (see 2011 Arab Spring). Twitter and Facebook are by some distance the easiest way for world leaders to talk to their people. It may all be a popularity contest at the moment, but we may not be too far away from a world in which Twitter overtakes television as the preferred medium for a President’s or Prime Minister’s acceptance speech or as the first stop for dealing with a scandal.

 

It’s time Twitter started protecting its users! #Simples

There are a total of 58 million tweets posted per day making Twitter a huge part of everyday life, including mine. Every little detail is an opportunity to tweet and let the whole world know what you are doing: “Today is a beach day #Summer2013”. Even though these simple posts can be seen to be harmless, it is becoming more common for certain tweets to lead to cyber bullying. Unfortunately, this is sadly going unnoticed.
These so-called twitter ‘trolls’ are becoming an existing problem in society today, with police having to investigate a number of new cases related to this issue. After a noticeable increase in abusive behaviour towards women on the micro-blogging site Twitter, a petition was put together, which has already gained an impressive 129,474 supporters. The aim was to try and make Twitter recognize that more needs to be done to make users feel safe and comfortable using this particular social networking site. This petition was for Twitter to create a report button on every tweet to improve the reporting system and to raise awareness for this type of behaviour, especially towards women.

This follows the recent attack on Caroline Criado-Perez, who has appeared in the media campaigning to get women to feature on banknotes. Shockingly 50 abusive tweets an hour were reported over 12 hours, which has made the use of a new ‘report button’ even more vital. This is just a simple example of how random people use twitter as a way of attacking well-known people and think of it as getting their voice heard. When in reality Professor Mark Griffiths (Nottingham Trent University) sees this as having a ‘physically devastating effect’ on the victims — and I think I agree.

Twitter is a space where people publish their opinions, responses and retweets at their own accord, that does not mean random people have the right to attack other Twitter users without their being a tool to use to report this kind of behaviour. Victim of cyberbullying Caroline Criado-Perez tweeted “I’m reaching the end of my third day of rape threats. What is Twitter doing about this?”

This is a question that Twitter needs to resolve sooner rather than later! Fingers crossed this report button actually works.