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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.

It is time to distance free speech from the online abuse of MPs

By Hamish Campbell-Shore, Public Affairs Intern

Since the murder of Jo Cox in June 2015, Members of Parliament have had to become acutely aware of the genuine threat of online abuse.

Analysis by the ‘BCS-The Chartered Institute’ for IT and thinktank ‘Demos’ revealed that during the three-month period between 9th May and 18th August 2015, MPs received almost 190,000 abusive tweets. The report suggested that 1 out of every 20 tweets sent to MPs were categorised as abusive, with the most harassed politicians seeing around 10% of tweets they received containing abusive material.

This report has since been supplemented by research conducted by the University of Sheffield and BuzzFeed News. The study covered 840,000 tweets during the 2017 General Election campaign and highlighted the most likely victims of ‘trolling’. Statistics revealed that, overwhelmingly, Jeremy Corbyn was the most abused MP on Twitter, with the majority of insulting messages targeted at a small number of high-profile politicians. However, being in receipt of almost 6% of abuse, male Tory candidates were the most abused group of politicians in the survey.

Whilst the frequency of online abuse was targeted at prominent politicians and male Conservative candidates, the nature of the abuse varied greatly.  Professor Bontcheva, who conducted the survey, noted the prominence of gendered abuse: “The study showed there is a clear difference in the insulting words directed at male and female politicians. While some terms are common to both, female politicians received more gendered insults.”

The online abuse of MPs has, and will continue to tarnish, the political battleground until something changes. Most notably, however, what will certainly not change this abuse is the argument that furious hatred can be taken as free speech. Abuse is significant, ubiquitous and to misappropriate the tool of free speech does nothing but entrench the divisions that characterise modern politics.

It should never be part and parcel of the job and inevitability does not justify the shameful abuse that MPs receive daily at the hands of internet trolls. Free speech is, and should continue to be, an integral part of our democracy in the UK. However, the notion that politically motivated abuse can be construed as free speech, is nothing more than an empty platitude, utilised to attempt to validate ignorance.

Johnny Mercer MP, epitomised the way in which these concepts are intertwined. In response to Diane Abbott’s moving account of the abuse she has received online, he tweeted: “I’m at odds w/almost everything DA thinks politically. But I’ll fight endlessly to defend her right to do so, free of this appalling abuse.”

There is much to be said for allowing people the freedom to air their views online, as I have mentioned, the right to challenge and debate is key to holding decision-makers to account. Nevertheless, to not acknowledge abuse and freedom of speech as mutually exclusive, does nothing but foster the hatred that plagues modern day ‘social media politics’.

The redefinition of free speech into abuse is obviously not undisputed, and it would be dangerous to suggest that biting and barbing commentary should be completely prevented.  To condemn any form of disagreement with politicians as abuse will cement the seemingly growing disparity between the elites and ‘the rabble’. However, when the crude tongue of Average Joe turns into death threats, racism and misogyny, there is cause for distancing abuse from free speech, in fear of undermining this basic democratic right.

Where separation may be key when considering both free speech and unashamed abuse, it is certainly not when isolating the source of it. Paula Sherriff, Labour Member of Parliament for Dewsbury, has used her own experience to speak of the dangers of politicizing online abuse. Sheriff herself has been the victim of abuse from both the hard-left and hard right, and the Labour moderate believes that it should be viewed as a non-partisan issue. “There is a really serious issue, and suggesting only one cohort of people is doing it completely undermines the argument,” said Sheriff. “I know there are people in my party who do it, and it makes me very ashamed; I unequivocally condemn it.

Using the existence of online abuse as a stick to beat your political opponents with, does nothing to address the underlying cause of division. Puerile sentiments resigning nasty tweets to different corners of Westminster is nothing short of a catalyst for further abuse. What really needs to be considered, are the motives behind the abuse that is almost becoming commonplace.

Murderous, racist and misogynistic rhetoric is not borne out of political disagreement, but rather the desire to suppress someone you don’t agree with. The essence of free speech is that it exists universally, and when fear and subordination are introduced to the discourse, a line is crossed.

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.

 

 

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 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 monetary impact, but can simply create a conversation where previously there has been stigma which 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.

#EdBallsDay & The Best of Political Tweets

 

Personal reputation masterstroke or fortunate blunder? That could be the tagline of Ed Balls’ entire life to date. Unfathomably worse at Twitter than he is at dancing, he has become a figure of public adoration over his good-natured bumbling. How very British.

So to celebrate Ed’s digital illiteracy, here is our list of the great and (mostly) awful of when Twitter meets Politics.

Balls or bust – the Political Tweet to end all Political Tweets. Never change, Mr Balls.

Every #EdBallsDay, children will leave a glass of milk and a pair of spandex leggings at the bottom of their bed. Then they will close their eyes and whisper ‘Ed Balls’ three times. If they’ve been good, Ed Balls will appear before them to perform a dance, before dashing off into the night to fight crime.

Optimistic to presume that Dirty Dave can summon the spirit of Thatcher considering that he can’t even remember which football team he is supposed to support.

The historic moment that the Republican Party began its love affair with Donald J. Trump.

Hot tip for 2017: Donald to launch his own dating app: Ivanka

I sincerely doubt that we will be offering our PR services to Ivanka. But believe us, nobody does PR/builds walls/runs integrated campaigns better than we do.

Okay?

Checkmate, Donald.

Soames: the inverse Batman of Twitter. Not the hero we need, but definitely the hero we deserve. Would highly recommend monitoring his feed for the ultimate Public School put-downs and the latest assault on ‘Leave’ voters – if he could aggressively ingest the whole lot of them, I’ll bet you he would.

Beautiful in its simplicity. This is the one time in her life that Hillary managed to connect with the electorate, which is deliciously ironic as it was blatantly one of her staffers who tweeted it. But I’m nitpicking, this is one of the all-time greats (570k retweets?!)

A tweet that spawned one of the greatest memes of our time: Ted Cruz is the Zodiac killer. We’ve lamented Ted and his aggressively untrustworthy eyebrows in the past. Could he yet hunt us down and exact vengeance? Yes he could. Do we regret everything? Yes we do.

A cursory glance at Twitter will show you that too many political insults lack creativity. ‘Trump/May are fascists!’ – dull. ‘Corbyn is a communist!’ Again, dull. Revealing Steve Bannon’s true identity as an ancient reptilian evil who stalks the under-realms? So. Much. Better. 

Ironically tweeted by the biggest donut on the planet.

‘Vote for me and I’ll hide in the bin outside of Margaret’s house and then scare the life out of her when she comes back from Sunday mass.’ Cleverly executed James, and you would have our vote, but marked down for not proof-reading.

No words.

https://twitter.com/jamesinlimbo/status/857340018716758017

Included solely on the premise that the return of Zac Goldsmith is the best comeback story since Lazarus.

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.

You tube, 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.

 

Instagram vs Snapchat: The Stories Debate

Another day, another social media update! On Tuesday, Instagram rolled out a new feature called Instagram Stories.

This feature allows users to upload photos and videos that will disappear automatically after 24 hours. ‘Stories’ sits at the top of your newsfeed, and you can bring your content to life with text and drawing tools. Sound familiar? Yes! That’s because it’s just like Snapchat.

Essentially, Instagram have copied the whole concept of Snapchat Stories. Once a place where you could only see the ‘highlights’, Instagram are ready to take on their fellow tech giant; swallowing their pride with this huge ephemeral curveball. In an interview with TechCrunch, Instagram’s CEO Kevin Systrom even said that Snapchat “deserve all the credit”.

But what does this mean for the future of Instagram and Snapchat? Reaction has been mixed online.

In favour of Instagram ?

“Good artists copy; great artists steal”, say Next Web who have revived the words of Picasso. Some say that Instagram has taken a concept built by Snapchat but “out-innovated” them with their own spin on the familiar feature. When you think about it, this feature is actually a perfect fit for Instagram. Ultimately, Instagram has made the feature more accessible and easier to use for a wider group of people and higher numbers of users; people who sometimes struggle with the current Snapchat model. In their official blog, Instagram said that now their users “don’t have to worry about overposting. Instead, you can bring your story to life in new ways with text and drawing tools. The photos and videos will disappear after 24 hours and won’t appear on your profile grid or in feed”. The new feature will be rolled out globally to both Android and iOS users over the next few weeks.

Instagram Stories offers something more – i.e. beautiful imagery and highlights; along with a raw, unedited look into daily lives. This is a move that could really bring Instagram to the forefront, to make sure it stays on top. The best of both worlds! Watch out, Snapchat.

Instagram Stories

In favour of Snapchat ?

We spoke recently about how Snapchat really is the app for innovation, and it still is. Snapchat pioneered the ‘Stories’ feature which has taken over the social media world, not to mention Snapchat ‘Memories’, ‘Geofilters’ and ‘Lenses’. Snapchat have been original with their product, a product which has contributed to the decline in “original sharing” via Facebook. Copying Snapchat is an extreme move by Instagram, one which is telling of the problems the app is facing. People have always liked Snapchat because of the freedom associated with it, it is a place where you don’t have to feel judged for posting like you might do on Instagram or Facebook. The new ephemeral feature on Instagram has basically confirmed that this type of sharing is the way forward. Snapchat have innovated before, and there is no doubt that they will do it again.

With a dedicated and loyal fan base, it is hard to see how Snapchat will suffer as a result of this move. Not to mention the fact that Instagram have annoyed many people with their recent algorithm change – ‘Stories’ has just added salt to the wound. With sentiment erring slightly on the negative side, could Instagram become the Bebo of our time?

As always in the world of tech and social media, we can never tell what’s around the corner. Who will reign supreme? Time will tell. In the meantime, the digital team at The PHA Group are looking forward to the next update from Snapchat…

 

 

Snapchat: The App for Innovation in Social Media Marketing

Snapchat Logo

Credit: REUTERS/Mike Segar

 

The world of social media is fast-paced and ever-changing. You never know when the latest update, trend or social media fad is going to kick off. Case in point: you might remember last week we posted a blog: ‘Make it Snappy: Brands Who Got Creative on Snapchat’. Within a couple of days of posting, Snapchat had already started to roll out its latest feature; one which could completely change the game altogether – Snapchat Memories. (Just when you started to get to grips with the app, eh?)

Snapchat are leading the industry in terms of innovation right now; not only have they managed to find something that is unique to them, they are also setting an example for other networks – who often scramble to follow suit whenever an update is made.

But I don’t get it, what is Snapchat?

Get downloading, it’s the fastest growing social network! For the uninitiated, let’s take it back to basics…

Snapchat is a mobile messaging app, and social media network, where users engage through short disappearing videos and photos known as ‘snaps’. This is different to all other social media because it is ephemeral. Users are able to create daily stories in 10-second max bursts which can be sent to friends privately, or viewed for up to 24 hours if submitted as a ‘Story’.

In May, Snapchat revealed that over 10 million Brits use the app on a daily basis. The app has exploded in use, recently overtaking Twitter in terms of daily users. Originally, content was completely raw and curated ‘in the now’. The founders of Snapchat say it is an app for “instant expression”. There is a certain ‘fear of missing out syndrome’ attached to Snapchat; limited viewing time on snaps makes users log in daily to view content. Clever move? I think so.

So what about Snapchat Memories? Are they, too, ephemeral?

In the past, Snapchat has encouraged instant communication and the sharing of moments as and when they happen, but now Snapchat also wants you to share your past. Memories does exactly what it says on the tin – it provides a way to save snaps and share old ones within a new section of the app. You guessed it – Snapchat Memories don’t disappear! This is a highly ambitious and significant move by the social media giant, as it takes on the likes of Facebook and Google by moving away from its ephemeral roots. In the meantime, other networks are moving to promote more real-time sharing.

Memories is probably one of the biggest updates to Snapchat in the company’s history (a mere 5 years!) Snapchat has always pitched itself as the app that didn’t store anything for long, but the introduction of the ‘save’, ‘replay’ and ‘stories’ features shows how this has gradually changed.

But what does this update mean overall? And how will this affect companies and brands who use Snapchat?

Initial feedback on Memories has been positive. The main effect could be that Memories will push users to think of Snapchat as their go-to camera app and photo storage space – and, wait for it, there is no cap on storage as of yet. It has yet to be seen, but this may become a problem for other image sharing sites like Instagram and Facebook.

Personally, I think it’s a win-win for Snapchat. While 18-24 year olds are Snapchat’s core base, a recent report in The Wall Street Journal said that 14% of US smartphone users over the age of 35 are now on the app, while 38% of smartphone users aged 25-34 have also signed up to the platform. The rate of growth amongst older audiences is high, and with that, there must be innovation and change to satisfy the audience base. Before dedicated Snapchat fans wince at the thoughts of change they must remember that Memories is essentially a compromise, and Snapchat have simply made another option available.

In terms of marketing, the introduction of Memories is a turning point for marketers looking to use the platform to increase brand awareness and reach new audiences. There is now flexibility to upload branded photos and previously curated content as you would on other platforms. As Tim Peterson of Marketing Land said: “brands will be able to take photos and videos that they had created for use elsewhere – be it print magazines, billboards, YouTube or TV – and syndicate them to Snapchat”.

Memories is not the only place where brands can realise the potential of Snapchat. Apart from having owned Snapchat accounts, brands can also tap into influencer marketing and geofilters. Geofilters are “a fun way to share where you are, or what you’re up to, by adding a fun overlay to your snap”. More and more brands and agencies are experimenting with on-demand Geofilters, where people and businesses design filters for specific physical spaces during set periods of time. This is a great way to increase brand awareness for a launch or major event, or even when a consumer visits a retailer or restaurant, for example. It takes just one day for filters to be approved. Win!

At The PHA Group, we recently created a bespoke Snapchat filter for our summer party and it went down a treat, with lots of engagement across the agency. We had a total of 3.1k views on the filter during the evening.

PHA Summer Party Snapchat FilterPHA Summer Party Snapchat FilterPHA Summer Party Snapchat Filter

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, what’s next?

Snapchat is a really exciting space at the moment, for personal and business users alike. I don’t know about you, but I absolutely love Snapchat right now. For me, Snapchat has always seemed like the most authentic social network. It’s a quick and easy way to be social, to learn and to be engaged by other people’s experiences and personalities. So far, the app hasn’t focused too deeply on numbers, with no follower counts. You and you only can see how many people viewed your content – so it’s real, and less of a popularity contest. As it grows, it is likely that there will be a more robust system for analytics introduced, but for now, the onus is on the content, rather than the numbers.

The app is a real platform for innovation right now, as if you don’t change you don’t grow. I believe more and more brands will jump on the Snapchat bandwagon this year as it has become more accessible, but let it be said – to be successful on Snapchat you must also be like the app itself – open to change and ready to meet the demands set by your audience.

How the #TubeStrike Can Stem the Loss of Public Sympathy

The strike has affected millions of commuters

This morning, like many of my friends and colleagues, I crawled out of bed an hour earlier to spend half an hour waiting for a bus that could manage to squeeze in a handful more frustrated passengers, to spend the next 45 minutes pressed up against my fellow Londoners with a metal bar below my ribs and a gentleman’s sandals repeatedly crushing my toes. I can’t say I’m a fan of the tube being down.

Over the last few days I have spent many a conversation lamenting the imminent temporary loss of my regular commute, and almost all my eye-rolling contemporaries have bemoaned the significant salaries that striking tube drivers earn for their work. It’s obviously hard to sympathise with our better-off neighbours when they disrupt an entire capital city. But, if they had so desired, could the unions have gained more public sympathy?

The biggest problem for tube workers in such an aim is the torrent of social media spawned quips and highly shareable stats that are flying around the Twittersphere. During the last tube strike, Facebook was littered with tables and graphs comparing the salaries and training conditions of tube drivers with paramedics and other health workers – or with teachers, firefighters and the police. The vast majority of conversations – both digital and ‘IRL’ – around the strikes parrot the same statistics that tube drivers on average earn nearly £50,000 and have up to 52 days holiday a year. Twitter and Facebook users aren’t alone in their outrage at well-paid tube personnel wreaking havoc on other working Londoners’ commutes – the media has consistently highlighted the pay package of tube drivers in their coverage of the recent union action. The BBC, for example, noted that “according to HM Treasury figures, the drivers’ starting salary of £49,673 means they earn more than 90% of the population.” No wonder everyone around us is annoyed.

Comparisons have been drawn between other essential professions.

Comparisons have been drawn between other essential professions.

But the overwhelming irritation at tube drivers’ pay has dwarfed the key issues for union members: TfL’s lack of clarity on work-life balance for employees and the details on the night shift conditions workers will be required to perform under. This message has been mostly lost on the public, who are generally steadfast in their annoyance at the drivers’ remuneration.

There have been a handful of articles which have tried to debunk certain misconceptions, and which have highlighted how the multi-faceted deals must either be rejected or accepted in full and are “not pick and mix offers”. But the majority of coverage easily stokes the fire of resentment that has been spreading across social media all week.

Whether or not it’s fair and proportionate to disrupt a whole city to make these points heard, it seems to me that the unions could have somewhat improved their chance for public sympathy if they gave a human face to the issues and effectively put the public in the drivers’ shoes. This isn’t easy – I’ve heard several friends announce that they’d kill to get £200 for a night shift, that they’d switch with tube drivers any day for their salary and holiday package. For many people that’s a fair point – but if any of us had signed up to one job and then were demanded to work nights, with only vague assurances on how many nights a year or how much sleep time we’d be afforded after each, we might be more sympathetic to the unions’ cause – even if we don’t support the full extent of their actions.

Some have rallied to back the strike.

Some have rallied to back the strike.

 

It’s possible to see the impact a real-life case study can have on changing stubborn minds. An open letter from a tube driver ahead of last month’s strikes gathered viral support when he explained on Facebook how the proposed measures would affect him personally:

Drivers have had their say.

Drivers have had their say.

The public can sympathise with this kind of personal account, which clearly outlines the possible impact of the terms then proposed. And the unions could go further in putting the public in the drivers’ shoes – highlighting working parents who would need extra overnight childcare to cover the possible many weeks of night shifts, for example. Demonstrating data on the importance of certainty and work-life balance to mental health, perhaps.

It’s no mean feat to draw sympathy from often worse-off Londoners who are directly disrupted by the unions’ actions. But focusing on the human lives and stories behind the issues, alongside being clear about the real-life impact of the proposals, might tease out understanding from even the most toe-crushed, sleep-deprived of commuters.