Tips for managing stress and imposter syndrome

By Adrian Ma

When it comes to mental health, PR doesn't get a good rep. In various reports it ranks in the top 10 most stressful careers out there.

Throughout my career, I've seen the casualties first hand. It's not pretty. I wanted to do something to safeguard the team's mental health, and here at Fanclub, we've been working with our in-house coach Tash (pictured).

Here she is to tell us a bit about her role, and what she does for us.

What’s your role here?

My role at Fanclub is about helping people to be the best version of themselves. I work with to them remove any interference that may be stopping them from achieving their full potential: from dealing with high pressure situations; to finessing client relationships and more smoothly negotiating team personalities.  Essentially it's about bolstering people's emotional understanding and awareness so they can feel increasingly strong, confident and comfortable within themselves to make the right decisions and excel at a higher level.   

What qualifies you for this? 

I worked in PR for over twelve years at companies including Hill & Knowlton and Freuds' before becoming a professional coach, so I understand the many trials and tribulations of the industry and the issues that affect people within it.  I have also put in the hours and gained an advanced practitioner qualification in Life Coaching and NLP with the Phil Parker Institute as well as doing additional courses to improve my knowledge with the Co-Active coaching school.

How do you do what you do? 

I always start of from the basic assumption that I'm OK and that the people I'm working with are OK too.  It's my view that labelling people is inherently counterproductive and that if employees are stuck or always butting heads with the same problem, then something about the way they are dealing with it needs to change, and I help facilitate that change.  As the saying goes: the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. So I get people to look at their issues in an entirely new way, to gain new ideas about how to work with and overcome them.

In your career, and in your practice, do you come across common issues in people who work in PR?

Absolutely, managing tricky client relationships, dealing with high stress situations and imposter syndrome are all very common. 

What advice would you give them for dealing with it? 

In terms of managing tricky client relationships it's key to put yourselves in their shoes.  We get too caught up in "me, myself and I" and can feel we are being attacked and disrespected by people.  But in most cases it's just not the case and many clients are just acting into the "script" of how they feel they should behave. What's key is to start giving people the tools to move away from reaction and into understanding.

With managing high stress situations it's about clearly identifying your triggers so you can become hyper aware of looking out for them and understand it's a pattern that can be hacked, not a helpless loop.

And with managing imposter syndrome it's about communication, communication, communication.  It's my belief that this so called epidemic of our age is caused by the strange social syndrome of feeling that talking about our insecurities is a weakness.  The sooner you have a group of employees together saying 'me too' the sooner you have a more relaxed, happy workforce that feels understood and part of a group, not like imposters. In fact, group coaching is the latest tool that I'm working on building out for my business clients.


Influencer marketing ROI

A recent report from Digiday which looked at influencer fraud, highlighted that a single day’s worth of Instagram posts tagged #sponsored or #ad was found to contain over 50 percent fake engagements. Of 118,007 comments, just 20,942 were not made by bot followers.

It’s not surprising that an increasingly competitive industry has fostered dirty tactics to help influencers lure in sponsorship deals. But, of course, bots don’t click, buy, comment or think; because they’re not real people.

As influencer marketing thrives and more marketers look to invest in the value of influencers in driving awareness and establishing genuine legitimacy, we see an increasing focus on using a plethora of data to establish the most effective collaboration, and, by proxy, the most engaging content. But as the landscape moves faster than many are able to keep up with, we must ask: are we focusing on the right data to get our money’s worth?

Influencer marketing demands a robust approach which uses real-time data to identify the best content creators to create sponsored content that truly resonates. Influencers themselves are under more scrutiny than ever- particularly given controversies around Logan Paul et al, and the imperative deep delve into historic content and performance.

But part of this process, and a box that is often left unticked, is close scrutiny of the influencer’s audience.

Without a clear indication that audiences could be potential customers, the content could (and is likely to) fall on deaf ears.

It’s widely understood that an influencer’s audience demographics are fundamental in identifying whether content will speak to the right people.  Depending on the content platform, there are many tools to help with this- Peg.co, for example, offers a breakdown of audience age, gender and location.

But we need to go deeper. We need to be looking at whether the audience is an audience at all.

Whilst it is certainly difficult to accurately determine fake followers, due to increasing sophistication of bots and changing privacy settings from the likes of Instagram and Twitter, there are tools available and manual processes to get a good grasp of credibility.

  1. Engagement rates
    This is a good indication of how many of their total followers are actually engaging with their content, and exploring whether their reach is valuable at all. Comments should represent about 2 percent of total engagement on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, according to Digiday.
  2. Comments
    If you find unrelated comments asking for likes, subscribers, or generally sound spammy, they are likely to come from automated bot accounts
  3. Follower growth
    If an influencer has an irregular or sudden spike in follower growth, it could mean that they have been purchased. Sites like Socialblade can help monitor this.
  4. General credibility tools
    There are a host of tools which do some of the above for you, by using AI to establish audience authenticity scores based on a combination of follower growth, engagement rates and followers who will actually see the content on an influencer’s feed. Hypeauditor, Influencerdb and Twitteraudit are examples of this.

 

These processes are imperative in moving away from impressive but ultimately meaningless metrics that so often entice brands, and naïve marketers.

It’s up to brands and agencies to invest in understanding these pitfalls and how to avoid them, if we are to work toward genuine ROI.


Fanclub's Top Podcasts You Need To Listen To Right Now

According to Rajar, the UK’s audio measurement company, 6.1 million adults listen to podcasts in every week. Do you?

 

We certainly love a good podcast here at Fanclub, so here a few of our favourites for you...

 

Adrian’s picks

Where to start…here are just a few to get you started that I listen to regularly - Tim Ferris Show, HBR IdeaCast, The Echo Chamber, and The Adam Buxton Podcast.

 

Emily’s picks

True Crime Garage is hosted by two guys who drink beer and discuss true crime cases. Even though they're sometimes a bit insensitive and crude, I really like the informal approach to each case and the conversations that come out of it. How To Curate Your Life talks to different creative entrepreneurs about their work-life balance. It's super interesting to hear women talk about their journey in business- including how honest they are about the hardships along the way.

 

Georgie’s pick

Sword and Scale – because I’m really into murder (I’m not a psychopath).

 

Joey’s pick

The Heatwave - it’s DJ mix sets and radio shows playing Bashment music - if you want to feel like you’re at Notting Hill Carnival all year round, these are for you.

 

Jonny’s picks

How I Built This is my go-to for awesome founder stories from Patagonia’s Yvon Chouinard to Power Rangers Haim Saban. City AM’s Unregulated is a great for anecdotes from entrepreneurs too. And for a more light-hearted listen, The Food Programme have great shows, featuring interviews, trends and stories on everything related to food.

 

Matt’s pick

James O’Brien is unmissable in Unfiltered by Joe. With guests including Robert Webb, Eric Cantona and Alistair Campbell, you can be sure to get an atypically hard-hitting and heart-warming accompaniment to any commute, coffee or Cantona love-in.

 

Megan’s picks

My Brother, My Brother And Me - a hilarious and silly advice show with advice that should never be followed. I really enjoy the infamous Clt Alt Delete - interviews each week and some really interesting conversations.

 

Naomi’s picks

The High Low - perfectly combining serious, important conversations such as the #MeToo movement, the refugee crisis, and current political topics, with light-hearted but nearly as important conversations (at least to me…) about the Kardashians, Taylor Swift and prosecco.


Algorithms as the new editors

By Adrian Ma

If you catch me in an 'in-between' moment, you'll most likely find me scrolling through one of my feeds on Facebook or Instagram. It was while scrolling through Facebook that I learned of the death of Delores O'Riordan from the Cranberries. In fact, it's where I discover a lot of news.

I'm not alone in here. A Reuters study points out, 51% of us are now using social media as a news source, which marks a shift in news and content discovery that we need to build into our own working practices.

the role of gatekeeper to news stories is falling out of the hands of editors, and into the hands of the algorithms that promote organic content on our feeds on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn etc.

I don’t think that algorithms will completely replace editors. I certainly hope not, anyway (that’s another topic). But as PRs, it’s our role to manage the visibility of brand reputation, and because of this, we need to adapt our way of working to ensure that we’re considering the role of the social algorithm in content discovery.

Let’s use the Facebook algorithm as an example. Facebook breaks down the steps to its newsfeed algorithm into four stages

  1. Inventory – Facebook takes an inventory of the stories that you and your friends have posted and the pages you follow
  2. Signals – Facebook considers all data available to determine how interested you will be in a story (these include who posted a story and how much engagement it has had)
  3. Predictions – Facebook then uses signals to make a prediction to calculate how probably you are to read, comment or share a story
  4. Score – Facebook generates a ‘relevancy’ score

 

This process happens every time you open Facebook, and determines what your feed looks like.

Changes that Facebook announced recently may, of course, change all this. But the one thing that remains clear is that if you’re working on a story that you want to be discovered, it’s important to consider the role of ‘Signals’ in discovery. This is true of any social media platform and the algorithms work in very similar ways.

Mainly, this means that if you want your content (whether it be a piece of coverage, or something direct from a brand) to be seen, it’s got to be something that receives engagement.

Of course, there are those that seek to ‘game’ these algorithms. I’ve known Instagram influencers to create WhatsApp groups (or ‘Pods’, as they call them), with fellow influencers to announce when a piece of content is posted, so that they can all ‘like’ and ‘comment’ on it at the same time in the hope that it will increase visibility.

We’re not suggesting that you adopt these practices. In the long term, these algorithms always wise up to them, and you’d run the risk of being penalised as a result of these ‘Black Hat’ practices.

But at the very least, you should be considering your role after a piece of coverage has been landed, or a piece of content is live. Life doesn’t stop with coverage. In fact, for many of our clients, it’s just the start and it's our job to work with them to help get it discovered.

For more about Facebook’s algorithm, check out this article on Social Examiner.


Dates for your 2017 calendar

From National Pie Week to Learn Your Name in Morse Code Day, it can be hard to keep up with what’s happening and what’s important.

But, don’t fear! We’ve poured over the calendars, and found the key dates every PR person needs to know for 2017 as well as a few extras to help spark those creative ideas.

You can thank us later! (Perhaps with a puppy on National Dog Day in August).

 

January:

Blue Monday (16th)

National Hug Day (21st)

Chinese New Year (28th)

 

February:

World Cancer Day (4th)

National Pizza Day (9th)

Valentine’s Day (14th)

The Oscars (26th)

Mobile World Congress (27th – 2nd March)

Pancake Day (28th)

 

March:

St David’s Day (1st)

British Pie Week (6th – 12th)

International Women’s Day (8th)

Beauty and the Beast film release (17th)

International Day of Happiness (20th)

CeBit (20th – 24th)

Mother’s Day (26th)

 

April:

April Fools Day (1st)

Good Friday (14th)

Easter Sunday (16th)

Easter Monday (17th)

Facebook F8 (18th – 19th)

Queen Elizabeth 2nd birthday (21st)

London Marathon, St Georges Day and Shakespeare Day (23rd)

 

May:

Eurovision (13th)

 

June:

UEFA Champions League Final (3rd)
Apple WWDC 2017 Keynote Address – Info TBC (12th)

Father’s Day (18th)

Glastonbury Festival (21st – 25th)

Royal Ascot (21st – 24th)

 

July:

Tour de France (1st – 23rd)

Wimbledon (3rd -16th)

British Golfing Open (20th – 23rd)

 

August:

Edinburgh Fringe (4th – 28th)

International Friendship Day (7th)

Film release: Emojimovie (11th)

Notting Hill Carnival (also National Dog Day) (26th – 27th)

 

September:

IFA, Berlin (1st – 6th)

International Day of Peace (21st)

Jeans for Genes Day (23rd)

 

October:

LinkedIn’s Talent Connect (3rd – 5th)

National Work Life Week (3rd – 7th)

National Animal Day (4th)

World Smile Day (6th)

International Chocolate Week and International Curry Week (9th – 15th)

HR Technology Conference (10th – 13th)

International Baking Week (16th – 22nd)

World Food Day (16th)

Halloween (31st)

 

November:

World Vegan Day (1st)

Guy Fawkes (5th)

Remembrance Sunday (12th)

World Kindness Day (13th)

International Men’s Day (19th)

Universal Children’s Day (20th)

Road Safety Week (21st – 27th)

Thanksgiving (23rd)

Black Friday (24th)

Cyber Monday (27th)

St Andrews Day (30th)

 

December:

First day of advent (3rd)

Hanukkah (13th – 20th)

Film release: Star Wars (15th)

Christmas Eve (24th)

Christmas Day (25th)

Boxing Day (26th)

New Year’s Eve (31st)

 

 


How to help clients be ‘brave’

By Sarah Boulton

The Oxford definition of brave is: “to be ready to face and endure danger or pain; showing courage”.

Sounds pretty intimidating, and sometimes brave PR and marketing ideas can feel a little that way to a client. Clients often have ambitions to be brave, but as the definition alludes to, being brave ultimately means taking some form of risk, which presents challenges for internal buy-in. Therefore, when taking a brave idea to a client in 2016 the process needs to be handled delicately and not bull-dozed through.

From creating the Game of Thrones’ Iron Throne out of adult toys, to making the world’s largest emoji crop circle, we like to help our clients be brave, and we believe that there are some simple steps to ensure that the process of getting brave ideas considered and signed off is pain-free for the client, and for the agency.

Ultimately building an authentic relationship with a client is key to getting a creatively bold idea to the point where it will see the light of day, so here are our top tips to get to that point:

Get the basics right

Sounds obvious and a bit old school, but nailing all the basics of client management helps to build trust. Show your client that your account team is a professional and well-oiled machine: get reports over on time, make sure meeting rooms are set-up for catch-ups etc. Although it is a simple argument, it will be the make or break of a relationship, and when it comes to putting forward bold ideas trust in the team will ultimately give the client confidence to take the leap into the unknown with you.

Not all briefs need to be brave

A scattergun approach to brave ideas is never recommended. Work together as an agency and client to spot the right opportunity that is beneficial for the client and for the audience. Don’t take a risk just for the sake of it. A brave idea comes with an element of risk and therefore needs to be considered carefully and done at the right time for the right campaign.

Foster a ‘brave’ team

With a high-risk idea there are bound to be many bumps in the road and having a robust, authentic team and relationship with the client means that you are more likely to get through them. Once this ‘brave’ team is assembled it needs to be managed lightly and every single person in that team needs to be capable of having a client-facing conversation, with everyone client-side, including other channel owners. Everyone should be visible on the account and everyone should inspire confidence in the client.

Avoid the BS

Finally, one of the biggest moments in the life of a creatively brave idea is the client presentation. My main tip here would be to avoid at all costs a ‘ta da’ approach. The trick is to position the idea so it doesn’t look as though you have had an insane rush of blood to the head and got a bit over-excited, but to make it look like it is a reasonable decision. No client likes a hard sell, be honest, tell them about the ideas strengths but look the risks in the eye. Brave work is inherently risky so don’t pretend there isn’t any, just show that you have thought them through.

No chill

Last but not least, don’t relax. Once the presentation is done run with it and keep the momentum. The hard work starts from here on in, and remember that brave ideas require brave people. Be brave.

We’ve been lucky enough to work with some fantastically brave clients that have allowed us to bring our bold and creative ideas to life, drop us an email if you’d like to hear more: Hello@fanclubpr.com.

 


Five 2016 sporting campaigns at the top of their game

By Joey Green

June and July saw Euro 2016 and Wimbledon hitting our screens, which was an emotional roller-coaster to say the least.

We saw England’s embarrassing exit from the Euros 2016 AKA Brexit 2.0, Murray’s Wimbledon win, Iceland’s terrifying Viking clap (it’s why we lost, right? Riiight?) and the infamous scratch and sniff incident from Germany boss Joachim Low, bleeugh.

However, we also got to see brands utilising the events of the year so far, to engage consumers. With big sporting events like these, it’s inevitable that many brands want to jump on the bandwagon. As Rio 2016 approaches, let’s see who cut through with the most inspiring and creative campaigns?

Carlsberg

We’re a big fan of Christ Kamara in this office so when Carlsberg packed him off on the tube, dressed as an older gentleman to reward unsuspecting tube travellers who offered up their seat with tickets, we loved it. Part of the ‘If Carlsberg did substitutions’ campaign, it’s funny, it’s heart-warming, it tackles an on-going discussion about offering seats and it got a tonne of coverage. Kudos to Carlsberg.

Evian 

In order to engage Wimbledon fans and those that like to shake their bootay, Evian launched their ‘Wimbledon Wiggle’ (a move inspired by tennis players) campaign where they asked consumers to send in moves, which were posted on the Evian Facebook page. Here at Fanclub, we love a campaign which utilises user-generated content and the likes of Jonathan Ross, Mollie King and Holly Willoughby all got involved with the wiggle.

Copa 90

Bringing together football and current technology trends, Copa 90 created a chatbot specifically for Euro 2016 to keep fans in the know throughout. Content included everything from guides to articles. Although not in-your-face creative, we like the use of new technology trends to reach an engaged audience and actually provide value, the innovative idea received a lot of pick-up in the tech press.

Orange

Continuing with the innovation theme (oh, we do love to see how people use data), we want to give a nod to Orange who analysed each day’s tweets during Euro 2016 to see which nation’s hashtag was used the most and lit up the Eiffel tower in that team’s colours. Again, use of data, a landmark, and some great colours, made a lovely GIF.

Morrisons

After Andy Murray took home the men’s singles title at Wimbledon, Morrisons rebranded its Wimbledon store to Murriwins, complete with sign. Although the store did it before after Murray’s 2013 win, you have to give some credit for recycling a great, quick-fire idea (and hopefully the sign).

With Wimbledon and Euro 2016 out the way, we’re looking forward to seeing what Rio 2016 will bring.


Does PR work on Reddit?

How to tackle the Wild West of a reluctant social community, by Emily Barnes

For brands, Reddit it is new and relatively unchartered territory- and for good reason.

For those who need a quick briefing, the social news networking site is a space where registered users share news, thoughts or images as either links or user-generated content, which are posted to areas of interest called “subreddits”; with topics ranging from worldnews, movies, politics and gaming (it even has a subreddit for PR pros) to more niche subreddits like the ever popular ExplainLikeImFive (does what it says on the tin). Posts can be voted up or down by other users, with the most popular content going to the front page of that subreddit and potentially of the whole site.

You might’ve seen Reddit gain traction in mainstream media; mostly thrown around in publications like The Huffington Post and Daily Mail who use the more sensational user-generated content for their own stories. The self-proclaimed “front page of the internet” is a monumental platform for discussion and content-sharing, with front-page content going way beyond Reddit’s 234 million unique users and into viral territory. Access to so many engaged users all over the world is an amazing opportunity for PRs to learn more about their clients’ demographic as well as to implement some clever campaign tactics.

But Reddit users, or ‘Redditors’, are notoriously savvy to bullshit. Reddit is fundamentally a frank and honest space that users understandably want to keep that way, and self-promotion is rejected with particular hostility. It goes without saying that employing Reddit as a brand or representative has to consider a careful, honest and informal approach.

So, how do we crack a quick-witted userbase with a reputation for pitchfork wielding scepticism of corporate activity on the site, and use Reddit productively for PR? Don’t be scared- it’s not all bad. Let’s look at how PR fits in.

  1. Research

Since Reddit is essentially people talking about pretty much every topic you can think of, it’s a great go-to for looking at sentiment on a topic, brand or person- or simply learning about them.

When looking at brand sentiment, Reddit is also a great place to check on customer service- when a redditor voiced his anger at being ignored by Samsung after his phone battery melted, a rep from HTC offered to send him a brand new HTC phone on the condition that if Samsung replaced his old one, he donate it to charity. The community loved it.

The site’s structure and function make it a fantastic way to talk reach otherwise hidden, niche audiences, which can be great for pitch research, for example. Use this scope to access focus groups that would have marketers chomping at the bit, including experts and professionals as well as consumers, to impress prospective clients and keep your finger on the pulse for current ones.

  1. Get involved in discussion, or start one

Bear in mind that Redditors are famously creative, witty and honest, use this to you advantage by hosting a discussion as part of your research, as part of a campaign or simply for brand awareness. Transamerica (whose reps also happened to be actual redditors)  launched a financial advice session for users in a personal finance subreddit, which went down particularly well.

  1. Brand image and reputation

A go-to PR channel is an AMA (ask me anything); which is essentially an online press conference for your client that shows honesty and transparency through an informal Q&A session. Ben and Jerry (of Ben and Jerry’s, of course) even developed a new ice cream flavour as a result of theirs.  As the name suggests, the consensus is that your client can be asked anything, so be prepared and don’t push back.

We’ll leave you with some friendly and cautious advice:

Think and post like a user and not like a brand

Be transparent, informal and genuine. Think like a user- from the types of questions you’re asking to the way you word your posts. Relax and strip away the buzzwords- it’s not often you feel obligated to do that in PR!

Play by the rules

Each subreddit has its own rules and guidelines for posting and commenting. Ensure you’re familiar with these, else you’ll get booted out by the mods and, if you’re really foolish, you’ll be banned.

Have a play around

As with any new platform, it’s important to explore for a while to get to grips with functionality and user culture. Non-posters are known as ‘lurkers’; get lurking, you creep. Even better, emerge from the darkness and get involved early to establish yourself on a non-business level. If you immediately jump in with your PR hat on, you’ll get thrown right back out. Take it as a warning!

And lastly, if you’ve got places to be and want a condensed version of how to use Reddit as a brand you can read its official ‘brandiquette’ guide, or, if you’re a PR or journo, the pressiquette guide is worth a read.  You’re welcome.


‘Don’t kill the new biz prospect’, And other tips from AbFab

By Georgie Travis

We had a team night out this week to see the eagerly anticipated Ab-Fab film.  As a bunch of PR professionals, dressed in knock-off Lacroix, oversized sunnies and fluffy sliders it seemed fitting to preface the showing with a steady bar crawl and slew of prosecco; off to a good start then.

Booze and pizza aside, the thinly-veiled ‘purpose’ of seeing Ab Fab was to gain a few pearls of wisdom from Eddie and co. on how to run a ‘successful’ PR business.

We braced ourselves; the characters were rumoured to be based on the antics of PR luminary Lynne Franks, who captured the zeitgeist of London in the eighties with her party planning prowess and representation of London’s elite. What we got was 90 minutes of PR mis-haps, fits of laughter and a whole long list of what NOT to do. And here they are.

  1. Don’t push a new business prospect off a balcony (especially a national treasure such as Kate Moss)
  2. Client retention is key. Don’t wind up your existing ones or attempt to hide from them by pretending to be manakins
  3. For event success, the recipe is as follows: obscure fashion designer + ridiculous, hard to pronounce name= surefire hit; the fashion masses will flock
  4. Keep budgets in check- you don’t want to be stuck without any of that ‘hand money’ for emergency situations
  5. Never underestimate the power of the PA, however flaky she may seem

 

The film was belly-laugh funny, with enough celebrity and fashion-world cameos to fill the guest list of Patsy’s next LFW pardee, and then some. The fashion didn’t disappoint either, with outfits from London’s emerging fashion darlings Shrimps, Charlotte Simone, Ashish and Anya Hindmarch taking centre stage.

Favourite cameo? It’s a toss-up between Rebel Wilson’s unexpected turn as a passive aggressive air stewardess and of course, Queen Kate, ever so elegantly tumbling off the side of a building into the Thames, only to appear days later wondering where the party was at.

Sweeties, you simply must see it!


Five things I took from the Brands as Publishers talk at London Tech Week

By Joey Green

Sarah and I headed down to Hackey House during London Tech Week to listen to Mary Ellen Dugan, WP Engine, Paul Mikhailoff, Forbes, and Scott Wilkinson, Virgin Media talk about brands as publishers, all moderated by the very personable Julian Blake, Digital Agenda.

Quality content and placement is critical

You might think ‘well, duh’ but it’s surprising how many brands a) don’t produce enough content and b) don’t put enough effort into it and c) don’t think about where and what time they’re placing it. As Mary said, brands need a unique perspective, they need their own content and it needs to be delivered continuously to build customer loyalty. Forbes famously said ‘publish or perish’ before launching a place where brands can publish their content onto the Forbes website. A conversation will happen whether a brand is involved or not and so brands really should get involved.  The success of the content is down to its quality and audiences expect effort to be made if they’re going to engage with it.

In terms of placement, grown-up brands understand human psychology and will respect the demographic of the audience and where they’re consuming the content – whether it’s their own customers on their own channels or whether it’s Forbes’ readership. Forbes also help brands to learn to use data, something which is critical if you want engagement. Understanding channels and timings is also vital and comes with using data correctly - long-form content doesn’t work late at night when everyone’s on their phones instead of their desktops and posting ten Instragram shots in a row is an unwritten no no.

Don’t try and bullshit your audience

Although people are more willing to engage with a brand’s content (providing its of a good quality) they certainly don’t like it when you try and bullshit them with fake stuff. Audiences are savvy nowadays, more than ever before, and they know when content has an agenda so don’t bother to try and trick them. Paul said that brands need to move away from a glossy façade and start representing the people – he clarified that brands he sees that publish the best content are the ones who allow their employees to be thought leaders. We agree. Having Jeff from HR take over the brand’s Twitter for the day and post pictures of his cats and terrible yet great puns will make content more authentic and more real and in return audiences will trust the brand more. On of our clients, Tesco Mobile is great at having a funny, personable Twitter presence and often gets covered in the likes of Buzzfeed for it.

Equally, the likes of Forbes doesn’t try to hide anything from their audience and doesn’t dress up a brand’s content as journalism. If content is coming from a brand then they make that clear – according to Paul this doesn’t affect results either, a recent article from a brand received over one million views and counting.

Red Bull sets the bar high

All panellists agreed that Red Bull is at the forefront of brands as publishers. People are not only willing to engage with the content Red Bull produces but actively seek it out. Every campaign is a success – people want to know about it and journalists want to write about it – it’s one of the best examples of how decent content can deliver earned media and results.

Branded content’ is not the same thing as brands delivering content

The term ‘branded content’ doesn’t sit well with Scott as it suggests that its self-serving to the brand, not the audience, which isn’t the case anymore if you do it properly. Scott believes, and we agree, that the future will see branded content become smoother and smoother moving toward brand’s producing content as a natural thing. Could certain brand’s blogs overtake news sites? We’re not sure but it’s certainly possible. On one side, a journalist is still more trusted by the public than a brand’s employee but Red Bull, for example, regularly releases news and is arguably no less of an online publication than a sports or music site. It also boasts around 850k users per month yet isn’t listed on the PRs best friend, Gorkana. There’s still two sides to the story but we could see this changing in the next five years.

Content should be at the heart of everything

Content should be at the heart of your campaign, according to Scott from Virgin Media Business and we at Fanclub couldn’t agree more. Scott talked us through how the ‘Pitch to rich’ (now Voom) which produced tonnes of user-generated content and took Virgin Media Business from 12pc awareness to 45pc awareness over just two years.