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.


WWDC 2016: Key points & reactions

By Sarah Boulton

It was Apple’s keynote event in San Francisco last night, kicking off its annual Worldwide Developer Conference. We’ve scraped the papers for the most important points and put them all in one place for you – thank us later!

Chief executive Tim Cook and fellow executives revealed software updates for all of Apple's products - iPhone, iPad, Mac computers, Apple Watch and Apple TV - with Mr Cook saying the company's work "should lift humanity".

Despite Cook’s inspiring statement some of the tech trades were underwhelmed with the announcements, with Gizmodo in particular claiming that most of the news from the developer’s conference wasn’t too “earth-shattering”. Although they admitted you “could sense an undeniable change in vision—Apple is finally opening up”.

This can be seen most in the annual refresh of the mobile operating system which saw iOS 10 unveiled. Siri has been opened up to third-party developers for the first time, letting users book Ubers, send WeChat messages, and watch sports, all by asking Siri to do it for them – finally making it a genuinely useful assistant some would argue!

The most prominent feature of iOS 10 according to the Daily Telegraph revolves around the Messages app, which has seen its interactivity expanded. Users “will be able to replace words with emoji in a single tap, and send handwritten notes, while special ‘invisible ink’ messages will appear when the screen is swiped, and animations can be added to a conversation that fill the entire screen.”

Other key announcements to note, MacOS replaces OS X and is called macOS Sierra in this iteration. Siri, Apple’s personal assistant, will come to desktop and laptop computers for the first time, as has the ability to pay using Apple Pay.

WatchOS and TV OS have been redesigned too, with the Apple Watch becoming faster and more health-focused, and TV gaining enhanced search.

Big brand keynotes such as Apple’s WWDC offer a perfect opportunity for tech companies and experts in the area to provide commentary – news hijacking as it’s called in PR – do drop us a line if you’d like to speak to us about how we would do this for your business. Email: hello@fanclubpr.com.