More than a pout: The power of the selfie

By Megan Linehan

Entering the grand open space of the Saatchi Gallery and turning left into the first exhibition room, you are met with an unusual sight- a Rembrandt self-portrait on a T.V. screen.

The first room of the From Selfie to Self-Expression reframes the masters for the modern era, placing portraits into a screen, next to a Huawei phone (the smartphone manufacturer who teamed up with the Saatchi Gallery for this exhibition) which encourages viewers to ‘like’ the picture a la Instagram. The growth of technology has changed the way we view images, and ultimately how we as a society behave, perfectly exemplified by the exhibit.

Suddenly with technology, the power of image is not the reserve of talented painters, of photographers who can afford film, or advertisers who can pay for a billboard. Nowadays, everyone has the power to express themselves, and share it with millions online. The exhibit explores this, not only reframing the masters, but also by placing them next to selfies created by Kris Jenner (the matriarch of the infamous Kardashian clan) and various memes that undoubtedly you have seen shared across the internet (including a man who looks remarkably like Jesus).

We are in an era of democratised expression and art, where technology has opened the floodgates of pouts and poses.  And its effects are not only seen in the exhibit content itself, but also in its attendants.

In one large room, a cacophony of voices bounce off the walls, as a projection of thousands of videos (or vlogs, if you’re down with the kids) are played on loop against the walls. While this is an impressive sight- it is not the only interesting thing in the room. I helped at least three different groups of people take pictures of their silhouettes against the walls, witnessed someone film a vlog against the wall with a selfie stick, and joined in the creation of excited Snapchats.

Technology has given us the chance to express ourselves and share our world view. While selfies are often blamed for society’s down fall, they can be a tool for sharing a moment that might have been lost - even if it is only because your eyeliner looks really good that day.

An image tells a thousand words and a selfie can be shared by millions, the selfie is everywhere. The selfie is a mode of communication that should not be ignored- it’s a medium used by all, from world renowned artists to your mother accidently opening the front facing camera. A selfie can be a joke between friends or a piece of art; it’s a bodily movement that has been elevated to be a key part of this era’s cultural zeitgeist. Such a statement is validated with this exhibit. With this exhibit, the selfie has been permanently placed as a part of our culture that isn’t something to look down on; it’s an art form for all.


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)

 

 


We went to meet YouTube superstars, and Jedward were EVERYWHERE. This is what we learned.

By Emily Barnes

On Saturday 13th July, we headed down to the second day of the UK’s biggest annual YouTube event, Summer In The City (SitC). Starting out as a small three-day gathering in London’s parks, SitC is now a huge convention, held every year at ExCel Centre, with thousands in attendance; not only to meet their favourite YouTubers, but to catch a range of panels and performances from an extensive programme covering everything from popularity, integrity and the creative process to mental health, fandom and LGBTQ+.

As an agency that uses social talent for a range of our clients and which values being hot on the pulse of how social platforms, their users and their content are always changing, we thought we’d head down on Saturday to lend an ear to some of the discussions.

Seeing so many people walking around with their arm outstretched, walking and talking to a camera is a strange experience- there were a few near collisions of camera-holding arms, which was bizarre to say the least. Some of those were snapping selfies with Jedward, who seemed ever-present and around every corner.  The crowd was certainly young- most were under 21, and many had waited in snaking queues for hours to meet their favourite social stars- testament that the YouTube celebrity is not dead.

JEDWARD
Wave em like you just dont hair

 

Apart from vowing never to get on a fairground ride whilst hungover, especially a ride like the Waltzers where ride assistants are actively trying to make you feel dizzy and nauseous, we put together some key SitC takeaways from our experience:

YouTube for good

More than ever, YouTubers are using their platform to open up discussions about issues on LGBT, mental health and internet safety. The weekend offered a whole host of panels on these types of issues, as did the stalls at the event. The YouTube For Good panel discussed how working with charities, organisations and brands on causes can be mutually beneficial, because they can signpost their audience to resources. However, YouTubers also mentioned how working with partners on videos that discuss specific causes can come up against similar tensions to regular sponsored videos, with a lack of creative control; it remains important that the cause matches the channel brand

Working with brands must be an equal partnership

On the ‘What is the point of YouTube’ panel (yes, that’s right),  all the panellists agreed that a trusting audience is key to not feeling pressured to compromise their content with things they aren’t really passionate about when working with brands. They explained that viewers must be seen as individuals, and is of utmost importance that the YouTuber retains an element of creative control in a sponsored post, to give their audience what they respect and admire and what keeps them watching their videos. If brands don’t respect this, they’re also compromising their own reputation as well as the creator's

Millions of views doesn’t mean quality or targeted engagement

Discussing popularity vs integrity, YouTuber Sammy Paul explained that working with YouTubers who have a smaller, more engaged subscriber base can offer better quality content that they have worked much longer on, and that ‘there is something to be said about getting hundreds of thousands of views on every video- who is watching that? It’s most likely a younger crowd. Instead, people are saying ‘Hm, that’s interesting’.’ Depending of course on the purpose and content of the video, for some YouTubers, creating content that doesn’t rack up millions of views but has taken longer to produce is better for their integrity as a creator

SITC2
Aspiring YouTubers promote their own channels using the latest technology

 

So, there we have it. Creator diversity is growing evermore, with different approaches to channels, content and working with brands and organisations.

What remains as important as ever, is that clients looking to work with YouTubers must consider their approach more carefully than ever, with a well-considered approach ending up mutually beneficial.

SITC3
These two were mobbed by fans.

 


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.


The Internet is freaking out about Talkshow. Here’s why brands should care

by Sarah Boulton

Thanks to Taylor Swift and her buddy Ed Sheeran everyone is talking about new text messaging app “Talkshow”. It’s been described as texting in public, only invited users can post, but anyone can watch.

Other ways I’ve so far seen it explained: “It’s like Periscope for texting”, “It’s Twitter with a twist”, “It’s the new Peach but better”. Riiiight.

Basically, the chat app lets users host message-based “Talkshows” about loads of different topics, from sports and politics to TV, music and entertainment. People notify followers when a Talkshow is live, encouraging anyone who’s watching to send messages, post reactions and GIFs or even join in as a co-host.

There has been reports of the platform crashing, so it appears that everyone is heading over to see what all the fuss is about. It’s just gone live on the iOS app store so join us in taking a look!

The question on everyone’s lips seems to be, is this THE new social networking platform, or is it just a flash in the pan that will go the way of the Dodo (or indeed the Peach messaging app).

We’ll be keeping our eye on it so you don’t have to, so follow our blog for future updates.


4 tips to fine-tune content to drive business leads

How much of your week do you dedicate to creating content for your business? Blogs, tweets, LinkedIn posts, email campaigns, website copy, credentials, reports. The list goes on, and if you’re going to invest time into making them, they should work as hard as they can for you. So we’ve come up with these little tips to fine-tune your content to make sure that they’re driving new business leads for your company.

  1. Host an event around your content. Nothing beats getting face-time with your prospective clients. So if your content is hot enough, launch it with some drinks for your clients and an opportunity to network with their peers. You’ll be surprised how well this works. One of our favourite events is the one hosted by the guys at Techdept. The Tech Off, a “Fight Club for Geeks”. It’s very creatively packaged (check out the website) and is aimed at marketing technologists and was so in demand, the Cannes Lions invited them to host a Tech Off event there.

 

  1. Eat, Sleep, Index, Repeat If you can create valuable insight into something your customers want and that changes all the time, do it over and over again and get famous for it, like The Economist’s Big Mac Index, to measure X. Our favourite example of this is from Prestige Purchasing, which works with the procurement directors of food service companies. As you can imagine, these guys are always interested in what’s happening with the price of things like cheese or fish. So Prestige Purchasing creates the annual Food Inflation Index, which it launches at an event. It’s so good, the BBC, Daily Telegraph and the Daily Mirror, along with all of the hospitality trade press have written about it (with our help, of course). Another one is Urban Airship’s Good Push Index, a report on which brands are using push notifications well.

 

  1. How you doin’? Bench-marking reports are lovely opportunity to name-check your prospects, if your team can invest the time. Pick a list of companies (the FTSE 100, the top 5 supermarkets or whatever) and benchmark them against something your company does. Use this to place feature articles, host masterclasses and for new business outreach to the companies mentioned. Who doesn’t want to hear how they’re performing against their peers and tips on how to beat their competitors? We love this banking app benchmarking report from Adaptive Labs. Simple and effective. 

 

  1. Seek and ye shall find – There are some topics that your customers are searching for all the time. So, why not provide a shot of inspiration with a blog post? Use Google’s Keyword Planner Tool, to find search volumes and create some content to fill that gap. Often, your customers are looking for examples of best practice, so a gallery format can work well. Here’s one from e-commerce platform Shopify, which lists 30 Beautiful and Creative e-commerce website designs. It appears top of Google when you search for ‘Best ecommerce sites’. Smart. And what’s that you say? This blog post? No, we wouldn’t do that, would we?