Category Archives: News

PRWeek Crisis Comms panel

How to deal with a PR crisis

If you’re a small business owner like me, it’s hard to imagine a time when one corporate mis-step might generate headlines. But a PR crisis can affect anyone, whatever the size of your organisation. It’s good to at least be aware of potential threats. What risks are you exposed to? What things could possibly go wrong? And how would you handle it if they did?

PRWeek’s Crisis Communications event on Wednesday (above) was a sharp reminder that none of us can ever take goodwill for granted.

Kirsten Walkom from Save the Children talked about how charities are currently struggling with the halo effect – presuming public trust in them will be higher than it actually is. This perception gap isn’t helping as the charity world faces an unprecedented series of crises: from Save The Children suffering legal action for rescuing migrants at sea to Amnesty International mistreating and bullying staff to the grim ongoing allegations against Oxfam.

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Selfie photo by Julian Gentilezza

Snapchat’s sociologist defends the selfie – but it’s not for the reasons you’d think

In 2010, Nathan Jurgenson was holed up at home in Washington DC writing his PhD thesis when he noticed something strange was happening. Two big snowstorms had hit the city, there had been nearly a metre of snow and DC was in shutdown.

“Everyone was posting these photos of the snow on Facebook. They were using this Hipstermatic app. It made the photos look like they were from the 1960s…full vintage photos.”

Back then Instagram had just launched, Snapchat hadn’t been invented and Hipstermatic was the cool new thing. Phone cameras were basic and the new filters were a great way to enhance images. But Jurgenson wasn’t interested so much in the photography as in the use of nostalgia:

“Why particularly vintage? Out of all the things you could do with a photo?”

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Women looking at security cameras by Matthew Henry

Why 2019 will be the year of ethical tech

For the last decade or so, we’ve been hearing a lot about big data.

“Data is the new oil!” said Clive Humby in 2006, after working on the Tesco Clubcard. And everyone agreed that data was a thing, and set off to find out how to make the most of it.

But the way in which our data is being harvested isn’t good. Because of course, since the early days of Tesco Clubcard, it always was our data that was the raw material: our decisions, our habits, our likes, the type of people we were and who we lived with.

These “insights” are now being used to drive psychological behaviour and we’re no longer talking just about marketing. We’ve moved beyond those clearly defined display ads. And way beyond which type of supermarket deal we might be interested in.

Politics and dark patterns

In her TED talk, sociologist Zeynep Tufekci says we’re building a dystopia just to make people click on ads (she’s a great speaker, well worth 20 minutes). Technologist Jaron Larnier refers to the big tech companies as “Siren servers” – they use beautiful things to mask sinister motives. Last October, Apple CEO Tim Cook warned EU regulators that personal data is being weaponised against users, calling for tougher privacy laws in both Europe and the US.

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ITV News at Ten Friday 7 December 2018

Do we all need to delete old tweets?

I was on ITV News at Ten on Friday, talking about Kevin Hart, The Oscars and social media.

Kevin Hart is an American comedian and actor who was all set to host next year’s Oscars when homophobic comments he’d tweeted in the past were resurfaced. Hart initially tried to hold on to his Academy Awards contract, but public pressure was too much. He was forced to apologise – and stepped down from hosting the Oscars on Friday.

I wasn’t asked to comment so much on the specific case as on the wider issue of historical tweets coming back to haunt us. The reporter wanted to know if we’re now living in a universe where no-one’s allowed to have an opinion on anything and all public figures must be squeaky clean.

Well – of course not. Life would be pretty boring if everyone was a cookie cutter copy of everyone else. And society isn’t well served by one-dimensional social media profiles which simply airbrush out what the people behind them are really thinking. Continue reading

What should employers include in a social media policy?

What should employers think about when writing a social media policy? How do you protect your brand? And how far are employees’ opinions your business? These were the questions posed by Richard Cook at the start of Monzo’s Open Office September on Tuesday.

It was great to be on the panel, along with journalists Holly Brockwell and Carl Anka and legal advisor Frances Coyle. Richard (a community manager at Monzo) chaired, and around 50 people attended. You can watch the full video above.

Damage limitation

It was a great debate, with loads of input from the audience, and some passionate contributions on all sides. The main theme that emerged was that it’s not so much brands as employees who need protection.

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Blog - working with design club

Why I’m working with Design Club

Even before the Cambridge Analytica story broke in March, public trust in social media was at an all-time low. The Edelman Trust Barometer published in January reported concern around bullying, extremist content and lack of transparency, with only a quarter of the UK population saying they’d trust social media as a source of information.

Cracking up

The seismic shift in the way we see social media was summed up nicely by a former Silicon Valley executive speaking on Radio 4 this week (The New Age of Capitalism: the Attention Economy). James Williams was working in search advertising at Google, when he realised things weren’t right:

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The BBC Breakfast studio in Manchester

Did Kylie Jenner kill Snapchat?

Last Wednesday evening celebrity Kylie Jenner tweeted that she wasn’t really using Snapchat any more. By Friday, Snap Inc’s share price had dropped $1.3billion and the popular news websites were screaming that Jenner had caused it all:

…and so on.

Around midday Friday I got an email from BBC Breakfast asking if I’d be prepared to come on and talk about celebrity and social media. Well, of course I would. So that’s how I came to be sitting in a studio in Manchester’s Media City at the sort of time most Saturdays I’d still be in bed, chatting to presenters Jon Kay and Rachel Burden, and showbiz reporter Lucy J Ford.

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Is Snapchat growing up?

Snap Inc has posted better than expected quarterly results. With its share price up 20 percent on the previous quarter, and daily users of its social platform Snapchat now at 187 million, the company seems to be defying critics who said it couldn’t coexist with Instagram.

Revenue is also up: the company took $286 million in advertising income in the year to December 2017. Snapchat recently simplified its advertising platform, making it easier for brands to access the network. These changes appear to be paying off.

Snapchat seems to be bucking the trend which has seen daily use fall at arch rival Facebook (owner of Instagram). At a time when social networks in general are coming under attack for failing to deal effectively with fake news and trolling, Snapchat’s focus on entertainment and ephemerality has clearly helped to shield it.

Snap Inc has been criticised in the past for aspects of its corporate culture. Its apparent lack of diversity and refusal to publish breakdowns of gender and ethnicity among its employees have led to the company being accused of arrogance, sexism and racism.

In 2014 Snap CEO Evan Spiegel came under attack when a series of offensive emails sent while he was at college were leaked online. He made a public apology. Last year, he married supermodel Miranda Kerr in a quiet ceremony. The couple are now expecting their first child. Maybe Snapchat, like its CEO, is finally growing up.

NB: If you were up bright and early on 7 February you might have caught me discussing these points in a live interview on BBC World Service Newsday.

Photo: Annie Spratt via Unsplash

Pepsi image wall in Brandwatch

Image search: the next generation of social listening

As video and images come to dominate social media, social listening tools need to adapt. It’s a sign of the visual times that Brandwatch is introducing logo recognition to its monitoring dashboard.

The new “Image Insights” tool (see this guide for info) allows users to find images shared on Twitter that contain their brand’s logo – or those of their competitors.

For big brands, this is exciting stuff.

If you’re Pepsi, for example, you’d be able to see that your logo has featured in more than 8 thousand images posted on Twitter in the last 28 days. The screenshot above shows a selection – this is exactly what Pepsi’s marketing team would see on their new Brandwatch dashboard.
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Vizia 2 featured content

Beautiful data visualisation – the way to employees’ hearts?

I did a 5 minute talk the other day as part of a Show and Tell. The talk was on the Twitter account I’d just re-launched, why I was doing it, and what I hoped to get out of it. After the talk one of the internal communications team came over and asked if he could put some of my slides up on the digital screens around the building.

That was great – a result – some engagement! And someone was actually listening to my talk. But of course I started thinking about how relatively unexciting the slides were and wishing I could put be putting something really eye-catching up on those screens.

It’s increasingly common for businesses and organisations to have display screens in their reception areas, lifts and other high-footfall parts of the building. This internal network (aka digital signage) needs content. And not bland corporate videos or 1984 style maxims either. These screens need something that grabs the attention, engages and entertains.

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