Announcing Brazil’s newest client: Wires. A new brand of sunglasses, Wires is a creative combination of ancient African wire craft, British design and Swiss technology. Teaming up with supermodel Lily Cole and her business impossible, Wires will provide a healthy income to skilful workers in Zimbabwe.Read More
One event – one win, as this year’s awards season kicks off.
It seems just days ago when we were crafting our entries, and now we’ve already conquered the first 2015 awards of the season, winning the best Financial Services Campaign of the Year at the PRmoment awards this month.Read More
Google has recently closed its Google Reader service: cue outrage and dismay from its legions of fans across social media. The response reached such hysteria that you could have been forgiven for mistaking it for a cruel personal tragedy or a national bereavement. And yet, on some level, this was a response entirely appropriate for Google’s decision.
Since Monday 1 July 2013, the official date of Google Reader’s demise, there has been much debate about Google’s motivation. The official line was that user numbers had dropped and showed little sign of resurgence. But this just doesn’t ring true. The sheer passion in the aftermath of Reader suggests a loyal and engaged community of users and there’s a whole host of Google products which survive without significant traffic – have you ever actually met someone who uses Google Schemer? (Yes, it does exist.)
Much more likely is that Google were not able to turn Google Reader into a something that could make money. In itself, this simply adheres to all existing precepts of business. But it goes deeper than that. Google Reader was an online portal for news feeds from across the internet, a direct connection between you and what you wanted to read. Google was the beneficent facilitator, nothing more. That was no longer enough. The closure of Google Reader is confirmation that Google is turning its back on anything it cannot monetise.
Google’s search engine, and its reader product, epitomised the open, optimistic and connected potential of the internet – the very ideals which Google pioneered so successfully in the first place. Instead, mimicking Facebook, Google is desperately striving to channel all online activity through its own URLs. To achieve the highest possible revenue, Google is trying to own the internet, and the illusion that tech giants are helping their users is beginning to evaporate.
2013 will surely be remembered as the year the internet turned against its users. PRISM has revealed the true extent to which governments have their online citizens under surveillance, the discontent about institutionalised personal data theft is reaching unprecedented volumes and ecommerce seems to be an enormous exercise in tax evasion. Lest we forget, the internet belongs to everyone, not just a moneyed few.
And consumers are refusing to play this game anymore. Alternatives are emerging: Brazil is working with several companies who have championed the rights of the online population. HideMyAss.com, a VPN provider, is protecting people from online surveillance and targeted advertising whilst new start-up, Handshake.uk.com, is putting control of personal data back in the hands of the consumer.
People were right to rail against the closure of Google Reader because it is only the beginning. The public, and the tech start-up community, must make Google remember who the internet belongs to.Read More
As Tony Montana nearly said, “In this business, you gotta get the fans first. Then, when you get the fans, you get the power”.
Self-styled social media experts have taken this to heart, dedicating all their efforts to building up armies of followers and becoming the bane of many a Twitter feed, divulging such well-kept industry secrets as ‘Twitter is important’ or ‘Facebook is an essential platform’ to their hundreds of thousands of followers. The real question is this: how on earth do these guys build up such an enormous army of followers without tweeting anything of interest?
This brings us neatly to the curious case of Santiago Swallow: the 42 two year old, Mexican-born, American quickly became the darling of the tech world. He gave speeches about social media at SXSW and at TED, and his forthcoming book was to ‘define a generation’. His follower count rose sharply to 85,000 on Twitter; prominent journalists and bloggers were hailing him as a social media messiah. The only problem was, he didn’t exist.
A high number of Twitter followers can be a red herring. There are numerous companies that sell followers for a small fee (1p per follower appears to be the going rate), allowing people and businesses to seem more important or popular than they really are. A recent story saw Justin Bieber exposed for having nearly 20 million fake followers. Unlike Bieber though, Santiago Swallow was a creation, and leant heavily on fake followers to build up credibility.
A British technology expert, Kevin Ashton, created Santiago as a way to show how easily the internet can be tricked, and if Kevin Ashton managed it in his spare time, you can bet that more dedicated fraudsters will have done better jobs which will be undiscovered to this day. Why would anyone do such a thing? It’s simple: followers mean power, and a person who is perceived to have an audience of millions appears to be more influential than someone tweeting to hundreds. It’s balderdash of course, as influence is affected by much more than follower numbers, but as Santiago Swallow demonstrates, it’s surprisingly easy to pull the wool over peoples’ eyes. The lesson: don’t put too much faith in follower counts!
Brazil announces that it has been appointed the PR agency for Privax, the global tech security firm behind the successful Hide My Ass (HMA) Virtual Private Network service. The agency’s brief is to develop an on and offline media relations strategy to expand HMA’s current user base of seven million individuals world-wide.
Founded in 2005 by Jack Cator, Privax is now a fast-growing, multi-million pound international business. It provides users access to secure proxy servers which completely hides personal details from potential hackers, online identity thieves and others who may be monitoring personal online activity. The company offers both free and subscription-based services, and has plans to introduce new privacy-based services throughout 2013.
Brazil will take on the task of increase understanding of the businesses offering while educating general internet users of the risks and importance of online security in the vulnerable online world we live in.
Danvers Baillieu, COO of Hide My Ass, commented: “The business has grown exponentially over the years and it has reached a stage whereby we need reliable, expert help to develop the brand and what it stands for. Brazil was always on our radar as we know their experience in the sector is extremely strong so we’re delighted to be working with them at such an exciting time for the business.”
Joshua Van Raalte, chief executive at Brazil, said: “Privax is at the forefront of online security so to be we’re excited to be working with them to help shape how consumers use the internet in a secure way. It’s a market we know very well so we’re looking forward to combining our expertise with the innovation offered by Privax.”Read More
While personal finance brands have been slower to embrace social media than brands in other sectors, there’s no shortage of commentators shouting about the big, general reasons for using social media, normally focusing on engagement. That’s not all there is to it though – while there are some obvious reasons to use social media, there are lots of unsung benefits. Here are the ones we think are most interesting:
1) Perceived legitimacy
Numbers aren’t everything, but they do make a brand look good – the more people appear to trust you, the better. There’s a trend at the moment for self-styled ‘social media gurus’ to boldly proclaim that “numbers don’t matter”, and while this is true to an extent (they’re certainly not the ultimate goal), numbers do count. Engagement is crucial, but having a few zeroes at the end of your fan/follower count makes a company appear more legitimate to the public. Imagine searching for a bank and finding a patchy page with a handful of followers, or worse still, a fake page put up by someone looking to damage the bank’s image – not a good first impression. Get a page up there, make it look good and earn some followers!
2) Sounding board for new ideas and product development
While you shouldn’t expect Facebook and Twitter to render detailed research redundant, they can actually be pretty useful if you want to find something out. What do people think of your website? Do they like the spokesperson you’re considering using? There are some big caveats – most importantly, your fans aren’t necessarily your customers or target audience – but it’s a great (free) way of testing the waters.
Anyone not using social media is missing a trick when it comes to SEO. Neil Jackson at iProspect, explains: “Today we are not only seeing social media activity featuring in Google search results (think Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest) but are also directly influencing the results. As Social Media has grown in use, we are moving to a situation where ‘votes’ which come from inbound links may be outweighed by ‘sentiment’, sourced from social media.”
As search engines such as Google place more and more value on social media and less on traditional links, brands that don’t make good use of social media risk being left behind.
4) Control the conversation
“We’re not on social media because we don’t want to create a hub for people to complain about us publicly”. Ever heard that one before? This excuse shows a misunderstanding: whether or not a business has a Facebook page, people will complain about it. HMRC doesn’t have a Facebook page, but that certainly doesn’t stop people complaining about it in print, in person and of course on social media. What it does preclude is HMRC responding to complaints. Paradoxically, if you don’t provide a place where people can air their grievances, you’ll make yourself more vulnerable to complaints. Better that they do it on your terms where you can step in rather than on HMRCisshite.blogspot.co.uk where you can’t have a say or take it off line. A quick resolution is key; the best way to manage this is by having a social media presence.
We’ve launched and managed brand pages for companies large and small, so if you’d like to speak to us about yours, do get in touch. Here’s a couple of examples to get you started – www.facebook.com/swiftcover and www.facebook.com/penderynRead More
06.45 – Rise and shine! Radio 4’s Today Programme is the soundtrack to my morning, lulling me into the day (along with a shower, a mug of superstrong coffee and a bowl of cereal) and giving me an idea of what’s going on in the world.
07.45 – Out of the house and onto the tube. I make sure to grab a copy of Metro on the way – working in PR makes you a news addict!
08.30 – Roll out of the Tube and into work. On my way, I stop off at the newsagents and pick up a few newspapers.
08.40 – In the office. Turn on the computer and pass around the newspapers to the team. Standard procedure is to scan through and pick out any headlines that might be relevant to our clients (or alternatively anything that is weird and wonderful.)
9.00 – Check and respond to any emails that have come in overnight. At the moment, we’re managing a marketing activity for one of our clients, currency exchange provider ChangeGroup. This involves us managing 15 new employees who are located outside five of their branches in central London, so every morning I catch up with ChangeGroup HR manager Angela about how they performed yesterday. Today, someone is ill so I have to call up for a replacement.
10.00 – Time for a second caffeine hit of the day, before heading into an agency brainstorm meeting. We’re coming up with ideas for a new business pitch. Brainstorms, which are held pretty often, are one of my favourite parts of the job, as they free up the atmosphere and allow us to really be creative!
11.00 – Conference call with our Greek cheese client. We run through what’s been going on this month, including coverage and social media activity. We also discuss some exciting stunt activities that we have in the pipeline – watch this space!
12.30 – My colleague Jack and I head down to Berwick Street market, which hosts a range of food stalls – everything from Vietnamese ban-mi to Mexican burritos.
13.30 – A phone call with a top Italian chef, who’s going to be hosting a series of food events we’re organising next month for a big cheese brand, followed by emailing various partners about the events.
15.15 – Pop out to check on our currency exchange employees in Regent Street, Leicester Square and Piccadilly. On my way back to the office, I pick up a copy of a magazine one of our clients has been featured in – I flick through the pages and find the piece. It looks good! Quick scan and it’s with the client.
17.00 – It’s morning in Vancouver, so we exchange a few emails with our Canadian client about a promotion we’re running in a leading woman’s magazine, and catch up on some bits and pieces.
18.00 – The end of the working day! Decide to make the most of the remaining sun by heading to the park with a few friends who work nearby. Our drink of choice: M&S tinned pina coladas. Then it’s home and an early night, ready for tomorrow’s challenges.Read More
It is very easy for businesses to create a page on Facebook. However, all too often companies rush onto social media without thinking about how to generate content. It’s one thing to get users to like a page but quite another to get them to stay long enough to truly engage with what is on offer. Getting the right content transforms a page from a glorified advert to a forum for discussion, leading to a genuine dialogue between consumer and business. In the past couple of weeks we’ve developed content such as giveaways, polls, Q&As, news stories and caption competitions on various Facebook pages. What has been abundantly clear is that people want to be entertained, challenged and informed; they are just waiting for the right content to capture their imagination.
We’re particularly proud of our latest partnership: Food Advisers, a new online service which allows consumers to compare different foods’ nutritional values, needs to develop a customer base from scratch – specifically individuals and families with an interest in eating more healthily. Klick Fitness, a new gym chain, needs compelling content for its new Facebook page. So, we put our two clients together and Food Advisers is now providing guides to food and nutrition for the Klick Fitness Facebook page. It’s a perfect fit for both parties – Food Advisers get the word out about their service to keen gym users, and Klick Fitness benefits from free content used to grow its Facebook presence. Simple, but very useful, and it’s something we’re working on doing more and more.Read More
This month Facebook announced that Warner Bros will be using www.facebook.com to allow its customers to rent and stream films.
Launching with The Dark Knight, users will pay $3 (roughly £1.85) per to rent a film for two days. Crucially, if Facebook decides to use personal data to decide which films to suggest to you, the outcome will be scarily targeted, and the move into this sector makes Facebook a serious challenger to iTunes and Spotify.
However, the ability to pause, fast forward and rewind films will have a big effect on the current user experience. This may prove something of a challenge for Facebook, as users are accustomed to rapid browsing and not staying on a single screen for more than a few seconds.
Working as a Facebook app, another issue may be content management. Facebook currently has no facility on the site to track your apps or list them in order of preference, and with more apps available than we can count, it is likely that items such as this may get lost in the games, shop and other retailers all fighting for the space on your Facebook homepage.
Stores such as ASOS already allow products to be bought directly from the Facebook page, and at this rate, it won’t be long before Facebook controls your entire web experience. It’ll be interesting to see what rivals can come up with to even the scales.Read More