Category Archives: Social Media

A podcast on podcasting – csuitepodcast show 13 – #youtunes

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Last week I was back in the studios of markettiers4dc to record a podcast all about podcasting. It was my thirteenth show in the series that I produce for the CIPR’s Social Media Panel, so would number 13 prove to be unlucky?  Well, listen right up until the final minute to find out!

I was joined by three fellow podcasters: Neville Hobson, who, after over 800 shows and 10 years of podcasting, had just recorded his final Hobson & Holtz report the week before, a podcast that is a key part of the FIR Network that he launched with Shel Holtz.

My other guests in the studio were Tom Ollerton, Marketing and Innovation Director at We Are Social, and Alastair Cole, Chief Innovation Officer at Partners Andrews Aldridge, who together, produce the Innovation Ramble, a podcast that only launched a few months ago but that has had the backing of The Drum, and is one that I am a big fan of.

The aim of this episode was to investigate how brands and organisations could use podcasting as part of their communications mix, be that sponsoring existing content or creating their own.

I have to say, this was one of my favourite episodes to date, although perhaps that was because it was on a topic that I am heavily involved in!

There were a number of take outs from the show and tips that were provided.

Firstly, I agree with Tom’s view that podcasting is a long form format, something you can listen to on a walk or the commute, although Neville stressed the fact that you can, of course, listen to podcasts whilst doing other things, unlike video or the written word.  In that respect, it’s no different to radio, which as the latest RAJAR figures will show, is listened to more than ever in the UK.

The link to radio is something we also covered in that podcasting would appear to be far more popular in the US than in the UK, which, in Neville’s opinion, is because the UK has excellent radio programming, but that’s not the case in the US, which drove the popularity of podcasting there as people looked for alternative audio content to listen to.

With regards to the question of how brands can get involved in podcasting, Neville believes it all comes down to what the goals are.  For example, is it simply to generate brand exposure or perhaps be seen as a subject matter expert? However, one of the issues that may arise, is that many brand owners may have unrealistic expectations due to the huge exposure that Mailchimp gained from sponsoring the incredibly successful ‘Serial’, which has arguably created a resurgence in podcasting.  In the show, I referred to an article that I had read in VanityFair by Sarah Ellison, where she wrote that the co-creator of Serial, Julie Snyder, hoped for about 300,000 downloads when they launched and as the CPM for the sponsor slots were sold to Mailchimp before they knew how valuable they would be, they believe they may have lost out a huge number in terms of unrealised revenue as the podcast has since been downloaded over 97million times.

Tom was quick to point out though that Serial is an anomaly and was a year’s work with some of the top radio people putting it together, and he felt that brands are missing a trick if all they are looking for is a ‘killer’ CPM.  He thinks the opportunity for brands is to innovate with the format, rather than stick their advert at the beginning, middle or end of the format.  He suggests brands should concentrate on creating their own content, particularly given it is relatively cheap to do and therefore recommends finding an opportunity, producing a pilot, and if no one downloads it, to pivot, iterate, change and do it again.  Tom said that you can roll out ten different podcasts on ten different subjects, look at the data and see what is connecting with people.

Neville added to this in that he believes what it comes down to is having compelling content, telling a phenomenal story and ensuring there is something different about you to other podcasts.  For him, podcasting is not about mainstream media type numbers, but instead, it’s about the small niche audiences that are interested in a specific topic.  Neville therefore thinks that brands would be more satisfied if they thought like that about the medium rather than thinking about ‘mega’ numbers.

Alastair agreed and said that the right way to go is for brands to be looking to ‘scratch their own itch’, i.e., find something that they are genuinely passionate about.

We covered off a number of ways to help promote podcasts, which included:

  • Ensure you are on iTunes
  • Host your podcasts on your own site or social community where you can drive listeners to and encourage further engagement and discussion
  • Ask listeners to rate and review you on iTunes, which will help your positioning in the iTunes charts
  • Encourage guests (if you have them) to promote the fact they were on the show to their own email databases
  • Share your content across social media
  • Use enterprise sharing tools such as GaggleAMP

Within the show, I also featured a short interview with my CIPRSM Panel colleague, Rachel Miller of All Things IC, who also produces a podcast, her one focussing on Internal Communications.

Rachel’s five key tips for organisations looking to produce content for internal communications purposes were to:

  1. Create your own content, that doesn’t have to be a big ‘polished’ production
  2. Make it for employees by employees
  3. Encourage your employees to get involved by using their own devices
  4. Have real conversations
  5. Experiment with frequency and see what the appetite is for the content

Finally, some other podcasts we mentioned that are worth checking out, if nothing else, just to hear how others do it and how varied podcast content can be, included:

If you are interested in getting involved in this series, whether as a guest or as a sponsor, please do get in touch with me directly.  You can also keep the conversation going on twitter around these podcasts using #ciprcsuite.

The Influence of Social Talent (and the Minogue Sisters) – latest CIPR c-suite podcast

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Last week I recorded the 12th show in my podcast series that I produce for the CIPR’s Social Media Panel, with the topic this time being the influence of Social Talent.

YouTuber, Hannah Witton kicked off the show discussing how she launched her own channel, which started as a hobby during University and now, working with Triple A Media, has become her job.  She’s created a bit of a niche for herself by discussing sex and relationships on her channel, although was quick to say that she doesn’t want to ‘box herself in’ as she does a lot of other ‘stuff’ too.   However, it was due to the nature of her content that Durex recently approached her via Multi Channel Network (MCN) Channel Flip, to run a campaign for them.

If you haven’t seen the video, take a look below – it’s an excellent example of how a brand can work with a YouTuber:

The key to remember in this campaign is that, as well as ensuring everything was cleared legally, whilst Durex had certain key points that, as Hannah described, they wanted her to hit, she still had full editorial control.  This was a huge part of our discussion during the show, in terms of understanding the way these types of brand partnerships work.  For example, James Erskine, Strategy Director at The Big Shot, cited a great quote from another YouTuber, Jim Chapman, at a recent Drum conference, where Jim had said, ‘we’re not actors’ and explained that what The Big Shot say to their clients is that they will not have approval, but they will have veto, explaining the subtle distinction between ‘taking stuff out if it is inaccurate or legally wrong’, but not being able to insist on putting stuff in.

Hannah believes the reason brand partnerships work, like her one with Durex, is because when it comes to vlogging, as a YouTuber, she has a personal relationship with her audience, which, as long as that is kept authentic and transparent, her audience actually become really supportive in her being sponsored.  She explained that her subscribers can see that making YouTube videos is something she loves doing, are equally happy that it’s something she gets to do as her full time job and that they are clever enough to know that the way she does that is through working with brands.  However, with that particular Durex campaign, there was also a competition and a discount code, meaning her audience benefit too.

Interestingly, in terms of keeping a balance, James Hancock of Triple A Media said that for every sponsored YouTuber video we see, there may well be 10 that haven’t worked out, which could be because the Social Talent or the Talent Management have rejected it because it’s not right for that specific YouTuber.

There were also loads of really good insights into launching your own brand’s channel throughout the show from my fellow CIPRSM colleague Dom Burch, who is Senior Director for Marketing Innovation and New Revenue at Walmart in the UK.  Dom talked in a lot of detail and shared key learnings about how, with the help of Gleam Futures, they launched Asda’s UK channel ‘Mum’s Eye View’, which has grown to have over 168,000 subscribers, reaching over 8m views since launching in March last year.  Dom explained that effectively, they ‘rent’ the Social Talent’s audience, drawing a percentage of their audience from their own channels over to Mum’s Eye View when they appear there.  However, he is insistent that the YouTuber should never make a video for Mum’s Eye View that they would not be happy to post on their own channel.  He also explained how he measures ROI, saying that the amount he invests is worth every penny in reach alone.  He compared spending the budget on pay-per-view via pre-role on YouTube, where he could easily spend 10p to get one view on YouTube and the engagement is tiny.  He uses YouTube ‘thumbs up’ and comments as a way of measuring engagement as success, seeing tremendous results from the content created by the YouTubers on Mum’s Eye View, particularly as he hasn’t used media spend to drive people to the content.

A recommended way to discover which Social Talent to work with is via a new service launched by The Big Shot called Social Circle, which, as James explained, tiers talent in terms of size of audience (so not just the top YouTubers with the huge following) and places them across a number of different verticals.  The site is aiming to be a one stop shop in terms of allowing brands and agencies to brief multiple talents on their campaigns.

For any brand looking to enter this space of working with Social Talent on YouTube for the first time, there were a number of important tips throughout the podcast, which included:

  • Do your due diligence and watch the YouTuber’s channel and understand their content so that you get to know them, which will help you pick the right Social Talent to work with
  • Get to know what your target audience are watching – there are loads of niche channels – it’s not all make up and beauty!
  • Let go of control and accept that, whilst you will have a brief, this is the YouTuber’s content
  • Ask the Talent, Talent Management and/or MCN for a breakdown of the audience reached
  • Approach the vlogger or their agent with an idea but respect the media, which in this case is the vlogger themselves, and build a relationship with them
  • Be honest and transparent as a brand
  • Ensure you are aware of ASA guidelines
  • Remember it’s not just about YouTube – there are multiple platforms to consider that Social Talent use to reach your target audience

All the above aside, the biggest debate for me to have come out of this whole discussion was for, as Dom described, the older listeners to my podcasts, and whether you are in Team Kylie & Neighbours (Dom’s vote) or Team Dannii & Home & Away (my vote) – feel free to let me know your choice below!

Oh, and of course, please do share any other comments you might have on working with Social Talent.  You can also keep the conversation going on twitter around these podcasts using #ciprcsuite.

Finally, if you are interested in getting involved in this series, please do get in touch with directly.

Time to update to Charades

My wife just said to me, “I’ve got half hour left of my book.”

I just don’t get it.  If you read my last post, you’ll know I am a fan of old fashion, touchy feely books.  When you’re reading a book, you have 54 pages left, or two chapters left.  But for Kindle users, like my wife, you have 30mins left, or 11%.

I argued that if you’re watching a film, you can say you have 30mins left, but a book has pages or chapters left to go, my justification being, when you play charades, if you are describing a book title, you place your hands together like you are about to pray, and unfold your palms, like opening a book.  You don’t hold one palm out, and take your index finger of the other hand and keep touching your other palm with it!

So it got me thinking, what other forms of media need new descriptions in that classic old game.  The topic of my next c-suite podcast that I am recording this week for the CIPR’s Social Media panel is on the influence of Social Talent, focussing on YouTubers.  If you were playing charades with my two kids, rather than ‘Morecambe & Wise’, or ‘Jaws’ (we have a very old set of clues!) a more relevant clue for them to describe would be ‘Danisnotonfire’.

So how would they do that?

It’s one word, five syllables.  OK.  But how do you describe a YouTube channel?  Drawing a big box in the air with your finger for the TV screen won’t work.

Well, thanks to the good old interweb, it looks like the team at Outsetmedia are already thinking about this kind of thing.  They have the following additions to what they list as ‘Standard Signals’:

  • Computer Game – Using both hands move your thumbs like you are using a game pad.
  • Website – Hold one hand out, palm down, horizontal to the ground, as if holding a computer mouse. Make a sweeping motion side to side, then stop and tap index finger as if “clicking”.

So there you have it, Christmas day is sorted, and it’s only August.

The CIPR Social Media Panel c-suite podcast is available to subscribe and download from iTunes.  Please do rate and review it too so that we can climb the ‘Management and Marketing’ podcast charts.

10 Essential Free Holiday Mobile Apps

Having just spent an incredible week at the lindosblu hotel in Rhodes, I realised this was one of the first holidays that I really made use of free wifi, that is pretty much everywhere in Lindos, and numerous apps that became a key element of the holiday experience.  So here in no order of importance, are my top 10.

  1. Spotify in the sky

I brought my ipod along, but didn’t use it once.  Instead, I used Spotify’s recommended playlists to chill out by the pool as well as (and this impressed me) on the beach, where the wifi was just as strong.  However, what’s also great about Spotify is the speed at which you can find new artists.  The hotel had some great playlists playing out by the pool and in the bar over the course of the week and one song in particular grabbed my attention, so I did a search and found it on Spotify – a most beautiful version of the Alan Parsons’ classic, ‘Eye in the sky’, by Alessandra Bosco

  1. Dinner courtesy of Google Maps

Staying just a 5min cab ride into Lindos, there was no shortage of great places to eat. However, we wanted to find something away from the masses, so I took to Google Maps, and using the link to ‘Restaurants’ feature, just moved around the local area searching for local restaurants on the beach, and discovered Milos, a fantastic family run restaurant where they even have a telescope pointing at the moon as it rises up over the horizon.  And in terms of customer service, it didn’t get much better than when, after the owner couldn’t manage to get a cab for us at the end of our meal, he gave us a lift back to our hotel himself!

  1. Check in, but not just at the airport – Foursquare/Swarm

I am not a huge Foursquare user on a day to day basis, tending to only check-in to places such as the theatre, that I can then share on Twitter and Facebook too, but I do like to use it on holiday, as it’s a good source of reviews and ideas for where to go in the area.  It worked well as the initial pointer for what other restaurants were close by, before we then checked out further reviews on Tripadvisor.

  1. Tripadvisor – #obvs

This one is a given for holidaymakers I guess, but reading the reviews and particularly some of the tips gave us some great recommendations, like trying the chilled house red at the Milos restaurant.

  1. A lorra lorra Twitter 🙁

Twitter was my go to app to keep up with the news and industry updates throughout the day.  Sadly, it’s where I found out about the death of Cilla Black this week.  Cilla was a fantastic entertainer and a genuine National Treasure.  We will miss her.  On a more positive front, and I mean this in terms of it being just a brilliant PR stunt, I also saw on Twitter the news that Kermit and Miss Piggie are to split.

Thankfully, they will continue to work together – lucky that, with a new series of The Muppets starting on ABC soon!

  1. WhatsApp’ening by the pool?

As well as keeping in touch with my kids back at home, WhatsApp turned out to be the communication channel for us and our friends who we were holidaying with, both in terms of meeting times and checking where we were, but also in sharing photos too.  We set up a group for the four of us and it meant we could easily share all our individual photos, creating our very own personal Storify of our holiday.

  1. Regular post(card)s on Facebook

Another obvious choice for showing off to friends and family about the great time we were having, whilst keeping up to date on how others were doing on their holidays.  Facebook of course also has Messenger, which was another way of keeping in touch with some friends for whom that is their message app of choice.

  1. It’s just the same old show on my TuneInRadio

I struggle to get to sleep without the radio on, and most nights I tend to go to bed with Ian Collins (not literally you understand).  I’ve known Ian personally for a good few years having met him through working at markettiers4dc, and I subscribe to his excellent podcast, which he started after leaving Talk Sport a couple of years ago.  However, he is now back on the radio, with a late evening show on LBC, so with me being 2hrs ahead on Greek time, it meant I could listen to him through TuneInRadio, an excellent app that also has stations from all over the world to choose from.

  1. Can’t Tunnel Bear to be without Netflix

I felt a little guilty about this one, but Tunnel Bear is a legitimate app, available from the App Store.  In layman’s terms, it basically makes other apps think your mobile/tablet etc. is still in the UK (or any other country you choose to ‘tunnel’ to from where you are), meaning I could continue to watch Netflix which, before I downloaded Tunnel Bear, was not available to me in Greece.  Tunnel Bear gives you 500mb of free data but if you tweet that you downloaded it, you get a further 1GB added to your account.  I used it to watch three more episodes of the remake of Battlestar Galactica (I know, geek!), which I’m so close to finishing, having watched almost all four seasons (no spoilers please).   FYI, a 45min episode used up around 250mb of streaming data, so I had plenty of free viewing time still to use.  (This being a blog post about free apps, Netflix didn’t qualify as I pay a monthly subscription for it.)

  1. As with Sky & the Beeb, the end of a great event needs a montage – Color Splash Effect

The last app in my list is one I downloaded on our final night, when playing around with some of the photos we’d all taken as a group of friends.  Color Splash Effect has some cool features, but the best one was the ability to create montages really easily from your phone’s photo gallery and then share them instantly on your social networks.  Here’s one I made earlier!


Final notes

For the record, I don’t have a Kindle because I am still a fan of ‘touchy feely’ books, hence there were no reading apps listed here, although I can recommend  Mark Haddon’sThe Curious Incident of the Dog in the night time’, which I read, and was a brilliantly written and truly original story.

There were, however, plenty of other apps I used during the week, like LinkedIn (I had recently posted a job there for Conversis as we are looking for a Senior Communications Exec, so was checking the applications we had received) and of course for those free calls, for business or pleasure, there’s Skype.  I also uploaded a couple of photos to Instagram, but if I was allowed one bonus app to recommend, then it would be Flashlight, because despite us having a fantastic meal at Tambakio on the moonlit sand in the beautiful setting of St Pauls Bay, without a torch on my phone, I wouldn’t have been able to read the bloody menu!

(If you have any other recommendations for free mobile holiday apps, please do add them in the comments box below.)


The Content Curators – latest CIPR csuite podcast on Internal Communications

My latest podcast for the CIPRSM discussed the role that Social Media plays within Internal Communications and I was fortunate to have three really engaging guests in the markettiers4dc studio with me, which I also added to with two interviews I recorded at the recent PR Week Internal Communications Europe event I attended in Amsterdam, courtesy of translation experts Conversis, who sponsored the event given the amount of work they do in this particular area.

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Nicola Green, Director of Communications and Reputation at O2, kicked off the show by talking about O2 Amp, which is how the organisation gets employees to be brand ambassadors.  Nicola explained that O2 have a list of their top 50 employees who share content and they brief them just as they would journalists so that they can share company content externally, which is one method she uses to communicate with other employees, a theme that certainly cropped up throughout the podcast.

LinkedIn’s Senior Internal Communications Manager for EMEA, Natasha Gowans then talked through her company’s Bring in your Parents Day, which centred on the fact that, according to LinkedIn’s own research, 1 in 3 parents didn’t know what they ‘grown-up’ children did at work!  They had around 1,800 parents of LinkedIn staff take part, as well as other business getting involved too, but the key outcome was that their employees took to social media to share the initiative externally, which Nicola agreed is a great way to expand the message to a wider audience, resulting in a great positioning for the brand too.

[Download Natasha’s presentation from the PR week event]

My third guest in the studio was Sarah Ogden, who is a Board Director at 3 Monkeys Communications, and reflecting on those initial two case studies, she felt that they showed social media is both a tool for communication and engagement from an internal comms point of view but also it’s a platform for collaboration, where you can bring employees together to build things, whether it’s product ideas, thinking about innovation in the workplace and how as a business you can be better beyond communications.

I asked though, whether embracing social media in the workplace also brings with it some rather difficult challenges, and highlighted the issue HSBC had only earlier that week, when employees posted an incredibly inappropriate on Social Media of a mock ISIS execution, taken at a team building event.  To be fair to HSBC, they’d handled the situation extremely well by sacking the individuals involved immediately.  However, Sarah said that opportunities always bring challenges and that it’s about how it’s managed.  Nicola added that this also comes down to trust and O2 do a lot around educating their employees around the power of social media and the potential issues they could fall into the traps of.

Continuing the theme of creating internal content that is shared externally, in the second of the two interviews I recorded at the PR Week Europe event, Heineken International’s Global Channels Manager for Internal Communications, Holly Bostock talked about their Green Room project, which I recommend taking a look at.  It was Holly that described her team’s role in the project as ‘Curators of the Content’, which I thought was an excellent description.  She explained that from their own research, 78% of their own employees talk to their social circles about Heineken, and 30% share something on social media every month, but rather than just sharing the latest adverts, she thought the project enabled them to share something different, like company CSR stories.

[Download Holly’s presentation from the PR week event]

Sarah said the importance of this kind of comms by the fact that if an individual shares something about a brand or a business it will get much higher levels of engagement than if the business posted it.  Natasha backed this up with the fact that according to LinkedIn’s own research, employee networks are 10 times bigger than the corporate network and seen as more authentic too.

You can keep the conversation going on twitter around these podcasts using #ciprcsuite.

Finally, if you are interested in getting involved in this series of podcasts, please use this form, or twitter using #cirpcsuite

Paid Social – the latest CIPR Social Media Panel csuite podcast

Trying to cover off such a huge topic of Paid Social in a half hour podcast is quite a task, but last week, I managed to get through a number of aspects within this important element of social media with Farhad Koodoruth, Managing Director of Threepipe, and Vikki Chowney, Director of Content & Publishing Strategies at H+K Strategies in Show 10 of the CIPR’s Social Media Panel c-suite podcast series.

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The areas covered off in the show included, amongst others:

  1. Promoted posts and tweets on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram
  2. Paying influencers such as YouTubers
  3. Content discovery platform, Outbrain
  4. LinkedIn

Farhad explained that the reason why paying to amplify posts is so important is because organic reach on platforms such as Facebook are in the single percentages. [For some good stats on Facebook organic reach, see socialbakers report from earlier this year.] He also added that paying for social reach of content also enables them to track the activity about what people look at, click on and pages they visit and loop it back into a broader marketing plan in terms of reengaging those users later on, highlighting his company’s NatWest T20 Blast Cricket campaign as a successful case study.

However, the impact that paid for posts are having on the user experience was highlighted by a blog post we discussed from Stephen Waddington’s 16 year old daughter, Ellie, called ‘The not-so-secret Internet diary of a Gen Z teenage girl’, where she wrote that one of the reasons she likes Instagram so much is that ‘the apparent lack of advertising allows it to stand out from other social media sites because almost all of the content you come across is personal, as opposed to the hundreds of sponsored posts and spam videos that you have to trawl through on Facebook.’  Unfortunately for Ellie though, Farhad said that Facebook had announced that small to media sizes businesses will be able to advertise on Instagram from September, but he agreed that the commercial imperative for all platforms is one they will have to work out in terms of getting the right balance between what they can commercialise and not ‘pissing off’ their users to the point of how Ellie described her experience.  Vikki said she wasn’t surprised to hear Ellie’s views and that it’s a trap that most of the platforms have fallen into at some stage or another.

This led us onto a discussion about paying influencers such as YouTubers, something, that I’m hoping to dedicate an entire podcast to.  Vikki talked in depth on this but made the important point that it’s our responsibility as marketers to use the data and tools that are available to us to track people with real influence, and not just the ones who are the biggest names [in this space] and not be so lazy and use the same people time and time again.

In the meantime, my recommendation to anyone who still hasn’t quite got their head round how influential some of them can be, particularly for that younger audience like Ellie, is to watch the film ‘The Creators’, which premiered on The Drum in March, and follows Zoella and a few other YouTubers behind the scenes in terms of them creating content and events that they attend.

The final areas we discussed were how platforms such as Outbrain and Linkedin, help drive traffic to blog content, both for B2B as well as B2C activity, with Farhad highlighting work Threepipe are doing with fashion retailer, Reiss, and Vikki talking through campaigns she works on for Intel.

You can keep the conversation going on twitter around these podcasts using #ciprcsuite.

Finally, if you are interested in getting involved in this series of podcasts, please use this form, or twitter using #cirpcsuite

Crisis Communications – The Kay Burley Effect – latest csuite podcast

MD of Pinch Point Communications, Sarah Pinch, Stephen Humphreys, Director of Communications at the Food Standards Agency and Andrew Vincent, Associate Partner at Instinctif Partners joined me in the studios of markettiers4dc to record Show 9 in the csuitepodcast series, with Social Media’s impact on Crisis Communications on this month’s agenda.

This was a very timely show given in recent weeks we’ve seen:

The general feeling from all guests was that Alton Towers had responded very well to the awful incident and that this was possibly reflected in the positive comments they had received on their Facebook page.  Andrew pointed out that they probably wouldn’t have had this reaction, had they not done the right thing and been so proactive, with Merlin CEO, Nick Varney, leading from the front, ensuring the company takes responsibility and undertaking difficult media interviews, such as the one he did with my new twitter follower, Sky NewsKay Burley.

Now I’ll admit, I’m not Kay’s biggest fan, and if you search YouTube, you’ll find plenty of examples of interviews that have been uploaded, where viewers clearly share a similar view to me on her style and approach.  However, incredibly, off the back of the interview in question, she has managed to deflect the attention away from Nick Varney, who she attacked so rudely and at times, viciously, and turned the situation into a crisis of her own, with, at the time of writing, there now being over 50,000 people calling for her to be sacked by Sky!

Personally, I wouldn’t want to see someone lose their job over something like a poor interview, but I do believe she should stop being so defensive, as she appears to be on her twitter feed, and learn some lessons about taking responsibility from the same person she tried to grill in that very, as Andrew described, aggressive and hostile environment.

Interestingly, Andrew’s take on that interview is that he thinks there is a need now for journalists to sharpen and tailor their output to get shared on social media, which I should say is exactly how I came to be aware of Burley’s interview, and so it’s something we, as communicators, need to be aware of, as questioning will get more hostile as the journalists look for that exciting soundbite to get shared.

Sarah emphasised the importance of being able to say ‘we’re sorry’, and that you have to have empathy and show some of your feelings.  She believed Merlin had done brilliantly and that we’d felt for their CEO as he seemed to be having a difficult time, which she stressed was a good thing because as a consumer, she would want to see that he is upset by what had happened, although that doesn’t mean we think it’s his [or the company’s] fault, as we have no idea at this stage.

Bringing it back to role social media has to play in a crisis, Andrew highlighted that the medium is a very emotional and often emotive environment and the problem is that if you, as an organisation or a spokesperson for your organisation dealing with a crisis, don’t demonstrate sufficient empathy and emotion, then social media will do it for you.

Comparing Alton Towers to Thomas Cook, Andrew highlighted that the latter was a very sad spectacle of a company hiding behind its lawyers and demonstrating no evidence of having an ethical approach of dealing with the situation, being on the back foot and then trying to remedy the situation by making a donation to a charity completely independent of what the family concerned might have wished.

Stephen added that where social media has changed the dynamic in dealing with a crisis is in the speed of response, and gave the example that at one point, he believed FIFA were up to about 8000 comments or questions on their Twitter feed, but had provided no response or statement.

Other areas we covered in the interview included the horse meat investigation, which Stephen described as the biggest incident/crisis that he has had to deal with in his time at the FSA and the first where social media played a significant role, and the FSA’s latest campaign, their 2015 Chicken Challenge,  which has the objective of educating consumers about campylobacter in chicken, which is the most common cause of food poisoning in the UK.

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Social CEOs & Blue Unicorns – the latest CIPR csuite podcast

Colin Byrne, CEO of Weber Shandwick UK & EMEA, Paul Frampton, CEO of Havas Media and PRMoment’s Ben Smith joined me in the studio last week for the latest, slightly extended (all three like to chat a bit), c-suite podcast.  The topic of discussion was The Social CEO.

Colin began the chat by making reference to Weber Shandwick’s own research, which highlights that CEO engagement and visibility is recognised as particularly critical to company reputation, according to 81% of senior executives worldwide.  He highlighted the different benefits from the numerous channels available, but where the CEO focusses their attention is all dependent on what is right for the business objectives.  However, he highlighted the growth of video storytelling as a platform for the most social CEOs – encouraging to hear given I spent 16 years at markettiers4dc evangelising about the benefits of using video content for distribution through social media.  Indeed, whilst there, back in 2010, I produced and presented (alongside Stephen Waddington, Philip Sheldrake and Gemma Griffiths), – we were so ahead of the game!  I’m actually considering testing out Periscope to stream the next c-suite podcast live on Twitter, so should my next guests be up for it, I may give it a go.

Following on from me mentioning a blog post of Paul’s, where he wrote that ‘brilliant leaders have an omnipresent, consistent voice and share continually and widely’, he raised a good point about his ‘fondness’ for twitter was just as much about using it as an internal communications tool, sharing information with Havas’ own talent, as it was to engage with his external client audience.

However, Ben highlighted that many CEOs may not have the right personality and time to be on Twitter every day and that it needs to be sustainable, as he felt that there is nothing worse than a CEO giving Twitter a quick go and then not tweeting for the best part of a year.  Paul followed this up later in the discussion saying that CEO’s do need to understand and acknowledge the time involved if you do lean into it in this ‘always on’ world, and termed those who are doing it well, acknowledging and responding to messages sent to them personally via social, as ‘Blue Unicorns’, i.e. there isn’t a lot of them, although he said they are increasingly starting to appear.

As part of the show, I try and use as many questions from the listeners as I can, rather than just my own, and this month we managed to answer two really good ones that I received.  The first response was to a question from Janet Morgan, Director of Global Content Strategy and Planning at GSK.  Janet asked about the issue of what would happen if, after a company has invested in their CEO’s becoming social, they leave for a rival, as their following stays with the individual, not the company, and so Colin made the point that any CEO should be responsible for succession strategy and developing the next team, although generationally, that next level down will probably be more social anyway, so they should build their team’s sociability and not just their own.

A second question was submitted by Kate Clough of Instinctif Partners who, as Paul was on the show, asked to hear more about the Havas Meaningful Brands report, which, timing wise, tied in nicely to a recent update that Unilever gave on their Sustainable Living Plan in which Paul Polman, the company’s CEO, stated that their ‘brands with purpose’ as they call them, ‘accounted for half the company’s growth in 2014 and grew at twice the rate of the rest of the business.’ This aligned well with a key finding from Havas’ report that said that ‘Meaningful Brands outperform the stock market by 133%.’  Interestingly though, Colin brought the discussion back to the role of the CEO when he pointed out that Polman had been named as the most powerful PR player in the latest PRWeek Power Book and felt that it was because he is one of the CEOs that had put social purpose at the heart of his brands and his organisation.   Colin followed this up by saying that the modern Public Relations industry is no longer about being in the spin business but instead, we are in the authenticity and change business.

Don’t forget you can help this series of podcast climb the itunes charts by subscribing to the feed, and you can keep the conversation going on twitter using #ciprcsuite.  If you would like to help me produce more interviews you can sponsor the show, which I produce on behalf of the CIPR’s Social Media Panel, and so if you are interested, please use this form, or twitter using #cirpcsuite

Finally, anyone from Havas reading this blog who is struggling to think of what to buy Paul for his birthday or for Christmas, how about his very own Blue Unicorn onesie from Amazon?!

Oh when the Saints go tweeting in – the latest csuite podcast

Whilst last month’s csuite podcast show 7 was on the topic of fan engagement in Sport, I encourage you to listen to the interview whatever sector you work in, as I believe the ideas and concepts I discussed with Antony Marcou, CEO of Sports Revolution and PRMoment’s Ben Smith are relevant to everyone in PR.

Naturally I really enjoyed this show as we got to talk football, but before you non footie fans moan, I don’t mean we were discussing what’s better when it comes to 4-4-2 or 4-5-1.  Instead, Antony gave us some really interesting insight into a number of areas of Sports marketing including:

  • how the PR aspect of maximising a brand’s sponsorship through social media has a huge impact at the negotiation stage of the deal
  • the benefits of the award winning project that he worked on, where installing high density Wi-Fi into Celtic Park solved the connectivity problem of trying to get a signal in a ground with over 60,000 people, changing the way fans experience their visit to the game, as well as the impact it could have on the bottom line for the club
  • ownership of new technologies and platforms as they launch and the role of the clubs and federations in the process, i.e. to police or participate

Having Ben back on the show though was great from a PR perspective as he brought the discussion back in terms of the impact social media in sport is having on regional media.  He used his personal experience of how he used to go to the Daily Echo’s website to read about Southampton FC, but now gets better content directly from the club’s own website and social channels such as YouTube, Facebook and Twitter feeds.  This then lead us on to a discussion about ‘unofficial’ reporting, using examples of fan based podcasts like the one both Antony and I listen too – The Spurs Show, which I appeared as a guest on recently, and what it means to the clubs.

Other topics we covered included how players can have more influence across social media than the clubs they play for when you compare the numbers of followers they have, which again is just as relevant outside of sport when you compare it to the case of key executives at major businesses.

We also touched on campaign examples from the worlds of Basketball, Rugby, Sailing, Motor GP, F1, Golf and Cycling – in many cases, sports that have to work harder to engage with fans as they don’t have the money that flows in The Barclays Premier League, or are not the easiest to watch at the venues, where the TV experience is better from a viewing perspective.  Many of the examples we discussed are arguably doing a better job at engaging with their audiences through social media and mobile apps with real time data updates or certainly have the potential to, using the stats generated from wearable or on-board tech that can be shared through social.

I produce this series on behalf of the CIPR’s Social Media Panel and we’re now looking for sponsors of our own to cover the costs of production and help us bring more interviews to you, so if you are interested, please use this form, or twitter using #cirpcsuite.  Our shows are currently averaging over 400 plays each, and growing, and we’re aiming to bring you some great guests in the future, the next one lined up being Colin Byrne, CEO of Weber Shandwick, who will be discussing the Social CEO.

You can also help us climb the itunes charts by subscribing to the feed, and please keep the conversation going on twitter using #ciprcsuite

Social Hubs, War Rooms and Chief Engagement Officers – the latest csuite podcast

Back on the 26th February, I recorded show number 6 of the CIPR csuite podcast series I’m producing for the CIPR’s Social Media panel.  My guests this time were Stuart Thompson, European Director of new CIPR partners TINT and immediate past president of the CIPR and Chief Engagement Office at Ketchum, Stephen Waddington (Wadds).

In the first section of the show, we discussed the benefits of Social Hubs like Tint, which as Stuart explained, is ‘a technology platform that allows organisations to display social feeds and port them to any digital device, anywhere in the world’.

Stuart talked us through a great case study of how Tint worked with the People’s Climate March in New York, which broke all sorts of records in terms of digital engagement for a charity campaign, which then led us on to a side discussion about war rooms in PR agencies.  As Wadds explained, war rooms are a way to describe people working in an integrated agile way around a table for a campaign, although they call them newsrooms at Ketchum!

The interesting point for me about using technologies such as Tint though, was that by bringing all the user generated content from various platforms like Facebook and Instagram etc. into one hub, perhaps hosted on the brand’s website, it could help to bring ownership back to the brand itself, rather than lose it to the Social Networks, which I feel has been happening over the years.

Whether the likes of Tint ultimately benefit the client or not (and looking at their client base, it looks like they are doing something right!), Wadds feels that it’s beholden to anyone in the PR business to jump on any new tool and try it out and explore it as part of their continuous learning.

In the second half the show, Wadds talked through the role of a Chief Engagement Officer but first had to explain that he wasn’t after David Gallagher’s job of CEO of Ketchum Europe, as in an interview with McKinsey in April last year, Richard Edelman used the term to describe the CEO’s new role.  Stephen, however, explained that Ketchum have a slightly different view to that of Edelman explained in their Trust Barometer and so his brief is to make social and digital ‘normal’ across the agency, but that’s it’s good that both agencies, and indeed other organisations are using the same language around this issue.

We then went on to discuss the findings of the CIPR’s recent State of the Profession survey, specifically around the issues related to social media and how he was ‘pissed off’ with some of the results when he discovered that as an industry, our business is still slow to move, whilst the pace of technology and pace of change is incredibly fast but behavioural change is incredibly slow.  He believes that the industry is polarising between traditionalists and those at the forefront of the business, and feels strongly that members need to get to grips with digital and social media skills or face becoming irrelevant, one of a number of points he made in a recent blog post.  He summarised his thoughts by saying that we need to recognise that there is a massive shift from publicity to influencer relations then branded forms of media and communities as a means of engagement, and we either embrace it, or you say “no” and stick with what you’ve done traditionally.

We did finish off the podcast on a positive though, as a lot of the issues raised in the survey are being addressed by the CIPR and that Wadds believes that it’s an exciting time for PR and so we, as practitioners, have to embrace it.