On Wednesday 21st October at 4pm BST, Firefly’s Europe experts are hosting a free webinar that will cover everything you need to know about how to ensure success in multi-country PR and comms campaigns.

As a taster, here are a handful of the key challenges that must be considered when running campaigns across Europe. The solutions to these challenges will be covered on the webinar.

Every country is different

It’s understandable if communications professionals that have primarily operated in one country fall into the trap of thinking that the communications landscape operates in a similar way in different countries. Most of the time, that’s not the case. They may be close on a map, but there can be major differences when running campaigns across borders.

This graph shows exactly that. It reveals the variation in media attitudes across a range of different criteria in France, Germany and the UK.

Not all tactics work the same

There will be times when a tactic and content can be used with minimal localisation for multiple countries. However, on most occasions this won’t be the case. There are a wide variety of hoops that you may need to jump through to make a plan or content suitable for multiple countries.

The important point to note at this stage is that a strategy/tactic/piece of content can’t simply be duplicated and expected to perform highly in different countries. Accept early on that certain activities will do well in some countries and not perform as highly in others.

Resources spread too thin

Now, as the points above emphasise, taking a one-size-fits-all approach to comms across Europe won’t work. Neither will spreading resources too thinly.  Trying to stretch a pre-determined, non-flexible budget to cover as many countries as possible is a common error.

It rarely works out and often leads to starting again 6-18 months down the line. During this time, competitors may have further established themselves.

Fortunately, there are many different financing options that are more sustainable than spreading a budget too thin.

Coordination can be painful

Even if the differences between countries is understood, tactics have been localised, and budget is assigned effectively, there’s still the challenge of getting every country to sing from the same hymn sheet. It can be challenging.

Each country can interpret instructions differently, will have different questions, and will have to adapt to apply instructions/requests to their country. As a result, managing different countries can be time intensive. There’s also the possibility of teams going off in different directions, failing to align on strategy, tactics, and desired outcomes.

So, that’s the taster. A carefully chosen selection of the many common problems you need to know about – or may even have experienced first-hand. To get solutions to the above challenges in Firefly’s full rundown of PR and comms in Europe and how to ensure success in multi-country campaigns, register to attend the webinar on 21st October 2020 for free here: https://fireflycomms.com/en/pr-in-europe-webinar/.

Almost exactly five years ago, we wrote a piece looking at how PRs could be replaced by robots in the future. With the recent news that Microsoft sacked twenty seven writing staff to replace them with AI algorithms, it seems appropriate to look at this prediction again:


There’s a growing threat to journalism: robot writers.

A company called Automated Insights has developed a piece of software called WordSmith that generates news stories on topics such as finance and sports, which are published on the likes of Yahoo!, Associated Press and other outlets.

I know what you’re thinking. Surely a machine can’t write as well as a human?

NPR Planet Money (one of my current fave podcasts) recently did an experiment, where it pitched its fastest journalist, Scott Horsley, against WordSmith.

Scott knocked his piece out in an impressive seven minutes. WordSmith took a blistering two minutes.

You might argue that Scott’s piece was superior – it was certainly more colourful – but it raises the question of whether humans are always needed, especially in today’s data and information-hungry media landscape.

The other question is whether the PR industry needs to be worried about software like WordSmith.

Think how ‘PRSmith’ could work.

>PRSmith would scan the web for mentions of a particular brand according to sentiment (these things will get better in the future) and automatically reply.

>PRSmith would recommend responses to emerging threats, price changes, negative reviews and competitor activity and distribute these across digital media channels. The software would learn which responses performed best over time, based on sentiment analysis and impact on sales.

>PRSmith would distribute news to the right journalists (WordSmith or human), including the right information in the right format. PRSmith would never call a journalist up to ask if he/she/it had received the press release.

>PRSmith could respond to journalists’ requests in nano-seconds – without lying, making errors or trying to evade the question.

Of course this is all slightly tongue in cheek. PRSmith doesn’t yet exist and even WordSmith focuses on areas that are more easily automated, likes stats-heavy sports and financial news. But the rise of automation in the workplace will affect every industry – I don’t see why PR and journalism should be any different.

At present, we don’t believe that many more PR or journalism staff are in danger of losing out to robots immediately – there are many ‘human-centric’ jobs that AIs just can’t do. Similarly, most of the ‘AI PR’ tools that we’ve seen have either been analytics support (and therefore embraced by thousands of relieved PRs!) or terrible, clunky things. But we’d never say never…

This is a post from the Firefly archives – timeless advice, as relevant today as it was in 2015! 

Memes, public Instagram images, and screenshots of funny things that’ve made it into the media via Facebook are just a few examples of the popular content we see constantly in today’s digital world.

They’re increasingly popular across the internet for both commercial and non-commercial reasons, and with the ease of consumption and sharing, it’s no surprise the lines are a little blurred between what constitutes copyright infringement or image plagiarism.

Avoiding hot water

PRs and journalists are not immune to this – we use and re-use a vast amount on content on a daily basis. For example. someone’s hashtagged a nice picture with your client’s brand on it? Seen a funny picture in a forum that would make a viral-worthy news piece? Great! But before you use these for your own advantage, consider these tips to avoid image plagiarism:

1. Make sure it is credible

Is the person who posted this image the first person to post it? Try your best to ensure that it’s original content. Likewise, if the content is associated with a news event, it’s vital you’re publishing true information and won’t have to retract items later.

2. Get consent

Always get in contact with the person who posted the image and ask their permission to use it. You can tweet them, direct message, comment – it all depends on the platform, but make sure you get consent. If the picture is on sites such as Flickr, you might also need to consider Creative Commons attribution. Don’t forget, if you’re using the image for a client or employer, it’s being used commercially, rather than for personal use.

3. Attribute the author

Again, this will depend on any applicable Creative Commons licences, but if you’re using someone else’s image it’s generally good practice to attribute their name. Better yet, tag the social media account it was sourced from or embed the image directly from the source.

4. Do it yourself

If possible, why not try and take a picture yourself? In a lot of cases, this might be just as easy and save the wait-time for user consent. You need is your smartphone and a few filters or an editing app, and you’ve got a picture!

5. Or keep it clean

While user-generated images can make excellent and authentic social fodder, any media buffs concerned about getting into trouble can always stick to stock images. They aren’t always as engaging (and they can cost you money), but you’ll know you’re not breaking the law. When you’re using free stock images, please do note that it’s still polite to reference the creator! For ideas, check out Unsplash, Pexels and PxHere.

That said, it’s always worth looking at the terms and conditions before you use them. For example, you can’t usually use a stock photo as part of a logo or trademark.

In practice, image plagiarism online is a bit of a legal grey area, it’s better to be safe than to lose a client contract or risk fines. Photo agencies have expensive lawyers and aren’t afraid to use them.

Learning more…

Getty Images has teamed up with the BAPLA (British Association of Picture Libraries and Agencies) and PACA (Picture Archive Council of America) to set up Stockphotorights.com, a useful guide to using stock photography and understanding image rights. There is a helpful FAQ, which is well worth bookmarking.

(Photo credit: Bonnie Kittle, Unsplash)

ENGIE Impact, accelerator of sustainability transformation for corporations, cities and governments across the globe, has appointed Firefly Communications Group to handle communications in the UK, Germany and Belgium.

ENGIE Impact works with executives and organisational leaders to set tailored strategies and specific roadmaps to achieve their sustainability and zero-carbon objectives, across energy, water, waste, and more.

Firefly was selected to support ENGIE Impact’s launch and increase brand awareness across three European markets. Firefly will be working with ENGIE Impact to amplify expertise as well as showcase organisations making great strides towards a zero-carbon future.

Charlotte Stoel, Group Client Services Director at Firefly, commented, “To say sustainability and climate change is a huge talking point is an understatement – every paper, online publication, social channel and political agenda is flooded with news and views on the actions we’re all taking to protect the future of our planet. ENGIE Impact is playing a crucial part in accelerating this transformational shift within organisations. The company’s purpose is truly inspiring and has the whole team determined and focussed on getting the recognition ENGIE Impact deserves.”

“Now ENGIE Impact has launched, it’s time to establish ourselves in the European markets and drive awareness of our ability to support the worlds most influential cities and brands in accelerating their  sustainability transformation”, said Raevyn West, Senior Director, Growth Marketing at ENGIE Impact. “Firefly’s off to a fast start this year and the team’s work has been recognised for its value in increasing awareness in Europe. We have ambitious plans for 2020 and we look to Firefly to support us in achieving our goals.”

Coronavirus continues to dominate our headlines this month. With the hysteria surrounding the virus, we have been bombarded with fake news appearing all over our social media feeds – and to be clear, eating raw garlic won’t stop you from catching the virus! In response to this misinformation, the government has set up a specialised cyberteam tasked with cracking down on the spread of fake news. Read the full story on City A.M.

March also marks Women’s History month and ahead of International Women’s Day on 8th March, a few Fireflies attended an event with inspirational female founders in tech. The panel shared their wisdom and you can read more about it here. Whilst we celebrate the great achievements of these women, there is still more to be done when it comes to gender equality in the workplace. The gender pay gap remains a key issue, with the Guardian reporting that the current pay gap is the equivalent of women working for free for two months of the year. At the same time, the Financial Times reported on the lack of female representation in senior roles in journalism, with less than 25% of media outlets having a female editor.

So, what tangible strides are really being made towards achieving equality for women if issues like these are still the current reality? Our own Hollie Abbott suggests that it may be time to call quits on International Women’s Day and focus on gender equality every day. Furthermore, the Financial Times reported on how Facebook is proactively tackling its previously criticised lack of diversity, and women now represent 40% of the board after two new additions.

We have also had some interesting developments on social media this month. At the start of March, WhatsApp joined the dark mode trend giving both iPhone and Android users the option to use the app in a power saving dark theme that also prevents eye fatigue. Meanwhile, LinkedIn announced that it’s experimenting with Snapchat-style stories, in the hopes of engaging younger professionals. The Head of Content Products at LinkedIn, Pete Davies, stated that, “stories offer a lighter, more casual way of interacting in the business-focused world”. In addition, he feels companies will be able to share ‘key moments’ through the new feature. Then there’s Twitter, which revealed it will release ‘fleet’ tweets that will only be available to be viewed for 24 hours. Read more over at The Independent.

And finally, AI is being integrated in all industries, even fashion – how would you like the latest must-have coat by designer, AI? In this Metro article, read about how AI is being used to create clothing and even models and influencers to advertise the clothing. The future of fashion is clearly AI.

Want to stay up to date with the latest tech news? Every morning, the Firefly team creates a roundup of the biggest news stories across the technology space. Sign up to Firewire by emailing hello@fireflycomms.com.

Hot on the heels of Firefly Munich’s ShowPad win, Firefly London and Paris announce the latest addition to their client roster: ISOC, the Internet Society.

The Internet Society was established in 1992 by the founders of the Internet, Vint Cerf and Bob Kahn, with the mission of “promoting the open development, evolution and use of the Internet for the benefit of all people throughout the world”. Firefly’s remit in the UK and France will focus on promoting its latest report, looking at the impact of consolidation on the internet at an access, infrastructure and application level.

Christian Sharp, who heads up the project at Firefly Communications said, “Society today couldn’t function without the internet, but we tend to forget that there are organisations that provide vast amounts of guidance and education to the policymakers and users of the internet. The Internet Society is the foremost of these organisations and we’re delighted to help spread the word.”

The project focuses on working with media across the UK and France to start and engage in discussions around the impact of internet consolidation. For example, although large players like Facebook and Amazon can make innovation cheaper and easier for other organisations through services like AWS, their sheer revenue – greater than the GDP of Finland – means that they have a disproportionate amount of power to shape the internet.

“Policymakers, users and other stakeholders need to be as educated as possible if they are to make the best possible decisions about how we use, engage with and shape the internet,” continued Sharp. “By spreading the word of this report, we hope to further this aim, showing that the Internet Society has unparalleled resources for such stakeholders, giving it the recognition and reputation that it deserves.”

Want hear more news and view from the Firefly team? Sign up to our newsletter here: https://fireflycomms.com/newsletters/

Unicorns, next-generation CRM platforms and household names all joined the Firefly roster last quarter.

Firefly Communications Group is poised for an excellent 2019, following a series of client wins which helped increased its revenue by 18% in the last quarter of 2018. The pan-European technology PR agency, which also celebrated its 30th year in operation last year, secured significant success in 2018, helping to shape the reputations of technology firms across the world.

Client wins across all offices

The London, Paris and Munich offices all secured a number of client wins last quarter with a range of technology-based companies. Following a major funding round, AI-based HR platform PathMotion appointed Firefly UK and France to help announce and raise awareness of its funding to the UK and French media. Meanwhile, Firefly Germany helped health tech company, MaxQ-AI, forge relationships with key decision makers through a paid social campaign.

Firefly UK bolsters travel and retail experience

Firefly UK also helped travel site unicorn, Klook, to launch in the UK, supported Hitachi Consulting with a high-street retail project, and built up UK awareness and presence for productivity CRM platform, Copper (formerly ProsperWorks).

Elsewhere, during 2018, engineering simulation business, ANSYS, and application delivery and development platform, NGINX, appointed all three of Firefly’s agencies in the UK, France and Germany to handle their communications campaigns, following competitive pitch processes for each.

Claire Walker, Group CEO at Firefly Communications Group commented, “2018 was a strong year for Firefly Communications Group, from catching our first ‘unicorn’ to ongoing work with two organisations (NGINX and ANSYS) that both collaborate with NASA. It is clear evidence that the market has a growing appetite for smart, tightly-focused communications campaigns that make a tangible impact on a company’s reputation. It is also proof that if you are responsive to change, hire intelligently and execute brilliant campaigns, you can be successful for three decades – and beyond!”

If you’d like to read more from Firefly and stay in touch, please click here to sign up: https://fireflycomms.com/newsletters/

Firefly Communications has appointed Marco Dautel as associate director to strengthen its German agency, based in Munich.

Marco’s area of responsibility will be to enhance strategic client work and to further develop the company’s consulting and service offering, as well as the overall business in Germany. Marco brings 15 years of PR experience to the table, having worked for clients in the technology, mobile, security, consumer electronics and travel industries.

Firefly Group CEO Claire Walker says, “We have a solid client base in Germany and a great team that delivers outstanding results. With Marco onboard, we are further strengthening our proposition. The combination of his and our pan-European experience in the technology and digital services markets will help Firefly Germany grow as it continues to shape the reputations of its existing and future clients.”

Marco joins from German leisure and experience expert, Jochen Schweizer, where he led the public relations efforts of the group and its founder. Before Jochen Schweizer he led the consumer technology teams at Edelman Munich and Bite Communications Germany, where he worked for a wide range of clients such as Microsoft Xbox, HTC, HP, Norton by Symantec and Razer.


If you’d like to read more from Firefly and stay in touch, please click here to sign up: https://fireflycomms.com/newsletters/

NGINX, Inc., the company based on the popular open source project and offering a suite of technologies designed to develop and deliver modern applications, has appointed technology marketing communications agency Firefly Communications Group to handle communications in the UK, France and Germany. Firefly will work in partnership with PAN Communications in the US and PR Deadlines in Australia to cover NGINX’s priority regions.

Firefly will increase NGINX’s brand awareness across all three European markets, with the agency set to handle media relations activity including press relations, speaker programs, awards, and news hijacking. Firefly will also manage analyst relations activities, directly supporting the lead pipeline.

Claire Walker, CEO and founder of Firefly added: “It’s rare to work with a company that affects so many people, but is so modest about its achievements. The simple fact that over half of all global web traffic touches NGINX code at some stage is mind-blowing, but we’re also looking forward to getting down into the technology and delving into the world of containers, microservices and making NGINX’s story front-of-mind with its prospects everywhere.”

“Through our open source roots, NGINX has incredible brand recognition and we’ve been achieving rapid growth, especially in the EMEA region. We needed to find the right agency to partner with us for the next stage of our business,” said Jesica Church, NGINX Director of Brand and MarCom. “With strong experience in multiple markets to help execute our initiatives, Firefly is already helping NGINX expand our voice in the tech landscape.”

NGINX powers two thirds of the world’s busiest sites and applications including Buzzfeed, Instagram, Netflix, Pinterest and SoundCloud. The NGINX open source project started in 2002 and was formally created as a company in 2011. Since then, it has achieved 100 percent year-on-year growth for four straight years and has recently raised $43m in Series C funding to help accelerate its mission to digitally transform the enterprise and modernise applications. Today, millions of innovators choose NGINX and NGINX Plus for delivering their sites and applications with performance, reliability, security and scale.

When you create a great piece of PR content and place it with press, you shouldn’t just stop there. To make the most of your marketing dollar (pound, euro or more!) you need to optimise and amplify your earned coverage following the PESO model – paid, earned, shared and owned. One of the easiest ways to amplify coverage is using your paid media – the channels that require cash to extend your influence beyond your owned and shared networks.

Whether you’ve amplified content already with owned and shared methods, it’s always worth considering paid options. For example, if you’ve posted a piece of content on LinkedIn to your company page, the author has posted it too and it’s been shared by employees and in groups, it may also be worth doing some additional paid social media spend.

So on LinkedIn, you could put paid spend behind the company post about a byline. LinkedIn allows you to set up sponsored content for existing posts (or you can make a brand new one) and target a specific group of people, perhaps marketing managers and marketing directors at retail companies. You can cap the amount of money by day and by campaign to limit your spending. Once done, execute your campaign and watch the clicks, shares and likes on your post roll in. Make sure you use a trackable link to measure impact on the website and see what people do once they land there.

When you have a chunky piece of content like a whitepaper or a research study, it may be worth investing some money into paid search advertising against certain keywords relevant to that piece of content. Google AdWords has a tool called Keyword Planner, which can be used to see which keywords have a high search volume (over last 12 months), the suggested cost-per-click price and how competitive they are, i.e. are other people bidding on those terms. Once you have your keywords planned and your budget set, you can start placing display adverts in search results that generate traffic to the landing page for your content.

Another paid option is content discovery platforms, like Outbrain, which places content at the bottom of media sites to direct readers to articles they may also be interested in reading. Companies like Madison Logic can also help to generate leads through a publisher network. This is particularly valuable for any high-quality content, such as a whitepaper. By working with publishers, Madison Logic tracks the behaviour and content consumption of users. The technology collects ‘intent’ data from the past 90 days, which enables the identification of the right targets.

Over the past four weeks, Firefly has been detailing how brands can use the PESO model – paid, earned, shared and owned – to amplify content and coverage. Sometimes companies will spend lots of time on content creation, but don’t invest enough time into content distribution. This just gives you a ‘create once, use once’ scenario, when it should really be ‘create once, use many times’. But by following this

Tune in next week to download our full report that’ll have all our tips in one place, so you can use PESO tactics to ensure PR doesn’t stop after earned, and you can your results further to provide measurable ROI on your PR spend.



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