Social media marketing is an essential string to any comms professional’s bow in today’s industry landscape. Increasingly, B2B and B2C businesses alike are engaging with influencers as part of their social media marketing strategies, and this means managing influencer relations.
Influencer relations is a relatively new concept, meaning that global regulation is far from aligned. When working across Europe, it is therefore important that communications professionals know how to navigate the variety of legal restrictions they may encounter.
Influencer relations is about more than relationships with influencers
As comms professionals, relationships are our bread and butter. When brands engage with a comms agency for their social media strategy, they expect the agency to have great connections with relevant influencers in their sector.
Relationships are crucial, but they’re only one piece of the overall pie. Looking at this from a traditional media relations perspective, we can see why. Yes, it’s important to have that close connection with a journalist to secure press coverage, but comms professionals also need to be excellent content creators, top-notch organisers, and events management afficionados. We’re constantly wearing different hats – and we must do the same when developing an influencer relations programme.
Influencer marketing has legal implications
When scrolling through Instagram or TikTok, you will likely have noticed your favourite creators adding ‘#ad’ to the captions of their posts. This isn’t just a gesture of transparency, but a legal requirement for anyone creating content online in the UK.
In the UK, influencers are regulated by the Competition and Markets Authority. They have a handy guide which sets out how influencers can promote brands and products online. This helps both companies and influencers alike to comply with consumer protection law. Rules are similar in Germany.
Seems simple, right?
Ensuring compliance across borders is crucial
Influencer relations vary significantly across Europe. For example, in France, social media regulation recently shifted. Previously, influencers were not legally bound to signal product placements in their posts, but this is set to change to a more UK-style approach.
How can brands ensure they have an effective influencer relations strategy across Europe?
Thinking of boosting your influencer relations strategy in Europe? Get in touch!
We’ve all seen reputational disasters play out before. Crisis comms kick in, and leadership is forced to make tough decisions about the future. But, what about when a company reputation isn’t totally obliterated, but it takes a knock?
Tackling a PR setback
England’s Rugby Football Union (RFU) has a partnership with British Airways. British Airways has leveraged this partnership in its comms activity, with various marketing actions including sharing pictures of the England men’s rugby team flying first class to their matches. So, when the sporting world found out that the RFU and British Airways declined to fly the England women’s rugby team first class to their World Cup matches late last year, both organisations experienced a PR issue.
Ever since this information became public, debate has ensued about whether the two organisations made the right or wrong decision. Whether you agree or disagree with the decision, we can all agree that this situation is about reputational impact.
Character vs capability reputation
Company reputation is split between character reputation and capability reputation. Capability reputation is the organisation’s ability to deliver a product or a service, in this case, the RFU and British Airways’ capability to transport the team from A to B.
Capability reputation is always balanced with character reputation, which is all about how a product or service is being delivered. In this example, both organisations were perceived as capable of getting England’s women and men alike to the pitches. But, in a context in which sexism in sport remains prevalent, the organisations’ decision to offer superior treatment to the men’s team was always going to result in a character reputation setback.
Building a consistently winning character reputation strategy
Shaping a company reputation is a lot like playing a game of rugby. Organisations hype themselves up, formulate a winning strategy, and then start to make moves. But it’s important that leaders don’t let their gameplan slip.
Consistency is Queen, as proved by the Red Roses breaking the world record for most consecutive wins in International Rugby Union. Similarly, a company reputation is formed over years, and every action counts. Above all, leaders must avoid reputational blunders by building out a long-term strategy that avoids contradiction and always remains consistent.
A cyberattack occurs every 44 seconds. These attacks target businesses as much as individuals –almost one in three businesses (31%) are now threatened by hackers at least once a week. Such threats can cause reputational damage, but business leaders need not be alarmed. Implementing rapid reactive customer communications can allow organisations to circumvent potentially severe reputational damage in the immediate aftermath of a breach.
As cyberattacks increase in frequency, businesses must mitigate accordingly
Cyberattacks are an almost inevitable part of operations for tech-driven organisations. Evidently, security precautions are implemented to mitigate the impact of these attacks, but hackers are smart. Sometimes even the strongest of environments can be breached, and leaders need to be prepared.
For example, in 2021 one of the most notorious cyberattacks in history occurred. A vulnerability was exposed in Apache Log4j, a Java-based logging utility used ubiquitously within businesses. Hackers used the logger to control victims’ computers remotely, for purposes such as sending spam, cryptocurrency mining, and ransomware attacks. Once the vulnerability was exposed, more than 100 attacks were occurring per minute.
Some of the biggest names in tech were affected by the Log4j vulnerability. Microsoft released extensive customer communications on the topic, with others such as Amazon and Google Cloud following suit.
Top tips for customer communications during a crisis
In the event of a cyberattack, the last thing businesses want to be doing is scrambling to create a reactive comms plan. Leaders should therefore ensure that a robust communications strategy is already in place and can be executed seamlessly, should an attack occur.
Firefly’s top tips for customer communications during a crisis include:
If a cyberattack is well handled, it can be an opportunity to shape a business’ reputation as resilient in the face of a crisis. Leaders who prepare and execute effective customer communications during such times are those who will retain a loyal customer base, despite a cyber threat.
As September approaches, the summer holiday season is almost over. It’s been great to get back to jetting off to exciting new destinations after a difficult few years for the travel industry. Yet as climate change dominates the headlines, many of us may be thinking more about the environmental impacts of travel than in previous years. Personally, I’ve been pondering whether travel tech could be the solution – let’s think this through together.
Climate concerns are soaring
Air travel is far from the most sustainable way to get from A to B for our summer holidays. Aviation represents 14% of greenhouse gas emissions produced in the EU. This may seem like a small figure, but when considering that rail only represents a 0.4% share, it’s easy to understand why planes are getting a bad rep.
The easy answer to this problem would be to encourage Europeans to take trains as a greener holiday transport method. A myriad of reasons blocks us from doing so at present, including a lack of continental standard for train manufacturing and an almost total absence of operators running trains across European borders. In short, pointing travellers to rail travel isn’t yet a viable option.
Whilst the EU continues its long and arduous journey to liberalising continental rail travel, climate change rages on. Record temperatures of 40.3°C were confirmed by the Met Office in July; an alarming development for all. Travel tech companies have responded with greener operations, leveraging the latest technology to ensure that people can still enjoy a summer break.
Travel tech in the airline industry
Whilst the UK’s beaches offer beautiful surroundings, if you do want to go abroad, chances are that you will be taking a plane. Thankfully, airlines are already making progress towards net-zero emissions goals, and innovations in travel tech are here to make flights even greener.
For example, Alaska Airlines implemented an AI-powered route optimisation tool. The software uses machine learning to assess a range of factors that affect the efficiency of a journey, such as air turbulence and weather conditions. If the AI finds a greener route, flight dispatchers are notified, and they make a final decision on if the recommended route should be followed. As such, safety is maintained at the same time as a more fuel-efficient route is created. It doesn’t get better than that!
Let’s go to the beach, beach, let’s go get away
Once you have arrived at your destination, you will need a place to stay. At present, accommodation accounts for around one fifth of tourism emissions. This may not sound like a lot, but if these emissions were wiped out, the industry would become 20% greener. That would certainly reduce the guilt burden for travellers.
The Sustainable Hospitality Alliance asks hotels to reduce their carbon emissions by 90% – how can travel tech support this endeavour? We can look to IoT devices for the answer. Smart hotel technologies, such as motion sensors for lights and occupancy sensors for air conditioning, can drastically reduce energy consumption. For example, a 2020 study found that implementing an IoT-enabled air conditioning system reduced daily energy usage by 20% during peak summer heat. Considering that this makes life easier for the user too, it’s a no-brainer.
Making travelling that little bit more guilt-free
While the industry still has a long way to go, travel tech is making strides when it comes to making our summer holidays more sustainable. If you’re a travel tech organisation that wants to shout about your commitment to a greener travel industry, get in touch!
Happy Pride Month! No doubt we’ve all seen a flurry of rainbow flags hit our social media feeds this month, along with several hit inclusive campaigns in the media. Some of my personal favourites include the gender-neutral shaving campaign from Harry’s and Flamingo, and Absolut Vodka’s out and open campaign.
What do these excellent campaigns have in common? To put it simply, they engage in brand reputation shaping, rather than so-called ‘rainbow washing’ – using rainbow colours and imagery to suggest to consumers that a brand supports LGBTQ+ equality, without backing these campaigns up with concrete action.
When done right, Pride Month can be a special time to uplift the actions your organisation is doing for the LGBTQ+ community all year round, contributing to an overall inclusive reputation. But when done poorly, Pride campaigns can at best look cheap, and at worst, reflect tokenism.
Why leverage Pride Month for inclusive campaigns?
It’s easy to see why brands choose to jump on the Pride bandwagon for their campaigns. Globally, the LGBTQ+ community possesses a whopping $3.7 trillion in purchasing power. Brands looking to increase their revenue want to market to LGBTQ+ consumers and can be led to believe that Pride Month is the appropriate time to do so.
This isn’t a million miles away from the truth. Events like Pride seek to uncover the stories of marginalised communities, which is evidently a noble cause. And as is the case with Pride, often such dates have historical relevance, marking events that may otherwise fly under the radar.
The issue therefore isn’t that brands are honouring Pride Month. On the contrary, the more people that celebrate Pride, the more effective the month becomes. Marking Pride becomes an issue when it’s done only to drive sales in one specific month, and when LGBTQ+ inclusivity is not part of an organisation’s longer-term reputation programme.
How can organisations do better this Pride Month and beyond?
It’s clear that a one-off, tokenistic Pride Month campaign isn’t the right way to go when it comes to building an inclusive company reputation. Instead, businesses should focus on implementing genuine, year-round strategies to support marginalised communities, and match these efforts with appropriate PR campaigns. Here are some concrete examples for organisations to consider:
Crucially, building an inclusive reputation begins within. It’s all well and good talking about your support of the LGBTQ+ community externally during Pride Month, but if your LGBTQ+ employees and customers do not receive your support all year round, it doesn’t appear authentic. Ultimately, shaping and managing a reputation involves taking accountability for actions and demonstrating strong company values, consistently.
Want to learn more about shaping a brand’s reputation? Check out The Firefly Guide to Shaping Your Reputation.
May has been a month of innovation and continued regulatory shifts in the tech sector. It can be difficult to keep up with the endless waves of change (Elon Musk’s continual indecision over purchasing Twitter spring to mind for anyone?), but the Firefly team always havs our finger on the pulse. Here’s our lowdown on what you might have missed.
It’s no secret that supply chain issues and the candidate crisis have plagued businesses significantly recently. But what if AI innovation could offer the solution?
A growing number of startups are applying AI technology alongside established logistics firms to help businesses ease supply concerns. In the recruitment arena, AI is becoming an increasingly effective tool for hiring strong candidates. Google has even gone as far to develop almost human-level intelligence. Increasing efficiencies is always beneficial; we will certainly be tracking these developments closely.
As the power of AI innovation grows, so do the legal restrictions within the technology sector. The UK Government is set to introduce new competition rules for large tech companies, paving the way for innovation among smaller businesses.
When it comes to user safety, the discussion on the Online Safety Bill continues. Campaigners argue the current provisions do not sufficiently address violence against women and girls, showing that greater protections are needed. We’re also seeing a crackdown on Big Tech’s data collection, with the global central bank calling for individuals to be given more control.
These moves highlight greater oversight is needed over the sector to ensure that everyone can engage with technology safely and freely.
June has been a less than ideal month for the crypto world, as several stablecoins crashed in a historic market collapse. Though, if anyone fancies a trip to Gucci’s US-based stores, rest assured you can use bitcoin to complete your purchase there, so it’s not all doom and gloom.
Save time on trawling the papers by signing up for our daily news roundup of the latest news across technology and communications.
Spring has finally sprung at Firefly HQ, with a few sunny days being enough to get our teams outside and enjoying all that our cities have to offer. We’re well into the first quarter of the year and the tech industry is continuing to thrive amidst the waves of geopolitical issues and legal challenges. Here’s everything you need to know from March.
Keeping up with regulatory change and legal protections can be tough in such an ever-evolving industry. We’ve seen multiple different approaches to prevent fraud, all the way from the heights of big tech cracking down on online scammers, to the day-to-day of dating app Tinder introducing criminal background checks on users. Giants Meta and Google were also in the firing line again, as governments in both the UK and the EU delving into their online advertising.
For those of us who want something a little lighter, social and streaming have, as usual, seen a number of adjustments in the last month. CNN has launched a new streaming platform – yay! At the same time, Netflix has increased its prices – boo! TikTok expanded even further to 10-minute videos, but I’m not convinced we have the attention span to avoid scrolling for that long. Discord had the proof for that, as when plagued by outages, it had to tell its users to go outside and focus on something else for a little while. Research even proves that we’re hooked on platforms, as nearly a fifth of young people are ready to take the leap to the metaverse.
We can’t ignore the more serious side of the news this month, with the tragic conflict in Ukraine resulting in a Russian tech brain drain, and the end to numerous financial tools and social media sites in the country. Innovation has also continued, with a new digital front line transpiring in Ukraine and facial recognition technology fighting misinformation.
On the brighter side of things, Wordle continues to dominate our daily routines, with a linguistics expert sharing her top tips. Maybe you can do Wordle while you’re waiting for a takeaway and split the bill with your friends, or one day even connect on the first ever gravity-powered infinity train.
Want to keep in the loop about all these developments and more? Sign up to Firewire, the daily tech and comms news roundup from the Firefly London team.
Since it debuted on 17 September, our social media feeds have been dominated by Netflix’s South Korean offering – Squid Game. The drama is the latest in an expanding wave of international cinema and TV series on the site and tells the story of 456 people who are desperately competing in a series of deadly games with the hope of paying off their debts.
Despite the Korean dialogue and extreme violence, the show has become the most successful launch in Netflix’s history, with 111 million account holders tuning in during its first month on the site. These are the kind of numbers that traditional network television executives dream of; all from a foreign-language TV show, the likes of which have in the past failed to succeed in Anglophone markets. Before the advent of streaming, foreign-language TV was pushed to the fringes of British and American media, only found by those desperately seeking it out.
Now, giants like Netflix and HBO Max actively promote their foreign-language offering. Netflix has now made series in 62 different languages, which begs the question, is language the same barrier that it once was?
Travelling across the globe, all without leaving your living room
The cultural zeitgeist in English-speaking countries has long been dominated by English-speaking film and television, with a lack of willingness to engage with foreign-language media. But, as streaming services become increasingly popular, giving viewers access to content from a broader range of sources, so does foreign-language content. Of Netflix’s top ten most-streamed shows, 40% were either shot or conceptualised in a country where English is not the dominant language. If we narrow this list down to the top three, two of the three have no English dialogue.
This multinational trend is not limited to the world of Netflix streaming. Some argue that South Korea has become a frontline contributor to global culture in recent years – all because of K-pop. And it certainly isn’t just Korean culture which is taking over the airwaves; Italian rock band Maneskin shot to fame earlier this year when they won the Eurovision Song Contest, amassing nearly 18 million listeners in the month following their win.
It would be remiss to think that the growing popularity of these non-Anglophone cultural phenomena has not, in part, been motivated by a global pandemic which forced us all to slow down, stop travelling, and try new things from the comfort of our own homes. People are choosing to travel without ever packing a suitcase, experiencing new cultures through their TV screens.
This is the kind of lifestyle change which brings about the kind of streaming figures produced by Squid Game.
What can comms professionals learn from Squid Game?
Communications and PR professionals can and should learn a lot from the increasing national and linguistic diversity we’re experiencing in our everyday lives. But tread carefully; consider what is appropriate from the original story and what needs to be adapted to fit with your target country’s culture.
Squid Game is a prime example of the impact of cultural and linguistic nuances when a piece is consumed in multiple different countries. It appeals to audiences around the globe due to its analysis of the anxieties of modern life and its commentary on social inequalities. These themes will undoubtedly mean even more to a South Korean audience however, who are living through a personal debt crisis which has risen in recent years to over 100% of its GDP, famously also documented in the 2020 Oscar-winning film Parasite. Moreover, the game central to Squid Game’s plot is based upon creator Hwang Dong-hyuk’s favourite childhood playground game, which was mostly limited to Korea. Consequently, whilst Squid Game does not need to be adapted in any way for global viewers to understand it, there are certain nuances that are simply lost on many audiences.
Making culturally rich (and culturally sensitive) campaigns
When it comes to communications campaigns, there are times when you can succeed with a story like Squid Game, which has specific national cultural nuances. Perhaps it simply doesn’t make sense to make cultural adaptations, because the story is just fundamentally South Korean, or German, or whatever it may be. In this case, you are assuming (based upon extensive research) that your target audience has a significant enough sensitivity to the original culture for the story to not be lost on them. This is absolutely possible and requires in-depth prior research to ensure that no part of the story will be lost in translation, or even appear appropriated, making sure to touch bases with those in both your original and target country.
More often though, campaigns need to be contextually adapted to suit different regions. We’ve all heard of Google Translate fails, such as the PR disaster caused by Amazon’s errors in cultural sensitivity when first launching in the Nordics. These errors are not only embarrassing but can cause deep harm to a business’ relationship with the people of that region and affect your global reputation. Comms professionals must learn from locals and truly understand a region’s nuances before attempting to launch campaigns there.
For example, when Google Chrome launched in Thailand, local insight revealed that Thai consumers enjoy traditional storytelling. So, when the global giant brought its browser to the country it created an interactive visualisation experiment designed to showcase the browser through the Ramakien ancient Sanskrit epic tale. During the campaign there was a 53% increase in usage, which demonstrates the importance of developing unique, local campaigns.
In individual cases, it is up to you to do your research and decide what linguistic and cultural adaptations (if any) are necessary. We can certainly learn from different regions, but we shouldn’t just take from them. As South-Korean Oscar-winning director Bong Joon-ho famously said in his acceptance speech, “Once you overcome the one-inch tall barrier of subtitles, you will be introduced to so many more amazing films”. Perhaps for the world of PR and comms, we can adapt this to say, “Once you overcome the barrier of your nation’s borders, you will be introduced to so many more amazing audiences.”
Thinking of launching a comms campaign in Europe? Let us help you out with navigating national nuances and read our guide to Pan-European comms here.
It’s almost time to turn back the clocks and put pumpkins out on our doorsteps as October draws to a close. It’s been a busy month in the tech world, with a balance between the war on social media raging on and some brighter innovations that aim to make our daily lives easier. If you missed anything, here’s our tech news roundup to get you up to speed.
One thing almost nobody missed was that Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram experienced an outage that lasted almost six hours. The company blamed an internal technical issue, that on top of affecting the functioning of Facebook’s platforms, resulted in issues with internal employees’ work passes and email. The event provoked questions about our reliance on social media, forcing people around the globe to rethink their relationship with these platforms.
This outage occurred within the context of additional bad press for Facebook as whistleblower Frances Haugen testified before US Congress. She explained that the social media giant has repeatedly prioritised profit over reining in hate speech and misinformation, as its AI systems only catch a tiny minority of offending content.
Nevertheless, numerous social media giants fought back against this mass denunciation. Facebook introduced new measures which attempt to push teens away from harmful content. Similarly, Twitter is testing a warning for users which will appear before they engage with heated conversations on the platform. These may be small steps but represent a move in the right direction to a safer social media world.
In lighter news, October saw a number of innovative developments in the world of tech. Royal Mail has been trialling drone deliveries in Scotland’s Orkney Islands to better connect remote communities. Google Maps is set to show drivers the lowest carbon route for their journeys in a drive towards more environmentally friendly policies. That’s not all for Google, as its experts have also developed an AI-based system to accurately predict if it will rain in the next 90 minutes, which will certainly be useful here in London!
That’s all for our October roundup. Want to receive a daily news roundup of the biggest tech stories? Sign up to our Firewire here.
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