In the latest interview of our #firefly25 anniversary video series, head of our consumer practice Fiona Hughes (@sohoPRgirl) reflects on the ways consumer PR has changed over the years.  Fiona started her PR career at Firefly posting ‘trannies’ and press packs to journalists, she then spent a decade touring small independent and big international agencies before being  talent-spotted and tempted to boomerang back to  Firefly as part of the senior management team in 2011.

We were delighted to announce last week, that Vimeo will become Firefly Communications’ latest consumer client, as we expand our consumer practice.

Firefly will be utilising its pan-European network to service the account – with the hub operating from London, and the network running across Firefly France, Firefly Germany and our sister agency in Spain.

The story was covered by several industry publications, including The Drum and Gorkana; we replicate the Gorkana story here:

Published: Tuesday, 13 March 2012, 11:42am 

Vimeo win for Firefly
Vimeo has brought in Firefly to handle its European PR

Firefly Communications has been brought in by video sharing website Vimeo to handle its European PR following a five-way pitch.

The agency has been briefed to build consumer awareness of the brand via tech, lifestyle and consumer titles. It will also continue to communicate with the brand’s heartland creative audience.

The team will also build on the momentum from Mobile World Congress 2012, helping Vimeo to be recognised by other potential brand partners and localise its global reach to different markets.

The account will be led by Fiona Hughes, head of consumer Europe at Firefly in London, with support from European agencies in Paris, Munich and Madrid.

The team will report to Vimeo’s marketing comms director, Deborah Szajngarten, and European PR lead, Nikki Thompson.

Deborah said: “Vimeo is a global site that continues to experience tremendous year-over-year growth. We sought out a European agency-partner that could truly aid us in our international communications expansion.

“We needed someone that understood Vimeo’s unique culture and could easily assist us in properly localising our global messages. We chose Firefly as our European PR partner because they have a clear understanding of the variety of cultures and countries that make Europe such an interesting and challenging market.”

Fiona said: “This pan-European win puts Firefly’s new consumer practice firmly on the map. Vimeo is high performing, ambitious, creative and passionate, meaning it has all the ingredients for a brand we’re all very excited to be working with.

“Our work for Vimeo will take us right into the heart of what we do best at Firefly Consumer – community engagement and media conversation on and offline.”

There may be a recession looming, but according to research commissioned by Give as You Live, more than half (57%) of Brits will be spending a total of £200 on Christmas gifts this year. Eight is the average number of people gift-givers will be buying for, making the average gift value £25. Not bad: this should go a long way towards avoiding the “worst-ever gifts received” which according to the GAYL survey, included used toiletries.

It’s a 21st century maxim that our economy needs Christmas. I imagine many retailers are already wringing their hands over some Christmas 2011 forecasts. But what’s the impact of Christmas for communicators?

The Consumer PR Juggernaut

I’ve worked with some great consumer public relations talent over the years, and I think most would agree that during the Christmas rush, preparation and an organised mind are just as valuable as the bright, shiny object you’re trying to place in Stuff, Stylist or Self.

Good PRs have gotten Christmas down to a science:
• The broad tactics will have been developed and agreed with the client in the first half of the calendar year
• Consumer tech product launches will be optimally timed for the period between CES and spring, to make that product the must-have item come Christmastime, following an aggressive product review programme
• Late summer is when the Christmas countdown will officially start, when longer lead publications are sent gift guide ideas to run in October/November issues
• “One hundred days ‘til Christmas” is another popular wrapper for seasonal pitches and events
• And right about now is when PR folks are revving up the gift guide engine once more, in time to reach weeklies, nationals and onlines

And this is just a partial list! The devil is in the detail: everything from product photography, to the user guide, to the international pricing details must be pitch perfect weeks and months in advance.

If you think this is all a bit much, consider that many companies count on a massive spike in revenues during the 9-12 week run-up to Christmas to make their annual numbers.

BSOs: Not the Only Path to Success

Savvy PRs have also mastered the art of working up pitches into eye-grabbing headlines. My favourite so far has been, “how to create an alternative Christmas”, which is intriguing enough to make you want to read further, without appearing totally self-serving. Media resources like Response Source or Gorkana Media Requests also give you an insight into angles that float the editor’s boat and are generally a great, complementary resource for the opportunity-hungry PR.

Even if you’re not promoting this season’s bright shiny object (BSO), there is hope for using the winter holidays as a reputation-booster for business-to-business brands. Sometimes, it’s a question of timing and opportunism.

“Christmas is a mixed blessing for us. Our main sectors, as reflected in the business and legal press, are a lot quieter mid December-mid January, yet traditionally this is a time when we sign big international contracts for the coming year,” said Andy Rogers, director of communications at the Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution (CEDR), who provide professional mediation services to private and public sector clients. When communications are timed around the holiday season, Andy cautions that above all, PRs should be buttoned up and as organised as possible, to secure the best outcome.

“Over the holidays you have to be well-prepared for your activity. Whether a mailing or a press release, if you have really thought ahead, you can still successfully undertake most marcomms activities. You might not hit everyone but you will certainly be competing against less activity. On New Year’s Day, a story which might not make it on to page 23 of a national can stand a chance getting on to front page with the right sell-in.”

Last but not least, if you’re in a business that dispenses advice to consumers or other businesses,
or work in a generally forward-looking industry, having your 2012 predictions published in a relevant title can be a great way to demonstrate industry thought leadership. Just make sure they’re not a blatant pitch for your wares; and instead, offer insights into 2012 trends that will impact your customers or industry at-large, and communicate what you’re doing that relates to these future developments.

Firefly London and Firefly Paris have been selected to boost awareness of, a one-stop-shop for computer memory upgrades.

Crucial is a leading manufacturer of RAM and SSD solutions for desktop and notebook computers. Firefly already serves as the lead European PR agency to Crucial’s sister brand, Lexar, and will use its expertise in consumer/consumer tech media to make new inroads for

The project was awarded to Firefly in December 2010 to support its overall goal of increasing mainstream consumer footfall to in the UK, France and US. The Firefly London team will serve as the lead on the international PR project.

“We were impressed with the results Firefly achieved with Lexar and are excited to be working with them on,” said Sam Harmer, public relations manager for “Upgrading your computer memory is one of the best ways to boost system performance and at we make the whole process extremely easy.  There’s a wide universe of mainstream computer users out there that we want to reach with our message and Firefly is the right agency to help us do that.”

Is it time to shape your reputation?

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