Innovation. The introduction of something new and a word we hear about all the time in the creative industry. It can be crucial to the initial and continuing success of a business, but also crippling if you don’t commit to it and give consumers exactly what they want.

Customer service is often considered to be the key to a brand’s reputation, but part of keeping the customer happy and loyal, is to bring something new and exciting to keep them engaged. And that’s where individuality and innovation come in, because people will get bored easily. Remember how popular HQ Trivia was only a few months back? Now, the novelty of potentially winning £500 at 3pm and 9pm everyday has worn off, so people simply aren’t bothered by it anymore. Consumers are more intrigued by the concept of HQ Trivia, rather than the brand itself and frankly, the game became more of a trend than a sustainable brand.

A recent study revealed that UK CMOs are almost half as likely to see innovation as the primary role of the marketing function as their US counterparts – only 25% of UK marketers identify “leading disruptive innovation” as a core functional priority. Surprising, since you only need to Google “innovation” to see all the articles that express the importance of innovation in business. So, why are marketers so resistant to prioritise it?

Engaging with the right crowd

Understanding exactly what consumers want when it comes to new innovations can be tough, especially when there are so many other brands competing for the same crowds, and it can seem difficult to get noticed by anyone. In recent years, brands have attempted to create new marketing techniques, particularly on social media, to try and break through the noise. But some of these actually have a very minimal effect on the relationship between the brand and consumer.

Awareness day campaigns are obvious examples of this. “National Avocado Day”, “International Sloth Day” or “Bring a Potato to Work Day” are just a few of the many examples of this kind of activity that are constantly popping up and trending on social media. And brands are quick to seize the opportunity to create extravagant campaigns, even if the topic has no correlation with their brand. But because it’s trending and popular, they want to be in on it. Whilst some brands are capable of pulling something off – like Aperol giving out free Aperol spritz on National Prosecco Day (yes please!) – for others, the buzz and engagement only really lasts for the day, so is it really worth it?

Similarly, brands who jump on the clickbait-, relatable-type Facebook posts, like the “Tag your friend so that they have to look at this pickle” or “Share if you think XYZ” posts, among others, will only ever get lots of likes, shares and comments on that post and that tends to be where the engagement with the user stops. Consumers are only liking, sharing and commenting because they can relate to the content, not because they want to engage with the brand. Converting leads is said to be a top priority for 70% of marketers, but jumping on social media trends won’t always deliver the best ROI.

Perceptions of innovation

Churning out new products or coming up with big, extravagant marketing campaigns is what most people expect when they think of innovation, and what brands think will gain them more customers. But innovation doesn’t have to be as big as that. In fact, small, more focused approaches to innovation can be more beneficial to the brand. Micro influencers, for example, are more focused than a huge, celebrity influencer because they have followers who are genuinely interested in the content that they post.

Likewise, engaging with consumers in a way that’s meaningful will be much more valuable for your brand in the long-term. Challenger bank, Monzo, has a community forum where its users can chat to each other about Monzo products and interact with a team of Monzo employees to discuss new ideas. It allows Monzo to properly listen to what their customers are thinking, and the customers really feel like they are part of the Monzo brand.

Jumping on the bandwagon of novelty marketing trends is easily done, especially when you see every other brand taking part. But it’s important to stay in-line with business values, making sure the customer is front of mind and asking yourself “will this really benefit my business and gain me loyal customers?”

Every brand has something unique and interesting which makes them who they are – otherwise they wouldn’t be a brand. Finding what makes a brand unique and exploiting that, instead of jumping onto current, popular trends, will be much more valuable in the long run – just because everyone might be talking about one thing one day, doesn’t mean they’ll be talking about it the next.


With the amount of online content and social media in our everyday lifestyle, it’s no surprise that digital PR campaigns are now an important staple in modern PR and advertising.

Give as you Live wanted a stronger social presence and to reach a younger audience that likes to shop, and Firefly advised collaborating with a fashion YouTube vlogger. While traditional media is still valuable, YouTuber popularity is growing fast, and would provide access to a younger audience as well as an authentic assessment of Give as you Live and how they see it in their everyday lives. youtubecomments

Firefly created a campaign plan, including researching the right talent, reaching out and securing a YouTuber within the allocated budget, and working with the vlogger to create a video that maintained their style while weaving in Give as you Live in a way that would resonate with their viewers.

Following the structure of her classic videos, Amy Valentine produced a haul video about products she purchased through Give as you Live. Viewed more than 5,600 times in one week, Amy’s video helped Give as you Live reach self proclaimed shop-a-holics, drove traffic and sign-ups on its website, and increased its social profile thanks to Amy’s mentions.

The nature of modern digital communications, both from a campaign and client perspective, has changed the way PR professionals go about their work day. What if we only had 60 seconds to get the job done? what would a Firefly minute look like?


I studied French at university and to help me on my way I was armed with my trusty dictionary and the not so trusty Google translate. Today, Google has become a lot more reliable (although not fully). There are many tools available online to help us learn a language – from translations services, to pronunciation software and communities of online native speakers. Google has even launched Google goggles which uses pictures to search the web and can translate road signs and menus while you’re abroad – pretty cool, huh?!

However, my question is: are these tools really helping us learn the language or are we just getting by? I was sad to see that foreign languages took a hit last week with UK state schools reporting years of steady decline in GCSE take-up. Could this be linked to our over reliance on technology to do all the hard work for us? Are we lazy linguists?

In my view, the authentic experience of learning a language is invaluable. In order to successfully communicate in a foreign language you need to be aware of cultural differences and the mindset of a native speaker – it goes much further than simple translation. You need to go the country and/or interact with a native speaker offline – body language can be so important when you’re having a conversation.

Much like communicating with journalists, using the right words is all well and good, but understanding their environment and pressures is much more effective.

Similarly, language tools are great but can only serve to compliment an already existing ability. Bring back compulsory foreign language GCSEs at school!

 This post was written by Charlotte.

When my colleague Sophie shouted out over The Times that the sales of tablet computers will more than double next year – I thought, “now that’s interesting”. Personally, with a phone and laptop, I don’t feel the need to buy another device for me to carry around and sync up to everything else. Either way, and despite my personal view, according to these predictions we are set to see more of these devices  around. So in  PR terms, what does this mean?

It means more access to digital content and the world wide web. With more people likely to jump online whilst waiting for a friend to show up for a coffee or surf the web on the tube going home after work, it is important for companies and brands to be seen in the digital sphere and  have a clear understanding of the conversations happening within their communities. At Firefly, we use a tool called FireTalk where we map, track and gain the knowledge we need to develop an online engagement plan. Everyone is different and there is never one digital strategy that fits all. Tailoring every approach with a deep level of understanding of your online communities means you are best placed to engage with them in real-time.

Bring on the tablets – we’re ready for you!

 This post was written by Charlotte.

I went to an old school reunion last week. We were regaling the mischief we got up to and one of my friends admitted (30 years after the event) that at a particular house party, his father got the kegs muddled and instead of letting us kids drink the watered down mead, we got stuck into the adult’s keg that had ‘substances’ added in for some extra punch. No wonder my memories of that party are hazy (it was the late 70s!).

How thankful I am to have survived the party with no photo evidence stored for posterity on social media. We took silly photos, regretted it the next day and thankfully shredded the negatives (didn’t we?). Surely I’m not alone in having cringing recollections of my teenage years, and some memories are better kept that way – unrecorded and perhaps forgotten.

How is it for kids nowadays? Despite knowing how to set up their privacy rules properly, my kids’ reputations are at the mercy of their (700?) close Facebook friends! Are our kids going to be constantly drawn back to their pasts with a record of all their teenage escapades on social media? Will they find it harder to forget their foolish moments, their dumber-than-dumb comments or to lose the silly nicknames they earned at school (fruitbat/smellie/poo-face/lucy-lastic/stinker/contrarymary/dopey/droopy). For many people, there comes a time when you need to break with your childhood or teenage past either temporarily or indefinitely to make a go of a new relationship, to fuel a career or to initiate some sort of reinvention of yourself as a sensible adult.

Will society become more tolerant of youthful misdemeanours? Will our kids’ job applications get overlooked because rightly or wrongly they’ve been made a scapegoat on Facebook or because they were a member of a dubious political party when 19 years old? Will our kids resort to taking on new identities with a clean Facebook record in order to get a job?

Tolerance gets my vote. I hope a colourful life history in photo, video and commentary, all perfectly preserved on the internet, shows spirit and character and hopefully an occasional depth of thought, as well as the occasional depth of debauchery.

While doing my rounds in search of interesting PR content on the web, I ran across this blog entry from a marketing firm based in Reno, Nevada. Reno is known for being a mini-Las Vegas (owing to its numerous casinos) and a history linked to the Nevada gold rush in the 1800s. If you’ll pardon the pun, I think the firm has unearthed some valuable nuggets of wisdom, with regard to the limitations of social media when it’s not accompanied by the right objectives, time investment and supporting strategies. I particularly agree with the assertion that social media success can’t happen overnight (unless you, too, are planning an elaborate hoax about resigning from your company).

On the flip side of those companies waiting on baited breath for their Twitter strategy to start paying dividends, are those who should really embrace social media, but won’t. And it’s this psychological barrier that – along with dispensing good, social media sense – communications consultants must help their clients overcome, with plenty of relevant evidence.

On the bright side, there is so much more cogent discussion about PR and social media that really, it’s like a gold rush in and of itself.

Spotted via Twitter, I found this article in the Washington Post particularly interesting. It discusses the evolving newsroom in the US which also brings challenges that resonate on this side of the pond. He makes two very good points:

Point 1 – Back in the day, a traditional newsroom had three types of jobs: reporter, editor and photographer. With the rise of all things digital, new titles have appeared: multiplatform idea triage specialist and deputy director of word-flow management and video branding strategy, to name a few. Is there really a need for fancy new titles that mean nothing to no one? What does a multiplatform idea triage specialist actually do?

Point 2 – Online headlines are no longer designed to catch the reader’s eye. What they are designed for is SEO, and they’re often changed to something utilitarian – as I have demonstrated in the title of this post. Can you imagine The Sun without their brand-defining (and often funny) pun headlines? So we don’t forget what we could be missing, here are a couple of great ones taken from Friday’s paper:
– We’ve saved her ass (the story about rescuing the parasailing donkey)
– Fish Fingaaghs (the story about a man accidentally filleting UK’s rarest fish)
– Stumphenge (the story about the timber ring found near Stonehenge)

It is interesting to see how the internet has affected the business of journalism, but let’s hope that the things that make “traditional media” special don’t get pushed aside in the digital wave. I firmly believe there’s room for both.

This post was written by Charlotte.

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