Has the summer heat got you flustered and indecisive? Luckily, Autumn will be setting in soon but given the unpredictable weather we’ve been having have who knows whether we’ll be topping up the tan in t-shirts or cosying up in our jumpers. As we all know from the famous quote by Alfred Wainwright, there’s no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing.

As the UK is polarised, thinking Brexit is either brilliant, bo****ks or boring, whatever the outcome we are already in and facing a cold economic spell – and it won’t blow over quickly. So with more challenges ahead, are you ready and braced for the Brexit aftermath?

At any time, but especially in uncertain times, a strong brand and a good reputation gives solid ground on which to be successful. It can differentiate your business. It could be the deciding factor in why someone wants to work with you. You need to be known, understood, respected and trusted by your prospects or customers.

Brand vs. reputation

So, what is best to get your business through these uncharted times? A strong brand or a great reputation? These two requirements are often misunderstood. And you need both.

Your reputation is what people say and think about you. It’s the respect you command, the trust you’ve earned. Your brand is what you say about yourself. It’s showing your confidence, stating your conviction – your vision, mission, purpose or values.

For example, if I told you I’m the most incredible piano player, would you believe me?  I’d say yes if you knew me, and probably no if you don’t know me.

Would you believe it if someone else told you I played the piano beautifully? Possibly, since you might presume that they’d heard me play.

The truth is I can’t play the piano. And those who know me also know I would never claim to do something I can’t do. So, my reputation for piano playing is intact; it’s non-existent.

You have to earn people’s trust

Whether wanting to build your brand or enhance your reputation, it’s important to know who your prospects or customers are, what matters to them, who else is competing with you, what you want to say about yourself, and what you can help them with.

You can tell anyone what you like about your brand and your business, but it’s best to make it authentic or it just isn’t believable. On top of this, earning respect and trust is difficult, as you need to convince others to say great things about you. Take a look at Iceland, which gained respect and a reputational boost by pledging to remove palm oil from its products by the end of 2018, only to tarnish its own reputation in January after it was caught out removing its branding from products still containing palm oil, so it could hide that it hadn’t met its target.

We’re in the business of shaping reputations, ensuring companies can perform at their best in the public eye and get the recognition they deserve, and the first part of shaping any reputation has to start with a good look in the mirror to assess where you’re at. With Brexit just around the corner, now’s the perfect time to assess your position and make a plan to fix any issues.

Take a test – and be honest!

Honestly answer these questions below. It will determine if you are set for reputational success, or where you could do with some help to establish trust and respect.

  1. Do you have great relationships with suppliers, partners or influencers? Are enough of these people saying great things about you? Do you know what they are saying?
  2. How are relations with your workforce? Would they willingly and generously say great things about your company? Look on Glassdoor to see the truth.
  3. Do you contribute to your industry or sector in an innovative way, helping with industry growth or success by thinking, looking and doing beyond your own P&L?
  4. Is your business a trusted source of information, maybe helping others, not just your prospects and customers, learn and develop and grow?
  5. Are you running the business responsibly, paying people on time, being respectful with regard to contractual obligations, following best practise or good corporate governance?
  6. Are you giving back in some way, to your social community? Or to the economic development in and around your industry, sector or locality?
  7. Is your business behaving like a good corporate citizen? Everyone is quite rightly concerned about diversity, pay gaps, sustainability, environmental impact, global warming and more. You need to uphold the highest standards and these need to be genuine commitments and actions.

These questions have hopefully helped create a reputation audit for your business and highlighted some useful strengths, weaknesses and improvements points. However, your real reputation – the real truth – is what others say about you. If you think you or your business may need some support in building a stronger reputation, get in touch via hello@fireflycomms.com.

Were you listening to Talk Radio last Wednesday morning? If so, you may have heard about Prodigy Patient, in a segment discussing cyberchondriacs. Prodigy Patient is an app that helps you get better faster by informing you about your health. Firefly has begun the first phase of the PR programme which includes an app launch, research campaign, TV and radio day as well as paid and organic social activity aimed at driving downloads. The app is available on all major platforms – Android, Windows Phone and IOS.

Also on the way is rungway – a micro-mentoring app which is the brainchild of Julie Chakraverty. Still in beta, Firefly has been involved from its inception, with messaging evolving as more users come on board. Firefly’s late Spring launch plans include a study into mentoring, an app review programme, profiling Julie and social media support (paid and organic). The objective for rungway is to continue to build on the current supportive and engaged community who form the beta test. Join Claire Walker’s PR professionals mentoring group and be a beta tester, register at: http://www.rungway.com/

pandaAll brands want to score highly in search rankings and Google’s latest move changes the goalposts again –but in our view, this time it’s for the better. According to the latest update to Google’s search algorithm Panda, web pages will now be judged by content quality, as well as links, mobile-friendliness and a host of other metrics.

And why is this important for us PR folk? Well, not only will most PR agencies have written web copy, blogs and white papers at some point, but press coverage itself can also (sometimes) contain links back to a website which can drive your brand further up the search rankings. Furthermore, publishers themselves will almost certainly start to scrutinise which articles contributed by brands and PR agencies are performing best and this in turn will have an impact on which articles and news are accepted in future.

This is no pie-in-the-sky: for a while, Forbes paid its freelancers a lump sum for stories, but then a certain amount per hit on the story, encouraging the creation of stories with a long lifespan. Perversely, this frequently encouraged clickbait-style headlines to drive traffic and keep the money flowing to the freelancers.

The good news is that old content isn’t necessarily going to rank lower – which shows PR folk that Google’s search is getting far closer to a ‘human’ way of thinking. It’s analogous to how we think about classic books – the fact that Pride and Prejudice is over 200 years old doesn’t detract from its biting social commentary, pacey plotting and tight characterisation.

But in Google’s mind, what is quality? And what constitutes ‘old’? Well, whilst Google’s AI might be able to beat a European board game champion, it’s not Skynet yet. At the moment, the ranking is determined by ‘satisfying user queries’. So if a page is getting a lot of traffic for goldfish feeding techniques, you’d better make sure you’re providing information on exactly this because higher bounce rates will mean low relevance and consequently, a low score. As for what ‘old’ means, there’s no hard and fast answer. Content over a year old will certainly be judged more harshly than week-old content, but we’ve seen posts from Google execs admitting that age is generally less important than quality.

There are a few other interesting developments from the Panda update, both along the same vein. For example, comments and user-generated content on-site will now also be judged by the same criteria. Whilst comments give a benchmark of content quality – like a book review, reverting to my Pride and Prejudice metaphor – spammy comments will also detract from page quality, so keep moderating or using CAPTCHA codes.

So without further ado, here are some of our recommendations for dealing with Google’s Panda:

Know what you stand for:

Having a pragmatic understanding of what you sell, stand for and why people buy from you or visit your website is an absolute must to informing your content strategy

Make sure everyone is ‘singing from the same hymn sheet’:

If your website talks in a different way to your Twitter feed, and that’s different to how your chief exec speaks in public, then you’ve got problems. Consistency helps Google – and by extension, you

No clickbait:

It’s rarely relevant, people are getting sick of it and now, tenuously linking your brand to Cara Delevingne or Khloe Kardashian will get you penalised in the long-run

Focus on unique, quality content:

This will help your general online influence; developing content which appeals to your audience, can’t be found anywhere else and has lasting power may be more intensive, but it’ll pay dividends in the long run

Don’t worry about age … but keep it fresh:

Fresh content will always score more highly in Google, so you can’t just create a raft of content, post it and expect high search rankings. Old, good quality posts are your allies, but you will constantly need to create new content to stay high up in search rankings

Overall, Google’s Panda update is great news for communications practitioners – and terrifying news for others. Poor-quality, ‘spammy’ content which shuffles around your website like a sci-fi zombie frequently gives the industry a bad name. But unlike Pride and Prejudice, adding zombies is never a good thing – and with Google’s update, perhaps we’ll start to see this ‘undead’ content gradually put to rest.

It’s the end of the first month of 2016 and as many of us hit the gym, give up alcohol and eat more salads than the British rabbit population, should your brand be given the same treatment? Like a new pair of jeans can increase our confidence, new messaging can really invigorate the brand.

Your brand’s messaging is important for three simple reasons:

Like all transformations, you get out what you put in. Don’t be put off, though, we’ve done some of the hard work for you. Here are our top tips:

Get your key executives’ buy-in and contributions

You don’t want to be presenting new messaging to your boss’s boss to have them shoot you down. Get the decision makers involved in a workshop where everyone has a say, and more importantly, agree on aspects of the messaging. That said, we all know not everyone will come to an agreement all of the time. I’ve run workshops where I’ve had to break up fights with people unwilling to come to a compromise. Name a referee!

Think of the audience

Review the profile of your audience to better understand their motivations as well as turn-offs. For PR, the style and tone will be factual and concise for a media audience – it’ll just need to be tailored for the readership of publications you’re targeting. If you’re running a messaging session for more than PR, conduct some word analysis to understand the tone of voice which resonates best with your key audience.

What is the competition saying?

Conduct a competitor audit to see how they’re describing themselves. Look at their website, social feeds, videos as well as press materials and pick-up. The news coverage of your competitors is a good indication of whether their messaging resonates with the media.

Step outside of the company

Try and wipe your mind of all the messaging you’ve developed in the past. Leave the corporate brochures and jargon at the door and attend the session with a fresh perspective. Every messaging workshop needs the ‘Grandma test’ – if she doesn’t understand what the brand does, you know you’ll risk confusing others.

Know what you don’t stand for, as well as what you do

Not everyone is all things to all people. Make a list of words and phrases that your brand doesn’t stand for and stick it on the wall. That way, everyone in the workshop stays focussed on what you stand for.

A great messaging workshop helps your brand cut out the fat and tone-up. The result of which can really revitalise the company’s reputation as well as the people behind it.

We can do more than just give you these tips. We run PR messaging workshops; conducting necessary research beforehand, working through a three-part methodology and delivering a comprehensive written report.

If you’re interested, get in touch: hello@fireflycomms.com

The internet has transformed the way companies operate. They can scale up to reach a global audience from just a desk and computer (ok, the desk is optional). There are no mountains, rivers or seas high enough, wide enough or deep enough to stop them reaching their audience – whether that be customers, partners, investors, or stakeholders.

With access to the internet, the only real barrier is that of language. Cloud services and mobility have made access to computing resources even easier. Companies don’t need to invest a fortune in an IT infrastructure, back-up, storage or computational power to operate a business anymore.

But how can companies connect at both a 1:1 level with customers, whilst also maintaining an international appeal and have geographical reach?

The global PR campaign conundrum

Developing messages and PR campaigns that work on both levels is not without its challenges. According to leading advertising pioneer Sir John Hegarty, creating communications to scale ultimately weakens messaging. He recently told The Independent, “Globalisation has made it hard. I have to create a piece of communication that works not only in the UK but in Malaysia, in Germany…and all the vested interests are hard to convince.”

This doesn’t necessarily mean that all global PR campaigns will need to be watered-down to work. There are two key challenges in developing and executing international campaigns: firstly, communications professionals need to develop a campaign that can work both locally and internationally; secondly, they need to understand and effectively communicate with the various decision-makers within the business (who will often represent various geographic regions).

Tackle your global PR campaign with a global team

With these things in mind, do businesses always have to sacrifice effective and creative PR campaigns so that it can fit a one-size-fits-all approach for all its targets markets?

Having lived, studied and worked across various markets in the US and the UK, I have realised that the most effective campaigns are developed by teams made up of diverse backgrounds and diverse knowledge.

When working with a team made up of individuals from different international backgrounds, you’re not limited to a singular viewpoint. International teams are more adaptive to trends and have a better understanding as to whether an integrated campaign will work across some or all of the targeted markets. On the flip-side, international teams have the unique ability to adapt campaigns to meet various regions’ needs. And finally, through creative conflict and the collection of diverse perspectives, you will find improved creativity, problem-solving and decision within international teams.

In terms of communicating with the various decision-makers during the campaign development and execution stages, an international team will overall be better at liaising with foreign decision-makers and other relevant parties. The team will provide more effective customer service by understanding and accommodating the various groups and needs. More importantly, they will be more convincing when putting campaign ideas forward. As a result, more creative ideas will make it through the approvals process.

Bringing it all together

As a result of globalisation and technology trends, the world as we’ve known it has changed and will only continue to do so. Businesses must be able to speak to their various markets on both a local and international scale—but without watering down the key messages.

Global businesses need a PR team that can effectively communicate to all targeted audiences on both levels. At Firefly we understand that having an international team to support PR campaigns is important to future business success (a third of our own team in London is from outside the UK!). The benefits of incorporating an international team simply makes good business sense—you need to choose a communications team which can help you communicate effectively across the globe and let you get on with helping your business take on the world.

For any consumer technology firm, product reviews and launch coverage are a vital part of the product sales life cycle, attracting early adopters to purchase the product on the day of launch.

This is something Firefly Comms recently helped Crucial to achieve, through the launch of its consumer-focused solid-state drive (SSD) the BX200. This new SSD is designed to start weaning people off slower, less energy efficient hard drives, which in turn slow down desktops and laptops. SSDs are easy to install as a replacement for your hard drive, and with prices constantly falling, they’re becoming a cheaper option to extend the life of your PC or laptop.

To fully maximise this launch opportunity, Firefly created a strategic review programme targeting the right publications. This didn’t necessarily mean going to the sites with the most readers, but the sites read by those most likely to purchase a new SSD, or those with an ageing hard drive that they were itching to replace. Firefly was also keen to help the Crucial BX200 appear highly in search results, so was keen to target websites that had a high domain authority. This would help the Crucial BX200 SSD appear higher in search terms like “SSD reviews”, “Best SSD”, “PC upgrades” and “hard drive replacement”.

Firefly set up product briefings with key press and also shared product samples for review weeks in advance, to ensure reviews and news coverage was hitting on the same day.

Firefly secured 10 pre-launch product briefings with tier one press, which helped to achieve four day one reviews on eTeknix, bit-tech, Hardware Heaven and Vortez, and over 20 pieces of news coverage, including articles in TechRadar, The Register, The Inquirer, KitGuru, HEXUS and Tech Power Up.

Review samples were given to 100% of tier one media, with news coverage appearing in over 70% of tier one media publications. In total, the Crucial BX200 launch reached an audience of over 30m people.

If you spotted the blog post from Firefly’s Phil Szomszor earlier this week, you’ll know that – in our opinion – LinkedIn is ‘the special one’ when it comes to B2B marketing.

Why? Well, there are a number of reasons – but, ultimately, the network has evolved into a publishing platform, providing users (13 million in the UK alone) with a targeted and personal communications channel to reach decision makers.

With this in mind, on Tuesday morning we hosted an event all about LinkedIn – specifically looking at how marketers can mobilise the rest of the workforce to use the platform effectively.

We were joined by Henry Clifford-Jones, Director of LinkedIn’s Marketing Solutions Business in Europe, and Tamara Korcak-Novicka, Online & Social Media Manager at Telefónica.

The event sold out, so for those who were unable to join us (and even those who were, but fancy refreshing their memory!), here is a brief summary, along with the speakers’ slides…

The event opened with Phil, our Head of Business and Digital, offering his perspective from a PR standpoint on the use of LinkedIn. He also shared the surprising results of the audience research we conducted prior to the event: we surveyed the customer base of four of Firefly’s B2B clients, and found that just 5% of these customers were on Twitter, while a whopping 92% were on LinkedIn!

Phil’s slides are available here:

Phil was followed by LinkedIn’s Henry, who spoke to delegates about how the platform has evolved since its inception. Henry emphasised the fact that nowadays content is very much at the core of LinkedIn; users are ten times more likely to engage with content than they are with jobs.

And while it’s important for companies to have a profile page, individual employees are very much ‘the face of the brand’ on LinkedIn; the average member is twelve times more likely to see top tech brands though an employee’s profile page than on their company page.

Finally, Tamara of Telefónica took the floor, to provide a first-hand perspective of the work she is doing to roll-out a unified, strategic set of LinkedIn usage guidelines across the whole of the organisation.

Thanks to all those who joined us – please do follow us on LinkedIn to be kept up-to-date on future events and goings-on at Firefly, and if you have any questions get in touch!
Firefly LinkedIn event

In the third interview of our #firefy25 anniversary series, Mark Allatt brings a marketer’s view on how PR has adapted and is integrating with other marketing disciplines. Mark  was a Firefly client first time around in the very early 90s, when working for UK giant computer Hoskyns Group PLC  (now Capgemini).  It was an age when press releases were distributed via snail mail to the masses and only faxed to a few (email wasn’t used at all). Mark has kept in contact with the agency over the years and is now a client again working as the interim marketing director of Firefly client InvestingZone.

Mark Allatt on the past, the present and the future of PR from FireflyCommsPR on Vimeo.

We are delighted to announce that Firefly has been shortlisted for a Golden Hedgehog PR Award for our work on The Centre for Effective Distribution’s ‘Inquiry into Public Inquiries’ project.

With the ‘Public Inquiry’ very much engrained in the UK’s consciousness in the wake of the News of the World hacking scandal and the resulting Leveson Inquiry, The Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution (CEDR) was midway through its project examining the effectiveness of Public Inquiries and asked Firefly to help raise awareness and encourage contributors to come forward to take part.

We commissioned simple omnibus research to determine the public’s level of faith in the Public Inquiry process and, as predicted, a level of discontent was discovered. The findings were offered to top tier media with the opportunity of a briefing with the project’s co-chairs, former Chief Justice of England and Wales, Lord Woolf of Barnes and Chief Executive of CEDR, Karl Mackie.

A media day was organised, beginning with a live interview on BBC’s Radio 4’s The Today Programme, and the co-chairs then met with journalists from national and legal press including the Financial Times, the Press Association and Legal Week. This gave the chairs the chance to get across their hopes for the project and encourage other experts to become involved.

We view the ‘Low Budget Campaign of the Year’ category as being particularly prestigious as it truly shows that effective PR campaigns do not have to cost the world. Being shortlisted is a testament to the agency (us) but also to our client CEDR, whose investment and collaboration really can’t be praised enough in making the campaign a success.


We are thrilled to announce that following an entry that the Firefly team put together, online shopping tool Give as you Live has won the highly contested ‘Best Giving Platform’ at the Institute of Fundraising’s Partners in Fundraising Awards last week.

Give as you Live was shortlisted from a range of online giving platforms, then put to an Institute of Fundraising members vote. Give as you Live managed to fight off tough competition from the likes of Virgin Money Giving, JustTextGiving by Vodafone and Blackbaud, to win the award.

The win marks a fantastic year for Give as you Live, which has helped to raise over £3.1 million for UK charities – through some clever technology which redirects affiliate marketing spend to UK charities and causes.

The award win is one of two recent big events for CEO and Founder of Everyclick (the company behind Give as you Live) Polly Gowers, who next week is set to collect her OBE from the Queen in recognition of her services to philanthropy.

Polly said:

“I’m thrilled. It’s great that the IOF members have voted us Best Giving Platform. It’s a real validation of the technology we have developed and the great team that supports our product. There are huge opportunities to deliver significant new recurring revenue through online shopping – we look forward to working with the sector to turn it into a major new revenue stream.”

Congratulations all!

More information on Give as you Live can be found on the case study section of our website.


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