Countless people have said it, but this year really was anything but predictable. Despite the sudden change, the year wasn’t all doom and gloom. Mental health was discussed more, social justice movements really accelerated, carbon emissions dropped at the height of lockdown, Animal Crossing had its time in the limelight, and most of us learnt how to make bread and other baked goods.

With 2020 almost behind us, we’ve been having some great discussions here at Firefly about what we think the year ahead holds, so here are six of the main trends we’ve come up with that we think will have a huge impact on the world of comms in 2021.

Stronger communication of social and political movements 

This year, we have seen social justice efforts dialled up drastically. Hugely important topics such as climate change, animal rights, and wellbeing were brought to the awareness of the masses more so than ever before this year. However, the most powerful of which was undoubtedly the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement this year, where many stood in solidarity to fight against racial oppression and reflected on the prejudices within their own societies. The impactful global movement not only brought these issues to the front of everyone’s minds, but it also prompted action from a number of organisations and effective communication became key.

As we approach 2021, it is likely that topics much like these will continue to surface, causing a shift in both corporate and consumer behaviour. Responding in the wrong way, or not responding at all, can have a negative knock-on effect on the reputation of individuals and/or companies, so being prepared for communicating on issues will be a key consideration as we enter the new year. 

Move over media relations

In the coming year, the face of PR will change, even more so than it has already. Companies, and particularly in-house PR teams, are focusing less and less on traditional media coverage. Of course, the media remains an important audience to communicate to, but comms specialists must start to look at the reputation all around them, not just in the media. Finding the right means of communication will become crucial to helping build or improve the reputation of organisations or individuals. With tactics such as SEO, employer branding, and other reputation-building tactics becoming more and more impactful, it’s clear that media relations alone simply won’t cut it anymore. As an industry, we must start to adapt, develop, and innovate in 2021, pushing communication to its full potential.

Tim believes that “The best campaigns nowadays hit different audiences, in different ways, and at different times, and the truth is that media relations on its own doesn’t usually deliver that as effectively as a wider comms campaign.”

Cancel culture continues on

Prior to this year, we knew cancel culture was a thing, but with the power of social media and the increase of social justice movements, both the extent and frequency has increased a fair bit. Most infamously this year was the fall of the once beloved writer, J.K. Rowling who voiced opinions that many deemed as anti-transgender. Despite numerous attempts to repair her reputation by demonstrating support and clarification on her opinions, J.K.’s cancel saga continues.

So far, the comms industry has had some trouble with understanding and getting to grips with cancel culture. And this is only expected to get harder in the coming year. Our words, especially on social media, can make a huge impact. Now that those involved in cancel culture know that it works, it’s likely that this will only increase just how much they partake in the public shaming of brands. Going forward, we must start to take cancel culture seriously.

For anyone who’s still new to cancel culture or wants to learn a bit more, we wrote a blog about it recently. You can read it here.

The battle against misinformation continues 

We wrote a blog last year about deepfakes being a big threat to the media, and the efforts of those involved in spreading misinformation have really ramped up since. The pandemic has caused a huge amount of misinformation to be spread as many questioned the virus, the causes and eventually the vaccine. In retaliation, the World Health Organisation coined the phrase “infodemic” to explain this plethora of information and its rapid spread. Social media giants even began to crack down on misinformation by flagging posts that may have inaccuracies or be deceptive – hopefully, this will be just the start of the likes of Facebook and Twitter preventing the spread of fake news.

In the next year, it’s likely we will begin to see some real innovation in this area and a shift in behaviour, but it won’t be easy. Comms will have a tricky year ahead trying to deliver accurate, reliable, and credible information, and if the culture of misinformation continues to grow and become more mainstream, this will cause even more challenges!

Empathy, care, and continued commitment

After being subject to nationwide and local lockdowns, where many of us were unable to see our closest friends and families, we all needed a little boost. Everyone has already begun to pay close attention to their own mental wellbeing and the wellbeing of those around them. Even the government has begun to comment on this too. With so much focus on this, it is almost definitely something that will impact the year ahead. For comms professionals, communicating with care is key and care should be top of the agenda for leaders too.

Christian thinks that “The Covid-19 vaccine will take a long time to change the world stage, so people will be working remotely for some time yet. This means that leaders must continue being inspiring, motivating their staff, and making difficult decisions for some time yet. It’s time to dig deep and communicate clearly, powerfully and responsibly.”

Planning for uncertain times

As we know, this year hasn’t been predictable at all, and actually, it’s uncertain just how much we can know about the next year. Despite the uncertainty, we can plan for the year ahead by ensuring there is fluidity interwoven into our plans. Pre-Covid, it was easy enough for us to plan around big events, or key moments in the calendar for the following year. Due to the vaccine being distributed, we can almost start planning in this way again, but we must ensure we have a back-up plan if these milestone moments in the year are postponed or cancelled.

According to Charlotte, “A full, detailed yearly plan has not been ‘a thing’ for a while, things change far too fast to look that far ahead. There is still uncertainty around the corner, so comms planning must be fluid and we must give ourselves room to flex, to either face new challenges or take advantage of new opportunities.”

There are, of course, countless other trends that are likely to make an impact in the year ahead, but these are the six we really think you, as a comms professional, would benefit from keeping a close eye on. This year has been an interesting one to say the least, but we’ve all learnt a lot, and despite the uncertainty, some great things have happened. From us at Firefly, we hope you have a wonderful festive break, enjoy time with loved ones, and recharge those batteries for a brilliant new year ahead. And of course, hopefully the newfound baking skills many of us picked up in lockdown can come in handy for whipping up some festive treats while playing Michael Bublé on repeat!

In these times of uncertainty, where the situation is changing so quickly and we’re constantly receiving new snippets of information, the media has never been more important in keeping everyone informed. There’s no question that the media landscape has changed significantly since the start of the coronavirus outbreak – outlets are providing daily online live feeds, newspapers have stopped physically printing and reporters from all over the world are covering the stories and situations from every angle possible.

Firefly attended a (virtual) media briefing, hosted by 4media, with The Sun’s consumer editor, Dan Jones, to talk about how the newspaper been operating, how coverage has changed and what PRs can do since coronavirus became the centre of attention in the UK. Here’s four things we learnt:

Half and half

At the moment, about half of the coverage in The Sun’s print edition is devoted to coronavirus-related stories whilst the other half dedicated to general news and features. As the biggest story in the world right now, and with it affecting so many people, this comes as no surprise. It’s expected that it will remain the biggest story for a number of weeks due to the vast amount of changes and information that we’re receiving hour by hour. This means that PRs must be strategic about what and how they’re pitching to journalists, for example, only mentioning coronavirus if it’s really relevant and being sure to pitch journalists at the right time – Dan mentioned that PRs should pitch non-coronavirus stories to him as early as possible in the day.

Journalists are stretched…

With journalists under pressures with coronavirus reporting, having to constantly keep up with the ongoing information, it’s more important than ever to have a story that’s ready-to-go. PRs should think about what’s the most interesting part of the story or announcement and make that the first thing the journalist sees or hears depending on how you’re pitching. And that goes for both coronavirus and non-coronavirus related stories.

…but they are people too

People are scared of this news. It’s been described as one of the ‘the greatest and unprecedented challenges of our time’, and the coronavirus hasn’t just affected people’s health, it’s affected every aspect of daily life, with jobs being lost and social places closing down for the foreseeable future. So, it’s natural for people to feel worried, including journalists! When pitching, don’t hesitate to be honest about your story, acknowledging whether it does or doesn’t have a coronavirus angle, and even a small ‘hope you’re doing okay’ at the end of your pitch (even though we know the phrase is normally taboo in PR!) shows that you’re being sincere about the situation. We’re all human at the end of the day!

Positive stories are key

People are quick to read all the negative news about the coronavirus and there are only so many stories you can do around supermarkets being empty and the number of daily cases. Whilst Dan expects the next week to still be busy with coronavirus-related stories, The Sun is choosing to focus on the more positive side of the story and running articles on best practices for things like working from home and exercising. Anything that helps with the NHS, vulnerable and elderly people is also what’s appealing at the moment and we’ve already seen brands like Sainsbury’s, Morrisons and Tesco offering special opening hours for these groups. Stories that are humorous and a bit quirky are also more likely to be picked up at the moment, according to Dan.

Despite the dominance of coronavirus in the media at the moment, it’s worth remembering what our role as PRs is and the relationship we have with journalists. We’re currently living through history and as communicators, our role is vital.  As every day brings in new information that we need to digest, let’s remember to keep on doing what we do best whilst being mindful about the circumstances.

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 want to get the most bang for your public relations buck, it’s helpful to consider the PESO model, looking at paid, earned, shared and owned media in turn. And one of the easiest ways to amplify press coverage and content is using your owned media – the channels that you own and have control over.

So if you do achieve a great piece of coverage in an influential publication, the easiest way to make the most of this credibility is posting about it on your company website/blog. Google encourages the publication of fresh and relevant content, which is exactly what great coverage is! Just be careful not to look like you’re keyword stuffing. Keywords are important, but natural language is the goal here.

Posting links to coverage and the original content to your website allows you to optimise the page for Google and use this credibility to make your brand more findable on Google. Just bear in mind that Google will penalise you for duplicated content, so make sure that you either change your copy or include a short intro that says something like “In the most recent issue of The Times, we were featured in an article on XYZ”, before going into detail and posting the link. It’s also an important step to take so that you don’t get into a copyright spat with the publication. Use your branded social media channels to push this out to your followers too. When you’re working with your owned channels, in particular your website and blog, you should keep SEO in mind.

You can also find out who is visiting your website, using paid for tools like Lead Forensics or free plugins for WordPress like ExtraWatch. These will give you information like which pages visitors landed on and which pages they went on to look at. Paid versions will also tell you the name of the company, but if you have the free option, you can do a reverse IP look up to figure out who is visiting your website. Clearly, you can also look at ‘user flow’ in Google Analytics, but all the data is anonymised.

Let’s not also forget outbound marketing too; remember to ask yourself whether the content or coverage is something you should include in your outbound activities.

The content being provided has already secured media placement so you can have a high degree of confidence that this is something that your prospects and customers will also find relevant. Whether you’re using marketing automation tools like Hubspot or Marketo, or just using Mailchimp for email marketing, consider filtering content generated by your PR team into outbound activity to help nurture prospects with content.

Over the coming weeks, Firefly will be sharing tactics on how to use owned, shared and paid options to help take your earned media and PR content further. Tune in next week to learn about how to amplify coverage and content using shared channels.

How to amplify earned content with owned media from Thomas Reynolds

This is the second in a two part series, where I provide tips on how to get the most out of a PR video interview. My background is teaching video skills to would-be journalists and bloggers in Vietnam. What I learnt there translates beautifully to the UK – after all, the art of communication is not limited by geography or language.

Last week I looked at interviewing skills, but this week is all about the filming component – an aspect that can make or break the success of your video interviews.

Part Two: Filming  

The ability to interview and film like a journalist (or as close as you can) is becoming an increasingly important part of our business.

While interviewing is not too hard of a skill to pick up for PRs, learning the ins and outs of a video camera can be a little more painstaking. Here’s how we prepare for and complete our filming on the day:

1. Make sure you’re prepared

Before you go to do any kind of video interview, you need to make sure all your equipment is ready. Have you charged all the batteries? Do you have spare batteries? Do you have SD cards with plentiful space with you? Do you have lighting capabilities? Do you have several places to back up your files once you’ve finished filming?

These are must-have elements of the preparation process. If you answer “no” to any of these, you’re planning for disaster. There is nothing more embarrassing than realising you’ve forgotten something or haven’t got enough battery in front of your talent. Create an inventory checklist of what you need to do, and go through it one to two days before your scheduled interview.

2. Choose your background wisely

Ideally you’ll be filming in a location that gives context to your interview and your talent will be dressed accordingly – for example, a doctor dressed in scrubs with a background that looks like a hospital or GP’s office.

This can be challenging if your client can’t elaborate on what your location will look like in advance or if you know you’ll be in a dull setting, but do your best to dress the background appropriately and bring props if necessary.

Regardless, ensure there’s nothing distracting happening in the background of your picture, such as extra people, signs with text, and bright objects (or inappropriate content!). Likewise, avoid filming in front of things that may look like they’re protruding from the talent’s head or body, such as trees or poles.

3. Set up the correct eyeline

interviewtriangleSet up an interview in a (right-angle) triangle. Your interviewee should be positioned in a straight line from the camera lens, while your interviewer stands slightly to the side of the camera. This will ensure your talent is looking at a slight diagonal to your interviewer without looking too front-on or side-on.

We like to remind the talent to maintain eye contact with the interviewer for the duration of the interview too, so that they don’t get nervous and look down the middle of the camera. If you’re the interviewer, also do your best to be at the same eye level as the talent, so the talent doesn’t appear to be looking up or down at you in the footage.

4. Get some support

Use a tripod wherever possible and ensure it is set at a height at the eye level of the talent. There is nothing worse than shaky footage!

If you’re stuck without one, try to find a solid wall or post to lean against and clamp your elbows together to help reduce the shakes while you film.

If there’s nothing to lean on, crouch in on yourself as much as possible. Keep your elbows locked, bend your knees, and rock in gentle, small, and very slow side to side motions as you film so any shakes are controlled. It sounds ridiculous, but it works!

5. Can you hear me?

Always monitor the audio as you film with a pair of headphones to ensure it’s clear throughout. Ideally your talent should be speaking at -6dB (not over -3dB) – you will usually be able to check this level is being met on the visual display – at their usual talking volume to get the best results.

Keep your microphone as close as possible to the talent without obstructing the visual, and take care to ensure the talent removes anything that may jewellery ‘jingle’ in the microphone, such as necklaces, bracelets, or watches.

Have them say a few lines before you start filming to ensure everything sounds correct and that they’re sounding clear. We often ask clients to introduce themselves to the camera with their name and title – this comes in handy in editing too if you need to confirm surnames or positions for title slides.

6. Frame the shot

videointerviewspictureA well-framed shot is essential for video interviews. Generally for an interview, a medium-to-close shot of the subject is good, but ensure you aren’t cutting them off at the elbows or the tops of their shoulders.

Another important part of framing is the looking space. If your interviewee is looking to the left at your interviewer, ensure there’s background showing to their left of the frame and vice versa. You don’t want your talent to look like they’re too centred or as though they’re staring into the edge of the shot. Similarly, ensure you leave a small amount of space above their head and to the side of their body that’s not on the looking space side.

7. See the light

This is where things get a bit more technical. The best way to ensure a perfectly lit video interview is to use natural light wherever possible. If you’re outdoors, stick to the shade (but ensure no harsh shadows are falling across the talent); if you’re inside try to make sure the talent is near a window and the light falls on their face and shoulders (there’ll be a shadow if they have their back to it). If the light is falling strongly to one side of their face, you may need to use a prop light to balance the unlit side and ensure they aren’t too shadowed.

Before filming, check if your camera has a button or dial called ‘zebra’. This will bring up moving, zebra-stripe like lines on the footage to show how exposed your footage is. Turn the zebra stripes to their lowest point (the shot may go dark), and slowly bring them back up until the stripes are just falling onto the talent’s face. Your shot should now be well exposed.

If there’s no natural light or you can’t bring in your own lighting, look for a setting on your camera titled ‘gain’. Set this to low, or L, and see how the shot looks. Ideally you will be able to keep the setting on low, but you can increase it to medium, or M, if it’s too dark. However, the more you increase your gain the grainier your footage will get – this is particularly bad if you’re going to display your video on a large screen. The lower the better!

8. And a few extra considerations

Having gone through these, you should be safe to film. But there’s a few more things to ensure you’ve done before you wrap it up. If you’re going to be editing your interview to include the questions being spoken from the interviewer, set up your camera after the interview so it faces the interviewer and film them re-asking the questions. You’ll also need to film the interviewer’s reaction-shots of them nodding, laughing and so on. You never know what you’ll need in editing!

Similarly, if it’s a long interview you may like to include other footage of the interviewee doing something that relates to their answers – called overlay – to keep the visuals interesting. The more footage and angles you can get, the easier the editing process will be.

Wrap it up

At the end of the process, it’s better to end up with too much footage than too little, and the more you can get right before the editing process starts the easier it will be to create polished video interviews. Don’t rely on post-production – always fix everything you can while filming. Good luck!

Go back to Part One: Interviewing.

YummyPets, the leading social network for pets, has appointed Firefly to handle its UK launch.

Already extremely popular in France, with over 150,000 French speaking members, 50,000 in the rest of the world and 600 brands and organisations interacting on the site, Firefly was tasked to introduce the site to passionate British pet owners.

yummy pets

Firefly developed a two-phased launch plan aimed to introduce the site in the UK, build awareness and drive sign-ups to the social network.

Firefly is carrying out all media outreach and communications during the launch period, which included a radio day promoting the YummyPets brand with celebrity backing from high profile reality TV stars – Amy Childs and Gabriella Ellis, in a TOWIE vs. Made in Chelsea stand-off.

YummyPets has been developed exclusively for those who have a love of animals, providing them with a platform that is fun and easy to interact with others on. It also gives users access to a range of useful and targeted pet services. These services include classified pet ads, missing pet notices, vet appointment reminders and memorial pages for loved and lost pets.

Mathieu Chollon, YummyPets co-founder said, “After our success in France, we highlighted the UK as being the next major market to kick-off international roll-out. We selected Firefly following a competitive pitch, because they have the knowledge, expertise and contacts we needed to bring YummyPets to the UK.

Matthieu Glayrouse, YummyPets co-founder said, “We’re hoping to see ourselves become the number one social network for pets in Britain and we’re confident Firefly can help us to achieve this.”

YummyPets launched in the UK in May and has already seen an explosive growth in numbers since being featured in publications such as Wired, Stylist, Huffington Post, The Independent, The Drum,, Pet Gazette and Pocket-Lint.

Those who have broken into the PR business in the last five years are often recounted with stories of ‘the good old days’ when PRs would write press releases, mail them out (literally) and wait for the coverage to roll in.  Times have most definitely changed.

According to the FT, the ratio of PR professional to journalists in the US is almost four to one – and I can’t imagine the ratio in the UK being far behind. It’s not just a case of the PR industry thriving but, as Ian Burrell reported in The Independent at the end of last year; there were 70,000 journalists in traditional media in 2002, whereas there were just 40,000 in 2010. If updated figures are published in 2013, I will be afraid to look.

So, what does this mean for ‘media relations’?

Harder for PRs

There are two ways of looking at it. One may be forgiven for thinking ‘only the strongest survive’ i.e. publications which attract the most readers and therefore the most advertisers continue, whereas ‘duds’ die out. This would mean PRs simply have to work harder to trim the fat and set expectations of what clients can expect in terms of coverage. Anything short of Apple releasing a new iPhone is faced with intense competition to attract the attention of vastly reduced editorial teams at major publications.

Against a lot more competition, PRs for lesser known brands have to find new and inventive ways of catching the attention of the media while pitching only the purest, non-self promotional content, let alone considering what the readers of the publication are interested in.

Easier for PRs

With reduced editorial teams and less budget for investigative journalism, there is an argument that journalists are more reliant on the PR industry than ever. When clients talk about staging press events these days, PRs will try and discourage them in favour of telephone briefings (again, unless you’re Apple or the like) – why? Because journalists often cannot afford five minutes out of the office, let alone hours. As a result, they can often rely on PRs to do the leg work.

PRs get hundreds of journalist requests a day, ranging from ‘comments on the budget’ to ‘case studies of people that are scared of furniture’. Whereas in the past a journalist would have to deal with layers of bureaucracy to get to a company’s CEO on the line, now all they have to do is simply email the company’s PR team saying “can I speak to Mr. CEO” and wait for the PR team to turn things around as quickly as possible.  There are not too many professions with that level of support.

What’s a PR to do?

Competition is good for any business – it brings out the best in all parties. The consolidation of traditional media means PR, like journalism, has to adapt and innovate. The innovations are not always clear – for example, effectively pitching to journalists is so incredibly important and is the difference between effective PR and complete failure – and that’s before we even address what the story being sold in is about.

As there are fewer journalists, PRs are increasingly picking up the slack, while at the same time educating clients on the need to comment on topics and issues that are not always directly related to plugging products and services. That surely cannot be a bad thing.

Perhaps the most important thing to remember is that while traditional media may be consolidating, in today’s world of blogs and online publications, journalists are by no means the only ‘influencers’ out there. Social media, blogs, podcasts, online video and e-zines are all on the up and perhaps present the greatest array of channels to reach stakeholders that there has ever been.

These new channels are covered extensively on our blog, such as Podcasting: why it should be the PR consultant’s best friend just last month, and my colleague’s look at Vine in this issue of Spark.

The PR/Journalist ratio may be widening, but so too is the array of channels to stakeholders.

We have all heard people saying that PR has been “turned upside down” by social media or that traditional PR is dead. But, is it?

Since the very beginning, the aim of Public Relations has been to manage reputation of an individual or an organisation. Has the goal changed? No, it is still very much the same.

That said, one thing has indeed changed: the tools. It is just like how PR has evolved with new technologies; when the telephone became widely spread, when the fax arrived in every office or when computers and email quickened the exchange of information (do you remember the time when PRs would hand write envelopes to send press releases?). This is why, today, any PR professional has to integrate social media into its portfolio of tools – just like they did for all the previous technologies – and decide whether or not it is the right communication channel for their tactics.

Yes, social media has transformed reputation management. The influence hubs have shifted away from traditional media and the information lifecycle is shorter than ever. Take, for example, the speed at which Google’s leaked financial results were commented on this week. This is now a real-time process and this is where PR consultants can have their say, especially as the core of their skills is handling the media.

So, what does that mean for agencies today? Tune in, turn on or drop out! Accept that technology changes, but keep on doing the same job – managing the perception consumers have of their clients, as we have done for almost two centuries.

I can’t imagine a world when PR people pitched stories without email and the web, but according to our CEO that was the case when she set-up Firefly. Now, in this digital age, we’re likely to catch the interest of journalists and bloggers on Twitter, with some even asking us to only pitch to them this way – you know who you are!

Personally, Twitter would be the only social media channel I would use to pitch (and I do use it in a selective way) but I recently found out that an online marketing agency in the US is suggesting a new medium; LinkedIn ads. So, how does it work? Essentially, PRs write a pitch that is no longer than 75 characters; there really is no room whatsoever for fluff. This text goes into an ad where reporters can click through to see more information. The upsides to this are that:

The downside? Unfortunately, for me there are many:

Most importantly, I would feel – and I’m sure many PRs would agree – like this is a very passive approach. When you’re motivated to get the best results for your clients, sitting back and waiting for a response wouldn’t work for me. However, maybe there is scope to use this approach in tandem with more traditional outreach mediums such as phone and email? It makes sense, but the returns on investment still need to be proven.

This post was written by Charlotte.

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.

Is it time to shape your reputation?

We operate in London, Paris and Munich, and have a network of like-minded partners across the globe.

Get in touch

Sign up to Spark, our newsletter

Receive thought pieces from our leadership team, views on the news, tool of the month and light relief for comms folk

You can unsubscribe at any time, please read our privacy policy for more information