The term ‘FemTech’ was coined by Ida Tin in 2016 (Co-Founder of Clue), just eight years ago. As I write this, my Word Document doesn’t even recognise the word, giving it a firm underscore in red. So, safe to say it’s pretty new to the scene. But, like every different flavour of technology, it did not just spawn out of thin air and its roots go back a long way. In the 1800s, for instance, women began using diaphragms for contraception. And prior to this, whilst maybe the word ‘tech’ can’t be applied, there was certainly a lot of – shall we say – ‘creativity’ in how women prevented pregnancy, or encouraged it.

But today, we’re in the midst of a revolution – albeit a quiet one – of technology catered solely to women. And this revolution is broadening the conversation beyond contraception and conception. Apps like Flo, Clue and Natural Cycles all seek to help women understand their menstrual cycles and how they impact hormones, moods and energy levels. There are also mental health apps geared predominantly towards women. In turn, all of this is helping women to understand how key things like sleep, performance (whether at work or in the gym), and concentration can have peaks and troughs – bringing a new level of understanding to how the female body works. This is knowledge that we can then apply directly to how we make plans and live our lives. There’s even finance apps targeted solely at women, to help close the gap on financial literacy and confidence – straddling both the FemTech and FinTech spaces.

Of course, this industry is faced with challenges. Already, women-led startups receive just 3% of VC funding. As we can safely assume that the vast majority of FemTechs will have female leaders, it’s likely this industry will be facing an uphill battle for funding. Some may also perceive the entire notion of ‘FemTech’ negatively, seeing it as exclusive – despite it needing to be exclusive by its very nature. Finally, as these apps are rarely free, some may see it as just another example of the ‘pink tax’. The pink tax is the theory that products sold to women are marked up at a higher price – if you were to Google shampoo for men and then shampoo for women, for instance, there’s a noticeable difference in the average price. Finally, there’s also significant data privacy concerns with period-tracking apps, with plenty of room for negative press if things go wrong.

In the face of all these challenges, FemTechs need to market themselves cleverly and carefully. Their communications strategies need to take into account women (as their customers), investors (as their source of funding) and also the media (whose choice words can significantly impact their reputations). Getting this balance right and knowing what conversations to join, when and how, is going to be crucial for success.

Social media has become an indispensable tool for companies seeking to communicate with their audience. Yes, those little apps on our phones aren’t just for sharing memes anymore – they are now a powerhouse for companies trying to get their message out there.

When thinking about PR, an important part of a company’s communication strategy is how its messaging may be received across different social platforms, i.e. can anything said be misconstrued, offend or come back to bite you in the a$$?  The platforms are designed to be so simple that with the click of a button, a carefully crafted statement can reach millions of people worldwide. However, the power of social media hosts a new set of challenges, particularly for the spokespeople tasked with representing their companies online. It can be a minefield!

With increased visibility comes a heightened level of responsibility. Spokespeople must be wary about the content they share on their personal channels, as their actions reflect not only on themselves but also on the company they represent – yes, even if you state on your X bio ‘these are my own thoughts, not of the company I work for’. One ill-advised LinkedIn post can quickly spiral into a PR nightmare, damaging both personal and corporate reputations.

Something that many public figures get scrutinised for is authenticity – or lack of. Authenticity is crucial for building trust and rapport with the audience, but it must be combined with discretion to ensure that messages align with the company’s core values. Before posting anything on social media, spokespeople should consider the potential impact on the company’s reputation and seek guidance from communications professionals if necessary.

And let’s not forget about engagement. It’s not enough to just throw out a few posts here and there, spokespeople have got to be in it to win it. This means responding to comments, answering questions, and showing their audience that they’re listening and engaged. This will in no time help establish a strong following.

As much as social media has strengthened companies’ ability to communicate with their audience, it has also introduced new challenges for its spokespeople. But by leveraging their personal social media channels, being authentic (but with discretion) and creating meaningful personalised posts, spokespeople can effectively navigate the social media landscape while representing their companies in a positive way.

As ambassadors for their organisations, spokespeople must understand the power and pitfalls of social media and wield it responsibly to push forward their company’s objectives while maintaining their personal credibility.

LinkedIn turned twenty years old in 2023 and has undergone much transformation within its two decades. Once purely a place to find and list jobs, as well as connect with peers, the platform has morphed into something more akin to Instagram, or Facebook. It’s no longer just a professional networking site, but a social media platform in its own right.

With 60% of LinkedIn users being between the ages of 25-34 years old, it’s quite possible that the growing presence of millennials and Gen Zs in the job market has driven this transformation. These age groups have grown up alongside the ‘like’ button and understand quantifying the value of something (or someone) in reactions, likes and shares. So, just as Instagram has had influencers for years now, we’re seeing a growing rise of “LinkedInfluencers” today. And leaders in tech are tapping into this trend in a big way.

This has meant that company reputations have begun to blur with the personal reputations of their employees and (crucially) their leaders. Just as many of us take to Instagram and Facebook to showcase who we are and, perhaps unconsciously, to build our own personal brands, CEOs and business leaders are using LinkedIn for the same thing.

Leaders in tech, in particular, have taken to this “LinkedInfluencer” role – and there a few reasons for this. One major one is the crowded nature of the tech space – it’s a constant spinning wheel of opinions, breakthroughs and company news. There’s limited space in magazines and papers to capture everything being said, not to mention limited time with journalists. However, joining the conversation is still crucial and LinkedIn provides this megaphone.  

With the tech sector being plagued by skills shortages, LinkedIn has also become a platform for leaders and experts at tech firms to use their presence to entice talent. Many job seekers are looking to be inspired, not only by a company’s work, but by the words and vision of those at the helm. Being viewed as a leader, a fountain of knowledge, and an aspirational figure can be key in both attracting and retaining talent – helping to cultivate the next up and coming generation of leaders.

For tech leaders looking to shape their reputation on LinkedIn, here are some tips:

  • Know which topics you want to be known for having views on
  • Define your voice and style, and always stay consistent
  • Follow and interact with people that will inspire you
  • Invest time into this, it doesn’t happen overnight

And of course, remember to work with comms and your PR agency – these partners can help achieve all of the above, as well as create the content to complement the wider communication strategy of your organisation.

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?

  • Build a consistent global strategy: Brands should always brief their influencers in line with their global messaging and strategy. Languages and cultures may mean slight variation in outputs, but there should be a common thread through all content.   
  • Remain conscious of local nuances: Listen to local experts about what works in-market. A campaign may work beautifully in one country but fall on deaf ears in another.
  • Engage with a communications agency: Having visibility over local nuances and regulations in every market is tough. A communications agency with an effective influencer relations arm will stand you in good stead for social media success across Europe.

Thinking of boosting your influencer relations strategy in Europe? Get in touch!

Most of us who frequent social media platforms will have probably given in to the recommendations of an influencer in one way or another. Whether it be an Amazon gadget or a new trending celeb recipe, influencers have the power to impact decisions of consumers across all age groups.

Over the years, influencer marketing has been on the rise. In 2021, 44% of B2C brands in Europe said they planned to increase their influencer marketing budget. What was a $1.7 billion industry, in 2016 has since grown to become worth $16 billion in 2022, with expectations for it to grow to $21 billion this year. But with all the emphasis put on these influencers to build a brand’s reputation, what are the implications if this falls apart? The new ‘de-influencer’ trend might be the first sign of cracks in the influencer world.

So far, the de-influencing hashtag has garnered 180 million TikTok views since the trend began in January this year. De-influencing is when content creators uncover the truth about products consumers have been pushed to purchase, all in a bid to address overconsumption.

Like consumers, businesses face difficulties in the current economic climate. Layoffs have continued to dominate the headlines, putting the decisions of business leaders centre stage – they’re not only being judged by their employees but the general public too. In a similar vein, the de-influencer movement gives consumers the ‘right information’ they need to make better decisions with their money. Society craves authenticity, and with ‘cancel culture’ still present, no brand or business is safe from judgment. The jury is fierce and they take no prisoners. Now more than ever, shaping reputation is crucial.

This isn’t the first sign of consumers becoming savvier to how and where they should be spending their money. During the last decade we saw a huge rise in the importance of a business having the right ESG credentials, driven not only by government regulation but also investor and stakeholder demand. However, ESG’s critics believe that companies are using the loosely defined term to “greenwash,” or make unrealistic or misleading claims, especially about their environmental credentials.

As B2B marketing strategies look to use business influencers on TikTok to complement product content on LinkedIn, they must ensure they know exactly who their audiences are and more importantly use the right influencers. After all, partnering with the wrong influencer can dramatically affect a brand’s credibility and ruin its reputation.

Whilst the de-influencer movement isn’t completely exempt from its own criticism of its authenticity, it’s brought up some really important conversations. It’s provided us with the space we need to stop and think about our decisions more closely, focusing on becoming better humans overall. As consumers, investors and end users are all focused on making the right  decisions – whether it’s buying a dress from an environmentally charged retailer or investing in the most ethical AI driven product – businesses should focus on creating clear and concise messaging and communicating through the most effective means possible.

Zooming out of the detail of these trends to looking at a company’s reputation as a whole, it’s important for leaders in comms to build meaningful relationships based on trust. This trust influences more than just purchasing, permeating all aspects of the company. There’s nowhere for organisations to hide, and any step of the way there’s judgement, so shaping a reputation in this new era, is about gaining trust through a comms strategy that puts transparency and authenticity at the forefront. 

The media landscape has been changing for many years. COVID, however, has acted as a catalyst of this change – just as it has done for countless other sectors and industries. From 2019 to 2021, print subscription circulations fell by 7%, and single-sale copies by 11%. Put simply: when it comes to building reputations, shrinking media pools are becoming a bigger problem.

This places pressure on PR professionals  and journalists alike. On the journalist side of the aisle, they are thinly spread – often juggling multiple beats at once and increasingly being judged against engagement and click-through metrics. Adding to this, they’re completely inundated with emails and pitches.

On the PR agency side, the shrinking media pool has an obvious effect – it’s harder to secure the coverage our clients want. It’s harder to get in front of the right people, harder to build relationships, and harder to have our pitches seen and phone calls answered.

Without wishing to state the obvious, a change in landscape requires a change in approach. Of course, a big part of the solution is for PRs – and our clients – to be more creative and thoughtful in how we approach media. Having our finger on the pulse of changing markets and cultural moments, and tying our clients’ messaging into these in an authentic, interesting and valuable way for journalists, is crucial. Being more selective is also important – not every press release is relevant  to send to nationals (or anyone, sometimes!), and it’s important for PRs to be honest with our clients about this.

But there are numerous other ways to shape an organisation’s reputation, aside from media relations. Here’s just a few ways:

  1. Website content: This encapsulates a lot – resources such as blogs, customer case studies and testimonials, and the quality of the copy across a company’s site. Websites should showcase a brand and its purpose, as well as be a source of information – both for the service/product being offered and the wider market the organisation operates within.
  2. SEO: Tying into the above point, nailing search engine optimisation (SEO) is crucial. It’s all well and good having strong, informative content on a website, but if it’s never actually seen its value is somewhat lost. Perfecting an SEO strategy to give a company’s website the right exposure completes the formula.
  3. Social media: It’s near impossible to have a strong brand reputation in today’s world without some form of social media presence. Cultivating this presence through a strategy that involves consistent, on-message posting is key. Social media offers a way to showcase almost everything about a company – from its offering and resources, to its purpose, company culture and even job openings.
  4. Internal communications: A company can be offering the best service ever, but if it has eye-wateringly high employee turnover, low workplace satisfaction, and poor reviews on Glassdoor, its reputation is going to be impacted. Working on effective communication with employees with the goal of improving workplace happiness and culture, is at the heart of internal comms.

For us PRs, making clients aware of the many ways of building reputations, and ensuring that we ourselves are experts in these, is a non-negotiable. PRs, and the organisations they work with, need to begin thinking broader and deeper than media relations. Every company should now be thinking about the range of possibilities for PR, rather than gazing through the single lens of media coverage. Shaping a reputation that will carry a company forward is much more than a media profile alone.

It is estimated that there are between 3.2 and 37.8 million social media influencers. That’s millions of individuals relying on their personal brand to gain followers, secure brand deals and increase engagement on their relative platforms. Although many choose to turn their nose up at those who label themselves as ‘influencers’ and ‘content creators’, we can’t deny that those who are doing it right are reaping the rewards.

Logan Paul, for example, started making YouTube videos from the age of 10. His success on YouTube and Vine has since catapulted him into fame and he is now worth $35 million at the age of 26. Not too shabby for a few videos and a strong personal brand, right?

With the age of digitalisation upon us (any one fancy a virtual beer after work?), perhaps companies could learn a thing or two from those that have had such success with their online personal branding. Personal brand upkeep isn’t so dissimilar to maintaining a strong company brand after all; it’s about keeping up with trends, keeping content relevant, and appealing to your target audience.

In fact, if we take a look at some of Forbes’ golden rules for personal branding:

  1. Have a focus
  2. Be genuine
  3. Be consistent

It’s clear that there are many similarities  between those individuals trying to monetise their online presence, and a company seeking to establish a strong online brand. Although technology has revolutionised marketing, companies must be aware of how they sell themselves online and what their messaging is truly saying.

Influencers have always seized the opportunity to glamourise their realities, editing photos and posts to make their lives seem perfect and unattainable. While these posts may be nice to look at, they can actually alienate your following into a sense of ‘me’ and ‘them’. If what you’re posting is entirely unrelatable, you can only really achieve a surface-level connection with your following.

Recently, we have seen an influx of influencers who are doing away with filters and photoshop, and instead portraying an honest representation of their lives, good and bad. These more genuine posts create instead a notion of ‘us’. Followers are able to relate to the posts, inspiring open discussions and driving engagement.

So, what can brands learn from this?

That honesty is the best policy. If a brand is not transparent, customers will be hesitant to take the risk that comes with giving the benefit of the doubt to an unfamiliar company. As much as aesthetic and image hold a great deal of importance, companies shouldn’t rely solely on looks to engage their customers.

As we transition into this digital future, it seems that companies could have a lot to learn from influencers and content creators. Companies and individuals alike must keep their brands focused, genuine and consistent – you need to know who your target audience is and how to appeal to them. So, why not hold a mirror up to your brand and see what it is you’re really saying? And if you’re falling short, it might be worth heading to the wonderful world of influencers for some creative inspiration!

January has long been known as the time for creating new plans and pushing for change in our personal lives. The same goes for our professional lives, as we set new priorities by embarking on new projects as much as driving forward older ones.

2022 is set to be a unique year in the comms world, as after two years of riding the wave of the pandemic, we are finally starting to see light at the end of what has been at times an incredibly dark tunnel. Although, that light is not the ‘normal’ pace of business as we experienced it pre-2020, nor should it be. We should celebrate the developments that have come out of this difficult period, taking what we have learned from a moment of crisis to put our best foot forward for our campaigns in 2022.

Some things to consider in your comms planning.

Investing in sustainable climate action

As consumers and investors alike increasingly value strong action when it comes to the environment, brands can no longer afford to announce a climate target and call it a day. Businesses are being scrutinised more than ever for their action on climate change and must therefore ensure that their operations are consistent with what is being communicated externally.  

To put it simply, a climate-centric PR campaign will not work unless it’s authentic. However optimistic your external communications, if these are not backed up by a firm commitment which can be measured regularly and fairly, external stakeholders will easily see through the mirage. Today’s consumers and investors are used to seeing companies take misguided, vague climate action, and demand more as a result. Businesses that have little-to-no experience in this area should see this period of mounting pressure as an opportunity to possibly seek expert counsel from consultants, start building a narrative that is relevant to their business and back up their decisions with concrete action.

Navigating the waves of social media regulation

Social media has progressively become a core part of any good communication strategy, but as its use becomes more widespread, so does its regulation. Facebook whistle-blower Frances Haugen’s testimony before the US senate in 2021 shed light on the damage that has been caused by the social media giant to its users, leading to legislation such as the Online Safety Bill in the UK being strongly considered by lawmakers.

The bill mandates that social media platforms have a duty of care towards their users in protecting them against potentially damaging content, which is absolutely a step in the right direction when it comes to more responsible social media usage. Companies must ensure that they keep their finger on the pulse when it comes to regulatory changes, as increased legal scrutiny often results in new user guidelines. Businesses not only need to ensure that social media as a communications channel is integrated into their overall communications strategy, but also need to comply with new guidelines.  

Maintaining synergy through employee comms

Hybrid working continues to be favoured by the vast majority of businesses, having taken on board the benefits of a blended model over the past two years. Most companies are putting trust in their employees to choose the approach which works best for them, whether that be coming into the office every day, or on a less regular basis. As a result, teams are often working with a mix of colleagues dialling in virtually, and physically present in the office.

Hybrid working allows staff to fit their work around their lifestyle more than ever before, which can lead to increased productivity and certainly boosts employee wellbeing. But, at the same time, it can naturally lead to a fracturing of teams. Any divide is certainly not the fault of the business, nor the individual staff involved, but rather a natural progression brought on by inconsistent face-to-face contact. But the response is not necessarily to revert to mandated physical working, which is not always possible these days. Companies must instead focus on improving their internal comms strategies, ensuring that messaging is clear, and any change is regularly and effectively communicated to staff. This will be more important than ever in 2022, as hybrid working is solidified as part of our reality, and no longer is acting as a temporary measure implemented during the pandemic.

A New Year is the perfect time to reconsider your comms campaigns and building your brand’s reputation. Want to learn more about how you can shape your greatest asset? Download our guide to reputation management 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.

Summer is around the corner, and much of the goings-on in the tech space gives us that warm and comforting feeling. There’s innovation, there’s growth, there are moves in the right direction which are responding to societal needs. It’s very exciting! Here’s the roundup of the main stories.

The UK tech industry has grown tenfold in the past decade. In fact, London leads in Europe and is picking up the pace on Silicon Valley. British unicorns grew from eight in 2010 to 81 in 2020 – incredible! CityAM has all the stats from the government’s Digital Economy Council and Dealroom on the strength of the British tech industry.

Meanwhile, Google and Instagram have been making moves to improve diversity. Google added a feature to its Google Docs which suggests alternatives to gendered words in a move to help improve inclusivity. The idea is to use non-gendered language to not inadvertently offend colleagues or friends. The Daily Telegraph covers the news. Instagram’s move is slightly different, not removing gender from words, but adding the right gender terminology to profiles. The social network plans to offer users an easier way to specify their gender identity. The pre-approve list of common pronouns includes she, he, they, ze and others. This Guardian article has the details.

In the other corner of social media land you have Twitter, which launched a paid subscription service with some interesting new features. Twitter Blue – the name of the new service – will allow users to undo tweets and better curate tweets through a feature called ‘Collections’. The Independent reports that this service will cost $2.99 per month. Any takers?

Now, this next innovation I am definitely a taker. US researchers have found a way to turn thoughts into text. Just think, you’re on a refreshing lunchtime walk and you have a great idea, you just have to write it out in your head and a ‘brain-computer’ captures the mental handwriting. It involves having a brain implant, the size of an aspirin pill, according to the Daily Mail.

And finally, global vaccinations are going well but there is more to be done, especially to fight misinformation. YouTube, in collaboration with the National Health Service (NHS) in the UK, has launched a vaccination ad campaign, primarily targeted at younger people. The campaign is paid for by YouTube and comes after it was criticised for being slow at halting untrue content about Covid-19. BBC News has the full story.

All this positivity really gives us a real spring in our step ahead of summer. This May rain won’t dampen our spirit!

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