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?
Thinking of boosting your influencer relations strategy in Europe? Get in touch!
Since its big reveal in November 2022, OpenAI’s ChatGPT has dominated headlines all across the world. It is being touted as a technology with the potential to change our lives – for better, or worse. Across the internet, we’ve seen examples of how the AI-powered language model can complete tasks faster, and in some cases better, than humans. Tasks ranged from writing emails, to composing song lyrics, drafting academic essays and everything in between.
AI that can create new content, also known as generative AI, has faced its share of ethical concerns over the past months. If a chatbot can write articles and generate images in a matter of seconds, what will that mean for the humans who rely on these skills to earn a living? However, it needn’t be all doom and gloom. This technology holds the potentially to enable people to do their jobs better, faster and with greater ease.
In the B2B tech PR and communications industry, there are several ways that generative AI could revolutionise how we work. As an experiment, I asked ChatGPT: ‘’What are the top four ways that generative AI will change the PR and communications industry for the better?’’ This is what it said:
1. Media monitoring and outreach
One key area ChatGPT said it could help comms professionals is in monitoring and analysing media coverage more efficiently. It answered, ‘’Generative AI can quickly scan and categorise articles, tweets, and other social media posts, enabling PR teams to stay on top of the news and respond to emerging trends and issues.’’
The chatbot identified media outreach as another way to support PR teams, assisting them in ‘’identifying relevant journalists and influencers, quickly scanning databases of journalists and their previous articles, enabling PR teams to tailor their pitches to specific reporters and outlets.’’
2. Reputation management
Reputation management is another area of specialisation for PR professionals, which ChatGPT said it could enable them to do with greater ease. It stated, ‘’Generative AI can help PR teams manage their clients’ online reputation by monitoring social media and other online channels for mentions of the brand or key executives. This technology can quickly flag negative comments or reviews and provide insights into sentiment and key topics.’’
3. Crisis management
In a similar vein to the points above, ChatGPT said that its ability to quickly scan and monitor media trends can support comms professionals with managing a crisis. ‘’By monitoring social media and news sources, generative AI can assist PR teams in identifying emerging issues and responding proactively to mitigate damage to the brand’s reputation,’’ it wrote.
4. Content creation
Generative AI also has the ability to support with content creation by ‘’quickly generating press releases, blog posts, and social media updates, freeing up PR teams to focus on higher-level strategy and relationship-building activities.’’
Interestingly, ChatGPT revealed that, on its own, generative AI cannot replace the valuable time and effort communications professionals spend on strategy, planning, pitching and relationship building. Additionally, while it can create content quickly, the content is not necessarily better in quality than what would be produced by an experienced comms professional.
This technology has the potential to enable teams to do their jobs faster and more effectively by drawing on data that already exists to help reduce manual processes. It’s clear that there is still much more on the horizon for generative AI and how it will change daily operations. For now, it appears that it will be an innovative way to help teams go above and beyond for clients, allowing them to focus the majority of their time on the aspects of our jobs that are most valuable – devising new and creative campaigns, as well as producing original, thought-provoking content that makes an impact.
The metaverse is a word we are increasingly hearing throughout society these days. People like Mark Zuckerberg are trying to bring it into the mainstream with elaborate presentations and high-profile rebranding efforts, however it remains a word that people are aware of, but not a concept many people fully understand.
Some people are touting it as the future of communication – a virtual world in which people from all over the globe will be able to interact with each other as if they were standing in the same room. There’s no denying that the potential is enormous. Although the technology and application aren’t firmly established and people are slow on the uptake, we can already see some of the ways that it could revolutionise the world, especially for our ability to communicate with one another.
Communications in the working world
Remote and flexible working, a legacy of the pandemic-induced lockdowns, are here for the long-term. A recent survey revealed that over 30% of full-time UK employees are working a hybrid working schedule and consequently Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Slack and many other platforms have become an ever-present part of many of our working lives. This is one area that the metaverse has the potential to make a huge impact. Instead of being separate, only connected by looking at a 13-inch screen, whole teams could be fully immersed in a virtual world of their own design, interacting with each other as if they were in the office, a presentation hall, or event space.
From a communications point of view, it is clear to see the positive impact this could have on teamwork, collaboration and company culture. Although video calling has enormous advantages, and without which lockdown would have been even more of an ordeal, it still has its limitations. Non-verbal and visual communication are often limited, leading to stunted conversations and a lack of natural rhythm that so often is the cornerstone of developing meaning relationships with your colleagues. Through a customisable avatar, colleagues could move in and out of meeting rooms, relax in communal lounges or host presentations in a conference centre. NextMeet, a company based in India, have developed a platform which can be used to onboard colleagues. Instead of being talked at for hours with only a PDF for inspiration, they could walk round a virtual room or building, with several interactive stands where they can explore the company in a much more engaging way.
However, not only internally, the effect this could have when it comes to meeting clients or customers is also exciting. Potential or current clients could visit your ‘workplace’ in the metaverse and be given a proper welcome, introduced to the team and see the branding and environment that the company wants to portray with its design, layout and decoration. This would allow people to create a much greater connection with a company and its culture.
However, it is not simply in one-to-one interactions at a micro level that could be transformed. The ability for companies to create fully immersive and interactive communication campaigns on a macro scale to millions of people is also a possibility. Events can be hosted in the metaverse, with countless people able to attend. For example, Foo Fighters, Justin Bieber (unfortunately) and Travis Scott have all hosted concerts in the metaverse, with the latter being attended by 28 million people.
The possibilities this opens up are immense. Even with all the technological advancements we have enjoyed in recent years, our options don’t go much beyond words, visuals or sounds absorbed through either a phone or a computer. Using virtual reality, augmented reality or a mixture of the two, stakeholders could attend a town hall hosted by the CEO, get an in-person demo from the head of product, or be taken on a personal tour by head of client services, all from the comfort of their own home or office.
The jury is still out as to whether this will be the next big leap forward for connectivity, like the internet was, or if it won’t live up to its potential and be resigned to the history books like my beloved minidisk player. With the metaverse’s expected value to be upwards of $5 trillion by 2030, it seems like the momentum is unstoppable and I for one, am intrigued to see how it develops.
Either way, you won’t see me at a Bieber concert anytime soon.
When we think of sport we think of athletes. Athletes that are at the top of their physical game, with abilities that simply defy the laws of gravity. Basketball fans have long admired Michael Jordan’s hang time, and the game of football has never been able to understand Cristiano Ronaldo’s headers which seem to stop time entirely. As we witness various industries digitally transform, the world of sport has not been left behind.
There has been a huge shift in technological advancement which has made it easier for athletes to optimise their performance and improve the experience for spectators at sporting events. Looking 10 years ahead, we can only imagine where the world of technology will take us in sport, but for now, we can marvel at the newest innovations of today which continue to change the pace of the game.
Team Jumbo Visma tearing up Tour de France – 2022
This year, Team Jumbo-Visma led the way, charging ahead of their components for the majority of the races. Jonas Vingegaard won the men’s race, and Marianne Vos claimed the green jersey for most points. Both riders were among the favourites for their respective titles, but one stark difference was the men’s team adopted the use of simulation to fully capitalise on the talent of Vingegaard, and winning the La Grande Boucle.
How does simulation play into this you ask? Fighting air resistance represents up to 90% of the energy spent by the athletes. Team Jumbo-Visma works with some of the best athletic aerodynamics experts in the world, using digital simulation to optimise performance through better aerodynamics. It consisted of solving vast, complex systems of equations with millions of unknowns to improve their performance. Simulation proved to be a pivotal cog in the winning machine!
Data driving football analysis and spectator engagement
Major Spanish football league, LaLiga has looked to its data architecture to better understand its players performance and importantly create a better more personalised experience for its fans. This is all being done through a lakehouse data architecture.
By combining the best attributes of a data lake and a data warehouse, the lakehouse is able to deliver better data management and performance through low-cost, flexible object stores. LaLiga has created a world where data informs almost every aspect of how sports are played and experienced. The data team at LaLiga uses data and AI for match statistics and in-play analysis, based on data from cameras in each club’s stadium. It allows data scientists at the clubs to perform pre- and post-match analysis and predict player injuries before they occur.
The future of technology in sport
There are many more advancements in tech which are changing the world of sport, but the best is likely yet to come. We’re on the cusp of a sports technology revolution with the global sports technology market being currently valued at US $17.9 billion and expectations to reach US $40.2 billion by 2026. However, some avid football fans would agree that VAR technology needs some work – depending on which side of a team you’re on!
As September approaches, the summer holiday season is almost over. It’s been great to get back to jetting off to exciting new destinations after a difficult few years for the travel industry. Yet as climate change dominates the headlines, many of us may be thinking more about the environmental impacts of travel than in previous years. Personally, I’ve been pondering whether travel tech could be the solution – let’s think this through together.
Climate concerns are soaring
Air travel is far from the most sustainable way to get from A to B for our summer holidays. Aviation represents 14% of greenhouse gas emissions produced in the EU. This may seem like a small figure, but when considering that rail only represents a 0.4% share, it’s easy to understand why planes are getting a bad rep.
The easy answer to this problem would be to encourage Europeans to take trains as a greener holiday transport method. A myriad of reasons blocks us from doing so at present, including a lack of continental standard for train manufacturing and an almost total absence of operators running trains across European borders. In short, pointing travellers to rail travel isn’t yet a viable option.
Whilst the EU continues its long and arduous journey to liberalising continental rail travel, climate change rages on. Record temperatures of 40.3°C were confirmed by the Met Office in July; an alarming development for all. Travel tech companies have responded with greener operations, leveraging the latest technology to ensure that people can still enjoy a summer break.
Travel tech in the airline industry
Whilst the UK’s beaches offer beautiful surroundings, if you do want to go abroad, chances are that you will be taking a plane. Thankfully, airlines are already making progress towards net-zero emissions goals, and innovations in travel tech are here to make flights even greener.
For example, Alaska Airlines implemented an AI-powered route optimisation tool. The software uses machine learning to assess a range of factors that affect the efficiency of a journey, such as air turbulence and weather conditions. If the AI finds a greener route, flight dispatchers are notified, and they make a final decision on if the recommended route should be followed. As such, safety is maintained at the same time as a more fuel-efficient route is created. It doesn’t get better than that!
Let’s go to the beach, beach, let’s go get away
Once you have arrived at your destination, you will need a place to stay. At present, accommodation accounts for around one fifth of tourism emissions. This may not sound like a lot, but if these emissions were wiped out, the industry would become 20% greener. That would certainly reduce the guilt burden for travellers.
The Sustainable Hospitality Alliance asks hotels to reduce their carbon emissions by 90% – how can travel tech support this endeavour? We can look to IoT devices for the answer. Smart hotel technologies, such as motion sensors for lights and occupancy sensors for air conditioning, can drastically reduce energy consumption. For example, a 2020 study found that implementing an IoT-enabled air conditioning system reduced daily energy usage by 20% during peak summer heat. Considering that this makes life easier for the user too, it’s a no-brainer.
Making travelling that little bit more guilt-free
While the industry still has a long way to go, travel tech is making strides when it comes to making our summer holidays more sustainable. If you’re a travel tech organisation that wants to shout about your commitment to a greener travel industry, get in touch!
Loneliness. A feeling that most people have experienced at some point in their life. Nearly half of England’s adult population, according to Campaign to End Loneliness, a startling 45%, express feeling lonely occasionally and sometimes even often. Needless to say, the crisis of loneliness and social disconnect was only further exacerbated during the height of the pandemic with strict isolation and social-distancing measures being implemented.
The good news is that from 9th July- 1st August 2022, it is Free Hugs Month. The Free Hugs Campaign began in 2004, founded by an Australian man under the pseudonym Juan Mann, where volunteers offer hugs to complete strangers in public as a random act of kindness. The aim? To spread the love.
According to scientists, the benefits of hugging go far beyond that warm, fuzzy feeling you get from being in somebody’s arms. Hugs have been shown to reduce stress, protect against illness, boost heart health, release the ‘cuddle hormone’ oxytocin which leads to feelings of contentment, and even reduce pain. In fact, according to family therapist Virginia Satir, humans need four hugs per day for basic survival, eight for maintenance and 12 for growth. So yes, hugs seem like a win-win, if not an absolute necessity. But what does this have to do with leading a successful campaign? Well bear (hug) with me and I’ll explain…
As a successful B2C campaign, the Free Hugs Campaign has been going strong for nearly two decades. So, from a PR perspective, there’s still a lot we can learn in the B2B space. After all, businesses might be selling to other businesses, but it’s important to note that it’s still humans talking to other humans, The secret behind the campaign’s success is predominantly down to two factors: creating a campaign that encourages a level of ‘shareability’ and evoking an emotional response from potential clients and customers.
The Free Hugs Campaign has not shied away from the public gaze and our culture of sharing, capturing, and recording anything attention-grabbing for others to view online. Instead, the campaign used the way in which the public interact to its advantage. In other words, for a campaign with a minimal budget, the Free Hugs Campaign left the public to share and interact with their simple message themselves.
But, of course, not all brands fit into this style of campaign ‘shareability’. Fortunately, however, social media has become our biggest ally and can produce incredible traction if a campaign’s message is eye-catching, memorable, and simple to understand. Even a snappy slogan or retweet can go a long way.
But the question then is, what is it about the Free Hugs Campaign that has made it stand the test of time, and go viral with 78 million views in the Sick Puppies music video alone?
The secret behind this campaign is very clear, yet mystifyingly under-used in many campaigns- understanding and manipulating the power of human psychology, especially that of the buyer. What are most people lacking? Human connection and a feeling of belonging and comfort. What does the Free Hugs Campaign offer? An answer to a societal hug deficiency.
The campaign isn’t complex, in fact, oftentimes the simpler a campaign, the better. The Free Hugs Campaign, touches its audience in an emotive way, giving them a feeling or emotion that was lacking in their life, whilst also adding an element of joy. After all, who doesn’t secretly like to make someone’s day by being kind and loving? Through evoking this emotion, it taps into our intrinsic nature to share the joy, even if just virtually.
As such, it’s important to put yourself in the shoes of your buyer, such as the HR Director you are trying to grab the attention of. Perhaps they are feeling overwhelmed with how post-Covid life has completely transformed their workforce, and as a result, are operating at a million miles an hour unable to catch a breath…
So, what are you waiting for? Get hugging!
The value of data has become an inescapable fact of the modern world. No sector, industry or market could claim to be better off without data-driven insights that allow them to make informed decisions. Today, business success is so often shaped by how well data is being used. Predicting the future, understanding the past, navigating the present – it all comes down to data.
So, what are some examples of the ways data has driven real life change in different markets? Let’s take a look.
Data-driven goals, on and off pitch
One example of the power of data in sports is in LaLiga. The sports league is using real-time streaming data generated by hundreds of cameras across stadiums, and deriving levels of actionable insights that were previously simply not possible.
Football teams are then using these insights to revolutionise the way the game is coached and played, amplifying performance. This means helping players get better at their game, and delivering more personalised fan experiences that change the way the game is enjoyed.
Media and Gaming
Online gaming is another sector which can reap huge amounts of understanding and insights by properly harnessing data. SEGA, a worldwide leader in interactive entertainment, is using real-time data to drive community activities, improve player experiences, and offer more personalised interactions. By harnessing data properly, the company has transformed the role of data science in the business, making it a key pillar for decision making.
This has also helped to fuel a collaborative culture when it comes to data, with the company’s internal data teams working with teams from external game studios – pooling together ideas and solutions to drive innovation and create an ever-improving experience.
Elsewhere, the energy industry is also reliant on data. Particularly at a time when prices are such a concern, and when pressures of climate change mean energy providers are needing to transform their operations. An example of this is Shell. Shell is acting on data analysis to change its model and cut down emissions and, according to its first energy transition progress report, published in April 2022, the company has already cut total emissions by 16% since 2016.
The data is being used for business intelligence as well as to spot problems at early stages, and before they cause major problems. For instance, in a plant in Nigeria, Shell has been able to remove bottlenecks and reduce boil-off gas from evaporation and associated flaring by 70%. This has the potential to cut carbon dioxide emissions at the plant by 130,000 tonnes a year.
It’s clear that the value of data is felt everywhere. From the world of sport, to gaming, energy, medicine, construction, and more. Harnessing data effectively is they key to driving long-lasting, tangible business success.
It’s all too common a question for a communications agency to hear – “but show me how a comms plan will generate sales and new leads”. Unfortunately, the answer is not as simple as X+Y=Z. The foremost purpose of a communications agency is to shape the reputation of the company it’s working for. Influencing the opinions of customers, partners and even the company’s own employees. Organisations oftentimes underestimate the value of reputation shaping and instead, only want to see facts, figures and a solid ROI.
Now I am by no means suggesting that there isn’t an ROI on comms, it is just notoriously difficult to measure. But if you want to follow the maths to see how the distribution of a press release results in sales then knock yourself out with this blog by Greg Jarboe.
So hopefully I’ve got the numbers people on board by now and with the introduction of Google Analytics 4, this tracking process is only set to become easier. GA4 will use AI and predictive analytics to provide highly granular visitor data. This will mean better tracking of visitors from initial arrival, through various stages of engagement to the end goal, so lots to look forward to!
But in all honestly, the impact of communications stretches far beyond tracing clicks to a website. It’s clear, of course, that you can attribute economic results to comms activities, but the true value lies in the shaping of your organisations reputation.
In this day and age, customer loyalty is as fragile as ever. One poor user experience, a single bad review or even a certain political standing can deter customers from your website. So how do you change these opinions? Here are four simple steps to take to make your brand, and your reputation, shine.
So, moral of the story – limiting comms to numbers and stats is like limiting an artist to only one colour. The painting will be complete but missing a wealth of potential and creativity. So, open your mind, broaden your paint palette, and let your reputation become a masterpiece.
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:
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.
Whilst June flew by in a flash of bunting, cakes and picnics in the park, it didn’t fall short on delivering yet more weird and wonderful tech news stories for us to sink our teeth into. Here are a few of my personal favourites:
Giving tech the human touch
Having children sound like too much responsibility? According to Catriona Campbell, babies that exist in the metaverse will be indistinct from those in the real world in 50 years’ time. Parents will be able to subscribe to a digital child that resembles them physically but exists entirely in a digital realm. These ‘Tamagotchi babies’ will be able to interact with their parents and have minimal cost and environmental impact. Will make nappy changes less daunting too I imagine!
From turning real life into tech to turning tech into real life, scientists have developed an artificial skin that gives robots the ability to have a sense of touch. This will enable them to ‘feel’ objects, as well as sense specific chemicals such as explosives.
Speeding towards a tech-driven future
If we move into the transport sector, a new fleet of driverless taxis have been given the go-ahead in San Francisco. With top speeds of 30mph you may not get to your destination in record-breaking speed, but this is certainly a huge step towards autonomous vehicles becoming the norm.
From cars to planes, NASA is nearing the test flight of its first all-electric aeroplane, which is due to take place next month. Instead of being powered by aviation gasoline, aircrafts would run on lithium-ion batteries. If all goes to plan, this could mark the beginning of a greener, cleaner and quieter aviation industry.
Tech is also helping to treat people with life-changing injuries. Rehab centres all over the world are using computer games to aid in the recovery of serious illness. These games are designed to get patients to move instinctively by mimicking real-life scenarios, such as reaching for something in a kitchen cupboard.
This is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to health tech news this month. A woman who was born with a birth defect became the first person in the world to receive a 3D-printed ear made from her own cells. Moving forward, scientists believe that 3D printing could be used to remedy other conditions involving cartilage for nose or knee injuries as examples.
A final farewell
And to conclude , I think it’s only right that we bid farewell to our dear old friend, Internet Explorer. It’s been a wild ride, and we wish you all the best in your retirement.
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