Stock image provider Unsplash dives into the digital marketing space

Media platform Unsplash has launched a digital marketing arm for companies looking to leverage branded images for online and distribution. Brands will now be able to curate and share their native content with 300 million monthly users on the Unsplash media platform.

Starting life as a Tumblr blog in 2013, Unsplash is now the largest image provider across the globe with free access to one million images for its community of users.

‘People want to connect with brands in a way that doesn’t feel fake or forced. We knew that we could offer brands a positive and authentic opportunity to engage with people at scale, in a way that doesn’t feel like any of the traditional ad products,’ said Unsplash co-founder/CEO Mikael Cho of the launch.

Although currently invite-only, the ability to publish branded images, align them with relevant search terms and syndicate them to creators across the world provides value for both brands and their PR agencies. Images spread across the Unsplash website will also be shared on over 1,400 popular online platforms with the potential for earned media and authentic influence.

Brands already working with the newly-launched digital marketing arm are Google, Harley Davidson and Square.

More information about the platform can be found at unsplash.com/brands.

Want to get coverage for the brands you’re working with? Reach relevant media contacts with the Vuelio Database.

(Photo by Harley-Davidson on Unsplash)


Pet Blogger Spotlight with Marc-Andre Runcie-Unger, Katzenworld

‘Everyone has a soulmate pet!’ believes blogger Marc-Andre Runcie-Unger, who covers all things cats with Iain Runcie-Unger on Katzenworld. Feline friends are the focus for Marc-Andre, who recommends ways to keep them in all the treats, empty boxes and feather toys they could want.

But alongside all the fluffy stuff, is there a darker side of pet blogging?

How did you get started with blogging about pets?
We adopted two rescue cats and at the time there weren’t many cat-focused blogs around. That’s how Iain and I, with a few friends, founded Katzenworld during a board game evening!

What’s your favourite thing to post about?
My personal favourite is content that helps people. Tips and advice to help other people out there know more about how to care for their feline friends.

What are the best things about the pet blogging community that other blogging sectors might not have?
Everyone has a soulmate pet! Might it be a cat, dog, rabbit or even reptile. It really seems to set the scene apart.

What are your thoughts on pets/animals becoming celebrities through blogging and featuring on social media?
I personally think that one needs to listen to their pet and recognise what their limits are. There sadly are some celebrity pets out there that don’t seem happy about the ‘fame’.

Is there something you would never feature/write about on your blog?
A lot of Americans are still into the declawing of cats… there is nothing beneficial about this and it’s outright cruel. I would therefore never permit any content promoting such a barbaric practice.

Do you think it’s necessary to have pets of your own to blog about pets/animals?
Yes! While there are general pet blogs out there from people without animals, their content does not manage to have the same appeal as those of bloggers with animals.

Very important question here – which are really better, cats or dogs?
Cats, of course.

How do you work with PRs and brands – are review products and new launches useful?
I try to have a two-way beneficial collaboration with PRs and brands and treat everyone as uniquely as they should be treated. Review products and new launches are most certainly useful.

For PRs looking to work with you and your blog, how would you prefer they approach you?
Initially via email with a pitch followed by a phone chat.

What other blogs do you read (whether pet-related or not)?
Nintendo Insider, Bionic Basil and Cat Chat With Caren and Cody.


Winners revealed at the PRCA Public Affairs Awards 2019

Leading public affairs and lobbying experts came together last week to celebrate the best in the industry for the PRCA Public Affairs Awards 2019. The black-tie event at the Park Plaza Riverbank hosted by BBC Politics Live presenter Jo Coburn awarded winners across 21 categories, recognising voluntary, corporate and in-house across the country.

Successful in the Corporate Campaign of the Year category as well as Social Media Campaign of the Year was Battersea and APCO Worldwide. Also winning double on the night was Big innovation, taking home the prize for both Party Conference Fringe Event of the Year and Think Tank of the Year. The Douglas Smith Prize 2019 was given to Atlas Partners’ researcher Sophia Stileman MPRCA and political consultant Lionel Zetter FPRCA (pictured) was recognised for Outstanding Contribution.

PRCA director general Francis Ingham MPRCA said: ‘It was an enormous pleasure to recognise Lionel Zetter’s forty years of achievement with the Outstanding Contribution award. His status in public affairs is truly legendary, so this award was a fitting way to mark his retirement earlier this year, and to thank him for all that he has done to advance the interests of ethical lobbying’.

‘This is the sixth year of the PRCA Public Affairs Awards, and once again it was a night to remember. The standard of entries has never been higher, and is evidence of a thriving, rapidly-growing, and highly ethical industry. Congratulations to everyone who took home an awards, and indeed to all finalists.’

Here is the full list of this year’s winners:

  • Best Campaign in Scotland – 3×1 and Viridor
  • Best Campaign in Wales – Deryn
  • Best Campaign in Northern Ireland – British Heart Foundation NI & Donate4Daithi
  • Corporate Campaign of the Year – APCO Worldwide
  • Trade Body Campaign of the Year – Federation of Small Businesses
  • Public Sector Campaign of the Year – BCW
  • Planning Campaign of the Year – Connect
  • Voluntary Sector Campaign of the Year – Dogs Trust
  • Social Media Campaign of the Year – APCO Worldwide
  • Best In-House Consultancy Collaboration – OVID Health and NHS Confederation
  • Consultancy Campaign of the Year – PB Consulting
  • Party Conference Fringe Event of the Year – Big Innovation Centre
  • Party Conference Reception of the Year – PLMR
  • Party Conference Stand of the Year – NFU
  • In-house Professional of the Year – Hannah Marwood
  • Consultant of the Year – Rob Dale
  • Think Tank of the Year – Big Innovation Centre
  • In-house Team of the Year – The Investment Association
  • Consultancy of the Year – Atlas Partners
  • Douglas Smith Prize – Sophia Stileman
  • Outstanding Contribution – Lionel Zetter
Positive Marketing's Paul Maher

A Positive PR Spotlight with Paul Maher

‘There is no finer place to be than tech PR,’ believes Positive Marketing founder and CEO Paul Maher. Originally started in 2009 with an aim to reach across the Atlantic divide to tech leaders in the US, the agency is now a top thirty PR firm and award-winning consultancy, using all the technology at the PR industry’s disposal – video, memes, AI – to tell a story.

Bringing together experience from diverse backgrounds is how Positive promotes the new tech it’s excited about, with graduates from law, chemistry, economics and even art on the team. Paul’s past as a tech journalist as well as in-house roles at HP, VMWare and Mercury have helped – Positive is the only European agency to have been certified by the creators of B2B Tech Category Design, authors of ‘Play Bigger’.

Paul shares what he sees as the big challenges coming up for tech PR in 2020 and what he misses from the PR industry of ten years ago (it’s been a busy decade).

What were your original aims when founding Positive?
We wanted to create a way for UK-based tech leaders to gain the awareness of tech leaders in the US. I knew, from my time at HP and VMware, if we did this and stayed true to our roots in B2B tech we would be able to create amazing careers for young European talent.

Having worked in both journalism and PR, what do you bring to Positive in approach and skillset?
Our approach is entirely-driven by the excellent British tradition of independent journalism. Even if these days we may be delivering a video, a meme or an entire campaign fronted by PR, we have never forgotten the basics of storytelling. It’s all about angles, headlines and deadlines.

The Positive team has experience in a diverse set of sectors including Law, Chemistry, Economics and Art – how do these give Positive a different perspective on the tech industry?
Almost every industry has been ‘eaten by software’, so our diverse backgrounds really are a key differentiator. While everyone at the firm shares a massive love of tech, it’s what we do, they also bring specific experiences which really help. For instance, when you think about data compliance, it helps to have legally-trained team members, when we work with industrial software companies, it pays to understand what a catalyst is. The blend of tech and sector-specific experience is becoming critical to stand out in a world of PR generalists.

What do you see as upcoming challenges for the tech sector in 2020, and how are you preparing to help clients with them?
The tech sector is about to see change like never before. Politicians have woken up, some would say decades too late, to the power of tech to provide and eliminate jobs, to evolve economies and to simultaneously boost and hinder personal freedoms built on privacy. Not being ready for techlash, or thinking tech for tech’s sake is good enough, will not cut it. We are working with upscaling our clients’ messages to meet these new challenges. Soon we believe there will be nowhere for the disinterested or apathetic to hide.

Do you work with influencers? How, and which kind of campaigns do you think they work particularly well for?
The traditional influencers in this market are analysts like Gartner and IDC. A lot of people pay their ‘taxes’ and hate doing so. We work with an increasing number of experts who work in the grey space between analysts and consultants, often what is unfairly called ‘Tier 2’. This is a much smarter use of time and budget. Often these are people motivated by a professional passion and who can help us broadcast a message, with some degree of independence, which our clients value greatly. The proliferation of podcasts and vlogs, both owner and earned, are now a regular part of our repertoire.

What is an example of great PR you’ve seen over the last few years that made you think ‘I wish we’d worked on that’?
In B2B tech it is hard to think of a more inspiring shot than when Space-X synchronised the landing of their rockets. Poetry, ballet and literally a picture that launched a million words. The rebel in us loved Amazon switching off Oracle kits – regardless of the veracity of the story. On the B2C side, Paddy Power and Greggs are our sort of irreverent brands.

AI is a big story in PR and journalism at the moment – do you see it having an impact at Positive?
As the agency behind Big Data London, the largest data show in Europe now, we know more than most about AI. As it relates to our work, there will be a lot of change from bot-written financial stories, to deeper online sentiment analysis. Ultimately stories are not what AI does, it merely pulls together data points, so we will be augmented by AI, as we already are with several of the digital tools we use. As you might expect, we are very much up for embracing this exciting new tech.

With so much having changed in the industry over the last decade, what do you miss about the PR industry from ten years ago?
Easier to say what is not missed; pointless product launches, snooty entitled tech analysts, advertorial masquerading as earned media, heaving printed press packs around shows and clippings books. If we do have to get misty-eyed, perhaps we miss proper off-site agency planning days, international press trips and the sheer joy of explaining at social gatherings that tech PR is not tech support and they would have to fix their printer or WiFi themselves. These days most people actually understand what tech PR is all about.

Which magazines, columnists, blogs, or podcasts are vital reading/listening for people working in tech PR?
This has changed a lot. Clearly the tech writers on nationals and broadcast media are of interest, but we need to be ‘more upstream’ to predict what will interest them and the general public they cater to. This means now tech PRs need to be across the blogs and podcasts of all the major players as well as the core tech media and it also helps to keep an eye on what the VC industry is funding. There’s never enough time and so being smart about feeds is just good business.

What’s the most positive thing about working in PR today?
If you like technology and have the sort of crazy curiosity which we all share, there is no finer place to be than tech PR. Because tech touches everything and B2B tech remains the foundation of almost every human innovation today, this is the perfect moment to be at the forefront. Apart from coding, there is no better way to get to the heart of the human genius which drives the world’s economies. Who would not want to be a critical part of that?

Find Paul and Positive Marketing on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and connect with top tech influencers and journalists on the Vuelio Media Database.

Content Chaos

9 in 10 communications directors struggle with creating content

Concerns about content creation is one of the big obstacles the comms industry will face in 2020, according to a new survey commissioned by Speak Media and conducted by The Pulse Business.

Among comms directors responding to the survey, 90% regularly struggle to produce content, citing lack of measurement and analytics as the main issue. Content silos also cause stagnation in teams, with 29% of comms leaders finding themselves stuck due to a lack of communication and sharing within their own organisations.

Slimming World director of external affairs Jenny Caven recognised the issues: ‘Business units are fragmented and used to being measured on the success of their own initiatives. Working to tight deadlines doesn’t help when you need to take time out to pause and reflect on better ways of doing things’.

Other struggles uncovered in the survey included teams having to work with poor video and imagery as well as a lack of editorial strategy to guide them. According to an anonymous respondent, too much ‘random content’ is generated as a result of ‘too many competing pressures and no prioritisation, because we don’t know what works and what matters’.

Lack of skill across the team was another issue being faced – another anonymous comms professional sharing the view that ‘we need to be more rigorous in checking what content generates the most engagement’.

Though 10% of those surveyed reported no challenge at all, the tight deadlines, lack of direction and skill the rest of the comms industry faces needs to be addressed and remedied according to Speak Media head of content George Theohari: ‘Content Chaos is going to cause some huge issues for organisations in 2020, as the breadth, ambition and time-sensitivity of content needed to fill their channels now rival that of some traditional news outlets’.

‘Many large-scale communications teams can lack the specific editorial expertise needed to lead and coordinate the kind of multi-channel news team that will satisfy a brand’s many channels and stakeholders. This development can create huge challenges for communications leaders.’

Raindrops of Sapphire

Fashion Blogger Spotlight with Lorna Burford, Raindrops of Sapphire

Get some style tips in our catch-up with Raindrops of Sapphire’s Lorna Burford, who recommends a good pair of jeans (she previously edited the DenimBlog), loves Dior and sees a fashionable future in blogging despite some of her fellow stylistas moving over to social media.

As well as getting some notes on what to wear this winter, read about some of Lorna’s favourite collaborations and how you can work with her (jeans optional).

How do you describe what you do to other people?
I usually say it’s a mixture of modelling, writing and photography if they don’t know what blogging means. I find it depends who you’re speaking to as ‘blogger’ is still a relatively new career term.

How much of a community is there around fashion bloggers?
I would say there’s quite a large one. All the girls I have met or spoken to are usually lovely and there’s a lot of support from followers, too.

What’s the best thing about being a professional blogger (if that’s how you refer to yourself)?
I do refer to myself as that, or self-employed; either one. I would say the best thing is the freedom you have. You make your own hours, everything is on your terms (usually, unless there’s some specific collabs) and you generally just get to be creative how you see fit, so it’s very rewarding. However, it does always come with a downside of having next to no breaks or shut-off time.

What does the future of blogging look like?
I was worried for a while that everyone is going in the direction of social media instead, and I know a lot of blogs have dropped and been given up on because of this, but I would hope blogging still remains a popular and huge thing.

How do you describe your style?
It depends purely on the season and my mood, but I would say currently it’s got a little bit of a country mix in it, and I have been wearing a lot of black lately. Mostly it’s classic, though – wearable, with an element of statement here and there in the form of a bag or boots.

Which designer(s) should we keep an eye on?
Dior are having their moment right now and I’m also feeling Saint Laurent lately!

What one fashion item or accessory could you not live without?
That would be a pair of jeans, probably. Good-fitting jeans are everything! However, I am always in need of a pair of amazing boots!

What’s the best collaboration you’ve worked on with an agency or brand?
I’m going to say Clarks Village! I did a collaboration with them in the summer and it was fantastic! Not only were the ladies handling this campaign incredibly friendly and nice, and a joy to get on with, the village is great and I had such a fun experience with it all at the same time!

What advice would you give PRs looking to get in touch?
I would say try and make your emails personal. I receive a high amount of cold/spam emails every single day, so if you really want to work with a blogger or form some kind of relationship, please be personal and friendly in the email. Mention things they have recently been up to or take an interest in their blog first, before reaching out. I’m pretty certain you will get a reply then as the blogger knows you’re serious and won’t just delete the email in among the mass amounts of others.

What other blogs do you read?
I mostly read Cupcakes & Cashmere and Brooklyn Blonde. Love those two ladies!


The Looneychick blog

Mental Health Blogger Spotlight: Vicky Williams, The Looneychick blog

‘Blogging is a great outlet for me and has grown into a tool to share, educate and connect with others,’ says Vicky Williams about her work on The Looneychick blog. Sharing stories about people who suffer with mental illness, Vicky also features articles and tips on staying mentally healthy to raise awareness of the issues so many struggle with.

Despite the growing awareness around mental health issues in the media, Vicky feels more can be done – learn more about Vicky’s work and some of the campaigns she feels are helping.

How do you describe what you do to other people?
I started my mental health blog as a healthy outlet to let people know that they aren’t alone, no matter how bad things get. I was in a very dark place when I started this blog and at the time there wasn’t a lot of information on my experiences out there. I’m now in a place where I can share my experiences, good and bad, with people all over the world.

How much of a community is there around mental health bloggers?
Since I started the blog three years ago there are a lot more mental health bloggers out there. There is still a huge stigma around mental health and sadly not much help on the NHS, but at least everyone can share their experiences with fellow bloggers with so many blogs and social media MH groups online now. I find most of my mental health audience are active on Twitter; it tends to be more popular than Instagram and Facebook.

What’s the best thing about being a professional blogger (if you consider yourself to be one!)?
I don’t consider myself as a professional blogger. Blogging is a great outlet for me and has grown into a tool to share, educate and connect with others.

What does the future of blogging look like?
I think blogging is continuing to grow and more people are sharing their experiences online. Businesses are even starting to blog about their daily activities as well.

It seems like mental health is attracting more attention in society recently, why do you think that is?
This is due to the fact that royalty and celebrities are getting in on the act and making mental health more fashionable. The fact is there isn’t much help available out there in terms of the NHS – if you look at the statistics in the UK, most mental health teams are poor.

Are businesses/employers doing enough to support the mental health of their staff?
No – the law doesn’t protect people with mental illness and there is still a stigma around employing people with mental health issues because of the amount of sick leave we require. Many employers can’t tolerate some of the behaviours that people with mental illnesses show.

What’s the best mental health initiative you’ve seen?
The work of charities such as Rethink Mental Illness, Time To Change and Mind is so important.

How do you work with PRS and brands?
I work with brands I believe in that match the outlook of the blog. PRs often send me press releases and sometimes I will review mental health books or fitness and wellbeing products.

What advice do you have for PRs looking to get in touch?
I am a mental health blogger, so please send me something relevant to this that I can include on the blog. I am also a 36-year-old woman, so anything around fitness, beauty or wellness is also good to review.

What other blogs do you read?
I like reading Cara’s Corner.


How to find award winning influencers

How to find award-winning influencers

Following the success of the Online Influence Awards, a number of PR contacts have asked how they can source the very best influencers for their organisation and clients. With Vuelio, you can identify the most influential people talking about the subjects that matter to you and your campaigns.

Vuelio Influence Score
Using over 40 different factors such as audience reach, circulation, followers and domain authority, the Vuelio Influence Score ranks media and influencers on a scale of 1-100 to help you see who is most influential on any given topic.

Increasing your influencer network
Every day we add and update the market-leading influencer and journalist database, which includes profiles for the top podcasts, vlogs, Instagrammers and Facebook groups helping you reach your audience and those who influence them.

Insight from Vuelio’s community of influencers
As well as great data, profiles and scores, we also work with our influencer community to give you insights into best practice with top tips on how to collaborate on campaigns in our interviews and spotlights.

Influencer Search
Finding the influencers, journalists and broadcasters who matter to your audience is simple with Vuelio Influencer Search.

  1. Enter a keyword in the search box:
  2. The search will return the top influencers listed in the Media Database that are talking about your topic. Results are ordered by Vuelio Influence Score.
  3. Select the relevant contacts to add them to your lists and groups. From there you can send releases and track your activities.

Find out how the influencer database can provide you with all the information you need to better understand and connect with the people that matter to your story, topic or campaign.


PRCA SEA takes a closer look at Asia-Pacific PR practice

Do you consider PR an industry or a profession? Research from PRCA SEA shows that two-thirds of those working in PR in the Asia-Pacific region consider their public relations calling a profession, and practitioners spend nearly a whole extra day above their contracted hours doing it.

The first PR Asia-Pacific PR and Communications Census published by the PRCA this week is based on more than 500 responses to a survey sent out earlier this year. Following the launch of PRCA Southeast Asia [SEA] in September 2018, the study shows some differences in attitude and approach as well as worldwide similarities across the profession (or industry, depending on how you see it).

Overwork and stress are issues in the Asia-Pacific, just as in Europe – PRs in the region are contracted to work an average of 39 hours a week, but often work seven hours longer than that. 31% of those surveyed make work-related calls and emails outside of office hours. Unsurprisingly, mental health is another area flagged in the survey – among those under 35-years-old, 11% have been diagnosed with a mental health condition; 55% have applied for flexible working; and in-house practitioners are more likely to get health checks or stress management workshops to help with their health.

Despite the region’s PR sphere being mostly female (61%) and young (median age of 35), women are likely to earn less than men and receive fewer bonuses for their work (even though pay rises are more common for younger professionals).

More than half surveyed speak at least one language in addition to English, and 94% had been to university – 24% of those had studied PR. Those taking part in the survey saw online communication and digital and social media as the most important parts of their work, taking over from sales promotion and general media relations. AVEs are still used, though communications strategy development is the main function of PRs in the Asia-Pacific PR profession.

Management of hours, mental support and equality across PR – industry or profession – are issues workers are experiencing across the globe. For International Communications Consultancy Organisation president Nitin Mantri, the world of PR needs to tackle these problems: ‘Workplace mental health policies should become a norm. Sustained efforts should be taken to encourage conversations around mental health because awareness and sensitivity will play a crucial role in bringing meaningful change.’

As for how to bring change in the profession, JLL executive director (communications) Eva Sogbanmu had some thoughts on how to use the findings from this first survey to change PR in the future: ‘I personally would like to see more diversity in background, ethnicity and gender at all levels of the profession – I also think that we need to work hard to demonstrate that PR is a rewarding career to consider.’

The full report from PRCA SEA can be read here.

Online Influence Awards 2019

Top 25 Influencers of 2019

The Online Influence Awards took place on 22 November 2019. Find out more about all the winners below.

Best UK blogs by sector

Caroline Hirons

Beauty & Best UK Blog – Caroline Hirons

A true beauty superstar Caroline Hirons takes home prize for Best Beauty Blog for the second year running. Caroline has had a brilliant 2019 and it doesn’t look like it’s about to slow down any time soon! With a book out early next year, Caroline is taking her beauty expertise to the people.

Describing Caroline as the gold standard for influencers, our judges were blown away by her content and tone of voice. Whether it’s Caroline’s video tutorials or her famous cheat sheets, it’s clear why the queen of beauty has such a loyal following behind her.

Taking home the award for Best UK Blog, Caroline was a clear winner and the judges loved her no-nonsense approach, speaking directly to her audience with a clarity and honesty that is refreshing.


Dad – Dad Blog UK

John started Dad Blog UK after he left his job in government communications to become the main carer for his children, sharing his experiences as a ‘school run dad’

Writing about the highs and lows of being a parent, John also tackles the bigger issues from talking about health with kids to the rise of gender reveal parties. The judges praised his tone of voice which is always useful without being preachy.

Passionate about creating the best future possible for children, John is a superhero dad! Plus, he’s always got plenty of dad jokes at the ready.

Teacher Toolkit

Education – @TeacherToolKit

Top of the class and receiving more than a gold star is the founder of TeacherToolkit, Ross. What originally started as a Twitter account today has a worldwide following that provides a professional platform for teachers and fantastic free resources.

This includes the globally famous five minute lesson plan which received a big thumbs up from the Department of Education for helping to reduce teacher workload.

My Fussy Eater

Food & Drink – My Fussy Eater

Blog Award winner in 2017, Ciara has taken the top prize again with her fabulous blog, My Fussy Eater. Answering the call of parents everywhere, Ciara shares her tips and tricks on how to get kids to try new foods and expand their culinary horizons. If you’re looking for ways to get your little ones eating more veggies or perhaps your partner prefers biscuits over broccoli, Ciara has got plenty of advice to turn a fussy eater into a foodie!

The Runner Beans

Health & Fitness – The Runner Beans

Marathon runner, award winner and creator of The Runner Beans, Charlie is incredibly talented. She originally started her blog to share her experience of training for her first ever marathon which expanded as she became bitten by the running bug.

Whether you’re thinking about tackling your first marathon or just want to discover more about running, The Runner Beans has plenty of tips and advice on how to find motivation to get out there.

Sophie Robinson

Interior Design – Sophie Robinson

Sophie’s love of interior design started at university and has led to a hugely successful 20 year career. Most recently, Sophie graced our screens as a judge on The BBC Two programme, the Great Interior Design Challenge.

Not content with being a TV star, Sophie also co-hosts the podcast, The Great Indoors, with fellow interior design blogger, Kate Watson-Smyth sharing inspiration wherever you are!


LGBT+ – LesBeMums

Kate and her wife Sharon started LesBeMums back in 2012 when they started their journey to have a child. In 2015, their family of two became three with the arrival of T and their lives have never been the same since.

Sharing their experiences of what it’s like to be a same-sex family and the issues they face, Kate and Sharon provide great advice and inspiration – for the LGBT+ community and their allies.

The judges felt that the mums gave this category a real voice and authenticity, shaping our understanding of modern families today.

Man For Himself

Men’s Fashion – Man For Himself

Robin James’ Man for Himself proves that fashion is so much more than wearing the right threads, with expert grooming advice and men’s lifestyle creating the whole package.

Robin started in 2012 while working in digital marketing before success in style made it his full time job in 2016.

Man for Himself was considered a worthy winner by our judges for his quality content and strong audience engagement on crucial topics such as finding the best haircut to men’s grooming essentials.

Car Throttle

Motoring – Car Throttle

Taking the winners’ flag in the motoring category is Adnan Ebrahim’s Car Throttle.

Considered the ‘Buzzfeed for cars’, this blog has sped along to build a dedicated audience influencing car enthusiasts for over a decade.

‘This feels like what influencer content should be’ according to our judges – authentic, useful and designed with the audience in mind.


Mum – Mum In The Madhouse

The Mum behind Mum In The Madhouse is Jen Walshaw who writes about a huge breadth of topics from cooking to arts and crafts at home.

Useful for all of us with our own family-filled madhouses, Jen also covers the bigger issues that come up when raising a family and has many insightful tips for parents.


Political – ConservativeHome

Despite their political affiliations, the judges’s gave their vote in the politics category to Tim Montgomerie’s blog ConservativeHome. Created in 2005 for grassroots party members looking for round-ups of news and analysis of events in the Tory Diary, Tim encourages conversation and reasoned debate, which has never been more important.

The judges picked out this blog from a category full of heavy weight authorities for its broad range of great columnists and highly regarded content.

Stephen Waddington

PR & Comms – Stephen Waddington

No stranger to anyone working in the PR and communications industry, Stephen Waddington brings his experience in the field to his work, covering industry trends, tips for practitioners and hot topic posts.

Understanding his audience and knowing what they need is what makes this blog particularly useful for those in the industry, whether the focus is corporate, PR, marketing or social.

Global Grasshopper

Travel & Leisure – Global Grasshopper

Conquering the world of travel blogging, Becky Moore creates beautiful, impactful and wide ranging content on the Global Grasshopper.

Featuring a collective of travel writers sharing their adventures around the globe, this blog hops from luxury hotels in the British countryside to under-the-radar destinations in cities across the world. Global Grasshopper is worth packing in your suitcase, wherever you’re going.

That's Not My Age

Women’s Fashion – That’s Not My Age

Alyson Walsh started That’s Not My Age in 2008 to address the glaring gap in fashion advice for women whatever their age.

Her brilliant content is created to keep readers ahead of trends, able to find must have brands or latest seasonal items. Alyson’s clear tone of voice has carved out a distinct space in the fashion scene, and is a worthy winner of Best Women’s Fashion Blog.

Best UK podcasts by sector 


Current Affairs – Brexitcast

This team set themselves the unenviable task of deciphering a topic no one understands. Brexitcast makes the topic of Brexit less intimidating for listeners – and for our judges, they managed it, balancing humour with much-needed information.

Throwing the BBC rule book out of the window, this essential guide to Brexit is a must-listen for anyone confused by the intricacies of Brexit. And by that we mean: probably everyone.

Ctrl Alt Delete

Business – Ctrl Alt Delete

Emma Gannon is the brilliant brain behind Ctrl Alt Delete, a best-selling author of The Multi-Hyphen Method and a well known broadcaster and columnist. She has been rightly described as the spokesperson for the internet generation.

Over five million people have listened to Ctrl Alt Delete to hear Emma chat with experts, thought-leaders, writers and creatives about the internet, their careers and everything else in between. Guests represent the rich mix of UK culture and have included Mrs Hinch, Jameela Jamil, Emma Barnett, Alain de Botton, Poorna Bell, Ellen Page, June Sarpong and Fearne Cotton.

Judges were impressed with the impact this podcast has had – even referencing the number of millennials who have launched careers off the back of its advice. They found Ctrl Alt Delete empowering and timely, providing the support the industry needs in fast changing times.

Off Menu

Best UK Podcast – Off Menu with Ed Gamble and James Acaster

Making dreams come true, Ed Gamble and James Acaster invite special guests to choose their favourite meals for a slap-up dining experience in their magical restaurant for the Off Menu podcast.

The judges ordered Off Menu as their Best Podcast choice for its ‘funny, frivolous and compelling’ ingredients as well as the quality of servings. The pair surprise listeners with their insight into London’s restaurant scene and have reshaped our perception of one of the world’s busiest dining scenes.

Best in UK influence

Patricia Bright

Vlog – Patricia Bright

Coming first in a crowded space is Patricia Bright, who originally started her YouTube channel in secret whispering to her camera in the bathroom. Good things should always be shared, and now, nine years on, Patricia reaches over two million subscribers with her honest videos and tutorials on female fashion, beauty and hair.

Our judges particularly loved her honesty, as well as the distinctive and strong personality that comes through.


Instagrammer – @bodyposipanda

Megan Jayne Crabbe is the body positive feminist who instagrams as bodyposipanda. Our judges, and her followers, love her for her refreshing and relatable views on body issues. She is truly redefining this category and setting the standard for influencers across social media.

Kicking butt online and in life, the positivity and bravery Megan brings to Instagram is as stand out as the colours in her hair.

Our Transitional Life

Newcomer – Our Transitional Life

In one of the most hard fought categories, Kelly and Zoey stood out for the quality of their content and heart felt understanding of their audience. They started their blog, Our Transitional Life in February this year after Zoey came out as transgender. Living a life of positivity and acceptance, Kelly and Zoey aim to challenge society’s misconceptions one day at a time – and in doing so, help society to new levels of understanding.

Over the past 9 months Our Transitional Life has gained quite the following across social media and Kelly and Zoey have made the headlines and had their tv debut, appearing on This Morning in September.

Described as truly inspirational by the judges, Kelly and Zoey tackle a sensitive issue in an honest and delicate way – demonstrating what positive impact influencers truly can have.

Best in UK PR and communications

Kairos Media

Content Agency – Kairos Media

Kairos Media impressed the judges with the growth of their business from university dorm to a growing team of over 50 staff in just 4 years.

Founded by Mike, a former YouTube content creator with over 300 thousand subscribers and Chris, a former director at Machinima they set out to bring solutions to brands looking to market through social media and reach new audiences online.

Kairos Media are always looking for new ways to innovate and provide more value to their clients by disrupting traditional media, sports and the creative industries.


Influence Campaign – Adobe Lightroom’s Vamp

With a wide variety of campaigns in this category the judges had a tough job on their hands but Vamp’s Adobe Lightroom campaign stood out from the crowd.

Vamp made sure that the campaign was consistent with Adobe’s brand values and spoke directly to their target audience, using influencers and social content creators to act as authentic advocates for Adobe Lightroom.

Vamp understand the value of working with the right influencers and the results and longevity of the campaign show that they were spot on with their decisions.

Ministry of Justice

Cause-Led Campaign – Ministry of Justice’s #UpskirtingLaw

Described as the stand-out winner, the judges had one word for this campaign – exceptional.

The Ministry of Justice supported Gina Martin’s campaign to change the law on upskirting, with the law officially being passed in February this year. This is an extraordinary result which demonstrates the power of influencers in mobilising people to realise change.

Crucial to the campaign was Gina Martin who worked with the Ministry of Justice to make this happen. Empowering people to understand their rights and take an active role in politics, Gina proved her role as a trusted and authentic influencer who used her profile to make positive change happen on an issue that had been damaging to women across the UK.

Hall of Fame

Hall of fame

This year, five very special influencers entered the hallowed Vuelio Hall of Online Influencer Fame. They are those who have truly transformed the industry, setting new standards and inspiring people around the world.

These five influencers are worthy winners of the hall of fame title and have been integral in transforming the blogosphere. With a whopping 16 awards between them, this group have kept top spot in their category time and time again.

Inthefrow and Menswear Style continue to lead the way in fashion, making sure their followers know about the latest trends to hit the high street. Mad About The House is the only blog you need to read if you fancy a spot of decorating or you have a house renovation project on the go. We’ve been on the journey with Slummy Single Mummy as she’s brought her fabulous daughters up and recently became a granny. And Guido Fawkes continues to be the most feared man in Westminster.

Shoestring budget

Producing successful PR campaigns on shoestring budgets

Got big ideas, but a small budget? Getting a campaign to go viral or grabbing sign-ups for your service doesn’t necessarily have to come at substantial cost (though it certainly helps).

Some solid strategies for how to get your message out when money is tight were shared during the CIPR National Conference session ‘Digital Communications on a shoestring’ – experts Helen Reynolds (Comms Creatives), Katie Lawson (Tiny Tickers) and Leanne Manchester (The Wildlife Trusts) talked making something good out of nothing and how fellow budget-poor people in PR can do the same.

For getting engagement without a sizeable budget (it’s often close to zero for Tiny Tickers, Katie shared), all speakers admitted that having goodwill from your potential audience is a good start, and they have that. Tiny Tickers is a charity for children with heart defects and works with a community of families looking for support. The Wildlife Trusts describes itself as a ‘grassroots movement’ of people with an interest in making a positive difference to wildlife, and future generations of wildlife lovers. The tools Helen, Katie and Leanne use, however, can be utilized by agencies and brands outside of the charity sector that don’t have a public ready and willing to listen to them.

For each of the speakers, time rather than money is the most important investment you can make when putting a plan together.

‘All it took was time,’ said Leanne of their Random Acts of Wildness campaign – a bid to get more people out and engaging with nature through information packs and social media sharing. ‘We don’t have budget to do fancy insight,’ said Katie, who spoke about the Twinkle Twinkle Tiny Heart takeover of the Seven Dials Christmas lights. Putting time aside to go through social media channels and see what audiences had engaged with previously was what really worked. Katie said: ‘It’s spending that time – and then reviewing.’

Posting times on social?

Not important, according to Helen, who advised that quality content will find its audience whichever time of day it’s posted. An authentic voice also helps. ‘There is always a personality behind your brand,’ said Helen when asked by those taking part in the panel how to engage when your brand isn’t necessarily one your intended audience wants to hear from. ‘There’s fear to put things out. It’s worth building up resilience on your team.’

And when things go wrong?

‘It’s not a reputational failure to give your audience an opportunity to complain, either’.

If you want eyes on your campaign, celebrity spokespeople are going to attract them. For those that can’t afford the top-tier influence elite like Zoella, the Pauls or a Kardashian (that’s most of us), Helen, Katie and Leanne advised getting in touch with micro and macro influencers you already know have an interest in your focus and people you already follow (‘I just DMed load of people on Instagram,’ said Leanne).
For Katie, the collaboration has to be heartfelt – ‘if we have to pay for an influencer, then it’s not the right fit’. Social media takeovers have worked for The Wildlife Trusts, and video (recorded on a colleague’s phone) was an important tool for both, especially for getting complicated ideas across that won’t be as sharable in a slab of text.

Keeping things cheap has been made infinitely more possible with the evolution of social media and digital tools (Facebook was a major convertor to sign-ups for The Wildlife Trusts’ Random Acts of Wildness campaign, and a message through LinkedIn was what sparked Twinkle Twinkle Little Heart for Tiny Tickers). It’s where the right communities and affordable tools can be found for wrangling your content together or organising your team (Katie’s workforce of six swear by Canva and Slack, for example).

As communications and PR professionals, wanting more money for campaigns is a given – but the importance of the actual work is what speakers at the CIPR session argued for. A lack of budget means an opportunity to experiment – with borrowing and pro bono help (works for Leanne) or a liberal use of memes (works for Katie, and best of all – they’re free)

Online Influence Awards 2019

4 tips for connecting with this year’s Online Influence Awards winners

If last Friday’s Online Influence Awards have got you itching to get in touch with the winners for future campaigns and collaborations, look no further. Here are four quick tips for working with the champs:

1. Best UK Dad Blog – Dad Blog UK
‘I am always happy to hear from PR representatives and brands. If you are inviting me to an event, I need as much notice as possible (us mummy and daddy bloggers often have to arrange childcare).’

Read more from our Blogger Spotlight with Dad Blog UK’s John Adams.

2. Best UK Health & Fitness Blog – The Runner Beans
‘Don’t send blanket emails – engage with the blogger and target them with the right product for them. Understand how they work and it will create a more symbiotic relationship for everyone.’

To understand how Charlie Watson works, check out the full interview.

3. Best UK Interior Design Blog – Sophie Robinson
‘Be really clear on your campaign objectives and pick a blogger who is in line with those brand ideals. I’ll never forget a PR asking if I’d like to be the face of a new trendy kitchen range they were launching. I said, ‘Sure, send me over the images of the kitchen’. Well, it was grey. I thought… don’t you know who I am?!’

Get to know Sophie Robinson better here.

4. Best UK LGBT+ Blog – LesBeMums
‘Don’t just include or invite us because you feel you have to; include us because you want to. We get a lot of emails – especially during Pride season – asking us to promote XYZ or be a part of a Pride-related promotion, but we are quick to realise when we’re being used as their token diverse family, because we’re quite often the only diverse family invited or there’s radio silence from that PR the rest of the year!

I’d love to one day be part of a team or ambassadorship where families like mine or those of different colour are the MAJORITY!’

Find out more about Kate Everall and her wife Sharon’s work in our interview.

See the rest of the winners from this year’s Online Influence Awards here and learn more about them (and how they like to work with PRs) with the Vuelio Media Database.

Online Influence Awards 2019

The Online Influence Awards 2019: The Winners

The Winners have been revealed for the Online Influence Awards 2019This year’s event has evolved from the Vuelio Blog Awards to celebrate talent from across the world of influencer marketing, recognising the biggest names in blogging, vlogging, podcasting, Instagramming and communications. 

Tonight’s celebration brought together content creators from a variety of categories across the influencer industry – check out the great night we’ve been having on #OIAwards19.

We are delighted to reveal 2019’s winners in full:

Best UK blogs by sector 

Beauty – Caroline Hirons

Dad – Dad Blog UK

Food & Drink – My Fussy Eater

Education – @TeacherToolKit

Health & Fitness – The Runner Beans

Interior Design – Sophie Robinson

LGBT+ – LesBeMums

Men’s Fashion – Man For Himself

Motoring – Car Throttle

Mum – Mum In The Madhouse

Political – Conservativehome

PR & Comms – Stephen Waddington

Travel & Leisure – Global Grasshopper

Women’s Fashion – That’s Not My Age

The overall 2019 Best UK Blog is Caroline Hirons
For the judges, Caroline continues to set the gold standard for influencers across all sectors with her no-nonsense approach to beauty, writing exactly what her audience needs with a refreshing clarity and honesty – congratulations to Caroline!


Best UK podcasts by sector 

Current Affairs – Brexitcast

Business – Ctrl Alt Delete

This year’s winner of the Best UK Podcast is Off Menu with Ed Gamble and James Acaster
The judges loved this podcast, deeming it compelling listening alongside the frivolity and humour. All the food choices from its celebrity guests including Kumail Nanjiani, Cerys Matthews and Grace Dent didn’t hurt, either. Congratulations, Off Menu!


Best in UK influence 

Vlog – Patricia Bright

Instagrammer – @bodyposipanda

Newcomer – Our Transitional Life


Best in UK PR and communications 

Content Agency – Kairos Media

Influence Campaign – Adobe Lightroom’s Vamp

Cause-Led Campaign – Ministry of Justice’s #UpskirtingLaw


Thanks to our sponsors who have helped make the Online Influence Awards 2019 the best awards yet: A Gay And A Nongay, Bonne Maman, CALM, EMDUK, Gleam Futures, Kahicool, Ossa, OTTY, PRCA, Prospect, Prova, Pulsar, Splento, Splitcha, Topps Tiles and Top Trumps.

And huge congratulations to all of the winners this evening across blogging, social media and PR – thank you all for making it such a special night.

Steph and the Spaniels Featured

Pet Blogger Spotlight: Stephanie Walton, Steph and the Spaniels

Meet Stephanie Walton, Sev and Lily – a human and her two dogs blogging about ‘human and hound style and adventure’ at Steph and the Spaniels. Stephanie shares what she loves about the pet blogging community and what keeps her passionate about posting (Sev and Lily were busy).

How did you get started with blogging about pets?
My blog has slowly grown into a pet-friendly lifestyle blog, as my life has been more revolved around my dogs. Sev and Lily play a massive part in my life, and everything in it, so it was natural to start including them more and more. It became something I adored blogging about and the passion makes it easy to share posts and keep blogging.

What’s your favourite thing to post about – reviews, things to do, etc.?
Dog-friendly travel is certainly what we love, sharing the places we visit and things we do. Showing that you never have to leave your dog behind.

What are the best things about the pet blogging community that other blogging sectors might not have?
I love how supportive and loving the pet community is. It feels like there’s less competition and that’s really important when you’re online so much. I honestly love reading and seeing others’ posts and photos and I think many people think that within the community.

What are your thoughts on pets/animals becoming celebrities through blogging and featuring on social media?
I think there certainly are some, but very few actually have that status. I think it’s great for the pet and the owner to deal with it in the right way, and show good and do good with it. I think it’s wrong to get into blogging if you want that, though. Sev and Lily are far from it, and will never be. Whatever we do – from events to press trips – I need to make sure we’re doing it because we will all love it and it’s good for them as dogs.

Steph and the Spaniels 2


Is there something you would never feature on your blog?
I tend to stick with lifestyle and travel, but if it revolves around my life with dogs, then usually I would feature it. I think there are lots of taboo subjects in any topic, and it would always depend on why and how we showcase them if it’s something that is good to speak about.

Do you think it’s necessary to have pets of your own to blog about pets/animals?
I would think yes, as you’re more submersed into it. There are things only a pet owner would know, want to know or understand. However, that’s personal to my blog, as it’s very much revolving around our spaniel life and spaniel travels – that wouldn’t be something I’d even have the passion to share if Sev and Lily weren’t part of it.

Which are really better, cats or dogs?

How do you work with PRs and brands – are review products and new launches useful?
My main work with brands is through campaigns and press trips, because that works with my blog and what I share with my followers and readers. I think sometimes product reviews are great, if they’re not overdone but shown in a personal way. Creating content for brands is something I really enjoy doing and would always be keen if it fits our blog. I am also always very supportive of others in the community that do, too.

For PRs looking to work with you and your blog, how would you prefer they approach you?
I love hearing from brands and PRs. Usually email is best but we’re also on Instagram a lot. I really enjoy working with brands – it’s a great way to really get into something that you love and make content together.

What other blogs do you read (whether pet-related or not)?
I really enjoy reading blogs – I love The Cornish Life, The Londoner and From Roses.


Cut for time: extra answers from the We are all influencers now webinar

Our We are all influencers now webinar with Sarah Waddington, Stephen Waddington and Andrew Terry covered topics included in the #FuturePRoof guide to influencer marketing, but the parameters of ASA rules on promotional content and the ethics of influencer marketing are likely to raise yet more questions as the industry works towards defined and indisputable boundaries.

Here, Stephen and Sarah Waddington answer five such questions we didn’t have time for during the webinar – read on for more insight on #ads, keeping to the rules and where PR comes in…

If an influencer breaks the ASA rules, will we get in trouble as their collaborator? Is there anything we can do about this?
ASA rulings in the case of a breach of advertising practice are typically made against a brand and an influencer. There’s a collective responsibility for everyone involved in a campaign to ensure good governance. This includes an agency working as an intermediary.

Are there any best practice for promotional content in an influencer’s story rather than a regular post?
A paid-for relationship should be disclosed in the story using the tag #ad or #advertising. Platforms such as Instagram have been trialling meta tags as a means of creators disclosing a paid relationship but these have not been formalised.

If marketing currently owns influencer marketing in our organisation, how can PR get involved in the process?
Our view is that good influencer marketing should be based on working with an influencer as an individual and not a form of media. That’s the role of PR.

I have a question around inviting influencers to review an event, space or product. If they are provided with free access/free product but are asked to offer a genuine ‘warts and all’ review, does that still require an #ad?
This is a grey area. Strictly speaking any payment or payment in kind should be disclosed using the hashtag #advertising.

Is #ad exclusive to Instagram or would an influencer need to write this in their blog (where typically they’d add a disclaimer that they were invited)?
The nature of a relationship between a brand and an influencer should always be disclosed in the case of a paid relationship. A blog post provides the opportunity to do this in greater detail and disclaimers are appropriate in this instance.

Listen to the webinar and read the #FuturePRoof guide for more on best practice in the influencer sphere.

factcheckuk TORY

Industry bodies respond to CCHQ’s factcheckUK stunt

An attempt to mislead the public during a time for big decisions, or a light-hearted but badly thought out PR stunt? Whatever your opinion on the Conservative Party’s rebranding of its @CCHQPress account to factcheckUK for yesterday’s live TV debate between Jeremy Corbyn and Boris Johnson, ramifications are likely to be felt through the political realm as well as in PR teams and social media spaces across the country.

Twitter hasn’t yet appeared to have taken any action over the incident but has vowed to take ‘decisive corrective action’ if something similar happens in future using its platform.

‘Twitter is committed to facilitating healthy debate throughout the UK general election,’ a spokesperson for Twitter said. ‘We have global rules in place that prohibit behaviour that can mislead people, including those with verified accounts. Any further attempts to mislead people by editing verified profile information – in a manner seen during the UK Election Debate – will result in decisive corrective action.’

Placing responsibility for the factcheckUK name change on a party digital team within his remit, Conservative Party chairman James Cleverly has defended the rebrand. This hasn’t curtailed concern from the PR industry.

Koray Camgoz, head of communications and marketing at the PRCA said: ‘PR professionals have a duty to fight disinformation, not purvey it. The PRCA Code of Conduct, to which all members are bound, is explicit in this regard.
‘PR professionals must not disseminate false or misleading information. Doing so damages trust in our industry and in this case – the political process. We urge communications professionals to be mindful of their ethical responsibilities, particularly during a period of national importance.’

The CIPR also has concerns for the ethics involved in the stunt, with its chief executive Alastair McCapra urging honesty and fairness as a basic professional standard from the industry: ‘This sort of action damages trust, not only in the organisation which carries it out, but potentially in the election itself. Any CIPR members involved in this kind of misleading behaviour face potential disciplinary action under our Code of Conduct.

‘It was extremely disappointing to see the Chairman of the Conservative Party, the Rt. Hon. James Cleverly MP defending it on television after the debate. I have written to Mr Cleverly today to make this point.’

PRCA 2019 Digital PR and Communications Report

PRCA 2019 Digital Report: industry investment in social media is up

Social is still successful and attracting big budgets, according to the PRCA’s 2019 Digital PR and Communications Report.

Produced in partnership with Ginger Research, PRCA’s digital report shows increased industry investment in social media and digital. The survey of 408 PR professionals across sectors including technology, NGOs, government, and finance and banking found growth in budget assignment for digital tools and tactics as well as a greater confidence in measuring its success for campaigns.

Reasons for keeping up a social media presence for brands has stayed the same as last year – to increase awareness of what they do (86%), drive audience reach (71%) and brand awareness (65%). Spending on digital and social is up this year, with over half of respondents saying their budget has increased over the last 12 months. For future spending, budgets will grow even further for almost half of those surveyed, with 49% say their assigned budget will increase and only 2% predicting less.

Where the budget goes shows what’s working and what isn’t – Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) spend is down (by 10%), while more money is going towards video-based content, up by 4% (text-based is down by 9%).

What clients expect from their PR services shows a different motive, however – 51% expect online press release distribution, 49% digital crisis management, 46% image-based content and 43% social influencer outreach. That importance is being placed in different areas by those providing PR services and those paying for them – one looking to digital engagement, and the other to the more traditional PR tool of press releases – could signal a need for greater communication between client and agency on what is possible when embarking on a campaign (and digital provides many opportunities the press release can’t).

Those still catching up to the potential of digital and social media in-house cited lack of time, staff, education and budget as blocks rather than lack of interest or want. And which social platforms are most popular for those making full use of them in campaigns is probably unsurprising – Twitter comes out on top as most popular for in-house (90%), closely followed by Facebook (81%). Agencies place similar importance on Twitter as a platform (85%) but consider LinkedIn (84%) more useful than Facebook (80%). The popularity of Instagram as a social platform for PR is lowest out of the big four – 67% for agencies and 63% in-house.
Tweeting and Facebooking is second nature for campaigns, but where PR is looking for the future of engagement goes one step beyond to augmented/virtual reality. 32% would like more education on it, 25% on voice/search aps and 24% on chatbots.

Whichever particular digital platforms PR budgets will focus on for campaigns in the coming year, social media is where stories will continue to flourish: ‘No one can argue that digitally relevant content should be the cornerstone of every PR campaign,’ said Ginger Research creative director Ellie Glason of the report findings. ‘It will be fascinating to see how modern digital mediums will evolve, and what new platforms for storytelling will be at our disposal in the near future.’

PRCA Digital Group chairman and Play and Shiny Red managing director Danny Whatmough also sees excitement in where PR will go next with digital: ‘While things move pretty fast in the digital arena, our study has shown year on year that PR professionals across the UK are evolving and developing their skillsets to match changing consumer behaviours, uncovering new opportunities to reach and engage diverse audiences.’

The full report from PRCA and Ginger Research can be found here.

mark sanders and monty dogge

Pet Blogger Spotlight: Mark Sanders, Adventures of Monty Dogge

Joining the ranks of famous and talented dogs like Lassie, Hooch and K9, Monty Dogge trades in quality blogging and children’s books – but he couldn’t do it without his human (and owner of opposable thumbs/a faster typing rate) Mark Sanders.

We talk to Mark about his work with Monty on the Adventures of Monty Dogge and why he thinks the pet blogging community is so supportive.

How did you get started with blogging about pets?
It was a total accident, to be honest. When Monty was a puppy he was so naughty I started a Facebook page ‘Life according to Monty Dogge’ and began writing silly stories about his exploits through his eyes. It took off and I soon had followers all over the world and we got invited to blog from Crufts. The Facebook followers suggested I should write a book and up to now Monty and the gang have featured in five children’s books.

What’s your favourite thing to post about – reviews, things to do, etc.?
I really prefer to post about things that are really helpful to other pet owners. Cookie ruptured her cruciate ligament last December and I did a blog about the whole process from diagnosis to the operation and subsequent recovery. I featured products that helped such as a harness and snuffle mat to ease the boredom. I also wrote about the insurance company and how they were to deal with. It was something positive that came out of a horrible experience and will hopefully help others.

What are the best things about the pet blogging community that other blogging sectors might not have?
I’m not sure about other blogging sectors but the pet blogging community is really supportive. I think it comes from people blogging about living breathing family members rather than a hobby or pastime.

What are your thoughts on pets/animals becoming celebrities through blogging and featuring on social media?
I actually hate pets and animals becoming celebrities just by being dressed up and pictures posted daily. I think it’s the horrible side of social media where a dog can be followed by 30,000 people just by wearing silly clothes. If there is content, then why not? Pets and animals have been celebrities for years, just think of Lassie as an example.

Is there something you would never feature/write about on your blog?
There are actually many things. I have to think it is ethical and actually something our readers would find interesting or useful. It has taken a long time to build the following we have and I won’t just throw product after product at them.

Do you think it’s necessary to have pets of your own to blog about pets/animals?
Not sure it’s necessary but I’m sure it helps. I think somebody who has experience of pets/animals could still write an excellent blog.

Very important question here – which are really better, cats or dogs?
If I were a politician I’d say that each pet has their own strengths and weaknesses and each bring something special to the owner pet relationship… but I’m not, so it’s dogs.

How do you work with PRs and brands – are review products and new launches useful?
Again, going back to a previous answer it’s all down to the product for me and I prefer to build a long-term relationship. I very rarely do food reviews as it means changing the dog’s diet and I’m not really prepared to do that unless it’s a superior product. Monty is perfect for brand ambassador roles and that’s something I’m always keen on.

For PRs looking to work with you and your blog, how would you prefer they approach you?
I really dislike fishing emails that don’t actually contain any sort of proposal and those usually just get overlooked, to be honest. I’d much prefer an email that lays out their vision/ideas for the relationship.

What other blogs do you read (whether pet-related or not)?
I am a big follower of the Paw Post who has become a good social media friend. I tend to read book review blogs such as Whispering Stories, Mrs Cooke’s Books and anything with conservation content that takes my fancy.


Dr Stephanie Hare CIPR 2019

Integration, responsibility and cake: 7 lessons from the CIPR National Conference

This year’s CIPR National Conference ‘Preparing for the Digital Future’ focused on getting attendees ready for the challenges the industry will face over the next few years. Big issues highlighted at the conference that are already impacting PR and comms included mental health issues within the workplace, irresponsible use of data and CEOs resistant to necessary change.

What can we do to get ready for what’s coming, and what’s already here?

Check out the main takeaways from the speakers this year and where they believe time, energy and resources should be spent (the first is definitely the most doable…).

1. ‘Cake always wins’
Katie Lawson, head of fundraising and communications at Tiny Tickers

Lack of budget and goodwill came up in questions to speakers a lot during the conference – naturally, not every team or corporation is going to have both. During the CIPR Not-for-profit Group Session ‘Digital communications on a shoestring’, Katie Lawson from charity Tiny Tickers talked about balancing the goodwill of her audience with a lack of funds. Want attention on social media? Office cake is the answer. Katie’s advice: take photos of any cake that shows up in the office and post on Twitter – this also goes for dogs.

2. ‘Spending money on content that isn’t engaging is money down the drain… what you’re doing is boring more people’
Helen Reynolds, communications and social media trainer at Comms Creatives

And on the subject of what works on social, Helen ‘The old lady of social media’ Reynolds also had advice during the panel on working with tiny budgets. Everyone wants more money for what they’re planning, but for Helen ‘the work is what’s important’. As discussed during this talk (which also featured thoughts from Leanne Manchester from The Wildlife Trust), no amount of budget is going to make content that’s lacklustre more interesting – it’ll just be much more expensive.

3. ‘Focus on the human aspect of work – if we’re not more open and transparent, I think we’re going to be forced to’
Peter Cheese, CIPD

‘So, I’m the HR guy’ is how Peter Cheese started his talk ‘Rebuilding trust from the inside out’. Peter made the point that companies are part of communities and society, and therefore important stakeholders to be considered. Moves to sustainability within offices (the increasing popularity of recycling initiatives and paperless working) and the adoption of workplace charities shows that a greater focus on the human side of big business is already happening. But it can’t merely be lip service. Like the RSC dropping BP as a sponsor, genuine steps must be taken for the wider community to see legitimate considerations for the future. Full accountability for bigger brands and high-profile people (Amazon was mentioned a lot during the conference, as well as a certain US president) might not be the reality yet, but it’s coming and is worth planning for now. Communities demand, and deserve, better from the corporations that serve and sell to them.

4. ‘Reputation management needs to be holistic and integrated. It’s vital and necessary to speak out on the big issues of the day’
Tony Langham (CEO, Lansons)

In ‘Reputation on the line’, Tony Langham highlighted a growing area of the PR and comms industry being within organisations. Employee engagement is where PR is heading, and employees need to be able to trust their companies and those higher-up on the food chain. And this is possible even when it’s not necessarily deserved; according to Tony: ‘People will forgive anyone if they like them’. So, be trustworthy to your employees, if you have them. Or if you can’t quite do that, be likeable.

5. ‘If you don’t take a stand on technology ethics, you’re still taking a stand. There is no neutrality in this space’
Dr Stephanie Hare, researcher and broadcaster

During one of the most passionate talks of the day, Dr Stephanie Hare (in Ethics of Our New Technologies) urged those in the audience to take forward a greater understanding of how to use their influence and skillset. Particularly when it comes to GDPR. For her, ‘the way that we are treating data isn’t working’ and the technology we use isn’t without discrimination or potential harm. Having penned an op-ed on the subject for The Observer the weekend prior, and citing the recent controversy with Apple Pay’s gender discrimination during her talk, Dr Stephanie made the case that ‘building better tech is about building a better world – you’ll have a better PR story if you get on the right side of history’.

6. ‘The same way that companies can track us, we can track them and what they’re doing – corporate digital responsibility needs to be applied in-house’
Dr Lawrence Ampofo, Digital Mindfulness

Also advocating for greater responsibility in the tech space, Dr Lawrence Ampofo argued for greater human interaction in the development of technologies and services, as well as with customers. Technology, services and products need to have the ‘friction’ of humanity alongside the benefits of AI (also a big topic during the conference, unsurprisingly). What humans can bring that AI can’t (yet) is responsibility to employees and clients – that’s only going to get more important, going by how many times it was talked about by the speakers and in audience questions.

7. ‘Get your boss involved in decisions to be part-owner of solutions. Ask ‘what do you think?’ Take them on the journey’
Joanna Blackburn, Government Digital Service

Moving away from pure profit considerations and towards a more mindful approach for the wider community we serve and the colleagues we work with has to come with CEO approval. What do you do when you don’t make all the big decisions at your company, and have a particularly resistant person in charge? Bring them on the journey with you, said Joanna Blackburn when talking through her successes with bringing about change at the Government Digital Service. And for those holding the power in organisations, her warning was that job titles don’t guarantee respect anymore and that workplaces are filled with intelligent people quick with questions for those in charge.

To be ready for the future of PR – wherever you are in your company hierarchy, or whatever your budget – the lessons from this year’s CIPR National Conference speakers was to be open, ethical and considerate. But also, to help get that started, bring more cake into the workplace. Also, dogs.

Local News journalism

What, how and when to pitch journalists by industry

A guest post written by Laura Crimmons, Founder of the Silverthorn Agency

BuzzStream, one of a range of PR tools, has conducted research analysing over 200,000 articles to uncover trends in when, how and what journalists are writing about to help PRs in securing coverage.

Five verticals were chosen for the study (Tech, Travel, Health, Entertainment and Personal Finance) with 20 publishers then analysed within each vertical taking the most recent 1,000 articles from each as well as the most shared 1,000 articles.

The research is broken down by each vertical with articles analysed to answer questions such as:

• What topics, companies and people are journalists writing about most frequently?
• What assets and formats, e.g. video, research, experts or photography, are covered most frequently within each vertical?
• Which publishers are most frequently linked to and most frequently link out?
• How many articles are journalists having to write each day and how does this vary by vertical and/or publication?
• Is there a ‘best day to pitch’ for each publication and/or vertical?

Alongside the quantitative analysis, the report also features supporting commentary from various journalists and PRs to add perspectives to the data.

BuzzStream chief growth officer Stephen Panico said of the motivations for commissioning the study: ‘We’ve known for a long time that the best performing teams get outstanding results by tailoring their pitches and content to the journalists they want coverage from. However, it’s always been frustrating for people who hear this advice because it’s always seemed to be more of an art than a science, something that a team either has or they don’t. We wanted to go beyond anecdotal evidence and platitudes and figure out exactly what the data actually says about what works and what doesn’t – based on what’s actually getting published. Admittedly, you can’t remove all of the personal skill from outreach, but this study will give much more clarity on what journalists in a given publication or vertical actually want.’

In addition to the detailed vertical analysis, the research also looked at any interesting comparisons across the verticals including which tend to attract the most social shares. As the table below shows, Entertainment articles generate 13X more shares on average than Personal Finance:

Cross vertical social shares overal

The study also shows the publishers within each vertical that have the most shared and engaged with articles:

Median social shares across vertical

The whitepaper is available to download for free here from BuzzStream.

Pitch to the right journalists at the right time with the Vuelio Media Database and get their requests directly with the Journalist Enquiry Service.