Facebook and Google cut off ad revenue for fake news sites

Despite Mark Zuckerberg previously claiming fake news distributed via Facebook was a tiny problem the social network has reportedly created a task force to tackle the problem.

The social network will also be following Google’s lead and cutting off streams of revenue by banning fake news sites from using their third party advertising network for publishers.

According to The Wall Street Journal, a number of fake news sites have been added to a list including misleading, illegal and deceptive sites which are already banned from using Facebook’s Audience Network.

A spokesperson for the social network told journalists: “We vigorously enforce our policies and take swift action against sites and apps that are found to be in violation. Our team will continue to closely vet all prospective publishers and monitor existing ones to ensure compliance.”

The move follows apparent wide spread criticism from Facebook employees about Mark Zuckerberg’s lack of concern about fake news sites.

An un-named source at Facebook told Buzzfeed: “We do a lot to stop people from posting nudity or violence, from automatically flagging certain sites to warning people who post content that doesn’t meet the community guidelines.

They continued: “If someone posts a fake news article, which claims that the Clintons are employing illegal immigrants, and that incites people to violence against illegal immigrants, isn’t that dangerous, doesn’t that also violate our community standards?”

Google had previously issued statement targeting fake news sites stating: “We will restrict ad serving on pages that misrepresent, misstate, or conceal information about the publisher, the publisher’s content, or the primary purpose of the web property.”

Google had faced criticism following the recent US election when a story topped their election news coverage with inaccurate information about the final vote tally.

Bob Satchwell, director of the Society of Editors said: “The only way to be sure of getting accurate news is to keep reading traditional websites and to keep following traditional news sources with properly trained journalists producing the news.”

Luxury magazine brands thrive in difficult print market

Despite magazine readership plummeting in recent years The Guardian reports that more than one million British consumers have stopped buying magazines), a number of “luxury” magazine titles appear to be bucking the trend and be in rude health.

While many mid-market titles have shut-up shop, gone online or pursued a future as freemium titles, Vogue, now in its 100th year, and lifestyle magazine Wallpaper, recently celebrated their biggest ever issues in fabulous, glossy print.

Nicholas Coleridge, international president of Condé Nast (publisher of titles including Vogue, Glamour and Vanity Fair) believes the ongoing success in print of high-end or luxury titles is because digital content served on an iPad does not match the experience offered by a magazine.

Coleridge told journalists: “It is very hard to replicate the physical allure of a luxury magazine on other platforms. [It is] something to do with the sheen of the paper, the way that the ink sits on the page, the smell of money and desire that wafts off the page. Readers move into a different mode when they engage with a glossy. Advertisers understand this.”

Jo Blake, head of publishing at Havas Media Group (a global marketing and communication organisation) agrees and said: “Many people say that press advertising is dead or dying, but glossy magazines are holding their own.”

Blake continued: “For many luxury clients it is first and foremost the prime medium, more so than TV, because they know competitors will all be in there. [High-end] magazines are still number one for those advertisers.”

While digital subscriptions to a magazines are on the rise, much of the growth is coming from news and current affairs titles including the Economist, The Week and Spectator.

Meanwhile print sales in the Luxury fashion and lifestyle niche are booming with Vogue selling on average 200,000 copies per issue, up from 135,000 in 1989 (pre-Internet). Tatler and GQ have seen similar growth spurts.

However, luxury magazine publishers would be foolish to be complacent.

Douglas McCabe, chief executive at Enders Analysis (an organisation providing research into subscription services) said: “We don’t think digital editions of magazines have worked at all, bar one or two exceptions. While these premium brands will continue to play an important role with advertisers and readers, there are risks from [social and digital] media from the rise of bloggers and vloggers.

“Digital has brought down the barriers of entry for [creating and showcasing] content, recommendation and discovery of products. Magazines will have to fight hard to compete with that going forward.”

Influencer Marketing Masterclass: Mark Dandy

Earlier this month we interviewed Mark Dandy, founder of Parental Influence, a new digital marketing agency, which helps to match the right influencers with the right brands. In the second edition of Masterclass, Mark returns to tell you everything you need to know about developing a content strategy when working with influencers, using software like Vuelio to monitor influencer campaigns, the importance of compiling to advertising standards, and how to use influencer marketing to grow your business. 

Research, research, research

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“Influencers in some cases are your modern day marketing consultants. They have so much value beyond their audience, and yet many PRs approach them from the wrong angle. Do some research; yes it takes time, but sending a blanket email to a database of bloggers and influencers, and not even including their name, is to some bloggers just lazy, and to others outright offensive. Over and over and over again, the industry professionals will tell you it’s all about building relationships. Take the time to read their blog, would their audience like the product or service you’re promoting? Has the blogger mentioned similar things in the past? What was the response? Get influencers to discuss their previous work, ask them questions showing you value their opinion and feedback, and build some trust. Yes, it takes a while, and yes we live in a world which demands instant results, but if you want to make the most of influencers, take the time to do it properly.”

Don’t be afraid to give control to the influencers

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“I think it’s important for PRs  to involve the influencers from the beginning. As an influencer Agency we see PRs and brands working with influencers much more often now which is great, but before even opening a blog post or viewing a video, we can often tell it’s sponsored. Selective titles, featured images and hashtags give the game away immediately, and the main reason is a brand or PR demanding things be said or done in a certain way. Don’t be afraid to give control to the influencers. You are hiring them because of the influence they have over their audience, an influence they’ve built through their own content. So let them create your content in their own style, and be part of the ideas phase from the beginning. The results will speak for themselves, trust me.”

Monitor engagement 

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“Influencer marketing has become very data centric now, with PR and marketing teams looking for the best return on investment and the data to back this up. As with any media buy, you wouldn’t want to be paying influencers that aren’t performing well for your brand, and so being able to track this impact is paramount for brands in this digital age. It’s why tools like the media analysis that Vuelio provides are so useful. You want to be able to track how a brand is perceived. Engagement is one thing, but is that engagement positive or negative? How has that engagement impacted the wider sentiment surrounding the brand? Influencer marketing has the power to spread messages quicker than ever before, so staying on top of these messages and how an audience reacts is so important for PR to manage the reputation of the brand.

Play an active role in your influencer campaign

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“I’ve seen some great examples of brands and PRs building trust with influencers whilst working over a range of different campaigns. The goals a brand sets when starting an influencer campaign will depend on how they react, but if the goal is to increase audience awareness and to generate interactions, then the brand has to get involved. This can be sharing the influencers content on their own social media platforms, and tagging the influencer, allowing messages to be shared between brand and influencer and an organic conversation to be created from this. Audiences can then track this conversation, get involved, or be targeted by the brand and the influencer. A great example was a recent campaign based around buying gifts for the family over Christmas. An influencer posted on Instagram about a few gift ideas, and the comments from the audience started to flood in. The brand was there ready to discuss the influencer comments, engaging directly with the audience, following the audience, commenting on their posts, and finding relevant synergies between the brand, the audience, and the influencer all in one post. Many brands can leave the influencer to post and then say “How many likes and comments did we get?” Get involved.

Educate yourself about the rules and regulations of influencer marketing     

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“As influencer marketing evolves, new ways of advertising to audiences will become available – and the authorities are always playing catch up and banning certain things. This can create problems as if you’ve created a strategy around something which was legal a week ago, but now isn’t, you have to start from scratch. The Competition and Markets Authority do have clear guidelines on bloggers and influencers, as do the Advertising Standards Agency, and so I think the information is there to be read, but more dialogue needs to take place between the authorities and the industry, as at the moment it seems there is a big divide on this subject when it comes to how we present sponsored content to an audience. There is then the other side of the coin as to what is legal but not strictly moral. With this, I think it’s down to individual PR firms. However, I would say that with millennials being the majority of the influencer market, they have a much higher moral standpoint and awareness these days, so taking the slightly grey route may lead to a few trips along the way.”

Storytelling is at the heart of influencer marketing

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“I don’t want to delve into the psychology of it all, but when you view influencer content, some of it can be aspirational, some of it can be directly relatable, but either way, there is a story behind that content that is relevant to the audience. The reason influencers are so good at engaging an audience, is they tap into the audience story more than any other form of marketing. Influencers are identifiable and are seen as real people, with a sense of reality, that you don’t get from major celebrities. Therefore, when they create content, they do so easily from an audience point of view, the feedback is instantaneous, and they can judge from an audience’s reaction how that content was perceived and shape future content based on this. At the end of the day though, we all love a good story and if for five minutes at lunch we are taken on a fun ride from our favourite influencers, that’s five minutes well spent.”

Followers do not equal value

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“I think when it comes to pricing, we need to be clear about what’s involved. I think it’s down to an influencer to set their price. We can compare it to relevant influencers in their subjects and see how they compare, but ultimately, we all have a price, a sense of our own value; if you offer less, it doesn’t mean an influencer should accept it, just because someone else will. To a large extent is still prevalent, it’s all been about the notion of reach, and so in influencer terms, how many followers do they have? At this point, we’ve put in a basic principal that someone with more followers deserves more money. This is categorically untrue. Followers do not equal value. The value is in the engagement, and the perception of that influencer in their particular field. Return on investment is always going to be the key issue. But we’ve become so data centric, that without clear and incisive data, we seem incapable of making a decision. Influencers are on the borderline of big data. Can we track reach? Can we track engagement? Can we track click-through rates? Ultimately if you provide a link, can we track purchases? Yes to all those questions, but I think sometimes the value in influencer marketing is in what feels right.  That might sound like a bit of a cop-out answer, but With brand perception, it can take months, even years to change a person from brand negative, or brand agnostic, to brand positive. We want people to buy things right now, and so data is always about how many people bought our product a week after an influencer featured it, but sometimes the role of influencers is to plant a seed. I like that person, I like what they stand for, but I don’t like that brand. Ok, I still like that person, what they stand for is something I agree with, and I value that they wouldn’t work with a brand that didn’t align with their values. I’m thinking more about the brand. Sometimes that’s all it takes.”

Video is the future of the internet

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“Video is the future of the internet, with some industry thought leaders suggesting that we will probably see 80% of the internet as video by 2020. I think with the rise of SnapChat, and Instagram now moving towards “stories” we’re seeing a huge shift towards video content and it’s going to carry on growing. This has two sides of it, as video becomes more popular, there will always be a charge to get more video content out, but then are we just contributing to the noise? Competing with more and more video content producers means your brand is just one of many aiming to get a slice of an ever increasing pie. This is when choosing an influencer is more important than ever, and why I truly believe in the power of micro influencers (those with less than 50,000 followers) as their engagement with their audience is much higher. You will also find that the audience is more of a specialist interest, and that the audience follows a micro influencer for a particular reason. Therefore, aligning brands with the correct audience profile is going to be so key. We all talk about going viral, and the biggest viral video at the moment is the #MannequinChallenge. Brands are jumping on it, and yes it might get a few likes and retweets, but who’s going to remember which brand did what in a month? Not a lot of people. But a constant relationship with a set of key influencers, interested in your brand, with an engaged audience, will be more important than ever.”

Securing a return on investment

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“As a PR your responsibility is to your client, and in doing good work for clients, your reputation will grow, you’ll retain more business, and you’ll probably gain a lot of new business off the back of it. Influencers can play a key part in this, as having a great relationship with key influencers in your industry is a unique selling point. At Parental Influence we want to help PRs align themselves with the right people, and nurture relationships to gain the best results for their clients. However, they have to be willing to put in the hard work, the time and the effort to get to know the right influencers and the right matches.  If you look at a job spec for a PR these days, it requires a black book of contacts of journalists and influencers. But just having a database of phone numbers and email addresses isn’t good enough anymore. The biggest investment is time. Yes, influencers need to be paid, and yes marketing campaigns cost money. Put the time in, build the relationships, and you’ll start to find that the return on your time investment will grow.

Has Jeremy Clarkson just blown up TV?

Jeremy Clarkson, has long made a career for himself pushing the boundaries of the acceptable age to be still wearing jeans and blowing up caravans. But as his new online TV show, The Grand Tour takes to the web, he might just have blown up something even bigger – traditional television broadcasting.

Online, on-demand TV is not a new thing. For the Tinder generation, streaming video services like Netflix have become so embedded in their lives, the channel has even found its way into the bedroom as a euphemism for casual sex (Netflix and chill). But for the older, perhaps not-so-digitally-minded generation, TV remains something that the BBC, ITV and SKY do.

These “oldies” are the people that keep shops like HMV in business, buying DVD box-sets of streamed TV-series like Breaking Bad and House of Cards, which the younger crowd binge-watched years ago on their TVs, laptops, tablets and smartphones.

By firing Jeremy Clarkson, the BBC have given the motoring journalist the freedom to produce the kind of television he wants to produce – without the filters a politically sensitive and correct channel like the BBC demand.

Judging by the flurry of positive reviews Clarkson’s new show on Amazon Prime is receiving (even The Guardian is heaping praise on the man their audience typically love to hate), the Grand Tour team are clearly enjoying and benefiting from their new found freedom.

Clarkson and co. are perhaps the first big stars of television to make the leap over to online TV while they were still at the top of their game. Their universal appeal will undoubtedly encourage millions of viewers to buy a dongle or invest in a digital subscription, giving a whole new audience a first real glimpse of television outside of the major broadcast channels.

Traditional broadcasters must be very nervous about losing their stars. It wouldn’t take too much to completely bring down their Ivory Towers. Imagine if the former Top Gear presenters were joined online by the stars of Strictly Come Dancing and The Great British Bake Off – millions might start re-considering the value of their TV licenses and Sky Subscriptions.

Is this the beginning of the end for television as we used to know it?

And on that bombshell…

Blogger Masterclass: Nik Speller

Nik Speller is the founder of influencer marketing consultancy; N.K.B. and contributor to men’s lifestyle blog, Buckets and Spades. With a passion for writing, Nik started his career posting reviews of restaurants on Twitter; soon after he met Matthew Pike, editor of Buckets and Spades who invited him to contribute articles to the blog. Now a regular contributor to the critically-acclaimed site, in addition to working with big brands on high-profile campaigns, and now helping other influencers to do the same, Nik is an expert at influencer marketing. In our first Masterclass series, Nik gives a definitive guide on everything you need to know about working and building relationships with influencers.      

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Influencer marketing: the Wild West

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“Influencer marketing is still a very new industry. People keep describing it as the ‘Wild West’ and, in my experience, only a few brands and marketing/PR agencies really understand it well. As you’d imagine, there’s a lot of mistakes being made; but, I’d say the overwhelming one is the failure of brands and PRs to dedicate the time needed to form strong relationships with influencers.

The most effective influencer marketing comes from a strong connection between the brand and influencer; one where the influencer understands the brand, grasps their message, and wants to actively promote their products and services.

“This only really happens when brands and influencers know, understand, and respect one another.”

Building relationships with influencers

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“Firing off blanket emails to a whole list of bloggers, saying how much you love their work, and offering them up a product which – most likely – isn’t relevant to them and their audience, and will only end in disappointment.

The best thing PRs and brands can do is take the time to find those influencers best suited to their brand’s look, style, ethos, and message.

“Once they’ve done this, approach the influencers strategically. Don’t expect too much too soon. Try and meet the influencers or chat to them, to get an understanding of how they work, and propose projects that suit the content they regularly produce.”

Have a strategy

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“Like any working relationship, getting to know each other is key. If PRs have read up on an influencer, followed them for a while, regularly seen their content, that as a first step will go a long way to bringing an influencer on board. The PR will have a much better understanding of how the influencer works, the sort of projects they’re interested in, and how best to approach them.”

Creating long-term partnerships

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“I’d say Bellroy, an Australian wallet brand, are a great example of a brilliant PR/influencer relationship. We featured them on the blog a good few years ago, after I bought one of their wallets. They then contacted us to say thanks and we chatted a bit about blogging, menswear, and the rest.

“A while later, they sent us some of their latest products to test – with no expectation that we would cover them again. We continued to chat and when their products worked well for us, we featured them, and when they didn’t, we didn’t. Simple as that.

“We’ve since worked on a number of projects with them, including them on the blog in quite a few travel features, Instagram shots, product recommendations, and more. For them and for us, it’s a really solid, respectful working relationship, that’s grown over time and generated some great content.”

Engagement

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“Engagement is a difficult thing to measure, really. Clicks, likes, shares, etc, they’re all good, but they often don’t mean much for the brand, ultimately – and, can often just be a factor of how often the content has been posted, what hashtags are used, and the rest.

“The best engagement comes from content that really catches the eye. Influencers have built their audience by knowing what works and what doesn’t.

When brands put faith in influencers to create content as they see fit, then they end up with a genuinely engaging content, that’s of actual interest to their target audience.

Embrace the power of smaller influencers

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“Brands have become disappointed and disillusioned with  mega-influencers for the wrong reasons, though. Again, the mega-influencers have gained their huge following through creating content that really resonates with their audience. However, a lot brands seem to want to use them simply as an ad platforms, buying one or two posts endorsing their product.

“This, to me, is the least effective form of influencer marketing. For all the likes, shares, and views it’ll get, it’s too obvious and not compelling enough for the audience to take an interest in the brand.

Conversely, when brands work with smaller influencers, they won’t go for an ad – as the follower numbers don’t seem to justify it. Instead, they work on a more creative feature that will, ultimately, interest the influencer’s audience more.

“There’s also the fact that the smaller influencers can often be more focused on a particular subject area that’s more relevant for the brand. This means the brand gets exposure to a far smaller audience, but one that is genuinely interested in the brand and their message; rather than the audience of the mega-influencer, which usually covers a fairly broad spectrum of people.”

Content is king

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“Content is always king, but promotion is equally important to get your content noticed and to build an audience. However, even once you’ve gained a significant following, it’s not like you can relax and scale back the quality of your content.

Influencers are only influential if their content is good – and, by that, I mean relevant to their audience and in keeping with their tone, style, and approach.

“To any new influencers starting out, I’d say that focusing on the content, rather than worrying about follower numbers, is the way to go. I know a few guys on Instagram who only started posting in the last 18 months, but have gained a big following, quickly, through producing killer content.”

Make influencers part of your marketing strategy

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“Be strategic, be respectful, and take your time.

“It’s really important to think about influencer marketing strategically. What are you trying to achieve? And how are you going to achieve it?

Get out there and speak to some influencers and experts in your industry. Find out what content they think works well, what they think doesn’t, and learn from this. Collaborate on briefs, collaborate on projects, and don’t just force a preconceived creative idea on anyone.

“Finally, taking your time is key. Influencer marketing is about building a respectful relationship with influencers; not just using them as some sort of ‘fire and forget’ ad channel.”

Influencer marketing predictions for 2017

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“It’s hard to say, really. This industry is changing so fast; but, I think there’s a few trends bubbling up that will grow and continue into 2017.

“Firstly, I’ve noticed a few brands taking more interest in content, than in follower numbers. These brands have seen that working with the mega-influencers doesn’t always yield results, as they aren’t always the best fit. Working within smaller, creative influencers, with a specific and highly relevant audience, can be far more effective.

“Ads seem to be on the increase, especially on Instagram. With brands now allocating more budget to influencer marketing and the rise of ad blockers, both brands and their agencies have more cash to invest in influencer ads. I think this will grow, but ultimately fall, as these ads really don’t generate as much value as brands like to think. The more successful content is well-briefed, well-structured projects, that allow influencers to get more creative and deliver content with far greater impact.

“Finally, I do think we’ll see the industry shrink a little – or, at least, begin to specialise. There’s a lot of influencers out there covering the same general topic areas and the attention of the audience has a finite limit. Eventually, some influencers will drop out of the ‘game’, while others will turn their attention to areas of specific interest to them, perhaps having smaller, but more focused and engaged, audiences.”

Trump & Brexit: Why are PR Pros so out of touch with “real” people?

Donald Trump’s victory in the US elections has shocked many people and there probably isn’t a group of people who are more shocked than the PR/Comms community.

According to a recent article in PR Week, nearly two-thirds of PR professionals expected Hilary Clinton to win a landslide victory in the presidential race.

The keyword here is “expected” – this article is definitely not about PR/Comms professionals’ personal political opinions or the right or wrongs with any political argument. It’s about understanding our understanding of what the wider general public believe in and want.

PRs and pollsters have to ask, why do we get it wrong?

There are of course many comparisons here with Brexit with the vocal majority of PR and Comms professionals backing the losing side.

The demographics of the PR industry (young, female, educated, metropolitan, etc.) all point to a more liberal view of politics and the world.  I have to wonder if this, some would argue “charmed” position, puts many PR pros at a disadvantage when trying to shape the opinion of the wider public.

As PR pros, we are all focused on the everyday conversation across traditional and social media channels but how tuned in are we to conversations beyond this space?

If we are to continue to shape opinion and remember, many “disaffected” voters view the media and PR industries with a huge degree of cynicism and mistrust, we need to get more granular and learn more about what the man on the street (who doesn’t post his every political thought to the social web or even read the newspapers beyond the sports pages) wants from life (whether we agree with it or not).

Is it time to leave our Ivory towers and start engaging beyond our traditional realms of influence.

We might not always like the outcome of political events – but isn’t it time we had a better understanding of what influences certain political events and wider life in general?

Political communication: when emotion trumps fact

As the world comes to terms with a Trump Presidency, we come to the end of one of the most bitterly fought and divisive campaigns in recent history. In much the same way as the EU referendum, it’s been a campaign where social media played a major role on both sides: it’s also been one where emotion has trumped fact and where the polls were very, very far off the mark in predicting the outcome. How did Trump defy all odds and make it to the White House?

Trump was touted as the ‘king of Twitter’ during this campaign, something which played a huge role in getting his message out in a way his funds wouldn’t have otherwise allowed. He mastered the art of using the platform for publicity, and dominated the presidential election with an antagonistic style that journalists and public alike found hard to resist. This was a smart move from someone without the financial backing that US presidential hopefuls generally need: what he lacked in funds, he made up for in the publicity he generated through his posts.

Furthermore, by tapping into the disillusionment that voters felt towards the political establishment, Trump gave himself plenty of room to bend the truth and push the boundaries in terms of what he promised voters. He framed debate by appealing to emotion rather than details of policy: not only will he build a wall, but he’ll make Mexico pay for it. It has huge appeal to Americans who feel that their immigration concerns aren’t taken seriously but little realistic consideration of the cost or efficacy of the final result.

This isn’t a problem, because these factors don’t really matter. Peter Thiel, PayPal co-founder and Trump supporter, summed it up nicely when he said ‘’the media always is taking Trump literally. It never takes him seriously, but it always takes him literally. I think a lot of the voters who vote for Trump take Trump seriously, but not literally.”

Like Vote.Leave’s “£350 million to the NHS” claim, this election has shown us that political communication doesn’t need a factual basis if it hits the right spot emotionally. Politicians have always been dishonest: the defining factor of a successful one is that they’re trusted despite this. In the US, Edelman’s Trust Barometer shows a negative correlation between income and trust in government: the lower the income, the less trust exists. As we’ve seen this year, as the political establishment and global institutions have become less representative of lower income voters, the Trump/Farage brand of politician has stepped in to fill the void.

Twitter reacts to Donald Trump’s Victory

Donald Trump’s election as the new president of the free world has created a political earthquake and sent shockwaves through the social media. Here’s how people responded on Twitter.

Comms professionals and bloggers react to Trump’s US election victory

Donald Trump appeared calm and measured during his victory speech, but many are nervous and anxious about a man who will soon become the 45th President of America. With his ten-year-old son by his side and Mike Pence, the new vice president on his right, Trump, despite running a divisive campaign, promised to be a president for ‘all Americans’. Having made countless racist, misogynistic, Islamophobic, and homophobic comments, many are sceptical about Trump’s ability to unite a country that is hugely divided.

Trump’s victory will also signal a new era for international relations. Since this morning there has been turbulence in the global stock markets with a fall in the value of the US dollar. Although Trump does not take office until January he has already had an enormous impact on international relations. To evaluate this high-profile communications professionals and bloggers have spoken to us about their reactions to the US election results and what they think future holds.

 

Rev. Stuart Campbell: Blogger, Wings Over Scotland

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“My reaction to the result is horror, and a total lack of surprise. I’ve been predicting constantly since last November that if it came to a contest between Trump and Clinton, Trump would win it, and so it proved. He won because this election wasn’t about voting for a President, it was about voting against one. They were the least popular candidates in history, and at least half the electorate was voting for them only because they thought the other one was worse.

“In that contest, Clinton was by a country mile the worst nominee the Democrats could possibly have put forward. In fact, you couldn’t have designed someone more perfect from Trump’s perspective. He sold himself as the anti-establishment figure – however absurd it is for a billionaire businessman to do that – and Clinton is the absolute ultimate stereotype of a dynastic insider.

“She’s unconvincing as a human being – smug, robotic and patronising – and mired in all sorts of controversy. She makes more money for giving a 60-minute speech to some bankers than most voters can earn in a decade. Who could ever identify with her?

“Her nomination reeked of Buggins’ turn more than any sort of merit. Pretty much any other candidate would have beaten Trump handily, but none of his litany of monstrous traits made Clinton any more likeable, and her campaign was woeful. Much like the Remain campaign in the EU referendum, if she’d simply stayed at home and left the stage to Trump she’d probably have won, but the very sight of her put people’s backs up.

“The Democrats have gotten exactly what they deserved. Whether America has or not remains to be seen.”

 

Sarah Pinch: Chart.PR FCIPR MIoD

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“My reaction to Donald Trump winning the US presidential election was disappointment. Regardless of my personal support, I’m a woman, a working mother and Trump’s policies and rhetoric do not appeal to me in any way. He has made a case all through his campaign to try to undermine women and girls; he’s undermined non-white Americans, and his campaigning was littered with messages of difference and intolerance.

“But in every moment like this there is hope. Hope that women and men who are sleeping activists wake up and take action. We have a responsibility to redress the balance.

“I’m very disappointed that we have still not heard from Hillary Clinton. She needs to stand up and face the music, with dignity quickly.”

“Donald Trump is a media man. In some ways, that may be a good thing. His campaign was successful, so we need to look and understand why. But we must guard against further polarisation of our society. We have a key time as professional communicators to ensure balance, fairness and ethical engagement.”

 

James Dowling: Head of Public Policy, Lansons

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“I believe that Donald Trump winning the election simply increases the level of uncertainty we are seeing. Trump is untested in any elected office, and has proved through this campaign that he does not play by the normal rule book. He will say what he thinks and do what he wants – and has succeeded despite this. This calls into question the role of the US President and the global order. For example, how will he deal with Russia – both in Syria and in Europe. His relationship with Vladimir Putin has been called into question throughout the campaign, so there is a clear sense of uncertainty around whether Russia will feel empowered to push the boundaries further, and how Trump will respond if that happens. He has also said he would ‘dismantle’ the nuclear deal with Iran – a deal that was only agreed in 2015, after years of negotiation. On global trade, Trump has vowed to scrap the ‘TTIP’ deal with the EU and the Trans Pacific Partnership. He will also rewrite the North Atlantic Free Trade Agreement.

“However, Trump’s election also brings opportunity. The capture of congress by the Republicans gives the US an opportunity to pass real and life changing legislation. Americans have been sick of the gridlock that has occurred in Government and may see this as an opportunity. If he can work with Capitol Hill, President Trump will enjoy huge power to deliver on a number of areas. He has promised corporation tax reform – this may now be possible. For the UK, Trump has cited Brexit as an inspiration and promised a free trade deal. Despite the wider uncertainties, this may well help the UK as it pivots from Europe to the wider world.

“In relation to the global impact the new president will have on the comms industry, I think it simply adds to the uncertainty we are seeing. Comms professionals are able to help their clients understand how to react – and to deal with their key audiences. Some of the lessons we are learning from Brexit are relevant here too.

“The firms that will profit are those that best understand the nature of the challenge, and can respond accordingly. For businesses exporting to or highly dependent on the US market, the comms world can help clients speak to those who can help them push or manage their concerns in the UK and the US – whether with Government, regulators or investors. Domestically, there is a risk that this feeds a wider sense of uncertainty which could translate to further caution in consumer spending. Consumer-facing organisations will need help to respond – communications professionals are best-placed to help them do so.”

 

Sarah Hall: founder and editor of #FuturePRoof, and CIPR President-Elect 2017

Sarah Hall three quarter

“Trump’s victory goes to show we truly are living in a post-fact era. His success underlines what happens when politicians appeal to the emotions regardless of whether what they are saying is true.

“Despite communicating the potentially catastrophic consequences of having someone unqualified and inexperienced at the helm, Clinton’s campaign was not strong enough to fight underlying anxieties about terrorism and national security, which Trump fed with passionate rhetoric.

“The FBI’s unprecedented intervention a week before voting seriously damaged Clinton’s campaign, creating further trust issues, and no amount of celebrity advocacy was able to disguise her unpopularity with many.

“The fact that in a reality show obsessed society, a TV reality star has been elected as the President of America must also be seen as a contributing factor, creating cut through and a sense of commonality for Trump with the masses.”

Five reasons why social media monitoring is essential

For most PRs monitoring online conversations, knowing what your customers are looking for, responding to complaints, or engaging with audiences on social media channels is essential.

Here at Vuelio we help thousands of PRs, marketers, and brands to find out what people are saying about them online, across millions of social media platforms and sources, anywhere in the world. But if you are still unconvinced here are five reasons why social media monitoring is essential.

1. Engage in conversations

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Do you know what people are saying about you across different social media channels? If not, social media monitoring helps you to engage with people who are talking about your brand or the social media conversations that are most important to you. Using monitoring services like Vuelio will help you to analyse these conversations and transform one-sided mentions into fruitful relationships.

2. Identifying influencers

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Another benefit of social media monitoring is being able to communicate and identify influencers. Creating successful influencer campaigns is not just about finding a blogger who has a large following to promote your services, it’s about matching with an influencer who represents your values and brand identity. Social media monitoring gives you a head-start by giving you the tools to see what influencers are chatting about on their channels, what their interests are, how they like to engage with their followers, which will help you to strategise how to best engage and reach out them. It will also help you to discover which bloggers have the most influence on your topic.

3. Crisis Management

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As many of you know, social media presents more complex challenges to maintaining your brand’s reputation in this digital age. If an unexpected crisis unfolds that threatens to dismantle your company’s reputation, social media monitoring can support you in providing real-time monitoring and help you to stay on top of conversations before they become a full-scale crisis.

4. Track viral success

viral-success

For most PRs the goal is not just about securing traditional media coverage, it’s about creating content that will potentially go viral. Social media monitoring provides you with metrics needed to measure engagement ranking, social media followers, and the number of people who are commenting on your content on channels like Twitter. Most importantly social media monitoring helps you to demonstrate ROI on your campaigns.

5. Identify trends

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As we come towards the end of the year, perhaps it’s time to think about the trends that will have the most impact in the near future. With social media now leading way for most trends, using monitoring tools like Vuelio can support you in planning future campaigns that integrate these new trends. Through being given advanced insights, you will have the edge over your competitors which will put you in good stead for 2017.

Tesco Bank: The inconvenience of going hungry

Big brands don’t like inconveniencing their customers. Ask anyone affected by Vauxhall’s, Samsung’s or Whirlpool’s combustible car, smartphone and tumble dryer issues and they will tell you, that these companies have a lot of hard work to do to win back customer trust.

Customers’ of Tesco Bank might be relieved to know that their cash card isn’t about to burst into flames but out of all the recent reputation busting scandals, Tesco Bank’s might be the hardest to repair.

While Tesco Bank are themselves the victim of what looks to be a multi-million-pound fraud, with cash being taken from 20,000 plus customers’ accounts, their customers will have very little sympathy if their accounts aren’t fully refunded as quickly as possible.

We put a lot of trust in the banks to look after our money, knowing that our cash is safer with them than under the mattress. We also expect when we need to get out hands on some money to pay for petrol to get to work, food on our tables or to pay our bills, that the funds are available.

Consider the plight of the Tesco Bank customer who was left with just £21 in his account after £600 was fraudulently taken. Until the status of his bank account is restored – he may have to make some very tough financial decisions over the next day or two.

Tesco Bank are of course very apologetic for the “inconvenience” caused to their customers – but when inconvenience begins to feel like going hungry or worrying about how you’re going to get to work and send the kids to school – it reaches a whole new level.

Tesco Bank might have been powerless to prevent this unforeseen fraudulent attack – but they are in the position to make sure it doesn’t impact on their customers. The longer it takes to resolve (and we’re talking hours rather than days), the bigger the impact on their reputation.

Could shorter working hours lead to greater creativity?

We PR professionals are famed for our dedication to our craft. Often found burning the candle at both ends, attending client events, industry parties and generally hobnobbing with the great and the good until all hours and still managing to haul ourselves back into the office at the crack of dawn. Don’t give me that work/life balance nonsense – work is life.

But could too many hours in the office (or on the town) be impacting on our creative talents?

Chris Lewis, founder and chief executive of Lewis, the PR, marketing and digital agency, certainly thinks so.

In his book, Too Fast to Think, Lewis asks a number of professionals about how and where they get their creative inspiration.

The three most common responses were when they are:

  1. Away from work
  2. On their own
  3. Not trying

Lewis argues that interruptions in the workplace and the pressure to keep up with constant social media and email activities can overload the creative side of our brains and create a blockage. He warns, if we remain in a constant state of overload – we may never regain our creative abilities.

I don’t disagree with him.

My best ideas rarely come to me when I am sat across a desk from a client or staring blankly into a computer screen. Creativity cannot be forced or created in a vacuum. It needs inspiration and space to grow.

Alongside squeezing all those extra hours into the working day to keep clients, managers and our friends in the media happy, we need to find the time to relax, dream, read and go to that “special place” were inspiration finds us.

Where do you find the time and space to break free from the constant pressures of work in the PR industry get creative? Share your comments below

What does Russia need? Gunship diplomacy or better PR?

From the ongoing crisis in Syria, troop movements close to EU borders, warships sailing through the English Channel and accusations of conducting cyber warfare against Western targets and widespread doping in Olympic sports, the Russian’s aren’t getting a lot of good press in the UK at the moment.

And while some of this “news” is undoubtedly part of the tabloid press’s constant desire to scare the wits out of the general public and find a boogie man to replace Osama Bin Laden as the next big threat to global civilisation, it’s clear Russia does have a bit of an image problem in Western Europe.

With this in mind, it’s little wonder the Russian state is reportedly looking to spend between $30-50 million per year with Western PR agencies to clean up its image.

According to PR Week, an anonymous source from the Kremlin has confirmed that the Russian government is looking to hire three or four “leading Western PR agencies”.

However, it appears the search for the right PR partners is proving rather difficult.

Dmitry Peskov, press secretary to Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, told journalists: “There have been two attempts to attract other foreign companies. However, their work has not satisfied us. Still, there is a possibility that Ketchum’s replacement might be found by the end of the year.”

PR firm Ketchum has a long history of working with the Russian government and the state-owned natural gas company Gazprom – but has confirmed it won’t be bidding for the work.

A number of London-based firms, including Bell Pottinger and Portland, declined journalists’ requests as to whether they would be pitching for the work.

While any PR contracts commissioned by the Russian government are going to be incredibly lucrative, it’s clear that taking on such work might also raise some ethical questions.

Is brand Russia too toxic to touch or is it just misunderstood and in need of a little PR?

Natasha Courtenay-Smith shares blogging secrets

Following our spotlight interview, Natasha Courtenay-Smith, entrepreneur, digital marketing strategist and publicist  rejoined us for a special webinar to share exclusive inside info on how to get rich by blogging. Having interviewed the world’s leading bloggers, vloggers and content strategists for her new book ‘The Million Dollar Blog‘ who better to lead a webinar on this topic? Drawing on her vast knowledge Natasha explained the importance of having a business plan, branding, having a niche, creating evergreen content, and having multiple streams of income. Despite covering a lot of ground during the webinar, she was not able to answer all questions from our listeners with the time we had available, so Natasha has returned to answer your questions. 

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How should you go about monetising your views as a blogger? Income from blogs falls into two distinct spheres – direct earnings and indirect earnings. Direct earnings come from advertising or helping to sell other company’s products, indirect earnings come from tangible opportunities that arise as a result of your blog’s success. Direct earnings might be sponsored posts, ads, collaborations, affiliate links. Indirect earnings are things like consultancy, freelance opportunities, books and speaking.

What are your top tips for building an audience, both on the blog and social media? Consistency, consistency, consistency.

Are there any other ways of sharing blogs other than social media? Yes! Email marketing, publicity and also talking about them in real life! Going out and about to networking events.

Carrie Green is one example, she’s an entrepreneur who founded the Female Entrepreneur Association. Through sharing the stories of successful women on her blog, she has a hugely successful website plus social media followings of over 300,000, and a membership club for female entrepreneurs which has over 3000 members from around the globe paying £30 per month (and with a waiting list for entry).

Carrie told me: ‘I networked like a crazy person and built momentum by taking massive action. It’s too easy to take a step back and say, ‘I’m putting all this work in and no one is reading it, no one is commenting.’ I googled networking events to go to, found a list of them and started going along to them. I was terrified: ­ networking is awkward and I’m a real introvert.

I’ve been to both great events and awful events, but I soon started to build up a group of people who knew me and knew what I was doing. People would say, ‘I’m interested in your story, do you want to come and be on a discussion panel?’ Then I’d say to my family and friends, ‘I’m doing this thing today, come along!’ I even went down to a local fair near my parents’ house and a local radio station was there and I asked them to have me on the show. They agreed and it felt like a huge deal at the time; I couldn’t believe I was on the radio!’

Do you have any suggestions for what to charge when approached by a brand? This is niche specific and brand specific. You might charge a huge brand more for the same thing than you would charge a cottage industry business wanting to work for you. You need to start to understand the rates in your niche by talking to both your fellow bloggers (just ask them, what did X pay you for that) and also digital marketing managers at the brands in question. It’s a bit of a game of blind man’s bluff. Let them take the lead, say things like: ‘What budget do you have in mind for this?’ and then try to negotiate them up!

How often should you post content to build traffic? Generally, content = traffic. It equals something to share on social media and something new for Google to send you visitors for. There’s no perfect amount. The most successful blogs and online media brands post dozens of times a day. It’s more about what you can realistically maintain. As consistency is everything here!

At what point should a blogger create a media pack? Well, according to Vuelio, blogs start to get monetised at around the 10,000 visitors per month right? So definitely once your traffic is that high. But I would say as soon as you’ve got your blog looking the part, you’re clear on your positioning. Launch strong, open the doors for business. Start how you intend to go on! You never know who might be reading and who might be wondering about approaching you.

What are the best platforms for setting up a new blog? I’m going to say WordPress – but with the caveat that that is what I’ve used since 2008, it’s what I build my client sites on so it’s what I know. I feel its endlessly flexible and can adapt to anything and you never need to move from it – and it only seems to be growing in popularity. But I haven’t done any scientific analysis and there may be a tech geek out there who would have valid reasons why something else is better.

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What would you say constitutes engaging content for a business blog? Obviously that depends on the business! But I think behind the scenes and glimpses inside a business always works well – meet the team, inside our office or factory. And I would say answer what your clients are asking you as at least you know that is information that they are seeking.

How should you go about creating a business plan for your blog? Bear in mind most bloggers have no plan at all, they just have enthusiasm but that then wanes. Just get clear on the business model you are running, and write up a single page. It doesn’t have to be the sort of business plan the bank might need. It can be more human than that. Answer questions like: ‘My blog will make money through’. The next steps I need to take are’, ‘When this blog is fully grown it will’, ‘Just get the big picture down in writing’.

How do you turn blogging into a successful brand and create multiple streams of income? You accept that you’re not going to have overnight success, and you buy my book, The Million Dollar Blog!

Facebook launch e-learning course for journalists

In news that is sure to make The Guardian’s editor-in-chief, Katherine Viner’s blood boil, Facebook has recently launched a new e-learning course designed to help journalists make better use of the Facebook platform.

The resources currently available online cover items like clickbait headlines and why you should not use them, building an audience via social media and how to discover news content via Facebook (because that’s where most journalists find their news now – sad isn’t it?).

At present, current available course materials shouldn’t take more than 15 minutes to complete.

Aine Kerr, manager of journalism partnerships at Facebook, told journalists: “Next to Facebook guidelines and instructions, we’re also taking great examples from the industry itself.

“Our hope is that this will be very informative for newsrooms but equally it will be very much a collaborative, inspiring experience for journalists to learn from how other journalists have been doing it in their newsrooms according to their particular beats and specialisms.”

In the coming week’s Facebook will be extending the range of editorial content available via the e-Learning platform as well as launching a series of webinars.

It’s first webinar which will be held on November 3, 2016 will focus on how journalists can best use Facebook’s new video broadcast tool Facebook Live.

According to the website Journalism.co.uk, Facebook’s journalism training services were developed following conversations between the Facebook News Partnership team and several media organisations and the team will continue to update the training based on feedback to reflect new product launches or skills needed.

As social media platforms like Facebook continue to disrupt the way we as PR professionals distribute our content, social media savvy PRs should probably look to invest 15 minutes or so in Facebook’s new educational resource.

Journalists might have a whole host of new social media tools to engage their audiences – but they do not have the monopoly over the use of these technologies.

Reach is vanity, engagement is sanity, PR is hard graft

There is an old cliché in business which states turnover is vanity, engagement is sanity. In this digitally disrupted age (where anyone can be a publisher and influencers are more likely to look like Zoella than Murdoch), it’s exactly the same in PR. We just need to replace “turnover” with “reach” and “profit” with “engagement”.

As content producers, it’s never been easier to earn “eyeballs” on a project – you simply throw a little cash at social media and the traffic floods in. But in this hyper-engaged, social environment, the value of any content deemed “unauthentic” by a content-saturated audience – is either going to bounce (meaning readers are going to bounce in and bounce straight back off) or be trolled (attacked).

There can be little doubt – PR is hard graft and despite the promises of social media, it’s getting tougher.

Adam Mack, EMEA chief strategy officer at Weber Shandwick hit the nail on the head perfectly in an article in PR Week by stating: “Reach is a hygiene factor, engagement is the Grail.”

In his article, Adam highlights the fact that becoming a “credible” influencer is incredibly hard work. He references a presentation made by the former glamour model Katie Price (aka Jordon) at the recent Festival of Marketing event and how she changed his perception of her from “talentless celebrity” to someone who has “worked very, very hard for her influence.”

Adam also praises sportswear company Adidas for their innovative Tango Squads initiative.

Tango Squads are groups of socially savvy 16-19-year-old football content creators living in 15 cities worldwide. While the squads are between 100 and 250 people, Adidas hopes to reach a maximum of 500 members per squad by 2017.

If you think it’s difficult enough to manage your campaign activities across a handful of high-profile influencers, think about the challenges of working with 5,000+ teenagers.

How hard are you working on your influencer marketing strategy? Chances are, not hard enough.

Regional titles receive financial support to continue covering cricket

With football often dominating the back pages of the UK press, it’s easy for smaller (but nonetheless popular) sports clubs to feel slightly disenfranchised by the media.

But as the commercial pressures of running a newspaper continue to squeeze editorial budgets, editors need to make tough decisions. Football sells papers, and while readers may also be interested in athletics, cycling or tennis, it makes little financial sense to invest in coverage that won’t drive circulation (or page impressions).

Many sports journalists won’t like their craft to be talked about in such cold business terms but minority sports coverage doesn’t deliver a ROI.

Sports teams know that a lack of media coverage makes it harder for them to get new people involved in their sport. The less people get involved, the less the media are interested. It’s very much a case of ever decreasing circles.

This is why a scheme run by The England and Wales Cricket Board known as The Cricket Writers’ Club, which has recently awarded financial assistance to a number of regional titles for their coverage of professional cricket, makes so much sense.

Mark Baldwin, chairman of the Cricket Writers’ Club, told journalists: “The Cricket Writers’ Club’s continued support for ECB’s initiative in running these awards now includes offering prize monies in the Regional Newspaper of the Year category, precisely because the club wants to do what it can to support hard-pressed cricket writers in the regional press and also to underline its belief in the value to the game of coverage of county cricket in this area.

John Collings, editor of the Sunday Independent who received a £2,500 financial reward from the Cricket Writers Club said: “We’re honoured to win this award because its values share our values: a passion for and commitment to sport all levels, particularly grass-roots sport which these days too often struggles for the comprehensive coverage it deserves.”

PR has always been about earned media over paid media but when titles have to make editorial decisions based on cold economic facts, perhaps it’s time this line become a little more blurred.

How long before The Guardian follow The Independent’s profitable lead?

The Independent has made its first profit in 23 years after abandoning print and focusing 100% on digital channels.

The Independent’s owner, Evgeny Lebedeb told journalists: “By going online-only we freed ourselves from the unwieldy infrastructure of print, and allowed ourselves to be far more flexible.

“It is still early days, but the first six months have shown that by being more nimble and digitally focused we can better serve our new, much bigger online audience.”

Highlighting a bright future at The Independent, Lebedeb added: “We are profitable for the first time in 23 years, which brings with it new opportunities.”

And it’s not just revenues that are on the up at newly digital Indy.

ABC figures in September showed a 17 percent year-on-year increase to 3,253,850 daily unique browsers.

Justin Byam Shaw, chairman of The Independent echoed Lebedeb’s comments by saying: “This historic return to profitability demonstrates the opportunities our move to digital brings.

“This puts The Independent in a strong position and with a sustainable long-term future, as we continue to grow our audiences globally and serve our readers and commercial partners with reliability and flair.”

The Independent made a brave move abandoning its print edition earlier this year.

Rivals at The Guardian even mourned the loss of the print edition of The Independent with an editorial in the paper’s Comment Is Free section stating: “Great newspapers which have survived for centuries find their business models challenged as never before. So no one will celebrate the end of the Independent in print. It was. Are you… next?”

Well, I imagine both Evgeny Lebedeb and the many journalists and editors whose futures are so much more secure now that The Independent is in profit will disagree and definitely by celebrating.

The question is, how much longer with The Guardian, The Telegraph, The FT, etc., etc. continue to be burdened by the high costs of print and distribution? If I was a journalist (or a shareholder) in any of these companies, I would personally be lobbying them to follow the Independent’s brave move online.

The Independent is profitable.

It is. Are You?

ITV blames Brexit for 120 Job Losses

ITV is looking to make £25 million in savings next year to counterbalance a decline in advertising revenues which the broadcaster is blaming on “political and economic uncertainty”.

According to media reports, TV advertising is facing its worst year since 2009 with revenues set to decline by 2 percent.

As part of the savings process, ITV is planning to reduce its workforce by 120 people. The broadcaster currently employs 3,000 staff in the UK.

Speaking about the job losses, an ITV spokesperson told journalists: “At a time of political and economic uncertainty in our key markets, it’s important that we are in the strongest possible position to continue to invest in our strategy, and to meet any challenges and opportunities ahead, as we continue to grow a successful business.”

Because of continuing political uncertainty in the UK market and the financial impact it has on advertising market, the ITV is looking bolster its overseas operations.

The UK market currently accounts for 85 percent of the broadcasters revenues. However, recently the company has spent hundreds of millions of pounds investing in TV production in the United States.

A spokesperson said: ““We have taken costs out across ITV in a managed and sensible way over the past six years and we must continue to keep a tight control on spending to ensure that we are operating as efficiently and effectively as possible, while maximising our ability to invest in the high-quality programming that drives ITV’s success.”

Prior to the Brexit vote, the TV advertising market was expected to grow by 7.4 percent in 2016, following a similar pattern over the previous year.

The ITV now predicts advertising revenues over the first 9 months of the year will be down by 1 percent, year-on-year while a number of media booking agencies suggest the market has dropped even further due to fears over a “hard Brexit”.

Collaboration is key to the future of public affairs

Design, engineering and project management consultancy Atkins hosted an Intelligent Mobility summit this week, which brought together the biggest industry names to discuss the future of transport design and delivery. Speakers discussed everything from decreasing emissions to the impact of autonomous vehicles on our quality of life, but one of the key points of the conference wasn’t so much what they talked about, but the theme of cross-sectoral, cross party collaboration which ran through it.  

The variety of guests points towards a broader, and more open, approach to lobbying and public affairs. Government, academia, clients, providers and business leaders came together for a frank discussion of the opportunities and threats which will likely arise in the future and, far from being a closed doors session between industry and government, this was an open policy discussion.

It also wasn’t a single issue conference: the variety of guests meant everyone had their own take on the challenges and opportunities facing the sector.  Tough questions were posed to speakers, ranging from the government’s bureaucratic tender process to the environmental impact of encouraging a new transport boom in the form of autonomous cars.

Despite the disparate group of guests, there was broad agreement on one thing: there needs to be real collaboration between the transport, infrastructure, digital and housing sectors in the future if the UK is going to successfully counteract the challenges facing each one. There was a ready acceptance that there isn’t enough being done to get cross-industry representatives round the same table, and because of their interdependence, this means a risk of duplication between sectors if this isn’t done.