Red Ted Art author

Blogger Spotlight: Maggy Woodley, Red Ted Art

Red Ted Art is the creative crafting blog from Maggy Woodley. Covering a range of easy and fun crafts for all ages, Red Ted Art was also recently ranked in our Top 50 UK Blogs making Maggy one of the top bloggers in the UK today. Here Maggy tells us the secret to her success, toilet paper roll crafts and how she likes to work with PRs.

Can you tell us about your blog?
Red Ted Art is a kids’ crafts blog that has been running for seven to eight years. It is designed to help both busy parents who feel that they are ‘not crafty’ to get creative with their kids, as well as older kids to find easy craft inspiration to get creative on their own. Crafts should be fun, easy and for everyone.

How did you get into blogging?
Like many bloggers, I was looking for ‘something to do’, when my kids where young. At the time, they were two years old and a baby. The blog gave me weekly photos to create activities with them… and it grew from there!

Blogging is a very competitive market. How do you make your content stand out from other craft blogs?
This is a tricky one, as there are so many great craft blogs out there. I think it is important to try and stay original and always put your ‘mark on something’. Following personal interests and passions helps too and getting known for certain types of crafts. When the kids were younger we did a LOT of toilet paper roll crafts and I was known for that. Now they are older we LOVE making bookmarks, as well as coming up with new finger knitting projects, like corner bookmarks.

How do you define the success of your blog?
I think the key to the success of my blog has been consistency – I regularly blog, week in and week out. My content is often different, but still has the same ethos – using (mostly) easy and accessible materials. My readers know what they are getting from me.

What opportunities have been presented to you since you started blogging about crafts?
I have had the opportunity to speak at a variety of conferences which has been great. Blogging has also allowed me to ‘stay at home’ and spend more time with my kids. Even if it is a juggle at times.

What type of PR campaigns are you interested in working on in future?
I particularly enjoy any creative or family-fun PR campaigns. We love creating campaigns around new movies, creative products or family days out!

What would be the best way for a brand or PR to approach you?
Dropping me an email!

Will you be working on any exciting projects this year?
Oh yes, I have some great PR projects in the pipeline, but am under NDA agreements. So you will have to watch this space. At the same time, I continue to focus on my YouTube channel, which is great fun and a wonderful way to reach kids directly.

Do you have any advice that you would like to give to any aspiring bloggers?
Believe in yourself, persevere and find your own niche, voice and style!

Red Ted Art features on the Vuelio Media Database along with thousands of other bloggers, influencers and journalists.

A pocket full of cash

How Far Does £20 Go These Days?

It’s enough to send shudders down any newspaper, television or radio advertising sales professional’s spine. A £20 boost on Facebook helped the Welsh Assembly reach a staggering 90,000 people with a St David’s Day campaign in March.

According to a report in PR Week, the content-led campaign, which was pushed out across a wide range of social media channels, including Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Instagram, was designed to support a multi-language, celebration of the Welsh nation and highlight the importance of the Welsh Assembly.

The campaign was built around a representation of the Welsh flag built-up of words describing the nation.

Words including ‘beautiful’, ‘spectacular’, ‘scenic’ and ‘green’ were given equal prominence to ‘cold’, ‘grey’, ‘rainy’ and ‘wet’ – highlighting the Welsh people’s sense of humour when it comes to their climate.

Other words used to describe Wales highlighted the country’s culture and included ‘language’, ‘rugby’ and ‘music’.

Claire Scantlebury, senior digital media manager at the Welsh Assembly, told journalists: ‘The whole ethos behind the Wales in Your Words campaign was to put the focus on the people that the Assembly represents rather than on the institution itself.

‘The entire campaign, from concept to delivery was carried out by our in-house team.’

Scantlebury added: ‘Our approach to campaigns is to deliver a unified message but in a way that is tailored to make the most out of each platform that we want to use, this means that however our audience chooses to consume our content, they get a consistent brand experience regardless of whether it’s online or offline.’

Scantlebury and her team really must be congratulated for producing a masterclass in the power of delivering a socially-led, content marketing strategy.

If you’re struggling to get your message out there on a limited budget, just think what the proud, beautiful (and wet) nation of Wales did with twenty quid.

Bloggers in the UK

Deciding the top 50 blogs

The Vuelio Blog rankings are widely regarded as the definitive guide to the UK and Ireland’s top bloggers. We’re very proud of this status and work hard to maintain it; after all, our clients depend on us having the best database of blogs.

Everyone on the list has earned their place by working hard on their blog and creating genuinely influential content that reaches a massive, engaged audience.

The ranking is compiled in the same way as the other rankings except the methodology disregards topics and the blog’s relation to any topic.

What is considered is the blog’s frequency of posting, social presence, Vuelio influencer score, traffic, the recentness of their posts, currency and interaction from the blog’s readers. The exact algorithm is a well-kept company secret but, needless to say, the methodology has been producing highly respected rankings for years.

Political blogs are once again scattered throughout the ranking, reaping the benefits from recent, and seemingly endless, material for them to work with from Brexit to Trump (and May, Corbyn, Macron, elections, leadership changes, media mishaps and so on…).

A particularly conspicuous entry is Craig Murray’s eponymous blog. The current political landscape in the US and Murray’s links to WikiLeaks and the Democratic presidential campaign leak has thrust him back into the spotlight and propelled him up the ranking.

Automotive blogs also feature heavily, with Formula 1 especially performing well. This may reflect a renewed interest in the sport that’s becoming increasingly competitive in 2017 and has recently undergone a change of ownership.

Topics that may seem like a stereotype of modernity have finally made an impact on the Top 50, including fitness and gadgets. There’s also a special mention for the Vegan Beauty Review.

Overall, a well-deserved congratulations goes to Guido Fawkes for once again leading the list of esteemed influencers. We are delighted that there are 17 new additions to the ranking this year and hope this continues to encourage and motivate bloggers everywhere.

If you believe your blog could make the Top 50 in 2018, please make sure your details are included on our database for a chance to be shortlisted. Click here to add your details.

Soccer stadium

Copa90 Joins The Big Leagues with Live Football

Sky and BT Sports should take note. Live TV coverage of football has been disrupted by a young, digital media company.

Copa90, a fan-focused football channel originally launched on YouTube just five years ago, has announced it will be joining the ‘big leagues’ with its first live broadcasts of the beautiful game.

Speaking to The Drum, Copa90 boss James Kirkham said fans could expect a radically different approach to the coverage of the sport.

Kirkham said: ‘Everything we do is the antithesis of the suits sat in a studio ethos, that slowly, slowly build-up and prosaic conversation.’

He continued: ‘We’re in the crowd, among the pyros and the flares, in a very visceral way. Why would we stop doing that?’

The fledgling media brand has secured the rights to at least three games and promised that one will include a major Premier League club.

Kirkham said: ‘We’ve got a couple of big European clubs – and I’m talking elite, A-list European clubs. The rights at the moment are coming from a whole assortment of different angles. It started off as a trickle and it’s become a bit of a flood.’

Kirkham explained that Copa90 will be taking a different approach to mainstream broadcasters who expect to hold the interest of a viewer for the full 90 minutes of a game.

Kirkham said: ‘The notion of multiple windows, of switching from one platform to another, what we all do on any given day… we have to be hugely respectful of that, not just assume they’re simply going to stay in one place.

‘People want their tiny, digestible snack viewing. They want goals as gifs because they’re given to them immediately, they want smartly put together highlights in an instant in places where they can find them. It is just less about the full 90-minute viewing experience as it has been.’

Essentially Copa90 will be delivering an authentic football experience, repacked for the digital age. It’ll be interesting to see how their mainstream competition reacts.

Yorkshire Dad blogger

Blogger Spotlight: Karl Young, The Yorkshire Dad

Karl Young is the twenty-something father of two behind The Yorkshire Dad, who found that sharing his experiences and joining in on conversations helped him settle into parenthood. The Yorkshire Dad uses the advice that Karl has learnt in his journey to help others, and keeps a record of his family adventures. You’ll also find the occasional tech review and useful ‘how to’ articles to help with everyday life. In this spotlight, Karl, who recently featured in our Top 10 Daddy Blogs, discusses using the Twitter community, honesty and the positive effects of fatherhood. 

Tell us about your blog?
The blog started out as a place where I wanted to share my thoughts and experiences of fatherhood. I wanted to give people a real world view of fatherhood and a look a some of the best family friendly products and places to visit in the UK.

What prompted you to document your life as a father?
Going back four years ago, there weren’t as many daddy bloggers telling their story as there is today. I remember being awake at night doing the night feeds, browsing other parents’ blogs and interacting on the hashtag #nightfeeds, thinking to myself ‘I bet more people want to hear about my experiences of fatherhood’.

How do you help your readers in their journey as a parent?
I try to be as honest as possible as you see so many bloggers, YouTubers and Instagrammers posting the perfect pictures and talking about their perfect lives. Parenting is hard and if people are just seeing the best bits of parenthood and not the dark side then that is setting them up to fail.

What is a typical day in the life of you as a dad?
Honestly… Full of laughter and fun; even on the days where I work,  I still find time to mess around. I work four and a half days as a senior project manager, so I don’t get to see them as much I would like to, but I make the most of messing around in the morning or getting creative when I get home at night.

I am an active dad, I don’t like sitting around, so I think that has rubbed off on the the kids!

How do you manage your blogging career and being a father?
I usually have an hour or two spare every night once the boys are in bed, the house is tidy and I am fed and watered. Instead of sitting down and watching loads of TV or reading a book, I spend an hour blogging and updating my social channels.

After you’ve been blogging for so long it kind of becomes almost an automatic and therapeutic process.

The opportunities I have been given through my blog are incredible and priceless. When we are attending an event or reviewing a toy, the boys know I need to get photos of them.

How has fatherhood changed you?
It has changed me for the better; I am more compassionate, driven, focused and caring than I ever have been before.

What did you learn about yourself after becoming a parent?
I learned quickly that I was genuinely programmed to please people and make the happy in any way I could. I would spend hours and hours with my kids messing around on the floor just so they weren’t bored or unmotivated.

Karl Young with childrenHow do you like to work with PRs?
I work in PR/SEO so I know first hand how some of these companies work with outreach to bloggers. For me it is so important that PR companies don’t just scrape media lists and push-out mail-merges to all the bloggers in one particular niche in the hope that one blogger will pick up the story.

You wouldn’t believe how many times people have referred to me as a ‘mum’ and how many female products I have been offered to test!

What are the main challenges that fathers face?
To earn the same amount of respect as mothers do for providing the same level of care. I don’t want to hear anyone say that when a father is looking after the kids he is just ‘babysitting’, we want to be praised for doing a good job!

For new fathers, it is learning about how your life and lifestyle will change, you will soon learn who your friends are and will discover some new friends along the way.

What advice would you give to a new dad or dad-to-be?
Join Twitter, get following some of the best and most relevant parenting accounts and hashtags. The parenting community of Twitter is a supportive and funny group of humans from around the world. It has aided me so much over the years and generally make me feel normal!

If your friends don’t have kids then find a dads’ club, most of the guys are in the same situation and just want to talk to other like-minded dads. I went to one in Harrogate and got introduced to some dads I still talk to this very day.

What is it that helps you to cope when the going gets tough?
Time away. I arrange to have the night away from the family and I go and act my age. I either go drinking, rock climbing, out for a meal, hit the cinema or just go for a walk or swim on my own.

If you are feel particularity down, get on Twitter and chat to people about their experiences with the same problems.

BBC Bristol logo 3D

BBC to Cut Journalist Perks in Bid to Save Cash

The BBC is set to cut a number of perks it currently offers its journalists in a bid to save the corporation £80 million.

These perks include overtime, an ‘unpredictable hours’ allowance and free taxi rides during unsociable hours. Journalists will be offered time in lieu of overtime and have been asked to take public transport whenever it is available.

There will also be cuts to ‘acting-up payments’ where journalists take on responsibilities above and beyond their pay grades.

While the cuts will represent a significant change for a number of staff, many have expressed frustration that they will not be felt by senior management at the BBC.

The cuts have been announced at the same time as the BBC prepares to announce how much it pays its top talent. Names expected to be at the top of the list include Graham Norton and Gary Lineker.

Under the Royal Charter, the BBC has to disclose the salaries of anyone earning more than £150,000.  Political journalist Andrew Marr said this disclosure will be: ‘uncomfortable for all of us’.

Despite this, Sir David Clementi, the chairman of the BBC, has insisted that big names are not overpaid.

A spokesperson for the BBC said: ‘These new proposals set out a simpler and fairer way of working which recognise the demands of a modern broadcasting organisation. The proposals include support for the lowest paid employees and would ensure we have support in place for those who need it, while also ending complexities and outdated allowances so we operate more efficiently.’

But the BBC will not be able to introduce these cuts without a fight. Sources at the BBC have confirmed to journalists at the Guardian that the proposed cuts will be rejected by a ballot when presented in August.

The BBC currently employs approximately 19,000 staff in public sector broadcasting with about 7,000 working in news.

Google DNI

Google funds PA’s news automation service

The Press Association (PA) has been awarded a €706,000 Google grant to create an automated news service for local press.

Working in collaboration with start-up Urbs Media, PA hopes to create 30,000 data-driven stories each month for local media outlets.

The Grant is from Google’s Digital News Initiative (DNI) Innovation Fund. The Initiative is a ‘partnership between Google and publishers in Europe to support high-quality journalism through technology and innovation’. Other DNI projects include user generated content verification, real-time infographics and tackling fake news.

The award for PA is one of the largest single grants from the €150m fund. The service that PA and Urbs Media has created is called RADAR – Reporters And Data And Robots – which will create localised stories from open data sets.

RADAR is designed to source information from government departments, local authorities and NHS Trusts to create stories that fit into standardised templates. These will be created by a team of five journalists that will effectively be system operators.

How easily RADAR will manage to pull out information from these traditionally byzantine organisations is yet to be tested, but with Google’s backing, the process is likely to be smoother. One thing is for sure, the PR teams at each will suddenly wield huge control over what’s accessible as well as the amount they want to work with RADAR.

PA hopes RADAR will benefit ‘independent publishers, hyperlocal outlets and bloggers’.

Peter Clifton, editor-in-chief at PA said: ‘At a time when many media outlets are experiencing commercial pressures, RADAR will provide the news ecosystem with a cost-effective way to provide incisive local stories, enabling audiences to hold democratic bodies to account.

‘Skilled human journalists will still be vital in the process, but RADAR allows us to harness artificial intelligence to scale up to a volume of local stories that would be impossible to provide manually.’

The changes this will bring on local news output and the quality of journalism is less than a year away – RADAR is scheduled to launch in early 2018.

Arianna Huffington

Can Arianna Huffington Save Uber and Silicon Valley?

Uber may have disrupted the way we get from A to B but there is nothing new about the way the company allegedly conducted its everyday business operations.

Allegations of sexism and high profile executive departures have rocked the car sharing (taxi) app business to its roots and threatened to distract the media away from the fact that they offer a really cool service.

So the news that Arianna Huffington has been parachuted into the organisation to lead its PR strategy must be more than welcomed by investors.

What better remedy to a poisonous, sexist environment than one of the world’s most successful women?

But Huffington doesn’t just want cure Uber – she wants to take on the whole of Silicon Valley.

Speaking to journalists, Huffington said: ‘The goal should be not just to fix Uber but to fix the systemic culture of Silicon Valley. Otherwise, every year we will produce new reports asking, why aren’t women advancing?

‘There is such an incredible emphasis everywhere in the valley on top performers, and just because they deliver in a narrow sense, they’re forgiven again and again. And even if their behaviour leads to them being let go, it’s largely done quietly and they’re quickly rehired by another company, where the behaviour continues.’

And you’d be foolish to bet against Huffington.

Her experience in disrupting old school business practices is legendary. She completely shook-up the, let’s be honest, stagnant, male-dominated and often toxic media landscape with The Huffington Post. So she will feel perfectly at home in an equally disruptive business like Uber.

Part of Huffington’s appeal is her personal brand is as big as the brands she represents. Anything she does for Uber and the wider Silicon Valley community will carry the weight of her reputation – which she won’t want to tarnish with quick, ill-thought-out wins or sleazy business practices.

Does the PR industry need more people like Huffington? Share your comments below:

Vuelio Blog Awards 2017

Are you the best?

The Vuelio Blog Awards are back in 2017 to celebrate the best bloggers the UK has to offer. This year we’re introducing a new award which is self-nominated, and we need your help.

The Best Newcomer 2017 is open to any blogger, of any category or size, who started on or after 1 June 2016. While this may seem like a strict limit, we must be mindful that this is fixed and unfortunately cannot be moved (even by a few days).

We’re inviting you to nominate yourself or someone else for this new prize. Why not spread the love?

To enter, all you have to do is complete our short online form by clicking here. We require your contact details as well as the reason you believe you deserve to win. You are welcome to make this as long or short as you like. If you are nominating a fellow blogger, please first check they are happy to be nominated and then fill in the form on their behalf, you can give your own personal reason you believe they deserve to win.

If your blog has been around longer and you don’t fit into the Best Newcomer criteria, don’t panic. ALL blogs that are listed on the Vuelio Media Database will be considered for our 2017 Awards.

We are currently in the process of finalising the categories, but we’ve listened to the feedback from last year, and designed the Awards so they recognise as many of our glorious bloggers as possible.

If you don’t think you’re listed on the Media Database but would like to be considered for an Award, please click here and complete the short submission form.

Keep your eyes peeled for more Vuelio Blog Awards announcements soon.

Good luck!

 

*UPDATE 02/08/2017: The Best Newcomer award is no longer taking entries and as such links to complete the form have been removed from this post. Good luck to everyone who submitted themselves, a shortlist will be announced soon. 

Kate and Sharon, LesBeMums

Blogger Spotlight: Kate Everall, LesBeMums

LesBeMums is the blog from Kate and Sharon tracking the life of a same sex family. The blog covers a wide range of content from LGBT issues to breastfeeding and parenthood. The blog was ranked number one in our recent Top 10 LGBT+ blogs and here Kate tells us about blogging as a same sex family, working with PR professionals and the importance of engagement.

How would you describe your blog?
We are a same sex family blog that writes about life as a same sex family and everything in between!

Why should people read your blog and what makes it different?
We write about life as a same sex family, as a minority group, and how we’re often treated differently to other families. From the daft questions we’re asked regularly, to the discrimination we face – everything is out in the open and we share all in the hope that we can educate and make ourselves more visible in society.

What has been your blogging highlight?
Gosh! What a question. I think our highlight was being welcomed into a community and realising that we’re not alone. In the few years we’ve been blogging we’ve gained some genuine friends who we often have over for a cuppa.

How have people reacted to issues highlighted in your blog?
Thankfully, really well. Most people are often shocked by the things we experience or have been through and therefore become more aware of the problems we face, but a handful have stood still and realised that perhaps what they’ve said was actually inappropriate or have reassessed how they react to things (and people!).

What types of campaigns do you prefer to work on?
We love to get involved in campaigns that make same sex families more visible in mainstream media. Whether it’s children’s media or showing that same sex parents exist – we just want to be included like everyone else and welcome anyone who wants to be more inclusive.

Is there any advice that you have for PRs that would like to work with you?
Do your research. There’s probably nothing more frustrating than when a PR approaches you personally about something exciting, only to find they haven’t done their research. For example, don’t invite us to a Father’s Day event. Two mums here!

What techniques do you use to make sure that you don’t sacrifice on quality when working on sponsored content?
I take a step back and ask myself, would I read this as a follower of this blog? If the answer is no, then it’s likely not working and I need to try a different avenue. Likewise, I don’t accept anything that doesn’t represent me as a person or our family. Everything I put into our blog should tell readers that they’re still listening to me and not Brand X.

Are there any trends that you can see changing the face of blogging?
Bloggers are becoming obsessed with stats! On one hand, I agree that stats are (kinda) important if you earn a living and to a brand stats mean more views/visits, HOWEVER, engagement is far more important. If you have 100 followers and 50 followers react to your post, that’s far better than someone with thousands of followers but with only 5 people reacting and engaging. I know plenty of bloggers that probably only have a handful of followers but are some of the best writers out there.

What are your most/least favourite methods of distributing content?
Least: Spamming! If I go onto someone’s Twitter feed, I don’t want to see the last few posts being all blog posts and links. I want to see you engaging with your followers or starting conversation – that’s what encourages me to read more about what you have to say.

Most: Facebook Groups. The number of new bloggers I have found by reading content shared within Facebook groups (For example, breastfeeding posts within breastfeeding groups) is huge. Although some can be strict with sharing links, a lot of them are pretty laid back and allow useful content to flow into the group.

How frequently do you post on your blog?
I post as and when I’m feeling inspired. Thankfully, blogging isn’t my full-time job so I have this flexibility. I don’t want to post for the sake of posting as it’ll definitely show in my content. I’d rather have four posts a month that I’m really proud of than 10 that are rubbish.

Do you have any tips for bloggers or businesses who want to improve their content strategy?
Share other people’s content. I get more engagement when I share relevant content from other blogs and pages. For us, we’re an LGBT blog so we share a lot of LGBT news and other LGBT bloggers. It really does increase traffic, especially when it’s done throughout the day as apposed to all at once.

What is your favourite blog (outside of your own!)?
Can’t I pick more than one?! Gosh. This is hard. I love love love Scrapbook Blog. I have a lot in common with Lauren, and her son Arlo is the same age as our son so we went through a lot of things at the same time. Plus, I feel I have a similar personality to Lauren and therefore thoroughly enjoy reading her blog and what they’ve been up to.

LesBeMums features on the Vuelio Media Database along with thousands of other bloggers, influencers and journalists.

old photo reading a newspaper

Hyperlocals Bid for BBC Cash

Fifteen hyperlocal newspapers have been given the green light to bid for BBC cash to employ a ‘local democracy’ reporter.

The scheme, which will give local newspapers the opportunity to tap into an £8 million fund and pay the wages of 150 journalists, is designed to enable local and hyperlocal titles to continue reporting on issues relating to local democracy such as council meetings and the workings of other public bodies.

Content produced by the reporters will be shared with the BBC and participating newspapers will also have access to BBC content.

The 15 hyperlocal titles come from all corners of the UK and include print-only and online-only titles.

Keith Magnum, editor of the Hackney Citizen who will benefit from the scheme, told journalists: ‘Holding local councils to account is as important as it’s ever been. We hope the BBC Local Democracy Reporter scheme will help us bring an increasing number of in-depth political stories to our readers.’

Rob Taylor, editor of Wrexham.com which will also benefit from the partnership, said: ‘We are pleased to have been accepted for Phase One of the scheme and look forward to the outputs.’

Taylor continued: ‘In theory, it should benefit our readers by having a pool report to dip into where we are unable to cover, plus some additional audio/visual outputs.

‘Hopefully it is deployed and used across the UK as it was intended, with the benefit being to society as a whole, rather than offsetting a cost on a spreadsheet somewhere.’

Matthew Barraclough, the BBC’s head of Local News Partnerships, encouraged more news titles to get involved with the scheme, telling journalists: ‘The Local News Partnerships have been drawn up to be as inclusive as possible while at the same time requiring a commitment to high editorial standards.

‘The partnership is open to any qualifying provider and we would encourage small independent news publishers to apply in the next round of approvals.’

Justin Myers of The Guyliner

Blogger Spotlight: Justin Myers, The Guyliner

The Guyliner is an ever-changing blog from Justin Myers. Starting as an anonymous dating blog, Justin now covers everything about modern life, including LGBT issues and the Guardian Blind Date column. The Guyliner features on our Top Ten LGBT+ Blogs and here Justin shares with us his blogging ethos, being a writer, working with PR professionals and his advice for bloggers. 

How would you describe your blog?
My blog has had many incarnations over the years, all of which have kind of fused together into what it is today. I started out blogging about dates anonymously, before evolving into writing about dating in general, LGBT issues, and the crushing awkwardness of being alive in the 21st century, and now a large part of it is, inexplicably, a critical analysis of the Guardian Blind Date column. I’m never afraid to try something new, and I guess I’ve been lucky in that my readers have liked each version.

Why should people read your blog and what makes it different?
I’m not entirely convinced I’m doing anything massively original, but I guess I present things in an honest and passionate way. I’m never wilfully controversial or provocative – I am not afraid to be disliked but I do not go out of my way to encourage it like some writers – and I think it comes across that I mean what I say. My blog has heart, it is emotional. I’m not interested in free stuff or trying to sell anyone anything. People tell me they really like it.

What has been your blogging highlight?
I have written professionally for a long time, way before I started the blog, but I know for absolute certain I wouldn’t have been offered my book deal without The Guyliner – my first novel, The Last Romeo, is out in 2018. That’s the highlight of my career, really – I’m not sure I will top that one, or even want to try. A specific blog highlight would be difficult to pick out, but the reaction I get every time I tweet out an old post about my first kiss is quite something. When you write, and it touches someone, you feel both mortified and euphoric at the same time – I still don’t think I’m used to it.

How have people reacted to issues highlighted in your blog?
Like I said earlier, while I’m no trailblazer, I think I stir something up with the things I write. I remind people of things they already knew, or experiences they’ve lived, or I shine a light on areas that some people may not be talking about. The blog led to me becoming an advice columnist for Gay Times, and often when I post, I get emails from readers saying ‘me too’ or ‘that’s really helped’. It’s an incredible feeling to think you can reach people in this way, but giving out advice is a massive responsibility and one I take very seriously. It’s always in the back of my mind whenever I write anything – someone is going to read this; how will it make them feel?

What types of campaigns do you prefer to work on?
I only accept commissions and write about things that interest me, or issues I know would be well received by my readers. Products and services don’t really do it for me. I’m very wary of bloggers who are only in it for the freebies; I find trusting them very difficult, and as my readers’ trust is paramount – much more important to me than a free T-shirt – I am loath to compromise it. Experiences or things that my readers will find relatable or ridiculous, that’s what I’m interested in. Really, I am looking for writing commissions, rather than opportunities to promote stuff on my blog.

Justin Myers' eyeIs there any advice that you have for PRs that would like to work with you?
I don’t accept guest posts ever and I say no to most things, to be honest. I prefer to take commissions that can be placed elsewhere rather than my blog – I write for a number of publications – unless it’s very true to the core of what I do on The Guyliner. My reach on social far outstrips that of my blog – that’s what PRs should probably concentrate on if they want to work with me. Anything that will suit my take on it is welcome – but it will be very much my take and I cannot promise it will be glowing.

What techniques do you use to make sure that you don’t sacrifice on quality when working on sponsored content?
I don’t do it! I say no to almost everything unless it’s something I’m interested in. Anything I couldn’t present in my own style or fit either on my blog or another publication I write for, I don’t get involved with. I approach everything I write in the same way, whether it’s for money or for myself: is this something I need to say? Am I presenting this in the best way possible? Are people going to read this and wonder why the hell I’m touching this subject? Will I read this again in a year or so and still be entertained and pleased with my work? If it’s even half a no for any one of those, I won’t even start drafting, let alone hit ‘Publish’. All those criteria I set myself were born of previous experiences where maybe I didn’t check myself as rigorously; I’ve never stopped learning. I want people to read something – even if they’re not interested in the subject – and think ‘that was great’ or ‘that was really well-written’. Fear that they won’t keeps me from making too many mistakes, I hope.

Are there any trends that you can see changing the face of blogging?
The depressing political arena is making us more cynical and, as a result, I think humour is coming back to blogging. I hope so, anyway; I’m sick to death of reading really po-faced stuff that’s more concerned with SEO and pleasing sponsors than actually taking a reader somewhere. The glamour does appear to be fading from the ‘my life is fantastic’ style of blogging – people are reading between the lines and seeing beyond the filters. I know those people work really hard at cultivating their image and presenting a polished product, but much of it makes me uncomfortable or tires me out, and I think it’s the same for a lot of other people too.

How frequently do you post on your blog?
I have a regular feature go live once a week. I wouldn’t post more than twice-weekly – people get sick of you unless you’re a known and trusted daily destination. I don’t have time to keep that up and I’m lucky in that my audience doesn’t particularly expect it of me. I tweet regularly to keep myself ‘out there’ and, like I say, I tend to get much more engagement with a thread on Twitter than I would a formal blog post. I like the immediacy of it too – I prefer conversations to broadcasts.

Do you have any tips for bloggers or businesses who want to improve their content strategy?
I don’t really have a personal content strategy, and the work I’ve done for businesses varies case by case and is usually totally separate from my blog; I guess I would say to companies, please hire decent writers, not just someone who can type. And pay them. It’s increasingly important to be an all-rounder these days, which I totally get, but it always seems to be the writing part that suffers over the others. Reading is not over. Longform is not dead. The hypnotic quick sell of video doesn’t really seem to be capturing anyone’s imagination, despite ad sales’ and content strategists’ obsession over it – I wish we could see more of a balance between copy and video.

To bloggers, I guess I’d say find a niche and be good at it. Be consistent. Have a voice that people want to return to, so that, eventually, they don’t care what you write about, as long as you’re writing. When people are contacting you saying, ‘I really want to know what you think about this issue – you should write something’, it’s a great feeling. And you know you’re doing something right.

The Guyliner features on the Vuelio Media Database along with thousands of other bloggers, influencers and journalists. 

 

Optimising content

How to optimise your blog post after publishing

Most businesses will already be familiar with the basic process of optimising blog content before it’s published. Keywords, meta descriptions and relevant H1 tags are all features of today’s content that brands and bloggers need to implement, but what about existing content that has already been published? Creating a blog post is only the beginning, there are multiple ways to re-use and enhance your content after it has been published.

Optimising existing blog content in order to drive traffic and achieve your marketing goals, can be broken down into two key steps: repurposing the content and promoting it.

Improving old blog content
The first step in optimising your existing content is to go back and give it a makeover. Just how much you change is completely dependent on the blog post itself – this could be a gentle refresh, while others may need to be repurposed to achieve a different outcome.

Identifying what content to improve
Identifying and refreshing old blog content can be a time consuming process, especially for company blogs which contain many blog posts. Prioritise your time by determining which posts hold the most potential and tackling those quick wins first. For instance, if an old blog post is ranking from #11 – #20 on Google for a high volume keyword, then traffic, engagement and conversions across your site could see an immediate boost if the post moves up to page one in the rankings.

How to refresh existing blog content
More often than not, a simple review of your old blog posts will present any standout issues. Start by analysing the post in terms of keyword relevancy and add well optimised headings if needed. It’s also a good idea to ensure that any data you’ve referenced is up to date. Finally, read any similar content that your competitors have posted, particularly those ranking higher than you. This should give you a good idea of where your own content could be improved.

Promoting existing blog content
While brands will share blog content on their social channels when it’s new and fresh, the hard work doesn’t necessarily stop there. Reviewing and sharing existing evergreen content is one way to ensure that your blog posts continue to drive valuable traffic to your website.

Content optimisation through social shares
Sharing old blog content on your social media channels not only alerts new followers to posts that may be of relevance to them, but keeps your social networks fed with applicable content. If the topic of a blog post you wrote five years ago finds itself in the news again there’s no reason not to share the content – once it’s been updated accordingly.

Content optimisation through backlink building
Generating a catalogue of high quality backlinks that point to your blog content is no easy task, yet it shouldn’t be overlooked if you want to get the uppermost value from your company’s blog posts. Once that publish button has been hit, be sure to send the link to any relevant parties and get your content seen. The Vuelio Media Database is a great source for finding bloggers and journalists interested in the content that you produce. Snag a backlink from a key influencer and your blog post will instantly grow in SEO value.

Bake Off hosts

Bake Off Won’t Bow to Commercial Pressures

As problems go, the news that The Great British Bake Off was moving from the BBC to a commercial rival was perhaps more than a little ‘first world’.

Beloved presenters, including Mel, Sue and the legendary Mary Berry (with her ‘soggy bottoms’) were gone, commercial breaks threatened the ebb and flow of the show and God knows what else would happen to the quintessentially British show that had previously enjoyed a more leisurely amble across our TV screens.

The good news is, according to bosses at Channel 4, The Great British Bake Off is so good, it won’t need to make any significant changes to the programme – and this includes the murky world of product placement which the channel insists the show will be ‘clean’ of.

An insider at Love Productions, the show’s makers, told journalists: ‘The integrity of Bake Off is sacrosanct to Love. Bake Off has always been made with documentary sensibilities, so the notion of product placement is not a natural one.’

Jonathan Lewis, head of digital partnership innovation at Channel 4, confirmed that they would not be tampering with the show and said: ‘The Bake Off tent will look exactly as it always has when it airs on Channel 4 for the first time later this year.’

But that doesn’t mean Channel 4 doesn’t have ‘big money’ plans for the show.

In the spring, Channel 4 hosted an event for 350 advertising executives to pitch an £8m sponsorship deal for the show. However, a number of media pundits believe Channel 4 has fallen short and may have to adjust their offering around the show.

One unnamed source told The Guardian: ‘Advertisers think Bake Off is a really, really good property but very few of them have that big chunk of cash to commit, especially in this market.’

They continued: ‘This is interesting for Channel 4, this scale deal is new for them, but this is what ITV experience all the time. Outside the market, people think it is always a bunfight because properties like Coronation Street, Emmerdale and X Factor are amazing opportunities. They are, but they are such big commitments that there might only be two or three realistic bidders.’

BBC London

BBC Children’s programming takes on the internet

The BBC has announced plans to overhaul its Children’s programming to tackle competition from the internet.

Investing an additional £34m across the next three years, the budget for children’s programming will rise to £124.4m by 2019-20, up from £110m today. The additional spend is largely earmarked for the Children’s online budget, ‘reflecting the increasing share of children’s media time spent online and the increasing competition for their attention’.

Alice Webb, director, Children’s at the BBC, said: ‘Today’s announcement means that whilst we’ll continue to make exceptional, distinctive public service UK children’s content across all of our platforms, we’ll also be able to develop a more personal online service that meets the evolving needs of our audience.’

The manifestation of that personal service hasn’t been realised yet but traditional broadcasters are always looking at ways to tackle the behemoths Netflix and Amazon Video, who are relentlessly shaping on-demand services on a global scale.

These streaming services are just the tip of the iceberg. In reality the digital competition is much broader – especially where children are concerned.

The strongest competition likely lies on YouTube with videos such as ‘Kinder Surprise Eggs Opening’ proving ever more popular (a simple search produces over eight million such results). This is the type of content that’s hard for a mainstream broadcaster to replicate in any sort of realistically competitive way.

While it doesn’t fall under the BBC’s remit to inform or educate, bosses will be wary of the internet’s endless supply of micro clips that can hold a child’s attention. As the proliferation of tablets and video-playing devices suitable for little hands continues, so does the number of children capable of choosing their own content whenever they want.

Organ donation ribbon

Campaigning Scottish Newspaper Changes Organ Donation System

A six-year-long campaign led by the Glasgow Evening Times has resulted in the Scottish government making sweeping changes to organ donation systems in the country.

The campaign, which was launched in 2011, lobbied the Scottish government to change the organ donor laws to an opt-out system. This new system assumes that everyone is a potential organ donor unless they opt-out.

Caroline Wilson, a senior reporter who led the campaign for the Evening Times, told journalists: “We weren’t simply raising awareness about organ donation or attempting to drive up numbers on the donor register, we were asking the government to consider a new system of organ donation and one that a great many people had never heard of.

“We knew it wasn’t going to be an easy campaign and it wasn’t. Being grilled by MSPs at the Public Petitions Committee and was one of the most daunting things I’ve ever been asked to do.

“We faced opposition, including from those in the medical profession, but we had to challenge their judgment. However, the one constant was the level of public support, particularly those who had experienced the agony of waiting for a transplant.”

Evening Times editor Graham Shields highlighted his pride in the success of the campaign by stating: “The Evening Times is proud to be a champion for the people of Glasgow, and we have campaigned on their behalf throughout our history.

“The Opt for Life campaign has been a huge undertaking and it promised to improve the lives of thousands of people across the whole of Scotland. I am proud of our staff and readers for sticking with this important task and finally delivering success.”

The success of the Opt for Life campaign showcases how vital a strong, determined and patient regional press is to facilitating change.

If the regional press continues to falter, who will take on these important, long-term campaigning issues?

Is the press release dead?

In recent years industry pros have declared that press releases are dead. Once, one of the most effective modes of PR communication, press releases have been criticised as being used to spam journalists with irrelevant content.

With many journalists often copying and pasting content, press releases have been penalised by Google’s search algorithm which punishes outlets for duplicating content.

This has resulted in wire services and PR pros having to rethink their approach to press releases and how to distribute them to influential journalists.

Here at Vuelio, we have published numerous White Papers about how to get press releases right, but the question that keeps arising is: Are press releases dead or alive?

Wildfire PR reviewed coverage from over 100 releases to establish whether the press release is still a reliable source of information. Things like the company’s key messaging, whether there was a direct quote from a company spokesperson, whether there was a link back to the organisation’s website or landing page were scrutinised.

And the results were quite revealing. PR agency Wildfire found that 98% of coverage resulting from a press release included a company’s key messaging, 82% featured a direct quote from a company spokesperson, and 46% provided a link back to the brand’s website.

Proving that they are not dead, results show that 61% of journalists had used the press release as the basis for a wider article, rather than simply copy and pasting the release itself.

“With Google increasingly penalising sites for relying on duplicated content, many people have argued that the press release no longer has a place in modern PR” said Debby Penton, managing director at Wildfire. “Our research shows that instead of killing the press release, these changes have simply encouraged journalists to alter the way they use release content. Rather than copying and pasting directly, journalists are now using press releases for their original purpose – to provide a factsheet for a wider story. This is not only great news for brands looking to get their message across, but is also good news for end consumers who want to read unique, interesting and original content.

“Thanks to this change in approach, I believe that the press release still has life in it yet – as long as it’s used correctly. Journalists should not be copying from press releases wholesale, and PROs should not be using press releases as a way to spam publications with irrelevant news. What is needed is a more targeted, intelligent, PR strategy – of which press releases are just one small part.”

Engaging with new MPs after #GE2017

So, on the 8th of June, there’ll be some brand new faces sitting in Westminster. Knowing who they are, their political interests and, most importantly, the best way to engage with them is crucial to the success of your public affairs strategy in the coming parliament.

GE2017_WEBINAR

If you want to keep ahead of the game why not tune into our upcoming webinar ‘’Engaging with new MPs after #GE2017’’ for a complete guide to identifying, engaging and influencing the new MP intake which takes place on Tuesday 20 June at 11:00 am BST.

During the webinar we’ll be covering everything from:

  • Identifying the right MPs to engage with based on their political interests, such as select committee membership.
  • Access over 4,000 political contacts including MPs’ staff– the most effective way of reaching MPs.
  • Achieving ROI on your engagement with email tracking and comprehensive reports that measure the success of your campaigns.

Save your spot now on our up and coming webinar to see how our political database can help you!

CAP issues new guidelines on influencer marketing

So, CAP has issued fresh guidelines for influencer marketing but will it make a difference? According to a recent survey, a surprising proportion of consumers still remains in the dark, with 77% unaware what the #sp hashtag stands for (‘sponsored’) and 48% even unsure what the #ad hashtag means.

As a result of confusion over how brands and influencers label paid-for content, it remains a big issue. In response to this problem, CAP (the Committee of Advertising Practice) has issued a fresh set of guidelines to help social influencers and brands stick to the rules.

So, what does this mean for you and how will it impact the future of influencer marketing?

Well, when it comes

to affiliate marketing deals, CAP states that all ‘marketing communications must be obviously identifiable’. In other words, brands and influencers should ensure that any paid-for content is clearly labelled as an advert.

The guidelines put forward by CAP are certainly not new, but they are now emphasising that influencers should be more aware of the differences between platforms in order to recognise how to label sponsored content accordingly.

For example, on platforms like Instagram where images are visible before text, the word ‘ad’ should be overlaid so that users are aware before they click through. Alternatively, where a vlog might include a minute or so of content related to affiliate products, this should be flagged (even if it doesn’t require the video to be labelled as an ad overall).

Ultimately the new guidelines reinforce the notion that there is no blanket approach to labelling branded content, but that it is vital that consumers know when they are viewing ads.


Born Social’s survey suggests that consumers look down on sponsored content, with 48.7% of people trusting a recommendation to a lesser extent if they know an influencer is being paid. However, a poll by Kantar Millward Brown suggests that, in contrast, teenagers are becoming more receptive to brand content. In addition to this, it also states that 35% of 35-49-year-olds in the UK also feel positive towards content relating to products, services and other brand info.
While these findings might sound contradictory, there is one common thread – that transparency is key.

Regardless of how a person might feel about brand content in general, deliberately hiding or failing to disclose it will only do more harm than good.

How to create a multi award-winning PR campaign

The opportunity to combine SEO and PR is something that remains unexplored by many marketers, yet it has the potential to yield significant results – particularly if you’re working to a tight budget.

In 2016, Ad-Rank launched a campaign on behalf of CruiseDeals.co.uk that showed it’s cheaper to live on a cruise ship for a year than it is to live in London. Since then, the campaign has won two prestigious search awards, and gained both national and international coverage in publications including the Daily Mail, AOL Travel and Express. We’ve taken a look at this case study to give you some top tips to help your next Vuelio press release reach new heights.

It’s all in the research

Ad-Rank-research

By nature, successful PR campaigns engage the audience and deliver a message strong enough to encourage them to pass it on. Conducting research for any PR campaign can be a lengthy process, but the results can be well worth it. Whether you’re presenting a story that’s entirely unique or tackling old news from a different angle, putting some hard work in at this early stage is the only way to set the foundations for a strong campaign.

An attention-grabbing headline

Ad-Rank-Headlines

Distribute a press release through Vuelio and its title will appear as your email subject line, so it’s crucial that those few words grab the audience’s attention. We chose to title ours ‘Living in London is more expensive than living on a cruise ship’, which effectively gave journalists the headline they were looking for from the off.

Narrow your audience

Audience

Even the best-written press release is unlikely to gain traction unless it’s visible to the right audience. Vuelio allowed us to sift through a huge catalogue of journalists and influencers from across the globe, adding specific filters to our search in order to make sure that the release reached exactly the people we needed it to. From there, we could easily source the contact details of those most likely to be interested in our story.

Support your release

Ad-Rank-PressRelease

With hundreds of press releases landing on their desks each day, journalists are unlikely to sift through pages of copy in order to decide whether the story is right for them. Include only the most important details in the release itself and create a supporting article or blog post on your website to provide more information if needed. Not only did this allow us to link journalists to extra details they may need, but it was effective in actively driving additional traffic to the client’s blog as a result.

The personal touch

AdRankPRCampaign

For us, the key to connecting with individual journalists and publishers was to send out personalised follow-up emails. Using Vuelio’s History feature, we were able to track exactly who had opened our press release and when. From there we could send gentle reminders to journalists that appeared to be interested in our story – or simply re-introduce the press release to those who hadn’t opened the original email.

A successful PR campaign does more than just get the word out about your company, it creates a story. And despite being frequently overlooked by marketers, a solid PR strategy can fuel SEO, generate positive awareness of your brand and help build a strong online reputation.

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