Public Affairs Awards: who were the big winners?

Last night 430 of the country’s leading figures in public affairs came together to celebrate the industry’s best and brightest at the 2016 Public Affairs Awards. The awards were presented by Vuelio and hosted by PRCA, GovKnow and Zetter’s Political Services, and winners were chosen from 22 categories ranging from Consultancy Campaign to Party Fringe Event of the Year.

The Outstanding Contribution award, which was sponsored by Vuelio, went to Iain Anderson, and the Douglas Smith Prize 2016 was awarded to Liz Laurence of Weber Shandwick. EEF walked away with both In-house Team of the Year and Trade Body Campaign of the Year.

Other big winners include the Royal Mail’s ‎Public Affairs Manager Michael Hogg, who won In-house Professional of the Year, and Consultant of the Year Chris White from Newington Communications.

The Enterprise Forum was handed Party Conference Reception of the Year for ‘The Enterprise Forum’s Business Reception’ campaign, while Party Fringe Event of the Year went to Connect Public Affairs. Royal Mail won Party Conference Stand of the Year for its ‘Royal Mail 500 Years’ stand. H+K Strategies won the Social Media Campaign of the Year award for its work and the Planning Campaign of the Year was awarded to Alpaca Communications for its work on ‘Bridge the Gap’.

A big congratulations to all of the night’s winners, and here’s to another fantastic year in public affairs.

Barcelona principles to AVE – measuring PR ROI

As the lines between PR, marketing, customer services and sales continue to blur, it’s never been more important for PR professionals to accurately monitor and measure the success of their campaigns and activities. 


Today we have released our brand new white paper, ‘Measuring PR Return on Investment‘ which reveals how the PR industry currently measures success, the challenges it faces in order to remain relevant and earn cross-departmental respect and the various steps they now need to adopt to provide greater transparency and accountability.

From Barcelona principles to AVE, our new white paper essential guide lays down the law on measuring the success of PR campaigns to help you demonstrate the value of you work.

To find out more download our whitepaper now.

Digital Marketing Masterclass: Ed Leake, Midas Media

Ed Leake is the Managing Director of Midas MediaNamed one of the “top 5 rising stars” in the annual PPC Hero edition and one of the top 25 industry experts of 2016, Ed is one of the leading figures within his field. Highly focused on measurable actions, Ed’s experience in the industry is cemented by enabling his clients to achieve big returns on their marketing investments. In this masterclass Ed will explain everything you need to know about Google and Facebook advertising, how to maximise your marketing budget, and how having a social media advertising strategy will help you grow business in 2017. 


What you need to know about Google and Facebook advertising


“Google is for satisfying demand; that moment in time where someone is actively seeking out and looking for something. This is at odds with Facebook which is demand generation; people don’t typically visit Facebook with credit card in hand. If you take just one thing away from this interview, then it should be that marketing professionals need to respect this distinction.

“Treat Facebook like a first date, you wouldn’t go straight for the ring and proposal. Instead you need to nurture and entice people to your brand and offering, typically through supporting content that is either interesting and supports the purchase decision or helps remedy a specific problem. That goes for both B2B and B2C markets too.

“Don’t neglect the Google Display Network (GDN) either, it offers just as robust targeting methods as Facebook, and can be treated in a similar fashion. You take cold traffic and drive it to content first, instead of demanding a sale from people who’ve ‘never met you’.

“Don’t be a bad date.”

Maximising your marketing budget


“The biggest issue with a small budget is that it restricts your testing. Not every campaign is going to be a winner. Thankfully there are options available to stack the odds in your favour. Firstly, if you have multiple offerings, take your bestselling item/service and focus your efforts on that. By focusing you can simplify your message, targeting and desired outcome. You can hone the persona and product fit until your results are valid and scalable.

“You should always be testing your message – again on a limited budget the simplest option is to cycle through headlines that satisfy either a demand or a desire of your target audience. You could get lucky on your first hit – but typically, finding the sweet spot is about continuous testing of assets.

“Ultimately you must have a desired and measurable outcome, the very specific thing you want to happen or the action you want your audience/visitor to take.

“If you can’t measure it, rethink your strategy, because if you can’t measure your efforts you can’t identify a baseline and scaling your budget becomes fraught with risks.”

Use internet advertising to grow your business


“No matter your budget you need to be getting your message in front of the right people. Your competitive edge boils down to your proposition and positioning. If you look and sound the same, you’ll be treated the same as your competitors. Then it becomes a price comparison for your prospects. That’s not a good place to be.

“If you visit our website you will see we don’t look or sound like any other PPC agency, which many see as a risk. But I’m a bit of a contrarian and quite frankly we’re not targeting everyone, so I want us to be different, and go hard against the herd.

“That’s positioning sorted, next you’ve got to get out there and in front of people.

“Persona driven content isn’t just buzz. If you understand your market and create the right content for them – content that satisfies an itch – then you will attract buying interest.

“Instead of taking the loud, louder and loudest approach (firing out content as if you were unloading the magazine of a machine gun), focus on a specific audience and promote the content where they hang out. It could be YouTube, or LinkedIn, it might be Facebook or Twitter. Wherever they be, a small advertising budget on any of the major platforms can stretch a long way when you know specifically who needs to see it.”

Drive traffic to your website and campaigns through Google and Facebook advertising


When it comes to driving traffic to your website through Facebook and Google advertising I’d use a simple, three-step approach:

  1. Create persona driven, specific content targeted to a niche audience on Facebook. Offer loads of value upfront because the market is crowded with crappy content.
  2. Educate first, then remarket an opt-in on Facebook such as a guide or free resource that offers a lot more value. Offer enough value that they could literally do it themselves. Why? Because those that want free were never your customer anyway, those that value deeper advice will start taking you seriously.
  3. Remarket on Google for more sales oriented search terms via Search and Display. Ultimately if a prospect that has already read your content is actively searching for your ‘thing’, you need to be appearing!”

What not what to do when it comes to Facebook Ads


“The common mistakes PRs make when it comes to Facebook ads is talking about themselves far too much.

“Look at all the awards we’ve won! Look how good we are! Look at our amazing services! Look at me, me, me! It’s a big turn off.

“A bit like that self-obsessed person you duck and dodge at a party, hiding in the bushes to avoid having to listen to them.

“We usually opt for 80/20 on social media, where at least 80% of what we do is about educational, insightful and useful (high value) content. Updates that offer something for nothing, or simply share interesting items from around the web. Even competitor’s stuff!

Use metrics to identify success of campaign


“Metrics are great for optimisers and analysts. The business on the other hand rarely cares for them, they add noise to an already complex arrangement.

“Focus on the input and output, in other words how much you spend to get to your goal. In fact, I go one step further and target a specific ROI or ROAS based not on vanity numbers such as total revenue, but your profit numbers and real (net) return.

“The biggest success in a campaign is knowing when you can confidently turn on the taps and scale, without losing money. Having that level is confidence is like a eureka moment in marketing”.

Having a social media strategy


“Accountability and measurability go hand in hand. If you’re pushing social media as a channel that deserves marketing budget, then talk less about ‘brand awareness’ and more about ‘brand advocacy’.

“I wrote an article for Mention where I ran through each step of the social media map in detail. Just having a process that you can map out step-by-step in detail, is a very healthy approach to any form of marketing. It keeps you on the straight and narrow, and it enables you to get milestones where you can attribute your efforts to results.

“What’s not to like?”

How can the PR industry save Black Friday for the high street?

Black Friday is dead – at least as the high street is concerned. It’s now almost exclusively an online phenomenon owned by the likes of Amazon and…, well is there anywhere else people do the bulk of their online shopping?

The sad thing is, the high street retailers have nobody but themselves to blame for the demise of “the sales event of the year” and, I’m afraid to say, the buck stops with the retail sector’s PR and communications bosses. They really should be hanging their heads in shame.

In an attempt to highlight just how exciting their previous Black Friday events were, retailers staged and released footage of baying crowds, literally fighting to get their hands on amazing (but limited) bargains.

While a sizable number of people might be willing to trade punches to save a few pounds on a large screen television – it did more to turn people off the high street (with all its associated problems – parking, public transport, queues and the weather) and send them online in their droves. It’s almost as if the major online retailers had planted a double agent in ranks of their high street competitors.

And so Black Friday 2016 was a damp squib. The bargains were there, the promotion signs in place and sales assistances and security primed for the rush that didn’t happen.

The problem is, once let out – you cannot put the genie back in the box. Directors and shareholders expect to see an uptick in revenues in line with previous years’ events. Anything less is a failure.

What would your strategy be to bring the hoards back to the high street on Black Friday 2017? Fist fights and unobtainable bargains are so last year – so better get your thinking hats on.

As a PR pro – the ball is in your court. I’m not sure if the high street could survive another winter if you drop it again.


Karen Booth chats to us about winning a #VuelioBlogAward

Last Friday Karen Booth, author of Lavender and Lovage won the coveted best food and drink prize at the #VuelioBlogAwards. Following her victorious win Karen Booth chats to us about why it feels good to be recognised and why she thinks her win will open new doors for her.


I am delighted and so pleased that all my hard work over the last few years has been recognised by a prestigious company such as Vuelio!

“It was a huge surprise! I’m hoping that finally I’ll be approached by a publisher to offer me a chance to write my own cookbook – I do have a literary agent and have several proposals written and in the pipeline, but it would be nice to be asked to write something that’s unique to my writing and recipe style. I’m constantly asked by my readers and social media followers when my book is coming out. I’m also looking forward to working with more British brands on recipes and writing work.”

“Vuelio is such a prestigious platform, and my win endorses my hard work, creativity and engagement with all of my readers and followers as well as helping me to gain new and exciting projects in the future, hopefully!”

Top Fashion blogger Victoria McGrath opens up about winning a #VuelioBlogAward

On Friday, Victoria McGrath, who regularly features on our blog rankings, won best fashion blog at the #VuelioBlogAwards. Speaking exclusively to Vuelio, Victoria reveals how winning best fashion blog for In the Frow has boosted her confidence.   

“I’m over the moon! It’s an honour to have been nominated and I am so pleased to have won such a great award! It was a huge surprise. I had no idea that I would win against such great nominees. It’s a great confidence boost for myself, to almost feel like the hard work pays off in some ways. And I hope it will maybe introduce some new people to read my blog!

“The awards are a great way to highlight a number of bloggers in the industry who are really working hard to create wonderful content! I’m so thrilled to have won!”

Vuelio Blog Awards 2016 The Brewery London 25.11.16 Photo: Pradip Kotecha ©Fotowales

Photo: Pradip Kotecha

Daddy blogger John Adams speaks of his win at the #VuelioBlogAwards

Last Friday John Adams, author of walked away with the best daddy blogger prize at the Vuelio Blog Awards. Having recently appeared on our parenting ranking, John shares his thoughts on winning best dad blogger and what it means for his career.      


“I was stunned when my name was read out. I was convinced one of the other guys was going to win so it came as a shock, albeit a very pleasant one! It feels fantastic to get recognition in this way from Vuelio. The judging panel was formidable and it means a great deal that they rated my blog so highly.

“Winning will raise the  profile of my blog and YouTube channel. It is great to have recognition in this way from people that understand blogging and marketing. I hope the award will increase my appeal to any brands or organisations that wish to work with a dad blogger or blogger that writes about the subjects I cover (family life, parenting, motoring, photography, men’s grooming and style etc.).

“As an aside, my eldest daughter wrote a note saying ‘Well Done Daddy’. It was pinned to the front door when we got home. The kids were so proud, as was my wife and mum! It’s helped me personally, not just my career.

“Vuelio has made a huge effort to understand bloggers and it is the marketing leading blogging database. It is the only media monitoring company of its size to hold a blogging award ceremony. As a result, the Vuelio Blog Awards are a firmly established fixture, despite only being two years old.

“I also think the method of judging, via a panel, means the awards are not a popularity contest. The panel is made up of bloggers, analysts and marketing specialists. There is a balance between the creative bloggers and those who need to work with them.”

Winner of top #VuelioBlogAwards prize Kate Watson-Smyth talks to us about her triumph win

On Friday Kate Watson-Smyth took centre stage at the Vuelio Blog Awards, winning best UK Blog & best UK Interior Design Blog for Mad About the HouseSpeaking for the first time since the event, Kate shares with us what winning means to her and why the Vuelio Blog Awards is important.

“I was thrilled to win the best interior design blog and completely stunned to win the best UK blog. They say that it’s not the winning but the taking part but I think a win does help your blogging career. The internet’s a big place and having an award can make you stand out from the crowd and bring new opportunities that you might not otherwise have had.”


“Blogging is a relatively new industry and there are ever increasing numbers of people doing it. The blog awards is a way of giving readers a starting point to some interesting, well-researched and written blogs. It’s also great for bloggers to have some recognition for what can be a solitary world.”

Is football facing a Saville-sized crisis?

The news regarding professional football isn’t always played out on the back pages of the daily press. As a sport, it’s had its fair share of scandal. From racism and homophobia through to corruption and any number of “kiss and tell” tabloid exposes – the so-called beautiful game has kept PR professionals busy trying to keep the public’s attention on the pitch.

No matter how terrible previous indiscretions (and let’s be honest – actual crimes), the cascade of allegations of child abuse by former football scout and convicted paedophile Barry Bennell could see the sport face its biggest crisis yet.

As stars of the game like Wayne Rooney urge victims of abuse to step forward and stop “suffering in silence” and further allegations of abuse are made against, as yet, unknown individuals in the game – this isn’t going to be something that is going to be sorted out behind closed doors.

While the acts of abuse might only involve a few people (although one is too many) connected to the sport, many others may find themselves under the spotlight and facing accusations of ignoring and even covering up the abuse.

It’s highly likely, as with the BBC during the Saville-era and the various scandals involving the church and other organisations, many people in the game will have heard rumours and dismissed allegations as nonsense. Others would have been too scared to come forward, fearing their position in the game.

Football still suffers from an overtly macho environment. This might explain why (unlike the far tougher sport of rugby) there are no openly gay men in the top flight of the sport. It’s this macho environment where boys don’t cry, nobody likes a grass and “gay” is an insult, that enables abuse to be passed off as banter and innuendo. Thankfully, this macho environment may be about to be brought down.

While the game is undoubtedly going to torn apart by these ongoing and terrible allegations, perhaps there may be light at the end of the tunnel.

Once all the evidence has come to light, there will be an opportunity for the sport to re-invent itself and join the rest of the world in the 21st century and as open, caring and safe environment for everyone to enjoy. As football fans and decent people, isn’t this what we all want for the future of the game?

Has the local press given up on the game?

What does it mean to be local? Well, there are certain things that bring a community together. You probably drink in the local pub, shop on the local high street, read your local newspaper and follow your local football team.

It’s hard to image a community where these four local assets don’t actively support each other to the benefit of their connected audience of patrons.

So the news that a non-league “local” football team has abandoned working with its local newspaper, dismissing it as “yesterday’s news” should be of concern to anyone who values their local community.

It’s had to blame Boreham Wood Football Club for their recent outburst targeting the Newsquest-owned Borehamwood and Elsetree Times.

A spokesperson for the club told journalists: “We’ve spoken to the paper’s Sports Editor, and he’s explained their financial state is chronic and they do not have the resources or staff to cover the club.

“We feel, as the highest placed non league club throughout Hertfordshire that the paper could do more but we have to now move on and for us they are now yesterday’s news.

“For many years, we have tried to help them by providing our own reporters and quite often even a photographer.

“It’s fair to say though, it’s not our job to do their sports reporting and we are happy for them to continue to take our reports, regurgitate them as their own, while never attending a game, as that’s how they now choose to work.”

The club spokesperson concluded their statement by saying: “Finally, we genuinely wish the local newspaper and the very few loyal staff that it has left good luck in the future and for those of us old enough to remember, we fondly recall the time that the Borehamwood Post and then Times served its local community and its sporting clubs very well. Unfortunately that time has now long since passed.”

Newsquest’s north London group editor Tim Jones jumped to the defence of the paper stating on Twitter: “Times are tough for local papers. But our team does its very best. Very ill-considered to kick your own supporters

Jones later posted: “Sorry back page coverage not good enough. And 50,000 uu /month is not enough. Will try harder.”

Clearly, community-spirit is in short supply in the Borehamwood area. However, when the local newspaper and the local football team (two much maligned organisations) don’t have each others’ backs, there is a problem.

If the local press doesn’t have the resources to cover its local football team – it’s clearly in trouble. It’s just a case of how long it can continue to call itself a local newspaper and remain fit for purpose.

Has your local newspaper given up on the game? Share your comments below:

Is social media to blame for the rise in fake news?

Fake news stories on the internet have hit the headlines in recent weeks – especially since the US election. Facebook reaches 1.8 billion people around the world, and the company is one of the largest distributors of news online, leading many to ask whether social media to blame for the rise in fake news?


Angela Merkel said on Wednesday that the spread of fake news on social media platforms is contributing to the rise of “populism and political extremes”. In response to some of these concerns Mark Zuckerberg has outlined plans to combat fake news on the site, including methods for stronger detection and verification. But with objective facts being less influential than appeals to emotion on social media what does the future hold for journalism in a post-truth society? We spoke to Stephen Waddington, Partner and Chief Engagement Officer at Ketchum to find out.

Fake news has arisen because of the combination of how we consume and share information on social media, cheap distribution and political will. The world has seen fake news at least twice before over the last 500 years and it can almost certainly be traced back further. The invention of the printing press triggered propaganda pamphlets in 1500s. More recently, the emergence of mainstream media in the 1900s gave rise to spin.

Social media is part of today’s fake news supply chain. In our social, algorithmic driven media, emotion wins over fact and our natural tendency towards confirmation bias means we don’t easily spot content.

“Social media is contributing to extremes. Opinions on social media are particularly polarised because instead of people having their views anchored to a local or mainstream norm’ we are becoming members of online tribes which may have no handbrake on extremist views. It is incredibly difficult to persuade someone of a contrary political point of view using social media.

You simply can’t separate an individual from an opinion, and so arguments very quickly become personal and the old customs of face to face politeness don’t apply.

“The market needs to solve this issue as it has previously. Several technologists including Adam Parker, CEO, Lissted in the UK have demonstrated how fake news can be identified within a social network. Media experts such as the City University of New York’s Professor Jeff Jarvis have proposed editorial solutions.  I believe this issue is only going to become bigger and more worrying as people take stock of how the Trump victory and Brexit actually happened.

“Media that see this as a race to the bottom will lose traffic as soon as the issue is addressed by social networks. Purpose driven media such as The Economist and The Financial Times will continue to be trusted sources. Trust in media is already very low, and while pay and reward in journalism is aligned with the numbers of clicks a story generates we’ll continue to see ever more extreme reporting”.

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


“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


“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 


“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


“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     


“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


“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


“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


“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


“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.      


Influencer marketing: the Wild West


“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


“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


“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


“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 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


“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


“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


“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


“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

Rev Stuart Campbell

“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


“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


“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.”