Tag Archives: brands2life

Live music and inspiration

warmleadsA few colleagues have got together and formed a band, the Warm Leads (fantastic choice of name you might have a better understanding of if you work in the PR industry), which performed to much joy and delight after a company offsite last week. They’re all v talented and chose a well-crafted mix of current rock/pop tunes and classic rock to get the audience jumping.

I naturally went slightly nuts on the dance floor. I love live music, and small intimate gigs are *fantastic* when the band has the technical proficiency, talent and presence to make it all rock together.

What it absolutely invariably does, however, is make me want to pick up my guitar and rush onstage. I didn’t; and in point of fact probably wouldn’t have been able to do much. My "talent", such as it is, never extended much beyond the opening riff or catchy chorus of any number of songs.

But I’ve been tabspired; I’m going to look up some of my favourite songs and restart my guitar tablature folder, practice, and try to at least be able to entertain my daughter, if not jump on stage the next time the Warm Leads are gigging…

Company offsite with Thrive


We had a rather marvellous time on Friday with a slightly different flavour of corporate offsite; a few people around the agency researched and identified a CSR activity that would see us all contribute to something worthwhile – in this case the charity Thrive, which helps people recover or cope with debilitating psychological disorders, recover from extended illness or contend with dementia through the joy of gardening.

As someone that’s been spending a fair amount of time digging around in the dirt at home, it was a pretty enjoyable task. We were gloved up and treated to the standard health & safety disclaimer before being loaded up with strimmers, garden forks, shovels, wheelbarrows, hammers, hacksaws and the like and set to clearing a slightly overgrown orchard. We uprooted dead trees, disassembled disused raised beds, levelled out the soil and cut back the grass, digging up mountains of weeds along the way. The 60 or so of us on the ground made fairly short work of it all, getting through the clearing process in a few short hours.

After a lunch break we returned for the ‘main event’ – we’d been promised a wall to build and build a wall we did. Most of my time went into helping with the digging and levelling off a ditch so the wall would remain flat – which was a fairly frustrating process – but our architect-turned-CFO has a real talent for both project management and spirit levelling so we made good in the end.

In addition to the work teams building the two walls, my colleagues made fair progress in building a set of composters from packing crates, and others cleared a number of other raised beds of weeds. It was a pretty satisfying transformation to look back on as we left the Reading countryside and headed back to London for a performance by the Warm Leads… but more on that later

I’d highly recommend it if you’re looking for a different kind of corporate day out, or if you live in range of one of Thrive’s gardens (one near Reading and t’other in Battersea Park), volunteer.

The European Digital Journalism Survey 2011

Updated: to include my boss’ take on the survey and its findings, via Vimeo embed, below.

The EDJS 2011 – “Clicks, Communities and Conversations” – was launched today by my agency, Brands2Life, in coordination with the Oriella PR Network – our partner network of independent agencies around the world.  It examines the views of 478 journalists polled over the last few months.

Fronted by my esteemed colleague and Head of International @mistergrainger and our co-founder, @gilesfraser, we were joined by a panel made up of @kieranalger, @tphallett and @reutermarkjones to comment on the key findings of the study.

The headline trends:

The slump in advertising revenues is slowing. This year, barely 20 percent of the journalists surveyed expected their publications to see a fall in revenue. In 2010, however, 62 percent said this was the case, and in 2009 the figure was 66 per cent.

Those polled say that the popularity of online media is gradually eclipsing that of ‘offline’ publications. This year, the proportion of respondents who agreed their offline print or broadcast outlet had the biggest audience fell to 50 percent for the first time.

Social media are permeating the newsroom. Increasingly journalists are using digital channels such as blogs and Twitter to source and verify story leads.

You can read the study in full here and read SamKano’s take on the findings over on the Oriella blog, but I took a few notes and thought I’d share perspectives here too.

One of the things I found most interesting about the presentation and discussion was a conversation about the value of social media to newsrooms.

Reuters’ Mark Jones said: “I don’t think any serious professional journalist could do their job any more, without being on Twitter.” Talking about the Osama story (which Chris played his part in), Mark said: “One of the things that came out of this was that expert views came into the conversation very quickly. You didn’t have to wait for the TV broadcast or full form stories to get the analyst view. You could see the story being formed in front of your eyes on Twitter. That’s where news is going – and it has profound implications for what journalists and communicators do.”

By the same token, disintermediation in social media is an important development for journalists in sourcing expert views and validating stories.  Mark continued: “When people are looking for comments from experts or company representatives, time is of the essence. Twitter supercharges this. In a straw poll of my colleagues – [the delays are] their number one complaint. The answer is in the media.” The challenge to PR execs is to do what’s necessary to research and be hyperconnected with their media contacts.

The flip side to that question came up in discussion – does disintermediation threaten media, as it allows consumers direct access to news from the people making it, at the scene, et al? The panel didn’t come to a conclusion – though I have my views here – in that the role of the media needs to shift – less churnalism and more investigative reporting, less simple narrative and more dynamic storytelling, less straight reportage and more insightful analysis. Some of this relates to the Public Business agenda, in my view: ‘The People’ need to demand this sort of journalism, and allow publishers to fund it.

T3’s Kieran Alger made some interesting comments building on this – as a publication – T3 is working with brands on reciprocal promotion: “Today we have 20,000 followers on Twitter and 17,000 on Facebook. On any day they’ll deliver about 10,000 unique users or 20% of our overall traffic. We increasingly look to people running brands, Twitter feeds and so on to help out with that – asking PRs to help promote our stories to their followers. Big brands like Samsung, for example, have massive numbers of fans.”

Talking about the plethora of social media venues and communities that media outlets run – and the fact that survey showed a reduction in the number of reporters whose media outlets run their own communities – there was an interesting discussion as to what the different public social media outlets do for media publications. Talking about the rise of Facebook, CBS Interactive’s Tony Hallett said: “It’s horses for courses – some forms of content work on different platforms. Facebook works well for a particular type of very loyal users. Traffic that media gets from social outlets is still small compared to Google, for example, but you do get a certain type of super-user – people that interact with you in a big way. [These users] make for a very fun environment.”

Tony had given us another example of a passionate audience earlier in the discussion (making an entirely separate point): “On ZDNet, we have a subset of users that go crazy for photos of data centres – data centre porn… These are extremely secure, secretive environments, so we will take photography and video supplied to us – and are transparent about sourced material.” Which, whilst it makes the serious point that publishers are keen for more interactive comment, is amusing for the fact that it underlines the adage – that it takes all kinds.

For me, the overall takeaway is that the platforms and mechanics for engaging with media continue to shift, and professional communicators need to evolve their comms infrastructure – from the content they create to the way we pitch the media – to suit.

Also, spend more time on Twitter.

I’ll add my thanks to those of my colleagues for the fantastic discussion and encourage you to head over to the Oriella blog to join the digital debate.


Oriella Digital Journalism Study 2011 from Brands2Life on Vimeo.

Byte night fundraising

Brands2Life is fielding a team for this year’s Byte Night charity sleep-out – a team of five will head onto the streets of London and rough it for an evening to raise money for Action for Children – a great cause.

Byte Night this year is on the 3rd Oct — my birthday — so needless to say I’ve made a craven excuse and ducked out — but would really like to support the cause, so encouraging my readership to donate, and donate generously! I have donated some cash towards an office bake sale the team coordinated, offered my (limited) skills as a guitarist as a prize in the raffle silent auction (I’ll be giving someone a guitar lesson), and will make sure I have an ‘extra cold’ beer the night they’re camping out.

Please do donate generously here.

European journalist study

Apologies for another work-related post but, hell, we’re just doing a load of interesting stuff. Brands2Life, and its International network of partner agencies the Oriella PR Network, has just done a study into the changing requirements of journalists across Europe. The study was conducted across multiple countries covered by the Oriella PR network, and had 347 respondents. There were some interesting findings, including:

Half of the respondents (46%) revealed they are expected to produce more content for their respective publications.
Video is having a growing impact on journalism with over 40% confirming they are now responsible for producing online television or video clips, despite only 3% of respondents being employed by traditional broadcasters.
European journalists are increasingly required to deliver their content in differing formats – 44% of outlets offer journalist authored blogs; almost a fifth (18%) are now producing audio podcasts; and almost one in four (24%) offer video podcasts.

You’d probably have noticed much of this if you’ve visited a news website lately. The message out of this for us PROs, obviously, is that the game has changed. My boss won’t thank me for telling this story, but he remembers a time when press releases were sent by post or (at best) fax — email shifted expectations of what we had to deliver then, and social media and the multimedia delivery platform that is the web is beginning to have an analogous impact on the nature of reporting in Europe today. Of course, in many instances, you don’t need the latest whizzy Social Media News Release or funky viral — but in some cases there’s scope to provide much more compelling content to support journalists in their endeavours.

Of course, to all them PR bloggers out there this is a no brainer — you’ve been living, eating and breathing this stuff for a couple of years. However, judging by several of the conversations I’ve had with comms directors lately, the message is taking its time to sink through. I love this sort of research because the theory is one thing — but having journalists actually tell you that they’d like to see more multimedia content, would like more b-roll (web journalists as well as broadcast and national media), well, it warms the heart.

Have a gander at the report at the study’s website, and you can read Journalism.co.uk’s write-up here.

Full disclosure

If I wax particularly lyrical about Google Apps in the near future, it is because I think they’re awesome, but it is important readers understand that we’ve been appointed to handle the PR for Google Enterprise in the UK. This is the division of Google that helps businesses organise their information with its cloud-based productivity applications, its Enterprise Search products and its Geo applications.

You can imagine this is somewhat exciting for me, and my increasing use of Apps is one of the factors that has me wanting an EEE PC so much.

And, to answer your unasked questions, no, I haven’t met Larry, Sergey or Eric, but yes, I’ve been to the Googleplex in London, and yes, it is as awesome as you’d imagine.

Jobs at Brands2Life

A few UK tech agencies seem to be hiring at the moment, judging by Drew & other folk’s blogs. Well, we are too — so if you’re an entry-level PR or in your first two years in the industry and want to work at (what we think) is one of London’s most exciting PR agencies (‘scuse the cheeky SEO), drop me a line — armand.david [at] brands2life.com, or leave me a comment.

We’re looking for smart people, with an understanding of social and traditional media and an interest in both B2C and B2B PR. Whilst our focus is on technology-driven brands, we do dip our toe into other spaces as well.

We’d much rather hire people directly / via social media than through agencies; for one, it’s cheaper, for two, we get a much better sense of who people are if we get to read your blog as well as your CV.

Recruitment agency people — I’m afraid if you don’t already know us I’m the wrong person to speak to. But leave a comment anyway and I can pass your details on to HR.