13 September 2012
Having worked in several different sectors of PR I think I'm
justified in saying I've paid my dues. From dancing with a rapping
cow all day in a field, to nights in the office late enough to
justify ordering breakfast… I've been there; written the pitch. But
working on more taxing campaigns just makes it all the
sweeter when such great projects comes along. Cue Cisco's BIG Awards.
When we began work on the British Innovation Gateway
(BIG) campaign - Cisco's legacy piece as the Official Network
Infrastructure Supporter of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic
Games - we were clear on one point: we wanted to use Cisco's
position as an industry leader to inspire, discover and nurture
tech talent in the UK.
We live in a time of extraordinary technological advancement and
outstanding innovation. But there have been grumbles about how few
of the big ticket ideas come from the UK compared to our American
pals across the pond. We're a clever bunch, and Britain's
technology legacy is rich - the phone, the television, the WORLD
WIDE WEB - but there seems to be a limit sometimes to the level we
push ourselves to achieve. Tweetdeck, yes; Twitter, no. So what do
we do to bridge this gap?
We set out to find the unsung heroes of the UK tech scene by
launching a five year awards programme which tied into the wider
BIG campaign. The Cisco team was clear on one point when we began
planning the Cisco BIG Awards: a cash prize alone was not enough.
Feedback from SMEs over the years indicated that money is all well
and good, but without expert advice, mentoring and resources it
will only carry you so far. So Cisco lined up some tremendous
partners to help make the Cisco BIG Awards as beneficial to the
winner as possible - Bird & Bird, DNX and even us here at
Octopus will join Cisco to deliver legal, PR, digital and industry
mentoring, in addition to the cash prize.
The level of entry - as clichéd as it may sound - was
exceptional. This was compounded by Dragons' Den style
presentations by the six finalists last night at Cisco House. There
were some real 'oh I wish I'd thought of that' moments and the
judging panel - which included our very own Octopus MD, Jon Lonsdale - had a hard
task it must be said, but in the end three really stood out.
The winner in particular is AMAZING. Snap Fashion allows
users to search for clothing items via a visual search engine -
simply take a photograph of something you've seen or an item you
own and the app will scan more than 110 UK fashion retailers to
find a match. Impressive stuff. Runners up included Digital Shadows, a
clever cyber protection tool, and Six3, a very slick video
It's been a pleasure to work on this campaign and to meet all
the entrants - and we're excited to start working with Snap Fashion
very soon! With more projects like this, with more corporate buy in
and support, I'm sure the UK will be back on top of the tech map in
cisco, Technology, Innovation, London 2012, Olympics, Cisco BIG awards, SME, start-ups, Paralympics, Britain, UK, mentoring, fashion, Dragons' Den | 3 comments
21 February 2012
It's that time of the year again where we sit in awe of
all the beautiful celebrities as they make their way down the red
carpet wearing the dresses we'll never have; it's the month of
guilty pleasures, it's award season.
In the space of two weeks, the biggest award ceremonies on earth
happen; The Grammys, The BRIT Awards (ok, that one's maybe not the
biggest on earth, but definitely in the UK) and The Oscars. The
Grammys have been and gone and the Oscars are happening at the end
of the week, which leaves us with The BRITS taking place tonight. I
particularly enjoy The BRIT Awards because the UK has some
incredible talent and the winners are voted for by the public, not
a set of judges.
There has been a huge amount of hype on Twitter and other social
media platforms on who should win a BRIT Award, so it was only
right to use our client's social media monitoring tool, Meltwater Buzz, to look at
which artists dominated online conversations and generated the most
We looked at the following four categories to analyse online
conversations across Twitter, Facebook, blogs, forums and other
social media sites to see how much talk each artist had created
since the nominees were announced at the beginning of January; Best
British Group, British Breakthrough Artist, British Female Solo
Artist and British Male Solo Artist.
In relation to Best British Group, Coldplay was a clear winner
generating 43% of the online buzz in relation to the BRIT Awards,
unlike Chase & Status who only accumulated 7%. I quite like
Chase & Status and was surprised at the lack of chatter around
them, what with them being a band with a considerable fan base. It
just goes to show that with awards like this, where it's up to the
public to decide the winners, your vote really does count.
Online conversations on the Best British Breakthrough Act showed
no clear favourite; Jessie J, The Vaccines and Anna Calvi were all
being talked about a lot in relation to winning the BRIT award,
with Jessie J just ahead of The Vaccines with 29%. Jessie J again
generated a lot of online buzz for the Best British Female Solo
Artist nomination, dominating conversations with 35% of the
Surprisingly Adele, with her recent success in winning six
Grammy Awards, generated the least amount of online buzz with only
6% of the public talking about her. Is this due to it being no
surprise that she's been nominated or is it just that her talent
speaks for itself?
What has surprised me is the lack of buzz around Emeli Sandé...
As the winner of the Critics Choice Award and with her album
release this week, I thought she would generate a lot more talk
being such a fresh talent.
Ed Sheeran is shown to be dominating the online buzz in relation
to the Best British Male Solo Artist category, with 35%, followed
by James Blake with 29%. Who is James Blake? I'm clearly out of
Although social media gives us insight into the buzz that is
generated around each artist, it cannot determine the winner. What
it does do is generate a storm of speculation on who will be
favourite to win tonight.
Watch this space.
, The Brits, The BRIT awards, Meltwater Buzz, Meltwater Group | Leave comment
10 February 2012
Last night, the Octopus team proudly joined client Cisco
to launch the British Innovation Gateway (BIG) Awards 2012, an open
innovation competition to discover and reward the finest examples
of the UK's most innovative start-up digital businesses and
We were joined by the great and good of the UK's tech, creative
and digital industries, as well as Cisco's global CTO, Padmasree
Warrior (@Padmasree), who has
over 1.4m followers on Twitter. Puts my 204 to shame :(.
The awards, which run from 1 February - September 2012, form the
latest stage in Cisco's BIG initiative (www.CiscoBIG.co.uk), a
significant five year investment of cash, technology and human
resources, which aims to develop Britain's innovation eco-system
and create an environment in which start-up digital businesses and
their ideas can flourish.
Open to individuals, groups of individuals and legal entities in
the UK, applicants can enter their technology concept or prototype
into one of five categories, including 'Future Cities' and
'Internet of Things'. The overall winner will receive a total
prize package of $200k, made up of cash, mentoring, digital
marketing, public relations and legal services.
As a business, we are thrilled to be an official partner of the
Awards - alongside JP Morgan, Bird & Bird and DNX - as
innovation and technology are at the heart of so much of what we do
at Octopus. Members of our team will sit on the judging
panel, and we can't wait to see some of the amazing and creative
concepts that the entrants come up with. We're also excited at
the opportunity to work with the winners, who will receive
extensive PR support and a dedicated PR Programme as part of their
For more information on the BIG Awards, please go to www.theBIGAwards.co.uk.
Entries close on 31 March 2012.
cisco, BIG Awards, Cisco BIG awards, British Innovation | Leave comment
Ssshhh, you might not know but in September we'll be 10
years old. We stopped being the new kid on the block sometime ago
but the hunger, passion and the desire to shake things up a bit is
very much there. Well, ok, that's easy for us to say but don't take
our word for it, ask the gang at The Holmes Report. They've
just announced that Octopus Group's won the golden gong for
Tech Consultancy of the Year. Woohooo!!!
After being shortlisted more times than can fit on one hand in as
many years it's great to finally get our hands on the big one, the
PR equivalent to the
Bafta's! A great early birthday pressie and another trophy for
Now we can't take all the credit - Octopus Group is more than just
us and our sister consultancy, Rocket, deserves the plaudits as
well - but these are exciting times at Octopus and the last 12
months have been a whirlwind of activity. Some great brands like
Cisco Europe and BMW have joined the fold, as have some stellar
people and we're doing some of the best work of our lives. Take a
look at Future
5 and you'll see we're at the heart of how PR and comms is
changing. The only cloud on the horizon is that we need more
Octopedes to join the party - a lot more!
So, 10 years old, some exciting
vacancies and a shiny badge - and it's only Feb. Looks like
2011 is shaping up nicely to be another stormer!
, awards | 1 comment
While we might be bidding a sad and untimely farewell to one of
our peers this week, with Paul the Psychic Octopus shuffling (or
perhaps floating) off of his mortal coil, we can't find it in
ourselves to be too down.
Because against the backdrop of Paul taking his incredible
clairvoyant skills to the great Octopus's Garden in the Sky, we've
been busy turning nine years young. That's right, it's Octopus'
ninth birthday this week and, as we always do at this time of the
year, we took the opportunity to let our hair down, have a few
"relaxing liquid beverages" and generally dress up like a bunch of
weirdos at our Halloween themed birthday party.
There was a pretty special range of costumes on show this year,
though highlights have to include a self-referential Wonder Woman,
an intensely bloody zombie and our esteemed MD showing resource and
guile by bringing last year's Harry Potter cape into play in this
season's Dracula ensemble. Best of all, the party was hosted
in our fantastically rejuvenated "West Wing", now converted into a
huge creative area for our teams to thrash out their best ideas.
Huge props to our ops team for pulling off an incredible
Changing Rooms style makeover. It looks ace.
Strange dress choices aside, it's been a heck of a year for
Octopus. It's been a great 12 months for growth, we've got some
fantastic new people and clients on board, we've been shortlisted
for more awards than ever, and we've added more and more services
to our portfolio. Huge thanks to everyone who has helped us get to
where we are now!
2011's shaping up nicely too, and there'll be more on that
soon. In the meantime, why not check out our Flickr
feed for a few gruesome insights into last night?
, octopus awards, Octopus fun stuff | Leave comment
Tonight team Octopus is taking the short journey down
the M4 to London's glamorous Mayfair, where we shall be in
attendance at this year's PR Week Awards.
Having walked away with the Best Marketing Communications
Business trophy for our Customer Kings campaign for Cisco at last
year's awards, we're keeping all our fingers crossed this year as
we're up for Best Technology Campaign for Customer Kings yet again!
Marking another successful year in which we've helped Cisco to
really set the SME agenda in the UK through the Customer Kings
programme, tonight's festivities will certainly make for a
memorable evening. Here's hoping for a few less sore heads than
last year however.
If you're going to be there tonight then please Tweet the team
and let us know, as we'd love to meet some new faces and catch-up
with some old ones for a quick drink or two. You can also keep up
with the evening's winners and riders by following the #PRWAwards10
Good luck to everyone tonight from Octopus Communications!
PR, , cisco, awards, PR week, Customer Kings | 1 comment
While a career in PR isn't likely to leave you with as many good
tales to tell the grandchildren as a job in something like international
espionage might, it does have its fair share of moments where
you can sit back and think "that was pretty cool". Of course,
public relations does tend to involve a lot less being shot at as
well (particularly bad review meetings aside), and you don't have
to ask the grandkids to sign the Official Secrets Act either, both
of which are integral parts of the Octopus benefits package.
A few of the Octopus gang were privy to one of those "Ain't It
Cool" moments just recently, as we brought together the judging
panel for Cisco's Customer
Kings campaign - a partnership with Real Business magazine to
find the UK's best customer focused small firms, and one that
Octopus and Cisco picked up a
PR Week award for in 2009, thankyouverymuch.
Joining Cisco's head of SME and Commercial , David Critchley,
the judging panel included MoneySupermarket genius and small
business supremo Simon Nixon (now running the fabulous travel guide
SimonSeeks), The Daily
Mirror's resident careers, finance and small business expert Tricia
Phillips, and Real Business' Charles "I've written
about more brilliant SMEs than you've had dinners, hot or
With our four judges assembled, it was a bit like having a small
business version of the A-Team in the room; the SMB-Team, if you
like. And a good thing it was too, because we needed every iota of
their entrepreneurial and small business expertise to pick the
winners from the many, many fantastic entries to the competition.
Yes, this day was cool for two reasons - not just for being
slightly star-struck at our judging panel, but also for being able
to see the raw brilliance and passion on display from our
Quite literally just like the judging day...
From those that have come up with a smart, unique idea and just
run with it to those who have spent years crafting their business
into a well drilled, slick and yet - dare we say it - lovable
company, Customer Kings is a wonderful reaffirmation of the breadth
of talent and drive that exists amongst the UK's small businesses.
When times are tough, these businesses continue to put the customer
first, and that's what has made each and every single one of our
winners not only a Customer King, but also a roaring success of a
small business in their own right.
Stay tuned for the announcement of the winners when the March
8th edition of Real Business hits the
streets. We love it when a plan comes together.
octopus awards, marketing, Technology | Leave comment
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