28 October 2013
UK start-ups get their BIG break…
We've blogged a few times in the last few months about our
involvement in the Cisco BIG Awards 2013. As a sponsor, Octopus Group has been
heavily involved in meeting with the semi-finalists, learning about
their exciting and innovative business ideas, answering their
questions on the role of PR and communications and running
workshops on how to devise really effective comms and marketing
plans that will help their fledgling businesses grow.
After the most recent round of judging - which our very own @JonLon was involved in - the
final six companies have now been announced, so thought we'd take
the chance to introduce you to them all.
uMotif - digital health self-management
The uMotif digital health
platform helps people lead healthy and independent lives,
supported by their clinicians and carers through engaging,
beautiful and effective software that improves health treatments,
saves lives and reduces costs. uMotif's mobile and web apps
combine patient-led data inputs, passive sensor data (from the
Internet of Everything), health open data sets and a range of
engaging content to help patients better self-manage their
health. The company provides clinicians with simple, powerful
and relevant portals to view, manage and stratify their patient
groups, improving the process of shared decision making. Learn
Whisk - Transforming home cooking with Big
Founded by ex-Apprentice contestant, Nick Holzherr, Whisk's goal is to
help the world discover, organise, cook, shop, enjoy and share food
better. Whisk uses semantic technology to understand the world
of food; recipes, wines, the products available in supermarkets.
Through the collation and linking of these large sets of data Whisk
is able to provide an intelligent shopping list to ensure you meet
your dietary needs whilst minding your budget and helping you
You can try it here.
Actual Experience - Taking the brakes off the
Global Digital Economy
For any and every computer user, there is only one thing that
really matters: do the applications they want to use work properly?
From home broadband users to the world's largest blue chips, Actual
Experience answers that question. The company analyses the entire
digital supply-chain between user and content to say three things
for any application, delivered across any infrastructure. Not in
abstract technical jargon, but in terms of real human
How good people's experience could be, if everything were
How good it actually is
Why the gap exists and how to close it
Learn more here
BleepBleeps - A family of little friends that
make parenting easier
BleepBleeps provides connected devices that help everyone become
a great parent and have a little fun.
Check out thisvideo to learn more.
SupaDupa.me - The
e-commerce platform for creative
SupaDupa is the design led e-commerce platform that lets anyone
start an online shop in minutes and in style.Supadupa started life
as an idea which germinated out of a recession hit economy and the
motivation to give artists and creative minds the chance to "have a
go" at launching their work virtually risk free.
Based in London, SupaDupa is a startup that now powers a growing
community of independent creatives ranging from artists,
fashionistas, jewellery designers and other entrepreneurially
minded people with a desire to get their products out there without
compromising their design values. Check them out here
Presence Orb - A cookie for the real
Presence Orb is an innovative data collection and predictive
analytics engine for use across a myriad of business verticals
including Advertising, Transport & Retail. Presence Orb has a
propitiatory hardware device and additionally works with a number
of third part wireless routers allowing for 0 touch install for a
number locations who already have qualifying hardware
Presence Orb detects mobile devices between multiple locations
creating a huge amount of data (Big Data) which when analysed
allows for retailers to see route to store and advertisers to see
consumers who are likely to be interested in particular products.
This video shows a possible use case for
Presence Orb within the digital out of home advertising space.
Well done to all the semi-finalists, and to the final six in
particular - you guys have done a cracking job to get to the
finals, having shown real passion for - and belief in - your
We're really looking forward to seeing you in action at the
grand final event on 14 November 2013 at IDEALondon. Good luck!
cisco, Cisco BIG awards | Leave comment
15 October 2013
Burberry has long been considered the industry
leader when it comes to merging two of my favourite things -
fashion and tech - so I was really excited to read the news earlier today
CEO, Angela Ahrendts is making the move to Apple to become VP of
retail and online stores.
It's a genius move, with Ahrendts credited for
revolutionising the fashion brand that was, not so long ago,
associated with chavs
and football hooligans (some pubs actually banned people
who were wearing the famous beige check from entering their
premises!), into the very British, very successful, digital luxury
brand it is today. She and her team have done this by bring
innovation and digital to the heart of Burberry's strategy, leading
the charge when it comes to the use of technology to drive improved
customer service and experience.
"Burberry is in brilliant shape, having built
the industry's most powerful management team, converted the
business to a dynamic digital global retailer, created a world
class supply chain, state of the art technology infrastructure,
sensational brand momentum and one of the most closely connected
creative cultures in the world today." said Loulla-Mae
Eleftheriou-Smith of Marketing
It has to be said that from an outsider's
perspective, it seems like a great match - Ahrendts and Apple live
and breathe innovation, cutting edge technology and customer
experience. I can't wait to see how it plays out…
, fashion; tech; apple; burberry; innovation | Leave comment
In a bid to instil security back in the minds of its customers,
has taken a very direct approach to its advertising, appearing in
all of the main national newspapers today with an open letter to
clear up confusion over the future of the company.
In the wake of the horsemeat scandal, Tesco
opted for an equally open, direct and simple approach to
communicating with its customers, pledging to rectify the
situation, (although the
ASA subsequently labelled even these adverts 'misleading').
As a channel that's traditionally reserved for high-level
corporate messaging, image-led campaigns or discounts and deals to
displace competitors, it's interesting to see the more direct and
open engagement that businesses have with customers over social
media, now infiltrating more traditional channels of
It's a positive sign that companies now recognise that they will
be held accountable and - arguably more importantly - that we
demand transparency from them.
The danger, however, is that every time there is turbulence in a
company's reputation, they will resort to this method and assume
they have effectively communicated with their audience. I'm not so
BlackBerry | Leave comment
17 September 2013
Vine - Rorie Hannigan
The first in a series of Vines is from Rorie who joined Octopus
earlier in the summer. It details some of the reasons why we love
working at Octopus!
| Leave comment
12 September 2013
In B2B tech PR we're used to writing about the latest trends and
technologies that are gaining significant interest from businesses
that are looking to innovate, improve efficiency or simply reduce
costs. Cloud computing, virtualisation, BYOD (bring your own
device), mobility to name a few. Whilst these are all interesting
topics, every so often a technology trend comes along that you can
really picture going beyond business to the wider
Big data is one of those topics. A recent article on the BBC
cities: How big data is changing the world' really opened my
eyes to the possibilities that this new phenomenon can bring. In
short, the cities of the (not so distant) future will be able to
run more efficiently, help shape the behaviours of their citizens,
predict traffic patterns and even measure the happiness of their
citizens. This is all done by collecting and analysing data from
social media platforms and different data points, including sensors
on objects, otherwise known as the internet of things.
Not only that, big data is also helping health organisations
around the world to tackle medical issues such as
cancer treatment. Data collected on how patients respond to
particular treatments can help doctors decide on the best care for
future patients. How amazing is that?
Whilst in some cases there is a moral question over how much
data is too much information for a governing body to have on each
individual people I think the benefits surely outweigh the
I for one find it fascinating to see how technology is shaping
our future and can only wonder at what will be the next big thing.
Maybe humans really will be able to fly one day. Or maybe not…
PR, BBC, big data, tech | 1 comment
03 September 2013
For me, one of the craziest stories emerging on Transfer
Deadline Day (aside from the fact that English clubs spent a record
£630m on players) was the news that a Spanish clinic paid Real
Madrid €10million to host Gareth Bale's medical ahead of his
Typically a player's medical is seen as a formality - very few
actually fail - and even fewer garner the attention that Bale's had
ahead of his transfer.
Having already agreed to pay Spurs €100million to sign Bale, it
makes sense to try and recoup some of the money by publicising his
medical. It's the first time that I've heard of this type of deal
being struck - well played to the Real representative that came up
I'm not quite sure whether the clinic - Sanitas - has benefitted
to quite the same extent that Real has. It's a big outlay for what
is essentially, a 'photo opp'.
However, it's yet another sign of the financial might that
football brings, and I hope we see more creative thinking in future
PR, Sport, Gareth, Bale, Sanitas | 1 comment
28 August 2013
Something is going desperately wrong in the
world. I'm genuinely worried that we're all becoming desensitised
to craziness and that the more stories we see of violence, sex and
serious crime, the less, well…. serious it becomes.
Can it really be the case that the more news stories we see on
crime and bad behaviour, the less we're bothered by it?
Here's just one example. The plight of the two
women caught with 11 kilograms of cocaine on them has dominated
news over the last fortnight with serious questions being raised
about their guilt, foreign diplomacy and what happens to young
individuals in trouble in a foreign country. Who knows whether they
are guilty or not but there are certainly some people out there who
are guilty of making light of the story.
It started last week on the 'ever-giving'
Daily Mail website where the comment below, posted in response to a
picture of the accused girls, was not only made, but liked…. 743
times!! And in very un-Daily Mail fashion by like number784 it
didn't have a single red arrow against it.
Today, a picture has emerged of two kids
dressed up as the 'Peru Two' at a local fete brandishing a sign
saying 'drugs is for mugs'. Okay, it is a little funny and there's
a serious message there, sort of, and actually maybe kids saying no
to drugs isn't a bad thing BUT let's just stop and think about this
for a moment. These are kids, under the age of ten, having a dig at
serious crime, including cocaine as part of a fancy dress outfit
and possibly most criminal of all……applying poor use of grammar on
their sign! Shouldn't they be dressed up as fairy princesses or
having a picnic rather than being trussed up as drug-mules?
Now, admittedly I grew up in the Home Counties
in the 80s where the local fete meant hoopla, maypole dancing and
'Splat the Rat' but surely this can't be right!?
It may not be right but is it normal? Has the
world gone crazy or are we just more aware of how crazy we all are
thanks to 24 /7 news and social media?
, social media; crime; peru; drugs; news; newspapers | 2 comments
27 August 2013
Love them or loathe them but you definitely
know them. 1D (One Direction) recently premiered their new movie
This Is Us which took place in London's
Leicester Square. It's a documentary-style film directed by
Morgan Spurlock, the brains behind the infamous Super Size Me.
Digital Spy has reported that 3.6 million tweets were sent
relating to the group and the world premiere.
With thousands of screaming fans outside of the premiere in
London, some having camped out since Saturday, I questioned what
are the catalysts behind their rise to fame and 37 number ones
around the globe.
Harry Styles, Zayn Malik, Niall Horan, Liam Payne and Louis Tomlinson have
equated 62 million Twitter followers between them, just a couple of
million less than the UK population.
When The Beatles first came to fame they too had an abundance of
screaming fans following them everywhere they went. However with
the rise of social media, we see that virtual fans can bid for the
attention of their favourite boy band around the clock, with fans
going above and beyond the call of duty to try and win their
affection. With 'Directioners' praying for a retweet from one of
their idols it provides a clear explanation as to how they trend so
often on Twitter.
Fans gain positive experiences from interacting with the band
and other Directioners on Twitter. This spurs the attraction of
others becoming followers, allowing fans to gain an insight into
the life of the boys. Ultimately this drives popularity, keeping
One Direction in the limelight and creating droves of advocates for
Social Media is also a good indicator of public interest; this
is then reflected in both print and online publications. This
popularity across Twitter allows One Direction to maintain their
position in the limelight. It almost seems like it is a never
ending circle, for now it's hard to see when it may end.
, one direction; twitter; followers; fans; social media | 1 comment
21 August 2013
The 12 September 2013 sees the launch of high street retailer River Island's second collection from its
collaboration with global superstar Rihanna. It's a very
interesting partnership - not just from a fashion and creative
point of view - but in terms of promotion.
Rihanna's fan base LOVE her - and in return for their eternal
devotion (and album and ticket sales) she regularly posts pictures
of herself on social media to keep them updated on her rock-star
lifestyle. And she's got quite a following - her Instagram
profile badgalriri has over 9million followers and her
handle is followed by more than 31million people. The beauty
for River Island is that they need never advertise again - yes they
do some PR work, placing latest products in key fashion media, but
with a follower base of that magnitude and someone as influential
as RiRi herself promoting the new range, she does all the work for
It's not a new phenomenon - we've seen brands pay celebs to
endorse their products for years, but what's cool is that Rihanna
actually appears to love her own collection - she's seen wearing it
on the beach, in the bars and as she's about to board her private
jet (me, jealous?), not just on official fashion shoots and at VIP
events for the benefit of the paparazzi. This adds massive
credibility to the range, and differentiates it from other
collaborations such as the recent Beyonce and H&M swimwear
range. It will be interesting to see whether other fashion
retailers adopt the same approach - although there are few celebs
famous enough, with such influence and with an ego so big that they
post tens of selfies each day to make it really work for them.
19 August 2013
Last Thursday night @LauraSlade and I had the
pleasure of attending the Cisco BIG
Awards Semi-Final Networking Evening at the Hospital Club in London.
This was a chance for the Cisco BIG Awards 2013
semi-finalists to get some top tips and advice about what makes an
award-winning entry. Amongst those offering their advice and
guidance were the #CiscoBIG Awards mentors, Cisco UK & Ireland
CEO Phil Smith, former
Griffiths, founder of Snap Fashion, and the BIG
Awards partners -Bird and
Bird, DNX, Right Management and of
This is the
second year Octopus Group has been a partner of the BIG Awards,
and the semi-final networking event was a fantastic opportunity for
us to meet some of the lucky and talented final 20 who have made it
to the penultimate stage, one of whom will become an Octopus Group
client when they win!
Octopus, along with the other partners, ran a series of Q&A
sessions where we gave our thoughts on what each of the contenders
should include in their semi-final awards submission, and more
specifically we gave our guidance on how start-ups should approach
PR and comms.
Our top tips included:
- You message is everything - be ruthless when it comes to
defining exactly what you do
- Who are you selling to - clearly identify who your audience is
and how you intend to sell to them
- Channel your enthusiasm - a start-up entrepreneur's enthusiasm
for their business is infectious so make sure that comes across
(whilst still appearing focused and professional!)
- Share your vision - from small acorns, mighty oaks grow!
Demonstrate that you know exactly how you'd spend the prize money
and how it would drive your business forward over the coming
You can check out all of the semi-finalists here,
and it's not too late to vote for
the company you believe should progress to the Cisco BIG Awards
We'll be regularly updating on the journey to the finals right
here on the Octopus Blog and
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