19 November 2013
Selfie (noun): a photograph that one has taken of oneself,
typically with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social
Its official, "selfie" has been
named as word of the year 2013 by Oxford Dictionary!
Gone are the days when you turn up to a reunion desperately hoping
there's a big turnout complete with your ex-beau so you can feel
victorious at how much better looking and more wonderful you are
now, compared to your not-so-great days of teen angst, scary
fashion and that hair.
Now you can just upload selfie after selfie, displaying to
everyone all the brilliant stuff you're getting up to. Showing the
world and all its friends just how far you've come since shedding
your ugly duckling phase. You go, Swan!
However, we think there are possibly some important points that
the Oxford Dictionary has missed out in their definition of a
selfie; after all, if you're going to do it, do it right! We've
compiled a few tips to help you get the perfect selfie for your
Instagram, Twitter and Facebook followers:
1. Duckface - Pout. Pout like
you're going to kiss your granny goodbye. Squinting is also a plus!
As camera-ready Katie Price once said - "look into the sunset and
2. Angles - Whether you
angle the camera or your face, this is key. The chin has to be bent
back and forehead toward the camera, or even to the side. WORK
3. Filters - They're there
for a reason, use them. Go mad, use two or three! Get that
holiday-ready tan at the tap of a finger with 'Toaster', or go for
a retro vibe with '1977'
4. #Hashtag - Use as many as
you can. You're not cold, you're #cold. It's not morning, it's
#morning. This ensures people can easily be aware of your emotions
and adds emphasis
5. #TBT (Throwback
Thursdays) - Be sure to occasionally remind the world of what you
used to look like to further reiterate how far you have progressed.
Go cute or cringe but whatever you do, throw back
OK, we're being slightly sarcastic and slightly satirical.
Social media is all about portraying an ideal image of yourself.
Have a look through your Facebook, Twitter and Instagram news feeds
- it's all about showing off. Gone are the days when people would
leave a voice message on their home telephone telling friends
they're on holiday, instead they leave a status for all their old
school friends that they no longer know to see.
Ultimately, everyone is over-sharing. Sometimes we can almost feel
like we're on holiday with someone with the amount of photos they
post. Social media is letting us portray ourselves in the best
light, rather than the ugly duckling we believed ourselves to once
be (let's face it, no-one is cool at school).
It's also creating this wonderful new language that will one day
be traced back to an Australian who took a picture of himself at a
21st birthday after an accident falling down the stairs.
Selfies may be annoying, but it looks like they are here to stay.
And if you don't do them, you probably want to, even if you're
totally being ironic.
Go on, love the camera, we dare you!
, selfie | Leave comment
15 November 2013
I spend a lot of my time talking about technology, not the bits
and bytes of it often, but the big life changing things. The
megatrends. The things you read in Wired but can't seem to explain to
your parents - big data, quantified self, the Internet of Things,
'appification' - you know the ones.
Usually it's about helping our clients tap into the excitement
and possibilities around these areas and creating stories that link
them to that excitement. We PR and marketing types call it 'thought
leadership' I suppose.
Last night I was lucky enough to be the judge on the finals of
the Cisco BIG
Awards 2014 where I got pitched to by some of the top British
entrepreneurial talent out there. These are the guys and
girls bringing these megatrends to life.
It was inspiring and exciting and I skipped home afterwards full
of excitement and new ideas - and thinking "why didn't I think of
But the best bit by far is that we get to work with and help the
winner bring their businesses to life as their PR advisors. So,
drum roll please……
…our latest client is… uMotif. An incredibly
cool company with a social conscience that looks set to change the
face of health self-management in the UK and beyond, by actually
saving and prolonging lives. Not bad for a piece of 18 month old
technology. Check out
what they do.
Can't wait to work with Bruce and his team to make it all
So here's to making megatrends real through brilliant British
entrepreneurs, and good luck to the other awe-inspiring BIG Awards
finalists who I'm sure we'll be seeing in Wired pretty
PR, cisco, Technology, Tech PR, BIG Awards, Cisco BIG awards, Wired.co.uk, eMotif | Leave comment
29 October 2013
HMV has today relaunched its online entity - hmv.com.
I say 'entity' on purpose, as calling it a 'store' is a misnomer
because despite the brand being ostensibly a music / film /
entertainment retailer since its inception in 1921, the current
online site is basically a rather feeble music magazine with a
The problems the brand experienced last year are well
documented, after it became little more than a consta-sale CD and
DVD store also flogging t-shirts, branded mugs, ear and headphones,
posters, books, and other assorted entertainment tat. It had lost
its way, and hopefully the Canadian
conglomerate who bought it up will remember what made HMV great
in its early days and what the brand stands for when
re-establishing it on the High Street.
Which makes the new online site all the bigger shame.
HMV has overlooked what has underpinned 'proper' record shops -
the people behind
the counter, and the advice element of buying music [and
HMV has physical stores to keep up, Amazon doesn't and so can
provide far cheaper prices; thus HMV couldn't (and shouldn't)
compete on price, but instead look at competing on what Amazon
doesn't have - people and personality of service. You
don't ask the guy on the check-out at Asda what lettuce is best for
a savoyarde salad, you ask a local grocer - HMV has the opportunity
to differentiate on this front.
True, this differentiation is a big part of the publishing
element of the new site - it is giving advice and making the store
more of an experience, but if finding the product you want isn't
simple (or restricted to downloads only), people won't (or indeed
'can't') buy anything anyway.
If it was looking at following the (successful, in many
instances) trend of brands becoming publishers, then it had to make
this clear and instead create the current hmv.com portal as (e.g.)
'hmv.magazine.com'. Yes, it might not be the most credible music
magazine on the market, but it would be clear that this is what it
As it is, the store is a triumph of design over functionality,
and a case study in terrible user experience. It's a huge
hmv | 1 comment
The ongoing debate between PR and Wikipedia has once again
reared its head. Last week Wikipedia deleted 250 'sockpuppet'
accounts related to the company Wiki
PR, which writes and edits the content of its client's
On the one hand, although Wikipedia is a much-used resource,
most people do take it with a pinch of salt. I used it a
lot as a starting point for assignments when I was at university,
as there's no other single source like it on the web with such a
collection of knowledge in one place. However I would never
directly reference it, or take anything I read as 100% fact until
it was backed up elsewhere.
The whole point of the site is also that content is
collaboratively written and edited by users. Therefore, is it
ethically wrong if a representative from an organisation adds to,
or edits its page, as long as what is written is the truth?
Wikipedia itself even states:
"Even the best articles should not be considered complete,
as each new editor can offer new insights on how to enhance the
content in it anytime."
Suffice to say, there are rules. Users can't simply write "buy
this product" on Wikipedia, or even really allude to it, except in
the most general sense. Content like that gets removed very
quickly, and so it should be. Companies simply need a place where
the record can be set straight about its most general aspects, and
any significant facts. There have also been
guidelines published by the CIPR for Wikipedia best practice,
alongside the official rules set by the website.
Wiki-PR is adamant that it only posts accurate and properly
referenced articles for its clients, stating:
"We're part of the fabric of Wikipedia - an integral part -
and useful where volunteers don't want to or cannot put in the time
to understand a subject, find sources, code, upload, and
professionally monitor a page."
Ultimately, Wikipedia views payment to an external agency for
purposes of copywriting - even if it's basic factual information -
as 'black-hat' practice because there is a conflict of
I agree that firms using so-called 'sockpuppetry' (the use of
multiple Wikipedia user accounts for some disruptive or
otherwise deceptive purpose) deserve to be deleted - they are not
doing their job properly, and are acting in a manipulative way
which ultimately makes us all look bad.
However, I also believe there's nothing wrong with a company
paying for another party to update its Wikipedia page, as long as
it's about keeping the information accurate, up-to-date and
comprehensive, within the guidelines set out by both the website
itself and by the CIPR.
| Leave comment
28 October 2013
Last week saw Russell Brand appointed guest editor at The New Statesman.
Personally, I'm not a fan of him, but preferences aside it's quite
a bold move particularly given Russell's views on politics.
It got me thinking about what's behind this decision. Is it just
another publicity stunt; using a celeb endorsement to
increase their following? I think so.
It wasn't long ago @LauraSlade blogged about
fashion brands leveraging celebs such as
Rihanna to increase brand awareness and boost sales and it
seems that the media industry is now jumping on the bandwagon.
You can't blame them - if it gets you the attention you need,
then it makes sense.
What is concerning, however, is that if the media landscape
creeps into this same territory and becomes reliant on celebrity
endorsements, it could compromise the editorial integrity of the
media. The New Statesman is renowned for its strong opinions and
Russell won't be short of a few of those, how aligned they are,
I'm not so sure.
Kate Moss recently signing up to be contributing fashion editor
at Vogue UK, who knows who
will be next…watch this space.
22 October 2013
It's less than a week since British Gas' customer services
director, Bert Pijls,
took to Twitter in a pre-planned
Q&A to answer questions on the upcoming price rises - I'm
sure someone, somewhere in the comms department, thought this would
be a great way to 'engage' with customers, and maybe it could have
been, but unfortunately for British Gas the great and good of
Twitter took the opportunity to post a
swathe of comments such as:
And as if one Twitter Q&A disaster wasn't warning enough,
the powers that be at Ryanair thought they'd give it a shot
too…well, at least they have a reliable, non-contentious and
media-friendly CEO. Oh wait…
Apparently this was Ryanair's first experience of a live Q&A
on social media, but that surely can't be an excuse for the
disaster that followed? Right from the off, Michael O'Leary's
responses were questionable - he responded to a a female follower,
who had used the hashtag #GrillMOL to post her question with the
response, "Nice pic. Phwoaaarr! MOL". What. A. Chump.
His comment was retweeted, with understandably critical
feedback. And it went from bad to worse, with questions about
baggage charges, poor customer service and the state of the
aircraft cabins. But what seemed to really wind people up was
the way in which O'Leary responded (sometimes sarcastically or
rudely) to some questions, and ignored others. Picking and
choosing what you do/don't want to talk about during a Twitter
Q&A is a bold move…it's hardly a shining example of engaging
with your customers in a positive and open way. If people ask
questions you can't respond to (for legal reasons, or because you
don't have the answer to hand, then tell people that, and commit to
coming back to them later with an update.
But perhaps the most surprising response (for me anyway) was for
the poor Ryanair employee who (because he was no doubt asked to by
marketing or internal comms) promoted his CEO's Twitter chat on his
personal Twitter handle by tweeting "So my boss is on Twitter right
now," and received the following response from O'Leary: "Get back
to work you slacker or you're fired." Charming.
Now, it's probably fair to say that these are both extreme
examples of what can go wrong - there are lots of examples of it
being done really well, and we've run a number for clients across
Octopus Group and have always found them to be a positive and
interesting experience. Of course, you always get a few odd
or critical questions, but by planning, preparing and being open
and honest, brands can use Twitter as a medium to communicate and
answer questions on a variety of topics and issues, to both
consumer and business audiences.
| 1 comment
17 October 2013
'IT' girl has a whole new meaning. With the #OOTD (Outfit of the
Day) having over 15m uses on
Instagram and fashionistas such as Cara Delevingne and Alexa
Chung using social media to engage with fans on a daily basis. We
know what they looked like before their night out (and thanks to
MailOnline we can see after!), what hotspots they are hitting
and the latest products they are endorsing.
Look no further than the front row at any Fashion Week, where
faces aren't seen, just the glow of handheld devices, and it's
clear just how vital technology is to the world of fashion. This
isn't just product placement, technology is moulding the way in
which we are updated with new trends and adopt new shopping
Editd utilised its software to
sift through 68m tweets over fashion month, and were able to spot
trends for spring/summer 2014 ahead of the pack. (And FYI…
according to their analysis, Gucci beat Chanel to become the most
talked about designer across social media platforms).
Vogue US has even hosted a live photo-shoot, immediately
engaging fans on Instagram, using hashtags and links to products;
with just one click, consumers can get their hands on the freshest
garments in the game.
Technology is playing an increasingly sophisticated role in
analysing the trends and picking out insights for the fashion
industry - a sector worth
£21bn a year in the UK alone.
So has technology finally become cool in the fashion world?
Not only have we seen the controversial move of Angela Ahrendts
from Burberry to
Apple this week but in September, Yahoo's chief executive
office, Marissa Mayer (whose CV includes Yahoo!, Google, Flickr,
Tumblr) featured in the
September issue of Vogue.
Supermodel Naomi Campbell has announced she is to make her
South-East Asian runway debut at Digital Fashion Week
(DFW) in Singapore - further strengthening ties between the fashion
and technology industries.
Products such as
GoogleGlass were showcased at Diane Von Furstenberg's SS/13
show and sported not only by the models, but by Von Furstenberg
herself, alongside Google co-founder Sergey Brin and ironically,
Apple's iPhone 5s to capture their 2014 runway show last
'Techies' are the new 'IT' girls; providing high end fashion
brands with new platforms and devices that are key to a company's
development and innovation. "Both industries thrive on being the
first to market," explains former Topshop marketing
chief Justin Cooke. "It's all about developing trends and
predicting what people want and I think it marries very well
Technology IS a trend that is forever becoming more
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
site by rubbaglove
© Octopus 2010