Monthly Archives: January 2012

23 April 2014

Mobile devices: the new wearable tech?

It's true. We're addicted.

The stats are out and 176 million consumers check their mobiles over 60 times a day. Research even goes as far to say mobile devices have become part of an outfit…the new wearable tech.

Mobile addictive

I'm one of these addicts, opening apps left right and centre to ensure I'm on top of the latest news, what my friends are doing and monitoring emails. OK, perhaps I have slight OCD in that I can't stand having notifications on my phone so that does contribute to my need for regularly checking but, hey, no excuse.

I often think about how I ever survived without a mobile phone, organising to meet friends via the house phone and miraculously arriving to find them there. Obviously. Nowadays, I find myself chatting to friends right up until we arrive like they might not be in the place we agreed. Shameful.

It's sad, but it's a fact of life.

Mobile has changed our natural behaviour, we can't switch off - even on holiday we can still access everything. Gone are the days when even knowing the world's breaking news was a struggle the minute we boarded the plane.

I wish I could challenge myself to go even just a day without my phone, but I really don't think I could. Could you?

@ZoeBevis

It's true. We're addicted.
The stats are out and 176 million consumers check their mobiles over 60 times a day. Research even goes as far to say mobile devices have become part of an outfit…the new wearable tech.
I'm one of these addicts, opening apps left right and centre to ensure I'm on top of the latest news, what my friends are doing and monitoring emails. OK, perhaps I have slight OCD in that I can't stand having notifications on my phone so that does contribute to my need for regularly checking but, hey, no excuse.
I often think about how I ever survived without a mobile phone, organising to meet friends via the house phone and miraculously arriving to find them there. Obviously. Nowadays, I find myself chatting to friends right up until we arrive like they might not be in the place we agreed. Shameful.
It's sad, but it's a fact of life.
Mobile has changed our natural behaviour, we can't switch off - even on holiday we can still access everything. Gone are the days when even knowing the world's breaking news was a struggle the minute we boarded the plane.
I wish I could challenge myself to go even just a day without my phone, but I really don't think I could. Could you

 

 /

04 April 2014

Porky Pies

Now, before I get to the main point of this blog, I have a confession to make.  Sometimes, I lie.  Not every day of course, but on occasion, I've been known to bend the truth.  Normally, it's to get myself out of a pickle ("Sorry officer, I thought the limit was 40mph"), to explain my latest shopping splurge ("Honestly, it was a bargain") or to save the feelings of a loved one ("This meal is delicious").

 

Sometimes, I even lie to myself.  I reassure myself that I can definitely pull off a pair of high-tops, that it's perfectly acceptable for someone my age to find Harry Styles cute, and that I'll definitely join the gym this weekend.

 

The stupid thing is, I kind of know I'm doing it, and I'm pretty sure most people around me are doing the same…but it doesn't really bother me, because for the most part, these teeny tiny untruths aren't hurting anyone.  But it's a slightly more dangerous game when you fib to the British public.  There are some infamous examples - ITV's phone-in scandal, Vanessa Feltz's short lived TV show (think Jeremy Kyle but with fake guests) and reality show Big Brother, when a crew member was spotted in shot holding up cue cards for the housemates to read.

 

In fact, just a week or so ago, Channel 4 had to issue an apology when it was revealed that a number of Brixton residents in a news piece were, in fact, members of the marketing team that had pitched the story.  The story, which was broadcast in early March, appeared to show random voxpops of people giving their views on local police relations, but questions were quickly raised by viewers as to how representative the video was of the local community.

 

And just today, we find out that hit TV show, Gogglebox, may not be quite what it seems.  The fly on the wall documentary that films "real life" couples, sat on their sofas, reacting to what they see on the box (bear with me, it's genuinely quite funny), is, according to a show-insider, a set-up.  The alleged whistle blower told the Daily Star that "We don't film across the week. You set aside a night for filming and it can go on for hours…We also keep changing clothes, food and drinks to make it look we're filmed on different nights."

 

In each example, it was the public that spotted the fib.  Of course, back in Vanessa's day, this resulted in viewers writing letters of complaint, but now the fallout of an untruth is instantaneous.  When people feel like they're being misled, they take to social media in their droves, asking for other's views and opinions, criticising the source and bringing it to the attention of the masses.  News stories appear online, are shared and discussed.  It's frankly easy to get found out, and even easier for everyone to know about your porky pie in record time.

 

So, whilst the rest of the Octopus Group office is getting over the news that Steph and Dom Parker (Gogglebox's posh couple who watch TV with a bottle of champers on ice, just in case you were wondering) might not be quite as hilarious as we first thought, I'll also be reconsidering the little fibs that sometimes slip from my mouth. So, I'd like to take this opportunity to apologise in advance to my friends, family and colleagues - your hair looked much better before you had it cut, I hate your choice of curtain fabric, and if I'm really honest, your kid isn't all that cute.  Well, at least I can't be accused of lying.

 /

24 March 2014

The government is waking up to the economic potential of the technology sector

After a prolonged period of economic doom and gloom, it seems the UK economy is finding its feet again. For too long Robert Peston invaded living rooms up and down the land (metaphorically speaking only of course) to proclaim another disaster; Greece was followed by Ireland, Spain, Portugal, PPI and a plethora of other finance scandals and economic mishaps. However, during this time London has emerged as a global hub for technology companies. The UK, and in particular London, is host to a range of tech companies, ranging from stock market goliaths like ARM - supplier of chips used in Apple products - through to one man start-ups many of which have ambitions to be the next big thing.

techcity

Government interest in the technology sector seems to have stepped in up in recent weeks and months, a range of initiatives have been announced showing the importance the sector has in helping the economy regain the ground lost during the recession years.

 

One of these announcements was the unveiling of a plan for the first ever London Technology Week - it will bring together over 1,000 influential tech experts and will be global in its reach. This clustering effect - similar to that achieved at London's Tech City, which has attracted over £1 billion in investment - is vital to growing London's status as a leading technology hub. Ambitious events like the London Technology Week are essential to the future of London and the UK economy and should be welcomed by all those involved in the technology industry.

 

Two other initiatives have also been announced that underscore the government's commitment to the UK tech industry. Firstly, there is the plan to link up the UK's technology hubs, although admittedly the plans are vague at the present time. The intention though should be supported as it will enhance the sharing of knowledge and expertise around the UK - crucial to the success of ambitious tech companies. The second initiative is the funding boost announced for "internet of things" technology, the government announced that it will spend an extra £45m supporting technology firms involved in this subsector.

 

And then there was the Budget. There were several tech-friendly announcements made, including the £42m that will be provided for the Alan Turing Institute - a new institution dedicated to big data research. Even more investment will be provided to the exciting new technology, Graphene. There will be £74m invested in a Cell Therapy manufacturing centre and a Graphene innovation centre as part of the UK's Catapult network. Other measures announced will support investment, such as the doubling of the annual investment allowance (AIA) to £500,000 and the raising of the rate of the R&D tax credit payable to loss-making small and medium sized companies.

Chancellor

A tech-friendly budget is great news for the UK and long may it continue.

 

The government has woken up to the economic potential of tech and is taking steps to proactively encourage investment and growth - highlighting the importance of the sector - it is time though that even more is done to promote the contribution of tech to the UK economy.

 

All those working in the sector should be excited for what the future holds. Onwards and upwards tech friends.

 

@rostow101

 /

21 March 2014

Twitter reminds you of your first time

Everyone has done something on social media that is utterly cringe-worthy in one way or another.

 

Thanks to Twitter's latest endeavour, that first tweet you thought was buried deep in the murky depths of 2009 has a chance to resurface and force you to face the shame that perhaps you weren't always as brilliantly witty or funny as you are today.

 

Like a baby giraffe walking for the very first time, you stumbled onto Twitter, made an account and typed out something thought-provoking and insightful… Or not.

 

We've included some of our favourites from fellow Octopedes below, including our very own, which, as it turns out, is actually very insightful and about a Twitter application that is no longer available:

 

Octocomm

 

My personal favourite, back when Katie was a Twi-hard

LeCou

 

Oops - eloquently put, Jon!

JonLon

 

Rebecca was feeling a little unsure

RebecTayl

 

Meanwhile, Steve remained diplomatic and cheery

SteveDo

 

Four years on, and Helen must be disappointed this is still not the case

SteveD

 

Carolann sharing the empty feeling you get when you finish an amazing series

CarolG

 

Classic writer's block from Russell

RussLind

 

Little did Alice know that she loved social media so much she'd do it professionally

AliBraz

 

Erm… No comment.

PeteB

 

Natasha was less than convinced…

NatHill

 

Steevan wishing on a Twitter-shaped star

SteevG

 

Setting expectations high

UnionST

 

Jen was getting political #HockeyMoms

JenFerg

 

And Crystal was seeking assistance (I'm pretty sure she's mastered it now)

CrystC

 

Big thank you to all those that were willing to share their first tweets.

 

This was great fun and there were plenty of hilariously embarrassing first tweets being shared both in our office, and all over the internet - if you had a particularly horrifyingly shameful one, share it with us on Twitter!

 

@PhoebeScott

 /

20 March 2014

The no make-up selfies that did make up

Any ordinary Wednesday night when I'm scrolling through Facebook, I see adoring pet fans, smug travellers in the sun, instgrammed salads and the occasional duck face.

 

However, last night this all changed; I was confronted with a news feed full of fresh-faced, smiley, generous friends, and I loved it… what a revolution! Women were acting nobly to raise money for Cancer Research UK.

 

Even better, it wasn't just a craze; fundraisers began to accompany selfies with the donations they had made. They just kept coming, post after post, even nominating friends to do the same.

 

So was it worth clogging up news feeds for a few hours? Absolutely. The 'no make-up selfie' trend has helped Cancer Research UK raise more than £1 million with 800,000 text donations since yesterday.

 

Even if we did upset our male Facebook friends, we certainly did Cancer Research UK proud to see a surprise influx of donations!

 

If you don't want to go make-up free, you can always donate here, or text BEAT to 70099.

 /

10 March 2014

The Octopus ‘Hour of Code’

When starting off in the world of tech PR there were many words and phrases related to technology that were completely new to me. As far as I was concerned, deep packet inspection was what you did when looking to see if you had any Quavers left and the cloud was still a fluffy thing in the sky.  Another weird and wonderful practice I started learning about was computer programming and as soon as I knew a little more about it I couldn't understand how I had been stumbling through life without knowing more.

As it turns out, most other people are in the same boat which is a bit worrying, not just for those who are in my line of work, but for everyone. In an era when even my 85 year old nan has an iPad (which I was all for until she found out how to Facetime me every 5 minutes), we are completely surrounded by computers and the Matrix style lines of letters, numbers and symbols that make them work as a result. If we all embrace what the technology can do to this extent, then surely it's worth knowing at least a little bit about how it works? I'm sure most of the programmers working in Tech City who are earning vast amounts of money due to the skills shortage in this area are probably pretty comfortable about how clueless the rest of us are, but things are going to change.

Several tech personalities and celebrities such as Mark Zuckerberg and Will.i.am are campaigning for people to become better educated about what coding is and why it's important. It seems people are standing up and taking notice too. Education Secretary Michael Gove has promised to make Computer Science more prevalent in the school curriculum and like many other MPs he is supporting the Year of Code initiative which aims to help people 'discover the power of computer science, changing the way they think about, and get the most out of, the world around them'. Lofty ambitions indeed.

Possibly the most popular initiative to get people coding and thinking like a computer programmer is 'The Hour of Code' which is run by the non-profit organisation Code.org. This involves running through some online tutorials and exercises (designed for complete novices) which revolve around the popular Angry Birds game. 20 million people took part in the States last year and it's becoming more popular all the time, so a few of us at Octopus Group thought it would be a good idea to get involved ourselves.

I was really pleased with the interest my fellow Octopedes showed in getting together and learning more about the basics of coding. We packed out two meeting rooms with laptops and snacks before ploughing through the enjoyable online challenges that got us all thinking like a programmer. For one moment the concentration was so intense that there was actually a sustained period of silence, something unheard of in PR circles. For me, the thing I took away from it was the logical way of thinking you have to adopt when coding. It's much like creating the structure of an article in so much as whatever you do at the start has a big knock on effect for the rest of what you are doing. The tasks guided us through this process and only subtlely pointed out mistakes, creating the habit of finding and rectifying problems yourself, which is a central part of coding.

I'd like to think there are many benefits of a session like this, but from a personal point of view the main thing I will take from it is the confidence to have a deeper level of conversation with journalists when approaching them with related news stories. One of the main challenges when working in PR is gaining the right level of knowledge about a client's product/service and the area they sit within (especially when it is very technical) so that we can provide journalists and analysts with all the information they need. I think running sessions like 'The Hour of Code' is a great way to overcome this challenge whilst having fun with your colleagues.

Due to the positive feedback and great interest shown in the session, this may not be the only Octopus coding session we run. So watch this space!

@PeterJamesBeck

 /

07 March 2014

Do family and PR mix?

"Do family and PR mix?" This was among the questions I was asked by curious colleagues at the office Christmas party, after I'd just returned from maternity leave. "I hope so", was my response. A couple of months on and I've actually got some advice to share on the matter. So if you've just returned to work from maternity leave, or you're planning your return soon, here's your new to-do list (I'll let you prioritise):

1. Enjoy returning to work: Whilst on leave, you may have spent some time reflecting on your career and thinking about what you really want out of it. You will have actively made the decision to return to work, so when you do, make sure you enjoy it. And enjoy spending time quality time with your baby too. If you joined an NCT group, try to continue to meet up on some weekends. If you are back at work part-time, you could use some of your time off to continue with some of the playgroups you may have attended whilst on leave.

2. Do some Keep in Touch (KIT) days: As well as keeping in touch with your team by phone, email and social media at various intervals throughout your leave and dropping in to show off your new baby, there are official KIT days where you can come in and do half or full days of work and get paid for them. That way you can get up to speed with what's going on and feel more confident when you return.

3. Explore flexible working options: Flexible working is the way of the future, so by exploring these options now you're simply doing what everyone else will probably be doing within the next few years. This could include working from home, flexi time or part-time. Whatever you choose, make sure you're ready to adapt to new ways of working.

4. Work smarter: Whether you're working part-time or have reduced your hours, you'll need to adapt your time management technique and this will probably develop over time. If there's a way of doing something more efficiently then make a point of doing so. Where possible, work smarter to avoid burn-out - it will be more productive in the long-run.

5. Network and mingle: Talk to other new mothers who've returned to work and are making a success of it. Also, grab any opportunities to attend any networking events that could help you get ahead of industry trends and give your confidence a boost.

6. Polish your skills: Think about the skills you've mastered while looking after a new-born - multi-tasking, patience, lunching, dealing with change - all of these have some relevance in the business world if you use your imagination! Identify training opportunities to refresh any other skills you feel need developing.

7. Make time for family and work: It's a bit of a balancing act, which is why juggling is an important skill to master as a working mum. When you're working, focus fully on your work and on achieving key goals. When you're with family and friends, try and give them your full and undivided attention, especially the baby. Hopefully that means everyone is happy. But expect and accept that occasionally your time may have to overlap between family and work. As long as neither is compromised in the long term then you're a qualified juggler!

So to answer the question, "do family and PR mix?" I think they do. In fact, I think coming back to work has put a spring in my step and given me extra motivation to succeed - I'm doing it for the family now. But baby brain is not a myth and it can take a few months to adjust to your new situation so set yourself realistic goals at first. Once you've mastered that you can build your role back up from there. And if it all starts getting too much, I would always recommend having a good massage to relax and refresh the body and mind!

"Do family and PR mix?" This was among the questions I was asked by curious colleagues at the office Christmas party, after I'd just returned from maternity leave. "I hope so", was my response. A couple of months on and I've actually got some advice to share on the matter. So if you've just returned to work from maternity leave, or you're planning your return soon, here's your new to-do list (I'll let you prioritise):1. Enjoy returning to work: Whilst on leave, you may have spent some time reflecting on your career and thinking about what you really want out of it. You will have actively made the decision to return to work, so when you do, make sure you enjoy it. And enjoy spending time quality time with your baby too. If you joined an NCT group, try to continue to meet up on some weekends. If you are back at work part-time, you could use some of your time off to continue with some of the playgroups you may have attended whilst on leave.2. Do some Keep in Touch (KIT) days: As well as keeping in touch with your team by phone, email and social media at various intervals throughout your leave and dropping in to show off your new baby, there are official KIT days where you can come in and do half or full days of work and get paid for them. That way you can get up to speed with what's going on and feel more confident when you return.3. Explore flexible working options: Flexible working is the way of the future, so by exploring these options now you're simply doing what everyone else will probably be doing within the next few years. This could include working from home, flexi time or part-time. Whatever you choose, make sure you're ready to adapt to new ways of working.4. Work smarter: Whether you're working part-time or have reduced your hours, you'll need to adapt your time management technique and this will probably develop over time. If there's a way of doing something more efficiently then make a point of doing so. Where possible, work smarter to avoid burn-out - it will be more productive in the long-run.5. Network and mingle: Talk to other new mothers who've returned to work and are making a success of it. Also, grab any opportunities to attend any networking events that could help you get ahead of industry trends and give your confidence a boost.6. Polish your skills: Think about the skills you've mastered while looking after a new-born - multi-tasking, patience, lunching, dealing with change - all of these have some relevance in the business world if you use your imagination! Identify training opportunities to refresh any other skills you feel need developing.7. Make time for family and work: It's a bit of a balancing act, which is why juggling is an important skill to master as a working mum. When you're working, focus fully on your work and on achieving key goals. When you're with family and friends, try and give them your full and undivided attention, especially the baby. Hopefully that means everyone is happy. But expect and accept that occasionally your time may have to overlap between family and work. As long as neither is compromised in the long term then you're a qualified juggler!
So to answer the question, "do family and PR mix?" I think they do. In fact, I think coming back to work has put a spring in my step and given me extra motivation to succeed - I'm doing it for the family now. But baby brain is not a myth and it can take a few months to adjust to your new situation so set yourself realistic goals at first. Once you've mastered that you can build your role back up from there. And if it all starts getting too much, I would always recommend having a good massage to relax and refresh the body and mind!
"Do family and PR mix?" This was among the questions I was asked by curious colleagues at the office Christmas party, after I'd just returned from maternity leave. "I hope so", was my response. A couple of months on and I've actually got some advice to share on the matter. So if you've just returned to work from maternity leave, or you're planning your return soon, here's your new to-do list (I'll let you priorit
1. Enjoy returning to work: Whilst on leave, you may have spent some time reflecting on your career and thinking about what you really want out of it. You will have actively made the decision to return to work, so when you do, make sure you enjoy it. And enjoy spending time quality time with your baby too. If you joined an NCT group, try to continue to meet up on some weekends. If you are back at work part-time, you could use some of your time off to continue with some of the playgroups you may have attended whilst on leave.
2. Do some Keep in Touch (KIT) days: As well as keeping in touch with your team by phone, email and social media at various intervals throughout your leave and dropping in to show off your new baby, there are official KIT days where you can come in and do half or full days of work and get paid for them. That way you can get up to speed with what's going on and feel more confident when you return.
3. Explore flexible working options: Flexible working is the way of the future, so by exploring these options now you're simply doing what everyone else will probably be doing within the next few years. This could include working from home, flexi time or part-time. Whatever you choose, make sure you're ready to adapt to new ways of working.
4. Work smarter: Whether you're working part-time or have reduced your hours, you'll need to adapt your time management technique and this will probably develop over time. If there's a way of doing something more efficiently then make a point of doing so. Where possible, work smarter to avoid burn-out - it will be more productive in the long-run.
5. Network and mingle: Talk to other new mothers who've returned to work and are making a success of it. Also, grab any opportunities to attend any networking events that could help you get ahead of industry trends and give your confidence a boost.
6. Polish your skills: Think about the skills you've mastered while looking after a new-born - multi-tasking, patience, lunching, dealing with change - all of these have some relevance in the business world if you use your imagination! Identify training opportunities to refresh any other skills you feel need developing.
7. Make time for family and work: It's a bit of a balancing act, which is why juggling is an important skill to master as a working mum. When you're working, focus fully on your work and on achieving key goals. When you're with family and friends, try and give them your full and undivided attention, especially the baby. Hopefully that means everyone is happy. But expect and accept that occasionally your time may have to overlap between family and work. As long as neither is compromised in the long term then you're a qualified juggler!

So to answer the question, "do family and PR mix?" I think they do. In fact, I think coming back to work has put a spring in my step and given me extra motivation to succeed - I'm doing it for the family now. But baby brain is not a myth and it can take a few months to adjust to your new situation so set yourself realistic goals at first. Once you've mastered that you can build your role back up from there. And if it all starts getting too much, I would always recommend having a good massage to relax and refresh the body and mind!

"Do family and PR mix?" This was among the questions I was asked by curious colleagues at the office Christmas party, after I'd just returned from maternity leave. "I hope so", was my response. A couple of months on and I've actually got some advice to share on the matter. So if you've just returned to work from maternity leave, or you're planning your return soon, here's your new to-do list (I'll let you priorit"Do family and PR mix?" This was among the questions I was asked by curious colleagues at the office Christmas party, after I'd just returned from maternity leave. "I hope so", was my response. A couple of months on and I've actually got some advice to share on the matter. So if you've just returned to work from maternity leave, or you're planning your return soon, here's your new to-do list (I'll let you prioritise):1. Enjoy returning to work: Whilst on leave, you may have spent some time reflecting on your career and thinking about what you really want out of it. You will have actively made the decision to return to work, so when you do, make sure you enjoy it. And enjoy spending time quality time with your baby too. If you joined an NCT group, try to continue to meet up on some weekends. If you are back at work part-time, you could use some of your time off to continue with some of the playgroups you may have attended whilst on leave.2. Do some Keep in Touch (KIT) days: As well as keeping in touch with your team by phone, email and social media at various intervals throughout your leave and dropping in to show off your new baby, there are official KIT days where you can come in and do half or full days of work and get paid for them. That way you can get up to speed with what's going on and feel more confident when you return.3. Explore flexible working options: Flexible working is the way of the future, so by exploring these options now you're simply doing what everyone else will probably be doing within the next few years. This could include working from home, flexi time or part-time. Whatever you choose, make sure you're ready to adapt to new ways of working.4. Work smarter: Whether you're working part-time or have reduced your hours, you'll need to adapt your time management technique and this will probably develop over time. If there's a way of doing something more efficiently then make a point of doing so. Where possible, work smarter to avoid burn-out - it will be more productive in the long-run.5. Network and mingle: Talk to other new mothers who've returned to work and are making a success of it. Also, grab any opportunities to attend any networking events that could help you get ahead of industry trends and give your confidence a boost.6. Polish your skills: Think about the skills you've mastered while looking after a new-born - multi-tasking, patience, lunching, dealing with change - all of these have some relevance in the business world if you use your imagination! Identify training opportunities to refresh any other skills you feel need developing.7. Make time for family and work: It's a bit of a balancing act, which is why juggling is an important skill to master as a working mum. When you're working, focus fully on your work and on achieving key goals. When you're with family and friends, try and give them your full and undivided attention, especially the baby. Hopefully that means everyone is happy. But expect and accept that occasionally your time may have to overlap between family and work. As long as neither is compromised in the long term then you're a qualified juggler!

So to answer the question, "do family and PR mix?" I think they do. In fact, I think coming back to work has put a spring in my step and given me extra motivation to succeed - I'm doing it for the family now. But baby brain is not a myth and it can take a few months to adjust to your new situation so set yourself realistic goals at first. Once you've mastered that you can build your role back up from there. And if it all starts getting too much, I would always recommend having a good massage to relax and refresh the body and mind!

 

"Do family and PR mix?" This was among the questions I was asked by curious colleagues at the office Christmas party, after I'd just returned from maternity leave. "I hope so", was my response. A couple of months on and I've actually got some advice to share on the matter. So if you've just returned to work from maternity leave, or you're planning your return soon, here's your new to-do list (I'll let you priorit

 

1. Enjoy returning to work: Whilst on leave, you may have spent some time reflecting on your career and thinking about what you really want out of it. You will have actively made the decision to return to work, so when you do, make sure you enjoy it. And enjoy spending time quality time with your baby too. If you joined an NCT group, try to continue to meet up on some weekends. If you are back at work part-time, you could use some of your time off to continue with some of the playgroups you may have attended whilst on leave.

2. Do some Keep in Touch (KIT) days: As well as keeping in touch with your team by phone, email and social media at various intervals throughout your leave and dropping in to show off your new baby, there are official KIT days where you can come in and do half or full days of work and get paid for them. That way you can get up to speed with what's going on and feel more confident when you return.

3. Explore flexible working options: Flexible working is the way of the future, so by exploring these options now you're simply doing what everyone else will probably be doing within the next few years. This could include working from home, flexi time or part-time. Whatever you choose, make sure you're ready to adapt to new ways of working.

4. Work smarter: Whether you're working part-time or have reduced your hours, you'll need to adapt your time management technique and this will probably develop over time. If there's a way of doing something more efficiently then make a point of doing so. Where possible, work smarter to avoid burn-out - it will be more productive in the long-run.

5. Network and mingle: Talk to other new mothers who've returned to work and are making a success of it. Also, grab any opportunities to attend any networking events that could help you get ahead of industry trends and give your confidence a boost.

6. Polish your skills: Think about the skills you've mastered while looking after a new-born - multi-tasking, patience, lunching, dealing with change - all of these have some relevance in the business world if you use your imagination! Identify training opportunities to refresh any other skills you feel need developing.

7. Make time for family and work: It's a bit of a balancing act, which is why juggling is an important skill to master as a working mum. When you're working, focus fully on your work and on achieving key goals. When you're with family and friends, try and give them your full and undivided attention, especially the baby. Hopefully that means everyone is happy. But expect and accept that occasionally your time may have to overlap between family and work. As long as neither is compromised in the long term then you're a qualified juggler!

So to answer the question, "do family and PR mix?" I think they do. In fact, I think coming back to work has put a spring in my step and given me extra motivation to succeed - I'm doing it for the family now. But baby brain is not a myth and it can take a few months to adjust to your new situation so set yourself realistic goals at first. Once you've mastered that you can build your role back up from there. And if it all starts getting too much, I would always recommend having a good massage to relax and refresh the body and mind!"Do family and PR mix?" This was among the questions I was asked by curious colleagues at the office Christmas party, after I'd just returned from maternity leave. "I hope so", was my response. A couple of months on and I've actually got some advice to share on the matter. So if you've just returned to work from maternity leave, or you're planning your return soon, here's your new to-do list (I'll let you prior

@jenhannajackson

 /

04 March 2014

Knowing when to draw the line

As communications professionals, we're constantly in tune with the news cycle and are always thinking about how best to leverage the news agenda for our clients. However, while in PR it's important to be able to spot a good story, there's a fine line between jumping on the back of a relevant news article and PR ambulance chasing, which is exactly what Paddy Power has done with the Oscar Pistorius murder trial.
With media attention focused around the trial, Paddy Power is joining the debate by offering customers an opportunity to put their money where their mouth is and promoting a 'money back if he walks' offer for bets on the Oscar Pistorius murder trial.
In case you didn't see, the company already caused outrage last week by offering odds on the outcome of the premeditated murder trial. Now, the firm has gone even further, by offering losing bets a refund if the 27-year-old is found not guilty of murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, 29, last year.
With any kind of disaster (both natural or man-made) consuming large scale media attention, it's easy to see why many companies are keen to leverage such a story to gain media exposure. However, most of the time, companies do so for the wrong reasons - simply to try to get coverage at the expense of other people's misfortune or grief.
Paddy Power is not the only company to have ever made the mistake of jumping on the back of a sensitive story. When Amy Winehouse died, publication Mashable came under fire for writing a series of articles about her death - an activity suggested to be 'link baiting'
It's often said that any publicity is good publicity, but has Paddy Power gone too far this time? Well they've certainly gained the attention of the media and twitter users across the globe. However, while 'newsjacking' or 'MediaReach' as we call it here at Octopus Communications is generally a good PR practice, it is vital that this is managed carefully and sensitively - a valuable lesson that clearly Paddy Power has yet to learn.

As communications professionals, we're constantly in tune with the news cycle and are always thinking about how best to leverage the news agenda for our clients. However, while in PR it's important to be able to spot a good story, there's a fine line between jumping on the back of a relevant news article and PR ambulance chasing, which is exactly what Paddy Power has done with the Oscar Pistorius murder trial.

With media attention focused around the trial, Paddy Power is joining the debate by offering customers an opportunity to put their money where their mouth is and promoting a 'money back if he walks' offer for bets on the Oscar Pistorius murder trial.

In case you didn't see, the company already caused outrage last week by offering odds on the outcome of the premeditated murder trial. Now, the firm has gone even further, by offering losing bets a refund if the 27-year-old is found not guilty of murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, 29, last year.

With any kind of disaster (both natural or man-made) consuming large scale media attention, it's easy to see why many companies are keen to leverage such a story to gain media exposure. However, most of the time, companies do so for the wrong reasons - simply to try to get coverage at the expense of other people's misfortune or grief.

Paddy Power is not the only company to have ever made the mistake of jumping on the back of a sensitive story. When Amy Winehouse died, publication Mashable came under fire for writing a series of articles about her death - an activity suggested to be 'link baiting'

It's often said that any publicity is good publicity, but has Paddy Power gone too far this time? Well they've certainly gained the attention of the media and twitter users across the globe. However, while 'newsjacking' or 'MediaReach' as we call it here at Octopus Communications is generally a good PR practice, it is vital that this is managed carefully and sensitively - a valuable lesson that clearly Paddy Power has yet to learn.

@EllaThompson123

 

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25 February 2014

A magazine, but not as we know it

 

It's well documented in PR land that the editorial landscape is changing and, with fewer publications in circulation, marketers are looking beyond traditional mediums to reach their target audiences.  Add to this the challenge of reaching customers across multiple platforms, and the increasing rise of - and reliance on - digital platforms such as Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, I was surprised to see the founders of Net-A-Porter, the high-end fashion retailer, launch its own magazine, Porter, earlier this month. 

 

Porter will be distributed in 60 countries, published in American English, and is aimed at the luxury consumer (or at least those of us who aspire to shop at that end of the market!) - it retails at £5 in the UK, putting it slightly ahead of its peers.  Its launch was timed to coincide with New York Fashion Week, featured the beautiful Gisele on the cover, and to all intents and purposes looks just like any other fashion glossy.  But what's interesting about Porter is that whilst it looks like a competitor to Vogue or Harper's Bazaar, it's actually a really cleverly disguised piece of owned media.

 

The content - in this case high-end fashion - featured in the magazine can be all be purchased on the Net-A-Porter website, or via third party retail sites, via a new app - you can even contact a concierge service to help you source your chosen products.  And following the digital version launch yesterday, you can now click straight through to the e-commerce platform and make your purchase (something tells me this is going to be expensive reading!).

 

What's really clever in my book is that it's all very low key - there's no "Click Here To Buy!" promotions, ugly bar codes or QR codes, just subtle references throughout the magazine that you can "Shop Porter with the Net-A-Porter App". 

 

It's a bold move to launch a magazine in this highly competitive space, but I love the ambition and creative thinking behind the approach.  It doesn't feel salesy.  It doesn't look salesy.  In fact, it looks bloody beautiful.  And the industry clearly agrees, with big luxury brands advertising in the traditional way throughout.

 

It'll be interesting to see if Porter is simply a passing trend, or if it has the credentials and backing to become a staple of the fashion media industry - will Net-A-Porter's revenues grow exponentially in line with this marketing offensive, and will the likes of Chanel, YSL and co continue to place their advertising bucks with the new magazine on the fashion block?  And will other industries follow suit? 

 

Definitely one to watch, but for now, I'm off to do some online window shopping and to work out how to justify a pair of Valentino's Rockstud heels (in neon, in case anyone is feeling generous).

 

@LauraSlade

 

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07 February 2014

Go to the library? Whatever for?

Go to the library? Whatever for? Aren't they just full of ancient books for ancient people? Public libraries - the hive of information that they are - have never had it so hard, what with closures and people abandoning them for the online revolution. "It's all about the Facebook these days," I hear the younger generations (and me) yelp. The good news is libraries are evolving and improving their offering, striving to make more of the world's precious information freely available to the public through digital platforms.

librarybooks

I heard all about how one particularly important initiative is helping to achieve this earlier this week, as I had the privilege of being invited by the Publishers Licensing Society to the launch of Access to Research at Deptford Lounge Library - a very modern building by the way.

Access to Research is an initiative that's being driven by a host of publishers and publishing agencies, in response to Government recommendations, to provide free digital access to millions of academic articles that would otherwise be hard to track down by the likes of you and me. Universities and Science Minister David Willetts gave the keynote speech. He explained how the initiative aims to break down barriers between the research community and the wider public.

The catch is, you have to go to the library to access it, even though it's online. If your library hasn't got it, you can ask them to get it. So what might we want with such a resource? The possibilities are endless but just to give you a taster, if you have a hobby like film or art, you can find out the latest research that's being done in these areas. If your client is a local engineering startup and is considering purchasing new kit, they could benefit from reading up on the latest research on it. Or if you're writing a business-related press release, you could get access to relevant research to give it that extra edge. And thanks to digital platform provider, ProQuest, it's as easy as doing a Google search.

I have to admit, I haven't borrowed a book from the library since I was a student about a decade ago. The last time I went into my local library was for a bounce and rhyme session with my baby daughter. But I'm excited about what else libraries are going to do to reel us in. I get the feeling I might just be returning to my local library sooner rather than later, and not just for mother and toddler groups!

Oh and if you want to join in the discussion about the initiative, it's on Twitter: #AccessToResearch

@jenhannajackson

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