Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Are We A Nation of Worriers?



According to a recent survey, the average Briton frets about something seven times a day, for at least eight minutes on each occasion. That equates to just under an hour a day, which over the average adult lifetime, is 2.3 years! And when you put it that way…that’s a hell of a lot of worrying!

So what are we actually worrying about? Well it seems the cold weather has left one in three people concerned that their boiler will break down, closely followed by money worries, ageing, remembering to lock the house, being late for work and skidding on ice whilst driving amongst other things!


And let’s be honest, with the Local Council unable to coordinate a nationwide grit to enable us to operate in snowy conditions, not to mention the unsociable hours we are expected to wait at home for a repair man to fix our boiler/plumbing/car/oven/washing machine just before Christmas when they are guaranteed to break…it’s no wonder we’re constantly fretting about something!


So what do you think? Are we a nation of worriers, or is it just come winter when everything seems to fail us as a result of the weather, that we start to fret about anything and everything?


Hopefully with Christmas only 2 days away, you won’t be worrying about the potential failure of your oven, having no heating, not being able to make it through the snow to the supermarket or even how Santa will get down the chimney. As the saying goes…if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. So before you have a mad panic about what ‘COULD’ happen, just take a deep breath, relax…and have a very Merry Christmas!

Friday, 17 December 2010

How will you spend yours..?

As the 'big day' draws ever closer, I'm shunning talk of whether or not it will be a white Christmas this year. Yes, it would be beautiful and extremely festive, but in my mind, it's still too early to predict so I'm content just to wait and see.

What has caught my attention is the conversations about what people are doing on Christmas Day and who they are spending it with. The general theme in our office seems to be a nice quiet Christmas with family, a traditional dinner and then of course the obligatory fighting over the TV remote come the evening. But what are the rest of the nation getting up to?


The latest poll in The Sun reveals that traditional Christmases have fallen by the wayside with less than 5% of us planning to attend a church service on Christmas Day and a depressing 9% claiming they will eat their Christmas dinner in front of the television! Unsurprisingly, with the rise of smart phone usage, more than half of the population plan to surf the internet on Christmas Day and check Facebook and Twitter accounts. Most people also expect to spend most of the day cooking and even the Queen's Speech has fallen out of favour - what a sad state of affairs!


However, its not all doom and gloom. 'How to spend Christmas' is a popular topic on internet forums and many people are citing the importance of spending time with loved ones and watching young children open their presents, so it seems the magic of Christmas does still exist.

Whatever you end up doing this December 25th, have a wonderful day and most importantly, do what you enjoy.

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Winter Wonderland or Bleak Mid Winter


While you might be wishing for a romantic white Christmas this year, what will it mean for the UK hospitality industry if we get more of the white stuff?

The cost of the recent snow in early December to the UK economy was estimated at £1.2bn per day as people were stranded in their homes and road and rail networks ground to a halt.

Clearly restaurants and bars were among the worst hit, with customers staying at home avoiding unnecessary journeys into town centres, at a time when they should have been entertaining clients and attending office Christmas parties.
Whitbread reported a slow third quarter due to the poor weather, despite a 5.5% uplift in covers at its pub restaurants for the 39 weeks to 2 December.

In the current economic climate, trading conditions for the out of home market remain tough, without the weather adding another obstacle. Traditionally, the festive season is a busy period for the hospitality industry providing a valuable revenue boost that can see operators through the leaner trading post New Year. As the nation braces itself for another cold snap with threats of yet more snow, bars and restaurants will undoubtedly be hoping that a winter wonderland does not turn into bleak mid winter sales.


Although, according to independent online travel directory
iknow-uk.com, some pubs in rural areas did quite well, being seen as a welcoming refuge from the wintery conditions. I for one could not resist the lure of a roaring log fire and a nice pint of ale with friends down my local, especially after a week of working from home in isolation! And there were no signs of trade slowing there, it was packed to the rafters and the tills were ringing.

However, as a nation we need to be better prepared to deal with the snow. A slight dusting and the country comes to a standstill, which is no good for anybody. The government and local authorities need to work harder to keep Great Britain moving. Sweden, France and Canada manage to cope - we need to as well!

Friday, 10 December 2010

The Changing PR Landscape

Whilst social media has been prominent for many, many years, especially for recreational use, most non-digital agencies would agree that the last 24 months have really seen it explode in the PR World. It has crept up the agenda for all of our clients here at Cirkle and social media is now present in virtually 90% of consumer facing projects, rather than the token 10% prior to that and, importantly, it is playing a crucial role in brand communication. PRs interviewing for new roles will undoubtably be asked about their social media knowledge, is it replacing the telephone for them?

We understand ourselves, as consumers, when we are considering a purchase or have heard about a product we like the sound of, the first place we head to is Google. We like third party reviews, we like deals, news, vouchers and price comparisons. We have become accustomed to ‘search engine editing’ and as a nation, we are moving away from traditional media and consuming news in bite-sized chunks; skimming over stories and filtering the information for our needs. We are bombarded by over 20,000 messages a day so lord knows we need to be picky. Therefore, it is important for big brands to make information available to their audience in this way, engage in two way dialogue and to have a personality. I love using the analogy, 'nobody wants to spend time with the party guest who only talks about themselves' (and that is hard lesson no.1 for most brands dipping their toe in the social media waters!).

When this all started happening, there was a scrum - who would own social media? The advertising agency said them (why not? they are cool), the design agency said them (they controlled the website after all), specialist digital agencies said it should be them (it's a completely different discipline, they argued) and we, the PR agency of course said us. Not because we saw it as a way to earn a quick buck - or to grow our shoes and bag fund as one client likes to suggest - but because it is all about COMMUNICATION and REPUTATION. The two key reasons that brands employ PR agencies.

I won't say it has been easy. At first, clients eyed the budgets attached to 'Twitter and Facebook' and 'Interactive Viral Campaign' with great suspicion - were they being ripped off? How can we measure the success? Oh and also...how big can they have their branding and can they have their mission statement and corporate messaging on there? (Hard lesson no.2, we need a completely different tone in this environment but the content still needs to be strategically aligned with the marketing objectives). But slowly and surely they have been seeing the return, seeing sales increase, seeing repeat visitors to our sites AND, perhaps the most joyful part for most brand managers - seeing their consumers embracing the campaigns and engaging with their brand. Great examples can be seen on www.typhooalong.co.uk and www.wewillwrapyou.co.uk.

It has been a massive education. On the proactive side of things, clients have needed to be convinced that 'subtle' works and that the interactive tactics are imperative when luring the consumer in. On the reactive side, they have needed to understand that the conversation is happening whether they are taking part or not. (I was the first to unleash a torrent of fury on Twitter and Facebook recently when I experienced some especially dreadful service from Dreams the bedstore! I am not over it because they seemingly didn't care). A crisis will now spread quicker than ever before. If a disgruntled consumer posts comments on your branded Twitter or Facebook, they sure as hell expect a response within 12 hours - even if it is the middle of the night on a Sunday - which is why brands need people who are up to speed on all of their business messaging surpervising these conversations. It opens up great opportunities for us PRs but it also makes that day to day 'housekeeping' far broader and much harder to contain.

Apps are also growing in popularity by the day, with even charities such as the Poppy Appeal embracing the new technology. Whilst we haven't directly created one for any of our clients yet, it is an area where our business clients are exploring - be it profit calculators for independent retailers or interactive category management tools. It really is touching all areas of our clients businesses right now and to not be keeping up would be career suicide.


There was once a time when PR was the cheaper alternative, when TV was God and when PROs were considered fluffy. Not anymore. Now we are strategically leading brands in a way we never got the opportunity to before the recession.


It is a very exciting time to be in the COMMUNICATION business.

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Cartoon Confusion?


This weekend I changed my profile picture to Jessie from the Toy Story films. I did this the moment I saw a friend’s post saying that everyone was changing their profile picture to their favorite cartoon to support the NSPCC’s campaign to end child abuse. Not only did I think it was a great cause, I thought it was really fun to join in with all my friends and change my picture to a nostalgic cartoon character.

So, then I thought I’d do a little more research into the campaign and how it fitted in with NSPCC's wider strategy. As I started delving a bit deeper, I found out it actually had nothing to do with the charity! It was a hoax!

Although the NSPCC had nothing to do with the campaign, they welcomed any increase in awareness of child abuse that it might have generated. I have no idea why someone would decide to make something like this campaign up - but it does just go to show how quickly an idea like this can go viral. I briefly searched Facebook for the campaign and found two groups with 171,000 'likes' and countless more users who have changed their pictures.

A gentleman called Greg Felgate who, like me initially loved the idea and got involved, has decided to create something good out of this weird situation and set up a Just Giving page for anyone who changed there picture and wants to get behind the NSPCC and their real efforts to end child abuse. Nearly £1,000 has been raised. So if like me you were fooled, click here and make a donation to the NSPCC this Christmas.

Friday, 3 December 2010

It's Snow Joke!

This week, we have been hit by what promises to be the beginning of many arctic freezes – shutting schools, trapping poor commuters on the M25 for hours and causing supermarket panics. The antithesis to this chaos and confusion are the serene scenes of snow-covered villages, families spending a Wednesday afternoon sledging and children making snowmen. All very quaint, somewhat delicious and almost perfectly timed at the beginning of advent.

As PRs, we are continuously poised to respond to the news agenda as it develops. With the big freeze dominating the front pages of the newspapers and with #UKsnow trending on Twitter, our winter wonderland has given rise to such news angles as announcements of impressive Porridge sales (Quaker sales are up 200%) and the offer of personal weather warnings from Oregon Scientific with their innovative Wireless Weather Station (available now from www.oregonscientific.co.uk).


As a nation, we seem divided about the snowy weather and to get an accurate snapshot of public opinion I consulted a reliable market research facility – the Facebook status:


Brasy Northerner: wishes all the southerners would stop having such jubilant snow statuses!

Happy worker: got closed today so i tried to do my Xmas shopping in town but all the shops where shut so i sat in a pub instead!

Disappointed student: not snowing here, how annoying!

Snow ball enthusiast: I could do this all day, or at least until frost bite sets in – round 3 of snow ball wars beginning!

Santa Clause
: Needs to Christmas shop tomorrow, please don’t snow tonight!!

Devoted granddaughter:
Has been shoveling the snow with granddad so that we can get out of the drive...oh my word, fingers have turned to icicles....

Bitter teacher: I want a snow day

Jubilant Carol Singer: Let it snow. Let it snow. Let it snow


The impracticalities of snow and our inability for us as a nation to deal with the extreme conditions are so apparent that there is to be yet another Government investigation.

But there is something so amazing about the white stuff (as long as your holiday hasn’t been ruined and you’ve not sat on the motorway overnight).
So, I leave you with the wise words of the beautiful Frank Sinatra and wish you all a very snowy weekend!

Thursday, 25 November 2010

I’M A PR, GET ME IN THERE!?


As I devoured my weekly fix of the Sunday Telegraph’s Stella magazine, the ‘Stella Loves’ page bigged-up the latest trend for Oriental Glamour. With tempting editorial hailing the Nars bento-box lipstick duo as this week’s ‘must buy’, I couldn’t wait to rush to Selfridges to part with £95. I really believed the editorial hype … that the ‘hand-poured, highly pigmented red and pink pots of colour look delicious and great on the lips’. Having been in beauty PR for the last 20 years, it struck me that even us hardened PR’s are still influenced by the PR! Great stuff … which also got me thinking about the adage that ‘no publicity is bad publicity’ – not so sure in the case of the McGrief that the fake McKeith is causing in I’m A Celeb … but our agency of 30 PR’s are still talking about her – again the PR is working.

Friday, 19 November 2010

The Curse of the Public Vote!


Last weekend saw two shocking exits, with Michelle and Brendan waltzing out of Strictly, whilst over on ITV Aiden Grimshaw left the X Factor stage after Louis Walsh sent it to deadlock resulting in the ‘marmite’ of the show Katie Waissel moving through to fight another week.


In recent months, Saturday nights have given us a reason to stay in with friends to ‘sofalise’ in front of the nation’s favourites Strictly and X Factor. Yet this weekend’s shock exits of Michelle and Aiden, (leading Anne Widdecombe and Wagner to fly through to the next round), have caused an almighty uproar amongst the British public who feel that BBC and ITV have manipulated the results of their shows in order to aid viewing figures!


Whilst Anne Widdecombe and her ‘disaster’ of a Charleston may be entertaining to some, not to mention Wagner’s amateur performance, is that really why we watch these shows? And if it is, is it fair to say it’s a fix when the final results ultimately rely on the public vote?


It is fair to say that the ongoing war between BBC and ITV has further fuelled this year with even more tactics and PR stories being used to up the ratings. But what lengths will they go to hit their targets? Whilst Michelle and Aiden undoubtedly have the talent, with our favourites being pushed out in favour of more ‘entertaining’ and controversial acts, will we still take the time to tune in?


As much as I love watching the talented people make it through to the final, I do believe that these shows have just become a huge publicity stunt. These days you can’t open a national paper on a Monday morning without the judges and contestants of Strictly and X Factor dominating the first 6 pages! And whilst that is clearly their aim, are we still paying attention?

Whether we take the time to call or not, are the BBC and ITV continuing to fix their shows in such a way, that we actually have very little choice in who stays and who goes? You decide…

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Back to basics

Was it just a matter of time before the backlash began? Well it may have just started as this week saw the launch of the new ‘John’s Phone’ – the world’s simplest mobile phone on which you can only make phone calls and has been aptly dubbed the ‘anti-iPhone’.

Multi-functional iPhones, Blackberrys and Androids have become an everyday staple that some claim they couldn’t live without as you can make calls, text, listen to music, watch films, email, play games and surf the net - not to forget the whole host of apps available too. None of which can be done on John’s phone – even the contacts function is old school with a mini address book and pen incorporated into the back of the phone. However, on the upside, the battery will last you an impressive three weeks!

The brainchild of a Dutch advertising agency, is it a genuine, serious mobile product that will sell in its thousands or just a bit of a gimmick? I can see it having both pros and cons for various users. In theory it may be just for thing for the more mature mobile user that doesn’t want to embrace all the whizz bang technology of modern day phones and simply wants to make calls. Or at the other end of the spectrum for young children who may simply need to make a call in an emergency. If I were a parent I think I would feel much happier in the knowledge that I could give my young child a way of getting in touch if they should need to without them having the access to the wider web world from which I might want to protect them from for a little longer. Or it may be just the ticket for those elusive types who hate the fact that they are contactable 24 hours a day as this puts them back in control as you can only make outgoing calls on the John’s Phone.On the other hand, doesn’t it seem a little mad that you can’t even receive incoming calls? Plus there’s the argument that £70 seems like quite a hefty price for a one trick pony phone when there are other multifunctional phones available out there for a fraction of a price - are you paying the price for the novelty?

The bigger argument here is whether or not trends will emerge where things, more specifically technology and media, go full circle. In a year or so time can we predict that library memberships soar as people revert back to more traditional methods of media consumption as opposed to reading your latest novel on an iPad? Personally, and as with most things, I believe it all comes in waves but guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

Friday, 12 November 2010


To Uni, or not to Uni?
That’s the £9,000-a-year question

What started off as a peaceful protest against the proposed plans to increase student fees, this week ended in scenes of sheer violence and vandalism with 14 casualties, including police officers, taken to hospital. So what’s all the fuss about?

The new Government coalition has proposed to increase University fees to a maximum of £9,000 a year, almost trebling the figure it is now, in order to release budget to pay off debts run up by its predecessor. The new plans will mean that students will leave University with a debt in the region of £30,000 however they will not have to pay any fees up front; instead they will begin to pay back the costs once they start earning £21,000 a year. Some claim this will take the system back to a time when only the wealthy will be able to go to University.


As someone who went to University and doesn’t come from a wealthy background, it does sadden me to think that I wouldn’t have been able to go if the fees were as high as they’re proposed to be. However, at the same time, I also do not think that we should take it for granted that the Government will subsidise our Uni fees. UK schooling is completely free so there’s no reason why a teenager can’t leave school having gained amazing A-Level grades and be able to get a top job. With so many people going to Uni these days, and sometimes to study irrelevant courses such as “Ghostbusting” and “Harry Potter”, degrees are losing their prestige and I don’t feel it is as important to have that level on your CV as it used to be. Indeed, research has shown that three years after finishing their studies, 40 per cent of recent graduates are in jobs that don’t require a degree.


At the end of the day, wherever the Government makes the cuts they’re going to face backlash so, in my own personal opinion, I think cutting funding on a “non-essential” like University makes much more sense than emergency services and hospitals.


What do you think? Are my views a little too naive? Was University worthwhile for you?

Wednesday, 10 November 2010


Cheap and Cheerful...

Last week, Cirkle's home town of Beaconsfield played host to several real life 'Spidermen'. I don't want to mislead anyone here - I don't mean to say that they were swinging from the rooftops and saving us all from evil villains (now that really would have been something!). They were quite simply attired in lycra Spiderman costumes with Domino's Pizza sandwich boards advertising a new store and its latest deals.


With the vast array of publicity methods now available to brands, this at first may seem like a strange way of promoting the opening of a new store but, upon closer inspection, it actually reveals itself as a simple, cost effective, creative and, most of all, memorable campaign. From dawn 'til dusk, several Spidermen were stationed around Beaconsfield at key roundabouts where traffic flow was highest and all displayed information on Domino's latest deals. It certainly made the drive into work that little bit more colourful and, I have to admit, brought a smile to my face. Not because of the thought of pizza (although that alone would probably have done it...) but because of the chirpy demeanour of these Spidermen. The first roundabout gave me a 'jigging' Spiderman - dancing around from foot to foot - and the second roundabout gave me a smiley, waving Spiderman. They were certainly giving it their all and not just standing like statues. It almost made me want to continue my journey down the A40 to see if there were anymore waiting to cheer up my day!

This campaign got everyone in our office, and no doubt in offices through the town, talking. It was something new, quirky and engaging. And it just goes to prove that sometimes the simple ideas are the best and don't have to cost the earth. A little bit of creativity can go along way in creating talkability and ultimately making a successful campaign.

And it worked. I went home that night and ordered a Domino's Pizza!

Monday, 8 November 2010

Food Inflation Time Bomb

As if the current economic climate isn’t enough of a challenge for foodservice operators to contend with, the relentless inflation of global food prices is adding to the pressure.

The latest United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation’s index of 55 food commodities has jumped 197.1 points to the highest level since 2008.

This is clearly going to hurt the purse strings of households throughout the UK but it will also have a huge impact on the foodservice industry, at a time when the high street is obsessed with discounting and promotions to get customers through the door - surely this is not a sustainable.

When combined with 60% rise in wheat prices over the last 12 months and the BRC warning of further commodity prices, “still in the pipeline” it is likely that food inflation will run ahead of general inflation, which spells difficult times

The challenge for operators will be how to absorb these price rises without compromising on quality or passing it on to cash strapped customers. Part of the solution will be sourcing as much local produce as possible to keep costs down and driving a hard bargain with suppliers, shopping around for the best deals.

Inevitably these increased food prices will have to be passed on to the customer at some point, but given the climate of austerity the country find’s itself, will customers be willing to foot the bill? Or will they simply pop down to M&S and dine in for a tenner or venture into Waitrose to try and recreate the latest gastronomic delights from Heston / Delia?

The foodservice industry and suppliers need to lobby government for an international approach to address the food inflation time bomb that is affecting households and the out of home market. Failure to address the problem could see the UK’s £30bn foodservice industry contract as struggling operators go out of business, resulting in significant loss of revenue to the UK economy. Action is needed and fast!

Friday, 8 October 2010

Just as Beautiful?

As the debate continues on whether or not catwalks should use size zero models, or if skinny models used in magazines are bad role models for easily influenced younger girls, it’s very refreshing to see the launch of a brand new magazine, called ‘Just as Beautiful’. This magazine is the first of its kind, using only plus sized curvier models. Don’t expect to find stick thin girls, airbrushing or diet tips in this magazine! ‘Just as Beautiful’ is aimed at women who are between a size 14 and 20 and they will not use models that are slimmer than its target audience.

There’s obviously a gap in the market for this type of publication, however, is there a reason for that? Do people aspire to be a size 14 or bigger? Or are we all longing to be that size 8 cover model on the front of Marie Claire? It certainly celebrates the larger woman, illustrating that you don’t have to be skinny to be beautiful. In the appearance-obsessed culture that we live in, I personally think it’s great to be able to open a magazine full of ‘normal’, average sized women, rather than seeing image upon image of false celebrities such as Cheryl Cole and Jessica Simpson. How nice to compare yourself to someone who hasn’t had thousands of pounds spent on their appearance, (no doubt on hair extensions, facials, personal trainers and tooth veneers). More and more magazines are realizing this – take Essentials. Their October issue was crammed full of features on their readers, and this month features a reader on the front cover with her story inside.

‘Just as Beautiful’ say what they want to do is supply a magazine for women who don't want to be made to feel bad about the way they look. They might have interviews from plus size celebrities like Ruth Jones but they are straightforward interviews and don't concentrate on their size. The point of the magazine is not to make such a big deal about women's figures like other magazines do.

As always, there are going to be mixed opinions. Do you feel that you don’t want to read about real women, some of whom could be considered overweight, or do you love the idea of the magazine and think it’s about time we realized that a size zero model is not a healthy body image to live up to?

Photo credit: dailymail.co.uk

Friday, 1 October 2010

Grey pride

After a mass pilgrimage of the fiercely fashionable to London and beyond this month, Fashion weeks around the world have now drawn to a close for 2010.

So what exciting trends have emerged from the couture, and what can we expect to be translated into high street next Spring/Summer? In summary: White’s are in, Neon Brights are back, Fringing is abundant, and Prints – well, the louder the better! We are apparently supposed to tease our hair into 70’s-esque frizzy-chic afro’s or just off the beach waves (in London?) and go hell for leather for the biker babe look…I’m talking leather and studded accessories people.
And what about the image we are supposed to be channeling as a result of the ‘new’ female friendly models used on the catwalks. Last year a ‘Fast furor’ broke out as Mark Fast put plus size models in body con knitwear. This year, there was no exception to breaking body boundaries. Grey is suddenly ‘the new black’ as Brit designer Giles put his 71 year old leading lady in the spotlight, showcasing the veteran modeling legend – Veruschka von Lehndorff. Walking alongside the fresh faced Brit WAG Abbey Clancy, you could be forgiven for thinking he’s lost his marbles a bit. However, this gorgeous granny stole the show, and the subsequent headlines, and this appreciation of old school glamour and beauty is admirable! Following suit, Madrid based designer Duyos applied the same rules to his show last week with a troupe of golden oldies. He was overheard unapologetically musing ‘I am fed up of seeing 20-year-old models advertise anti-wrinkle creams for women aged 60. Beauty does not end at 40 or 50’ and then went on to describe elderly women as being ‘just as beautiful as 20-year-olds’.

Is this a statement being made by designers worldwide to gain a wider following? Or are they, just as we are, influenced by the street trends of ‘Grey’ being back en mode. Take for example the continued lure of silver haired supermodel Kristen McMenamy, the massive success of the Lady Gaga Vogue covershoot and the recent research showing Men over 55, a.k.a Silver Foxes, are officially sexy again. Don’t get me wrong; although I wouldn’t say no to George Clooney, it’s all a bit Electra complex for my liking…

However, for once, I’m loving that Fashion Week is promoting natural beauty, and growing old gracefully. When my blonde locks start fading into a silvery style, I’m definitely going to do everything I can to make it shine. Until then, I’ll leave it to the professionals.

Photo credit: www.metro.co.uk

Friday, 24 September 2010

The Power of PR

Unless you have been hiding under a stone recently (sorry, couldn’t resist…) you will no doubt be familiar with the latest war tribunal involving supermodel Naomi Campbell who was called to the stand in August to testify her acceptance of blood diamonds from ex-Liberian President Charles Taylor.

Whilst this headline story may have come as brand new information to most of you, interestingly enough, it has in fact been going on for many years – it was merely not considered newsworthy enough to cover!

Could it be that in order to generate widespread interest around the case, there was the demand for something or someone high profile to stir up attention? In the words of Naomi Campbell herself; “This trial has been going on for how many years and no-one cared to write about it? You bring Naomi Campbell to the stand and the whole world knows. I was used as a scapegoat."…and perhaps she is right!

As we PROs know better than most, if you want to grab the news headlines, you need to offer the media something meaty! Send a bog standard release and the only place it will be fighting for space will be within the recycling bin.

Although, whilst many of us can sympathise with Naomi for having to undergo such a rigorous tribunal, dragged through the press for what seemed like weeks in order to settle the case, I notice she was quick to promote her other fund raising activities including drumming up support for victims of the Pakistan floods whilst defending her involvement.

So whilst she may criticise the works of the judiciary system for using such tactical methods in order to grab the attention of the media, it seems she too knows how to put the PR wheels in motion as and when is needed!

Photo credit: inquisitr.com

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Online: Rise to fame or fall from grace

This year’s X Factor is proving how influential social media can be on generating support from the public. Last year Simon Cowell introduced live audiences to the audience process, bringing the public closer to the judging panel to have their say. But with social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter the ‘judging’ goes beyond the audition.

The contestants that have got it right are the ones that already have Twitter accounts and fan pages before their audition appears on TV. Those that saw them in the live auditions have already become Facebook fans and are following them on Twitter, so by the time they appear on our screens they have thousands of followers. The support they get through social media is obviously seen by the producers of X Factor and help them realise which contestants are of interest to the public. Last year’s finalists all had Twitter accounts and Facebook fan pages and kept the public up to date with their experience throughout the show.


Looking at an example from this season, Cher Lloyd (or mini Cheryl Cole as you may remember her), on the night of her audition she became the most popular trend on Twitter in the UK, possibly ensuring she makes it to the live finals.
But for those contestants that have a past (and lets face it many of them do) the world wide web does everything it can to show them in a negative light, giving them their five minutes of fame, but perhaps hindering their chances of ever making it past boot camp.

Take Chloe Mafia for example, the 19 year old was put through even after a not so great audition (judges decision, not ours!), but the media has done its research, found out about her criminal past and splashed it all over the front cover of every tabloid newspaper since her audition. With the backlash she has received on Twitter and Facebook her future as an X Factor contestant looks like its about to come to an end.

And moving away from the X Factor, look at the David Beckham rumour that is running around Twitter today. The journalists have heard a rumour from the American press. Although they can’t reveal what the story is just yet (I’m sure the lawyers are trying to stop it) but they can certainly get their followers guessing and gossiping about the story simply by posting the words “If the Beckham rumours are true he’s in serious trouble”.

Since I first started writing this post the story has in fact been revealed by In Touch magazine and the whole Beckham story is spreading like Wildfire. We here are split in the office by those tweeting and those not as to who knows what’s going on and who will find out a few days later when the UK press finally print the story.

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Day Break – Tuned In or Turned Off?

It sounds a bit like the title of a blockbuster movie, but alas, it’s the new replacement for GMTV. The sparkling new, reformatted ITV breakfast show aired for the first time last week with a brand new set, presenters and structure. Personally, I’m still trying to get used to seeing Adrian and Christine whilst eating my cornflakes and getting very confused when I tune into the One Show and wonder why Christine suddenly has a Welsh accent!

The new Daybreak show is certainly different. Long gone are the bright yellow and orange colours and the comfy sofas that made you feel like it was an extension of your living room. Instead we have a rather dull and dreary set that even Christine’s smile cannot brighten! But I have to say, that’s the only negatives I have noticed. GMTV has been on our screens since 1993 so a complete overhaul was definitely in order to bring the show up to speed. The new ‘Something Cool Before School’ feature is particularly fun and interesting, yet surprisingly educational, and will definitely attract a younger audience who probably never watched GMTV. They have also moved to more serious stories and interviews with people such as Prince Charles and Tony Blair as well as having the regular entertainment sections, so they are clearly catering for all tastes.

However, reports so far have shown a dramatic fall in viewing figures losing one fifth of its’ audience in the first two weeks. I guess this to be expected given that it’s a turbulent time where loyal fans of GMTV who loved the old format and presenters will feel a little uncomfortable by the change and start to search for alternative morning TV. For me, the sticking point is the presenters as I just can’t get used to them! But I’m sure that with time I, and the rest of the nation, will be able to slip back into easy-viewing, breakfast TV.

What do you think about Daybreak? Have you tuned in or turned off?

Photo credit:
bedandbreakfastclub.co.uk

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Size zero Vs Men's Health hero

The size zero debate rages on with the queen of nil herself Victoria Beckham declaring she will only use size 6 models and above for her Spring 2011 collection. You’d think that by now this would be a matter of course and that the really skinny girls would no longer be booked but this is not the case. At a recent photographic shoot I overheard the stylist and make-up artist chatting about this very topic and how in the lead up to London Fashion Week they are still seeing size zeros turning up for casting from Milan and Paris. It seems that the UK and the US are getting it but the rest of Europe is yet to catch up. Working in PR it’s hard not to be affected by the gorgeous girls we see every day judging us from the covers of magazines. Most of us are big enough and bold enough to be happy as we are, but what of the likes of my ten year old niece who recently confided in me that she is going on a diet!


How refreshing then to attend the Remington Men’s Health Cover Model competition 2010 finalist dinner. The awards celebrate the perfection of not just a physique, but a great personality and a balanced lifestyle too. All the finalists were chosen for their passion to be in the best condition possible without letting their goal imprison them. A new female category was introduced this year and like the male finalists they all followed healthy eating plans and work out so that they can enjoy the good things in life – such as the champagne and posh steak dinner that was polished off by all with relish!

Photo credit: news.sky.com

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

All’s fair in love and work


I was recently asked to contribute a post to the Social Collective blog, which features a series of forward-thinking opinion pieces by those working with social media. I was very honoured to be in such good company, and I’d love to hear any thoughts you might have on the post I submitted, which focuses on client relationships…

A colleague recently described me as her “relationship guru”. By this she meant that I approach my relationship with love, patience and just a tiny bit of manipulation, resulting in a happy home where I get what I want 90% of the time. Just call me the man whisperer.

This got me thinking… can you apply the same principles to client relationships as you can to those of a more romantic nature? While I may be a competent communicator at home, I’ve always found client relationships to be more challenging, so by utilising years of pop psychology gleaned from glossy magazines, I’ve come up with four approaches that work just as well on clients as they do on men:

Make them feel important: When you have a partner, it can be easy to spend all of your time with them and ignore your friends. It’s a real skill to make everyone feel that they are equally important to you, but it’s crucial to happy, healthy friendships – and client relationships. No, you can’t just drop everything every time someone asks you for a favour, but you can respond to them quickly and tell them when you will be able to help them. You can check in regularly to show that they are on your mind, and you can spread your activities out so you are often in touch. By treating your clients with respect, you can ensure that they always feel loved.

It’s good to talk: We all have friends that we only talk to on Facebook, but my guess would be that they’re not your closest confidantes. I’m also fairly certain that you wouldn’t communicate with your partner exclusively through the internet, so why do it with your clients? Email is a great tool but it’s very difficult to build up a meaningful relationship without talking. Pick up the phone, talk around subjects, ask questions. If you can build up a dialogue with your clients, they will enjoy working with you more, and be more likely to listen to your advice.

Be helpful:
You probably don’t have anything to do with your partner’s place of work, but that doesn’t mean you don’t offer them advice on work-related dilemmas. Likewise, you may not be involved with your clients’ personal lives, but that doesn’t mean you can’t take an interest. Just as you would help them out in the workplace, keep their personal interests at heart as well. Are they moving house? Mention you’ve seen a sale at Cargo. Getting married? Tell them about an upcoming wedding exhibition. You don’t need to be obtrusive, just interested.


Make them think it’s their idea:
Decades of advice from women’s magazines tells us that if you really want something, the trick is to make your man think he’s thought of it himself. Clients are no different. Offer suggestions, present plans, drop hints – but treat feedback as if it’s the smartest thing you’ve heard all week. Of course, clients (like men) can be wrong – but if you’re usually supportive, they’ll be more likely to listen to your advice when you have a better idea.


Finally, the best advice I have ever been given is to treat your partner like a friend. When you’ve invested so much in one person (or one client), it’s easy to be hard on them when they fail to live up to your impossible expectations. Always remember that boyfriends and clients are just people – treating everyone with respect and kindness is the best way to build lasting relationships in and out of the office.

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Social media to drive product recalls

A new survey from myvouchers.co.uk shows that one in five people have spiked their own food with something to avoid paying for it. It does seem remarkably high and pretty appalling given the lengths brand owners go to to develop the highest quality products whilst adhering to stringent and complex manufacturing processes.

Occasionally however things do go wrong and consumers have a genuine cause for complaint when they find something in a product that shouldn’t be there. If the problem affects a batch then a decision is taken in consultation with the Food Standards Agency (FSA) for the product to be either 'withdrawn' (taken off the shelves) or 'recalled' (when customers are asked to return the product). In the last four weeks there has been a recall of a well known champagne brand due to an allergy alert, a withdrawal of a brand of Fizzy Jelly Mix and Fizzy Cola Bottles sweets due to a concern about the metal tin base and a recall of a supermarket’s own label brand of milk chocolate due to the presence of nuts. Brand owners are required to place newspaper advertising to communicate recalls to consumers, but when was the last time you remember seeing or reading such a notification? The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) already recognises this approach needs to be reviewed down-under. Their recent report recommends suppliers develop recall communication plans that target consumers based on demographics and communication preferences, including making greater use of social media and online forms of communication such as websites and blogs to advertise product recalls. If implemented in Australia the impact will surely be felt across the globe and other markets are certain to follow.

Most big food and drink brands are already embracing social media as part of their ongoing proactive communications but they also need to use it as an essential part of crisis communications too. Plum Organics used Facebook and Twitter extremely effectively to reassure consumers during its voluntary and precautionary recall of Apple & Carrot Baby Food. At Cirkle we work with our clients to implement tailored communications strategies all year round, not just in the event of a recall, and the role of social media within those strategies is never underestimated or overlooked.

Photo credit: guardian.co.uk

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Do you know your Jubilee from your Elsanta?

Nothing says summer like a big, juicy, vibrant red, strawberry. There is nothing like that unique taste, that aroma, that texture…hmmm

But isn’t it disappointing when you get a dud?

Cirkle has spent the last week talking to Jubilee Strawberries and to our surprise, even us foodies, who are arguably well versed in fresh produce with award winning campaigns for Jersey Royal Potatoes, Pink Lady Apples and British Blackcurrants under our belts, were in the dark when it came to picking a perfect punnet – surely just looking out for ‘British’ is enough when it comes to a strawberry?

Did you know there are more than 20 varieties of British strawberries? It seems mind boggling that there could be that much of a difference from one crop to the next – but think about it… does it feel mind boggling to compare a Granny Smith apple to a Pink Lady? Or a King Edward Potato to a Jersey Royal? No, because they are completely different in taste and we know what we are getting when we buy them. We have already been educated about the differences and we understand them.

Jubilee Strawberries were voted the best strawberry when polled in blind taste tests and even the retailers recognise their exceptional quality – they are what you will be getting when you buy Sainsbury’s Taste The Difference, Tesco Finest, Morrison’s Best, Asda Extra Special and M&S Dine In.

Yet despite this, 80% of strawberry buyers don’t look at what they are buying – even though consumer trends are showing that us shoppers want to shop smarter not cheaper, we want to enjoy the products we buy, not waste £1.99 on a cut price punnet of unripe, tasteless, bullets that we will probably throw away before finishing.

So get strawberry savvy people!! There are still lots of strawberry eating occasions left before the British season ends in October (just ignore the rain!).

Photo credit: jimandaz.com

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Are you hiding your opinions behind your computer screen?

With the rise in popularity and range of social media platforms available, it seems that everyone I know is part of this phenomenon. Whether it be Twitter, Facebook or blogging, they are all at it.

A recent survey by myjobgroup.co.uk revealed that two million of British workers spend over an hour a day surfing social me
dia sites. We are a nation obsessed with Tweets and Facebook status updates! I’ve lost count of the times I’ve read Facebook status updates on subjects such as the state of public transport or someone’s rude behaviour, let alone those status’ with hidden messages obviously aimed at a certain person. I wonder if these people would have expressed their opinions if they had to say it in person rather than type it…. has social media become the modern day Speaker’s Corner, giving you the chance to say something you wouldn’t normally say?

The internet is the perfect platform to express those more controversial opinions too – take the Facebook group entitled ‘R.I.P. Raoul Moat You Legend!’ This group made the national news, after attracting more than 35,000 contributions. The page was removed after it came under fire from Prime Minister David Cameron, and just hours later another one was created.

It just goes to show that you will always find someone of the same or similar opinion as you online, no matter how controversial or strange it may be... even if it’s just a Facebook group, a ‘like’ of your Facebook status or a Retweet.

What happened to a good, old fashioned rant or telling people exactly how you feel in person? Are you guilty of bottling up your thoughts and expressing them through your Twitter or Facebook page rather than saying them out loud?

Photo credit: guardian.co.uk

Thursday, 5 August 2010

A little less action, a little more conversation please


There is no doubt that technology is making it easier for brands to connect with consumers. Online platforms and more specifically social media have created an opportunity for brands to engage with consumers by building meaningful dialogue in a space that invites conversation, enables peer-to-peer interaction and ultimately drives word of mouth through brand advocacy. But are brands connecting with the tools that facilitate this conversation rather than engaging with the communities they create?

As individuals we would never turn up at a party uninvited and shout about ourselves to whoever listens. If we did we’d probably be shown the door before anyone even considered befriending us. In order to successfully engage with people online brands need to adhere to the same rules of engagement an individual would in this situation – establish a profile, invite conversation, gain respect and engage in the same way we would human-to-human. Brands need to join the community without invading it.

A recent Altimeter Report that investigated how 34 brands used Facebook marketing found that nearly half the brands they reviewed did not fully leverage social media features to harness brand advocacy and activate word of mouth. As a result, they have identified ‘8 Success Criteria for Facebook Page Marketing:
1. Set community expectations

2. Provide cohesive branding

3. Be up to date

4. Live authenticity

5. Participate in dialogue

6. Enable peer-to-peer interactions

7. Foster advocacy

8. Solicit a call to action


It’s fair to say that in many ways these are all attributes one would expect to find in any mutually beneficially relationship between two individuals on Facebook who trust and value each others opinion. Albeit we would not define them in exactly the same way i.e. ‘set community expectation’ is about being honest and open about what one can expect from a relationship, while ‘foster advocacy’ would be more along the lines of defending a friend’s reputation or speaking highly of their achievements.

Too often brands use online tools, like Facebook, simply for the sake of being there or as a tactic rather than considering them as just one element of online strategy that seeks to establish meaningful, long term relationships with relevant groups and interested individuals. If they truly want to engage with consumers and establish a meaningful, long term relationship that creates genuine brand advocates they need to be a part of the communities they seek to harness and add value to their discussions.

In short, social skills are essential if brands want to connect with consumers rather than simply being present on platforms they are using.

Photo credit: itsajaimething.com

Friday, 30 July 2010

My iPad won't carry my chips!


Gadget and Gizmo Geeks everywhere are abuzz this week as Amazon launch the latest version of their e-reader, Kindle, in the UK. Coming only a few months after the monstrous launch of Apple’s latest phenomenon: the iPad, I think we may have a fight on our hands… Constantly challenged, technology giant Apple are being put on trial again as the Amazon Kindle promises to not only have the largest selection of book titles available, but also to be the cheapest supplier of e-books on the market, outsmarting the uber-shop that is the iTunes store.

But how has this flooding of the gadget market, offering the chance to read books, papers and magazines online and on the go, affected the humble newspaper rag and mag? Will The Times and The Guardian be relegated to the local chippie and used only for absorbing grease on a Friday night?

I’m not sure the answer is as doom and gloom as you may have anticipated. Take for example the introduction of a paywall on the Times Online asking for £2 a week for daily news content. The result? A 90% reduction of readers. However, research revealed these same readers were still prepared to dish out pennies for buying the real thing, and according to a poll, 72% of readers are enjoying their daily newspaper reading experience. Not only this, but 70 percent of 18-34* year-olds (32 million) read a newspaper during the week and 21 million read a newspaper on Sunday. Does this sound like news in print is on a death spiral? (*Apple & Amazon, please note that this is the very same target demographic you need splashing the cash on iPad’s and Kindle’s…)


A lot of people who know and appreciate the nature of PR think us PRO’s have it easy, starting our day with a cup of coffee and a flick through the day’s newspapers and the weekly celeb mags. But this happy tradition isn’t about enriching our minds and easing ourselves into a day of work, it is essential for us to have a grasp on the daily events around the world to help with campaigns, give a head’s up to a crisis and just make us commercially aware. Starting up a laptop and being confronted by a gazillian e-mails will inevitably distract us from scouring BBC.co.uk and the Sun online.


All of this to digest - and now today a poll of 20,000 consumers has found that the typical owner of the iPad is seen as power-hungry and has little time for the concerns of others. According to those polled, the image of someone who owns an iPad is of a selfish workaholic between 30 and 50 who has an unhealthy interest in making lots of money. Hmm....in this case, I may remove the device from my Christmas list in favour a subscription to the Daily Mail!


Photo credit: werledesign.com

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

HMV vs Apple


HMV have launched their new download site this week which it anticipates to have market leader ITunes quaking in their boots!

The well known high street music store has launched a website that sells Top 40 music tracks at 40p as part of its strategy to move from high street retailer to a wider entertainment brand. First opening in 1921, the British entertainment retail chain is now the largest of its kind in the United Kingdom and Canada. ITunes accounts for 70% of worldwide online digital music sales, making the service the largest legal music retailer. But is this all set to change?

To date, if the IPod, MP3 and download junkie wants to have the latest tunes blasting through their headphones, ITunes has been the place to go for secure, safe music downloads. From Top 40 to 80s classics, podcasts to movies, Monday night's Eastenders to Katie Price’s latest biography – ITunes has one of the largest download directories available.

HMV Digital, operating from its new standalone site has a catalogue of 10 million tracks. In addition to the Top 40 singles, chart albums start from £4.99, placing the offering in direct competition to Apple's established download service. HMV is also offering an introductory offer of five tracks free on a first-come first-serve basis.

A feature of HMV Digital, which is currently unavailable on ITunes, is the ability to re-download tracks if a hard-drive is lost or broken. It has a download manager that enables users to sync purchases with their iTunes and Windows Media Player libraries.

HMV may be the biggest entertainment high street retailer, and its new site is offering more to the download generation. Its competitive pricing may switch some of the more savvy users but will it really impact ITunes sales… Is HMV really powerful enough to take on the mighty Apple?

Photo credit: hmvdigital.com

Thursday, 22 July 2010

A little thought goes a long way…

In the last couple of days, our key journalists have been arriving at work to find an apple tree on their desk courtesy of Copella. It’s a gift that will remind them of their trip to Hampton Court Flower Show and the spectacular garden Copella has there as well as the new Copella Apple & Cherry flavour being launched.Journalists go to so many events it can be difficult to make your news story and event stand out and stick in the mind. Just because you have met them face-to-face and dazzled them with an amazing event doesn’t mean you can kick back, relax and wait for the coverage to start rolling in. One essential is to follow-up after an event with some kind of personal touch so that when the event is over the experience is not forgotten and you get that all important coverage.

Photo credit: GardenOasis, Shoot Gardening

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

A little taste of Italy…in a sandwich?


There are simply some foods that should never have been invented; deep fried Mars bars, spam and chocolate liqueurs to name a few but I think Tesco has topped these with their latest creation, the lasagne sandwich.

I can definitely see their thinking on this one; lasagne is a classic dish and a firm favourite with Brits so why not transfer that to a sandwich? It’s true that the step from dinner plate to sandwich has been really successful in the past, for example turkey and cranberry is always a favourite around Christmas, the ‘all day breakfast’ often graces the chiller shelves and chicken tikka is a great filler too but this lasagne creation really doesn’t work for me. Lasagne has always been one of those meals that’s homemade and warming, certainly not something I would consider sandwiching between two slices of white bread and eating cold. It just looks soggy and unappealing.

The creator states that her inspiration came from her student days when she found that many foods tasted even better the next day, which in some cases is very true such as curry and pizza, but lasagne? Even so, I would never consider putting my curry or pizza into a sandwich!

This has triggered me to wonder what other creations Tesco may have up their sleeves – the Chinese stir fry sandwich, fish, chips and mushy peas sandwich or even perhaps the mushroom risotto sandwich. I’m penning a letter to Tesco straight after this with my ideas!

It’s never going to win Tesco any awards in finest cuisine or healthy eating but I think they’ll be suitably happy with the column inches and hype they’ve managed to secure with this new NPD, even if their mocked-up packaging was highlighted as having the incorrect nutritional values printed on it! I am very much looking forward to seeing how Tesco can top this one.

What does everyone else think - would you buy the lasagne sandwich? What other meals would you like to see transformed into a sandwich?

Photo credit: Dailymail.co.uk

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Boring gets kitsch, then massclusivity hits


Ah, the rise of the humble cupcake – previously the preserve of school hall ‘Bring & Buy’ sales and the local village fete… a small piece of dried-out sponge in a flimsy cupcake case that featured Christmas mistletoe designs, and all housed in a sweaty tin full of crumb remnants of cupcakes gone by.

My how far it’s come…. having recently endured a frenzy of positive media coverage and getting a new lease of life through appearances in the likes of Sex And The City, the humble cupcake became kitsch. Reinventing itself in gorgeous technicolour with mouthwatering flavours, a menagerie of pastel hued frostings and cutesy mini-topping decorations meant it has begun making guest-of-honour appearances at A-lister weddings and celeb parties.

Listed in Google’s annual zeitgeist list as the ‘fastest rising recipe search’ in December 2009, the cupcake has now evolved from its position of exclusive kitsch in the mid Noughties (when the Hummingbird Bakery brought it to London’s ├╝ber cool South Ken, Notting Hill and Soho as a treat for London trendoids), to becoming exclusive to the masses.

Now boasting fresh buttercream icing, moist layers and oozing gorgeousness, lickable lips-ness, cupcakes have retained their exclusive/cute appeal even though they are available through the high street. Clinton cards– the card and pressie retailer have done cupcakes brilliantly with www.clintoncakes.co.uk which means in this bespoke era, you can personalise your cupcake order from flavour, frosting, decoration and even feature an image or photo of your choice.

So go on, what or who would you have superimposed on your cupcake and who would you send a batch to?

Photo credit: Clintoncakes.co.uk

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Festival Marketing

Festival season seems to have become the defining sign that the British summer has well and truly arrived. From June right through to September, you’d be hard pushed to find a weekend where somewhere in the country, some kind of festival (be it music, comedy, literary or film) isn’t going on.

Whether, you’re partial to Glastonbury, Latitude, Edinburgh or even Bestival, there’s no denying that these events, which attract the nation in their masses, present some of the most lucrative marketing opportunities around.

Many festivals are working harder than ever to create tailored opportunities for brands to help them reach their target markets and engage on a personal and practical level. For instance, mobile network Orange’s tie up with Glastonbury this year would have been music to most festival go-ers ears. With their ‘chill and charge’ tent, they created an area where people could go to re-charge their phones (vital when most phone batteries don’t last more than a day of full use) as well as send messages and tweet. Providing this vital service and resulted in a facebook group with nearly 6,000 followers, not to mention numerous tweets on twitter.

One of our very own clients, Remington, have taken the idea one step further this year as they prepare to be official hair partner of the ‘Beauty ‘n’ Beats zone’ at this year’s Big Chill festival in Herefordshire. Providing much needed style to those who are more used to glam-ping rather than camping, the Remington style bar will use the sleekest tools in the business to create festival frizz free hair – and what girl could refuse?!


So, it seems the rule is simple; provide a service that people really want and you can’t go too far wrong. But what service would you really like to see at a festival?


Thoughts please…


Photo credit:
routenote.com

Friday, 9 July 2010

Facebook takes back gifts

Facebook shockingly lost more than a quarter of a million users during June. For the No.1 social media site that has constantly been riding high, it seems Facebook may have finally reached its peak. With so many other social media platforms popping up literally every month, users are streamlining their memberships rather than using multiple sites.

So its no surprise that yesterday Facebook announced a major change to its site. The gift shop service where users can ‘buy’ friends virtual gifts with Facebook credits will as of 1st August be no more. Users have to earn credits first before they can send most of the gifts, which in my opinion would make this an unpopular service. However, according to Facebook users have sent millions of gifts, yet the service will be removed allowing the development of more popular areas such as photos, comments, news feed and the ‘Like’ button. I for one have never used this service and will certainly not be mourning its disappearance.

Looking closer at the credits, a key area where users can earn credits is through Facebook games, which are extremely popular (I know my news feed is full of what fishes friends have found and crops they have grown). With the amount of gaming updates I see I expect there are a lot of credits being collected, but where will they spend these credits now? At the moment users can use their credits to reward friends for interesting status updates, but how many people will want to use their earnings for other people?

Facebook could become a major player in online credits, but unless these credits can be spent on something more exciting (think reward scheme websites where credits can be used for real gifts such as branded mousemats and t-shirts to shopping vouchers and product discounts) then they are probably going to just sit there in virtual Facebook piggybanks.

What would you like to spend your Facebook credits on?

Photo source: Facebook

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Back to the future


Sci-fi fans everywhere were thrown into a state of disarray after a new internet hoax has been doing the rounds today. Today is the day that Marty McFly allegedly travelled forward in time in the cult classic Back To The Future. But how far are we from hoverboards and self tying trainers?

I remember watching this movie as a child thinking it would be virtually impossible to live in a world so technologically advanced- I was hoping that I would live that long and was secretly jealous of the generations to come who would get to make the most of the gadgets and gizmos of the future! So, considering I used to think 25 was old, I have now come to terms that we ‘live in the future’. What gadgets do we have that were almost unimaginable back in the 80s? I had a quick think of the things that inspire me right now and have listed my top 3:

1, Smart phones: My first phone had an ariel, a green screen, lots of buttons. Smart phones have revolutionised the way we do things, combining so many features into something so small means we never have to worry about printing off tickets, checking the AtoZ, or even finding something to do! Location based apps are becoming huge and changing the way people are interacting with each other and throwing augmented reality into the mix is getting consumers to start ‘playing’, injecting a tiny bit of fun into everyday life… and we all know that’s a good thing

2, 3D TV: I was impressed at seeing these at CES this year while I think the 3D TV concept is not quite there yet, it is rapidly advancing meaning the readily available technology shows we aren’t far off. With TVs replacing the fireplace as the focal point of the modern living room, how will the 3D images change this and the way we watch our favourite shows, sports or even play our favourite games?

3, Games consoles: While I can’t pretend to be a gaming geek, the evolution on how we play on consoles is fascinating. Nintendo got the ball rolling with the Wii bringing motion control to the forefront but then Xbox took this one step further with Kinect.

What are things that inspire you right now?

Photo credit: moviesonline.ca