Tuesday, 20 December 2011

I’m dreaming of a White Christmas…

As a PRO, we rely entirely on the consumer and national media as a credible way of communicating with our target audience and generating visibility. The national papers in particular are held in extremely high regard, often renowned in the PR industry as the ‘holy grail’ of all editorial coverage. Whether it be clinical research, a quirky survey, or even a whacky picture stunt which we have to offer, getting past the news editors aka ‘gatekeepers’ is a campaign in itself! All PR initiatives are brainstormed and tailored around their ‘talkability’ factor and newsworthy content; in other words…will the journalists want it, and can we justify its credible nature?

But in the same way that these journalists ultimately rely on us to provide them with quality, newsworthy content, we also rely on them to provide us with a valuable source of daily information. So what happens when these gatekeepers interpret their sources of information differently, or more than often, are so constrained by time that they are unable to check their conflicting sources thoroughly?

Take for example today’s newspapers with regards to the Winter weather fast approaching. Whilst the Daily Express has dedicated their entire front page to report that ‘IT’S A WHITE CHRISTMAS’, no doubt mustering widespread hype and excitement amongst Brits nationwide…the Daily Telegraph shatters our hopes somewhat, telling us to ‘Stop dreaming of a white Christmas’. With conflicting headlines issued on a daily basis, how do we differentiate between fact and fiction, in the same way that they decipher which press releases to cover and which ones to ignore?

As a big fan of all things festive, I for one am keeping my fingers tightly crossed that snow is on its way, but whether it will realistically happen is another story….!

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Lost in transmission: Traditional Christmas Spirit...if found please return

Social media greeting apps, virtual nativity plays, online shopping and digital eCards to name a few...Is there any chance of conversing and connecting with one another verbally over the festive season this year?
We tend to associate the holiday season with being able to give a little more time to friends, family, and those who really matter to us, but it seems that as we embrace the digital revolution, real relationships are becoming massively under threat.
The fast emergence of technology has disconnected us from the real world and thrusted us into a virtual world; one where we are forever dependant on various technology platforms and social media networks to engage with one another.
I have no doubt that this Christmas, out of sheer convenience, many will opt for sending greetings via any one of the abundance of digital options, readily available at our finger tips, including SMS, email, tweeting or sending a Facebook message. We may even consider uploading a simple status update, involving just a few festive words at the simple click of a mouse - that way we won’t even feel obliged to engage in conversation, should our friends comment or reply.
But how sincere are our digital seasonal greetings? Whilst eChristmas cards and social media messages may make our inbox’s swell with pride, I personally would question the veracity and depth behind a snappy Facebook message or a 140 character tweet - surely our nearest and dearest are worth more? We wouldn't rush over a conversation at a Christmas dinner, in the way we would speed through an email compilation, tweet or Facebook status.
What's more, those opting to send eGreetings will quite happily ditch traditional cards which once lined our mantelpieces and added to the festive decor.
With entertainment including music, movies and books now available in downloadable formats, there will be a lot less wrapped pressies under the tree. At least for the seasonal slackers digital Christmas shopping can be left until the last minute, the product will never be out of stock and I guess without the wrapping paper there is minimal environmental impact…But how sad that there is no unwrapping of a digital gift on Christmas day.
Whilst on the subject of shopping, we already know that online commerce is set to rise yet again this Christmas, regardless of not trusting eTailers to deliver on time! I understand shoppers won’t have to fight the drones of others on the high street but what happened to the traditional festive present buying commotion and seeing all the flashy window displays?
I could rant forever, but I should wrap this up as it seems I won’t be wrapping much more this Christmas!
With updates in real time about how people are celebrating and the constant barrage of uploaded festive pictures, all I am left to say is that technology is set to kill the art of conversation this Christmas.
Don't get me wrong, social media is great for breaking news, keeping in touch with distant friends and family, plugging your latest campaign and keeping celebrities busy, but when it comes to traditional festivities, I believe we should be keeping conversation alive!
This Christmas I will be making the conscious effort to engage with loved ones in a more meaningful way….

Thursday, 8 December 2011

The Guardian and The Independent: innovating their way up?

I’ve been so impressed with the way The Guardian and The Independent are innovating, particularly with their digital/social media offerings. Newspaper circulations may be dwindling and hacking scandals affecting the UK industry’s reputation and influence, but it’s good to see there are those who are putting up a damn good fight. A cynic might argue that the lack of having to fight a war on two fronts (a disinterested public and the topic of the Leveson Inquiry) is paying its moral high-ground dividends.

Chris Blackhurst, editor of The Independent and i has given some inspiring and honest interviews, also revealing that the joint circulation of the two Independent papers is greater than The Guardian’s and not far off The Times, great news for beleaguered PROs increasingly pushed to justify ROI in a media landscape undergoing a sea change of nauseatingly choppy proportions.

Alan Rusbridger, Editor of The Guardian, appears to have emerged from the hacking scandal as a thoroughly English hero, while his paper continues to innovate online at breakneck speed. Recent months have seen the Guardian Tagbot, part of Guardian Beta, their online film desk’s live blog of the Three Colours Trilogy and their latest offering which gives an insight into the news desk process.

Both papers have a strong presence, with my peers at least, on Facebook. The Independent updates images and news headlines into my newsfeed, while The Guardian posts content created specifically for a younger audience, through their app.

I’ll be interested to see if the two continue to tie their Facebook futures in with frictionless sharing, I’m not a fan so I hope not, and I know the arguments of self-censorship and limiting usage ring true with me. The Guardian in particular seems to be emerging from the ‘privacy is for paedos’ fall-out with a strong and clear brand identity of morality and trust, a much needed beacon of light in these darks times of MPs expenses and before that, dodgy dossiers. Being ‘whiter-than-white’ and being perceived as ‘whiter-than-white’ in the tricky issue of online privacy seems particularly important

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

What tache are you?

With Movember ending just over a week ago, I was uplifted to see so many blokes embracing this monthly tache-fesh, and all in the name of charity. Everywhere I travelled, be it on trains, planes, automobiles or just walking up the street, I spied sprouts of ‘bumfluff’ on the top lips of the more mature male, transforming them instantly back to their pubescent teen days. I was surrounded by so many taches, beards and bits of face fuzz, I had trouble working out who actually wore this facial furniture all the time as opposed to just during Movember. What is great is that this month is really catching on and is continuing to be successful in raising awareness of men’s health, male cancers and particularly prostrate cancer - causing real talkability, action and support. Within our office of 30 girls (and one bloke) we wondered what we’d look like with taches and I must say, we liked what we saw … what tache are you?

Monday, 21 November 2011

Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want

It’s the £6million advert that everyone is talking about – yes, you guessed it – the John Lewis Christmas 2011 advert

Carefully planned to perfection to pull on your heartstrings, it tells the story of a young boy so excited for Christmas, he counts down the days until he can give his parents their gift, rather than open his, with the strap line ‘For gifts you can’t wait to give’. The follow up from last year’s ‘For those who care about showing they care’ campaign has been a huge hit on the internet – trending on Twitter within hours of its launch with over two million views on YouTube to date. But everyone loves a heart-warming story at Christmas…. don’t they?

As popular as it may seem, there will always be critics and the advert has created its fair share of controversy (the backlash was inevitable), with some saying that it is ‘emotionally manipulative’. It appears one of these critics has taken the time to create a spoof of the ad, which is currently going viral…

It seems the John Lewis Christmas advert is turning into an annual tradition. So much so, they are planning on releasing an album featuring all the songs that have appeared in their adverts, including the Ellie Goulding version on Elton John’s ‘Your Song’ and Fyfe Dangerfield’s version of Billy Joel’s She’s Always a Woman.

What do you think? Love it or loathe it?

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Celebrating Our Industry

Wow, what a night enjoyed by Cirkle at the PRCA awards last night. The agency picked up the award for CSR campaign of the year for its inspiring Typhoo Sports for All initiative – beating the likes of Starbucks and EDF Energy - and was also highly commended in the Medium Sized Consultancy category.

Far from being a lesson in self-appreciation, awards are actually a great opportunity to take a step back, ease your foot off the pedal and reflect on the great work being conceived and activated - not only by our own teams but also other agencies in the industry.

We cheered just as loudly when agencies like Burson-Marsteller UK were recognised for their inspired ‘2 minute silence’ campaign as we did when our own name was announced.

There was a feeling of camaraderie and fun on the night. We know from the recent PRCA census that overall, the industry is in a buoyant mood and I think that was evident.

PR is moving up the marketing agenda and stealing budgets from traditional areas of high spend and finally receiving the respect it deserves.

Well done to all who were shortlisted.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Window shopping- no longer just the pass time of the thrifty

I’ve never really found window shopping appealing, to me it’s a form of torture- surrounding yourself with things that you want- but can’t have; a couple of weeks ago eBay changed all that. The online retailer created the eBay Inspiration Shop, a temporary storefront window in New York which uses QR codes to enable consumers to purchase objects as they pass by. By simply swiping your smartphone in front of the displayed object’s code you can instantly choose to ‘buy it now’, day or night without any need for shop assistants or opening hours. The displays were filled with the Christmas wish-lists of celebrities and were intended to communicate eBay’s philosophy that shopping is 24/7.

It’s pretty clever. I can imagine lots of high-street retailers adopting these codes in their shop fronts so that they never have to miss out on sales. I definitely think I’d be tempted to swipe as I was going past.

Thursday, 3 November 2011

The little things in life

Amidst all the doom and gloom in the papers today, the nation’s happiness has been a keen theme.
We often see studies which claim to prove for example, that happy people tend to live longer. Researchers at University College London asked 3,800 older people to rate how happy they felt several times a day. Those who rated themselves happiest were a third less likely to die over the next five years.

Yesterday, The Office for National Statistics published plans to measure how content us Brits are. National Statistician Jill Matheson who has been in charge of the £2m a year wellbeing project says,

‘It is essential that the set of measures of well-being is relevant and well-based in what matters to people, both as individuals and for the UK as a whole.’

One truly inspired question will be ‘overall, how happy did you feel yesterday?’ Let’s hope nobody gets a parking fine on the day of the survey, or results might be a little…out.

Come what may, we will have the thrilling results by August. I predict a set of stats which will reveal non-surprising and barely enlightening conclusions.

Did the leaders of the well-being project not see the latest survey by Three Barrels Brandy? The poll, which set out to find the top 50 things that make people happy, revealed that happiness is accessible to us all – through the simplest day-to-day occurrences. Finding a £10 note in an old pair of jeans emerged as one of life's greatest good mood triggers.

Who needs a set of ‘well-being indicators’? We know what makes us happy – just give us all a tenner and be done with it.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Facials At The Check Out...Whatever Next?

The new Tesco beauty salons have opened across the country to mixed reviews. The budget beauty treatment menu includes facials, manicures, eyebrow threading and waxing all at extremely purse pleasing prices.

But is the bright shiny clinical design of a supermarket the right environment for beauty? A pampering treat is the last thing on my mind when I'm charging down the frozen food aisle. But the convenience of being able to park on site, whizz around for my weekly shop and pop in for a quick no frills tidy up certainly appeals.

I doubt very much that a facial or relaxing massage will end up on my shopping list next to the tins of beans and bags of carrots, but an express maintenance treatment like a leg wax or eyebrow thread may well become a welcome addition.

After all, for a time poor PR professional in the beauty industry...every little helps!

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Trick or Treat?

With the last 3 months of the year filled with opportunities to celebrate, a recent survey has now shown Halloween has become the second most popular family occasion behind Christmas. Parents are now spending more than £100 on parties for their children and one in three houses will be throwing or attending a Halloween party.

Despite people spending less and family budgets under pressure the survey of 2,000 parents revealed that families are still willing to splash out on Halloween parties.

I am first to admit, I love any excuse to celebrate. Be it Birthdays, Anniversaries, Weddings or Christmas, you will always find me loving any opportunity to spend time with my friends and family, but in my younger years Halloween was never top of my list of celebrations to get excited about, so where through the years I ask myself did the change in attitudes towards the Halloween come about?

Nearly two-thirds of children will take to the streets on October 31 for an evening of 'trick or treating' with a potential 24,900,000 doors being knocked on. This figure alone just shows how many people will be targeted one way or another with celebrating Halloween, even if you are not a fan it is hard to get away from taking part in the days activities. The survey, which was carried out by Woolworths.co.uk also found that on average one in five of us will attend four parties this year and will consume 1,231 calories in the form of traditional foods including toffee apples, sweets and pumpkin pies and the average parent will also dance for 57 minutes at each party they attend.

Don’t get me wrong I think it’s nice that a simple day can unite so many different people, but how far can we take it? This year will you be ‘treating’ yourself with celebrating Halloween or staying away from the ‘tricks’?

Thursday, 20 October 2011

The X Factor Tracker

Staying in on Saturday and Sunday nights to watch the X Factor has become one of the nation’s favourite past times over the last few years! Although I am a little bit disappointed that Simon Cowell has abandoned the UK Show, I’m still an avid viewer and it is a ‘must watch’ just to be able to join in on the gossip at work about the weekends performances. Plus Gary Barlow is far more pleasing to the eye!

Only last week we planned to set a wager in the office on who would win this years show and be in the running for the Christmas No.1. Last year I could have predicted that Matt Cardle was going to win, having been my favourite throughout the whole show, right from his first audition. However this year, I have to be honest I do not have a clue who to set my wager on.

That was until this very helpful email landed in my inbox today, with a link to the ‘X Factor Tracker’. Using social media a team of social scientists are tracking what everyone says about the X Factor through sites such as Twitter. The Tracker gives contestants a popularity score, which then allows them to predict who is most likely to go out that week and who is doing the best!

An obliging tool when making a wager, just a shame we are now pulling the names out of a hat! I will be keeping track on what they say though and whether their social media experiment proves successful, so far I have to say that I do agree with them.

Check it out! ‘The X Factor Tracker'

Wednesday, 12 October 2011


22 September 2011 saw the hugely anticipated F8 conference (Facebook’s yearly keynote) take place in San Francisco, in which exciting new changes to Facebook were revealed by Mark Zuckerberg.

Aiming to put Google+ back in its box, the new developments have been met with mixed reviews, from enthusiastic praise to bitter reviews.

So what’s new? For starters, a notable change in direction, in a move which focuses less on user growth and more on user engagement. 1). A new platform enables users to share more of the media they consume, such as music, movies and television. 2). A new "ticker" on a user’s homepage updates the user when one friend comments on another’s status. 3). And soon, the hotly awaited Timeline function will create a new profile for users that organizes information about you like an online scrapbook of your life.

In Timeline there will be three main features. Cover photo - this is in addition to your profile photo and is meant to summarise your personality. Open Graph – a new method for connecting your apps (Spotify, 4Od, Huffington Post) to your timeline. And Maps – which, if you use a location features such as Facebook Places, will create a map of everywhere you’ve been. A real life log of your life.

The aim is that in 20 years time you’ll be able to see what you were doing with your life 15 years ago, in just once click. Sort of like a virtual history, featuring the music you were listening to, the movies you watched, the places you went, the friends you saw, the photos you took and what was going on in the news at the time. Cool huh? And for brands, surely an exciting time as it allows us to become more creative with the ways in which we try to leverage Facebook as a channel to reach our audiences.

So when does all this the excitement go live? It’s rumored that the launch of Timeline - despite being delayed for legal reasons - is now just a couple of weeks away.

We at Cirkle can’t wait – although we will. For those of you who can’t, there’s a guide available on Techcrunch for enabling it instantly.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

RIP Steve Jobs

The founder and creator of Apple tragically lost his battle with cancer yesterday at the age of 56. Jobs who created the iconic brand, and was behind the technology of the iPod, the iPhone and the iPad has left behind an incredible legacy, never has the death of a businessman reverberated with the masses in the way Jobs death has.

The technology Jobs created has revolutionized a generation now and for years to come. Apple has immeasurably changed the population’s interaction with technology, transformed the music industry and moved the world on in giant leaps. Even those who have never touched an Apple product will be moved by his death.

Comedian Stephen Fry says of Job "I don't think there is a human being on the planet who has been as influential in the last 30 years in the way culture developed [and] has proved quite so conclusively that passion and taste and belief are more important than a hard business head."

Reacting to Jobs' demise, a Twitter user named Matt Galligan wrote: "R.I.P. Steve Jobs. You touched an ugly world of technology and made it beautiful."

I think that says it all.

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Cirkle Celebrates National Work Life Week!

In Search of a Work Life Balance…

This year’s PR Census showed that PR agency staffs are working, on average, 11 hours more than their contracted hours each week. You’ll be glad to hear that this trend isn’t unique to the PR industry – it’s being replicated across many sectors in the UK and is apparently being exacerbated by the recession. Will Hutton, CEO of the Work Foundation and author of The State We’re In says “working is becoming seductive again” – because we’re all trying to earn more in an economy where take-home income is at its lowest since 1981.

So, trying to achieve the proverbial ‘work-life balance’ – is that just a pipe dream, especially in the current climate? Having worked for four PR agencies in my time, I’ve experienced all spectrums…from the ridiculously laid-back (definitely more life than work – can’t actually remember working late at all there) to the scarily-taking-over-your-life monstrosity of an agency (where you get that pervading feeling of fear on a Sunday evening). But I think the best agency to work for, particularly when there’s economic doom and gloom all around, and your purse-strings are tightening, is one that recognises people work bloody hard, says thank you, rewards where appropriate and strives to improve.

*Here at Cirkle, we’re supporting this week’s National Work Life Week with a series of initiatives including a ‘lock-out’ (as opposed to lock-in), where the office doors will be locked at 5:30pm sharp every day to encourage us all to leave on time!

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

What’s your Room 101?

To kick off a new client meeting recently and to cut through the introductions to get straight to the ‘getting-to-know-you’ phase, we asked attendees to share their top three Orwelian-inspired Room 101’s … as well as three things that made them smile. In a flood of vitriol, the Room 101’s ranged from people sauntering at train stations with their laptops in a wheelie bag trailing slowly behind them, oblivious to you trying to circumnavigate around their ‘space’ as well as nightclub bouncers – for their sheer cock-sure-dness. Nightclubs created much angst with toilet attendants who ram loo roll under the cubicle featuring high on the agenda, along with the self importance of people prattling on their mobile phones about what time they’ll be back for dinner, particularly bad on otherwise silent train journeys. Spiders and moths made their usual appearance on our verbal list, as did people in supermarket queues who get to the front, THEN rummage for their purse. Self service supermarket tills that publically announce you have unauthorised items in the bagging area got a look in and bullying, rioting and faceless hoodies need no further explanation. On a lighter note, things that make us smile included The Inbetweeners, getting into your own bed with clean sheets when you get back from holiday, receiving handwritten birthday cards rather than obligatory facebook birthday messages (when the sender has been alerted to the fact that it’s your birthday) as well as that first sip of chilled vino post work on a Friday night. Whatever makes your blood boil, or lights up your life, we’ll be doing more of these discussions as it lets you instantly see into someone’s soul. What would you dump in Room 101 for perpetuity?

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Information overload..

Who would have ever thought that a round of tea would spark such discussion in the Cirkle offices this week! After a bit of a desk shuffle at the weekend, the morning tea run has become a mammoth task with so many new and differing opinions on creating the perfect brew. No longer confined to just 'tea' or 'coffee', or 'white' or 'black', we're now into the realms of a SPOON of sugar, a LUMP of sugar (there's a difference apparently), half a lump of sugar, sweetener, semi-skimmed milk, skimmed milk, full fat milk and even the shade of the brew! Some of us were quite literally paralysed by choice with so many options on offer!

It got us talking about these small and seemingly insignificant decisions that we need make every day and whether too much choice is actually good for us. I'm sure we can all recall standing at the supermarket shelves faced with endless rows upon rows of lettuce. Which one to pick? Iceberg? Round? Lambs? Romaine? Cos? Little Gems? Surely they're all going to do the trick in your salad?! And don't even get me started on the tomatoes...

Having choices is undoubtedly a good thing, but is it the case that too much choice can actually make us less productive as we become mentally exhausted and simply incapable of making decisions? Let us know your thoughts.

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

The Best of British

Here at Cirkle, we represent a number of British brands, proud to be able to reinforce their iconic status and authentic, well established heritage when liaising with the media. Whether it be household names such as Typhoo, Russell Hobbs and Hovis, or an array of premium seasonal produce such as British Blackcurrants and Jubilee Strawberries, we are passionate about our British brands, largely because they represent the best that Britain has to offer.

Ask a tourist what they most commonly associate with Britain and you can be sure that the Queen, high tea, cucumber sandwiches, the Beatles and a plethora of leading London fashion outlets will rank fairly highly on their list. That was until the riots exploded in London earlier this week, damaging the longstanding reputation that Britain has built and demanding 1,700 police officers to be deployed to manage the chaos.

Only last week were we sat here at Cirkle HQ, reminiscing about our younger days when we would ride around on our bikes during a warm summer evening or camp out in our back garden with friends...contemplating how times had changed. And whilst we do wholeheartedly acknowledge that crime has significantly risen over the last two decades, since when did things decline to such an extent that it became acceptable for the youth of today to spend their evenings rioting through streets, vandalising property and helping themselves to free merchandise, at the cost of poor shop owners and families who have invested years of graft to build their livelihood.

Whilst the Government have pleaded for parents to get in touch with their kids, surely it is these very parents who have raised a generation of hooligans to consider it the norm to join together with their friends and wreak devastation with no real just cause, heading home at night with an array of pricey goods to sell? Whatever happened to good old discipline where youngsters were reprimanded at home for bad behaviour. Or is it just that these parents feel so out of control that they now have to rely on the police force to instigate some form of order?

Sadly this ordeal is not something that we Brits can shy away from, and as the whole world tunes in to Sky News in horror, to witness the war zone that thousands of rioters have created, we ask ourselves...is this what London will now be associated with? Is rioting, looting and hooliganism really the best that Britain now has to offer?

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Tis the season?

With just 151 days to go, it seems Christmas is well and truly upon us, at least for those of us who work in the PR world anyway. When I mentioned to my friends at the weekend that we were holding our Christmas event for one of our beauty clients this week they looked at me as if I’d completely lost it. However, those of us in the know can appreciate that the ‘Christmas in July’ phenomenon is in full swing. If you’re not familiar with ‘Christmas in July’ then let me explain very briefly. December in the world of media mostly means one thing – Christmas Gift Guides. And with some monthly glossy magazines working on their features, and in this case their gift guides, as much as six months advance, July is the time PRs start selling in all that their clients have to offer by holding Christmas in July events. Now, this is where I come to my point. Christmas in July events come in all different shapes and sizes with varying degrees of Christmassyness in all its gaudy glory. This is where I think the problem lies for PRs – how do you create stand out from the competition in such a crowded market place where everyone claims their product is the ideal gift for a coveted place in magazine gift guides. The standard offering from Christmas in July events normally consists of festively dressed rooms adorned with tinsel, Christmas crackers and the obligatory Christmas tree in the corner as well as an abundance of mince pies, turkey sandwiches and mulled wine, not forgetting a guest appearance from a carol singing school choir. Now this I’m sure journos have seen many times over (and don’t get me wrong, being pro Christmas, I love it!) so PRs are now under more and more pressure to up the stakes, with one beauty brand recently causing debate by having real life performing penguins at their Christmas in July event – creative thinking or a step too far? It’s a question of gimmick vs style – how far do we go?

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Postcards a thing of the past

According to a survey from travel website ebookers, over two thirds (39%) of Brits no longer send postcards to loved ones due to a national obsession with social networks.

The trusty postcard has been replaced with status updates and tweets as 49% of British holidaymakers spend time checking and updating social networks when on holiday. With a whopping 59% spending two or more hours using social media because they have so much spare time.

Now I like Facebook but you wouldn’t catch me updating my status on holiday. After spending most days of my working life looking at my laptop, the last thing I would want to do whilst lying on a beach is look at a screen of any kind! Mind you my phone is about ten years old and probably isn’t up to the challenge of connecting to the internet even if I wanted it to. Call me old-fashioned but I think I’d rather put pen to paper (or should I say card) and write a little note to the ones I miss the most.

But what do you think? Will you be updating your status when you’re on your summer hols or sticking to snail mail?

Friday, 8 July 2011

It’s the ‘End of the World’

It’s a news story that you can’t possibly have missed. Yesterday was a historic day in the world of media. It is officially the end of the News of the World.

It was announced, that after 168 years, this Sunday, 10th July will see the last edition of the News of the World.
With so much controversy surrounding the paper due to its phone hacking scandal, I think we all suspected some sort of announcement, whether it be an apology or arrest, however the news that Rupert Murdoch took such drastic measures to cease publication shocked us all.

It also emerged yesterday that more than 4,000 victims may have been targeted, including murder victim Millie Dowler and families of the 7/7 victims. Something that ex-editor, Andy Coulson (and possibly Rebekah Brooks) will be arrested for today. What they did was, as Rupert Murdoch said himself ‘deplorable’ and can be in no way, shape or form be condoned.

With advertisers such as Ford and Virgin pulling out left right and centre, all support and respect for the paper had diminished and it seemed that closing this sinking ship was the only option. In James Murdoch’s statement, he said ‘While we may never be able to make up for distress that has been caused, the right thing to do is for every penny of the circulation revenue we receive this weekend to go to organisations - many of whom are long-term friends and partners - that improve life in Britain and are devoted to treating others with dignity. We will run no commercial advertisements this weekend. Any advertising space in this last edition will be donated to causes and charities that wish to expose their good works to our millions of readers’. Whilst this is all well and good, it will never compensate for the damage the company has caused to so many lives.
The people I feel most for are both the victims of the phone hacking and the innocent employees of the News of the World, all of whom have been innocently punished for other people’s unacceptable actions. Let’s hope this is the end of the revelations that come out of the police investigation. But what’s next for News International? There’s already speculation that there will be ‘The Sunday Sun’, with the domain name and Twitter account being registered as early as Tuesday. Watch this space…..

Monday, 4 July 2011

Cirkle takes part in this year's Marketing Industry Triathlon

‘Friday could be just another day in the office or an unforgettable day out with mates, colleagues or clients.’ This is how the Marketing Industry Triathlon markets itself to potential participants, and it couldn’t be more true. The event provides a great opportunity for marketing and PR agencies to come together and engage in some good natured sporting competition and raise money for charity, away from product launches, brand building and media events. All elements of the industry were represented, from in-houses teams at Bacardi and Coca-Cola Enterprises to marketing, digital, design and PR agencies. Cirkle put in a strong team for the 3Quarter Relay, with members from all our key divisions taking part. We had Brooke from our Life+Leisure division on the 800m swim, our Body+Soul colleague Jenny on the 30km bike and me from our Food+Drink division on the 7.5km run.
Arriving at the beautiful Dorney Lake, the privileged sports ground of the famous Eton College, there was already a buzz of excitement in the air, coupled with the whir of lightweight racing bike wheels as the first cyclists set off on their high speed dash around the lake. Meanwhile, the next of the swimming heats got underway with a frenzy of splashing limbs and loud music. Our team put in some good transition times, with Jenny ready and waiting to pedal off as soon as Brooke raced out of the water. Electronic monitor on and she was off round the track, Brooke and I cheering her on at every lap. 30km done, Jenny raced in to hang up her bike and we quickly swapped the monitor over to my ankle before I dashed off to join the runners racing up and down the side of the lake. Sure enough, the girls were there to cheer me on whenever they caught sight of me. Sprinting to the finish was a great feeling and even better to come together afterwards and have a good old chat about the race and how we’d all got on. It was a great day and brilliant to be out in the fresh air doing something active for a worthy cause. Results for all teams can be found at: www.marketingtriathlon.co.uk.
Looking forward to next year’s race!

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Need tips on how to be a woman?

Being an office full of girls we could hardly fail to notice the buzz in the media and publishing industries being created by Times columnist Caitlin Moran's new book 'How To Be A Woman', published last week. Hailed as a vanguard of modern feminism, Women's Hour has labelled it the Female Eunuch rewritten for the 21st century. Personally we like anything that gets Jeremy Paxman talking about the rights and wrongs of Brazilian waxing and vajazzling live on Newsnight.

On this wave of new feminism tip, columnists in The Guardian and Observer have recently spoken about the smart, sassy feminist voices coming out of America via YouTube. If you haven't seen Amber from NineteenPercent's critique of Beyonce's 'Girls Who Run the World' video or Feminist Frequency talking on the Smurfette Principle check them out, as pointed out by Eva Wiseman in the Observer and Hadley Freeman in The Guardian respectively.

Take a look at them below and let us know what you think. Is this just smart, common sense or has the term feminism moved on?


Thursday, 16 June 2011

Is Metrosexual Man Facing Extinction?

According to trend forecasting agency, Future Labs, we will soon be saying goodbye to metrosexual man and hello to The New Gent. This new tribe spells a return to a traditional type of masculinity that focusses on chivalry, sartorial style, connoisseurship and grooming.They are intelligent, mature and sophisticated and love quality brands with heritage.

According to Future Labs "The lad of the 90s has grown up into a man" which may explain the rapid decline in glossy men's magazine readership figures. At a recent Future Labs New Gents networking evening, six expert speakers led discussions around the tastes, attitudes and behaviour of the New Gent and what it means for the modern man. The inspirational speakers included:

Simon Mottram, founder of cycle brand Rapha
Alice Cicolini, author of The New English Dandy
Alex Glover, manager at traditional barber Murdock London
Michael-George Hemus, co-founder of the new Truman's beer brand
Patrick Grant, director of Savile Row tailor Norton & Sons and menswear label E.Tautz

Every speaker indicated that today's males are interested in a more intelligent conversation, that they want to know about the provenance and uniqueness of a product that they are engaging with and that heritage from their grandfathers era is really appealing. Taking care of themselves and looking good is natural for these men - use of a moisturiser isn't metrosexual it's simply part of their grooming ritual.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Another London landmark bites the dust

It might make me sound a little sentimental, but I was genuinely sad to hear the news that the BBC is to sell off its most iconic building – Television Centre. Whilst I can appreciate the BBC’s financial predicament, I can’t help but wonder whether there could have been another option to cut costs and raise this much needed cash.

However, there’s no point crying over spilt milk, as they say. What’s done is done and with the sale completion date not until 2015, at least we still have a few more years of this iconic building playing its role as a London landmark. The stars of Strictly don’t have to move to Manchester just yet then…

But what will become of the building? Will that classic ‘doughnut’ shaped section at least be respectfully preserved by its new owner, or will it all be knocked down to make way for modern flats or yet another shopping centre? I’m hoping it’s the former.

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

A Bitter Sweet Royal Wedding

You can’t do anything at the moment without being bombarded by the Royal wedding, its everywhere: in the papers, on telly, the radio and in the shops. As the nation is gripped by the upcoming nuptials of Kate & Wills, it seems every enterprise is looking to cash in on the moment and generate Royal wedding sales or some shameless PR. And who can blame them, everyone loves a wedding!

It is very amusing to see the plethora of official and un-official royal wedding memorabilia and special edition products that have been launched. But my favourite by far has to be a limited edition beer called ‘Royal Virility Performance’, which contains Viagra, horny goat weed and chocolate, made by controversial Scottish brewer, Brew Dog.


Although this tongue in cheek jibe could be considered a little crass by some, it should be noted all proceeds from the 40 limited edition bottles being sold from the brewer’s website on the day of the wedding for £10 each, will go to Centrepoint, one of the charities Prince William supports. While it may leave a bitter taste in the mouth for royalists, you must confess it is a great PR story and a tactic we’ve come to expect from this modern, innovative brewer.

Wherever you are watching have a great Royal Wedding!

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Russell Hobbs Blendologists stir it up with media!

The national papers may be a buzz with talk of the Royal Wedding but the single ladies in the Cirkle office have had much more pressing issues on our minds, namely the young, gifted and (most definitely) male Russell Hobbs blendologists we've been working with for the iconic British brand.

Cirkle unleashed the duo, Clinton and Pedro, on a room full of lifestyle and interiors journalists last Thursday at the Future Gallery, for the launch of Russell Hobbs' stylish new Mies Van der Rhoe inspired range: allure. Sleek minimalism and architectural lines? Yes please. A first for the brand, the allure range features both breakfast and food preparation products, so for the first time your Russell Hobbs blender can match your toaster and kettle!

We know this is a must for those Kitchen Theatre fans out there as allure is so special it has its own kitchen trend - Kitchen Theatre! Russell Hobbs research shows that over a third of people questioned view cooking in front of friends and family as a theatrical performance. In fact, the kitchen has become the stage, the food and preparation products the props, and friends and family the audience! We knew you were a bunch of show-offs.

Russell Hobbs even published a whole report on it, which we launched at the event, while Tom Savigar of the Future Laboratory gave a talk on current and future kitchen trends, including the theatrical ones.

Over twenty-five media attended including @bbcgoodfood, @channel5_tv, @GoodFoodChannel, @RedMagDaily, @ideal_home_show, Which?, @deliciousmag, @GHmagazine, @HouseBeautiful_ and @homesandgardens, and with plenty of coverage in the pipeline we think its clear that allure were the real stars of the show (sorry Clinton and Pedro).

Take a look at the video if you don't believe us, and brush up on our blendologists' moves (they're flair bartenders by night so don't feel too bad). We dare you to try it for yourselves when the allure range launches in July!


Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Lucozade’s YES moment!

Last night, during the Champions League Quarter Final on ITV1 a 90 second ‘film’ from Lucozade aired for the first time. Featuring Brit award winner Tinie Tempah, world renowned drummer Travis Barker and Irish World Champion boxer Katie Taylor, the ad celebrates 'Yes' moments, those times when everything clicks and you feel amazing.

I was lucky enough to see the ad premiered to the media two weeks ago in the dimly lit Old Vic Tunnels in Waterloo. The advert was introduced by the man himself, Tinie Tempah and I was in the front row! I’m a bit of a fan of Tinie and have to admit I was more than mildly excited about seeing him and the advert, and I wasn’t disappointed!

So if you missed the magic last night or if you fancy another look go to http://www.lucozade.com/yes/films/ and let me know whether you think it’s as amazing as I do!

Monday, 11 April 2011

Virtual Glass of Water

In Today’s Prohibition Culture, governments and brands are trying to curb, control, nudge and monitor our behaviour and this is becoming increasingly evident in social media gaming. Global trend forecasters, The Future Laboratory/LSN Global, have seen this in Xtreme Crunch Cart – a computer game that requires players to crunch carrots near to the microphone in order to accelerate their carts – the aim is to change children’s eating habits – and it’s a genius way to sell more carrots! I also loved Toyota’s ‘A Glass of Water’ app http://www.aglassofwater.org/en which challengers users to reduce their fuel consumption by 10% by driving with their mobile phone app which shows a virtual glass of water - on their dashboard. The app records good and bad driving, speeding, distance travelled, fuel consumed etc. and the negatives are expressed as water spilling from the glass. The data is used to rank players on the official ‘A Glass of Water’ website. All great stuff as brands embrace apps to communicate innovatively to their target audiences, but couldn’t your constant looking at the virtual glass of water cause a potential accident?

Monday, 21 March 2011

A Heart-ea Cuppa!

Earlier this week, the Sun reported that the Queen makes her own cuppa at exactly the same time every day. Apparently come 5pm in the afternoon, her Majesty insists on brewing a cup of tea with no help whatsoever. In fact no matter where she is in the world, the 84 year old monarch will flick the kettle on, to cater for herself and any guests that she has.

Here in the Typhoo tea press office, we too are partial to a good old cuppa and can also be found lurking in the kitchen at a similar time, brewing up a hefty round to refuel the office. Now whilst we may not be royalty, we do understand that creating the perfect cuppa is an art form…so much so, we managed to conjure up a heart shaped motif earlier today! The Queen may make her own tea…but can she magic art in her tea cup?

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Who needs TV when you have Twitter!?!

So, who else tuned in to watch The Brit Awards on Tuesday? I sure did! But imagine my upset when the clock struck 9pm and I had to make the decision, do I stay tuned to the Brits or do I turn over for the last in the series of My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding?

I decided to tune in to My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding. I quickly found that I need not worry about missing any of the Brit action. I was kept firmly up to speed by Twitter and thanks to @CHRISDJMOYLES, @OK_Magazine and the hilarious @AlanCarr who was actually at the Brits I really felt that I knew exactly what was going on in front and behind the scenes.

I am one of the minority here, in that I am fairly new to Twitter and, admit I don’t tweet as much as I should, but last night I felt as though I broke into the Twittersphere and went crazy with @ replies and #tags, I was loving it!

I particularly loved the way @CHRISDJMOYLES compered the event on Twitter, he might as well have been sat on the sofa with me with his cuppa! I am most definately converted & can't wait to join in the frenzy once more...my fingers are literally twitching in twanticipation....

Friday, 11 February 2011

A Nation of Sickies?

You might have missed it, but earlier this week we should have - apparently - been tucked up at home under our duvets, indulging ourselves on national 'sickie' day - the most popular day of the year for unapproved work absences. (Spare a thought for those poor souls who were genuinely ill and had to face the sceptical responses from their employers!)

It is estimated that around 375,000 people rang in to workplaces, claiming to be unwell. But why is Monday, February 7th #nationalsickday ? Well according to a recent survey, the first Monday in February is when us normally hardworking folk decide that enough is enough, its about time we pulled a sickie. The post-Christmas blues have well and truly reared their ugly head, and combine that with financial worries and the convenient outbreak of seasonal flu, it's a recipe for the easiest sickie ever. But just don't get carried away - with more and more bosses accepting notice of sickness via e-mail or text nowadays, excuses can sometimes be badly thought out. See below for a few that will make you the laughing stock of the office...

1. "I can't get to work because I don't want to lose the parking space outside my house"

2. "I donated too much blood yesterday"

3. "I swallowed too much mouthwash"

4. "My partner burned all my clothes so I have nothing to wear"

Here at Cirkle, we were our usual full house on Monday, which must mean we are a happy lot! But to those less fortunate we say, worry not! It's nearly spring.

(Even better - it's nearly Saturday.)

Monday, 31 January 2011

Cirkle du Soleil!

The Cirkle offices were strangely quiet on Friday as we all shipped out for our post-Christmas, Christmas-do. The snow caused a lot of trouble last year so we decided to not even try and battle the elements for Christmas 2010 and wait until a safer date at the end of January. A great time was had by all as we celebrated a year of great results thanks to a lot of hard work! We were treated to a stunning performance from Cirque du Soleil at the Royal Albert Hall followed by dinner and good-times at a Mexican restaurant in Covent Garden. I for one had a brilliant day and felt really proud and thankful to be part of Cirkle; so thanks everyone and here’s to another great year!

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Home bakers are stealing my glory!

I’m not going to lie to you. I do indulge in the odd bit of baking. The occasions are few and far between, but they’re there.

So imagine my distress while I was working on a press release last week for http://www.bakinginspiration.com/ and discovered that the home baking category is in very strong growth. Not only that, but people are going around buying up all sorts of bakeware equipment. As someone who is eternally trying to be trendy, this news distressed me.

Why? Well, a number of reasons really but I won’t bore you with all of them, so let’s just cut to the chase. Baking was MY THING! That dying art where you could disappear into the kitchen and return an hour later with some form of sweet delight amidst the awe - the admiration - the secret jealousy.

And now it’s all gone. My glory has been stolen.

According to latest research, nearly one in three of us will prepare something from scratch at least once a week and bakeware equipment is enjoying sales increases of 70% year on year.

Television is further turning up the heat in the kitchen. BBC had huge success with the Great British Bake Off last year and now former model and trained chef Lorraine Pascale has introduced her new series, Baking Made Easy.

I know it's selfish but I don’t want people to know that baking can be easy! Think of the thing you can do that comes naturally to you, and then imagine having it whipped out from under you as it goes mainstream!

To rub salt in the wound my housemate has enrolled in a baking course. At the moment my scones are still light and fluffy (in contrast with her mildly disguised rock cakes), but how long before she finds out the secret lies in triple sifting the flour?!

Monday, 24 January 2011

Oh No You Didn't!

Sometimes, us Cirkleites need to let our hair down and last week saw just one of those nights. The usually quiet village of Chipperfield saw the village hall rafters rocking with boo’s, hisses, cheers and applause, as Chipperfield Theatre Group premiered the lesser known classic tale, “Knight Fever, An Arthurian Pantomime.”

As a devoted daughter to the esteemed director, I was compelled, I mean honoured, to help put on this year’s production and despite my protestation that this show was more Vicar of Dibley than west end, my supportive colleagues dutifully came to support my cast on their opening night.

The nerves and anxieties running through the production team were very much comparable to those felt by a PR when putting on a big launch or event. However, rather than, ‘will there be enough champagne?’ and, ‘will all our journalists turn up?’ our worries were more along the lines of, ‘will the draw bridge open? Will the dragon manage to say his one line without crying? Will The Knights of Camelot accidently take out Arthur with their potentially violent hobby horses? Will the chorus remember ANYTHING that we have taught them over the last 6 months?!’

As it turns out, the draw bridge made it up and down as required. The Dragon did get stuck behind the smoke machine, but when he finally appeared, he looked thoroughly adorable and probably stole the show. The Knights didn’t succeed on swiping any children – better luck next time - and the chorus remembered the majority of their moves AND even managed to attempt singing at the same time! It’s an am-dram miracle!

The feedback from the Cirkle theatre critics was very complimentary, although I fear they may have been somewhat bribed by the local butcher’s promise of his infamous sausages. Even the poor Australian managed to overcome cultural barriers to enjoy this very British tradition, learning to 'boo' and 'hiss' in all the right places. Perhaps experiencing Panto should be part of the British Citizenship Exam.

Essentially, putting on a show and putting on an event are very similar, the adrenaline, the excitement, the relief!! The only difference is, events are usually one offs, we’ve got to endure three more performances – wish us luck!!!

Friday, 14 January 2011

Is prejudice in the workplace on the rise?
Or doth we protest too much?

This week, #MiriamO ’Reilly, one of the first ever people to take the #BBC to an employment tribunal on allegations of age discrimination, won her case. Miriam, aged 53, was axed from the television show Countryfile after it moved from a Sunday morning show to a prime time Sunday evening slot. In the same week, it was announced that the government plans to save £12 billion by raising the state pension age. The retirement age for women was due to rise from 60 to 65 over the next 10 years, to bring it in line with men, but that increase will now come into force by 2018 – and will go up to 66 years of age for both sexes by 2020.

Miriam winning her case was a great victory for women, but will it change perceptions and views of working women of a certain age? Or are the cases of age discrimination set to rise? With women having to work up to the age of 66, it’s possible that we may see an influx of stories similar to that of Miriam’s.

It seems Miriam’s isn’t the only famous face in the media spotlight who has felt some sort of age discrimination – Moira Stuart was ‘deeply hurt’ when she lost her television role (she now presents the news on the Chris Evans breakfast show on Radio 2), Arlene Phillips was famously axed from #strictlycomedancing, only to be replaced by the younger Alesha Dixon and Anna Ford reportedly feared being sidelined in her 60s.

Do you think men face the same discrimination as women? Take Strictly for example – Arlene was replaced by Alesha but we still see Bruce Forsyth and Len Goodman gracing our screens. I certainly feel there are more ‘older’ men on our screens than women. In fact, industry body Skillset found that only one in 10 women working in television is over 50 – half are under 35 and men outnumber women by almost two to one on TV.

What do you think to the raise in state pension age? Do you think it’s a good idea? I think it’s great that women are able to keep working if they want to, and now also won’t be forced to retire. But for those who were hoping for their retirement soon, they could have a while longer to wait…..

Working in an office full of women (and a couple of men!), I can thankfully say that I’ve never had to experience these issues and, with any luck, I'll never have to!

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

TV Gone Mad

I'm the first to admit that I watch trash TV! You name it, I watch it, be it reality, soap, game show or documentary, I have most probably tuned in once or twice. I'm also a strong believer that when your day's work is done, there's nothing better than curling up on the sofa, with a cuppa in front of the soaps (and Glee of course!).

That said, even I am getting a little sick and tired and even - dare I say it - ashamed of the offerings on our screens.

Firstly, you can’t miss the uproar that is being caused by the soaps at the moment. If it’s not fathering your best friend’s child, or admitting that you gave your baby to your sister in your past it’s, yep, you guessed it…baby swapping!

For the past two weeks I have sat in a state of shock in front of Eastenders. Don’t get me wrong, I think the acting from the leading characters has been flawless, but with regards to the story line itself, is it just one step too far for what is supposed to be light hearted relief from the stresses and strains of day-to-day life?

The Queen of the Vic herself, Barbara Windsor, has also been reported to say that she is utterly shocked and ashamed by the story line and it’s no longer the soap we all love.

Switch over on to digital, and the talk of the box from last night on my Facebook and Twitter was #ToolAcademy ! I am simply lost for words on this one. It is a reality show about rubbish boyfriends who are being publicly humiliated by the girlfriends and branded ‘a tool’. I say no more….

The question I want to ask is; the ones that create such shows, and write said story lines, is this really what the viewing public wants to see on the box of an evening? I am not so sure.

Monday, 10 January 2011

Time to self improve your social media?

With the festivities well and truly behind us for yet another year, commitments to diet, detox and fitness are, for many of us, well under way (if not falling by the wayside). But in this digital age, does starting afresh mean more for most than a just new beauty regime or a closet clear-out?

2011 has already seen many of my friends centering their efforts for self-improvement around their digital activity - from resolute intentions to use Facebook more often, to the culling of tenuous contacts, friends and followers on social media sites.

So when Tom Fishbourne's cartoon of social media ghost towns popped into my inbox last week, I had to smile and wonder whether brands would be thinking the same way. 2010 will have seen countless businesses jump into social media head first, only to let it die a death; thus creating their own social media ghost towns. And with experts citing a negative social media experience far worse than no social media experience whatsoever, will brands take note and strive to self-improve their social media spaces?

The moral of the story is perhaps to beware of social media for social media’s sake – if a brand can add value to a community then it should probably be using social media. If it can’t, then it should probably think twice.

The other factor is of course resource. Businesses should not be fooled into thinking social media is a cost free marketing tool. The currency is time and to be interesting and relevant in real time, requires real investment. Businesses should be realistic about the amount of time their brands can devote - or be in danger of creating the next digital ghost town!

Despite all this, brands and businesses must bare in mind that any online conversations about them will be going on anyway - regardless of whether or not they participate. Turning a blind eye won’t make it go away, so surely it's better to be in the know?

The key to the plot is, unsurprisingly, to be clear on the objectives before wading in. With proper planning and the right strategy, it's been proved by many a great brand that it's entirely possible to keep those ghosts well and truly at bay.