Monday, 23 September 2013

The Future of PR is anchored in storytelling - by our Chairman, Caroline Kinsey

Last Week’s ‘Future of PR’ PRCA conference was a great gathering together of senior minds and an opportunity to elevate ourselves  from the day to day minutiae of agency life to consider how our industry has developed and where it is heading.

On balance, the future is bright. Life and society are evolving in ways that are ever more uncertain and ever more fast paced which plays to the strengths of PR professionals. As experts already in communications, our role has the opportunity to develop more into becoming trusted strategic advisors, helping a business/brand to interrogate its behaviours to the ‘nth’ degree in order to ensure the communications is credible, honest and robust.  Indeed over 25% of clients in recent research are calling out for PR agencies to  offer better strategic consultancy.  Long gone are the days when we were last to the table. That excites me.

And we deserve as an industry to be excited. To value our role as storytellers ever more. Let’s cast off the shackles of ‘servility’, to quote Mike Morgan from Red, and remind ourselves that these are PR’s halcyon days and we shall never look back. Our understanding of building relationships, tailoring messages to different stakeholders, developing effective and cost efficient creative with real cut-through, living in a real-time environment, showing great agility to respond to the news agenda, understanding and unearthing insight to find out how consumers respond and behave,  are all part of our role as master storytellers.

And our biggest advantage is our expertise of both traditional and social media and our overall channel-neutral approach. As P&G’s Global Brand Building Office Marc Pritchard recently commented ‘digital marketing is dead’, it’s all about brand building and integrating social media inherently into our campaigns.  We fully understand the subtle differences between influencing the media, developing a client’s website, sparking conversations, driving advocacy, agreeing to guaranteed space. They are all integrated to make the whole greater than the sum of the parts. We can work with our clients to strike the right balance.

It is this holistic approach that will offer the greatest value back to businesses and brands. Since the conference I’ve been thinking about how we can create a framework around this approach and I think it can be aptly summarised in the acronym – AESOP. The Aggregate between Earned, Shared, Owned and Paid for media. And of course highly memorable given Aesop is arguably the greatest storyteller of all time.

We need to all ensure we adopt an AESOP approach to storytelling and give clear, objective, trusted advice to our clients in terms of overall marketing investment.

Caroline Kinsey is Chairman of Cirkle

Thursday, 16 May 2013

'Who would have thought you'd win a BAFTA for just being posh?' Francis Boulle

'Who would have thought you'd win a BAFTA for just being posh?' Made In Chelsea’s Francis Boulle announces as he receives the BAFTA award for Best Reality and Constructed Factual Show.

 The winner’s announcement was met with gasps from the audience, jibes from Graham Norton and even disapproval from the nicest men in TV, Ant and Dec. Queue immediate shock and outrage across the Twitter/media sphere, although given that the majority of the shows plots on driven by antagonism and drama, this seems only fitting.

But MIC’s popularity is no surprise. Its currently on its 5th series with a bigger cast, more ridiculous plots and higher viewing figures than ever. And brands have long been savvy to the popularity of MIC and its personalities. Whether heroes or villains of the show, brands have been quick to snap up these socialites to feature in campaigns, including St Tropez, Cadbury’s and Walkers Crisps and the media have similarly recognised their appeal, giving the stars of the show columns, blogs and guest editor spots. Even the ‘set’ has become a prime spot for brand exposure and product placement; exclusive gyms, London department stores, bars, clubs, home ware, turkey curving lessons, you name it, its been ‘placed’. And with this new endorsement as Britain’s Best Reality and Constructed Factual Show, it seems the nation’s obsession and brands association with MIC will continue for some time to come.

And with this weekend seeing the launch of the long awaited Great Gatsby film, it’s a reminder that, especially in these tough economic times, there is something incredibly entertaining about indulging in the dramas and lavish parties of rich, beautiful socialites…..oh, and that’s the sound of F. Scott Fitzgerald turning in his grave having now hinted that MIC is the modern day Great Gatsby – one of the most celebrated pieces of American literature of all time. Sorry Fitzgerald, but I’m sure Graham Norton and Ant and Dec will have your back.

*Written by someone who absolutely never indulges in reality TV rubbish….apart from at 10pm on Mondays on E4, naturally. 
Becky East

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Why the nation needs to invest in training the tweeters of the future

Twitter currently has in the region of 500 million registered users – that is an astounding figure and in my opinion, a figure that concerns me. Firstly, I am not a technophobe and I am certainly not a twitter-hater but I am a realist. I am pretty sure that the large majority of tweeters do not consider the implications of their tweets before pressing send button. Why should you? Although it seems ludicrous, it is becoming more regular that people are being arrested for their tweets due to their 140 characters breaking the law.

For example, Paul Chambers, 28 years old was fined £1000 for saying he was going to blow up Sheffield airport for their bad service. I am sure that when he sent this he probably didn’t see himself being known across the nation for his tweet. Quite simply, people do not think about what they are tweeting. It is just a platform for people to let off steam and have a rant with the unfortunate downfall of being seen by the world and eternally documented (even after you’ve deleted it!)

I am 19 and have always been strongly opinionated. However, I am very careful on Twitter as I can’t afford a colossal fine! But I have a lack of faith in how many other people there are my age whose thoughts are in line with mine. Even by looking at my 15 year old sister, I sometimes have to give her a gentle nudge with a ‘Do you really think that is appropriate – the whole world can see that you know?’ but I shouldn’t have to do that and it is about time the government stepped up and did something about it.

If young people were given some training on how the justice system works with regards to libel and defamation; I am sure there would be a significant drop in abusive tweets. With Twitter just being something that kids grow up with nowadays, how are they to know the rights and wrong of the system? Twitter has given young people access to celebrities in a way that has never been seen before – it gives people the option to openly abuse to an audience which encourages responses and spurs things on.

I believe a simple training session could be the answer – why leave the tweeters of tomorrow in the dark about the consequences of their tweets. Surely it is about time society stepped up and provided young people with the information they need to ensure they don’t break the law – drugs and sex education is provided so why is something as topical as social media ignored?

By Jessica Kirby
PR Apprentice 

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Cirkle - Good Mojo

This week we launched our new website, a new look and a new strapline: Cirkle – good mojo.

Instinctively people’s initial reactions have been extremely positive but the almost immediate question from a few has been – why good mojo?

Disappointingly for some, the answer doesn’t involve Austin Powers, Jim Morrison or have anything to do with Haitian voodoo; rather, it neatly sums up who we are and what we do as an agency.

In terms of who we are… Cirkle is the brainchild of Caroline Kinsey, one of the industry’s most energetic and entrepreneurial leaders of the last ten years. Anyone who has ever met Caroline will know she is the living embodiment of relentlessly good mojo and the agency she has created is, in many ways, a reflection of this.

We have pulled together a bunch of talented people who constantly and consistently display purposefulness, positivity, passion, persuasiveness, endurance and flexibility. People who achieve for themselves and for clients. People who believe in treating suppliers as we like to be treated. People with humility and confidence. People who set out to deliver spellbinding creative as often as possible. People who look for a laugh at the darkest hour.

And while we-would-say-that-wouldn’t-we, we have our own pretty powerful endorsement in the shape of The Holmes Report’s EMEA Award for Employee Engagement Award 2012. An award built on people with good mojo – happy people having influential ideas, doing brilliant work, and persuading all sorts of people to do all sorts of things for clients.

And in terms of what we do? Marshall Goldmsith, renowned US management thinker and author of the book Mojo defines it as having four core pillars, all of which are every bit as easily associated to a brand as to a person.

Identity – knowing who you are and what your role in the world is; achievement – what have you achieved lately?  Have you ‘just’ sold lots of product, or have you given something too?; reputation – who do other people think you are, what do they think you’ve done lately – you can’t have total control of this, but you can maintain or improve it; and acceptance – trying to change or improve things they can realistically change, not stretching themselves too thinly or seeing themselves as bigger than they are.

This is a brilliant summation of what successful contemporary brands and organisations do; and what PR is brilliantly placed to help with. It’s about big challenges and big solutions, having vision and the cojones to succeed.

We have lots of examples of where we’ve helped brands with their mojo, whether the audience is consumer or within the retail environment and we’re committed to doing lots more, some big, some small and some just perfectly-sized.

We’re all about building campaigns based on strong thinking, ingenious creative and impressive, commercial results. Campaigns which achieve something. Which add to our clients’ mojo in some way.

So, that’s why ‘good mojo’ – who we are and what we do.  Hopefully your mojo has risen a little reading this and that maybe you’re thinking we’re an agency you’d like to hire, or to work for, or supply to. If it does, give us a call and maybe we can float each other’s boats.

Nick Woods

Deputy MD

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

The PRCA Gateway Conference: The Future of Communications after Leveson

Being a PR apprentice certainly does have its benefits, and I experienced this on Thursday when I attended the PRCA conference after kindly being given a ticket. With the event being sponsored by YouGov, I was confident that it was going to be a worthwhile experience and it certainly didn’t disappoint
With YouGov statistics showing that the majority of the public think that there should be a new press regulation system but that MPs shouldn’t be involved; it is clear that something needs to be done to resolve the press regulation issue and to help alleviate some of the pressure from the public. Since the Leveson Report was released there has been a sweep of silence across the media landscape suggesting that no one has a quick and easy solution.

Lord Black from the Telegraph Media Group was up first with some interesting views on the future beyond Leveson. Being strongly opinionated myself and enjoying the ability to express my views, I couldn’t agree more with the point he made that if  a state regulation system was instated that the consequences would fundamentally damage free press and ultimately freedom of speech.

Half an hour into the conference, the subject of social media has already popped its head up, unsurprisingly.  Having been born into the digital world, I am obviously very familiar with social media like many people my age and younger. If regulation and censorship was to be used for social media, I would love to see the law attempt to arrest half of the country for tweeting on a controversial topic – I am pretty sure the prisons wouldn’t have enough room to store everyone who has written a tweet with a hint of defamation!

Trevor Morris from the University of Westminster also gave some insightful opinions, ultimately stating that state regulation would result in the downwards spiral of traditional print media where newspapers end up lacking impact, advertising and consequently readership. This presentation also covered the eternal boundary blurring between advertising and PR and how this can be translated into social media – is a tweet PR or advertising?

A presentation that really stuck with me was Neil Midgley’s on why Leveson couldn’t take on Twitter. Being brought up surrounded by social media has resulted in a fascination with it; it intrigues me how brands can communicate with the public in minutes whereas a letter of complaint can take months to finally get a response. It does seem ludicrous that people can be arrested for tweeting but I do understand that justice has to apply to social media platforms otherwise there would be constant anarchy on the internet.

After absorbing the different views, I personally find it hard to see how traditional print media will continue to exist in a world where journalists become fearful to enquire and take risks if state regulation is instated. The insatiable hunger for gossip that society has will no longer be filled and the need for printed newspapers will begin to disappear as they become filled with mind-numbing, repetitive stories…

Jessica KirbyPR Apprentice at Cirkle

Friday, 8 February 2013

The Differences Between His and Her Tweets…

A fascinating new report has been released today by Brandwatch – The Twitter Landscape / UK / 2013.

They describe it as being, “based on data from a two-month period in late 2012, it offers an overview of current trends in Twitter usage”. It’s the analysis of approx. 10,000 randomly selected tweets…

Among the interesting results:

- there were more tweets mentioning brands than music or celebs

- tweets are roughly 1/3 broadcast and 2/3 engagement

- women are more likely to tweet using first person language… i.e. women are much more likely to say ‘I’ and ‘my’… this self-orientated stance of female Twitter usage, compared to the more detached tone of male usage, aligns with past studies done on the role of gender in speech and language. Consequently, powerful inferences can be made about gender-specific online behaviour matching the off-line world

- male dominated topics include: sport, gaming, news and politics

- female dominated topics include: TV, work, education and music

- TV ads are the subject of regular comment (who says TV advertising is dead?)

- Brand mentions were more likely to be retweets than replies, suggesting that users were more inclined to publicise brands passively rather than actively creating content

- With strongly female-skewed authorship, food and drink tweets were almost exclusively related to snack or fast food brands, reinforcing the notion of Twitter as an on-the-go network… however, the disproportionate volume of tea brands mentioned demonstrated the tendency of authors to tweet during breaks and to discuss their immediate surroundings

- blokes complain more frequently, while females talk about purchase experiences and enter competitions more

There is lots more, if you have any interest in better understanding Twitter, it’s a must-read.

by Nick Woods
Deputy MD

Tuesday, 5 February 2013


I need to get married, right here, right now. Well actually I don’t,  but I’ve just spied the stunning and surprising Vera Wang wedding gift collection for Wedgwood  –  in particular the beautifully delicate champagne flutes tied with a silver plated Vera Wang ‘Love Knots’ bow. 

This is a fine example of brands collaborating for mutual benefit, in what global trend forecaster, The Future Laboratory,  has coined Symbiotic Branding.   Collaboration used to be optional for brands that wanted to create buzz for e.g. a one-off product range, but now it’s the rule not the exception, as brand-jacking fast becomes the new branding norm.
Brands once had to rely on themselves to create products but now a web of collaborative interdependency is emerging in which the right brand affinity creates a compelling halo effect to engage consumers.

In the case of said (dream) champagne flutes, dynamic, über glam  New York fashion house, Vera Wang  (she of Triple A List celebrity wedding gown fame), collides head on with the  British quality and craftsmanship of Wedgwood to jolt consumers into reappraising this otherwise traditionally classic brand.   I love too that neither brand is promiscuous in their collaborations and even more, I love that it’s got me into Wedgwood – a brand I’d never previously considered buying.

Symbiotic branding presents an opportunity for companies to enter longer-lasting, mutually beneficial relationships with other parties.  Changing consumer tastes and fast market developments mean brands that are slow to innovate quickly could run into trouble. Nokia and Microsoft were struggling in the smartphone market before they banded together to create the Lumia smartphone (with Nokia’s market rocketing as a result).

In other acts of ‘Brandalism’, smart brands are using the expectations of one brand to convey the values of another - Oddbins used the stringent rules on citing the Olympics as a marketing vehicle for its discount deals. ‘We can’t mention the event, we can’t mention the city, we can’t even mention the year,’ read their campaign posters. ‘At least they can’t stop us telling you about this: Rococo Rosé, £17.’  This  Oddbins’  campaign prompted a 22% rise in traffic to its website.

At Cirkle, we’ve been quick to adopt the trend with the formation of Cirkle Links - our strategic brand matching service that creates impactful and importantly, valuable  partnerships.  These can vary from short term quick win relationships like Gorillaz did with Converse, to those where here two brands fall in love to make a long term commitment like Redbull and Renault.  Then there’s the more promiscuous type of partnership where strong brands tart themselves around without diluting their equity - seen with Marmite flavoured crisps from Walkers.  Our recent Remington  campaign for its electrical  shavers took our media partnership with Men’s Health magazine to a product partnership with a dual branded shaver that went on sale exclusively in Boots stores, delivering an impressive 63% sales uplift.

What Symbiotic Branding means for brands.  Symbiosis is becoming the natural state for big and small brands that are eager to maximise the benefits of thrift and appeal to a customer base that is increasingly open and participatory.  Brands that continue to operate in silos, breaking open only for occasional collaborations, will be left behind by competitors that are maximising creativity and drawing on the customer base and networks of their affiliates.

By Rikki Weir
Board Director

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Keeping healthy has never been so easy

It’s just past mid-January and how many of us have already fallen by the wayside of keeping to any fitness-orientated resolutions and are now holding our heads in shame at our feeble attempts to do a “dri-athlon” in January.

The thing about focusing on health is it’s not just for Xmas. It’s for life. And in this hyper-mobile and uber-connected world that we all live in, we now have no excuses.

As evidenced at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, 2013 will see a raft of gadgets to monitor everything from pulse to oxygen levels with numerous tools which can be simply be plugged into our mobiles.  And these devices will use a lower powered version of blue-tooth so the batteries will last for days or weeks. There’s a whole advance in “hidden technology” launching this year such as ipod headphones which have infra-red sensors to detect blood flow inside the ear to monitor heart rate and the ipod itself acting as an “accelorometer” to determine distance. Software is cleverly being built into wrist straps and sunglasses to measure and motivate versus targets. The most exciting development perhaps are the plans for equipment to be powered by the work-out themselves, converting body heat to electricity.

2013 is also going to be the year that accelerates the current trend in “Appscriptions”. There are now over 13,000 apps relevant to health in the Apple app store so a deluge of options for consumers to pick their way through to find the right one.  These “appscriptions” allow you to pro-actively monitor your own health much more closely and take heed of any early warning signals. An extension of this will be the arrival of pop-up clinics where patients speak face to screen with a doctor who directs them on how to carry out various tests for themselves. 

So if the dri-athlon was too great a hurdle to overcome as the year kicked in at full pelt, don’t despair.  Commit yourself to a TRY-athlon. TRY to give some genuine thought to  your health. Investigate the relevant devices and apps for you. Join online communities and share your successes. Nike is doing all this brilliantly with their Nike + Running apps and Nike Fuel proposition. Indeed they have transformed themselves into more of a tech company specialising in “digital sport” rather  than a fitness business these days.

Looking after your health is not just for January. It’s a life-long commitment. That’s why I’m already booked into a couple of half marathons this year and am considering a Half Ironman later on this year.

by Caroline Kinsey

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Vicious Cirkle

Amelia Torode is head of digital and innovation at the Good Relations Group. She’s a PR.

But she’s a PR with a difference in that she’s come to us from adland having previously worked for Ogilvy in New York and VCCP here in London.  So she’s an interesting part of our evolving industry which is increasingly seeing not just journalists join our ranks, but also people from across the wider spectrum of communications.

Amelia wrote a brilliant piece for The Holmes Report last week ( in which she suggested ways in which PR might overcome the perceived lack of creativity we suffer from: “a culture shift towards curiosity, constraints and conflict”.

Amelia’s basic argument is that too often we’re delivering tactical creative and that it’s because we don’t employ enough curious people or train our people to be more curious, that we don’t often enough write tight creative briefs and because we’re all too damn nice and avoid the conflict from which truly great ideas are often born.

She’s so right.

On everything.

I’ve spoken before about curiosity and its role as the life-blood of creative people: they take a child-like delight in the new, are constantly interested, are constantly ‘adding dots’, as Steve Jobs might have put it.

And I’ll cover creative briefs in another post.

But conflict, sweet conflict… it doesn’t happen half enough in most agencies.  The people who passionately deviate from the prevailing view are often seen as negatively disruptive, they are to be side-lined rather than encouraged, even if it feels uncomfortable at the time.

So this year I’m going to be looking for some more creative viciousness at Cirkle.  I want people to get so into what they’re developing they fall out with each other.  I’m going to encourage internal battles over ideas before they reach the clients.

I might tell the team about the coming torrent of argument, but then again, that’d be the nice thing to do.

By Nick Woods
Deputy MD, Cirkle