internet, social and mobile usage statistics for europe

By on Jul 23, 2014 in academic studies, social software |

I’m always on the hunt for fresh, well presented, statistics on the use of the internet, mobile and social in different countries and regions. There are loads of sources, some presenting conflicting views. Regardless, it’s handy to have a single go to point when you’re in a rush and just need some top-line insight. Kudos, then, to the people at WeAreSocial who have created a treasure trove of such insight: Social, Digital & Mobile in Europe from We Are Social Singapore There’s a blog post with highlights here:...

speaking at the european communication summit, brussels

By on May 20, 2014 in Uncategorized |

I’m going to be presenting at the European Communication Summit, Europe’s top event for in-house Communications leads. The event takes place in Brussels on the 10th and 11th of July and has a start-studded line up of presenters including AOL’s David Shing, Lars Silberbauer-Andersen from Lego, Jimmy Mayman, CEO of the Huffington Post and many others. Details here:...

speaking at the global pr trends summit, doha

By on May 20, 2014 in conferences/events, fleishmanhillard |

I’m speaking at the Global PR Trends Summit in Doha, Qatar on the 1st and 2nd of June before heading over to our Dubai office for a few days. If you’re in planning to attend or are in town whilst I’m around, drop me a line.

more on the death and rebirth of “communications”

By on Feb 26, 2014 in fleishmanhillard, public relations, social business |

On Thursday and Friday of this week I’ll be representing FleishmanHillard at the Global PR Trends Conference in Istanbul. I’ve based my presentation, or at least the 80% of it that will be done before I arrive at the hotel and find a wifi connection, on the post I wrote a few weeks ago on how social business offers an approach for communicators to break out of their functional silo to be at the centre of coordinated, cross-functional collaboration that leads to better results internally and externally. I’m calling the presentation “Communications is Dead. Long Live Communication.” In a nutshell, here’s my argument: Communications (PR) as it has historically been perceived – a stand alone, siloed business function – is dead. This is supported (my personal interpretation rather than an official one) by FleishmanHillard’s award winning Authenticity Gap research, which describes the 9 fundamental drivers of reputation (pdf). Guess what? Most of those factors fall outside the usual responsibilities of PR… but absolutely should be of interest to the reputation builders and guardians of our industry. Communication, the human behaviour, is thankfully for us, essential to the entire human experience, including in business. As we shift from mass production towards mass bespoke (3d printing, Firestarter crowd funding, etc) as a new business model, not to mention the more familiar (for us) broadcast model to direct engagement as a communications approach, we – communicators – are well positioned to become the essential connective tissue, conversation starters, and conduit of organisational ebbs and flows of information due to our well honed skills doing exactly that over the past 50-75 years we’ve existed as a proper profession. To seize this opportunity, created more by the shifting landscape around us rather than any deliberate act, we have to think broadly, and boldly, about our future position within the clients we serve. If you think like me, there’s a strong future for our industry indeed. I’ll post my slides when I have the final version done. See (some of) you in Istanbul where, by the way, we have an a great affiliate. [As always, this blog posts contains my personal views which are not necessarily shared by my...

social business & big data: keys to the strategic positioning of PR?

By on Feb 11, 2014 in fleishmanhillard |

The Public Relations industry has long argued for a place at the top table. We’ve been held back in this ambition by the perception that we become useful only at the tail end of the corporate value chain and by our lack of rigour with regards to measurement. Social Business and Big Data offer PR the opportunity to reposition itself at the strategic heart of the businesses and organisations we serve. Communication: Central to the Human Experience Yet Organisationally Siloed Communication, not as a siloed organisational function but as a human behaviour, has always been central to how organisations and brands, from political bodies to major industrial manufacturers, organise themselves and progress – creatively, politically and economically. Humans identify, through communication, a need or market to address. We establish partnerships around shared objectives and build alliances of shared meaning. Communication allows us to nurture advocates and embrace diversity. In the commercial realm, this isn’t something we see only within more collaborative, horizontally organised businesses – even the military, probably the most top down, command and control of all organisations, is communication-centric: orders are given, targets identified, firing authorised, seize-fires negotiatiated, and amnesties granted. Communications the business function, however, nearly always exists within a silo with defined boundaries somewhere close to the nexus of a brand’s aspirations, how it communicates this to stakeholders, and the actual experience of those who engage with the brand or it’s offering. [See FleishmanHillard’s award winning Authenticity Gap research for insight into how the gap between expectations and actual experience impacts brands.] Part of the problem is that PR Professionals are often only called in after the fact: * once a strategic decision is made, we communicate it’s necessity * once a campaign is defined, we are asked to extend it’s reach and build engagement * once a product or service has been devised, we’re brought in to communicate it’s usefulness * once an industrial mishap has occurred, we’re called in to contain the reputational damage Yet the good news is that Communications does have a privileged perspective within most organisations of any scale, with visibility across operations, strategy, outcomes and, yes, risks, that few outside the closed doors of the board or C-Suite have awareness of. Social Business – A Magic Pill? Social business is a human-centric, insights-led approach to the development and implementation of strategic programmes that bring stakeholders, both internal and external, closer to business critical processes in ways that generate shared value. Social Business is the lever that agencies, and their functionally ring-fenced clients, can activate to break out of our box to become the facilitators of communication and connectivity, helping create richer human experiences and strategic progress. Doing this – being the connector, listener, valued collaborator and thoughtful advisors we can be – catapults us, Communicators, to the centre of organisational strategy. A Model Social Business Programme Usually, it starts with an indepth insights gathering process where methodologies borrowed from ethnography, user experience design and management consulting are leveraged to identify and prioritise strategic objectives, stake holder motivations, existing processes and workflows. Social business practitioners also look for obstructions such as lack of employee engagement, unnecessary constraints upon collaboration, poorly thought out infrastructure and, for lack of a more revealing description, competing egos. We conduct workshops and stakeholder interviews, interrogate data from a variety of digital and social media listening and analytics tools, undertake desk research, and ask tough questions about our  client’s business strategy. The same methodology can and should be deployed to gain insights from both internal and external stakeholders. We then map the two views so as to identify commonalities and connections between objectives, people, processes and platforms. The final step is to build participatory frameworks that drive collaborative action and strategic progress. It sounds easy, but it requires an extraordinary depth of immersion within a client’s corporate culture and the context in which it operates to fully realise. I’ve been involved in social business programmes that last a month or two, and several that have taken as long as 18 months to complete. Staffing for Social Business If the PR industry is to claim Social Business as an approach, we must recruit, nurture and deploy the right kind of people: those with a strategic mindset, intellectual curiosity, willingness to challenge assumptions, appropriate levels of empathy, and a knack for coalition building. A Social Business strategist is an ethnographer, a journalist, a management consultant, a user experience strategist and a communicator. I’ve worked with many people in our industry with some or all of these characteristics. Being “good at social media” is not a prerequisite, although understanding how technology can enable processes and workflows can come in useful. Can PR survive in a results focused, Big Data, World? The crumb trail of data meanders through the functions of our clients businesses. The Communications industry has been lazy about tracking down the data that demonstrates our value and, instead, often relies upon fuzzy metrics including the counting of outputs and questionable correlations. I strongly believe that PR can contribute to the good fortunes of our clients, but we need to get better at supporting this thesis and Big Data is our opportunity to do exactly that. There is a strong connection, in my view, between social business and big data. Social business is about connecting the dots between people and processes important to strategic success, big data is...

fleishmanhillard uk’s graduate programme

By on Jan 29, 2014 in fleishmanhillard |

If you’re a recent graduate or planning to graduate in 2014, you can now apply for a place on FleishmanHillard’s (UK) Graduate Programme. During the one year programme, successful applicants will have the opportunity to rotate through three of our specialist practices and to work across a variety of sector areas. The programme is a great first step towards a career at one of the World’s leading integrated Communications and Marketing agencies. Come join us. Full details here:...

i’ve joined fleishmanhillard as emea social business lead

By on Jan 17, 2014 in fleishmanhillard | 1 comment

Those of you who follow me elsewhere online will have noticed that I recently started a new role as EMEA Social Business Lead at FleishmanHillard. I’ll be working with clients being serviced by any of the 45 FleishmanHillard offices in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Richard Kanareck, Managing Director of our London office, from which I will be based, is quoted in this news release covered by Holmes Report: “Robin is a true thought leader and will help us better support clients who are ready to move their digital and social media programmes into the strategic heart of their organisations.” In a note to my new colleagues, I took a stab at explaining how social business is different from social media: “Most brands recognise that social media offers new opportunities to target and engage directly with audiences through carefully crafted content and messaging. But social media is a two way street – and brands need to be well prepared to participate, as equals, with a variety of stakeholders there. Whilst there once were clearly defined boundaries between the responsibilities, and stakeholder audiences, of distinct business functions, in social media such organisational silos often lead to poor governance, repetitive investment, and inconsistent messaging. Social Business is an approach towards solving these challenges by bringing stakeholders, both internal and external, closer to business critical activities through the strategic application of people, platforms and processes.” I’ve already been impressed with the people I’ve met in the London office and members of the Regional and Digital/Social leadership teams am an looking forward to getting involved in the strategic programmes they’re working on with clients. If you fancy being one of those clients, drop me a line at the new place:...

building an ecommerce website using wordpress

By on Nov 6, 2013 in Uncategorized |

It’s been a while since I’ve had the opportunity to roll my sleeves up and get involved directly in building a website. That all changed, over the weekend, when my wife convinced me to build a website for Just Sheep, her new online business selling wool blankets. They’re lovely products, by the way. Because I’m familiar with WordPress, which I use for as well as my (now defunct) blog about St. Albans, I decided to set up a fresh instance, buy a domain name, and install a theme. The first install went badly, and I went a bit beyond my own capabilities making alterations to the theme, so I ended up wiping the the WordPress database using the MySQL control panel provided by my host. To be clear, I don’t actually know what I’m doing half the time, but I do tend to understand how different configuration settings are likely to work, and actually enjoy trying to sniff out the bits of code that determine positioning, system messages, etc. After the fresh install, which wiped out a good 4-5 hours of work, it’s all been pretty smooth sailing. The theme I bought and installed integrates really nicely with WooCommerce, an e-commerce service I’ve never used before. It handles inventory, pricing, postage calculation and all that fun back office stuff. It also has a nice shopping cart based ordering system for customers, with PayPal enabled check-out. I’ve also set up google analytics and google adwords for the site as well as a fresh paypal account, ebay account and amazon marketplace seller account. There’s still a lot of work to do on the site. Our product photos need to be re-shot by a professional in a studio, rather than by us in the living room on a Sunday morning, and we need to get unique product codes (UPC) for the products before we can sell on Amazon. A logo is being created. The text content needs to be reworked- there are just basic product descriptions at present. And, although I’ve already set up Pinterest and Twitter accounts, there’s more work to be done planning and setting up social media services. If you’ve not built in WordPress before, or it’s been a while since you’ve done so, I strongly encourage you to give it a bash – it’s not just an immensely powerful CMS, it’s also reasonably easy to get your head around. It’s also quite fun, if you usually work at the strategy, planning and content end of things, to actually bring a new website to life through your own...