Monday, 19 August 2013

Going Native

For many 18-25 year olds, the second tab open after Facebook is Buzzfeed. It’s read across the world and sees millions of visitors every day. The potential of that is un-missable, and now the biggest and the brightest are catching on.

Native advertising means cloaking an advertisement amongst entertaining, seemingly agenda-less content. For example, ’15 Reasons why we wish we were Brad Pitt’, outwardly a commonplace article within Buzzfeed’s largely list driven content, is likely to be promoting Pitt’s new film – a fact you won’t be aware of until you reach the subtle plug at the end of the article.

Does it work? Some believe it’s the smartest thing since viral videos, whilst others think it’s pointless – personally I think the truth lies somewhere in the middle.

One of the major benefits of native advertising is its unobtrusiveness, you’re too subtle to become annoying, you can post all you want, and as long as your content stays cool, your brand doesn’t run the risk of becoming overexposed.

However, it’s this very subtlety that prompts argument about the actual effectiveness of this medium.

The nature of Buzzfeed means your audience is constantly moving. Most users will skim through multiple posts throughout the day, because the top story is always changing. Buzzfeed is the McDonalds of online content, it’s quick, it’s easy but it isn’t particularly memorable.

To make native advertising work, you have to settle on a theme that ties your posts together, and makes them form a cohesive, memorable, narrative.  A great example of this is the #BreakFree thread from Virgin Live. The theme is that Virgin Live users ‘break free’ from the usual – so ’16 reasons being old doesn’t have to suck’ or ’15 animals that don’t know their place in the animal kingdom’ are just one part of a consistent message. The repeated #BreakFree at the end of the post, and the continuation of one theme makes the content memorable, and links it strongly to VirginLive.

In summary native advertising can be great if your strategy is right – otherwise your brand can get lost amongst the content.

Monday, 29 July 2013

Creating Content that hits your target

There’s no avoiding the fact that social media winners are built on strong and original content that engages and drives response. This can be challenging, particularly if you’re targeting a broad age range, so to make life a little bit easier, here are DDPR’s top tips:
  • Research shows that the 18-24 age range is likely to respond to content eliciting their own creative input. So, if you are running a competition aimed at that age group, go for something imaginative that appeals to the etsy, Pinterest, Tumbl generation.
  • Keep your expectations realistic. If you’re not targeting the younger generation, follow the 1/9/90 rule – 1% are likely to respond with content, 9% are likely to slightly engage by liking or favouriting and 90% will probably do nothing at all. Make sure you - and your client- keep that in mind, so you have a realistic measure of success.
  • Make sure your content is right for each platform. For example, statistics show that posting a picture with a small amount of text on Facebook gets the most engagement, whereas on G+ more text means more success.
  • Choose your moment. On Twitter particularly there are ‘dead times’ - the beginning and end of the day are low times for engagement, because people are either gearing up or winding down. The best time to post is mid-morning, so if for the best possible visibility, aim for around 11.30.
Try and be flexible - you may have been planning your campaign for weeks, but some of the most engaged with content is the last minute, zeitgeist grabbing posts. The triumph of Oreo at the

Superbowl is a great example. They had an ad planned, but they also had a team on standby in case something notable happened that they could adjust their spot to – click here to check it out.
 There you have it, the DDPR top tips for producing quality content. Got anything to add? Drop me a note at

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

'PR has become too feminized' - Agree?

Marian Salzman, CEO of Havas PR, has controversially commented that the PR industry has become ‘too feminised’.

Salzman proceeded to explain that the Australian success at the Cannes Lions was due to their ‘balls’ and ‘masculine energy.’

Whilst there’s no doubt that Australia’s ads were both forceful and daring, Salzman’s choice of language is deeply unfortunate. It’s true, PR has become too safe - there is more to fear now than ever before, not least the wrath of angry internet mobs - but why does safe equal female and avant-garde, male?

What Salzman is trying to say is that PR has gone a bit tame and a bit PC. Fair enough. The Cannes Lions winners were all fantastic pieces of work, but their satirical counterpart ‘The Chipshop Awards’ came out with some risqué  campaigns that were arguably better. It is time that PR got braver, but being brave doesn’t mean being male.

Clearly Salzman was attempting to make a comment on the nature of PR, but her statements will affect women in the industry more than industry practice at large. When women stereotype themselves as comparatively conservative or cautious, they’re damaging themselves and perpetuating a view that is both outdated and absurd.

So no, it’s not OK to agree with Salzman. The industry is not ‘too feminized’, it’s too safe - and those two things are most certainly not the same.

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Being a Likeable brand - it's not that easy being Orange

It’s been an interesting week here at DDPR HQ. We’ve tangled with PG Tips and Orange UK, and discovered some interesting things about the respective PR chops of each.

PG recently kicked off a Twitter promoted campaign, #CuppaClub, to make their online presence friendlier , and being the outgoing team that we are, we tweeted PG Tips (or the PG Tips monkey) asking for a RT on the basis of our herculean tea drinking skills.

I did not expect a RT. They’re a big brand, and arguably don’t have the time to RT every Tom, Dick and DDPR who turn up on their Twitter. However, they shouldn’t have replied as they did – with an automated response. There’s nothing inherently wrong with companies using these, but from a PR perspective it’s inadvisable. If your brand is setting out to seem more approachable, then responding wih an automatically generated reply is not going to make your customers feel warm and fuzzy towards you. 

However when I pointed this out to them, ‘Tips immediately responded with a personalised message, elegantly constructed to reassure me of their personal friendship. I was delighted with this and proceeded to RT and favourite and generally sing their praises - as I am continuing to do now.  It’s a jungle out there for traditional brands in non-traditional media, but the PG Tips monkey impressed me, and is on his way to swinging along through Twitter nicely.

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of Orange.  This morning, still high on my PG Tips triumph I decided it was time to resolve a long-suffered issue with my Orange San Diego handset. It’s nothing technical, not a Bluetooth or WI-FI error, it’s simply that my handset (of which there have been three of the same model, all with the same problem) absolutely will not hold on to signal. I can’t text; I can’t call, and essentially feel like I’m carrying it around redundantly.

I called Orange after doing some Google detective work, and discovered that this was not a new issue. Not only are San Diegos notoriously faulty – Orange knows that they are. When questioned on this, my rep simply replied ‘It’s not our fault, it’s down to the manufacturer’, and refused to acknowledge that some liability for faulty goods has to lie with the retailer. I questioned whether they owed a responsibility to customers on first purchase of the phone, and was immediately shot down. The fact that a company knowingly sells faulty goods and denies liability had me in a PR tailspin of fury.

I can buy my way out of my contract for £500, or I can spend a year with my inadequate, useless phone. These are my only choices. Orange has no interest in warning people about these phones, let alone doing anything about them, so it’s up to angry customers like me to spread the word.

In conclusion, I will now be drinking nothing but PG Tips tea, and whilst I’m drinking that tea, I will be loudly telling anyone who cares to listen about the absurdly arrogant and irresponsible attitude Orange take to selling their (loyal) customers, rubbish handsets. I smell a corporate PR meltdown in the making, and I will be the first to chorus ‘I told you so….’

Saturday, 18 May 2013


Recently, a trend has risen from the depths of the Twitterverse, a double bluff born of genuine PR crisis turned triumph –I’m talking about the staged hack.

Hackers are rapidly becoming the pirates of social media, with groups like Anonymous using the power of the internet to humiliate major brands. Sometimes it’s innocuous; a hacker that infiltrated @SkyNews issued only one tweet - ‘Colin was here’.   Burger King, however, suffered complete humiliation when Anonymous commandeered their account, and used it to promote McDonalds produce. 

Social media managers and PR teams have nightmares like the Burger King crisis, and yet, when all was finished, and BK were once more in control of their account, they found themselves with 30,000 new followers. What seemed like a marketing disaster became a coup; they’d followed for the entertainment, but remained as a potential consumer audience.

Whilst Burger King rejoiced that the adage ‘no publicity is bad publicity’ occasionally works, others wondered whether a hack could be good for business, and how effective it would be as a publicity stunt.
MTV, once a bastion of cool, now more of a relic, decided to stage a fake hack, hoping to garner media attention and followers a la Burger King. Unsurprisingly, it backfired massively. Not only was the hack unconvincing, according to several commentators, it was unethical. The glorification of what is essentially a criminal act left many angry, and MTV gained no more followers.

Other brands have followed suit with varying success, and the genuine hacks have continued – if at a lower level. It seems that the fake hack, though a publicity winner, is damaging to the credibility and reputation of a brand. If MTV et al are wise they’ll stay away, it’s questionable morally, and risky at best - nobody likes a hack.

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Knowing when to stop

In the wake of the Boston tragedy, scrutiny has inevitably turned to coverage of the situation, and who was or wasn’t respectful.

It has become an almost ubiquitous feature of any crisis that at least one company will not know when to stop self-publicizing. For example, when Hurricane Sandy hit the U.S, somebody at American Apparel made the mistake of thinking they could use human tragedy to sell clothes, and the reaction of disgust dealt a damaging blow to the brand.

Yet people are slow to learn, and with each new disaster we see another damaged public image. In this case, it was Guy Kawasaki. Self-proclaimed social media ‘guru’ Kawasaki schedules constant tweets for each day (or rather, his interns do) and whilst the rest of the Twittersphere paid tribute to the victims of the Boston bombings, Guy continued his stream of self-promotion.

Unsurprisingly, the collective mind of Twitter turned angrily upon Kawasaki, who responded with ‘Loving how people with less than 1,500 followers are telling me how to tweet…’ further angering his audience and prompting a mass un-following.

Although Kawasaki has since scrambled to post ‘How to help Boston Victims’ tweets, the damage has been done, and the moment of social media hubris has dented Kawasaki’s reputation
The lesson Kawasaki and everyone else needs to take from this is that ‘No publicity is bad publicity’ isn’t all that applicable anymore (if it ever was). If you upset the social media universe, people un-follow you, un-like you and all of a sudden your audience is that much smaller.

Thursday, 11 April 2013


In the PR game, it’s crucial to keep up with emerging trends - especially in the digital sector. Identifying which new platforms will take off and which will fold is now a key part of digital strategy. Our latest favourite, Storify, seems like a pretty good bet.
Storify describes itself as a way of making sure you’re heard above the noise of social media, but as the name suggests, it’s actually a way of combining your platforms to tell a story.
A multi-media application, Storify allows you to collect and collate posts from across the Internet, not just within social media but also the wider web. For example, a story might include Tweets, Google images, Tumblr - any news around the subject, all of which you can surround with your own text to form a cohesive narrative. The best part? Every source you use is tagged and notified, creating an immediate viewer base for your story.

In terms of our industry, it’s a bit of a game changer. A platform that allows you to put all publicity and positive feedback in one place, Storify can almost act like yours and your client’s trophy cabinet, except it can be embedded anywhere, and you can tag people.
Already major companies are incorporating it into their strategy, with Levi choosing the best responses to its #shapewhatstocome Twitter campaign, and publishing them on Storify, and Coca-Cola storifying their ‘Hug me’ vending machine campaign.
DDPR are just about to publish our first story, stay tuned to our Twitter for news of our upcoming launch, who knows, if you Tweet us we might just add you to our narrative.