A prefect's musings on digital and social media

Category Archives: Next Big Thing


We sent our intern, Katy Roberts, currently studying PR at Sheffield Hallam Uni, to the PR Show 2013. Finally, (after handing in her dissertation) here’s her take on the trade show’s inaugural run as a fledgling PR professional:  

The first event of its kind for the UK public relations sector, The Public Relations Show was held on the 26th November 2013 at the Business Design Centre in London. The show brought together over 1,000 PR practitioners to share the latest tips and trends currently happening within the industry and was seen as something of a milestone, as an event like this has never taken place before, and yet shows that the PR industry is growing and that the demand for an event such as this is clearly there.

This was particularly exciting for my fellow course-mates and I, because, as fledgling practitioners ourselves, we were excited to have the chance to network with experienced PR professionals and experience the wide range of different areas that the public relations industry has to offer.

The event was hugely popular and the atmosphere was both exciting and slightly overwhelming. Surrounded by various stalls from a range of PR agencies and suppliers, I didn’t really know where to start! The conference was really useful for harnessing my networking skills, chucking me in at the deep end.

Once I’d gotten into the swing of things, I felt a lot more confident. I found myself engaging in conversations with senior PR professionals, and I picked up loads of really useful tips about being a fledgling PR professional, almost ready to go out into the industry. I also learnt about a wide range of different services that the PR industry uses, such as media monitoring and social media management and their importance within the world of PR. I’d heard of some of these, such as Gorkana, but the conference really helped open my eyes to just how broad the PR industry is.

A really great aspect of the PR Show was the wide range of really interesting talks, from a number of leading practitioners and PR agencies about a huge range of different topics. Some of the leading speakers included people such as Alan Aiken, the Executive Director of Communications for the UK government, Peter Bowles, the Creative MD at Dynamo PR and Rob Cartwright, the Global Corporate Practice Director at Ketchum PR.

The talks themselves ranged from “Aligning PR with corporate strategy”, held by Alistair Smith, the managing director of corporate communications for the Barclays group, to “How technology is changing internal communication” held by Malcolm Cotterell and Kate Barnes, Development and Engagement Manager and Employee Engagement Advisor, respectively, at CrossCountry Trains.

Other talks focused on the challenges of healthcare PR, successful creative campaigning on a low budget and quantifying success by monitoring social media measurement, to name but a few. I feel like the talks on creative campaigning on a low budget and on social media management would have been especially useful for a fledgling practitioner like myself just starting out in the industry.

My only wish is that some of these talks were made more accessible for students of the PR industry, maybe by providing a season ticket or concession rate for some talks would have been incredibly useful. There is also far more scope for engaging students, break out sessions or fringe events covering topics such as graduate schemes, professional membership and talks from specific PR areas, would be widely welcomed.

All in all, I really enjoyed the day – it was incredibly interesting and provided me with a useful insight into the industry that I’d not had before. Did you attend the PR Show 2013? What did you think?


This week, guest blogging for us, is Will Glover, who has returned to the Twelve team for a few weeks as an intern. Here he considers LinkedIn’s announcement that the social network will be lowering the sign up age to 13 and what impact this might have on the platform.  You can also read Will’s previous entry ‘I am the challenge Marketers face’ if you have time to kill! 

As many of you probably know, LinkedIn, the global professional networking site, has recently opened its doors to teenagers aged 13 and upwards, sparking a great deal of online commentating. Some praise the scheme, most condemn it and the rest, myself included, simply wonder: ‘why?’

At first, their justification for lowering the minimum age required to join the site: encouraging soon-to-be university students to network, seems sensible. Although, having said this, those at a university age are 18 anyway. What I can’t understand is a) how LinkedIn made the leap from undergraduates to 13 year olds and b) why they think said 13 year olds care the slightest bit about networking.

…As Alec Baldwin’s Jack in 30 Rock puts it. Does LinkedIn have the cool factor for 13 year olds?

Unfortunately, the scheme looks to be just another digital gimmick. LinkedIn are not the first to be guilty of this and certainly won’t be the last, but certainly are part of a frustrating trend in the information age to be slightly obsessive about finding new ways of ‘connecting’ and ’sharing’. At the risk of sounding out-of-touch, I wonder how many people get genuinely excited at the latest minor ‘innovation’ in social media.

Don’t get me wrong, sharing information has its place, and Facebook and countless other sites certainly have revolutionised the way we interact with each other. Perhaps we just need to slow down a bit and ask ourselves if the latest bright idea actually has a purpose, or if it is simply another example of social media sites doing something just because it can be.

You may already have been grappling with the Facebook timeline on your personal page for sometime.  Every one has an opinion on it – some love it, some hate it.  Personally, I love the concept of being able to see the different life events on your friends wall and scroll down through old conversations, but some of the practicalities of the layout send me a bit batty (pictures push out the layout of some text posts when placed alongside each other etc. etc….it just doesn’t look pretty)!

But that aside, timelines look like they are here to stay.  And by the end of the month all business pages will be migrated to this layout as well, so you need to get to grips with it before it creeps up on you.

Here’s some important pointers:

  • Include a cover feature – this runs across the top of your page and is a great opportunity to include an image that really represents your brand.  It can include and signpost your brand and web address etc. but try not to be overly promotional.  Go for something eye-catching that is likely to stick in your followers mind.
  • Keep a regular check on comments being posted on your page.  You can ‘hide’ any irrelevant posts (but be careful not to overly censor) – but equally it is great for page visitors to see your interaction with customers / followers.  Make sure you respond to all comments you receive in a timely and effective manner!
  • Increase the prominence of popular posts – clicking on the little star at the top right of a post and ‘highlighting it’ spread it across both columns and draws your followers eyes.  This is particularly effective with images.
  • For really key posts you can ‘pin’ these to the top left of the page for seven days.  Pick these wisely because they can decrease the dominance / impact of other new posts.
  • You can still use additional tabs / pages (e.g. through tools such as ‘page modo’) but be aware that these now feature across the top bar – the headline needs to be enticing to encourage your readers to click on it and experience the wealth of information you have included there!
  • The timeline does make the admin panel more accessible – this now appears at the very top of your page when you log in and will include all of the notifications that you need to be aware of. Make sure you review this regularly to keep on top of comments etc.

So, that is just a bit of a whistle stop tour for you – the timeline is a bit daunting at first but there are lots of benefits for your business pages so I really encourage you to stick with it, play around and learn new stuff.  And then you can come back here and tell us all about it!

With the New Year just around the corner everyone is wondering what the 2012 digital media trends will be, and one possible answer is the expansion of  neighbour networking sites in the UK.

Websites like Nextdoor.com, EveryBlock.com and HeyNeighbor.com already exist the in UK to enable neighbours the opportunity to network online:

‘There are so many ways our neighbors can help us, but these days most people dont know their neighbors or how best to contact them.’  So, the suggestion is that if you need a neighbour to help you out moving some furniture, or providing a night’s babysitting, you hop onto the social network and see who is available.  It also provide the opportunity to get to know your neighbours slightly better and hopefully carry on the interaction face-to-face.

{Source: Nextdoor.com via Daily Mail}

Now, why is this relevant to businesses you might ask?  Well, I wondered whether 2012 might see us recognise the need for this in a business environment.  Many SMEs are based on rural or urban business parks and might have little or no interaction with their neighbouring businesses.  But is if there were a social network that facilitated this, it could lead to much more collaboration and socialising.

What are your thoughts?  Do you think this could take off in the UK?  Would you use it personally?  Or professionally?  Or more importantly, do you think there is already something out there that caters for this requirement?

I have regularly extolled the virtues of blogging for business; particularly as an individual blogging to build up a profile for yourself as an expert within your field.  But blogging is daunting for many because of the time required to research, write, edit and manage a blog.

There is one particular blogging platform that makes the role of blogging shorter, sharper and slightly easier.  Tumblr.  I mentioned it in my previous entry because none other the Barack Obama has started using the site but I thought it might be helpful to extol the virtues of Tumblr for the person on the street.

Tumblr has been described by the Daily Telegraph as “the smart thing to be doing online these days [tumblelogging], which is to weblogs what text messages are to email – short, to the point and direct.”


A tumblelog does not require reams and reams of text, many people use it to just share images / videos / ‘finds’ on the internet but the content expectation not quite the same as a traditional blog so it is perfect for your CEO that wants to share quick bullet points of lessons learnt from a recent conference, or to post pictures of an event.

Tumblr is a mix between a blog and a social network (with more characters available than Twitter – but only when you need them).  I definitely encourage you to give it a go whether you want to create a personal blog for yourself with business objectives, or a unique and funky blog for your company.


Let me know how you get on!

Just when we start to feel like we have got to grips with all that social media has to offer, with our twitter accounts, our Facebook profiles and pages, our LinkedIn profiles and groups, our personal and business blogs on WordPress and tumblr, our inspiration gathered on Pinterest etc. etc.; there’s a new kid on the block and we are playing catchup again.

This time it is an offering from Google, in the form of Google +.


What is Google +?

Google + encapsulates the concept of social sharing.  It has been likened to Facebook (as all new social networking platforms are), and using this analogy it is perhaps best compared to the news feed that appears on your Facebook homepage, allowing you to share online content with your friends and contacts.

But for me that is where the analogy ends, as social sharing is a small component of Facebook with the main focus being on the personal social networking side of Facebook; sharing photos, videos and interesting information / sites is just a few of the ways of interacting with friends used on the site.

I think that in the context of social sharing, it is perhaps more closely aligned to Twitter, which is partly (though not exclusively) based on content sharing.

However, what Google + does really well is allowing you to share tailored content with your various ‘circles’, rather than having separate accounts for various functions.  Circles are your various social groups such as friends, family, work colleagues etc.  Though Facebook and Twitter have both introduced litter functionalities, generally speaking if you are connected with someone on these sites, they see all of your content.  Google + allows you to share holiday snaps with just your friends, or interesting online articles with your work colleagues.

A couple of other great features include the ‘hangouts’ functionality, which is similar to Skype but allows arranged or impromptu video chats with up to 10 people, a little bit like Skype but more focused on ‘group’ conversations.

The sparks feature alerts you to new content surrounding topics you have expressed interest in, which you can then share with your circles.


Google + is still only in the field test and is currently available by invite from an existing member only.  I am still finding my way around it myself – but I do think that it is a platform that most people will use alongside their other social networks (if they can manage any more), rather than replace them, at least initially.

Google is also expected to launch account options for businesses as well, so it remains to be seen how this can really impact on businesses digital strategies in the future, but there is certainly some food for thought in there already.


According to digital bible that is Mashable Facebook is currently trialling a real-time ‘what is happening now’ feed in the right-hand panel of the Facebook homepage:


(source: Dazeinfo via Mashable)

Although the current news feed allows users to see their friends status updates, posts on mutual friends walls, events friends are planning to attend, page likes and recommended pages, the real-time function will incorporate some of the updates previously included in the news feed as well as allowing users to what their friends are liking, sharing and commenting on in real-time.

In many ways, this seems to be only a slight extension of what already appears in the news feed, but it does create opportunities for businesses using the social networking site; if your company is creating interesting and engaging online content, users are more likely to share it with their friends – and with a wider audience than Twitter’s sharing community offers.

The tricky bit is coming up with a campaign worthy of sharing, but that’s another story….(and that is where Twelve PR come in)!

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