Stuff and ThingsTop 50 UK PR Blogs 2013Top 50 UK PR Blogs 2013

Coverage Cup round up w/c 4 April 2016

Coverage cupThis week coverage was secured across a number of key media titles. Egress was quick to respond to WhatsApp announcing end-to-end encryption with the company’s CEO Tony Pepper quoted in CBR. The Verizon team also achieved CBR coverage for its IoT report which asserted that the Internet of Things network has finally gone mainstream. The Dynatrace team set up a briefing with Cloud Tech, which resulted in a brilliant in-depth article on the challenge of managing performance through SDI. Finally, Elsevier was quoted in an Internet of Business’ article on wearables being used to treat Parkinson’s disease. 

The full list of coverage cup nominations can be found below:


CBR –  Privacy victory as WhatsApp secures everything with end-to-end encryption: A landmark event in the security vs. privacy debate?

CBR – IoT declared mainstream with Analytics of Things, start-ups & PaaS named adoption game changers

Cloud Tech – SDN and the software-defined data centre: Opportunities and challenges ahead

BCN – What the buzz is DevOps?

Internet of Business – Pfizer, IBM team up on wearables to treat Parkinson’s disease

Data Centre News – Dynatrace simplifies transition to dynamic data centres with new performance analytics

Bobsguide – Payments (R)Evolution – The Death of the Password

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Coverage Cup round up w/c 28 March 2016

Coverage cupLast week the UK had to batten down the hatches as Spark took the press by storm achieving a bucket load of excellent coverage throughout the week. First off, Trace One achieved national coverage in New Day for FOI results from the NHS, which showed a significant rise in allergies across the country, a great hit from a new national newspaper. The storm didn’t show any signs of stopping with Carbon Black securing coverage on the BBC; not once but twice!  

Byline coverage was secured Fruition Partner’s Paul Cash, where he explained why IT departments should use analytics to dissect data on TechWeekEurope. Feature coverage was then secured for GMC in the Insurance Post quoting spokesperson Mike Davies throughout the article alongside other leading industry experts. To end a very successful week Trustmarque’s work with Natural Resources Wales was covered in, whilst Network World included ElasticHosts in their weekly products round up.

Here are last week’s nominations in full to blow you away :) 

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Why the pursuit of progress isn’t always innovative

bulb-40701_640Over the last few decades, progress in the IT sector has been driven primarily by Moore’s Law: which states that overall computing power would double roughly every one and a half years and the cost drop. Indeed, 50 years later this has held true – to the point that modern computing chips now have so much power that it would have been almost unimaginable when Moore first made his prediction. However, it recently emerged that things are going to be changing and that Moore’s law will cease to be. Chip manufacturer Intel recently announced that their chip roadmap was changing to increased performance every 2.5 years – and there are questions marks about what things will look like in the 2020s / 2030s when it might not be possible to further increase performance at all.

On the one hand, this could look like a real risk to the industry, what *will* we do when computing power ceases to increase on a regular basis? But in reality, it might inject something much needed in the computing sector – innovation. That’s not to say there hasn’t been any, but there hasn’t been much variation. Short of the theoretical implementation of quantum computing (which only has limited uses at this stage), the focus has been on making computers more powerful rather than anything else. There is a possibility for this to be one of the pivotal moments in IT history – but only time will tell if it’s the case.

There are definitely lessons to learn here, sometimes when the going is good we don’t necessarily consider different paths that could lead to different – but not necessarily worse – results. Chip manufacturers have invariably been enjoying their ‘good thing’ though we will have to wait and see if the big industry names have been spending enough time on alternative strategies to survive when the industry changes. As a PR agency, this is also something we are aware of. It’s vital to continually assess how a different strategy could lead to different – or indeed better results for our clients.

It can become all too easy to rely on a combination of good journalist relationships, press releases and press briefings, after-all, that’s probably what most people outside of the industry expect us to be doing. The trick, however, is not to fall into this hypothetical rut, as PR can really be far more than this. As well as press releases, briefings, features and issues response there is the potential to come up with innovative campaign ideas that capture people’s attention in a different way. Whether it’s coming up with a research idea that gets everyone in the target industry thinking or inviting journalists to tailored events, there are many ways to get coverage that don’t require the use of the same old tactics. That’s not to say that there isn’t a place for ‘standard’ tactics but as the media industry changes PR must equally keep up to ensure it doesn’t end up like Moore’s Law.

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PR Bots: Is AI After Our Jobs?

As we edge closer to a science fiction future of robots and artificial intelligence, the question on everyone’s lips has been: what will this mean for us mere mortals? Google’s developed AI recently beat the world champion at GO – a feat many thought would be far beyond the technology as it requires human instincts. Now, an AI bot has learned how to sounds and Tweet like Donald Trump: without accounting for taste, this does raise questions about the future of corporate communications and AIs role in the PR and marketing mix.

While much talk to date around AI has been focused on how it can take over low-skilled repetitive tasks, we can already see that these limitations are of human making – the technology is potentially capable of doing a lot more. While we may believe that humans have the instinct to do something bold and original which is what sets us apart from machines – but maybe this is socialised into us, and, therefore, learnable. If so, then even the creative industries that may have previously seen themselves as immune from the effects of AI could be in for some dramatic changes.

In many ways, the world of PR has been transformed by digitalisation, just like every other industry. In other ways, it is an industry built on relationships and trust, and an understanding of human reactions. Could a machine really deliver that subtle balance between being persuasive and incorporating a client message, alongside offering content that engages a wider audience? While many might scoff and say that creative writing and communications could never be a task for a robot, I’d temper your scorn. We can already see that robotics is being tested in journalism; in 2014 AP partnered with Automated Insights to begin automating quarterly earnings reports using their Wordsmith platform. Evidence suggests that most people can’t tell the difference between a human or AI article – if anything, the AI is not hampered by the curse of human error.

So perhaps the ‘people’ we PR’s will need to persuade and engage with will not be human at all? Instead of writing formulaic press release standardised template, we will just feed information into a machine to churn out the content. We may even see the robots making or taking calls for a sell in? Machine learning could allow the PR bots to understand the client message and hunt for features, analysing thousands of potential sources at once, automatically detecting when new requests, even searching through relevant content to provide a suggested response.

However, my human instinct says that there will always be a role for real people in the world of PR and journalism. Recent research has shown that in Western societies there is a preference for robots that look like robots, rather than realistic clones that could be mistaken for humans; we want to know if we are speaking to a human or a machine, we want to build relationships with humans, not machines. For now, anyway. As with any industry though, AI will find its place, but that doesn’t necessarily have to be feared; it is likely to free up PR professionals to focus on higher value activities. So I live in hope that this won’t be the end, just the beginning of a new era.

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The Internet of Things: What do journalists want to hear?

the-Internet-of-Business-logo-trans4Every single member of our team at Spark interacts with the press on a regular basis, so forming long-term relationships with journalists plays a crucial role in the results we achieve for clients. I particularly enjoy taking the opportunity to catch up face-to-face, and last week was lucky enough to meet up with Doug Drinkwater; following his move from SC Magazine, to hear about his new role as founding editor of Internet of Business.

While security is an area many of our clients are keen to discuss with the media, the Internet of Things is proving increasingly popular as we are seeing connected devices beginning to have a positive impact in business environments. The manufacturing sector is already heavily influenced by the IoT, having spent $29 billion on it in 2015, rising to a predicted $70 billion in 2020, while Doug told me that he witnessed huge excitement about the likes of Intel and Ericsson working on healthcare IoT projects on his recent visit to trade show Mobile World Congress.

Some of the clients we work with are even beginning to appoint internal heads of IoT and key spokespeople around the topic, so I was particularly keen to speak with Doug to get an understanding of what he perceives the state of the IoT to be.

My discussion with Doug revealed that there are three big trees blocking the path to adoption for businesses in many other sectors. They are:

  • Deciding who leads the project within a business. Doug has been interacting with a range of people, from those with the term in their job title to CIOs, CTOs, Innovation Heads and even Heads of Digital Transformation. Without formalising who is in charge, businesses will struggle to drive things forward internally and new business conversations will prove challenging.
  • ROI and building a business case. At this early stage, it can be difficult to find other industry examples to point to when attempting to present a case for IoT adoption. Many will struggle to secure buy-in from sceptics if they are unable to provide hard and fast figures around what kind of bang enterprises will get for their buck.
  • Industry standardisation. Doug pointed out that playing a part in a format’s invention or development can be very important when technologies are still in their infancies. As enterprises come to lay the foundations, there are choices to be made which will have a big impact on the development of IoT inside enterprises, and its development in the wider world.

These three topics are of critical importance: the questions must be answered before the Internet of Things can go on to fulfil its massive potential in the business arena. Now is the time for proactive thought-leaders to provide the answers, and I cannot wait to begin working with some of our clients to figure out and communicate exactly what they are.

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