Rob Brown opens Amsterdam Conference

Rule 5 Managing Partner Rob Brown was the opening speaker at the second annual ‘PR is Key’ conference in Amsterdam at the end of last month (20 April). The event , hosted and sponsored by PressPage, took place at B. Amsterdam, the innovation hub that hosts over 250 companies, combining startups, corporate innovation and creative businesses. The event brought together expert speakers from the Netherlands and the UK to share their experiences and insights regarding a central theme of real-time PR. Rob kicked off the event with a presentation on the role of visual communications in real-time PR, while also identifying that there are six major developing trends in the sphere of public relations; data, analytics, real world evaluation, ethical practice, strategic counsel and visual communication. On the final point, Rob identified the opportunities surrounding live, visually driven reporting of events – these can dominate social and conventional media. You can download the slides of all presentations of PR is Key 2017 via the event website.

Watch two minutes of the conference highlights.

SXSW and the Video Myths


Mentioning that I go to SXSW usually generates one of two responses. The first is a desire to go and the second is “what for?”. On my first visit, five years ago, I thought I would discover the ‘next big thing’. Last year, for example, Meerkat launched. I imagined bringing the news to a wide-eyed audience back in Blighty, but given the nature of communications everyone was aware at the same time I was (who knew social media was instant and global?). Not only that, but the launch of Periscope shortly afterwards eclipsed Meerkat’s moment in  the Texas sun.

So why do I go? Well it’s fun, interesting and sunny in March. There’s free food and drink to be had and great live music. What’s not to like?

The real value though is in the depth of insight. You can go from panel session to keynote speech on to a meetup and learn little, but then a nugget will emerge from a session that you went to just to bridge a gap in the day. So what did I take away from SXSW 2016? The current gold rush in communications and technology this year is largely around video and like many hype cycles there is a lot of bluff and bluster. Here are a few myths that were busted for me in Austin.

#Myth 1 – It’s about the view count

OK, the view count matters but we need to be careful about what that means.  Views are not the same for different platforms. View counts on YouTube, Facebook and Snapchat are all calculated differently. No-one knows for sure, but YouTube counts a view after about video for 30 seconds. and Facebook after just three seconds. In three seconds you could see several videos on Snapchat. So when a major annual UK tennis event says it had more than 600 million video views on Snapchat that could equal to 55,000 views for a full three hour match on another platform.

#Myth 2 – It’s all about 360 VR 

With the consumer roll out of 360 VR headsets this year there’s a lot invested in telling us that it’s the next big thing. That might be right but for now there’s very little compelling content and a small amount of very boring content.  A far more immersive experience was available in an 8K 3D cinema with 22.2 surround sound from Japanese broadcaster NHK.  Not a headset in sight.

#Myth 3 – It’s all about Snapchat

The user stats are incredible, the video view are mind boggling (if you ignore Myth 1) and big media brands are piling in.  Snapchat is huge but it’s not the future for brands or broadcasters. People make their own content and then share it with their own audience. That’s the point. It’s also for a young demographic, people in the main grow out of wearing virtual bunny ears.

We all want to know what the next big thing is, but a step towards that goal is discovering what’s not.

PR Tech Guide #3 – Dropbox Pro

What is Dropbox Pro?Dropbox reflect

Dropbox Pro is a cloud based file sharing and storage system and it’s fair to say that it transformed our business when we signed up at the start of 2014. You can sync files and folders across all of your devices. The starter level for storage is 5TB so easily enough for most small ro medium-sized businesses. All your data is transferred securely using SSL and stored using 256-bit encryption.

What we use it for

We use it as our agency file server and store all of our files and data on it.  We have a legacy file server in the office but it just contains files and data from pre-2014.

5 great things about…Dropbox.

1. Access and collaboration – When we opened an office in London we needed to be able to access our server from both locations. The firewall in our office meant that we could allow remote access to the office based server. Dropbox feels exactly like a local based server when we use it via the Windows File Explorer, Office or any other programmes.

2. Access from home and on the move – The point about Dropbox Pro is that once you have set up a PC, laptop or phone with you secure account it’s just like being in the office wherever you are.

3. Security – One of the concerns about the cloud is that it isn’t secure.  The opposite is true. Our old server has a back up disk but when one disk fails you have a real risk whilst you replace it. You then need to wipe the old disk. Neither is necessary with cloud based storage.

4. Best bit – There isn’t just one.  There’s a nice feature where you get a pop up every time someone saves a file so you can see what colleagues have saved but in reality it’s probably the seamless way it integrates across platforms and locations. 

5. Recommendation? It’s not the cheapest of applications in our PR stack but we would recommend it without hesitation.

Snap snap. Snapchat gets newsy with Discover

Spook 1

Have you updated Snapchat? For the snap happy ones of us in the office that did, we were confronted with the most interesting feature yet – Discover.

For the uninitiated, Snapchat is an iOS and Android app that lets users take photos or record videos and add text and drawings, before sending them to a list of recipients. These Snaps can be viewed for between one and 10 seconds, then they’re hidden from the receiver’s device and deleted from Snapchat’s servers.

Developed by Stanford University’s Bobby Murphy, Reggie Brown and Evan Spiegel, Snapchat has come a very long way since its release in September 2011:

  • Snapchat is reportedly now worth $10 billion
  • 100 million people actively use the app each month
  • 400 million Snaps are sent every day
  • 1 billion Snapchat Stories are viewed every day
  • Snapchat is the third most popular social app among millennials
  • Facebook offered $3 billion to buy Snapchat in 2013. In cash

Not so bad for an app that was initially dismissed as a novelty act.

In Discover, media companies can publish content to the app for users to view. At launch, these included MTV, Cosmopolitan, Yahoo! News, National Geographic and The Daily Mail just to name a few.

According to Snapchat’s latest blog post, Discover is different because it’s been built for creatives, but keeps Stories – apologies if we don’t watch the entire narrative of your night out, we’ve got better things to do at 3am – at its core.

There’s a beginning, middle and end so editors can put everything in order and every edition is refreshed after 24 hours. Simply tap to open, swipe left to browse, or swipe up on a Snap for more.

With promises of fresh and unique content from each channel every day, Discover has certainly grabbed our attention.

PR Tech Guide #2 – Expensify

What is Expensify?Expensify

In the words of the company, it makes expense reports that don’t suck. Expensify is simply the best and easiest application for creating and submitting expenses.  This is a piece of tech that’s not by any means limited to PR, anyone could use it. It auto converts from different currencies and you can even use it to request to have your expenses paid in Bitcoins.

What we use it for
To report, claim, approve and pay staff expenses. It scans and reads receipts and it can be fully integrated with many leading accounting software packages.

Five great things about…Expensify.

1. SmartScanning. SmartScan inputs the receipt information, then matches the receipt to the expense, eliminating the need to do manual entries.  It’s a huge timesaver.

2. Mobile.  It has fully functioning mobile versions. You can photograph receipts on the go, and create and submit expense reports from your phone (Apple, Android, BlackBerry, and Windows).

3. Approvals – You can confirm submission, approve and pay from within the app and generate automatic emails as you do. It’s equally good for staff, managers and the finance team.

4. Best bit?  Time saved…you don’t have to key in as much with Expensify. You can input bank and credit card data as well as smartscanning.  It really is an expense app for the 21st century.

5. Recommendation? Absolutely, we recommend using the platform whether you work in PR or not.

PR Tech Guide #1 – Passle

PassleWhat is Passle?

It’s a sharing and posting platform aimed at business. Passle allows you to capture interesting content, comment with your point of view, and add context. It allow ideas and web content to be brought together quickly and easily.

What we use it for
We use it to capture and share online media coverage that we generate for our clients.  Think of it as a web based cuttings book.

5 great things about…Passle.

1. Gather, collaborate, showcase – Passle’s strapline and what it does in a nutshell. Created to make light work of corporate blogging, the web-based platform allows you to montage and showcase content from across the net in one, easy-to-share place.

2. Visually strong – every PR knows the aesthetic nightmare of trying to make online coverage look good. Passle provides a virtual coverage book for all digital pieces. It’s easy to share, easy to customise and a great way to showcase results.

3. Social integration – What’s more, Passle’s innovative social media integration function allows you to grab Twitter chatter around your coverage. Helpfully showcasing further results and reach to clients.

4. Best bit? Time saved…gone are the days of spraymounted coverage books. Passle helps cut time on creating slide after slide of messy-looking screengrabs.

5. Recommendation? We definitely recommend using the platform if you need a way to showcase high volumes of online cuttings. Take a look at our client, Raw Cut’s, Passle page in action here.