Top 10 Instagram photos of 2016

Mount Etna, Sicily

Before I moved from my last PR agency in 2015, a specialist recruitment consultant in the digital industry advised I go beyond strategy and implementation, and create. Not one to turn down a challenge, I started learning photography and publishing Instagram photos.

Instagram is a place for self-expression and must be one of the few social media sites where there is still a profound community and sense of belonging. Instagram has become a staple part of my life and has accidentally catalogued some of the most exciting moments of 2016.

Whilst in no way a Steve McCurry or Anne Geddes, I’m pleased by some of the Instagram photos captured this year and will continue the hobby throughout 2017.

Top 10 Instagram posts of 2016

Wonderful day at @YeoviltonAirDay. 1,300 photos, but this has to be one of my favs. Will sort the others soon.

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One of my favourite photos of the year that was captured by complete chance. The sound of the explosion prompted me to turn around and snap a few photos.

Another one from #aldeburgh. #hightide2016

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In an annual kind gesture by Lansons, we visited HighTide Festival earlier this year. In-between the talks, theatre, and comedy, I managed to snap this peaceful moment on the beach.

If you’re in Sicily then Catania is worth a visit for half the day, if only just to witness the only city in the world built of lava stone from Mount Etna’s historic eruptions. Whatever you do though, don’t drive.

And of course, Mount Etna herself. This photo was taken on the back terrace of our rented holiday apartment.

Incoming! Couldn't resist a photo on the tracks this afternoon.

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To think, five months after this photo was taken one of the trams on this network crashed and caused a number of fatalities. A little haunting in hindsight.

Of all the crickets in #hatchlandspark, this one got a photo.

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Just look at the detail!

Rufus, the amateur dog model.

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Strange, at this very moment Rufus is lying in almost exactly the same place as when I took this photo.

I have no words for this! #wellscarnival

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As part of the Somerset carnival season, dozens of floats brimming with light bulbs, dry ice, and pumping music make their way through the tiny city.

Not alone in the garden. Amusing how an innocent looking statue can appear like a dark metaphor in a certain light.

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I’ve got a ‘thing’ for black and white photography, although according to artificial intelligence this could be a sign of depression. Either way, this statue in my grandparent’s garden takes on a life of its own when dark.

Have hundreds of photos from #chesterzoo today, here's one. Got up close to this #giraffe at feeding time.

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And we’re ending with a giraffe pic.

Have something you’re proud of?

Then I would love to see your best Instagram photos of 2016, plus I’ll give you a follow if I’m not already.

Blogging is part of who I am

Rain on window

Blogging is more than just a side project. It has become part of who I am. The pages of this blog act as a diary documenting a student life, entry-level PR experience, and now as a senior practitioner. Past articles can make for awkward or difficult reading, but it’s history.

So it’s disappointing to reach the end of a successful professional and personal year, to then reflect on a blog that at times did feel abandoned, at least in comparison to other years. Visits to this blog peaked at 50,000 in 2014, but this year it has dropped. Whilst posts may show quality, blogging still requires constant feeding to grow and create community.

Despite only publishing 32 posts throughout the whole of 2016 (around 2 a month) the benefits of blogging still shine through. Through my everyday work I’m always pleased to hear how often this blog is read, especially when it contributes to new business efforts and talking about Lansons initiatives.

The challenge is balancing the responsibilities of a more senior role in a busy London consultancy, being mentally available after work (rather than an exhausted husk) to feed a personal life, and then blogging. This year practical work in my career took priority over the blog as I adapted to an account director role after promotion end of 2015. It was the right decision.

Still, it’s been a wonderful year and here are the top five posts of 2016.

SEO is no longer a discipline, it’s a skillset

After attending the well-known BrightonSEO conference, I reflected on how Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is an integral skillset for PR practitioners.

See beyond your age: 26 life lessons at age 26

A very personal post that attempted to explain some life lessons and reaffirm parts of my personality on this blog.

UK Blogger Survey 2016: It’s all about fashion and poor PR pitches

Good old Vuelio conducted a survey with 500 UK bloggers revealing the pitches they receive and ways of working.

Britain’s best PR student bloggers 2016 #bestPRblogs

There are so many talented student PR bloggers worth keeping your eye on, this post ranks the best based on Behind the Spin’s #bestPRblogs competition.

The Independent: where print declines, online soars

The title of this post is not true, online clearly does not guarantee success. However, online does provide opportunity and more immersive ways to engage readership.

Looking to 2017, it is clear that blogging needs to come back onto the agenda in a big way. I’ve continued to feel the benefits this year and if I refocus, then this may lead to even more opportunities.

 

Only 36% of PR practitioners admit digital efforts are “very effective”

Woman using laptop

New research shows that the Public Relations (PR) industry still seems to be struggling to remain relevant in an online world. One of the headline stats reveals that only 36% of PR practitioners admit that their digital campaign efforts are effective, with 24% claiming little to no effectiveness at all.

When surveyed about the greatest challenges expected in their industry over the next 12 months, prepare for difficult reading as a lack of investment, time, and training appear top of the list:

  • 61.9% say they expect a lack of resources or funds
  • 57.7% find it challenging to find the right measures/metrics to evaluate work results
  • 58.8% expect a lack of time to try new strategies/technologies
  • 51% say there is a challenge when it comes to internal skills and competencies

This is unchanged from 2015 as PR practitioners are forced to deal with growing workloads and expectations to produce creative campaigns without always the budget to support.

Appropriate measurement for PR programmes is an important area for me as it helps demonstrate the value of investment into digital activities. Whilst 61% of respondents say that return on investment is an important measure, 84% use follower increases as the most frequent measurement. Whilst nothing wrong with this, it does suggest that the PR industry is generally finding it difficult to deliver business results. Of course, this could also be a general symptom of social media and its challenge to be an acquisition channel without paid-for support.

The research that surveyed 2,500 PR practitioners across nine different countries was conducted by Mynewsdesk and Berghs School of Communication. Respondents work across local, regional and global PR firms across 17 different industries including media and entertainment, business services, software and internet, government, and non-profits. The results of the survey are being compiled into a three-part eBook series that is being published between December 2016 and March 2017.

Digital PR study

The first eBook boldly begins by explaining PR has an opportunity to implement digital tactics, potentially replacing traditional advertising that “… is often viewed by consumers as an imposition and an unwelcome intruder…”. A deep marketing transformation partly driven by consumer trends of streaming or recording television, paying for music services, and using AdBlocking software, provides the PR industry an opportunity to have a “revolution”.

The revolution of PR is a passionate ideal I once held when studying PR at University and practicing in entry-level roles, but today I’ve changed my mind. Looking back at my work throughout 2016 I would say only 50% of what I do could be considered traditional PR in the sense of issues management or media relations. The other half consists of digital marketing, working alongside public affairs, contributing to change and employee engagement programmes… PR cannot be an umbrella term, it’s too misinterpreted by its media relations undertones and it’s not practical for PR industry bodies to represent the entire marketing mix and management consultancy space.

Draw your own conclusions from the new research. Sign-up for the PR Revolution e-book series to discover more of the challenges, opportunities, and solutions the communications industry is facing.

 

2016: The year social media hit maturity

iPhone 3G Launch 2007

What better way to close off the year than with another Lansons newsletter? Predictions are for weather presenters, so I’ve instead written about a topic that has been weighing on my mind – the year social media hit maturity. This article first appeared in the Lansons newsletter.

Mainstream social media sites have reached maturity, they have come of age; either hitting the precipice of user registrations or continuing to climb further into the millions. They should definitely not be considered ‘new channels’ anymore as more than seven in ten internet users have a social media profile. They are even commissioning journalists and companies to create stories, and public relations teams must be more experimental with sharing stories to be heard among the online noise.

This means there is a pressure for us to create immersive content, such as using 360 video or broadcasting live. It’s no longer about creating a community around stories/campaigns/products, but being noticed by a mature social media audience who expect you to speak their language.

If 2007 was the year of technological innovation when Apple entered the mobile market with the iPhone, Facebook and Twitter began to really gain registrations, and the Amazon Kindle was launched – among many others; then 2017 will see the continuing maturity of the same social sites and a growing field of experimental marketing led by products such as augmented reality headset Microsoft HoloLens.

Aside from the maturity of social media, internet usage as a whole has matured with people consistently spending the same amount of time online, and accessing familiar apps and websites. Ofcom’s “Adults’ Media Use and Attitudes” report reveals that almost nine in ten UK adults use the internet, on any device, in any location and are spending an average of 21.6 hours online each week, which is unchanged since 2014.

Maturity has also spurred some big business deals and content developments. To name a few:

  • Microsoft acquired LinkedIn for a whopping $26.2 billion in an all-cash transaction, a move that is likely to see better LinkedIn integrations across Microsoft products.
  • Live video is now the hot content marketing opportunity. More Facebook Pages are live streaming, 529,000 in total in June 2016, now expected to be nearer a million. 10 million people are using Periscope, with over 200 broadcasts to date.
  • It’s been the year of messaging apps. Whatsapp, Facebook Messenger, and Snapchat have all seen huge user growth, giving public relations practitioners the challenge of knowing the conversations that are taking place in private and often encrypted parts of the internet.

Never has the internet, social media, and any other online touchpoint been so crucial for all industries across the UK. Especially highly regulated industries such as financial services and health, many of whom have developed social media compliance procedures to meet the expectations of their stakeholders – whether business-to-business or direct to consumer.

In 2016 we’ve seen social media come of age, witnessed continued growth of digital services, and many companies have become comfortable producing immersive video content. 2017 will be about building on these developments to reach their audiences in more creative ways