Did you know that a staggering 44 billion gigabytes of internet traffic was created in 2016?
However, if you think that’s a lot then you’d best sit down! Because by 2025, global internet traffic flow is expected to grow more than ten-fold to 463 billion gigabytes…
As a society, we rely on the internet for everything, from financial management to reading your favourite PR agency’s blog; right through to self-diagnosing ourselves when we don’t feel well. But why are we so dependent on the internet?
In essence, we can get anything that we want just by going on the internet in the comfort of our own homes. We no longer need to take time out of our days to complete a task which we can do whilst commuting to work, relaxing or lying in bed. Often, we go into stores and compare prices of products with other retailers online to ensure we are getting the best deal… It seems safe to say that without the internet, our lives and businesses as we know them could grind to a halt.
But what would happen if the internet was not there for a day? Could it result in a national crisis?
We could well find out. On Wednesday October 11th, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the body responsible for coordinating the maintenance and security procedures of the internet, will be making a major change to some crucial internet security protocols which could see a 48-hour outage for some 36 million internet users worldwide. Queue panic!
This only equates to 1% of internet users across the world, so you may be thinking, ‘what’s the big deal?’ Let’s put it into some perspective: this 1% is the same as some national populations, like Poland and Canada, and double the population of Holland!
Why is this change needed?
With the number of internet users increasing on a daily basis, ICANN needs to update the ‘root zone’ which protects the most critical part of the internet. Known as a ‘KSK Rollover’, the procedure will see ICANN update the first version, KSK-2010, to this latest version KSK-2017, which will essentially make it harder for cyber criminals to take control of the internet.
Many experts believe that with the increase in compute power across the world, it could now be possible to identify the existing algorithms which protect the most fundamental elements of the internet. Rolling out the KSK would generate new private and public keys to ensure that the algorithms are secure.
What does this actually mean?
In a nutshell, ICANN is making this move to ensure that parts of the internet cannot fall into the wrong hands who could use the power of the world wide web for malicious purposes.
We’ve all seen the movies where a group of bad people take over the White House, or kidnap the president. Well imagine a group of cyber-criminals taking over the internet… With our reliance on online services so vital for everyday life, not only for consumers, but also for governments and services, the thought of such an attack on the internet is quite scary! And should ICANN not perform this maintenance, such movies become reality.
What else can I do?
If you’re part of this 1%, the lack of internet for two days could drive you crazy, so here are my top suggestions for things to do to stay sane:
- Play Monopoly
- Read a book
- Talk to your friends and family
- Go for a walk
- Play Cards Against Humanity
- Go to the gym
If you power up your device on October 11th and find yourself disconnected, switch on the radio and make sure that there is a not an apocalypse in full swing! If all seems normal, I’d recommend you take your time over the above activities, it can certainly eat up two days. But let’s not forget that mobile networks will remain unaffected, so as long as 4G is still showing on your phone, you won’t truly be offline. Panic over! Unless you’re on a low data plan…
In my last blog I discussed relationships with media influencers, but what about social influencers? At Babel, we are seeing more businesses include social media support within RFPs, as well as current clients requesting additional support with this comms process. As such, here are my top tips for any business looking to develop a social media strategy.
How can social media strategies impact your business
I was recently at a networking event where somebody told a panel “my competitors are using Twitter, so I think I should too.” When this comment was made, the first thought to enter my head was: this approach is completely wrong.
Simply running a social media campaign for the sake of running a social media campaign will mean messaging shared could be half-baked, the social copy may not resonate with your target audience, and the brand may be investing time and money in the wrong platforms. Instead, brands must identify how they want social media to support their business goals before they develop a strategy.
Understand the pros and cons of different social media platforms
Many companies are taking a scatter gun approach to social media, posting all of their content across multiple platforms, such as Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook.
But to garner the best results and secure the highest levels of engagement from their content, brands should conduct a channel strategy and determine which type of content will perform best on which platform. A whitepaper, for example, is likely to perform better on LinkedIn and Twitter than on Facebook, whereas a CSR-related post will perform well on all platforms, particularly on Facebook.
For this strategy to be formed and implemented, a brand’s social channels will need to be active for at least six months. This will allow time to accumulate credible analytical data, which will form the basis of the channel strategy.
When building out a social media strategy, be it organic or paid, it is vital that a business understands what it wants to achieve, and what success looks like. For those building a brand, success could be securing regular engagements on their posts. For others with a target of increasing sales, it could be driving traffic to a branded webpage, article or third-party retailer.
Having this understanding from the offset means that any content shared will be relevant, factually correct and engaging for the target audience.
Going from plan to reality
Once the social media strategy has been nailed down, it is time to put the plan into action, using a carefully created social content calendar. This should align with a brand’s wider business strategy and take inspiration from key themes, industry events, breaking news, and trends, and helps ensure that any content created and pushed out across the social channels is timely and relevant.
Some businesses – especially those with minimal internal resources – may see launching a social media campaign as an additional, burdensome piece of work This is where a team of social media experts can help, by taking charge of the forward planning, content creation, execution, reporting and overall management. This team can then provide detailed insights into the results of the social media campaign within the context of the business and the wider industry, by benchmarking against competitors – whilst the business focuses on its growth.
Once a business has successfully launched its social media strategy and is beginning to see the benefits, it should begin to look at partnering with micro-influencers, a group which has a fast-growing follower base. In many instances, micro-influencers will not charge to partner with a brand, as both parties see an opportunity to grow in tandem.
This approach not only extends the reach of content, but also allows for third party endorsements, all whilst growing a budding relationship with the influencer.
Not only can influencers further a brand’s narrative, they also offer an opportunity to promote wider marketing objectives and industry events, such as having them participate in podcasts, webinars or attend events.
Here at Babel, we offer our clients B2B social media campaigns that enable them to connect with the influences and decision makers that matter to them.
Weeks into joining the team at Babel, I wrote a blog on the importance and evolution of media relations. In part II, I share media relations tips and common pitfalls for the PR professional…
Why do I love this part of PR?
Put simply, securing a piece of coverage in a national or business title gives me a great thrill, no matter how many times it happens. Seeing your hard work appear in print, or seeing your client appear on TV or radio as a result of your efforts is one of the greatest feelings!
I have been fortunate enough to build strong relationships with many different journalists, from national newspapers right through to some of the smallest and highly influential trade publications.
I am often asked how I developed such a thick ‘black book’ and the key is no big secret. It is taking the time to get to know journalists, and arranging to meet them away from the office to buy them a drink or lunch. The power of having a one-on-one conversation with a journalist is invaluable.
Common media relations mistakes to avoid
The PR world is getting smaller and smaller, so I am a strong advocate of putting the public back into public relations, and actually getting out to have some facetime with journalists, even a 30-minute coffee will help media relationships grow.
Even today, I am stunned at how many PR professionals still rely on email communications with journalists. Whilst I can understand that calling some journalists can be a daunting task, practice makes perfect!
I was recently speaking to a very good friend of mine, who is now the editor of a top tier enterprise technology outlet, with the aim of finding out about the pressures of the job. He said on average, he will receive over 300 emails a day, and the ones which he looks at first are the ones from people he knows. From experience and conversations with other journalists, this is certainly not an isolated approach, further strengthening the need for personal relationships.
There are two common mistakes I often see: Firstly, PR professionals will speak to a journalist but then cut contact with them for a long period of time – as with any relationship, it needs to be nurtured. Secondly, PR professionals who assume that they’ve built a friendly, solid relationship with journalists over email, when in fact, they’ve never actually met them, or worse – spoken to them!
How to perfect your media relations skills
One of my top tips is to always pick up the phone first and email second. When I get on the phone with a journalist, the first thing I ask is “is now a good time?” – more often that not, it is met with a pause and then the response “I have five minutes”. I personally believe this gives me results as the pause is the journalist thinking “oh, this guy actually understands that I have deadlines and targets to meet.”
Pressure in the journalism field is increasing with each passing day. The number of people working in PR has increased, but the number of journalists in the UK is declining. For example, in 2016, a study found that there are 83,000 PR professionals in the UK, but only 64,000 journalists. In 2018, the same study by the PRCA found today there are 86,000 PR professionals, but anybody who is close to the PR industry knows that there are far fewer journalists, putting more demand on those who are still writing.
With the number of journalists declining in the UK, the need for personal relationships and in-depth knowledge of whatever sector you work in is paramount: this is the key to securing coverage that delivers a buzz for you, and results for your clients!
Welcome to my first Babel blog! Having recently joined the London team, I wanted to focus on a topic which I personally feel is one of the most important within our industry: media relations.
Why is media relations important?
I firmly believe that media relations should be at the heart of any PR agency, and a strong roster of journalist contacts is where an agency can really stand out from the crowd.
Securing the best coverage on a regular basis is a fine art, and building good relationships with press can be instrumental in achieving regular visibility in target publications.
So how can this be achieved? I think back to my university days, and the lecturer who taught PR told us: “The key to great PR is to combine three things: art, craft and science.”
As I was at the time, you may be reading this and thinking: what does this mean? But in essence it is quite straight forward.
Art: This is all around making PR ideas creative. By thinking outside the box, it becomes easier to make any client brief more exciting.
Craft: The art from the brief will ensure the craft – or execution – is original and effective
Science: This is having an understanding of the target audience, whilst making sure that outlets and journalists you communicate with are relevant
By applying this approach, PR professionals stand a far greater chance of engaging with journalists, and ultimately getting coverage in their target publications.
How is media relations changing?
Whilst traditional media relations is important, it’s not the be-all and end-all. In today’s social media, ‘always-on’ world, there are new opportunities to further media outreach across social platforms.
Many journalists have moved to Twitter in a quest to find commentary from industry experts as quickly as possible. In fact, one journalist at CNBC actually says, “please pitch me on Snapchat!”. This does not mean that there isn’t a place for traditional media relations techniques anymore, rather, there’s one more tool that PR professionals have to their disposal.
Some brands have taken note of this shift and taken things one step further by running inspiring campaigns involving social influencers, which some argue are almost as powerful as journalists. Working with influencers does have a reputation for being costly. However, many companies, especially in the B2B sector, have identified a list of micro-influencers – a group of people who are rapidly growing their follower base. Not only do micro-influencers offer a cost-effective way to reach new audiences, but their relevance and resonance will grow in tandem with the brands’ – a great way to grow a relationship with a third-party influencer.
Stay tuned for part two, with tips for building a ‘black book’ of contacts, and building effective relationships with the media…