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Gains and Pitfalls – Social Media and Brand Communications

A number of recent news stories have featured the pitfalls of social media - enraging some people and enthralling others. Sally Bercow got sued and PR executive Justine Sacco generated a storm on Twitter, losing her job. The Kevin Bacon advertising campaign highlighted that virtually everyone is connected. Some companies have expressed concern that the risks of using social media outweigh the benefits. To investigate, Broadgate Mainland invited Dr. Paul Dwyer (a senior lecturer from the University of Westminster), Suzanne Tyrrell (a senior associate from international law firm Taylor Wessing) and Jo Faith (editor, yourmoney.com), to talk about the challenges and pitfalls. The collective view was that social media continues gaining importance in company PR campaigns. Jo Faith monitors social media to look for story leads. “It’s not only a great way for PR ... to get their message across but also for establishing company executives as informed spokespeople”, she said – mentioning also that companies cannot merely dip in and out occasionally if they expect a real return. Paul Dwyer supported this, adding that social media can be a powerful tool when used properly. A recent Christmas video went viral with over 35 million views, for example. He spoke about return on investment, and emphasised the importance of message tone, imagination and creativity. “It’s a bit like a party. People don’t want to be sold to. You have to engage in a friendly and entertaining way if you expect people to respond positively.” Suzanne Tyrrell mentioned possible risk without effective controls. “Only 40 percent of companies have a corporate social media policy,” she said. “Social media policies should not stifle creativity … they should set clear parameters on what is acceptable behaviour and what is not.” Policies should include the risks of retweeting and libel. Tyrell also warned that the commonly used tagline “These views are my own” is not a robust legal defence. The panel debated whether companies needed to monitor social media to stay informed of possible mentions, and concluded that it allowed timely reaction, if necessary. Supervision of brand reputation should include digital notice boards and reader comment sections, with replies posted if topics do not offer a full perspective. Such replies need to be in a pleasant tone - not too corporate or overbearing. Social media looks set to continue to surprise and entertain its audience, while companies develop and embrace the new skills required. Author Bio Mark Knight is a Director at Broadgate Mainland the London PR firm.

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5 Top Tips for Surviving University from a Student Blogger

If you're looking at changing the way you look at life, the best thing to do is head off into the big wide world and head to university. I'm Kat and I write over at www.gingersnapblog.co.uk (drop over and have a read....) where I blog about surviving university one week at a time. I try to cover tips and tricks to make life a little bit easier as well as sharing the really stupid things that we more often than not get up to..... There's so many things I've learnt in the last few years at university, things I now couldn't live without knowing alongside things I wish I'd known when I started. I've decided to share my top 5 tips for surviving university - who knows they may make your life that little bit easier... 1. Budget, budget, budget! I know, I sound like my parents but it's something that I really I wish I had in my first year... I definitely do now - most of the time - because there's nothing I hate more than having to penny pinch in the final few weeks of the term. 2. Attempt to make as many friends as you can... In lecture, in your flat, or even in societies. But accept that not everyone you meet will land up being particularly close to you. People have a very different way about them when alcohol is involved.... 3. Remember that academics aren't everything, make sure you get the chance to go out and experience everything you can  (this ONLY applicable in the first year, I'm not condoning not doing work, make sure you pass) There's nights out, parties, society meetings, trips and so much more! 4. Take a million and one photos. Trust me, you'll look back at some of the photos and wonder where and what the photos are of. But at least this gives you the chance to look back on all of the silly things you'll do. You'll want it. 5. Understand that you will see things differently to other people, and that this will cause arguments no matter how laid back you are. You may well see the mess in the kitchen and think it's not bad, another flatmates will think its horrific. You may well think it's fine to leave dirty underwear on the bathroom floor, another flatmates will think this is the worse thing you could possibly do in life! Just stay calm and try and come up to a solution that works for everyone! University is the maddest, funniest, most expensive, time to learn in your life. You will look back and wonder where the time went. Appreciate every moment, it will be the little things that get you through surviving university. Author Bio Kat is a Finance and Business Student at Portsmouth University

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An Interview with Kath Purkis: Founder of Her Fashion Box

As I was browsing online, I discovered an Australian fashion subscription service that really caught my eye and I couldn't wait to get in contact with the ladies behind it to find out more. Her Fashion Box is a unique idea that brings women the latest fashion accessories, trends and advice inside a box of hand-picked beauty and lifestyle gifts. They have over 18,000 followers on Instagram and 14,185 fans on Facebook and it looks like big plans are in place for the future. Kath Purkis launched the business and kindly answered my questions below:
How did you start Her Fashion Box and did it take a long time to get it up and running?
I started Her Fashion Box after founding Australian online fashion destination Le Black Book in 2008 & seeing trends emerge every season. I wanted to create a monthly fashion accessory box that took the guesswork out of shopping online & gave women something to look forward to every month. It took about 3 months to get up and running once I decided I wanted to launch it. I move quite quickly & I’m a very passionate person, I wasted no time getting it up and running in Australia.
Where did you get your inspiration from?
I took inspiration from my first business and also from everyone around me. I love fashion & thought it would be exciting to create a monthly service women all over the world get excited about more than a one-off purchase but every month. I think of Her Fashion Box as a little reward we can give ourselves every month.
What do you enjoy the most about running this business and could you tell me (roughly) how many viewers you get on the website each month?
I love that no two days are the same. One minute I could be in a buying and production meeting with our buyers, the next with our web team analysing our website statistics & looking at ways to improve Her Fashion Box. I love having a equally as passionate team at Her Fashion Box, we love tackling the daily challenges and the team continue to amaze me each day! I’m a bit of a geek & I love getting stuck into google analytics and all the exciting things that happen behind the scenes.
How big is the team in the office?
We have a Her Fashion Box family of close to 20 people based in Sydney, Australia. We also have team members in LA & China. We have a fun office culture, which encourages entrepreneurial thinking. We have inspirational posters, beanbags, makeup &beauty everywhere along with plenty of lolly jars.
What tips would you give to someone that wants to grow their own idea?
Just do it! It’s cliché, but if you don’t just give it a go you won’t move forward.
What are your most successful achievements to date?
I’ve had some great milestones and mini high five moments over the past 12 months. Highlights have been our Vogue Australia feature, guest speaking at Google Australia, our first international subscriber and achieving our subscriber milestones & seeing the team grow each day.
Where is your favourite place to shop?
I love shopping online at Le Black Book for my on-trend fashion essentials, netaporter for my designer collectable styles and all the UK high-street stores when I’m in London.
How would you describe your style?
Classic but always on-trend, I love teaming classics with the latest Her Fashion Box accessories.
What can we expect from Her Fashion Box over the next 5 years?
You can expect to see Her Fashion Box grow globally and become the bright pink box women all over the world look forward to each month.

herfashionbox-kath-purkis-kerry (2)[This image was sent to me for personal use on the blog]

Follow Kath on twitter @KathPurkis

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Behind the scenes with fashion blogger Wendy from @Thankfifi

What do you enjoy the most about running your own fashion blog? Freedom and travel and the wonderful brands I’ve had the pleasure of collaborating with.  It’s a creative outlet for me which is hugely important and I love the challenge of creating something exciting. What tips would you give to someone that wants to start a blog? Do it.  No excuses - if you want to you don’t need much to get started.  Create a blog you would like to read and focus on that alone, not stats.  And post regularly; whether it’s once a week or 3 times a day, just choose a schedule that’s realistic for you and stick to it. How did you start Thankfifi and did it take a long time to get it up and running? Over coffee with a friend we were dicussing our favourite new blogs and she suggested that if I started one she would read it.  So I did.  That friend is Fi(fi). Can you name some of the top trends for A/W and tell us what you are most looking forward to wearing? Pink.  Candy, fuschia, bubblegum - it’s all been promised but it’s not exactly running amok on the high street as I had hoped (yet).  Plaid is one I’m really excited for but maybe that’s just the Scottish girl in me. What do you like doing when you’re not at work? Walking in the country or on the beach with the husband and Mr K (he’s the furry one).  I spend a lot of time travelling at the moment so any spare time with family or friends is really cherished. Where is your favourite place to shop? Wow, I must be the only fashion blogger who doesn’t really love shopping!  Online always feels easiest to me, cup of tea in hand.  So many websites are super simple to navigate and find the right pieces versus the high street which often feels disorganised and busy. High street shops I do enjoy are: Zara, Mango and Gap. Online picks are: The Outnet, Asos & H&M. How would you describe your style? Maybe 75% classic, 25% fashion victim. Thankfifi-Tartancity-21_thumb What inspires your daily posting? Life. How many times a day do you have to walk your gorgeous dog? Four but he tells me it should be more… Actually that sounds like a lot of walks but when I’m working from home it’s the perfect way to clear my mind. What other blogs and magazines are you into at the moment? I read A LOT of other blogs and my all time favourite is Gary Pepper.  There are a bunch of other blogs which most people know about so here are some lesser know reads I’m enjoying right now - Winston & Willow for the aspirational fashion and photography, Bank to Boutique for the wonderful lifestyle shots, The Elgin Avenue for the colour and A House in the Hills for the food glorious food. Do you think the blogging sphere has changed over the last few months? Eg. Programmes like Celebs, brands and Fake fans have brought certain facts to the public eye. I haven’t seen the show so can’t comment on that I’m afraid but I think the blogging sphere and internet in general is such a fast paced environment to be a part of.  It’s exciting and testing both at once trying to stay up to date, creating new and aspirational content but you have to love it or you just wouldn’t do it!   You can read Wendy's blog here  

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An Interview with SocialSamosa.com @ Social Media Week Mumbai

Social Samosa  is the go to destination for anything to do with the Indian social media industry and is led by two experienced social media professionals Ankita Gaba & Aditya Gupta. You will find  insightful articles, case studies, campaign reviews, interviews, brand strategies and  more online at www.socialsamosa.com.  When I returned to the UK from Mumbai I managed to have an e-conversation with Ankita Gaba and she kindly answered a few questions.   Interview Please can you briefly describe what took place at Social Media Week in Mumbai? It was a great platform for all of the Indian social media stakeholders to meet. There were brands, agencies, analytics tools, authors, journalists and anybody who’s life is impacted by social media.  The sessions were very insightful and I am sure everybody took back a lot of value out of this. Did you find the events interesting and engaging? Yes I did, each event/session provided value and insights on that specific topic. What would you change about any of them or the week in general? Perhaps some sessions that drill down a little would have been a good idea. Most sessions were just touch and go. While this worked too, maybe next year there can be sessions that are more in depth. This is also the feedback I got from some of the other attendees. If you were to describe Social Media to a friend, what phrase would you use to sum it up? A medium to stay in touch and make new connections Have you learnt anything new from your experience at Social Media Week? I learnt a lot more about how the industry is functioning; my network in the Industry grew as I met a lot of new people. I asked this question via twitter. What are your thoughts?   No, I in fact think it’s doing quite the contrary. It’s providing a lot of people with new stories, with quick access to these stories  and with mixed opinions rather than the general one sided approach of traditional media. Do you have any tips for people working in the world of Social Media? Social media is ever changing and the only way one can keep up with it, is by always willing to evolve. An open mind and an experimenting attitude are two things that should keep us going. Would you attend Social Media week again? Yes most certainly. Can you tell me what your future plans are at Social Samosa? We want to become a focal point of the social media industry and be instrumental in driving and shaping the Indian social media industry through our content, workshops, platforms and other initiatives. Ankita Gaba is the Co-founder of SocialSamosa.com, an Indian Social Media Knowledge Storehouse.

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