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Category: General

If you haven’t heard yet, there’s a brand new reality tv show called The Circle that aired on UK’s Channel 4 last week and lo and behold, people are already outraged by it. Welcome to television programming in 2018.

The Circle’s premise is a game show where being liked is everything, with a bunch of players holed up in a housing complex making friendships, flirting and bitching it out to be the winner of a £50,000 prize. It’s essentially the Big Brother format, but there’s a modern-day societal twist because the contestants are all housed in separate apartments and will never meet face-to-face during the show.

Instead, their interactions will only exist on a specially designed social media platform where they’re encouraged to shape, bluff or completely distort their persona in a desperate bid to be ‘liked’ by their fellow contestants, the player who is ‘liked’ most wins this nightmarish popularity contest. Sound familiar?

It should do. Not only is it a jazzed up and plugged-in version of Big Brother for the Snapchat generation, but the concept is also conspicuously indebted to Charlie Brooker’s Emmy award-winning Black Mirror series. Particularly the fantastic episode Nosedive, in which people live in a world where social interactions are constantly being rated (that dreaded down-rating tone!) and every individual has an overall rating which has a real-life influence on their socioeconomic standing.

The common ground these shows share is an exploration of the very real consequences of social media and how us Humans are so easily beguiled by its capacity to curate an idealised version of ourselves, or you know, create a completely different persona altogether.

The Circle immediately ignited controversy by featuring a player who’s gambit is fabricating an online identity in which she presents herself as an oncologist that treats cancer. This is, for obvious reasons, a despicable and manipulative tactic to win internet brownie points on the show and, let’s be honest, probably the very reason why Channel 4 picked such person in auditions. Controversy is their currency, after all.

The thing is, in reality, there’s little to nothing preventing someone from doing the same sort of thing on LinkedIn or Facebook either, which may also be the poignant comment C4 producers wanted to make on our digital society. Maybe.

The question is, where does the responsibility in keeping check on this online activity lie for our real social networks? Do the tech companies need to police it better? Do we need to take a closer look at home to why people create fake online personas? Or perhaps we just rely on the discerning Nev & Max from MTV’s Catfish to oust these online charlatans for the delight of the viewers at home. It’s certainly a tricky topic and judging the people behind fake or augmented online profiles is a moral minefield.

However, one intriguing development we’ve seen in recent months is that the tech giants behind our real-life social media platforms, which over 3 billion of us use, have started to implement features specifically designed to curb usage of the very applications they created.

Which is sort of bizarre when they look to gain so much advertising money from our mindless scrolling, albeit it comes across as a solid PR move. Facebook-owned Instagram launched a ‘Time Well Spent’ tool which allows users to see just how long they’ve spent scrolling through doggy snaps and memes, but also self-manage daily limits on how long they can spend in the app.

The two leading mobile operating systems, iOS and Android, have also baked similar tools into their latest updates, giving users to ability to self-police their time on their devices. It’s encouraging to see the tech companies feeling an obligation to help us better understand our relationship with social media – it’s a start at least.

So yes, The Circle is a sensational take on the issue of social media and sure, it offers a cheap hit of reality entertainment in the gap that Big Brother left. But the producers came up with the idea for reason, and that’s because it’s something almost all of us find relatable. The jury’s still out on how the balance of our digital lives will affect our IRL lives, but the needle seems to be tilting ever further towards our virtual selves.

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Simon Franklin
Simon Franklin

 

 

Ruckus Retreat is an interdisciplinary creative event co-founded by myself (Krish Jeyakumar, Account Executive at Dynamo PR). Before the event, Dynamo sponsored one residential place at the event so my colleague Izzy Hathaway, Dynamo’s Senior Media Executive, could attend.

Co-founded by myself and Rowan Ellis, the idea for Ruckus was born from conversations with other young creatives wanting an event that was community-driven, interactive, and non-hierarchical.

Ruckus was not about sitting silently in front of panels taking notes in a row – it was about creating, sharing, learning from each other, and making noise. Set in a 4* Welsh Manor house, Ruckus found the perfect home in Buckland Hall, within the hills.

Ruckus had four key elements, being:

  • Creative Workshops (interactive sessions where you will be creating, discussing, and experimenting)
  • Professional Workshops (interactive sessions focused on the professional and business life of young creatives)
  • Feedback Groups (hand-picked small groups you’ll meet with each day to work through creative problems and share you work with)
  • The Open Mic & Gallery Show (a chance to show your work and see what everyone else has been doing)

What was surprising about Ruckus is the amount of people who discovered new talents and a new lease of confidence. People who didn’t feel comfortable speaking out on the first day ended up performing in the Open Mic on the last evening. People who were die-hard writers ended up spending time in the portraiture classes. Being in a non-hierarchical, supportive environment meant that people felt comfortable enough to explore.

When browsing #RuckusRetreat on Twitter and Instagram, it almost feels surreal that something dreamt up by a duo of 20-somethings actually did something to change lives.  Seeing folks saying that one of the turning points in their lives was ‘a wonderfully healing poetry workshop’ at Ruckus, and ‘[they’ve] come out of #RuckusRetreat with a plan for a play, confidence in pursuing projects and useful life info’ is unbelievable, and it really does push that whole ‘be the change you want to see in the world’ stuff.

The workshop leaders that presented at Ruckus covered a range of creative disciplines ;

Sanne Vliegenthart works in the world of books and publishing – from her popular YouTube channel to her work at Penguin Publishing. Sanne speaks both online and in person about productivity, literature, and creative careers.

Bridget Minamore is an award-winning poet and performer, who has shown her work internationally at festivals in Italy, Poland and Canada. She has been chosen as one of the 40 Stars of Black British Literature and was the first woman to be a lead tutor for the Roundhouse Poetry Collective.

Leena Norms is queen of the side hustle – with a popular YouTube channel, two brilliant podcasts, and a full time job in publishing. Leena ran workshops on topics such as imposter syndrome, self-employment and time management to help find the creative balance in your life.

Sammy Paul is a director and writer whose short films including ‘Blue Sushi’ and ‘Playground’ have been watched over a million times online. His films have been screened at international festivals in the UK, USA, and Canada.

Soof Andry is an Art Lecturer at Ravensbourne and Artist-in-Residence at Camden Arts Centre. Soof’s art, publications and work have been showcased at institutions globally including Tate Modern, Tate Britain, and the Parsons School of Design.

​Olivia Dolphin, a writer, poet, and event organiser, will be running our open mic on the final night of the retreat. Olivia is the Editor of the Wizards in Space literary magazine and will also be running a pre-open mic workshop in confidence coaching and overcoming stage anxiety.

Krishanthi Jeyakumar
Categories: General

“So, what exactly do you do?”

I paused.

I looked up at the screen for inspiration, then to my colleague, and back at the screen again. To my dismay, there were 3, no, 4, bullet points that my colleague had already chalked off.

I desperately hoped that she’d take the lead on this one, and thought that I’d conveyed as much through subtle eyebrow twitches, but alas, I proceeded to ramble, speaking long enough to suggest that I was an expert in my craft, but not too long so not to bore the dozen or so PR hopefuls who were in attendance for my advice on getting into the profession.

The truth is, summarising what PR is is a challenge. Ironic, that in a profession that so often demands succinct elevator pitches and expert elucidation, explaining the basics of the job itself is a stumbling block for many professionals, myself included.

Of course, PR can easily be broken down into a series of ‘to-dos’ and checklists. You make press lists, pitch journalists, staff media briefings, handle crises, manage client expectations, and bring creative ideas into reality – but that’s all a bit, well, granular.

It’s compounded by the fact that, year-on-year, so much seems to change. Tweeting journalists is now an acceptable, and sometimes more successful, avenue of contact; video content is becoming more and more popular, requiring agencies and individuals to expand their toolset; and influencers are now more of an, erm, influence on the success of a creative campaign than ever before.

So, what is PR in 2018?

Merriam Webster defines PR as “the business of inducing the public to have understanding for and goodwill toward a person, firm, or institution”, while the Oxford English dictionary says it’s “the professional maintenance of a favourable public image by a company or other organization or a famous person.”

That doesn’t exactly shed too much light on the situation.

We know that, ultimately, the majority of clients will judge agencies on the coverage they may or may not secure, but there needs to be a paradigm shift from us as professionals, moving away from focusing on securing coverage for coverage’s sake, and instead asking ourselves “what does my client actually need?”

Is their workload overbearing? Are they securing the right sort of leads? What are their business outcomes? What kind of audience do they need to be put in front of to help achieve those outcomes?

It’s about going above and beyond; whether that manifests itself in the form of news jumps, handling an inbound email to declutter their inbox, on-boarding employees, and, most critically, being honest and knowing when to say no, even if it’s the kind of brutal honesty that has you wishing you’d descend into hell there and then.

If we insist on boiling it down to simple checklists and to-dos, our relationships with our clients will forever lay subservient to robotic to-ing and fro-ing, leading to little more than a pat on the back when things have gone well, and an awkward phone call when they haven’t.

Adopting a more holistic approach, grounded in a genuine desire to understand and help your client, is the foundation of any successful PR professional and institution in 2018.

Or maybe that’s all a load of fluff and nonsense.

Hey, I do work in PR after all.

Socrates Pyliotis
Categories: General, Knowledge

We’re beyond happy that our work late last year to help our VR client Pimax fund over $4million has picked up multiple awards at last night’s #In2Sabre awards ceremony, put on by The Holmes Report.

At the event held in New York, PR companies vied for trophies in categories ranging from innovation in PR, through to employee engagement.

Dynamo was shortlisted for four categories, and by the end of the night we had won three! We picked up awards for best Technology, best Lean Marketing, and best Crowdfunding / crowdsourcing campaigns.

If you’ve a consumer tech product you’re thinking of crowdfunding, do get in touch

 

At Dynamo we’ve always cared as much about how we work, as the work that we do.

Today we’re announcing a change in the way we recruit, which we believe takes a significant step in reducing unfair discrimination or bias in the application and assessment process.

This is not the first time we’ve sought to be different and do better.

Two years ago, in response to a survey showing there was a £10k pay gap between men and women, we took the step to publish our own #genderpaygap, and continue to do so every year.

By being open and honest about our data, ways in which to improve, and sharing our experiences publicly, we’ve tried to encourage companies of all sizes to take a hard look at their operations and end pay differentials due to people’s sex, which still exist in today’s workforce.

Our research, discussions and learnings from this are informing our new approach to recruitment.

Anyone who’s been involved in recruitment at volume will know there are many bulk filters companies use to make the process ‘manageable’, usually applied at the pressure point when it comes to splitting applications.

But many of these filters can actually reinforce unfair discrimination, and we want to reduce any bias that occurs at these points, whether intentional or otherwise.

That’s why, in recruiting for our latest member of staff, we’ve launched #blindrecruitment: a name-sex- and education blind application process.

Name- and sex-blind

Having a name- and sex-blind application is not new. The UK’s CBI has been recommending this for years, most recently with a report in 2016, but we believe that we’re one of the first PR companies to put this formally in place.

We’re doing this for the simple reason that whilst senior executives may be very clear that they do not discriminate, the evidence suggests otherwise, and that unconscious discrimination occurs frequently, and often.

Removing your name and sex simply means that no discrimination will be made based on what you’re called, or your gender, as these details can often imply sex, socioeconomic, or ethnic backgrounds.

Education-blind

But we believe just doing this doesn’t go far enough.

It’s still a common practice in companies to look at degree results, many using a 2:1 class degree as a minimum entry requirement – the degree being a proxy for ability, capability, and character.

But our direct experience has also shown this proxy doesn’t hold. We’ve hired amazing staff without degrees and without high school qualifications.

More worrying still, in our discussions with other agencies and trade bodies, it’s clear that there are many societal factors influencing whether you can actually get into university. This is backed up by recent news that shows that many of the UK’s top universities have an appalling record of accepting BAME candidates.

It’s clear that not everyone has the opportunity, and increasingly the money, available to go to University – and we’re also well aware that even if you do have a degree, this is no indication of whether you have drive, or excellent written and verbal communication skills, which is what we prize in Dynamo above all.

Taking out our own bias

So we’ve decided that, in looking for a new AE / SAE, we don’t want to know in your application whether you went to University, nor if you did attend, what degree you got. We also don’t want to know what school you went to, or any educational qualifications you’ve achieved. We don’t want to know your name, nor your sex. All we want to know is whether you have the skills, knowledge or aptitude for the job.

We of course can only go so far with this – though most of the application process is ‘blind’, the final stage before an offer is made will be an in-person interview. However even at this stage the interview panel will be as diverse as we’re able to provide, in both age, sex and background.

Sharing our work

We’re well aware that there’s always more to do, always more to learn, and always more ways to improve. So like all the things we do at Dynamo, we very much want this to be a conversation and debate starter.

In launching our latest recruitment drive we have consulted widely outside our own organisation, notably with the PRCA, our trade body who in the last year has taken  extremely positive steps in ensuring good governance in PR organisations, as well as the Taylor Bennett Foundation, who tirelessly work to address the need for greater diversity in the public relations industry.

We welcome all feedback, so feel free to comment, tweet or post using #blindrecruitment or do contact us if you’d like to know more. If you’re interested in applying for a job, or know someone who is, then you can apply .

 

Paul Cockerton
Paul Cockerton
Categories: General, New Hires

Over the last year we’ve seen an increase in Dynamo’s services by companies who have blockchain-based services or technology, so it a good fit to combine our consumer and tech knowhow, with our crowdfunding experience to offer ICO PR support. Our first publicly announced client is WIZZLE, the globally trusted blockchain service provider with the singular goal of making cryptocurrency accessible to anyone.

Partnering with Goadi, with whom we’ve worked on projects reaching as far back as 2011, we will be running earned and owned outreach; targeting press, influencers and paid media to amplify WIZZLE’s reach and support their initial AirDrop as well as pre-sale and main sale of the ICO. The team will also be supporting on social, managing ad spend and strategy across WIZZLE’s Telegram, Reddit and YouTube channels.

Mark Noorlander, CEO WIZZLE Global N.V., commented: “Dynamo and Goadi provide a perfect comms fit for us, combining an understanding of the crowdfunding and ICO sectors with experience in all of the marketing channels we need to use effectively to achieve our goals, ranging from paid media, community management, through to media and influencer relations. Fundamentally they get and understand our mission and goals, and are best placed to help us succeed and take cryptocurrency to the global stage.”

Paul Cockerton, co-CEO of Dynamo PR, added: “We are at the start of the blockchain era, and there’s no doubt that cryptocurrencies have sparked a gold rush, and yet even with all of the buzz, the concept is still very alien to many. WIZZLE’s mission to make this technology accessible and simple is a game changer. We are thrilled to be part of this revolution and support WIZZLE with their upcoming ICO.”

“Our experience supporting ICOs and Dynamo’s expertise in crowdfunding allows us to create an integrated strategy, ideal for supporting WIZZLE,” said Fiona Chow, Founder of Goadi Consulting. “Cryptocurrencies have a huge amount of potential, which, despite the hype of crypto, has been largely untapped. Together with WIZZLE we will breed understanding of the technology among consumers and enterprises, ultimately driving engagement in crypto and growth of WIZZLE.”

Paul Cockerton
Paul Cockerton
Categories: Crowdfunding, General, Global, US

When we first founded Dynamo we wanted to create an award-winning agency, not just for the work we do, but also for the company itself and how we approach PR. It has been an incredible year, where we have been recognised by multiple industry bodies for how we work.

We kickstarted the year winning PR Week’s Best Place to Work (under 30 employee’s category). We are always looks at ways to improve the workplace and were particularly happy with our approach to diversity, training and flexible working being recognised. We were the first to publish our gender pay gap as well as offer our employees unlimited holidays.

Hot off our win in January, we won PRMoment’s Best Technology PR company. This was the second year of us winning the award and a testament to the hard work and passion our team has for the tech industry. We’ve built world class expertise in a variety of sectors including 3D printing, AI, Machine Learning and edu-tech.

It was also a special year for us as we moved beyond the small agency category, and were awarded with CIPR’s Outstanding Mid-Sized Agency. We are proud to reach this position in the industry for the first time, after being recognised as best small agency. This award highlighted our staff’s creative flair and continued efforts to deliver outstanding work for every client.

We pride ourselves on disruption and improving not only our workplace, but setting a good example to the industry. These wins represent just that.

Peter Bowles
Peter Bowles
Categories: Awards, General, US

It’s no secret that crowdfunding is going through a turbulent time. We’ve seen very high profile campaigns not deliver to backers despite raising millions. It’s understandable that people have become more sceptical of crowdfunding campaigns and whether campaign creators can deliver on their promises.

Despite this, 2017 has been our most successful year of crowdfunding since we launched the world’s first crowdfunding division four years ago. This year we’ve worked on several multi million dollar campaigns including TicWatch ($3.2m), Bluesmart 2.0 ($2m) and Pimax ($4.2m).

So how did we do this? It’s all about understanding how perceptions have changed and working with your community. It’s important to build trust, showcase your product in an engaging way and share the process to get to this point. Clear communications with your community is necessary. You need to talk to them before you launch, show them the product at events and listen to what they have to say.

You can read more about our work with Pimax, the 8k VR headset, and what we did to help them raise over $4million to beat Oculus here.

Ellen Powell-Chandler
Ellen Powell-Chandler