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Category: Opinion

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
Categories: Opinion, tags:

“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.

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Socrates Pyliotis
Categories: Opinion

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

CES 2018 is approaching and it’s not long until over 100,000 industry attendees, 67,00 exhibitors and 7,000 press descend on Las Vegas. Throughout the conference centres, hotels and even bars and casinos, companies are poised to show off their latest products and gadgets.

Despite the number of press at CES, it can be extremely hard to get their attention. Here are a few of our tips to help get you in front of the press:

Eureka Park

Many of the big tech companies will have pre-briefed journalists before the show on their announcements. This means that journalists don’t need to head to their stands in the Convention Centres to get their news. Instead, they head to Eureka Park to find out out what the start up companies are doing and to find all the innovative products.

Press events

There are several press events at CES including CES Unveiled which is on Sunday 7th, Pepcom on Monday 8th and Showstoppers on Tuesday 9th. These events are designed for startups to showcase their products to media. Top tier media outlets attend including CNET, Engadget and TechCrunch.

A stand out booth

There are rows upon rows of booths, and all are the exact same design. Avoid having a boring white booth, use color to catch the eye and make sure you’re showing off your product in the best way.

Media list

You can access the list of attending journalists before the show in your online portal. Make sure you download it and look at who is attending. You can create your own target list and reach out to them before the show to let them know where you’ll be.

Practice your pitch

You only have seconds to hook a journalist’s or potential partner’s attention. Practice how you describe it and its key features. If you can succinctly say what’s interesting and how it’s different then a journalist will stick around longer to hear, and see more.

If you are going to be at CES in January, do get in touch if you’d like to meet up!

Dynamo Team
Dynamo Team
Categories: Opinion

Taking place each year in Berlin, IFA dominates tech news as Europe’s biggest consumer electronics exhibition.

Major companies from around the world including Panasonic, Samsung, Sony, and Dell show off their latest phones, laptops, speakers and washing machines (the home appliances, largely ignored by consumer tech media, are popular on the consumer days). From 1-6 September the show is open to the public at Messe Berlin, however press and trade attendees attend beforehand when information about new products is released.

Grab some bratwurst and a German beer while I take you through my key takeaways from IFA 2017.

Wearables are still big

There were smartwatches… and lots of them.

Fitbit, my personal favorite, had already revealed its main product—the Fitbit Ionic—prior to IFA, which features animations of workouts played back on its colour screen, as well as a slick design to compete with the Apple Watch.

The Ionic in all its glory

Mini person doing a workout

Garmin revealed a fitness tracker and two smartwatches: the Vivosport, Vivomove HR and Vivoactive 3. Samsung also launched the Gear Sport, which is smaller than the Gear S3 and acts as a remote control to other Samsung devices using Samsung Connect.

Withings brought along the Steel HR, which launched earlier this year, complete with heart-rate tracking that now sits under the Nokia brand.

And it’s not over yet… Apple, who notoriously shun IFA, is rumoured to be announcing a new smartwatch on September 12, along with the hotly anticipated iPhone 8.

Google Assistant

With all the big tech giants—Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana and Google Assistant—racing to dominate the personal assistant market, this year IFA belonged to Google Assistant.
Google Assistant launched on a number of third-party speakers, including the Panasonic GA10, the Sony LF-S50G, and the Tichome Mini made by our our client Movboi, which is an untethered portable speaker with Google Assistant support.

Mobvoi setting up before Showstoppers, an event during IFA

Mixed reality

Microsoft doesn’t usually have a big presence at IFA, but this year the company unveiled its Windows Mixed Reality headsets at IFA, including the Lenovo Explorer.

I was lucky enough to attend Asus’ press event, and putting aside for a moment their ZenBook Flip and VivoBook Flip laptops and the array of PC gaming hardware under the Republic of Gamers (ROG) range, it was Asus’ Windows Mixed Reality Headset that impressed the most.

My legs trying not to fall down a virtual hole

The headset weighs less than a pound, 3K resolution, and inside-out tracking, which uses two cameras on the front of the device to track the controllers. Unlike the HTC Vive or Oculus Rift, it doesn’t need external sensors, resulting in a cheaper price and simple setup. The quick drying antibacterial materials also limits germs from sweaty hungover faces, notoriously prevalent around the showfloor at IFA.

Asus’ Windows mixed reality headset

Spotted at IFA: VR manufacturers have started using notorious “eye condoms”

So who won?

The product I was asked first about on return to the Dynamo office was Lenovo’s Yoga 920, which comes in Star Wars Rebel and Imperial designs, as well as the Star Wars: Jedi Challenges, an augmented reality game for its Mixed Reality headset.
Star Wars: Jedi Challenges needs three components to make the magic happen: Lenovo’s Mirage AR headset, a lightsaber controller, and a tracking beacon. For a game that runs off a smartphone app (iOS or Android) it’s impressive, allowing you to take on a digital recreation of Kylo Ren in a lightsaber battle.

For those that have longed to swing a lightsaber and fight Darth Vader or Kylo Ren, Star Wars: Jedi Challenges is a FORCE to be reckoned with.

Dynamo Team
Dynamo Team
Categories: Opinion

MWC is one of the biggest shows of the year. It’s the time when the big device makers come together in Barcelona to one up each other with their latest shiny black rectangles.

In recent years, announcements have been spread out either side of the show to avoid the huge volume of news and get some clear air. So, whilst Samsung’s S8 is coming post show and LG’s G6 has already peaked its head out from behind the curtains, there’s still loads to see.

Here’s what we expect to see, want to see and what we think has no chance of making an appearance.

A sure thing:

We’ve already seen LG’s G6. It’s touting an unusually tall screen with an 18:9 aspect ratio, expect to find out why at their conference on February 26th.

Sony are announcing a whole suite of devices, covering everything from budget phones through to top spec flagships like the Xperia XZ.

Huawei too will be updating their flagship P9, we assume P10? Last year they focused on a unique Leica camera that combines a B&W camera with a colour shooter for better photos. The P10 will push this even further.

Motorola are also announcing some new devices with a press conference scheduled for the Sunday before the show.

My personal favourite is that we’re expecting new Nokia phones! Specifically, an Android flagship with some strong specs that they (and I) hope can bring them back to the fore.

Hoping for:

Bendy phones. Every year someone shows off a new foldable screen prototype, this year we want to see someone be mad enough to put it into a real phone.

More Daydream. Right now, there are only two devices for Google’s Daydream platform – the Pixel and Moto Z. We’d love to see some more to go alongside the super comfy view headset.

A phone with decent battery life. It’s been said by enough tech reporters, but we’d love to see someone ship a phone that doesn’t sacrifice battery life to be just a bit thinner. Who can do an Apple and have the ‘courage’ to do that?

Don’t expect:

Modular devices. I think we can all agree that modular devices aren’t a goer. The G5’s strange removable bottom panel has already been confirmed to be removed from the G6. If Motorola’s Z is seeing a similar pick up of its accessories, we think it might be bye bye Moto for the Moto Mods platform.

Micro USB ports. It’s all about USB C now, and for any manufacturer to release a flagship with the old port would just be embarrassing.

Most importantly, don’t expect to get away with not eating ham. Iberico for days in Barca. It looks to be an exciting show; we’ll check in again in a couple of weeks and see just how right we were.

Te veo en españa!

 

Dynamo Team
Dynamo Team
Categories: Opinion

Ah, CES – another January, another batch of exciting tech, another return flight with broken bodies (but thankfully, not spirits).

Some things don’t change, but often the lineup of Dynamo attendees does – this time, it was Heather and myself taking up the challenge of dazzling lights and sleepless nights.

Here’s our highlights from the show this year – sadly, getting sprayed with champagne by Lil’ John at Hakkasan didn’t quite make the cut, mostly because Heather is intent on sending him a dry cleaning bill…

Concept Cars

The Mercedes Benz EQ concept car

Top billing had to be, much like 2016, automotive tech. CES has, for the last couple of years, been touted to overtake industry events such the Detroit Auto Show, and 2017 was seen by many as that tipping point. NVIDIA were the stars of the show here, making waves with their partnership with Mercedes on the concept car EQ (pictured), which drew crowds thanks to its sophisticated blend of electro wizardry and aesthetics.

NVIDIA also showcased their partnership with Audi, and revealed their joint commitment to delivering a self-driving car by 2020, complete with fully integrated AI and facial recognition. With many other companies reluctant to commit to a delivery date for their concepts, this partnership boldly revealing such a close date has showed us that the true ‘cars of the future’ are much closer than previously imagined.

Homer, you were ahead of your time, buddy.

World’s Fair

This year saw a much more global feel to previous shows, with 41% of companies exhibiting hailing from China. In addition, this year all Chinese companies weren’t confined to a specific section of the show floor, but rather all booths were intermingled. Also, CES 2017 saw a large influx of French companies, with around 240 hardware companies from the region showing their wares, and actually making up a third of the population of Eureka Park. The trend of growing international diversity year on year at the show is a fascinating development, and from an agency perspective, certainly creates ‘areas to watch’ in terms of innovation and exciting new businesses.

Eureka Park

Although the LVCC played host to the household names and multi-million dollar projects, Eureka Park was, personally, the most exciting part of the show. Cool new ideas – some frivolous, some with potentially useful global impact – were in abundance, with smaller, eager teams excited to show off their game-changing concepts. The techniques each company adopted (in some or all cases) in order to stand out as the next big thing can be broken down into simple categories:

  1. Pushing the capabilities of a current technology e.g. enhanced graphics, improved UI, use of peripherals (particularly in VR, with the use of haptics)
  2. Modifying a current technology to produce different user cases, and subsequently, our understanding of said technologies’ potential eg. a fireplace controlled by music – music driven objects are nothing new, but to be seen with fire was quite the thing, and certainly got us thinking about more capabilities of sound-driven technology
  3. Creating a visual, product driven solution to a previously nebulous concept/software driven project, thus driving forward consumer understanding – a great example of this is in the below picture, which we’ll leave you with. I jumped out of my skin when I saw this 3D face scanning booth (and the people at the booth got a good laugh at my expense).

Proving that heads on spikes that can be futuristic as well as historical.

We all know about face scanning, but to see a very realistic head on a spike is both disconcerting and intriguing – especially when you realise the model it’s based on (and the creator) is there watching your reaction! He was nice enough to pose for a photo though, so I didn’t feel completely embarrassed.

So we’re already looking forward to next year’s show now, and whether we’ll be driving more underwater 4K cameras, or learning more about pyjamas that energise you while you sleep, I’m confident that whichever capacity we’ll be attending in, and whoever we’re working with, it’ll certainly be memorable (apart from the blurry evening parties bit).

Nick Morey
Nick Morey
Categories: Opinion

In short, no. Let’s explore further though.

This question and similar were present at Social Media Week 2016, alongside the overarching theme of the ‘invisible hand of social media’, referring to algorithms, bots and next-level targeting that follows us around our favourite websites like a friend that you thought you liked, but now can’t stand. It’s annoying right? But, not the leading cause for the demise of the world as we know it, surely? Well, no. Something unnerving is happening though.

Let’s talk about Brexit (again). Cast your mind back to the way that you voted, in or out. Have a think about how you made your decision. For many of us, that included chatting to friends and colleagues, reading the papers on our commute, googling “what happens if we leave/stay” and of course, checking our social news feeds.

Around 2 billion people are on Facebook, checking it 14ish times a day. With the latest algorithms, when you check your feed you’ll only see posts from your fav people. Great, right? No. This is awful. Most the time you surround yourself offline and online with people you like. People who have the same values and opinions as you. How many of you culled your Facebook when you saw people with the opposing view, slapped there as their status? Or were shocked when the vote didn’t go the way everyone you know wanted?

This is the equivalent of turning up at a meeting, telling everyone your idea and everyone saying “Exactly what I thought, nothing to add. Let’s go for it.”. Whilst, this sounds beautiful (it really does), imagine that happening every single meeting. It’s so one-sided and unchallenging. Whilst this emperor-has-no-clothes style is fine when you share personal updates, it’s scary when wider issues are shared in just one light.

Facebook is incredible and as a Digital marketer, I’m a fan. However, they are moving to be an all consuming platform that you’ll never need to leave, the ‘new internet’ was a comment heard last week. Let’s just hope they continue to address the issue of curation, as they seem to be.

Who’s the real saviour in this end of the world scenario? Firstly, you. Everyone has a responsibility to themselves at the least to explore multiple angles before making a decision.

Secondly, Twitter or one of the newer social media platforms like Snapchat. This might be the moment where the rest of the attendees from Social Media Week disagree, as it’s been widely reported that Twitter’s growth is struggling. However, it remains an organic channel, with limited curation and censorship (Hi, Donald Trump) and frankly, the one place you can access breaking news and a flurry of different opinions.

Image credit: © socialmediaweek.org

Dynamo Team
Dynamo Team
Categories: Opinion, tags: