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Westminster Food and Nutrition Forum – The Obesity Debate in 2014

Obesity in 2014

The Westminster Food and Nutrition Forum events have always been a bellwether of the obesity debate and the evolving priorities of the community of stakeholders that attend.  The first such event of 2014 was no exception.

Whilst the theme – Commissioning services, engaging business and encouraging healthy choices had a particularly medical focus, the range of speakers – from industry, science, central and local government as well as medicine paved the way for one of the most wide ranging discussions yet.  In summarizing the first session alone, Chairman and Shadow Public Health Minister Luciana Berger listed schools, transport, social marketing population-level measures, chocolate in hospitals and the NHS among the subjects broached.

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We Need to Think Bolder if We Are to Rebalance the UK Economy

The recent report by the Centre for Cities was a startling yet perhaps unsurprising indictment of the UK economy in 2014. London dominates Britain more than at any other time in our history. Why, you may argue, is this even unhealthy; surely whilst London prospers the rest of the UK benefits too? Put simply, the rest of the UK does benefit but it also pays a price because as London has grown, it has become a black hole sucking in more and more talent from elsewhere to the detriment of local economies from Inverness to Plymouth.

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How Should Brands Navigate Our Relationships With Facebook?

On February 4, 2004, Mark Zuckerberg sat in his Harvard dorm and launched the beginnings of a social network that would change the world as we know it. Facebook has altered the way we organise our lives, how we build relationships and even how we speak. Walls are no longer the foundations of buildings and posting on them takes on a whole new figurative meaning.

So how did a group of cash-strapped university students create a platform that would go on to connect over 1.2 billion people worldwide?

Perhaps Zuckerberg said it best in his reflective 10th anniversary post: “We just cared more”.

I’m sure you’re all aware of the Facebook doomsday news coverage that hypes up the falling user numbers (one of my colleagues Liz looked at that myth quite succinctly in her Friday TechMunch: The Demise of Facebook? Maybe Not…). The numbers speak for themselves but what bothers me is not user stats, but the impact of Facebook on the individual, as opposed to the collective.  Something that, by my own admittance, is hard to quantify yet equally as important to explore.

This is a quote that I read about the Facebook “Look Back” function that was launched to mark the anniversary of Facebook on 4th February 2014:

“Oh wow…. my seven years on Facebook, this is brilliant! Funny and actually makes you appreciate the hidden emotional connection you have with Facebook!”

This wasn’t written by a famous celebrity or a social media-hack. It was posted by my friend Mark, and appeared on my timeline. The Look Back function has been met with a predictably mixed reaction from the press. Some say that it’s “cheesy” and others have questioned Facebook’s chosen algorithm for the project.

My timeline has showed a different story to what has appeared in the press; a story that illustrates what day-to-day Facebook users actually think. On my timeline, people are commenting on their relationship with Facebook ON Facebook. This concept of “Facebook history” appears to run parallel with our “real life history”.  People are thanking Facebook for guarding their memories and celebrating the platform for adding value to their day-to-day lives.

While watching my own Look Back video, I too felt an “emotional connection” to the social network – something I haven’t vocalised before. So just what is this mysterious emotion?

This emotion differs from user to user, but a good test to gauge this is to watch your own video and ask: What would I do if Facebook broke and everything was lost?

My answer led me to think of Facebook as the modern day equivalent to leather bound journals. Instead of them getting lost, found and shared out of context hundreds of years later, we are able to share the highlights of our lives with friends and loved ones, in real time, across the globe.

Facebook has strengthened our day-to-day relationships and has allowed us to keep up with those that we may have lost contact with. It also allows us to go back through and reminisce about our own lives, our friends’ lives and even the lives of those who are no longer with us.

In my opinion, Facebook remains one of the few places where we can capture and share our best and (sometimes worst) memories with as many friends and family as possible. Zuckerberg continues to develop tools that make this ever easier. For example, tagging and posting functions allow us to record these memories in collaboration with each other and document our friendships with others. Most importantly, it seems that we have learned to trust Facebook to keep these memories safe on our behalf.

But what does this mean for brands? The deep and (usually hidden) emotional relationship that users have with Facebook is, for me, the exact reason why brands need to be careful of the footprint that they leave on our timelines – especially when it comes to developing content, paid and targeted Facebook posting. With the introduction of paid promotion the user can sometimes find posts in their time lines that they have not necessary signed up for. We’ve spent years nurturing our profiles and timelines and the last thing we want is a personally irrelevant brand paying to tread all over it.

Like it or not, Zuckerberg and his team have become the gatekeepers to our timelines. With their minefield of Facebook algorithm updates, it is often frustrating to us as communications and marketing professionals that harnessing this powerful marketing opportunity on behalf of our clients is becoming more and more difficult.

In order to make the most out of Facebook, I believe that brands and their agencies need to be more sensitive to the emotional relationship we have developed with the world’s largest social network. Facebook, despite its iconic status, has managed to maintain its original humble relationship with its users. Brands, as content creators, we need to be mindful to the fact that being part of Facebook’s community is not a right, but a privilege. We are not allowed to change the environment but we are allowed to visit, add value and hopefully be invited to become more permanent. Failing to recognise this, brands run the risk of being left out in the cold.

In answer to my original question, “How should brands navigate our relationships with Facebook?” maybe we should take a leaf out of Zuckerberg’s book:

“I feel a deep responsibility to make the most of my time here and serve you the best I can.”

To make your own Facebook LookBack video, head to

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You’ll Never Guess Who Won the Super Bowl Ad Social Amplification Match

…probably because you weren’t thinking about it. But here at FleishmanHillard, we are often tasked with amplifying adverts on social media. It’s a common brief, from the days of writing and issuing a press release about a new ad, to the more current complications around live tweeting, creating content and building online buzz. It’s just one of the reasons why we have developed Black Box, a tool that drives real-time insight that can drive social conversation for our clients about both here and across the pond.

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Friday TechMunch: Long Live the King

Hi, I’m Liz…and I’m a Candy Crush addict.

It feels so good to finally be able to say it!

For the uninitiated (those who have been living under a rock for the past two years), Candy Crush Saga is a match-three game, much like Bejeweled, where players slide, swap and match candies to score points and complete a level. If you want to, you can also connect it to your Facebook account so you can share lives and compete for top level scores with similarly obsessed friends. And… yep, that’s about it.

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Friday TechMunch: The Demise of Facebook? Maybe Not…

It is a truth universally acknowledged that every social network giant will eventually crumble under the weight of accumulated banality (made up largely of misspelt posts, pictures of ultrasounds and funny cat vids – guilty as charged on the last one, in the case of the tech team).

Indeed, every one-time successful social network, from MySpace to Friendster to Xanga has repeated that woeful story arc; exploding into the collective consciousness, becoming vital, becoming standard, becoming boring, becoming an afterthought.

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TEDxEastEnd 2014: Society Beyond Borders

This year, FleishmanHillard offered PR support to TEDxEastEnd, which took place in Bethnal Green on Saturday.

The one day event explored the theme ‘Society Beyond Borders’ through a range of live speakers, TED Talks videos and performances. Speakers included research scientist, blogger and author of Secret Diary of a Call Girl, Brooke Magnanti; founder of the Everyday Sexism Project, Laura Bates; campaigner for human rights, democracy, civil liberties, LGBT equality and global justice, Peter Tatchell and pioneer of Viral Change™, Leandro Herrero.

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Friday TechMunch: RoboEarth and the Thingternet

Despite many of the team working in technology for many years, some of the advancements still continue to shock and amaze us.

This week, we were all talking about RoboEarth, a network where robots can share information and learn from each other with the aim of assisting humans – whether that’s tidying up the house, or administering care to patients in hospital (which does sound a little scary). Researchers involved, from Philips and various educational institutions, hope that eventually both robots and Homo sapiens (and let’s face it, there is every chance we may become the primitive species) will be able to share and access information via a cloud-based database.

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Friday TechMunch: acCES All Areas in Las Vegas This Week

Naturally, there’s been a lot of chatter around one of the world’s most prominent tech events, the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), which takes place every year in its home town of Las Vegas.

So what are the biggest themes coming out of this year’s show? There’s been a major flux in the number of ‘connected’ everything being showcased and wearable tech has also been hogging the limelight. We’ve pulled together a round-up of some of the news which caught our eye this week…

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Friday TechMunch: Tech-Reflection for 2013

‘Tis the season to be merry, eat (especially if you’re part of the technology team here at FleishmanHillard) and reflect on the year gone by. Given that this is the last TechMunch blog for 2013, I thought that now is a better time than ever to reflect on a few of the top technology innovations of the year –the wacky, the inspiring and the odd (but nonetheless great). Technology innovation is paving the way to new crazes, attitudes and may even change the way we live.

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