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Story Telling In The New Media Age

Such a powerful image: thirty five women, beautifully photographed in black and white; sitting unapologetically in front of the camera. The image represented a bold and unquestioning stance by the magazine’s editorial team that challenged long-held perceptions of a TV and entertainment icon, Bill Cosby.


There was much that fascinated me in this story. The bravery of the women involved is without question but also the editorial position that led to New York magazine running this story in the way that made it so much more than simply that cover image. This is a story of our time, of how six months of investigative journalism alongside clever content development created a depth of reporting unimaginable for previous generations. Like the New York Times and The Guardian, New York magazine has fully grasped the potential of a fully digital media environment. Every story had a video, photo and reportage lending itself to the content being shared across all of its sites including Twitter, Facebook and, Tumblr.

It was this use of social channels that proved to be one of the most interesting aspects of this story. On the day of the cover launch the website crashed. Some suggested it had been hacked, others blamed a technical fault due to the volume of traffic. Whatever it was behind the crash, the level of chatter and supporting content that surrounded the image, meant the story continued to run.

For me the story underlies a fundamental truth of the new media age and something many companies would do well to learn from. A powerful image only tells a part of the story. Good content has to be more than a clever visual or piece of video: it should be part of a bigger story; it should take time to develop and, ultimately, it should be part of a deeper conversation that will live long after the image has been archived.

Stephanie Bailey, Head of Corporate

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Abstract Digest #3

Welcome to another edition of Abstract Digest, collating this weeks news, trends and creativity.


2016 could see the first HoloLens kits shipped to developers. Is it time to prepare for augmented-reality ads?

Urban water slides, Ice cream pop-ups and giant ball pits: Top 75 Interactive Ideas in August.

Siri could soon answer your calls and transcribe voicemail messages for you, reportedly launching in 2016.

Labour MPs are queuing up to say they won’t serve in a Corbyn-led Opposition. Chris Leslie is the latest.

Is Google looking to buy Twitter?

Former Guardian head of news joins Buzzfeed as site builds up its UK news operation.

The hoverboard is real, just in time for the October 21 2015 Back To The Future date. Thank you, Lexus.

Nicki Minaj and Jason Statham are getting their own mobile games.


Samsung is expanding its partnersip with MasterCard to bring Samsung Pay to Europe as an alternative to Apple Pay.

Facebook has announced a new security tool designed to boost the protection of user profiles and provide further password guidance.

Abercrombie stopped offending its most important customers — and that could spell trouble for the brand.

Everyone ‘should take vitamin D pills‘.

Sports Minister Tracey Crouch has vowed to get Britain “off its backside” in launching a cross-Government sports strategy.

The science behind why people engage on Facebook.

Facebook moves to quell YouTube star’s claims of video ad skulduggery.

Jeremy Corbyn has said Tony Blair should be tried for war crimes.

You can now schedule Instagram posts on Hootsuite.

Britons ‘love smartphones and selfies‘.

US companies wil have to disclose the pay gap between CEOs and median employees.

Apple have tied in their online store to their standard site in an attempt to revamp their UX.

Uber operating at big losses, suggests document leak.


Brands need to build momentum around disability sport.

Three golden oldie PR tactics that we’re overlooking.

Jeremy Corbyn is running the smart PR campaign for the Labour leadership.

9 interesting and fun Digital Marketing stats from the past week.

Don’t scoff at the launch of Oh My Vlog; it’s your target audience of tomorrow.

Chilly at work? Office AC formula was devised for men!

Tesco complaints department have become unstoppably sassy.

Taylor Swift: ‘I wasn’t ready to be friends with Kanye West until he respected me‘.

Will IRM replace CRM?


6 self-editing tips to strengthen your writing.

The Ronda Rousey guide to building a brand.

How will brands survive the ‘living’ services change?

How these fashion brands became the most socially engaged.

Jon Stewart’s greatest takedowns: The Internet’s definitive list.

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How to avoid using dead language


This blog is going to be so actionable. So many learnings. Yes, there is going to be a paradigm shift. We’ll touch base in the first paragraph and, going forward from there, will incentivise learnings with a value-added cradle-to-grave end-to-end mission critical solution. The synergies will propel you so far that blue sky thinking won’t be a thing anymore – you’re going to be a space person. An alien floating in a great, engaging, impactful spaceship of corporate joy.

Yes. That paragraph is worthless. It doesn’t mean anything. It’s jargon. It’s dead language. It’s everything that we say we hate but, when we look at our far-too-crisp reflection in the staff toilet mirrors, we have to admit that we too fall prey to spouting nonsense.

It really doesn’t have to be this way. We’re all intelligent people. We all do phenomenal jobs. And we’re all experts in communication. So why do we keep using the same dead language? How do we avoid it?

First of all, we need to know what words and phrases should officially be consigned to the graveyard. Here are three.


Everyone’s excited. All the time. Look at your Twitter feed. They’re excited about all the new things that they’re doing, so excited. They’re so ‘excited’, they don’t even realize that they sound so one-note.

Look, Marmite’s excited

The National Gallery’s super excited

Team GB’s suhr tuhrtally excited

Even Ronseal is excited! Wow!

Being ‘excited’ is the hyperbolic way of saying, for the hundredth time with eyes more glazed than a Krispy Kreme donut, ‘I’m fine’. Aside from all of the tweets, just think how many press releases journalists get every day from companies ‘excited’ about their newest (and probably not all-too exciting) product update. If anything, the word is taking on a whole new meaning – ‘I have something to sell. Please buy it.’

It’s easy to lean on ‘excited’, but far more compelling to expand on what makes the subject of our communication so exciting. It’s far more compelling to be authentic with the language that we’re using.

Saying that something is ‘exciting’ isn’t sufficient enough cover for something that’s dull.

‘Going forward’ and other business jargon

Hands up if you’ve ever been frustrated with empty jargon. Hands up if you think that marketing talk can actually be fairly demoralizing when you think you’re connecting with someone and they tell you that you just had a really good ‘offline’? Hands up if you want to talk like a real human being?

We don’t, for example, really need to use the phrase ‘going forward’. ‘Going forward’ is currently used to either indicate a vague point in the future (essentially a corporate-friendly way of saying ‘somewhere down the road’), or another way of saying ‘from now on’.

Because of this double-headed meaning the phrase completely lacks sincerity. If you’re sat in a meeting with a client and you use the phrase ‘going forward’ to indicate something that’s going to change on the account…why not say ‘from now on’? It’s a far more genuine way of expressing yourself.

Think about the other phrases that people constantly use around the office – is there another way of saying ‘think outside the box’ that could actively help unlock creative thinking? Is it really that bad to say ‘lessons learned’ instead of ‘learnings’? Does anyone actually use the word ‘synergy’?

Stepping away from jargon helps us all connect on a more human level. And that can only be a good thing.


Think of how many thousands of people around have whispered ‘beetlejuice’ three times only to be disappointed when Michael Keaton doesn’t suddenly show up in their bedroom. To be disappointed that the word ‘beetlejuice’ is really just a load of gobbledygook.

This could be your ‘beetlejuice’ moment for the most overused word in the English language: ‘great’. ‘Beetlejuice’ meant something when Winona Ryder said it in the movie. It had electricity when schoolkids the world over were shouting it in the playground. And now, it means nothing. ‘Great’ probably meant something the first few times you heard it. When your mum told you that you’d done a ‘great’ job tidying your room, if you’d got ‘great’ grades in your exam or had a ‘great’ adventure with your pals in the scrubland at the bottom of your street. Great, great, great.

Say the word a thousand times and all of the electricity is gone. ‘Great’ had already come to the linguistic game at a disadvantage – there are 23 different definitions of the word. It was vague enough even before it had been adapted for every purpose.

If you find yourself typing ‘great’ then take a step back. What are you actually trying to say? Just replacing that word, in a non-hyperbolical way, could really elevate your copy.


Those are just three examples of ‘dead language’. Think about the language that you most frequently use – how much meaning does it really have? Is it affecting your copy? Could you be clearer? Is your copy too predictable? Is it possible to lend it more meaning?

Be a thought leader. A viral disruptor. Improve your real-time engagement. It’s all about quality, not quantity, yeah?


-Will Grove, Creative Copywriter

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If you needed an organ transplant, would you have one?


I’m sure it is fair to say most of us would do whatever it takes to stay alive if we ever needed an organ transplant. However don’t count on an organ being available; there is a worsening problem in the UK with an imbalance between the number of organs needed, and the number of those being donated.


There are obviously numerous circumstances where people cannot donate for medical or religious reasons, and there is also always the matter of needing to be a match for those in need – but I find it hard to believe that there are 498,718 people whose organs were not suitable for donation.

As a child you are taught to share, and to pass on the toys you no longer need to those who are not fortunate enough to have any. In an ideal world this charitable notion would continue through life. This should be enough to encourage people to become organ donors. But this just isn’t the case. In fact, there has been a drop in organ donations in the past year.

Perhaps it is time to bring in a system that some may see as more ‘fair’. In some countries a system exists, nicknamed “don’t give, don’t get”. As the name suggests, this system is based on the principle that if two people needed an organ transplant, those on the organ donor register or with family who have donated an organ would get priority. Even though there would be exceptions in medical emergencies, maybe this would be a fairer system. Is it fair that somebody who isn’t willing to donate their own organs is able to benefit from the decision of those who do?

Although this system may sound quite radical, and very different from the one we have in England today, the upcoming changes in Wales with the introduction of an ‘opt-out’ scheme may be a sign that things are starting to change a little closer to home. The scheme will work in the way it currently does in England, just in reverse, with people being able to remove themselves from the register as quickly and easily as they can join it at the moment.

Recently a family friend sadly lost his life at the age of 18, and it only then came to his parents attention that he had already signed up to the organ donor register himself. Even though this does not take away from the heartbreak his family is going through, they now have the privilege of knowing that their son has brought hope to numerous families in the UK. Although I am already on the register personally, this has inspired me, along with the recent statistics relating to the drop in the number organ donors, to write this piece, and I hope it inspires you too.

Anyone who is legally capable of making this decision and living in the UK regardless of age can sign up to the NHS Organ Donor register here


Lauren Packer, Account Executive, Healthcare

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Abstract Digest #2

Here in the London office of FleishmanHillard we pull together a daily trend-led email to help shape our days in a creative and interesting way, focusing on things happening in the future, present and past.

Here’s a round-up of the best stories we’ve shared within the office this week:


15 brand new social networks you’ve never heard of but should definitely try.

Is listing your failures the future of resumes?

Military-grade drones could soon be chasing Australia’s feral animals.

Nike’s first foray into designing shoes for the disabled.

YouTube for Android will play vertical videos in full screen.

16 trends that will define the future of video games.

Microsoft follows Google in revenge porn crackdown.

Is the future of food in plastics?



Spam email levels at 12-year low.

Social login adoption grows despite privacy concerns.

Advertisers need to ‘persuade the nation to improve their diet’, say industry bodies.

This ad hilariously skewers every bad business cliché your co-workers have uttered (made by FH #client).

Top YouTube brands increase ad spend by 60 percent.

Don’t Ask Google Maps ‘Are We There Yet?’

Hackers remotely kill a Jeep on the highway—With me in it.

Deportivo La Coruna cancel striker transfer – after discovering he abused club on Twitter in 2012.

Apple’s cashpile has topped £128bn for the first time. 90% of it is held overseas.

Pringles pranks Ibiza crowds.

Google leading brand in world but losing sense of purpose, says global survey.



Ad tech is killing the online experience.

The science of ‘hangry’, Or why some people get grumpy when they’re hungry.

Forbidden Instagram snaps from around the world.

What is a ‘computer‘ anymore?

Here’s a strategy for Labour: imagine that good people also vote Tory.

How the different generations consume their daily news

6 reasons why there’s still life in brand blogs.

10 things PR people do that drive Freelance Journalists nuts.

Technology binds us together but we have never been more disconnected.

Sex doesn’t sell – and you’d be surprised what does.

These are the most influential politicians on social media.

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Is The SNP Good For Business?


This morning we hosted the first breakfast briefing of many to come at our new offices located at Bankside 2, exploring the question ‘Is the SNP Good for Business?’ with Devin Scobie, Director at FleishmanHillard’s Scottish partner agency, Caledonia Public Affairs.

Drawing on decades of experience and insider knowledge of Scottish politics, Devin skillfully profiled the new SNP Parliamentary party; setting out who they are, how they operate and what they are after.

The SNP election results can be described as nothing short of an electoral landslide never seen before in Scottish politics. The SNP gained an additional 50 MPs, 48 of whom are completely new to the Westminster bubble, still learning the ropes and thus considerably open to influencing. The SNP’s success exceeded all expectations; including Nicola Sturgeon’s whose best upper estimate was 40- 45 MPs.

The SNP MPs have proven themselves remarkably disciplined – ensuring that their approach is well-coordinated and rigorously on-message. Unlike other parties, we have seen few splits or rebellions from within, either in Holyrood or, so far, in Westminster. With two questions guaranteed at every PMQs and Chairmanship of the Scottish Affairs and Energy and Climate Change Select Committees in the bag, the SNP presents a united block of opposition which has become a force to be reckoned with.

Of the 56 MPs returned to Parliament, fewer than half have an ‘obvious’ business background. Yet, despite their relative lack of business experience, the Nationalists are paying more than mere lip service to the business community. Under Nicola Sturgeon’s business focused leadership, they have been laying on thick the charm offensive with one final objective in mind – Scottish Independence. This is only achievable with balanced books and a strong economy – so they are keen to ensure the business is onside and the environment is one in which it can prosper. The SNP Shadow Business Secretary at Westminster, Michelle Thomson, has been specifically told to make herself available to businesses with a presence in Scotland, with the aim of presenting a constructive and approachable face to the business community.

How best to leverage this force for your business needs? Here are a few tips from Devin Scobie himself on what your business can do to effectively engage with this new block of MPs in the coming months:

  • Launch a meet & greet programme for the MPs
  • Host a parliamentary dinner or reception at Westminster
  • Organise spokesperson briefings in Westminster and Hollyrood
  • Conduct pre-Manifesto 2016 engagement
  • Attend the SNP Conference in October

As Devin advised earlier today, now is the best time to engage before the novelty wears off for the SNP’s newly-elected MPs – and they become more time-pressed and less available. So, if there is one key message you should take away from today, it is: Don’t be afraid to dip your toes in the water and strike while the iron is still hot. FleishmanHillard and our partners at Caledonia are here to assist you in doing just that.


FleishmanHillard London

Governments play an increasingly powerful role in the global economy, and organisations cannot remain indifferent to their reputation with policymakers.

FleishmanHillard London’s public affairs and corporate communications specialists offer the expertise of a dedicated team of policy experts, backed by the firm’s global communications network. Our people come from a wide range of disciplines that work in and around governments, including former senior government officials, journalists, campaign pros, corporate officials and staff of nongovernmental organisations.

The team provides in-depth analysis of policy and political issues, builds reputations with government audiences and advocates on behalf of issues, anywhere across the globe.

For more information about our work, please contact Liam McCloy, Director in our Public Affairs & Corporate Communications team, at

Paulina Jakubec, Account Executive, Public Affairs

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Why tugging at our heartstrings is no longer enough to make us open our purses


Charities have been doing it for years; they have mastered the art of creating impactful adverts that elicit an emotional response. But increasingly it seems that this is no longer enough to spur us to respond financially and make much needed donations to their worthy causes.

Take the new campaign by Doctors of the World (Médecins du Monde). Their highly emotive Make a Child Cry campaign video begins by showing a series of young children crying… really gut-wrenching sobbing! It then pans out to reveal that they are actually in a doctor’s surgery receiving medicines, ending with the call to action: “Make a child cry. Save his life”.

The campaign theme is clever. It provokes interest because charities usually ask us to help them stop children crying. Instead this campaign uses the insight that many children cry at the doctor’s to draw attention to the fact that one child dies every 7 seconds from lack of accessible healthcare across the globe, and asks us to donate money to allow them to visit a doctor – it’s better to see a child cry because they’re receiving healthcare than to have them die from a preventable disease.

Although the campaign aims to tackle a hugely important issue, so far it has had fairly modest traction; the website states that since its launch on June 13 “4,880 children have cried thanks to your donations”. With £20 buying 10 malnutrition kits, £55 buying 180 anti-malaria drug treatments and £100 buying 480 measles vaccinations, simple mathematics suggests that those donations have come from a few hundred people at most. Yet the campaign video has had nearly 34,000 views.

Not every healthcare campaign manages to capture massive levels of awareness and engagement. The modest response so far to Make a Child Cry should take nothing away from the fact that Doctor of the World have produced a moving and authentic campaign based on a key insight to try and draw attention to a real issue.

This isn’t the first time Doctors of the World have lunched unusual and attention-grabbing campaigns. Their award winning 2014 Ebola campaign, “More Than a Costume” and “The Gift of Life” (launched at Halloween and Christmas respectively), asked people to donate a real Ebola suit and as part of this they also succeeded in making the Ebola Healthcare Worker the Time Magazine person of the year for 2014.

But while Make a Child Cry tries to make us view children’s crying as a good thing for a good cause, ultimately perhaps it’s because we’ve seen similar visual imagery in a multitude of charity campaigns over the years that it is yet another video so many people have watched and then moved on from without donating.








Doctors of the World is an international humanitarian organization that provides essential medical care to excluded people at home and abroad while fighting for equal access to healthcare worldwide. If you would like to find out more about the campaign or donate money to Make a Child Cry, visit the website:


Charlotte Shyllon, Director and Partner, Healthcare
Maren Thurow, Senior Account Executive, Healthcare

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Graduate Insight: Why rotation is the best way forward.

Last month, FleishmanHillard moved from its Covent Garden home of more than ten years to Bankside 2, a modern, open-plan space on the South Bank.

In leaving the old office, we bid farewell to a seating plan which had us neatly separated by each practice area, into a new desk layout. A layout that was team agnostic when it came to placement. This new way of seating allowed us to interact more with a fresh set of colleagues and hear about different challenges and successes.

Similarly this is where so much of the value offered by a rotational graduate scheme lies. Across three four-month placements within the agency, graduates have the opportunity to tap into the experience and expertise of three contrasting yet complementary teams – enabling them to build a foundation unique in its breadth and form a widescreen perspective of the agency as a whole.

Indeed, as one of this year’s graduates I found the first two placements far more diverse than expected, from advocacy projects, internal communication programmes, and app development in the Healthcare practice, to an education in media relations strategies and practice with the Technology team.

Perhaps the greatest surprise, however, has been that – even after the diversity of those first eight months – a move to the Creative Strategy (CS) team has still delivered so much new ground to cover.

The CS team consists of both generalists and specialists in several areas, including social strategists, research and analytics experts, plus a top-notch design team. It’s a team which is contributing significantly to the ongoing reinvention of what communications means for clients across all industries.

Whether managing social communities online, developing precisely-targeted digital content, or using analytics to identify which key influencers to engage and how best to reach them, the CS team operates in a space that that was virtually unknown just a decade ago.

Now, however, these capabilities are the key to developing integrated communications programmes across multiple channels and the CS team has plenty to offer both as a stand-alone practice and also to the other industry-specific teams. Equally, the reverse is also true – just imagine having the vision to successfully bring all of this together.

A short while ago, I suggested to the MD  Jim Donaldson that the graduate scheme provided such a breadth of experience that I might be in a position to replace him come September.  This, it turns out, won’t be the case.

However, no matter in which practice area graduates at FleishmanHillard eventually ply their trade, they will be better equipped to connect the dots across the agency in ways that are invaluable both to their teams and to their careers.

Thomas McCaldon, Graduate Trainee

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