Why we love Pinterest…

March 21, 2012 by

We’ve recently discovered Pinterest. I use the collective ‘we’ here, as the whole office seems to have started pinning with excitable interest all the time. We know Pinterest has been about for a while, but it would seem we have all hopped on this bandwagon at the same time.

Just in case you haven’t heard of the latest social network to ride the mainstream wave, let me tell you a little bit about it. To put it simply, Pinterest is a virtual pinboard. Pinterest lets you share the things you find on the web in one place and share it for others to see. As the site itself suggests “People use pinboards to plan their weddings, decorate their homes, and organize their favourite recipes”. Ben and his team go on to say, “Best of all, you can browse pinboards created by other people…browsing pinboards is a fun way to discover new things and get inspiration from people who share your interests”.

So there you have it. Pinterest seems simple enough. It seems to make sense. But why do we love it? After all, this isn’t the first website we found useful and simple. But this is definitely one of the first to capture users in the way that it has.

Let’s see if I can explain it for you. At the moment the site is gaining users on an invite only basis. If you don’t know someone using the site you can request an account from the team.  Hoop number two comes in the form of a Facebook of Twitter account: you need one. You don’t have to link them to your Pinterest account…but you now seem to need one to get started (A sign the site is getting far more mainstream perhaps?). 

However, from then on, the site acts very differently to other social networks. It doesn’t suggest friends you might know. It doesn’t suggest people you might like. What it wants to know is what you like! What things do you like doing? What stuff you want or use? What bits and bobs do you like looking out for, or simply which books do you read? It’s all about the content you find interesting.

From there Pinterest builds you a profile. It starts following peoples’ pinboards for you and all of a sudden your home screen bursts into life with content you like. The first time I logged on I was greeted by a dramatic landscape of the sun setting over mountains, an image of Mark Cavendish in full flow and a pair of Kurt Geiger boots. As I had expressed an interest in photography, sport and mens apparel (amongst other things) it wasn’t a bad start.

So it’s “different” I hear you say. It’s “intuitive”. But that can’t be it surely? Well no. To put it bluntly, it’s easy, quick, and simple and that appealed to a different part of us. This is a visual platform. We like to think of ourselves as creative and for that reason we love Pinterest. We love hearing what people have got to say, so we all spend time reading blogs, magazines and papers. But that can sometimes be a little time consuming. Not having enough time is definitely why most of us here love Twitter. We can dip in and out of our streams and see what the wider world is saying in just a couple of minutes. But what we really like is a story. Having a picture painted. Setting the scene and provoking thoughts in more than 140 characters but in less time than a blog post.

Pinterest therefore offers to plug the void in our random and creative minds. I can pin work thoughts to a shared “PR Stunts” board I have access to. But at the same time, I can pin pictures of my next pair of ski boots or a barrel wave image I see that made me crave sand between my toes. After all, a picture paints a thousand words doesn’t it? All three of these images take no more time to glance at, but all of them could send me off thinking about them for the next 10 minutes with nothing more than an image for a starting point.

Finally, just to prove one of my first points about this platform being simple: I taught my mum how to use Pinterest at the weekend. It took me about 10 minutes and she loved it. It is the first social networking platform that she has shown any interest in, or even a vague understanding of.

So if you haven’t discovered Pinterest yet, why not give it a go? If you can’t be bothered to wait for your invitation request to be answered, then ping one us an email and we will happily share an invitation with you.

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Legal gridlock ahead for driverless cars?

February 9, 2012 by

We’re used to seeing the latest technological revolutions sweeping through stores and into our homes and offices. From the rise of mobile phones, to smartphones and tablets, it seems that society is prepared to embrace the rapidly increasing pace of change.

However, the same cannot be said when technologies require buy-in not just from consumers, but also from governments and law-makers. Unfortunately, this is true even when the reasons to adopt such technologies are hugely compelling.

A good example of this is driverless cars. The technology needed to remove error-prone humans from the driving equation has been coming on in leaps and bounds in recent years. Thanks to the ingenious combination of laser range finders, cameras, radar, inertial sensors and high-detail maps, cars already exist that can  autonomously drive while humans sit behind the wheel and monitor software.

Google has been making big strides in this area and was awarded a US patent  self-driving cars at the end of last year. But despite the amazing success of the technology, which has now logged more than 150,000 miles of driving experience without any mishaps, governments and standards bodies have been reluctant to accept its implementation on the open road. This is despite the fact that, according to the World Health Organisation, road traffic injuries caused an estimated 1.2 million deaths worldwide each year.

Certainly, the technology still needs to be refined. It may take years before robotic cars can cope with the huge variety of scenarios human drivers face around the world every day. Governments and motoring bodies will also insist that the technology is tested and retested – ensuring absolute reliability before it is allowed to see the light of day.

One can only hope that the time taken to test the technology is what is needed, rather than a jungle of unnecessary red-tape. The bottom line is, the consequences of not deploying this technology as soon as it is proven to be ready can be directly linked to road deaths. A delay of even two years (very little in government terms) could cost thousands of lives.

Life as a grad at Skywrite: varied, busy and (sometimes) glamorous!

December 23, 2011 by

It’s hard to write about a typical day in consumer PR here at Skywrite, so I thought I’d document one specific day to give a snapshot of what a day in the life of a grad at Skywrite is like…

My first job of the day is to pull together something called ‘industry buzz’ for one of our clients, this involves tracking the most talked about app developers and getting a handle on the main tech stories of the week. It’s a great way to keep up to date with the news and trends within the industry.

Excitement levels in the office are pretty high today – leading consumer tech site T3 approached us earlier this week to play starring roles in the latest “Junk or Genius” video feature, and filming takes place today. It’s not often PR’s get a chance be in front of the camera, so we all willingly stepped up to take part…You can see our expert opinions on a ‘high tech’ desk over here!

After the film crew leave, we all begin to calm down and I crack on with my to-do list. A key focus for today is to secure briefings at the tech trade show CES in Las Vegas.  The event is the biggest tech show in the world and is taking place in January, so we’ve only got a couple of weeks to get everything sorted. It’s important to get the key journalists visiting the event to meet with my clients. We sent out an email invite earlier on in the week, but today I pick up the phone and speak to our contacts to secure interviews and arrange times. It’s also a great way to speak to new contacts and strengthen relationships with those I already know. Logistically CES can be a nightmare, so it’s essential that we organise every last detail.

After lunch I work on securing review opportunities for some of my clients, this involves trawling the internet and magazines for potential review features and finding the best contacts to target. I then call them up to pitch my clients.  If they agree to review the product, I then package up and send out the kit and add the opportunity to our tracking document.

Last thing I do before switching off for the day is to send around a call agenda to a client. We have our weekly catch up call first thing tomorrow, so it needs to go over this afternoon, ready for the call. This involves pulling together all of our key actions, activities and achievements of the past week and our actions for the week ahead. I share it with our internal account team first, to make sure they haven’t got anything to add, and then send over to the client. It’s then time to head home and rest before the next day hits!

Skywrite searching for 2012 graduates

December 8, 2011 by

Our fabulous 2011 graduates may only just have settled in, but it’s already time to start the search for the next generation of PR talent. The Hotwire Group Graduate Programme 2012 has launched today.

See the details here and get those applications in!

Skywrite slims down

November 25, 2011 by

Towards the end of 2010 our very own Ruth Walters embarked on a massive personal challenge when she vowed to run a marathon. Over the following weeks Skywrite was enthralled by the amazing diet and training regimes that she underwent! It almost felt like we were going through it as a team – although we clearly were not.

Ruth is now on a bride-to-be body blitz. After completing the marathon in April, she’s hung up the running trainers and switched her focus to lifting weights and eating a LOT of protein. So impressed with Ruth’s success, the rest of the Skywrite ladies have jumped on the health and fitness bandwagon!

Here are some of the diets and exercise regimes that ARE whetting the appetite in Skywrite: 

  1. Fish and Greens – enjoying the health benefits that oily fish has to offer
  2. Zumba – proves that exercise really can be fun
  3. Cod Liver Oil – the fishy theme continues
  4. Running for the train – getting little bursts of exercise where we can
  5. Frothy Slime – a nutrient supplement drink that contains Spirulina

We’re hiring!

November 3, 2011 by

Alright everyone, it’s time to dust off those CVs.

Skywrite is looking for both account managers and senior account executives to assist across our portfolio of corporate and consumer accounts.

Work would include everything from technology and telecoms accounts to pure play consumer. This is a great opportunity to work across a broad spectrum of different clients – including some of the biggest brands out there!

Email emma.hazan@skywritepr.com for more information!

18-24 year olds send on average 110 texts a day

September 21, 2011 by

What? Doth mine eyes deceive me? Surely this story can’t be right?

Firstly – how do they have that many friends that they need to contact every day, and secondly, what do they have to chat about at such length?

I fall into this category, being 24, and I can safely say, hand on heart, I send nowhere NEAR that amount of texts. Nor have I ever. I appreciate that this is on average, but worryingly, that means there are some in this age group who send way more than the average.

These findings lend themselves nicely to the amount of chatter we hear about people being addicted to their mobile phones – with research from Ofcom finding that ‘60% [of teens] admitting to being ‘highly’ addicted to their phones.’ This survey takes it one step further, by revealing that ‘the study also shows that smartphones have begun to intrude on our most private moments, with 47% of teenagers admitting to using their device in the toilet. Only 22% of adults confessed to the same habit.’ Eww.

It’s true that smartphones are totally ubiquitous these days – they do everything for you: let you stay in touch with friends/family, read news on the move, watch TV, listen to the radio, and basically stay on top of your social life by acting as a calendar. They even have games to keep you entertained on a long journey – who needs Travel Connect4 now?

Going back to the texting element though, I do wonder if we’ll soon be seeing more and more injuries caused as a result of too much texting. Research that dates back as far as 2006 shows that millions suffer from RSI’ – so surely it’s not too much of a leap to expect that figure to now be in the billions? The NHS has a page set up dedicated to causes/symptoms of RSI that’s due for update in February 2012. I don’t think it’s unrealistic to imagine that one of the causes to be added on to that list will be ‘texting’.

Top-tips: Netbooks

September 14, 2011 by

The hype surrounding the iPad would lead you to believe it had single-handedly killed off the humble netbook, but it seems the plucky little underdog has fought back. There’s still plenty of demand for netbooks and for good reason: they don’t lock you into a walled-garden operating system, are far easier to type on and have bucket-loads more apps available (you know, software).

Granted, they’re not as sexy as the iPad but that’s beginning to change thanks to some slick models from Samsung, Asus and other manufacturers. The introduction of Intel’s dual core Atom processor also gives them greater processing power than their reputation suggests. But above all else they’re far more customisable, allowing you tweak performance, preferences and programmes any way you like. With that in mind, here are Skywrite’s top tips for those sitting on the netbook side of the divide:

1) Increase your RAM

This is without question the most important tip to improve your netbook’s performance. Microsoft insists that manufacturers cannot qualify for the cut-price Windows 7 Starter operating system when shipping products with more than 1GB of RAM. This helps to keep the price down but isn’t ideal for performance.

Fortunately, 2GB of RAM is cheap as chips these days and very easy to install yourself. However, a word of warning before you pick up the screwdriver: You risk voiding your warranty unless you get a certified technician to do it for you. Several PC retailers offer this service for about £30 but may also require you purchase the RAM from them, which is typically more expensive. The swines.

2) Cut-out the iTunes fat

iTunes is a massive hog on computing resources. Whether you’re using a netbook, laptop or desktop, it can have a noticeable impact on how smoothly it runs. Fortunately, Ed Bott over at ZD Net has written a comprehensive unofficial guide to cutting out the bloated and unnecessary software Apple bundles into iTunes.

3) Get cloud-based antivirus software

Uninstall whichever trial antivirus programme your netbook comes pre-installed with and move to a cloud-based alternative. By shifting much of the antivirus programme’s grunt work into the cloud, scanning files on a remote server instead of using your machine’s processing power, it will free-up resources substantially whilst automatically updating its database of threats. There are several options out there from the usual antivirus powerhouses but perhaps the best freeware version comes from Panda Cloud.

4) Sort out your start-ups

One of the impressive features of the iPad is that it takes mere seconds to switch on and get going, a process that can become frustrating to the most placid of PC users. You might not be able to achieve iPad-like boot times, but editing which programmes start-up automatically when your netbook powers-up can keep it reasonably sharp. To do this, just click ‘Start’ on your Windows menu, then ‘Run’, now enter ‘Msconfig’ into the dialog box and hit the Enter key. Select the ‘Startup’ tab and uncheck the programmes you don’t want to run automatically. Some have ambiguous names and descriptions, so if you want to ensure you don’t accidentally turn off your antivirus software then check out this database for clarification.

5) Get your game on

Being unable to play games on your netbook is a myth. You can comfortably play a range of less graphic-intensive games and practically any classic or retro game. Fear not, as the latest incarnation of the Football Manager series will run just fine, though you may want to switch off the 3D match generator. “But there’s no optical drive on a netbook” I hear you cry? Not a problem with digital distribution services such as Steam for modern games or GOG.com for the classics.

Being unable to play 3D games on a netbook is also a myth. The integrated graphics card won’t stand a chance with Modern Warfare 2 but that doesn’t matter with cloud-based gaming service OnLive, which can run the most advanced games on its own servers and relay your commands back to you in real-time. Browser games have also come on leaps and bounds in recent years and offer 3D games for free – check out Battlestar Galactica Online from our client Bigpoint for example.

6) Personalise Windows 7 Starter

Windows 7 Starter Edition keeps your netbook cheap (yay) but it also has some limited features (boo). One of which is the bizarre decision to not allow netbook users to change their wallpaper or other standard settings. However, because Windows isn’t a completely closed platform you can quickly fix this by installing Starter Background Changer.

The Low Down: Internships

September 5, 2011 by

Holly started interning here at Skywrite PR six months ago and as of this month will become a fully fledged employee. Therefore, she thought now was as good a time as any to look back at her internship and highlight her top tips for others about to embark on an all important internship:

Read all about it

Working in PR, you can never read enough. It really pays to have a strong understanding of all current affairs, and by that I mean worldwide news headlines, celebrity (and industry) gossip, social media trends and the latest industry news. A really thorough knowledge of current topical issues will help you in all areas of your internship, including pitching to journalists, brainstorming and drafting copy.

Short term pain = long term gain

Keep looking ahead. You may not be given the exciting or important jobs that you had hoped for straight away, but the important thing to consider is how these (sometimes menial) tasks will help you to achieve that highflying career you’ve always dreamed of.

Just remember, the agency’s MD will have at one point made the tea/coffee, stuffed 500 press packs and clipped endless pieces of coverage at the start of their career too.

We all have to start somewhere!

Eager Beaver

One way to help ensure you are given increasing amounts of responsibility during your internship is to show you’re eager to learn and get stuck in. From my experience, eagerly undertaking the menial tasks and executing them with great attention to detail will build trust between you and your team. In turn, this will make your mentors more likely to task you with the more exciting PR jobs and mean you will gain a larger variety of experience.

Time don’t wait for no one

Whether your internship is for 2 weeks or 5 months, it will fly by. So make sure you grasp the opportunity from day one and try not to rest on your laurels at any point – it could mean the difference between being offered at full time job or going back to unemploymentville!

Any other questions?

Be inquisitive, feel free to ask the team about their background, tips and career highlights – you’ll learn a lot about what a career in PR actually entails. You’ll find most seasoned PR professionals are very willing to help out the next PR generation in any way they can.

Lastly, enjoy – not only will you learn loads of invaluable tools and information, you’ll meet some awesome people and have a blast!

Fun times at the Financial Times

August 26, 2011 by

It’s not every day you’re offered the chance to experience life at one of the most recognisable and widely respected newspapers in the world, so I jumped at the chance of taking part in a short term job-swap with one of the FT’s communications team. So with no expectations and a sack full of questions I headed down to Southwark Bridge and into the bustling FT HQ.

Editorial conferences form the backbone of the Press Office’s proactive media outreach, listening out for all-important scoops, followed by the frenzied scribbling of notes and subsequent pitching to broadcast outlets. While these conferences are part of the daily routine for the many journalists, editors and wider comms team present, they were a rare and fascinating window into a world that many PRs never get to experience.

Even to the most seasoned PR professionals, editorial conferences can be mysterious and frustratingly elusive factories of censorship, where our carefully crafted stories are processed, dissected and manufactured into something new. Sometimes they are consigned to the waste heap and (thankfully) other times they are mass produced. It was a privilege and a thoroughly edifying experience to be a part of them during my short time at the FT.

Of course, getting an insight into the inner workings of the paper and a taste of the tactics used to promote the FT brand was hugely interesting, but it also served as the perfect chance to get a flavour of in-house public relations. Working with a single ‘client’, for example, is an intriguing concept to the uninitiated agency-based PR.

At Skywrite we each work with multiple organisations – in industries as diverse as B2B telecoms, gaming and lifestyle – who each have several products, services or solutions launching at varying times of the year. I quickly learnt that in-house life, at the FT at least, is no less varied. One day I was staffing briefings on the FT’s digital strategy, the next I was pitching a scoop on RBS cutting 2,000 jobs, and the day after I was promoting FT Weekend content on the wines of France to lifestyle bloggers.

The major difference was the role of proactive and reactive outreach on a daily basis. The FT and its Press Office have done an amazing job at building very close relationships with broadcast outlets, positioning their expert journalists as go-to authorities on a range on topics. This requires a lot of proactive work in the background, but when a big scoop breaks the phone does not stop ringing. It’s easy to see how quickly a typical day can be flipped on its head as the team efficiently organises the resulting myriad of enquiries and interview requests.

In contrast, almost 100% of our daily work at Skywrite is based entirely on proactivity. Either brainstorming ideas, developing campaigns or plans designed to generate media interest, creating content that fits into the news agenda, or simply pitching news and product reviews. We’re on the phone just as much as our in-house counterparts – the only difference is who does the dialling.

To find out how the other half of the job-swap went, read the FT’s Esther Kissiedu on her time at Skywrite, available here.


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