The International Communications Consultants Association came together in Oxford last week to discuss the changes that are impacting this industry.

Attendees from around the world gathered for the #ICCOSummit to learn about how innovation, technology are disrupting their business. It’s no longer just about influence and communications. Reputation, the building and managing of these, is down to authentic listening and engagement, as well as the creation of experiences.

I attended the conference and have curated some of the best tweets from the two-day gathering.


Share This Live – How Social Media Is Changing Business and Communications

Last year, the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) published a book with short essays from some of the UK’s leading communicators and digital strategists. Entitled Share This the aim of the first book was to establish social and digital as a core skill in 21st Century Public Relations. This year we are publishing it’s follow-up, Share This Too.

The books, the first of which the first of which was published to great acclaim, see contributors outline their vision on how social media, digital media and technology are changing not just how perceptions are built and protected, but how businesses are established and managed.

Share This Too aims to expand on these initial essays, to inspire and lead a way to better engage with audiences for better businesses, services and engagement.

On Thursday 11 July the CIPR hosts at Microsoft in London it’s second social media conference where influencers from PR, journalism and the business world, will share insight on how these channels have helped them improve engagement.

Speakers include Digital Editor for The Economist and Editor-in-Chief of Tom Standage, Head of Mobile at LBi, ex-Global Head of Mobile at Thompson Reuters Ilicco Elia and Digital Development Editor at The Guardian Joanna Geary.

I’ll be charing a session on how social media can facilitate business change and using social across international borders. This is the subject of my chapter in Share This Too, which is an area that is often ignored by certain communication ‘professionals’. The assumption is wrongly made that because the majority of social networking channels originated in the US, the language of choice must therefore be English. But language is only a small part of issues that have to be considered. Cultural differences comes into play as well, which when considered can help drive up engagement. We will be debating this and so much more on the day.

Speaking on my panel will be the Political Minister and Embassy of Japan to the UK, Noriyuki Shikata and Chicago Mercantile Exchange’s Executive Director of Corporate Communications Allan Schoenberg. This is a not to be missed session with leaders PR leaders from the financial and diplomatic worlds.

A limited number of tickets for the Share This Too Live Conference are still available here.

I hope to see some of you at the conference!!

Why Social Media Is Important to Brands

Review of Haymarket’s Social Brands conference, with a focus on how social and digital media is changing business and communications.

Storified by Julio Romo· Tue, Feb 12 2013 04:37:13

Haymarket’s #SocialBrands conference brought together leaders from the PR, marketing and digital and social worlds to discuss the implications of social media on business and the changing communications landscape.

Social and digital channels are empowering stakeholders. They want to participate with brands and not just consume corporate messaging. People today have the ability to very publicly share their online, let these be positive or negative. These shares are so public that they are changing in real time the perception that audiences have of their brands. Companies can no longer fully control how they are perceived. What they can do though is adapt how they communicate.


Customers who actively participate in a social community often stay longer with a brand. One example from @VincentBoon on ROI #socialbrandsShaun Hewitt
Companies today need to have communications that are agile and flexible. Something that came through at the conference.
Great keynote at #socialbrands from #larssilberbauer Lego social team is agile and works in "near time"Christian Dankl

What is important though is to make the brands and the content relevant.

Data is essential in helping brands get closer to their audiences.
Make your output relevant and make your customers feel like you are connected with what is going on in the world #SocialBrandsLouise Wallis
I have argued for a long time that the data is only as good as the questions that are asked. Nokia for example have hired analysts to crunch data to gain extra knowledge from people that are talking about them.
Interestingly Nokia have hired analysts into inhouse social team to crunch data #socialbrandsNixonMcInnes
Data and analytics are essential new disciplines for PR and marketing. Disciplines that should be at the heart of how we communicate.
Social is about metrics, linking these with business objectives, says @willmcinnes. #SocialBrands <— Couldn’t agree more!Julio Romo
Agree with @CraidHepburn ‘s assessment: Tools and stat reports aren’t enough to measure social – you need qualitative analysis #socialbrandsDarryl Sparey
Equally, when you look at metrics it is essential to not try and focus solely on Return On Investment (ROI), namely because social and digital indirectly adds value. Focus should be on Return On Engagement (ROE) – the engagement and how it leads to brand loyalty and turnover. Social after all is a communications channel.
Social has a value to your business. Stop looking for a ROI in social as a single channel. #socialbrands @breventsShaun Hewitt
Twitter is not a social network. It’s an information network says @brucedaisley #socialbrandsAndrew Bruce Smith

Understand that Twitter is an information channel helps define Tom Foremski’s view that ‘Every Company is a Media Company’, a view that I shared at the #SocialBrands conference.

We have to remember that, as Bill Gates said in 1996, ‘Content is King.’ Content though needs to be created from the perspective of understanding the audience that we want to engage with. Communication after all is a two-way process.
Data and Analytics empower brands to understand their audience and shape their messaging accordingly. Data needs to be embedded in communications. Geek is the new gold.
Siloed communications, where marketing, public relations, advertising, events are planned and activated separately fail to maximise outreach and engagement. Teams should be integrated, bringing together expertise that can be called upon in real-time.
An example of how integrated communications generated results, is that of Oreo at the 2013 Super Bowl.
With a team of 15 headed up by agency 360i, they were able to #newsjack the Super Bowl black out and pushing a tweet graphic that generated more engagement that their $3.5 million tv ad during the game.
The recurring theme of #SocialBrands is Oreo cookies’ Superbowl blackout social media advert. Mentioned in four different talks nowPeer Lawther
Brands have the tools at their disposal to communicate stories that are relevant in real-time. Flexibility is the key.
Cultures need to change. Some are going down this road. Others are being held back while watching what their audiences are saying about them. It’s like watching a car crash that can be avoided.

Big Data and Emerging Technologies were the two themes at this years FT Innovate 2012 conference. Speakers including Tesco’s CEO Phil Clarke, Accenture Management Consulting MD Aimie Chapple and Lady Gaga Manager Troy Carter gathered in London to debate the importance of innovation and the need to implement innovative cultures in corporate environments.

Tesco’s new CEO Phil Clarke kicked off by highlighting the importance that innovation had played in taking his supermarket from being “third biggest in the UK, to the second biggest in the world.” Clarke told the assembled audience that success today depends on innovation. And that innovation only succeeds when organisations have the right mindset. Moonfruit founder Wendy Tan reaffirmed this message later on when she said that, innovation is also about innovating the organisation.

Technology empowered the customer and client. We live in a connected society where, as Clarke said, “technology has made the customer more powerful than ever before. This connectivity, especially through social media has given people the ability to ”make or destroy brands in minutes.”

Focusing on Big Data Clarke reminded us that Tesco itself has huge amounts of data on its customers. According to it’s own Annual Report, Tesco Clubcard has over 44 million active members around the world – 16 million accounts in the UK, 7 million Europe and over 20 million across Asia.

It is the data from it’s Clubcard loyalty scheme, which next year in 2013 be celebrating it’s 10th anniversary, that according to Clarke enables Tesco to “continually improve the customers shopping experience.”

But, as Minister for the Cabinet Office and Paymaster Francis Maude MP reminded us, “Data is the raw material of the digital age. Its application has yet to be maximised in business processes. In fact, as I’ve argued many times data is useless unless you know what to do with it.

In PR and communications data can deliver insight an enhance engagement with stakeholders. It delivers knowledge and can prepare brands when an issue catches fire. Equally, it helps organisations to find their influencers. But as BAE Systems Liz O’Driscoll pointed out, there is a need to distil data into information. This will become a key skill for those in communications professions.

IDEO Founder Thom Thulme summed it all up when it came to data, ”Data is best organised around customer journey’s. It helps generate empathy with users.

But what about the future? Philips Chief Design Officer and Vice President pushed told us a cold hard fact. That there will be “50 Billion connected devices by 2020, that’s more than 6X global population.” That establishes a requirement for real-time reaction from people, companies and brands. No longer we will be able to afford to be late in our communications.

And while we talk about data and social networks, we need to move away from thinking in numbers of fans on Facebook. Lady Gaga Manager Troy Carter hit the nail on the head when he described Facebook as a large, passive and diluted community. A platform that has not been designed for fans. And I would argue is not even designed for engagement. Or at least engagement in a format that pleases people.

The world has shrunk. People want to be treated as individuals. They want to interact in real-time. They want to be heard and rewarded now. They do not want a one-size fits all network.

Technology is as much about people as it is about processes. Some think that data and technology allows us to better exploit the consumer. This is wrong. Data and technology, together with professionals that understand people, will help businesses to better serve people.