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Festival Live 10-11 May, Brighton, UK

I am looking forward to being at Festival Live this year on 10 and 11 May in Brighton, and participating on this panel, entitled – ‘Brands & Music Debate – with the world of live events continuously growing in popularity for fans, headliners & brands, what opportunities lie on the horizon? This session is at 12pm to 1pm on the 10th. 

Festival Live is a leading international B2B summit dedicated to the latest festival technologies and live event services. It attracts industry leaders and experts from around the world to reveal the latest technologies, innovations, case studies and updates from the best music festivals and live events on the planet.

The two-day event brings together the industry partners within the Music Festival and Live Events industry, where attendees and sectors include…Festival Organisers; Major and Indie Record Labels; Tour Managers; Artist Managers; Live Acts; Staging and more.

The entire event is sponsored by Discogs, which is the third largest online music website after YouTube and Spotify and the biggest seller of vinyl in the world.

If you are at Festival Live come and say hello! Here’s a  link to the event: https://www.fest.live/

It’s No Longer Possible For Brands Not To Be Diverse In Their Advertising Campaigns

I was recently invited by a high-end luxury online shopping brand for women to give feedback on its new online advertising campaign. First-off, I had not even noticed it’s new campaign and I suppose that was in itself telling, because it had not been memorable for me. However, when I did carefully consider it, I realised why it had not hit home…and that’s because it was not relatable and it didn’t connect with me. The advert looked out of touch and dated in the context of today’s conversations and I gave this feedback to the ‘enquiring luxury online shopping brand.’ But I also wondered how they could get it so wrong?!

Research shows that female consumers are calling time on airbrushing and have ‘perfection fatigue’, which has significant implications for brands. Therefore, it is no longer possible for brands not to be diverse in their advertising campaigns, and when I say ‘diverse’ I mean diversity in the age of models, race and reflective in body-types. While thin and prepubescent bodies are still the preferred choice for the runway and print media world, social media is giving a platform for celebrating more diverse body shapes. The #bodypositivity movement is empowering women to push against narrow and unattainable beauty standards and instead celebrate their differences and their imperfections.

Again, traditional magazines and other forms of advertising have always heavily featured white models largely from western European backgrounds. This lack of diversity has meant poor representation of other ethnicities. Yet, the explosion of social media has been incredibly positive for making beauty more accessible and inclusive.

Importantly, social media is no longer the natural habitat for millennials, as older women are using the medium to smash one of the most ingrained prejudices in fashion and beauty –  age. With styling, skincare and beauty tutorials aimed at older women, they’ve celebrated and empowered this demographic. Furthermore, they’ve also vanquished the myth that fashion and beauty is limited to youth.

As a result, brands casting only young, thin, white, flawless models no longer feel relevant in the modern age. But crucially advertising campaigns are also very much about the story that a brand is trying to relay to its audience and is connected to the brand values of the company, so any kind ‘tokenism’ will immediately be apparent. It’s important for brands to not stop at advertising, but instead embrace realness and transparency in their values.

It is also important for those of us working in media and communications to keep pulling up those brands that are falling short. The needle is shifting. Diversity and inclusion should not stand as buzzwords; but treated as a reflection point where brand managers and content creators strive for approaches that avoid reductive stereotypes and unintentional continuation of classism, racism and sexism.

 

Public Relations Has Not Escaped Artificial Intelligence

 

I remember watching the film, Minority Reports in the cinema and at that time having goosebumps with what the future may hold for us, with technology. That film was 17 years ago and fast-forward on Artificial Intelligence (AI) is here. Now when we look across various industries, AI advancements continue to surge. In the consumer sector, Apple introduced its HomePod  to compete with Amazon’s Echo and Google’s Home AI assistants. While, SephoraEstee Lauder and other retailers have refined the use of chatbots to engage and interact with customers rather than just talking.

My industry, PR has not escaped this wave of AI innovation and machine learning is already in common use for everyday PR tasks like developing media lists and researching. The Chartered Institute of Public Relations Artificial Intelligence panel has published new research revealing the impact of technology, and specifically AI, on public relations practice. It predicts the impact on skills in the profession in the next five years. The report found that 12% of a public relations practitioner’s total skills (out of 52 skills) could be complemented or replaced by AI today, with a prediction that this could climb to 38% within five years. Fundamental human traits such as empathy, trust, humour and relationship building can’t be automated.

There’s been quite a bit of conversation about communications content ultimately being replaced by robot writers and automation, but for now these tools are not threatening our roles as PR professionals, because effective public relations and storytelling require emotional intelligence in addition to human trust. The best kind of PR cultivates relationships among three parties: brands, customers and the media.

However, as the key to this is for now…Picking up on this topic Asian Voice newspaper, the UK’s and Europe’s leading newspaper for the British Asian community contacted me for my thoughts, which are here http://: https://www.asian-voice.com/News/UK/Meet-the-new-%27RoboReporters%27-as-your-news-anchors

We Are The City

 

Every now and again wonderful opportunities come our way and about a few weeks ago, I was approached by the very talented Ashish Bhardwaj, who is based in New Delhi and writes for the platform ‘We Are The City’ – a news platform that supports what the it calls the ‘female pipeline’. Ashish asked if he could do a Q&A with me, and of course I said yes! I was thrilled to be on an Indian news platform that supports women; it was a huge honour.

Ashish one of those rare people who works tirelessly to connect with and interview Indian women across India and abroad; he is proud to actively be involved in empowering Indian women.

Here is the piece that was recently published, that has been well received. I hope you enjoy reading it and finding out more about me, the person behind Serendipity PR & Media and here is the piece that I am very proud of…

 

 

 

 

It’s March!

It has taken me three months to get down to writing this post…three months into this year and that’s because so much has been happening since we started 2018…from bringing two like-minded organisations together to create and launch a library in the City of London; to being invite back again by the Mayor’s office to speak about being a London business and the need for diversity; to helping a client participate in a London China expo to working on some exciting launches including the media campaign for a business book called The Responsive Leader written by an influential thought-leader, Erik Korsvik Østergaard, who is making waves with his new book.

While all this has been going on we have had the #Metoo and #TimesUp social media campaigns have gone viral and as I write, we are heading towards International Women’s Day (IWD) on 8 March.

Findings from reports tell us that gender parity is over 200 years away; which is why there has never been a more important time to keep motivated and #PressforProgress – this year’s IWD theme. There is a strong global momentum striving for gender parity.

To help mark this day the FSB is raising the visibility of role models for women entrepreneurs with an international digital campaign called 100 FSB Women. As part of this initiative Serendipity PR is actively supporting the FSB Women’s London network; and we have helped source one of its speakers and organised a free business book for attendees. This special book is called Read My Lips by Swedish TV personality Elaine Eksvard, published by our client, LID Publishing. Wouldn’t life be easier if we could get people to listen to us in every situation? This book teaches us how to persuade our listeners, be professional and personal, without being private. Eskvard is best-selling author of Ruling Technique, Living Power and Talk Nice.

I will end with this wonderful comment from Helen Mirren who was speaking about #MeToo and #TimesUp to The New York Times and said, “It’s an amazing moment isn’t it? I’ve never wanted to be younger than I am, but the only thing that makes me think God, I wish I was 18 now, is 18 year olds are coming into a very different world.”

 

 

Serendipity PR & The National Curry Awards

I have been working on the media campaign, which involved writing all the main speeches and brochure copy for the 12th Annual National Curry Awards for best Chef and Restaurant of the Year, hosted by the Bangladesh Caterers Association (BCA), which took place on 19 November in Central London at the Park Plaza Hotel Westminster.

BCA is a fascinating organisation that has been going since 1960, representing over 12,000 restaurants across the UK and contributing a whopping £4.2 billion to the economy. As aside the late former foreign secretary Robin Cook, in 2001, gave the seminal “chicken tikka masala speech where he said that ‘chicken tikka masala’ is now Britain’s true national dish.

The evening was co-hosted by celebrities Tasmin Lucia Khan and Alexis Conran. Over 1,200 attended, which included dignitaries, Parliamentarians and high-profile individuals. The evening was glitzy, glamorous affair where strong speeches were made to draw attention to the plight of Britain’s curry industry, which is in a crisis due to the shortage of skilled chefs. The British curry sector is going through one of its most critical periods in its history, where at least three to four restaurants are closing a week, while there are challenges for new curry houses who have had their openings delayed because they can’t find the chefs.

This year’s theme was – BCA: Sourcing Britain’s Love for Curry Since 1960, which I came up with, as BCA wanted a strong strapline to reflect these uncertain and difficult times. A strapline that said something about its history, cultural relevance here in Britain and about the food it creates. They also wanted a strapline that they could be proud of and think we got it just right!

BCA’s Chefs and Restaurants are the source of British curry in local areas, where they are helping high-streets thrive and most of all are continuously evolving the story of British curry.

I believe there is so much authentic passion in food; it is a form of cultural self-expression, as much as it is about social identity and nutrition. Food is a tool of economic regeneration and cooking has the power to transform society because it touches everything: education, the environment, entrepreneurship, cultural identity, agriculture and trade. But more importantly food brings people together. These BCA Awards reinforces this premise.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We’re living in a digital constellation: connecting us in an easily explored galaxy…

 

If you come across my Twitter profile you will find it says – We’re living in a digital constellation: connecting us in an easily explored galaxy – and this was wonderfully proved when on 9 September I spoke to a group of first year MSc students who are studying Creative Entrepreneurship at Vilnius University Business School in Lithuania via Skype about PR, brands, social media and being online.

Technology is truly connecting us and serving us well, as from my London office I was able to zoom in and share my experience with these business students, who are all budding entrepreneurs.

The one thing that struck me from my talk and something I learnt is that Twitter is not that ‘big’ in Lithuania and not as widely used, as it is here in the UK. One of the questions asked, was should they still spend time on Twitter, if people around them from their local communities were not using Twitter. My answer was ‘YES!’.

The internet and social media platforms allows us all to think bigger and wider than our local communities, hubs and sectors. Our clients could be sitting in other parts of the world, so beam your message out. This is globalization at its best without the carbon footprint!

Photo Credit: Mauco Sosa

Serendipity PR’s Award & Recognition At The Women’s Economic Forum, Delhi

 

I have just returned from an incredible time in Delhi, India where I attended the Women’s Economic Forum as a speaker, this May. It was a privilege to be able to speak in one of my home countries and I am also honored to have been recognized by the Women Economic Forum and All Ladies League as an ‘Iconic Woman Creating Change for a Better World For ALL’.
The members of my Media and Entertainment Advisory Council were also recognized, but for me, this award was a recognition of the great work we are doing at Serendipity PR & Media.

 

There were over 2,000 delegates from 150 countries. It was a colourful, powerful and joyful event with great speakers – Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty; yoga master Baba Ramdev; acid survivor and activist Laxmi; Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswati an inspirational spiritual social worker – all making positive changes in India, and so many more other great names.

 

It would be amiss of me not to mention Dr. Habeen Aurora and her husband Vinay Rai who for their visionary work on behalf of women’s empowerment, global citizenship and peace. They are a wonderful power couple behind the Forum.
My experience at this week long conference was made all the more special when I saw and experienced so many Indian women entrepreneurs of different ages with a voice; they interacted, interrupted and were full of fun in all the sessions. I wish these women were there when I lived in India in the 80’s, as I may have just stayed on in India! I also met many India female social entrepreneurs, working to empower other women in rural India.

 

But this story would not be complete without a little bit of serendipity – on the Thursday evening of the conference, Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswati somehow randomly sat at my table. I have always been inspired by Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswati’s story. How she sat at my table, was a small miracle. There were so many tables…our table wasn’t even close to the stage, but she sat there waiting to be called as a speaker. I plucked up courage and spoke to her, we connected and I am due to do a story with her, so watch this space.

 

This year I really wanted an adventure and I had one…

 

 

 

 

 

That Cheeky Question: Can I Pick Your Brains?!

I wrote about this, two years ago now, but felt I needed to revisit it again, as it is one that always creeps in under our business boundaries. While I am a firm believer in paying it forward, helping others and I enjoy giving advice, I write articles, tweet, Facebook and share daily – why is it that someone would think it’s okay to ask if they can ‘pick my brains?’

I often find that these ‘cheeky asks’ are from others who are gathering as much free intelligence and knowledge without wanting to pay. You can’t come to a professional and ask them to work for free; but that’s exactly what you’re doing when you ask to pick someone’s brain.

Why would someone think, I would want to give away my knowledge for free? When there’s training, reading, costs of memberships so I can network, attending conferences and mastering my skills – all this costs me money; and like any other business I want to protect my investment.

It makes no business sense for me to give away all the knowledge that I have acquired and use to make my living. I charge my paying clients very good money for my expertise and results.

I know this is a topic that many in business are also up against, as when I first posted on this subject a few years ago, many responded and commented saying that they too were fed up of people asking them the same – ‘can I pick your brains?’.

So, for all of us out there – our knowledge has value. We have invested time and money into learning our skill, we are experts and it’s not good business for us to give it away for free. Be strong and say politely no.

Photo Credit: NO MORE and Mariska Hargitay 20623 | by tedeytan

Quick Tips To Fire Up Your Instagram

 

It’s All About The Hashtag – Using them in your posts is a must if you want more people to see your visuals. They enable others to find you, even if they’ve never heard of your brand before and you will be able to reach a larger audience, increase content exposure and open doors for new connections to be made.

Two cool apps to use to help find which hashtags are trending in your niche are – Hashtags.com and Hashtagify.me. Through these apps, you can discover the highest rated hashtags, how many posts are currently using them and see examples of how they’re being applied.

Look at the hashtags your influencers’ and competitors are including in their posts. Find out what’s working by viewing the level of engagement they’re generating.

Instagram Stories – Is one of the platform’s newer features, where brands are now able to ‘go live’ to get their message out using video on the platform. A recent study revealed that people will watch live videos longer than one that has been prerecorded. These personalised expressions can create memorable experiences that will help separate your brand from competitors. Try to be the first to report breaking or trending news by broadcasting it live on Stories.

– Know when to post your content, because by posting your images at the right time, it will help boost engagement with your followers. Hootsuite recommends posting on Instagram between 12pm-1pm, Monday-Friday. Instagram has its own business analytics tools to provide insight into when your followers are most active online.