Stripe Communications Blog

We’re hiring!

We’re hiring!

We have lots of new clients on board so we’re looking for some new Stripes to join our Edinburgh team.

Stripe is a leading and creative, PR, digital & communications agency. Working across a variety of clients, you’ll have a minimum of 2 years experience and thrive in a fast-paced environment. You’ll be creative and organised with a passion for consumer comms and social media, and ideally have experience across sports and third-sector in particular.

If this sounds like you, please send your CV to talent@stripecommunications.com.

The closing date is 12pm Wednesday 26th July 2017.

Virtual reality: friend or foe?

Virtual reality: friend or foe?

Limitless experiences and fantasy becoming reality are two of the most exciting prospects for us all. Imagine being able to be anywhere, with anyone, at any time – it’s a dizzying prospect.

Well, we may just be in luck. Tell our ancestors 100 years ago that come 2017 we’d be able to make video calls in real time, track friends’ whereabouts on portable screens and that flying cars are actually going to be a thing? The would say flying pigs would be more likely.

At the moment Virtual Reality (VR) is a phenomenon that seems more talk than action – merely a tease, or a medium inhabited by the hardcore gamer. Devices such as the Oculus Rift, PlayStation VR and the HTC Vive provide a VR experience that is pretty much accessible by all. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has already pounced on its potential and has described it as a social technology in addition to a gaming one, which is probably a fairly good indication of its future impact.

It seems this is just the beginning of what will be an almost unbelievable human experience, and many brands and entertainment bodies are getting familiar with how it can intensify experiences in unbelievable ways.

Last year, Biffy Clyro fans could immerse themselves in the performance experience by being on stage with the band in a virtual music video, which toured festivals around the UK.


In tourism, VisitScotland recently utilised the technology by offering prospective visitors a ‘try before you buy’ approach.


Traditional media have also started to get on board – providing 360 imagery on their platforms, trying to keep up with what consumers are excited by and taking them closer to a story by giving it a completely different angle (literally).

It’s all very cool, but if you’re a fan of shows like Black Mirror, you might share my futuristic concerns; it’s not hard to see how there could be a more sinister, totally weird side to its development that could replace the beauty of real experiences. Can you really re-create or better the high of being on someone’s shoulders in a sea of people belting out your favourite band’s song, or bombing down a hill on a set of skis with the wind in your hair?! I can’t help but imagine this is the start of our devolution back to some prehistoric sea creature with no capacity for human interaction. Dramatic? Maybe.

Nevertheless, VR is just at the beginning of its journey. Experts are already exploring its scope for the treatment of conditions such as depression and phobias. It might also improve quality of life for the ill and immobile, giving them the chance to explore the world, or cycle from Land’s End to John o’ Groats. It’ll let people play or dance on stage alongside their idols at Glastonbury, and maybe inspire the next generation to pursue a particular education, career or lifestyle after giving them an ‘almost-real’ taste of what something is like.

VR is almost its own worst enemy as the technology enabling it is evolving so quickly that people don’t even know where to begin. A bit of scepticism is healthy, but for society, the media and brands in particular, the opportunities it presents are worth exploring.

New Stripes on the Block

New Stripes on the Block

We are excited to welcome two new communications pros to Stripe Towers this week! Crissie Campbell is settling into the London team as a Director while Samantha Crawford has joined the Edinburgh office as a Senior Account Director.

Crissie brings over 10 years’ experience working at London’s top agencies with some the biggest brands in the world of entertainment, gaming and music including Facebook, Nintendo and Sky. Crissie is a creative thinker and self-confessed chatterbox – qualities that will make her right at home in the bright, bold, turbocharged world of Stripe.

Crissie said it was the company culture that attracted her to Stripe: “I loved Stripe’s bloody awesome attitude! It’s a really exciting time for the brand and the people are so nice. I’m looking forward to developing and growing the team and making Stripe famous!”

Globetrotter Samantha has eight years’ experience working for agencies across London, Sydney and Dubai. Specialising in consumer and entertainment PR, Sam has worked with multinational brands including Procter & Gamble, BBC Worldwide and PlayStation. Sam describes herself as ‘brave, honest and nurturing’ and when she’s not hard at work, you’ll find her in the yoga studio. A recently qualified yoga instructor, Sam will be bringing equal helpings of zen and PR pizazz to the team.

Sam said: ‘I really love seeing how different people work, so I’m looking forward to learning about all the different minds that fuel this joint! Stripe creates some of the best work in the industry and I’m excited to be a part of that.’

Welcome to the team ladies!

Looking for a Perfect PA

Looking for a Perfect PA

We are looking for a supremely organised, upbeat, all-round superstar to play a key role in our busy team as a full-time Personal Assistant to the Board.

Stripe is a fast-paced, dynamic kind of a place and we need a driven, organised and reliable PA to provide a range of essential administrative and business support functions.

Reporting to the agency’s directors our PA will help keep the business running smoothly – enabling our team of consultants to deliver industry leading, award winning work for our clients.

Strong communication and interpersonal skills are a must for the job, and we need someone who is proficient with IT and a stickler for detail.

No two days at Stripe are ever the same, and we are looking for someone who is proactive, quick-thinking and ready to improvise. From managing busy diaries, organising travel, co-ordinating new start inductions and providing new business support, your role will be exciting and dynamic – you will be supporting the team with amazing pitches and award winning campaigns while keeping the team motivated and providing a calming influence.

The ideal candidate will have previous experience as a PA exercising leadership skills in a fast-paced environment, and the ability to multitask and prioritise.

Salary is appropriate to experience and skill level.

To apply for the role please send in your CV – and explain why you think you’d be great as our PA – to talent@stripecommunications.com.

Filling our feeds with food

Filling our feeds with food

Picture this: I’m meeting some friends for brunch on a typical Sunday morning. I order an acai smoothie bowl and a matcha latte.

What happens when the waitress brings across our order? My hand reaches for my iPhone, opens Instagram and I’m being absorbed into my online journal, also known as my Instagram Story. After a quick edit and a location tag – because no one has time to be elusive these days – I admire my perfectly filtered photograph starring the components of my brunch on an oh-so-edgy tarnished wooden table. A second later it is posted for the whole world to see.

What actually is the purpose of this post? Who knows and really, who cares. But who needs to care? It’ll be gone within 24 hours anyway.

Since 2010, 208 million posts have been shared on Instagram with the ‘food’ hashtag. The majority of these are nothing more than a fairly standard plate of food which has been greatly improved by some good lighting and careful editing.

The current mentality seems to be that if it’s not posted on Instagram, it didn’t happen.

On the other hand, the app that went live in 2010, provides a platform for restaurant brands to engage and adjust to the growth of social media and its consumers. With its 600 million active users, Instagram has become a drawing board for foodies, creating a bible for potential food and drink hotspots with the addition of the location sticker. If clicked on by the consumer, this could earn more revenue for the brand and provide the user with the ability to see live events from a chosen location.

What makes Instagram unique is that it has the ability to hold more worthy photographs in comparison to an average foodie website. This is because of you, the user and consumer. People love food photography because people simply love to look at food, and if there is a personality behind the visual, it immediately becomes more relatable. Due to increased popularity of international food culture, more users are willing to try different cuisines than ever before, as they have previously ‘seen it on Instagram’ and therefore, it is familiar.

Standing on your chair to capture the aerial view of your food and drinks is something I must admit is out with my boundaries. However, if you think that your meal is worthy of an Instagram upload, then surely that’s hats off to the chef! I’m not saying that my acai smoothie bowl was remotely average, I mean, it still made it to the gram. However, I am greatly aware of the danger of total addiction to an edited and, to an extent, false view of the world, which makes reality look boring in comparison.

Equally, the popularity of Instagram has certainly had some negative impacts. It has created a competitive marketplace for restaurants, as they now have to adapt to being ‘Instagrammable’ by featuring tables, chairs, cutlery, dishes and other interior that simply are photographs waiting to happen. The pressure behind the app can also force brands into creating new recipes for the sole purpose of becoming a strong Instagram trend, which means the app is costing restaurants extra money as they are giving into the 21st century #foodporn craze.

Whether you choose to believe it or not, Instagram is addictive. The aspiration to achieve some social gratification from a post that features last night’s dinner leaves you on a cliff hanger as you wait patiently for those likes and views to rake up. But what this vulnerability can also question is: does the food we photograph actually taste as good as it looks, or is it all just an irrelevant false illusion?

The answer comes down to a matter of opinion, but one thing is for certain – Instagram is fed by our love of food.

We’re hiring! Senior Account Executive, London

We’re hiring! Senior Account Executive, London

Stripe is growing and we’re looking for a switched on, savvy Senior Account Executive to join our London offices.

Known for being a fast-paced, dynamic and fun place to work, Stripe is a leading, creative, PR, digital & communications agency. Ideal applicants will bring a can-do attitude, great media skills, creative thinking, team spirit, attention to detail, self-motivation and drive.

This role will involve leading on handling and responding to all press office enquiries across all of the Merlin London attractions.

We’d love to hear from you if you have over two years’ experience, are looking for a new challenge and would thrive in an ambitious, lively and rewarding environment.

If it sounds like you could fit the bill, then send your CV and cover letter to talent@stripecommunications.com.

Closing date is Friday 16th June 2017.

Stripe backs communications industry ban on AVE

Stripe backs communications industry ban on AVE

The Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) has announced plans to ban its members from using AVE (advertising value equivalent). Communications practitioners found to be using AVE next year may face disciplinary action.

For those who aren’t long in the tooth, AVE is an old fashioned way to evaluate PR coverage as though it’s paid-for advertising content. Using column inches you would measure the size of an article and multiply it by a financial value provided in an advertising rate card.

Nobody pays full price for advertising when it’s bought as a package, so the AVE metric became more and more unreliable – especially when digital news and social media became increasingly important for measurement, as it simply couldn’t be measured accurately. I once saw someone using a wooden metre stick to measure online coverage on a computer screen. That was the final straw.

Stripe stopped using AVE about four years ago. At the time, we decided that providing an antiquated and inaccurate evaluation metric wasn’t right for us – we’re totally transparent in our reporting and measuring AVE isn’t a transparent process. As a quick fix, we provided CPI (cost per impression) and CPM (cost per thousand) which gave clients a financial value to track.

Since then, we’ve introduced advanced social listening services, developed an Influencer Index to measure influencer engagement on and offline, and worked in partnership with a range of data provider partners to develop our measurement approach. Our evaluations are focused on demonstrating the real-world value of our work, so we base our strategies on insights, invest in tools to help us measure in-depth, and ensure evaluation is built into our work right from the beginning. Measurement should never be an afterthought.

That’s why Stripe has a team of evaluation specialists running Stripe360, our in-house measurement and evaluation service. They use a suite of qualitative and quantitative measurement tools to provide 360 degrees of communications evaluation – from stakeholder influence and social analytics to media awareness and behavioural analysis. Their top priority is tracking real-world impact.

Banning AVE won’t affect Stripe or our clients – we don’t use it. However, we back the CIPR decision to change industry standard. Evaluations that hoodwink clients are completely unacceptable and banning deceptive metrics encourages communications practitioners to look for ways to properly measure their work with actual real-world impact.

For more information or to discuss our evaluation services, you can contact us on 0131 561 8628 or hello@stripecommunications.com.

ScottishPower appoint Stripe to UK PR and communications brief

ScottishPower appoint Stripe to UK PR and communications brief

Fantastic news! We’ve been appointed by ScottishPower to support its PR and communications across the UK.

Following five years of working closely with ScottishPower, we will continue to provide strategic campaigns to promote ScottishPower across CSR, sponsorship, retail, SME, renewables and SP energy for the next five years.

Simon McMillan, Head of Media Relations at ScottishPower, said: “We operate in a competitive marketplace so it’s essential that ScottishPower stands out. Stripe’s commitment to matching our requirement for excellence in supporting all our campaigns has again set them apart from the crowd, and we’re looking forward to continuing our relationship with them.”

Juliet Simpson, CEO and Founder of Stripe, said: “We’re thrilled to have retained such an important piece of business. It is testament the strong relationship which we have worked with ScottishPower to develop that they have shown their continuing confidence in our values and approach. As leaders in delivering sustainable and greener energy, this is an exciting time for ScottishPower and they have a strong and differentiated narrative platform for us to work with. We’ve really enjoyed working with the team over the past five years and are looking forward to the next stage of our journey with them.”

McDonald’s misses the mark

McDonald’s misses the mark

It came as no surprise when McDonald’s announced this week that they were pulling their ‘Dad’ TV advert. In the wake of significant backlash from the general public and bereavement charities, it seemed the only sensible option.

Just how McDonald’s, usually such a solid performer in the world of TV advertising, had so badly missed the mark may be less down to the advert’s content, but more about  failing to establish a credible link between it and the brand.

For those not aware of the latest installment in the burger chain’s advertising campaign – one that’s previously included a clever dig at the ‘hipster’ coffee scene – the basic premise focuses around a young lad struggling to find a common link to his deceased father. Unlike his dad he’s rubbish at football, has different coloured eyes and is terrible with the ladies. Things are looking desperate until he takes a bite into the Golden Arches’ very own Filet-o-Fish, which just happened to be the old man’s favourite, and voila! – it’s tartar sauce all round.

There is no doubting the sincerity of what’s being played out here. Take the looming ‘M’ logo out of proceedings and it’s a genuinely touching and well-crafted 90 seconds of film. Where this advert appears to have struck a particular nerve however, is the lack of any genuine association to the advert’s content and McDonald’s as a brand.

The use of bereavement and loss is nothing new to the TV advertising world, regularly used by charities as a hard-hitting tool that strikes right to the core of their key message and ultimately shapes their aim and purpose. McDonald’s however, appears to have hijacked this tactic for the simple aim of promoting their brand and products, with no real connection to the theme.

Sainsbury’s sailed close to the wind with their Christmas advert in 2014, commemorating the 100th anniversary of the start of the First World War. The desperate scene of trench warfare made slightly more bearable by a bar of Sainsbury’s chocolate sent from home.

There was criticism, observers pointing out that the atrocities of war should not be used to promote what was ultimately the run-up to the festive period and the busiest time in the retail calendar – those turkeys and Brussels sprouts weren’t going to sell themselves, etc.

However, Sainsbury’s had been cute and received an endorsement from the Royal British Legion, with proceeds of a special edition chocolate bar going to the charity – I should know this, I bought three. This provided a link, albeit tenuous, so the viewer could understand the narrative behind the advert and why Sainsbury’s was using it in this way.

Would all this controversy for McDonald’s have been avoided if they had arranged to donate profits to a bereavement charity? Probably not. However, viewers would have been able to make a tangible link between the core message of the advert and its purpose. As Sainsbury’s showed, by developing a credible link to support your advert’s key message, you can come out relatively unscathed.

For McDonald’s, it’s back to the drawing board. Anyone got Ronald’s number…?

From hack to flack: Jumping from journalism to PR

From hack to flack: Jumping from journalism to PR

That’s that then;  week one at Stripe done and dusted, week one of being in PR at all for that matter done and dusted after 20-plus years as a journalist.

I loved working my ticket round the weird and wonderful world of newspapers and news websites for longer than was probably healthy, so how has it been then ‘jumping the pond’ and landing in Scatter Cushion Corner?

I’m not really sure how to describe it; ‘challenging’ doesn’t cover it, ‘bewildering’ certainly comes close in parts, but perhaps the best parallel I can find is that I feel like Karen in the wedding scene in Martin Scorsese’s Goodfellas  –  overwhelmed by a new life in an alien world, spinning around in a sea of sensory overload, but in a good way, still smiling.

Not that I’m comparing my new colleagues to The Mob, or myself to a blushing bride;  I knew from the get go that things would be different here than the newsroom.

Up until now my first week in any new job has pretty much consisted of being told where the kettle is and how to turn the computer on.

But as my first monthly team meeting ended and the clapping stopped and we all headed off back to our desks, loins girded, enthused, focused on the job ahead, I took a moment, looked around, and said to myself ‘Toto, I don’t think we are in Kansas any more.’

On the way back to my desk, ever so-slightly shell-shocked, one of my new colleagues smiled and leaned in and said: “You aren’t quite used to the whole clapping thing eh?”

It’s not that I’m not used to meetings, I’ve been to plenty, all sorts.

Like everybody else, memories of most of them have evaporated into a sludge of meaningless doodles, secret shared raised ‘oh aye?’ eyebrows, indecipherable notes, and forgotten action points.

But there are some meetings I remember more than others,  the ones ending with scrunched up news lists being hurled by an irate editor and bouncing off the back of hapless news editors’ heads, or worse, the bear-pit ritual humiliation of a colleague.

That doesn’t appear to be the Stripe way. This first meeting saw the senior managers sitting down with the whole team,  laying out the bones of the business in the weeks ahead, all of it, and publicly acknowledging success (hence the clapping, they’re not Moonies). They invited questions, no matter how prickly, and set proper, clear goals for the days ahead; I wasn’t used to any of that, maybe it’s like this in every PR agency, but I suspect not.

They say that first impressions are important, in this game perhaps more than most,  so here are my first impressions – I’ve clearly joined a motivated, dedicated team of very bright people who are all working incredibly hard. No time for scatter cushions here.

Since day one it has been a whirlwind of meeting new colleagues and clients, trying to learn the ropes, doing my best to get up to speed with the ways of working round here, of trying my best to add value to the whole enterprise, but mostly simply trying not to make any mistakes.

I know I am out of my Comfort Zone; an old friend who also now works in PR after a life in journalism put it beautifully when she said that I was clearly in The Google Zone. When I admitted after a few moments, sheepishly, that I had no idea what that was, she laughed and said:  ‘that’s the whole point, you have to go to the toilet and Google things every five minutes. You’ll be in The Google Zone for a good while yet’.

Stripe is undeniably fast-paced and dynamic – the energy in this place could have it connected to the National Grid –  and it has been a breath of fresh air; give me the Google Zone over the Comfort Zone any day.